Saturday, 3 November 2012






FRANCOME "I was never joining new C4 team.

"John Francome yesterday revealed  he rebutted overtures from Channel 4 retaining his services as a member of it's new-look racing team.

"I never had any intention of joining,"  said the former seven-time champion jockey. "You don't want to be riding Frankel  and then be going back to riding something else."

"Francome was speaking as it emerged the commercial broadcaster's loss has proved the Injured Jockeys Fund's gain following his appointment as the new public face of the charity.

"By accepting the post of president in succession to IJF founder and former Channel 4
colleague Lord Oaksey, who died last month, the communication skills and charisma   that have been the hallmarks of Francome's successful TV career will now be utilised to ensure the organisation retains its high-profile standing among the sporting world's charities.

"Francome ruled out continuing as a pundit when it was announced in August that although  responsibilities for Channel 4 Racing output was passing from Highflyer to IGM from January 1, and although subsequently encouraged to change his mind he insisted that was never an option.

"Commenting on the line-up of presenters announced last week - Derek Thompson, John McCririck and Mike Cattermole were jettisoned to make way for BBC recruits- Francome said: "It is very good. You can't keep everybody happy. One or two of the choices are a little bit of a surprise, but one thing is certain and that is they won't have the team spirit we have.

"The team spirit at Channel 4 came from [Highflyer's Executive producer] Andrew Franklin. Everybody who came to work for us said exactly the same thing; they had never worked on a television program where everyone got on so well."

"With no regrets over his decision, Francome is now concentrating on the future and doing his best for the IJF, which has expended £20 million in charitable assistance and benefited more than 1,000 individuals since launching  in 1964.

"He said: "I'm very honoured to take on this role, especially following in the footsteps of John Oaksey, I hope I can do it justice and carry on the great and essentialwork the Fund does, although, unlike the indomitable Lord Oaksey, I shan't be standing out in the cold selling Christmas Cards.

"Every other sport in the country looks up to racing as an example of how a charity can look after its participants and I am determined that will continue to be the case."

"IJF chairman Brough Scott said: "John is not just a famous name. I've always been struck by how often he's done things for other jockey's in ways that usually go unreported.

"I couldn't be more thrilled that he is becoming president and I know Lord Oaksey would be too. John is still worshipped by current jockeys and connects us to the future."

"Lesley Graham, who like Francome did not wish to be part of C4 Racing without Franklin at the helm, is taking over as the chief executive of Racing Welfare when Cedric Burton retires at the end of the year."



Racing Journalist of the year Lee Mottershead brings us update

(Racing Post Monday October 29th 2012)
"The end result is that Channel 4 has assembled an impressive team for the start of it's life as
racing's excusive terrestrial broadcaster. The sadness is in getting to that result the broadcaster has treated some of its longest-serving and most popular  servants in a manner that should leave it feeling apologetic and embarrassed. It is often said television can be a cruel, heartless business. That may or may not be fair, but certainly the process through which Channel 4 assembled its future cast has been one in which the personal feelings of those being dispensed with have been shown scant consideration.


"Channel 4 and IGM knew that when taking on the Grand National, Derby and Royal Ascot it was imperative to form a band of brothers  and sisters that could rival the one used by the departing BBC. Not surprisingly, the BBC's tree has been picked liberally, with Rishi Persad and Mick Fitzgerald  joining lead anchor Clare Balding by some interesting adding in a company whose executive producer, Carl Hicks, is also a stalwart of the corporation.


"Simon Holt, Channel 4's principle commentator since 2000, was a shoo-in to stay in the role and deservedly does so, while other existing Channel 4 personnel will be joined  by some interesting new recruits, none more able than the superb Graham Cunningham, for whom a terrestrial elevation  had long been overdue.


"All those mentioned above received good news and most of them received the news, pending the signing of contracts, a number of days in advance of the official announcement . Those for whom the outcome was less positive were not so lucky.

" In this column last week, six of the principle Channel 4 appointees were named. It was possible to do so because they had been told that the jobs were theirs. This became common knowledge within the Channel 4 family, including among those who had heard nothing for weeks and were therefore resigned to disappointment. In most cases, their sadness is not so much due to being axed but the way the axe was wielded .

"It is inexcusable  that John McCririck and Derek Thompson, both of whom had worked for Channel 4 since it began broadcasting racing more than quarter of a century ago, were told of their sacking just minutes before the press release was issued. It is inexcusable that Mike Cattermole and Alastair Down, accomplished and popular main presenters for the Flat and jump racing had the truth hidden from them until moments before the public was told of their fate. It is inexcusable that other , younger, but still valuable members  of the Channel 4 team, faces very familiar to viewers , were not granted the courtesy of a phone call even after the press release was sent out to the world. They learned of their fate in that press release.

"That cannot have been the right way for them to be informed their association with the network was coming to an end. Not surprisingly, many of them have been left feeling deeply hurt and let down.

"Communication throughout the reshuffle process has been inadequate, even between Channel 4 and IMG. In Channel 4's defence it was understandably obsessed through most of the summer with the Paralympics, while it was found some key decisions hard to make, none more so than what to do with McCririck.

"Channel 4 boss Jay Hunt was accused of ageism when sacking Countryfile's Miriam  O'Reilly during her time at the BBC. She received similar unwanted headlines when

removing Arlene Phillips from Strictly Come Dancing. Now she is accused of age discrimination by John McCririck, but the impact of Hunt's move would have been afforded the courtesy of basic manners. Channel 4 has shot itself in the foot. What should have been the positive announcement of an exciting new team has turned into a public-relations mess.
"Also complicated has been the formal transition process from incumbent production company Highflyer staff, who question whether IMG has correctly adhered to TUPE legislation that they believe required IMG to re-hire them in their existing roles. It will inevitably be resolved but the wrangling has added a further unfortunate aspect to a different document.

"Soon enough we will be at Cheltenham on January 1, by which time we will have waved goodbye to both the BBC and Channel 4 Racing as we have known it up to now. The BBC's departure will earn more column inches as we march towards the end of the year,  but it would be remiss not to mark the contribution made to the terrestrial coverage of racing by those aligned to Channel 4 who are about to exit the stage. Some have been almost universally admired by viewers, others have divided opinion,but all are deserving of our thanks.

"It would also be  wrong not to recognise the work of Highflyer, its behind-the-scenes staff and, in particular, executive producer Andrew Franklin, who helped to revolutionise the broadcasting of racing and whose dignity since the appointment of IMG has been commendable.

"Times change and from the turn of the year we will watch racing on Channel 4 that will undoubtedly be produced and presented with real aplomb. With Balding and Luck at the helm of a ship boasting a seriously talented crew, Channel 4's IMG-produced programming has the potential to be excellent. Soon enough we can concentrate on that "Had the hiring and firing been done with a touch more class, we might be doing so already."
J Margaret Clarke Turfcall Comment
 WHO can ever replace Mac, Tommo,  Mike Cattermole, Alastair Down,  NO ONE 
This has no business to be going on needs stamping out for once and for all time.


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