The Easter interference…
A further development in the ownership saga at Swindon was revealed on Good Friday with news that “three observer directors have been appointed to the club” by the Courts and Seebeck87 Ltd later stating they are the owners of the club, not Lee Power’s ‘Swinton Reds20’. Matt Arnold tries to make some sense of how the situation has arisen…
Up in the clouds, in the outer reaches of heavens administration sector, left at the vending machine, as far from the glamorous ‘War and Pestilence office’ (where the cool kids work) as you could possibly be, is a small green cloud. Its distinctive hue is not all that sets this celestial office apart. As you arrive, you are welcomed by angels, not gently playing harps, but instead excitedly whirling 1950’s style football rattles around.
A brief, ironic, experimentation with the vuvuzela in 2010 was quietly abandoned ,after the big man wandered by, lost on his way to the canteen, and deemed the sound “unseemly for even a minor clerical element of the after life”.
This is the ‘Office for Occasional Interference in English football’ (OFOIIEFf). Set up in the light of the 1915 Manchester United/ Liverpool betting scandal (if you are going to benefit from betting on yourself to loose and don’t want to irk the almighty, best not to pick a game on Good Friday) and staffed by a deceased greats of the game, their brief to occasionally right the moral wrongs of the game and try to lead it down a brighter path.
The current ‘OFOIIEFf’ committee are holding their monthly meeting comprising Bobby Robson, Bobby Moore and Brian Clough – an appointment made in haste that St Peter and the boys are repenting for at leisure – survey the domestic football scene below. The trio aren’t entirely happy with their lot. They’ve long since given up on their pet projects; a thunderbolt to change every player’s boots black, and localised floods in the region of Steve Claridge’s house the morning of every Football League Show, are, they’ve been frequently told, far too expensive in these straightened times.
“You should have been here in the boom years” Bobby Moore sighed ruefully at their last get together “they were signing off fire and brimstone left right and centre. …Bloody Bankers”. However this month, the meeting starts with smiles.
“I have to say Brian” chuckles Robson “Turning Vincent Kompany into Hasney Aljofree for that crucial split second, was inspired”
Clough looks proud “We agreed last meeting, we had to stop the title going to bloody London or bloody Manchester again”
“And if ever a year was to be Liverpool’s it should be now” smiles Moore.
“Indeed” Robson, turns suddenly serious “ though I don’t remember us signing off on the Palace/ Cardiff twist, Brian?”
“Yeah I kind of got carried away” Clough continues “Bloody Pulis, as I’ve said many many times, if God had wanted us to play football in the sky….”
“We heard the first 500 times” Moore interrupts’
“Pretty bloody ironic given our present circumstances” mutters Robson.
Clough ignores the jibes…
“Young men, I did all the work last month, pretty bloody generous considering you wouldn’t let Sheffield United win FA Cup!”
Robson smiles kindly “Brian, we have to keep it realistic”.
An awkward silence, then Moore pipes up “Anyway looking forward, the World Cup, of course I’ve been in this job longer than you, and as I’ve said, it’s written in the stars, only one English man can ever win it”
“Rubbish” snorts Robson “Ramsey was sat in this very chair in 1990, he sent down that gust just as Waddle took the penalty, wanted to preserve his reputation”
“Bobby” Moore puts a reassuring arm round his namesake “we’ve been through this, there was an investigation, nothing was proved. And Ramsay didn’t die until 1999”
“At least you got a chance” Clough mutters darkly.
“Anyway, there is good news!” Moore claps his hands together brightly “England aren’t going to win it of course”
“Obviously” chime the other two.
“But not only that, the country have realised it too. They are all being uncharacteristically calm. It’s early days of course, we’ll have to be vigilant, so keep an eye down there, if come early June we see a sudden upsurge in car based St Georges cross flags…”
“Or patronising faux patriotic adverts using my memory to flog lager” Robson observes bitterly.
“Indeed” Moore continues “In that eventuality, if they start getting over excited we’ll break Sturridge’s metatarsal, or have Rooney photographed pissed on the plane over or something”
“James Milner in a drug fuelled orgy with several members of ‘The Only Way is Essex’ cast the night before the first group game?”
“Cloughie!” The others chide in unison “Again. Be realistic”
“Well if that’s everything I’ll be off” Robson stands to leave.
“There is one small issue, still to discuss” Moore consults his notes “Swindon Town….”
Bobby sits down back as Clough groans dramatically “What now?!”
“Well” Moore smiles like he can’t quite believe what he’s about to say “They are set to finish comfortably mid table, with no hope of the play offs, and no threat of relegation”.
Robson inhales sharply “It gets worse, there isn’t a sign of off the field upheaval. Not even a sniff. Totally stable”
“That will never do young man” quips Clough.
“Indeed, so what can we throw at them? The problem is, their fans are pretty used to all sorts after the last 25 years, it’ll have to be something special”
The three greats of the game sit staring into space for a long long time
“I’ve got it!” Moore shouts triumphantly “The return of Seebeck 87 Ltd!”
The other two look sceptical.
“I’m not sure that’s enough, the supporters there are pretty immune to unusual boardroom antics” Robson reminds him “BEST Holdings was probably your masterpiece Mr Moore”
“I can top it, I promise” Moore looks Robson square in the eyes “After several months of letting Lee Power play with the club as chairman they’ve ‘realised’ – on 1st April of all days – they wanted to appoint three new directors to the board, add to this they claim they still own the club!”
“Not bad, not bad at all. Let the uncertainty of ownership continue” Robson grins
“And AND AND.. ”Clough is excited now “Not a ‘Statement Friday’ a ‘Statement GOOD Friday’”…
The three footballing titans smile contently, with that, their work, is done. And everything is as should be once more.
Matt Arnold – @HaroldFlem