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Tuesday, September 15, 1998 Published at 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK

Baldrick boots 'miserable' Murdoch

"Murdoch can't understand football": Tony Robinson

TV comedy star Tony Robinson has launched a fierce attack on Rupert Murdoch over his takeover of Manchester United football club.

The actor, best known as Baldrick in the BBC's famous Blackadder series, said he doubted whether the media tycoon had ever had a moment of "pure pleasure" in his life.

Mr Robinson spoke out during a Trades Union Congress conference debate on England's bid to host the World Cup in 2006.

He told delegates: "Mr Murdoch may well attempt to expropriate the TV rights and the marketing rights.

[ image:
"He'll never understand offside rule": Rupert Murdoch
"But he will never in a million years understand the offside rule."

To applause and laughter, he went on: "He will never understand the pure, unalloyed pleasure of the last-minute equaliser. In fact I doubt whether Rupert Murdoch has ever had one single moment of pure, unalloyed pleasure in his entire life."

Mr Robinson was making an impassioned plea for backing for England's bid.

'We're not moaners'

He said the main reason for supporting the bid was the perception that trade unionists were all moaners.

"We know that that's the opposite of the truth," he said.

The reason for the struggle against injustice was their belief that life can be better. The World Cup could be fun, thrilling and exciting, Mr Robinson said.

Mr Murdoch would never understand the thrill of football, he said.

"But as trade unionists we have and we can and I believe we should be shouting from the rooftops that as far as we are concerned, sport and culture and having a good time are central to what we believe in and are indivisible from the struggle against injustice and inequality," the actor said.

Similar sentiments were expressed to Congress by the leader of the footballers' trade union, Gordon Taylor.

He called on the government to "protect" sport from business in the wake of Mr Murdoch's bid to buy Manchester United.

The general secretary of the Professional Footballers' Association described Mr Murdoch as a "TV cuckoo in football's nest" and warned that if clubs strike deals with TV companies, some teams could go out of business.

The motion to support England's bid was carried unanimously.

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