Belfast Telegraph

Politicians and sport can mix... just ask Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt

By Steven Beacom

I received a lengthy text from Mike Nesbitt at the weekend. Interesting character... once upon a time he was the best interviewer on the box grilling politicians. Now he's the politician facing the tough questions.

That would be a bit like me jacking in journalism and becoming IFA Chief Executive. Don't worry Mr Nelson, your job's safe... for now!

Anyway, back to the text. Today's election may have been looming but it wasn't a party political broadcast from the UUP leader. It was merely a sports fan addressing his frustrations, having been to the Irish Cup final last Saturday when Glentoran's 1-0 victory against Portadown, thanks to David Scullion's goal, was somewhat overshadowed by awful officiating, which did not help the mid-Ulster side.

Here's an edited version of what Mr Nesbitt sent: "What a pity human error is allowed to influence the outcome of such an important match.

"These days I am more of a fan of rugby, being a season ticket holder at Kingspan, where referees routinely refer such incidents 'upstairs' to the Television Match Official.

"Yes, it disrupts the flow, but more importantly it yields a fair outcome to close calls.

"I make no plea for Portadown. In my view Glentoran were hungrier, and I congratulate them on the win. But with so much at stake, not least financially, and with technology as cheap as chips these days, I see no logic in football not following rugby's example and investing in a little protection against human frailty."

Such common sense... and they say sport and politicians should never mix!

Belfast Telegraph


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