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Friday, 21 January 2005

1567: FA: Reining In Ferguson and We

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by : Bill Urban

Setting: A luxuriously-appointed, full of trophies for things other than playing football, Soho Square office. Seated at the desk, FA Chairman Geoff Thompson...

Thompson: (musing) All this domestic silliness with Sir Alex and the Frenchman is distracting me from my lucrative, I mean important, work with the prestigious UEFA. executive committee. How am I to help Sepp Bladder to get all the birds, I mean ladies, into tighter kit if I’m busy dealing with domestic catfights among Premier League managers? Hmmm, catfights...

Thompson appears lost in dreams of, well, catfights, presumably not involving Sir Alex and Arsene.

Administrative assistant enters the room, staggering under the burden of a huge file of paper.

Assistant: The latest from Arsene Wenger, sir. Apparently, he says that Sir Alex has, "brought the game into disrepute."

Thompson: He said that? That’s our catch-phrase, that’s our brand, we’ve got commercial packages lined up using that phrase. How dare he? That’s it, time for a patented, Geoff Thompson, "strongly-worded" letter. Give us a bit of paper and a pen, luv.

Assistant throws pen and paper at Thompson, turns and storms out of the room. The Chairman, having missed the pen and paper entirely, watches her every step as she leaves, then sees Sven-Goran Eriksson following her down the hall.

Thompson: Greedy Swede, not again...

Thompson gathers the paper and pen, and writes:

Dear Sir Alex and Arsene:

Would you two shining examples of everything wonderful about British football please consider the possibility of perhaps not engaging in so much of the spirited debate and rhetoric involving each other and your two fine institutions? While we at the FA understand that you two esteemed gentlemen are under tremendous pressure as managers of two of the country’s finest clubs, and thus liable to have an occasional mis-step in public pronouncement, we have been distracted from our normal round of duties here at the FA by all the muck-raking that has been taking place in the media in reference to some of your more colourful statements.

Why, in the past week, I have had to miss two "business" trips to Zurich for meetings with UEFA, while the other members of the FA Board have spent entire days reading the different articles in the papers. How can we be expected to function properly if we miss lunch, and naps, and have to spend hours reading three or four, sometimes even five, newspaper articles?

Come now, gentlemen, surely we can arrive at an understanding mutually beneficial to your clubs and Soho Square? Why, if you think about it, perhaps it’s all just wasted emotion anyway, since it looks as though that Portuguese manager at Chelsea is running away with the premier League title anyway. Yes, that’s it, you two sterling individuals should just relax and calmly watch Chelsea run away with the Premiership; we do that quite well here at the FA, just watch while things go on all about us. Why, the Chelsea manager just made a series of "cheat" allegations about refereeing, I think in reference to a match involving your United side, Sir Alex, and we sat on our hands, issued one our famous "We have no further comment at this moment," statements, and it all sort of went away.

I recommend this course of action highly...

Yours humbly,

Geoff Thompson, Chairman

the FA (the group that is "responsible for all regulatory (including disciplinary) aspects of the game of football in England." In case you’ve forgotten who we are...)

Thompson folds the statement with relish, seals it in Official FA Stationery with a flourish, and presses the intercom button on the phone on his desk.

Thompson: Miss-uh, forgot the name again, luv, come on in here for a minute. Sepp sent some new kit over, and I need to see what it looks like...

Bill Urban

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