The forgotten story of … Luton Town’s Manager Idol

Primetime TV would prove the inspiration for one of the most shambolic managerial appointments in football history

Back before X Factor, Strictly and Britain’s Got Talent dominated the Saturday night schedules, there was Pop Idol, the Simon-Cowell-backed singathon on which hundreds of plucky crooners belted their hearts out for the chance to win a record contract, while the public called in – in their droves – to vote for their favourites.

On 9 February 2002 more than 13 million people tuned in to see Will Young take on Gareth Gates in the final of the first series – nearly nine million votes were cast. It was a huge ratings and financial success – even before the No 1 singles and multiplatinum albums, the series made £2.5m from the public’s newfound desire to have their say on the premium-rate phonelines.

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