Meridian TV: Goodbye Goldstone

Bill Archer gives the show a touch of the surreal

Bill Archer gives the show a touch of the surreal

Yesterday on North Stand Chat, a user called The Great Gatsbt answered a request by posting the infamous hour-long special on Brighton’s plight, on Sunday 9th February 1997:

It makes for remarkable viewing. As Foster’s Headband remarked:

Bellotti and Archer were on telling the usual lies and a few very irate fans. Tony Millard, John Vinnicombe, Atilla, Paul Samarah, Alan Mullery, Mark Lawrenson, Gerry Ryan all had their say and Ivor Caplin who proved that both Archer and Bellotti to be lying about a supposed planning application they had put in, but Caplin informed the programme this had already been refused.

Here is an extract from Stephen North and Paul Hodson’s ‘Build a Bonfire’ (p.166-167) about the show:

WARREN CHRISMAS: We’d all had such a great time at Fans United and everyone was still buzzing on the coach going over to Meridian to record the programme. We weren’t made to feel very welcome and it was a bad programme. It was bad PR for Albion supporters, it just didn’t go right. At the beginning of the programme Geoff Clarke says there will be plenty of opportunity for Albion’s fans to ask questions, and there never was and before we knew it, it was over and it wasn’t until it was over that everybody started to get really angry.

PAUL SAMRAH: Fans United on the Saturday was a brilliant day – the Sunday, the ‘Goodbye Goldstone’ debate on Meridian TV, was a disaster. We went in there rather naively thinking that all the facts surrounding the furore about the club will be explained in a balanced view and it wasn’t. Dick Knight was not going to attend because Bill Archer wouldn’t attend. Well, to our surprise Bill Archer was there, David Bellotti had the cheek to turn up and also arrived with his wife which was even more galling because in our negotiations with Bellotti he’d asked us to refrain from any verbal or other attacks on his wife and we naturally assumed that, really, she would take a back seat.

Regrettably things got out of hand and we didn’t get our case across in a professional way and it ended up being a shouting match and I was glad the programme ended when it did because I think we could have done our cause an awful lot of harm.

Bellotti is brilliant in front of the cameras, he’s a superb guy in an interview – he can answer a subsidiary question and miss the main question.

Archer came across as a nice guy sitting in a studio in Liverpool.

As soon as I came out of the debate I rang Dick Knight and said, ‘Did you know that Archer was appearing?’ and he told CEDR because it was a CEDR agreement that they wouldn’t go. Driving back the 60 miles from Southampton we felt cheated, we felt hijacked and the most annoying thing was that we knew it was down to us. It wasn’t anybody else really that had let us down, it was ourselves that let ourselves down.

LIz COSTA: The ‘Goodbye Goldstone’ programme was a total triumph for Archer and Bellotti. And this having taken place a week after Bellotti had said to us, ‘Please leave my wife alone’, he brought her into that studio. She had nothing whatsoever to do with that programme – she had no input, was not expected to have any input.
Archer was there with a patch over his eye, we were told, because he had corneal problems. The neutrals, the people who didn’t really know what was going on or had chosen not to take any notice, must have thought, ‘What the hell are the supporters on about? Archer and Bellotti are so totally feasible.’ Well, that’s how they bloody wriggled their way in in the first place, by being feasible.

TONY FOSTER: To some extent we were stitched up on that – as far as I’m concerned so was Dick Knight and the consortium. Things were edited, we had to re-do quite a bit and at the end of the programme re-record certain bits that probably didn’t come across on the programme.

PAUL SAMRAH: I am afraid it was the low point of our campaign.

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