It wasn’t the biggest Twitter bomb of the week, that was reserved for Jonnie Marbles and his custard pie, but the reaction to the Dispatches – How to Buy a Football Club was fierce.
As the title suggests, the programme claimed to reveal how easy it was to buy a football club. Not that the reporters did that, you understand. They met with a puffy faced Thai, Joe Sim, who claimed he could arrange deals to buy teams like Sheffield United (current debt: £58 million).
With him was Bryan Robson who offered invaluable advice on how to realise the millions hidden in these debt-ridden carcasses. Basically, sell your training ground to a supermarket, bring in loads of brilliant players on loan and reach the Premier League, then sell your club for £100million+. Is that all? Thanks Bryan.
It’s not exactly news that bullshit merchants are looking to make a few quid from football. And Bryan Robson has had his body and credibility battered by the game. So his callousness shouldn’t be a surprise.
More 'proof' came from pictures of Sim with a bigwig from Sheffield United. But if you had £58million of debt, you'd probably share a couple of hours with every kook that came knocking claiming to have millions of pounds in his pocket.
We got a couple of mentions with the insinuation that we were close to falling into an abyss of corruption. We’re a club that has growth potential, a good infrastructure, ground and a sound fan base. Investors scratching around for investment opportunities in football may well consider us a second glance.
That doesn’t necessarily explain how we were identified alongside Cardiff, Leeds and the two Sheffield clubs. Here’s my theory. The lynchpin of British football is Sir Alex Ferguson. Sim was an egomaniac who made much of his contacts with the man, despite the programme's insinuation that he had, there was no evidence that he’d ever actually benefited from knowing him.
It’s quite conceivable that Sim had, at some point, through Sir Alex, met his good mate, Jim Smith. And that somewhere along the line it was mentioned that Smith had connections with Oxford. From that Sim could then claim that through his vague network of football contacts that he could, theoretically, put investors in contact with people who might have an influence over the sale of the club. But that's it really. I don’t think we’re very close to being taken over by evil gambling rings as the programme suggested. We can probably rest up for now.