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From Belgravia to Brunei


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From The Guardian. I thought this was quite funny.

 

From Belgravia to Brunei in blink of an eye

 

Harry Pearson

Friday December 8, 2006

The Guardian

 

In this merry season of goodwill and takeovers to all men, something called the Belgravia Group is said to be interested in buying Newcastle United. I have no idea who or what the Belgravia Group is, but the name has a certain louche charm. I imagine a cabal of raffish ex-cavalry officers in Savile Row suits, fronted by Terry-Thomas and Lord Lucan.

I suggested this to a friend who is a season-ticket holder at St James' Park. "It's possible, I suppose," he replied. "Though the name could just be an attempt to add a patina of caddish glamour. You know how hairdressers in crumpling post-industrial towns are called things like Alfredo Di Milano, even though it's actually a bloke called Sid from Ormskirk? Well, this could be the same type of gimmick. It sounds posh, but they're actually just a luxury coach hire company from Accrington.

 

"Is there any other type of coach than a luxury coach, by the way? I mean, you never see an advert that reads 'Put your trust in Briggs's, the Bog Standard Coach Hire Experts', do you? It's like peas. They're always 'garden peas' even if the 'garden' they come from is a 500-acre field in Lincolnshire."

My friend doesn't actually believe either of these things, however. (I mean the things about the Belgravia Group, not the stuff about luxury coaches and garden peas, which truths we hold to be self-evident, obviously.) What he thinks is that the Belgravia Group is a front. He thinks they are really working for "an extremely wealthy Far Eastern investor".

 

"Oh no, not that Sultan of bloody Brunei business again," I said when he told me. "You've been going on about that since Jimmy Hill had a beard."

 

"He's big mates with Kevin Keegan, apparently," my friend said.

 

"How do you know that?"

 

"It's well known," he said, defiantly. "It's on all the message boards."

 

Ah, so it must be true then. Not that you need message boards in Newcastle to learn of the Sultan of Brunei's putative shock swoop. When it comes to football the city is like one huge information superhighway with every citizen a whizzing megabyte of definitely-know-it-for-a-fact-take-it-from-me information. You can hardly walk out the front door without hearing the incontrovertible truth behind Kieron Dyer's injury woes.

 

Partly this is because people in the north-east like to chat. I used to think I talked a lot. Then I moved to Northumberland. Now I regard myself as laconic. Mainly, though, it is because the very air seems to vibrate with rumours about the goings on at St James', which to Tyneside is the Kremlin, Hollywood and Pete Doherty rolled into one. Take a deep breath and your lungs are filled with tales of transfers, transvestism and lurid episodes in private rooms that conclude with the words, ". . . and from what I heard, that poodle belonged to the Bishop of Durham".

 

Whatever the story, one thing that you can rely on is that it will not have arrived at the teller's door directly. No, it will have come via a route as long and circuitous as a Garth Crooks question, via window cleaners, bikini-waxers, barmen and billiard-hall attendants, bouncers and blokes who once knocked about with a lad who was in E Wing with the second cousin of the arresting officer. And far from detracting from the validity of his tale, the teller's removal from it serves only to add to its veracity in the minds of all who hear it, which is everybody. Empiricism has no place in the world of football rumour.

 

Not that Newcastle fans are alone in this, I should say. A few years ago, a top BBC political journalist told me a deep secret about goings on at No 10 and when asked where the story came from replied: "My wife's hairdresser. She knows the sister-in-law through the school PTA."

 

He was entirely serious. In fact, I suspect this kind of belief in the extended rumour trail is common in all walks of life. It's entirely possible that when Tony Blair told the nation about the intelligence sources that confirmed Saddam's possession of WMDs he was actually talking about a cleaning woman from Purley, whose son's mate Kev was on the oil rigs with a bloke from Basra.

 

To be honest, I don't have much faith in this latest blast of takeover talk. It seems to me that for every foreign billionaire who actually buys a British football club there are a several hundred who simply hop about on the fringes, waving their money in a will-he-or-won't-he fashion. Some of them are plainly sadists using their vast wealth to torment supporters of financially blighted clubs with the prospect of a bright future.

 

One of them, a Turkmen gas mogul - who cannot be named because it is too hard to spell - has even spoken out on the subject, saying: "As a boy I dreamed of being spuriously linked with a struggling English team just long enough for their long-suffering supporters to begin fantasising about a forward line of Klose, Ronaldinho and Totti before suddenly disappearing, never to be heard of again. And I know that for a fact because the bloke who told me once went out with a woman whose ex-husband . . . "

 

http://football.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,,1967048,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=5

 

 

 

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Quite a funny article, but seeing as the Belgravia Group have said they're in talks, and their interest has been officially confirmed by the Club to shareholders, it hardly counts as a wild rumour dreamt up by Geordies.

 

The idea that foreign takeovers are mostly moonshine is also completely wrong. Villa and West Ham have fallen into foriegn hands this season, with Liverpool about to follow. Man U and Chelsea have also gone recently. There's a lot of interest in England's major clubs from abroad.

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Quite a funny article, but seeing as the Belgravia Group have said they're in talks, and their interest has been officially confirmed by the Club to shareholders, it hardly counts as a wild rumour dreamt up by Geordies.

 

The idea that foreign takeovers are mostly moonshine is also completely wrong. Villa and West Ham have fallen into foriegn hands this season, with Liverpool about to follow. Man U and Chelsea have also gone recently. There's a lot of interest in England's major clubs from abroad.

 

Not forgetting Fulham, who have been in foreign ownership for over a decade.

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Quite a funny article, but seeing as the Belgravia Group have said they're in talks, and their interest has been officially confirmed by the Club to shareholders, it hardly counts as a wild rumour dreamt up by Geordies.

 

The idea that foreign takeovers are mostly moonshine is also completely wrong. Villa and West Ham have fallen into foriegn hands this season, with Liverpool about to follow. Man U and Chelsea have also gone recently. There's a lot of interest in England's major clubs from abroad.

 

Not forgetting Fulham, who have been in foreign ownership for over a decade.

 

Portsmouth this year too. And there has been someone buying into Everton without taking over.

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