Mail on Sunday gets red card as Gary Lineker quits over Lord Triesman stitch-up

The Mail on Sunday, which has flirted with disaster a few times since it came into being as the Daily Mail’s sibling, has really landed itself in the mire with its News of the World-type sting on Lord David Triesman, chairman of the Football Association and also head of England’s 2018 World Cup bid.

Now Gary Lineker, former England captain and top goalscorer, has resigned as a columnist, saying that its entrapment of Triesman, saying daft things about Spain and Russia conspiring to rig results in the forthcoming World Cup to a younger woman he seems to have fancied, has damaged the 2018 bid.

Lineker is an ‘ambassador’ (paid presumably) for the England 2018 World Cup bid. But he’ll he’ll hardly miss the Mail’s money, probably between £100,000 and £200,000 for a ghosted column. He earns around £400,000 a year as a sports presenter for the BBC and at least double that for his role as frontman for Walker’s crisp commercials. And he seems genuinely pee’d off with the MoS.

But you have to ask, how did the MoS get itself in this mess in the first place?

Yes it was a good front page lead, yes it got talked about but, no, everybody who supports England (that is, most of the population) and everybody who hates the tabloids (the rest of the population approximately) now thinks the Mail on Sunday is a venal organ that’s trying to scupper ‘football coming home’ in 2018.

Was editor Peter Wright involved in this ‘sting’? He could hardly not have been. Did editor-in-chief Paul Dacre know about it? Well he should have.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s the biggest tabloid cock-up for years. You’d have to go back to the time nearly 40 years ago when one-time Mail on Sunday editor Stewart Steven, then working for the Daily Express, told an unsuspecting world that he’d discovered Nazi Martin Borman in the depths of the Amazonian rain forest. He hadn’t.

But that was just a laugh.

For lots of Mail on Sunday readers, whose life will be defined (sadly) by England’s fortunes in the World Cup this summer and who were looking forward confidently to a better chance in 2018, the paper has let them down.

Why on earth did these usually canny and intelligent journalists do it?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.