Search icon


21st Aug 2019

Ian Holloway has a long history of talking gibberish, and his Brexit gaffe is nothing different

Wil Jones

As a Queen’s Park Rangers fan, I have spent an irrational amount of time defending Ian Holloway

Last year, when QPR unceremoniously dumped Ian Holloway for Steve McClaren, I stood up for him. Holloway might not be a brilliant manager, but he was a dependable hand, is liked by the fans, and at the right level – unlike McClaren, a ‘bigger name’ who has a long proven record of failure in the Championship. After McClaren was sacked following a run of one win in fifteen games, it wasn’t hard to make a case that Ian Holloway should have remained in his post.

On Monday night, it got a lot harder to defend Ian Holloway.

Whilst appearing on Sky Sports’ The Debate, Holloway was taking about Gabriel Jesus’ last-minute disallowed goal against Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend. Like many fans, he was exasperated about VAR interfering with the game, and being used to cancel out the dramatic finale of the match.

Then Ian Holloway went full Ian Holloway, seemingly blaming the EU for the decision.

“I don’t think that’s our boys making up that new change of law,” spouted Holloway. “I think that’s people telling us what we should do with our game. Now, they should stop doing that. I hope we get out of Brexit, because that’s what we all voted for, and sort that out, because you cannot have someone telling us how to do our own game.”

So, let’s clarify this first – the law changes that resulted in handball being given against Aymeric Laporte comes from the International Football Association Board. 50 per cent voting power on the IFAB actually falls to the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish FA, with FIFA holding the other half – and crucially the European Union has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Whatever terms the UK may or may not eventually leave the EU under, there are things those terrifying unaccountable Brussels bureaucrats don’t control. And shockingly the handball rules are not one of them. George Soros is not leading a secret VAR cabal to destroy our national game.

Now, to Holloway’s credit, he has since attempted to clarify his comments, telling The Mirror: “Brexit is nothing to do with the football rules, is it? I’m not that stupid”.

In footballing terms, Holloway is probably best known for bringing Blackpool to the Premier League in 2010, playing some lovely football in their first and only top flight season but failing to keep them up. But let’s be honest, because Ian Holloway is most famous for saying ridiculous things.

Upon getting QPR promoted to the Championship in 2004, he declared: “Every dog has its day, and today is woof day! Today I just want to bark!”

“He’s six-foot something, fit as a flea, good looking – he’s got to have something wrong with him,” he once said of Cristiano Ronaldo. “Hopefully he’s hung like a hamster – that would make us all feel better. Having said that, me missus has got a pet hamster at home, and his cock’s massive.”

Or perhaps most notoriously, this longwinded description of a turgid QPR draw with Chesterfield: “To put it in gentleman’s terms if you’ve been out for a night and you’re looking for a young lady and you pull one, some weeks they’re good looking and some weeks they’re not the best. Our performance today would have been not the best-looking bird but at least we got her in the taxi. She weren’t the best looking lady we ended up taking home but she was very pleasant and very nice, so thanks very much, let’s have a coffee.”

Basically, the point is, Ian Holloway has always come out with dumb shit, and it is not surprising that he has come out with dumb shit on Brexit.

But he isn’t the first old, rich, ex-QPR manager to have a stab at the Brexit debate (“We’ll be far better out of the bloody thing,” ranted Neil Warnock during a post-match interview in January. “In every aspect. Football-wise as well.”). Of course, as members of the electorate, they are allowed to have their opinion. It’s just a shame Holloway came out with nonsensical gibberish that was both inaccurate and vaguely xenophobic. And his follow-up comments to The Mirror haven’t really made things better either.

“What I’ve said, and I can say it very clearly, is I’m sick and fed up of being told what to do by people who aren’t running our country,” Holloway continued to the newspaper in what was reminiscent of ‘Old Man Yells At Cloud’. “FIFA and UEFA have brought these rules in, they told us we’ve got to use VAR that I’ve got no problem with, but that handball rule that they’ve made up, I don’t want to listen to them. That’s nonsensical. It’s just in the same way that I’m sick and fed up of us in the UK being told what to do by the EU.”

It’s such a depressing outlook. To conflate the trivial issue of Manchester City having a goal disallowed with the all-too-familiar populist rhetoric of taking back control from some ill-defined Johnny Foreigner boogeyman is just unhelpful, and clearly the reaching comments of a man who realised he said something stupid and is trying to claim that he did, in fact, know what he was saying. But just how leaving the EU won’t instantly solve the deep-rooted problems in British society, the issues in the modern game cannot by any means be put down to foreign bodies like FIFA and UEFA.

Maybe, in Ian Holloway’s mind, he can go off and form a splinter league, a British dad version of Vince McMahon’s much-touted XFL revival, that harks back to a vague golden era where we weren’t ‘told what to do by people who aren’t running our country’, but also didn’t get to see wonderful footballers like Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne.

Look forward to next week when he blames Financial Fair Play on Bernie Sanders and diving on Chairman Mao.