Trades Descriptions Act?

It is a funny convention here in the UK that people who have absolutely no idea at all about what the Act actually says, people on the radio, on the street, when commenting on almost anything, will cite the Trades Descriptions Act. The latest example is the furore whipped up by a media hostile to the current England coach Fabio Capello, about his decision to rest a lot of players ahead of a friendly fixture tonight against Ghana. Apparently it’s also annoyed Ghana. Clearly Ghana have forgotten that this friendly match is not being played for their benefit.

The Trades Description Act comes in because news reporters are evoking images of unconsolable little boys and girls all over England whose mummies and daddies paid for tickets for an England match so their little boys and girls could watch Rooney, Lampard, Cole et al strutt their stuff on the turf of Wembley Stadium. However, I suspect if they check the match ticket, they’ll find that their ticket is for England, not Rooney, Lampard, Cole et al, vs Ghana.

But never mind. The whole episode simply shows that whatever Capello does, he will be crisicised. It of course raises a whole issue of who exactly is in charge of running the England team; is it the FA, or is it the media? Over the years it has become a common thing for newspapers to lose faith in an England manager and do their utmost to shape public opinion on that person, more often than not forcing him out (Bobby Robson in 1990 is a welcome and refreshing counter example where the papers were proved spectacularly wrong). Effectively, while the FA appoints and contracts the England manager’s job, it can probably be argued it does so on behalf of the newspapers (not even the fans). Maybe there’s a research paper in that…


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