On Saturday, the Birmingham City Football Club will pay its respects for Arthur LabinjoHughes.

Supporters at the home match with Cardiff will be invited to pay tribute to Arthur after six minutes — his age, in years, when he died at the hands of his stepmother — a flag of remembrance will be installed and two memorial bricks will be cemented into the St Andrew’s stadium. It’s a well-thought gesture that is both decent and respectful.

We do not know if Arthur ever watched a game at St Andrew’s, but we know they were his favourite team. Because he was afraid it would bring him distress, he had a Birmingham shirt that his father, a scumbag, cut up for him.

There was applause at the weekend on the sixth minute of Premier League matches in tribute to Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who died a horrifically cruel death

The sixth minute of Premier League games was honoured with applause in honour Arthur Labinjo Hughes, who suffered a terrible and tragic death.

Football has adopted Arthur as its own. There were tributes at grounds around the country on Saturday, started by a minute of applause at West Ham’s game with Chelsea, again in the sixth minute.

At Millwall last weekend, Birmingham’s players wore T-shirts and unfurled a banner that read ‘We love you Arthur’ before the match. This was a direct reference to an unimaginably pitiful piece of film shown to the jury at the trial of Arthur’s father and stepmother, depicting him alone and weeping that nobody loved him and nobody was going to feed him, as he dragged his broken and emaciated body around the room, trying to gather a blanket for warmth as he slept apart on the floor.

You might want to stop cheering and take a second to think about this. We are sure you have the best intentions. These tributes are not meant to be criticized. There is no good reason to applaud this sad case.

This requires silent reflection and thoughtful thought. Arthur had to be heard by everyone.

Arthur's case is so utterly miserable that it warrants silent reflection rather than applause

Arthur’s story is so awful that you should not be able to help but reflect on it.

He was a smart little boy. He knew it wasn’t right, this absence of love, of kindness, of care, from his life.

He knew it wasn’t right that he wasn’t fed, or was poisoned with salt. He was able to observe the lives of other children and to recognize that what was happening was not right.

It’s too late to tell him now how much he was loved. He’s not a little angel in heaven, looking down on us from a soft pillow of clouds, happy at last.

He’s dead. It was an awful death. If we think back to the horrific moments when his head hit against the hard floor repeatedly, it is the result of months of brutal torture from his stepmother and father. His terror, his fear and his pain. Applaud! That’s the fitting response? Clap, clap, clap? This is football. When a player is having a poor game, he tweets a simple message promising it would get better the next week.

Sport cannot make a stand in the face of unbearable tragedies of corruption and institutional failure if it wants to do so.

It is possible to choose between silence and applause. It seems that we have passed the line in terms of appropriate behavior.

It was good to give a standing ovation when an athlete passes away. There is no way Jimmy Greaves or George Best ever made a crowd stop. Applause, which is a fitting tribute to the significance of the event, should be given.

The little boy suffered systematic torture from his stepmother and his father

His stepmother and father used systematic torture to the little boy. 

Arthur Labinjo Hughes is the exception. Arthur Labinjo-Hughes never got the chance to win applause. He didn’t have the ability to survive beyond his horrific childhood. Shouldn’t we reflect on that? Shouldn’t we reflect on the way the adult world failed him, the way it fails too many children, who never stand a chance?

And this isn’t a sermon about society in which everyone is to blame. We know who is to blame for Arthur’s death and they are a cursed, wicked pair and as a lifelong opponent of the death penalty I would look them both in the eyes and press that button tomorrow. I’m not proud of that emotion. Maybe it’s something that happens as you get older.

So wider society didn’t kill Arthur. Applauders at football fields are often moved, saddened, and sometimes, even powerless. They didn’t know the boy, they didn’t know his family.

They would do anything they could to assist others if they had the chance. They know how to help boys, girls and families. It is their deepest belief that Arthur, and not them, can perceive or hear the warmth of our banners, bricks, flags, applauses, and our banners.

This is not football’s issue, really, but by noticing his sad little Birmingham souvenir, and knowing what fate befell the shirt and its pathetic, defenceless owner, football has made it so.

This is the least they can do for Arthur. Thought. One minute of silence. He could do so much more; how can we help others? Don’t just clap. We won’t even hear their claps.

People should consider what more we could do to help other children in need

It is up to us as adults to think of ways we could help children in crisis. 


Bad publicity is not possible. After the fallout of their Kingspan deal, Mercedes may want to reconsider this cliche. Was it really worth £3million to be tied to a company whose reputation is soiled after its connection to the Grenfell tragedy? Mercedes can get that level of investment from any number of commercial partners and the Kingspan deal has also embarrassed Lewis Hamilton, who has spoken out on issues relating to Grenfell’s victims.

Mercedes must understand that in Hamilton they have an iconic figure, outspoken on gay rights in Saudi Arabia, outspoken on green issues, on race issues, more than just a driver — even though his claim to be the greatest of all grows increasingly irresistible.

Mercedes’s sponsor should not be placed on the car without considering his beliefs and public positions. By accepting Kingspan’s money, Mercedes undermined their greatest asset.

It wouldn’t be worth that at any price — but most certainly not £3m.

Mercedes should consider whether is is really worth accepting money from Kingspan

Mercedes needs to consider whether it is worth taking money from Kingspan


Turns out the world’s fittest footballer can run about after all. It’s amazing, who would have thought? Ralf Rangnick, now manager of Manchester United, is advocating for a high-energy and high-pressing match. Cristiano Ronaldo was able to win the ball back against Crystal Palace twice as often as in his previous Premier League matches. 

