AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

JUST WILLIAM: Return to Decline

It’s good to be back after a long break – thanks to the lovely people of Ghana for their hospitality! – although it feels like I’ve angered the gods, given that Twitter has become a basket case and three MPs have resigned during my time away.

Credit to Nadine Dorries for staying on to find out why she didn’t get a peerage, thus giving political betting badgers like me another by-election to look forward to this year (now I’ve said this, watch her stay on until 2024).

No Tickets, Officer

One constant of life in this country is problems with transport of every kind, but even by my cynical standards, I’m flabbergasted by the proposals to shut down almost all of the 1,007 remaining offices in England, except at the busiest stations, within three years.

This is supposedly an attempt to “modernise” the railway, presumably to the point where every man, woman and child uses their phone for tickets, times, and all enquiries. Perhaps it will also modernise it to the point where nobody can use the services, as commuters drown in queues for ticket machines on busy days such as sporting events, this thing called the summertime, those well-known events called public holidays and more.

Imagine using the train for Cheltenham without ticket offices. Or Aintree. Or Royal Ascot. Christmas, Summer, and Bank Holidays? Forget about it.

You may not think this is a problem if the biggest stations (and how are they defined?) keep their ticket offices, but in the last financial quarter, 389 million passenger journeys were taken in the UK.

And that’s before we get to the reasons staff at ticket offices are needed – for safety and information, arguably far more important than ticketing alone, although the fact that within three years consumers will not have the choice of how to buy their train tickets reeks of national decline to me.

I look forward to brushing shoulders with all of you up and down the country very soon (and we’ll have time to chat, because we’ll both miss our train).

Not Up For The Cup

I love the FA Cup. The competition has come in for plenty of stick in recent years but its ability to produce footballing magic is still very much alive and English football is better for it. That will not be the case if the changes reported by the Daily Mirror – the scrapping of replays, midweek early rounds and the moving of the final to a Premier League weekend – are to be believed.

One can only imagine that these changes are being pushed for by Premier League clubs with eyes on European success. For a number of sides, fixture congestion has become an acute problem in recent years – but that fixture congestion is a side effect of having sides good enough to compete on multiple fronts.

I am of the belief that too much football is played in general – but that’s a conversation for another day – but if and when we tackle that problem, then leave the good old’ Cup out of it please?

Rishi The Absent

By the time he leaves office – if the markets and the polls are to be believed, Rishi Sunak is destined to lose the next general election whenever it’s held – it’s possible that the Sunak premiership might well be known for the things he didn’t do rather than any achievements.

Last week’s Liaison committee saw Chris Bryant take Sunak to task over missing the next two Prime Minister’s questions, but missing votes on rule breaking for Boris Johnson and the former minister Owen Paterson. They were awkward moments for Sunak, who has desperately tried to separate himself from Tory scandals and rule breaking, so one would think that he’d take every chance to be tough if another vote came up.

So the case of Chris Pincher – arguably the man who really kicked off the collapse of the Johnson administration – who faces an eight-week parliamentary suspension after a standards watchdog upheld “profoundly damaging” groping allegations against him, should be a slam dunk. And yet:

What on earth does the Prime Minister have to gain from all this? Only god knows…


Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.



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