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Someone Needs To Say It - RTE Right To Move On From John Giles

Someone Needs To Say It - RTE Right To Move On From John Giles
By Donny Mahoney Updated

John Giles has revealed in today's Herald that his contract with RTE will not be renewed and his legendary run as Senior Pundit will come to an end after Euro 2016 ends. Giles has made it clear that he is not retiring - far from it - but rather RTE decided to move on from him.

In my negotiations with RTÉ Head of Sport Ryle Nugent last year, he made it clear to me that this was to be the final year of my full-time engagement with RTÉ.

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He said that this was designed to allow him to continue the requirement to plan and prepare for the future. This was perfectly understandable to me and I signed the contract which finishes after the Euro 2016 final in France in good faith.

There's a bit of reading-between-the-lines with this, but given the kerfuffle after Ryle dropped Giles last summer, we can only presume the Scotland affair was the first step of RTE moving on from Gilesy. John Giles is Ireland's greatest footballer and probably Ireland's greatest football pundit. He is one of the deities of Irish football. But at the risk of violating the third commandment, RTE is right to move on from Giles.

Football has changed a lot since Giles made his first appearance on the RTE panel for the 1986 World Cup. Indeed, football punditry has changed a lot. While I imagine there'll always be a generation of people who appreciate Giles's brand of football analysis like a cup of hot chocolate - 'get stuck in', 'they're not up for it, Bill' - there's a generation, and possibly two generations, who instantly zone out when Giles offers almost any opinion on football on any of his various media platforms. It is the opinion of this writer that he undermines his own great legacy as a pundit by continuing with regular TV work.

What is worrying, though, is the punditry void, and daresay moral void, that Giles will leave in his wake. The RTE panel has assumed a vastly important role in the national conversation on sport - thanks in large part to the wisdom of Giles - and, strange as it sounds, we need Ireland's best retired players involved in that panel.


Giles has forgotten more about that football than any potential replacement will have known, but a time comes to move on. Thirty years after he made his punditry debut, after Ireland compete in the European Championships, seems as good as any.

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