Shamed soccer pundit "Big" Ron Atkinson has lost out on a lucrative reality TV "Golden Handcuffs" deal with Channel 4 because he is simply "not controversial enough" for their ambitious Spring schedule.
Atkinson, who gained notoriety after being sacked as a commentator for making racist comments on air, was slated to appear on several new shows, including Celebrity Wife Beating and Pass the Boot Polish, but was axed from the broadcaster's wish list when Bernard Manning, Jade Goody's mum and Prince Philip all made themselves available.
"While we admire Ron's past work in the important, ratings-winning field of inciting racial tension, it has become evident that he simply doesn't have what it takes to spark a full-scale, ass-kicking media scandal," a spokesman said. "It is our policy to make sure we create a hate figure to rival Hitler on every reality programme we make, but Ron... how can I put this? He's just a little too, well, cuddly, I suppose. Especially when you compare him to Danielle Lloyd and that pro-slavery bird out of Shipwrecked."
Atkinson was more than a little miffed by the snub. "I'd just dusted off the old KKK gear and everything," he told us. "I learned those Enoch Powell speeches in full and practised my look of disgust in the mirror while watching old Marcel Desailly videos - I was good to go. But when a couple of Channel 4 executives snapped me with a long lens sipping latte in a Fulham café and reading the Independent, I knew I'd scuppered my chances."
As Ron takes over as manager at lowly Kettering Town, he can only look on whimsically at what might have been. Channel 4's newest show kicks off tonight - Get the Gypsies off my Land features Nick Griffin and Germaine Greer leading teams of skinheads and asylum seekers in a paintball free-for-all across the Surrey countryside.
C4 Chief Executive Andy Duncan said: "This is an important programme that will highlight the social plight of illegal immigrants in modern Britain. Plus it will be a great chance to show Germaine Greer getting the kicking she so richly deserves. We're very excited."