There was widespread incredulity after it emerged English football had found something that hadn’t already been sold to an overseas billionaire. Simultaneously the rumour that a high-profile London property existed whose title deeds still hadn’t been transferred to a foreign owner with no plans to live in it was revealed to be true. Over recent years the latter tale had come to be considered as no more than a myth, and the discovery will force extensive rewrites on the producers of upcoming Harrison Ford movie, Indiana Jones and the Offshore Shell Company.
It seems that Wembley is about to be sold to Shahid Khan, luxuriantly moustachioed owner of Fulham and the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. One of the teams Khan owns plays 7.5 miles away from the giant illuminated arch, and the other is based 4,257.5 miles away. In an unexpected twist, the team from down the road would not play there (FA Cup triumphs notwithstanding) but the one from the other side of the Atlantic would. According to Khan, moving the Jaguars – who have played one game each year at Wembley since 2013 – away from Jacksonville for much or indeed all of the season would be an extremely good way of improving the connection between the Jags and their Florida home. “The stronger the Jaguars are in London, the more stable and promising the Jaguars’ future will be in Jacksonville,” cheered Khan. The Fiver is still mining this argument for signs of logic.
Khan said “the spirit and essence of Wembley would be unchanged” should the sale go through. “Wembley is a special place, beloved in London and known throughout the world,” he oozed. “At all times we will be guided so the stadium and Wembley brand are both protected and enhanced. We will take excellent care of Wembley Stadium in every respect, and at all times be good citizens and neighbours here in London and beyond.” What could possibly go wrong?
The stadium would cost £600m, money the FA could then spend on massive improvements to grassroots facilities. Well, either that or on the severance packages of a succession of clumsily-appointed international managers, time will tell. Khan said the sale would allow the FA “to focus on its core mission of developing players with the best player developers and facilities anywhere in the game”, which contrary to initial impressions is not believed to be intended as satire. England would continue to play most of their matches there and the FA would continue to operate Club Wembley, the lucrative scheme whereby it charges massive sums to grant people access both to good seats and disappointing half-time cheese platters. This could take the total value of the deal towards £1bn, depending on the future profitability of cheese.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“There is a real risk that Middlesbrough will lose players to BCFC if it continues to employ each member of the backroom team at the same time as each other and/or Mr Monk. A number of Middlesbrough’s current players … were recruited or favoured by different members of the backroom team and remain loyal to them. BCFC’s employment of the backroom team is therefore likely to give it ongoing competitive advantage over Middlesbrough” – Ian Mill, barrister acting for Boro at the high court in London, explains why the club are suing Birmingham City for employing former manager Garry Monk’s backroom quartet of James Beattie, Darryl Flahavan, Sean Rush and Ryan Needs.
Yes, it’s our not-singing, not-dancing World Cup Fiver. Out every Thursday lunchtime BST, here’s the latest edition, on Belgium.
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“Now that Franchise FC are guaranteed to finish below AFC Wimbledon and are dead certs for the drop, do you think the FA will admit their failed experiment was not in the wider interests of football? Maybe it would like to try moving them to another town?” – Andrew Hodkin.
“In a season when Everton have embarrassed themselves so consistently on and off the pitch and Liverpool are going to win Big Cup, I’d offer evens on Bobby M lifting the World Cup to apply that final kick in the b@lls we deserve for abandoning his rose-tinted planet in favour of Sam’s Mordor” – Ben Kelly.
“It is very benevolent of Brechin City (yesterday’s Bits and Bobs) to offer cut-price tickets to season-ticket holders who surely have already paid for them. Or are they going to refund some money to each season ticket holder to allow them to buy the free drink. Scottish generosity at its best” – Leon Herrell.
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BITS AND BOBS
Arsène Wenger reckons Arsenal should appoint a former player to replace him. “The need is to make the right decision, even if you have to be bold. Is it former people that worked here? That is even better,” he mumbled, leaving some cards with his contact details in the training ground canteen.
Diego Simeone could unleash expert party-spoiler Diego Costa at the Emirates in the Big Vase semi. “‘Many teams have suffered at the hands of Diego,” he whispered, referring to Costa and not himself, we think.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not come out of international retirement to play for Sweden at the Ethics World Cup. “The men’s national team’s greatest scorer of all time has not returned and will not play,” tooted a team statement.
Elsewhere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is ruled out of the tournament with knee-ouch, while Germany’s Jérôme Boateng could also miss out with muscle-gah.
The Ailsa from Home & Away era at Southampton continues to catch the eye.
Gareth Bale isn’t best pleased at warming Real Madrid’s bench, but will stay and fight for his place.
The Fiver’s dreams may finally be coming true: $tevie Mbe is in the running for the manager’s job at … the Pope’s Newc O’Rangers.
Chivas beat Toronto FC on penalties to win Concacaf Big Cup.
Keith Curle will step down as Carlisle boss at the end of the season.
And in the most meaningless award since they gave it out 12 months ago, Sunderland have named John O’Shea as their player of the year.
STILL WANT MORE?
Cristian Riveros! El-Hadji Ba! Ignacio Scocco! Ricky Álvarez! The complete list of Sunderland’s signings under Ellis Short makes for grim reading.
There was a familiar feeling of regret for Bayern Munich after their sixth straight defeat to Real Madrid, laments Nick Ames.
Thirty-one years ago, Burnley were one game from dropping into non-league. Tom Davies was at Turf Moor that day, and remembers the Golden Goal that saved them.
Italy strolled into the 1974 World Cup but suffered such a scare against Haiti that their campaign fell apart. Simon Burnton looks back at another stunning moment.
Pass and move, it’s the Wolves groove: Martin Laurence on how Championship winners dominated the division.
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