Big Ron Manager

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Big Ron Manager
Narrated by Jeff Stelling
Country of origin United Kingdom
Production company(s) North One Television
Original network Sky One
Original release 22 August (2006-08-22) – 19 September 2006 (2006-09-19)

Big Ron Manager is a television documentary series based on Ron Atkinson's efforts as a troubleshooter at the English football club Peterborough United, at the time playing in Football League Two. The series was screened on Sky TV in 2006.

Originally, the show was going to feature Swindon Town and Sky spent around four weeks filming there before being asked to leave by the Swindon management. Peterborough United received a fee of around £100,000[1] from Sky TV for access to the changing rooms and for Ron Atkinson to assist the rookie manager Steve Bleasdale. Bleasdale was unhappy at Atkinson's involvement in the changing room and subsequently banned him and the cameras from the changing rooms on matchdays. However, later in the series Bleasdale relented after being overruled by Chairman Barry Fry.

Some scenes caused quite a stir in Peterborough when the show was aired, including a dressing room brawl between Mark Arber and Paul Carden and Bleasdale rowing with youngsters Sean St Ledger and Danny Crow.

St Ledger joked about suing Sky TV, after claiming the programme showed him as the team's bad boy, which he denied. The media alighted on this, and he was later forced to clarify that the statement was in fact, a joke.

There were several instances during the filming of Atkinson upsetting Bleasdale:

  • Although the club were short of funds, he persuaded Barry Fry to hire a goalkeeping coach in Tony Godden
  • Suggesting during an injury crisis to go for Queens Park Rangers striker Stefan Moore on loan. However Bleasdale overruled Atkinson and instead snapped up Lloyd Opara on a free transfer from a local team.

In April 2006, Bleasdale walked out of Peterborough United only 70 minutes before a game against Macclesfield. It was later reported that this was due to clashes with Atkinson.[2] Chairman Barry Fry put himself in charge for the final two games of the season.

Big Ron Manager was regarded as a low point in the fortunes of Peterborough United.[3] However, it proved the catalyst for future revival. Property businessman Darragh MacAnthony—who previously had no connection with the club—watched the show on television and a few months purchased the club and later became chairman. Under MacAthony's investment and his appointment of Darren Ferguson as the club's manager in 2007, Peterborough gained promotion to League One in 2008 and then to the Championship in 2009.[3]