According to Media Guardian, Icon Magazine, the up-market lifestyle magazine that you have to be invited to read, was originally aimed at Premier League footballers but then widened to include millionaire sporting personalities and first class airport lounges, is in trouble.
A joint venture of arguably the first couple that fused football and pop music in Jamie & Louise Redknapp and Jamie’s former team-mate Tim Sherwood, editorial misguidance and general incompetence seem to be the reasons why the magazine is struggling, with a development deal desperately being sought to keep the magazine alive.
Even so, I can’t say that I’m sorry or heartbroken that it’s in trouble, since the magazine debatably acts as a symbol for what is wrong within top-flight football.
The idea to set up the magazine came from Sherwood, who believed that his ‘subtle’ and ‘acquired’ tastes were not being catered for by other lifestyle magazines.
But Icon reeks of sheer elitism with its exclusion and pomposity, and is run on deep-seated consumerism with advertisements of supposedly luxurious items that “complements the ambitions of its affluent readership.” If your ambition is to own a £15,000 Rolex watch, you’re a sports personality and you’re a millionaire, then Icon wants you, loves you and needs you.
All the major interviews are conducted by Redknapp and Sherwood, although they usually get someone else to write it up for them. However, in its opening issue that featured Frank Lampard as its icon, Redknapp decides to give profile writing a go. However, it does help that your interview subject is also your cousin:
“As I sat by the window in Scalini, our family’s favourite restaurant, Frank strolled in looking every inch the footballing icon he is…As Frank tucks into his favourite grilled chicken and penne arrabiata, I’m eager to delve deeper into his career…It hasn’t always been plain sailing for Frank and he has shown real guts and determination to get where he is today.”
Meanwhile, Redknapp and Sherwood have also involved former team-mate and friend Les Ferdinand, who reviewed a helicopter that he bought for a bargain £180,000; and Redknapp’s dad Harry, who test-drove a Bentley.
Redknapp’s interview with Joe Calzaghe prior to his fight against Mikkel Kessler is also tinged with embarrassment, as Redknapp compares the sight of Joe training with his father, Enzo, to watching Michael Jordan “play basketball at ringside”.
He also describes Enzo Calzaghe’s gym in Newbridge, known for its sparse surroundings and basic amenities as “a raw place, full of character.” We can assume that no grilled chicken and penne arrabiata was in sight here. He certainly wins no prizes for description or elaboration, either, and it would have been good of them to employ a knowledgeable, talented freelancer who could have at least produced a worthy piece.
Each cover of Icon also features a pretentious front-cover, with a Premier League footballer (bar the Calzaghe edition) positioned under the title ICON, and is usually sporting a suit and looking serious, bordering on pensive. Oh, and Louise Redknapp predictably runs the magazine’s fashion section. Vanity, vanity, vanity. Although I’ll be the first to admit that Calzaghe does deserve the icon status bestowed upon him.
Icon acts as a prime symbol of where top-flight football has reached. A point where it believes it is cut off from the rest of the world and in a class of its own; a point where that the other world around them is irrelevant and insignificant. Indeed, it is also an example of how publishing can be used as a folly to boost egos and self-importance.
Up to now, NatWest have agreed a plan to stop the £80,000 debt – a week’s wage for most Premier League footballers, spiralling out of control (which, to be honest, I find staggering in itself. Shouldn’t the money at their disposal be more than enough to rescue it?). Time will tell whether advertisers will continue to flock to a magazine of adverts and self-worth.
Hopefully the impending failure of Icon could result in a return to the real world for J. Redknapp et.al, albeit for the briefest of brief periods. But I don’t hold out much hope.