He might not be able perform at that level 36 years later, but we will find out. This suggests that United has lost its direction under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The idea that they couldn’t press with Ronaldo in the team was always puzzling. 

He’s fit, he wants to win, he’s never been a lazy player, his athletic ability is remarkable for a forward of his experience. Why wouldn’t he have the attributes for the modern game when he’s scored more goals in it than any other player? Everyone wanted Solskjaer to succeed but there were just too many United players who were superior performers in other colours — the blue of France, the white of England — for these shortcomings to be coincidence. 

If Paul Pogba is fit and truly engaged, might Rangnick get a performance level out of him that was previously undeveloped — or is it now simply too late? 

Cristiano Ronaldo showed he is more than capable of playing in a pressing team

Cristiano Ronaldo demonstrated that he’s more than capable to play in a pressing group 


While Tottenham has made Antonio Conte a great appointment, there is still madness in the other areas. Pre-season tours to Australia are planned by the club in 2022. Seriously? Seriously? 

This is the country where the current travel rules are so strict that it’s impossible for the Sydney Morning Herald to get their cricket correspondent into Brisbane’s first Test. This is the country that Tottenham plan to travel to increase their commercial revenues. It’s like they want to lose money.


John Whaite is half of John Whaite’s gay man couple who performed on Strictly Come Dancing. Whaite said that he was expecting much more negativity from the two couples. Whaite, who was already a winner on The Great British Bake Off said that he expected hate mail. However, the responses have been generous and kind. 

‘The number of people we’ve had messages from saying, “I’m proud as a straight mum and straight dad to have children grow up in a world where two men can dance together”, has been truly overwhelming,’ he said. 

Even in football, times are changing. Perhaps now, there is a willingness to allow gay footballers. There isn’t universal tolerance. It’s hard to believe society can ever find that kind of happy place. But it doesn’t have to be a hell. The football crowd may be different than the baking and dancing audience. We might still be surprised, especially if the path isn’t blazed by a single individual.

John Whaite was half of the first gay male couple to perform on Strictly Come Dancing

John Whaite was half of the first gay male couple to perform on Strictly Come Dancing


EFL clubs weren’t impressed with a Twitter conference call that failed to tackle the topic of online abuse. 

‘There were 200 people on the call and I’d be surprised if any left any the wiser,’ my colleague Mike Keegan was told. And that’s the EFL all over. The EFL has 72 clubs. This would seem overwhelming enough. But then, 200 people log into the site and wonder why there is no resolution. That’s management for you; that’s governance. That’s why they need everyone else’s money.

Favourite headline of the weekend, from the Daily Star Sunday: ‘Ginola: I raised the dead.’ Well, he did have that one very good season at Tottenham. 

Marcel Brands didn’t buy into Everton. However, his departure begs the question about how much power he held. It is possible that he did not approve of Rafa Benitez’s appointment, though he seems to have had greater influence. 

The biggest loser is owner Farhad Moshiri — £500million down with little to show for it. Mike Ashley pointed out that football is the only industry where you can make such huge investments and then watch it get worse. Although we all know the answer to Moshiri’s woes: another £500m. 

Marcel Brands left Everton but the club are likely to have to spend plenty more money

Marcel Brands was released by Everton. However, the club is likely to need to spend much more.


It is rather unfortunate for Thomas Tuchel that Chelsea’s little wobble appears to have coincided with a period when Roman Abramovich is making a rare visit to this country. For the first time since 2013, he was present at Stamford Bridge to witness the draw 1-1 with Manchester United. 

He was usually invisible and unnoticed by journalists or photographers on TV. He’s no friend to managers, we know, but a successful chairman who invests, makes the big calls, but stays in the background is a rarity these days. It’s not new money.

Yorkshire have sacked their entire coaching staff in reaction to the county’s racism scandal. All of them were racists.

Many will likely dispute the tainting on reputation and could even argue it in court.

Yorkshire wouldn’t have been careless to hire 16 people with this kind of backward mindset. The rash reaction seems excessively broad for a problem that could be better dealt case by case. However, Julian Knight, the chair of DCMS, immediately reacted positively to it.

‘The experience of Azeem Rafiq at YCCC demanded no less,’ he said. This is why, of all things, any Minister in the Government who gives cause for dismissal will be fired. Given the Westminster standards, it is amazing what politicians expect from other industries. Who else carried the can for Matt Hancock’s inefficiency in the pandemic? Hancock was the only one who could carry responsibility for Hancock’s inefficiency during the pandemic.

It seemed a sweeping reaction from Yorkshire to sack the entire coaching staff following Azeem Rafiq's testimony into the alleged racist abuse he suffered at the club

Yorkshire’s decision to fire all of its coaching staff after Azeem Rafiq’s testimonies about the alleged racism he experienced at the club seemed like a bold reaction

The strangest thing about football’s government regulator zealots is the way they talk as if things that didn’t happen, happened.

The Super League was not formed, due to negative reactions and existing rules. The pandemic shut down did not make professional football any less valuable than other industries.

There have been hard times for football, and will be ahead, but that’s true everywhere.

It is also insulting to suggest that there was an organized pushback. As far as I know, there was only one WhatsApp group formed in the media to campaign on this issue — it was created by Gary Neville with a very good public relations man to rally the country’s leading football writers and commentators to the regulator’s cause. 

The group was then dissolved by one author who was opposed to the unity of opinions. You’re reading him.