Outside the Box: Ferguson talks to the Beeb again? You're having a laugh

With Sam Allardyce and Harry Redknapp both embracing the BBC again after a two-year boycott, and Redknapp's assistant at Tottenham, Kevin Bond, understood to be prepared to forgive and forget, is it time for Sir Alex Ferguson, the one remaining refusenik, to follow suit? Don't hold your breath, or, if you are a Beeb reporter, your microphone. Since a BBC3 programme in May 2004 about his son Jason's activities as an agent, Sir Alex has spoken to the corporation only three times, showing his warmer side by contributing to special Sports Personality of the Year tributes. Consider, however, the karma that has followed Allardyce and Redknapp since letting bygones be bygones. Both were upset by allegations made in a 2006 'Panorama' programme on corruption in football and agreed a joint pact. But after Portsmouth's FA Cup tie at Ipswich last January, Redknapp suddenly asked: "Where's the BBC?" He gave their man an interview rather than a smack in the mouth, and four months later was at Wembley winning his first trophy in 25 years of management. Similarly, no sooner had Allardyce agreed to break his silence after being appointed at Blackburn than they scored three in his first half an hour back in football.

Pundits play it safe again

Meanwhile, after a cautious couple of weeks declining to make any of their famously premature predictions about which Premier League clubs will be safe from relegation, the 'Match Of The Day' pundits were back with a bang, saving three teams at a stroke in one programme. No danger of Hull plunging that far downwards, Mark Lawrenson assured us in the time-honoured phrase: "They'll be fine". Great news too from his mate Alan Hansen for any Tottenham fans worried by winning only five of their first 19 games: "Harry Redknapp... an absolute certainty to get them out of trouble." And the Beeb is clearly dear old pals now with Big Sam, whose Blackburn had lost 10 of their first 17 games: "Sam will get them out of trouble," Hansen said confidently. So, with Bolton (three points from the relegation zone) and Fulham (five clear) declared safe weeks ago, and the top half-dozen presumably beyond consideration, that leaves West Bromwich, Man-chester City, West Ham, Stoke, Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Newcastle, Wigan and Portsmouth to receive MOTD's blessing. Watch this space. Or BBC1 on a Saturday night.

The drinks are on Hansen

For women of a certain age who cannot get enough of the delectable Hansen, he can also be heard, oddly, in Setanta's football coverage, albeit in the half-time adverts, where it's not the defending that's "unbelievable", it's the price of Famous Grouse Whisky at Morrison's. This brings to mind a true story from the early days of LBC radio, when a very correct presenter introducing an item about some show- jumping sponsored by FGW considered the cue too excitable and rewrote it: "An event sponsored by the well-known Grouse Whisky." We all make mistakes. As did Setanta immediately after last Monday's game at Everton, rather embarrassingly putting up a caption with Chelsea top of the table for Christmas, having apparently been awarded two points for a goalless draw. And then introducing referee Graham Poll as "Graeme Sharp". It must have been office party day.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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