Gary Speed’s death will focus more unwelcome attention on tabloid newspapers

The shocking suicide by hanging of 42-year old Welsh national team football manager Gary Speed on Saturday evening is bound to focus attention on the activities of the UK’s tabloid newspapers.

Nobody knows why Speed, a popular figure in the game who was doing extremely well as manager of Wales, chose to end his life.

But already there are rumours that he was the subject of an investigation into his private life from one or more tabloid newspapers.

On the Murdoch-owned Sun’s Twitter account today there were three identical messages as follows: @oddstanley No truth in this story. The Sun was not investigating Gary Speed in any way.

And, for now, we have to take oddstanley’s word for it (whoever he may be).

Football and popular newspapers in the UK have been locked in a sticky embrace for decades now, made still more intimate by the invention of the money-rich Premier League. Many UK newspapers have, from time to time, exposed the private lives of high-profile, rich young footballers and their managers.

Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson was pursued by all and sundry over his various girlfriends, most notably Nancy Dell’Olio and Ulrika Jonsson. He lost his job as England manager after the (deceased) News of the World tricked him into talking too candidly to a bogus Middle Eastern businessman (one of its reporters, currently employed by the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times).

One of his predecessors, Glen Hoddle, lost his job after he revealed to The Times his strange belief that people living now, including disabled people, were paying the penalty for sins committed in previous lives.

The ethics of the UK press (or lack of them) are currently the subject of an official inquiry headed by Mr Justice Leveson following the News international phone-hacking scandal.

If, and these are only rumours, it is revealed that Speed was the subject of a newspaper investigation it will set off yet another huge bomb under the status and financial viability of the UK’s once all-powerful newspaper industry.

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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.

One comment

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    “And, for now, we have to take oddstanley’s word for it (whoever he may be).”

    “oddstanley” is not the person denying the story, he is just a member of the public who passed on the allegation – and to whom the Sun was therefore sending its denial message.

    The Sun is clearly concerned about this allegation as it has spent the last 2 days sending that same reply to dozens of people who have mentioned it on Twitter.