Benjamin Disraeli’s famous words came back to me while I was reading the Swindon Advertiser’s latest unbalanced article about Swindon Town’s fascist manager - see ‘Di Canio receving positive response from fans, says Watkins‘.
But, if Swindon Town’s Chief Executive was correctly quoted, then the statistics he’s come up with are something of an own goal.
I thought it would be useful to correct the inaccuracies which have been presented as fact:
1. “Paolo Di Canio’s appointment as Swindon Town manager has heralded an increase in new season ticket holders for the coming season.”
As the same article goes on to explain, “Over 5,000 supporters signed up for season tickets last season” and “We are now at over 4,250 season tickets sold”. Whichever way you look at it, 4,250 is not an increase on “over 5,000″!
2. “The fan reaction has been 99.99 per cent happy”, he [Nick Watkins] added.
Watkins obviously has a problem with basic mathematics. If only 0.01 per cent of the 5000 season ticket holders are unhappy, then that equates to less than one person!
But he then contradicts himself by admitting that, “Some have expressed their unhappiness and sent their season tickets back”. As he is speaking in the plural, there obviously must have been more than one person (actually a lot more, but Watkins failed to tell us how many more).
3. “There were one or two negative comments all centred around his apparent past and link with fascism”.
Two very clear and deliberate mis-truths here:
a. There have certainly been more than “one or two” negative comments (I’m really beginning to worry about Watkins’ problem with numbers).
b. It’s dishonest to make reference to Di Canio’s “apparent past” and “link with fascism”.
Use of the word “apparent” suggests that there’s some kind of dispute over whether Di Canio’s is really a fascist. But this is an undeniable fact, evidenced by his own words – verbally, and in writing in his autobiography.
The calculated use of the word “past” also intimates that he’s since changed his views. But he has not. By his own admission, Di Canio’s has a lifetime dedication to the evil ideology.
4. “I have always said that people mature over time and Paolo has certainly matured.”
Watkins would have us believe that Di Canio’s sick views were/are the result of some kind of juvenile immaturity.
But, yet again, the reality is very different. Di Canio was in his late 30s when he was banned for repeatedly making fascist salutes. Even if he had matured since then (which he hasn’t), then he would have been a very late developer – and he will have conveniently “matured” between the ages of 37 and 43.
5. “We have to take note that things are often said or done in the heat of the moment and you cannot have a man of his passion and determination to win without the pride that comes with him.”
I presume here that Watkins is talking about one of Di Canio’s fascist salutes.
This really is going too far.
Firstly, Di Canio’s extreme views did not come out “in the heat of the moment”. And there wasn’t a single fascist salute which can be dismissed as a one-off event.
Secondly, Watkins is trying to convince us that “passion”, “determination” and “pride” are universally good characteristics even when – as in Di Canio’s case – they’re describing his committment to extreme right-wing ideals.
What Watkins is really saying here, is that good fascists make good football managers.
But what’s most distasteful is that he’s happy to excuse even those sick ideals as long as it gets Swindon Town out of the fourth division.
And I’m offended by Watkins’ assertion that, should that happen, we’ll all conclude that turning a blind eye to Di Canio’s obnoxious views was “in the best interests of Swindon Town Football Club”.
The Real Challenge
So here’s the real challenge, which I don’t expect Di Canio to meet, or Watkins to encourage:
If Di Canio’s sick views really were in the past, “in the heat of the moment”, the result of immaturity, and a consequence of an over-abundance of “passion”, will he now donounce them?