Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Amir Khan Shoots Himself in the Foot

It was meant to be the big homecoming, the hometown boy, the World Champion, coming home to pay tribute to his thousands of fans while defending his title. But it’s kind of gone wrong for Amir Khan in the last few days.

This coming Saturday night Khan is set to defend his WBA Light Welterweight title against Paul McCloskey at the Manchester Evening News Arena. The experts predict that the “W” will go against Khan’s name.

However, he won’t be doing it in front of an extensive television audience.

The fight was originally scheduled to be broadcast on pay-per-view on Sky Box Office, but the powers that be at Sky began to have concerns about the undercard. They viewed it as a pay-per-view event, in the same way that professional wrestling and mixed martial events are portrayed. Khan disagreed, saying that his fight was enough to pull in a television audience.

Sky disagreed, and came forward with another business proposal, suggesting that they broadcast the fight on Sky Sports 3 instead.

Khan disagreed again. If his fight was to air on Sky’s normal channels then he wanted it to air on their flagship Sky Sports 1. The only problem was that Sky had scheduled La Liga’s El Classico match between Real Madrid and Barcelona for that spot, and it was something that they weren’t prepared to move.

So Khan, guaranteed an estimated television audience of up to 600,000, took his ball and went over to the Primetime pay-per-view channel, average recent audience 8,000.

Amir Khan may be one of Britain’s best fighters at the moment, but it seems like he’s kind of shot himself in the foot. It’s certainly going to hit him in the pocket. Originally Sky had offered him £1.5 million for the pay-per-view fight, dropping to £150,000 when they wanted to switch the fight to Sky Sports 3. Now, because of his desire to be known as a pay-per-view fighter, and because the fight is now being shown on the less well-known Primetime channel he could be earning less than McCloskey.

His reported earnings, after expenses, could be nothing. A big fat zero.

I can certainly see Sky’s point of view here. After the Audley Harrison/David Haye debacle they were afraid of getting burned again, and with fighters like former World Heavyweight Champion Hasim Rachman pulling out the whole event became slightly less attractive in their eyes.

But by refusing Sky’s offer to put the show on their normal channels Khan has come across as big headed, as egotistical. He thinks that television fans should pay extra to see him in action, despite the fact that Sky subscribers already pay a monthly fee for the sports channels. This despite reports that Sky had only received about 50 customer enquiries before they pulled out of the event.

So this Saturday night, probably around 10pm, Khan will be stepping into the ring for what could be his last fight on British soil for quite a while. There will, no doubt, be a packed house there to watch his efforts, and they’ll most certainly will outnumber those watching on television.

So for the sake of his public image and his ego, Amir Khan, the pay-per-view quality fighter, has cost himself thousands of pounds and thousands of fans. He has, well and truly, shot himself in the foot.