Early Doors

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Early Doors

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- - Needy football club (130) in north-west seeks fabulously wealthy Arab businessman for fun and frolics. Must have means to cater to expensive tastes. Millions (preferably billions!) needed for new talent - don't expect to see any of it back! Good sense of humour a must. - -

Football is meant to be a business - it is one of the main lessons of the Sky era - but how can that be the case when the sport is so hopelessly detached from real life?

While everyone else endures a global economic meltdown, clubs continue to live in a fantasy world, dreaming of Arab princes sweeping them off their feet and whisking them off to the Champions League final on a magic carpet stitched out of £50 notes.

Liverpool and Newcastle are among a host of clubs in financial straits, but there is no talk of doing what any real business would do - no belt-tightening or redundancies (unless you count King Kev).

Instead they have resolved to get out of trouble by taking out an ad on football's Lonely Wallets page, begging some foolish Dubai-based consortium to blow hundreds of millions of pounds on a brief fling.

Take Burnley owner Brendan Flood's comments to Arabian Business magazine:

"It's a club with super-sized ambition and we need an investor with a super-sized cheque book. It could help fulfil a lot for us."

There's no claim, however spurious, that Burnley represent a good investment. No gentle wooing, or suggestions that the Clarets are a sleeping giant waiting to be awoken (by having gold bars stuffed into their mouth).

It's a simple case of: "We need a new centre-forward, give us money. For pity's sake, how are we going to get promoted with Ade Akinbiyi up front?!"

Having twigged that there is no way to sustain present levels of wage and transfer fee inflation, clubs have given up trying to make themselves into a proper business.

Instead, they are rebranding themselves as black holes into which the uber-wealthy might want to chuck several suitcases of used twenties. You know, just for a laugh.

Football's new economic model is this: We need an owner so stupidly rich he won't even notice if we get drunk and accidentally spend £20m on Grant Leadbitter.

- - -

The Newcastle situation has taken its toll on its fair share of victims, and another came out of the woodwork yesterday in the form of restaurant owner Alan McKenna.

His crime? Looking like Mike Ashley.

Just because he wanders round in a Toon replica shirt downing lager out of plastic cups, McKenna has had punches thrown at him, and been called a "f****** liar" and a "fat b******".

His reply: "I can't believe you called me that, I'm not even that fat!" (He is quite fat)

All three red-tops have run the story this morning, with the Daily Mirror having the temerity to claim an exclusive.

But The Sun, as so often, wins ED's award for the most in-depth coverage as they provided McKenna with a t-shirt saying 'I'm not Mike Ashley'.

- - -

Leaving aside the inevitable collapse of football when clubs realise that the mega-rich aren't as stupid as they hope, it's nice to have lots of English teams in the Champions League. If only to ritually humiliate the French.

Liverpool took care of business in Marseille without playing particularly well, while Luiz Felipe Scolari stuck the boot into Bordeaux by criticising his Chelsea players after they had just beaten the Ligue 1 side 4-0.

Big Phil's beef appeared to be that Chelsea won by too great a margin, and should have spent more time showboating - passing the ball sideways while the slightly bored crowd shouted 'Olé!'.

"When you play well and win it's better. Today we didn't play very well at all. We tried to attack every time without good connections," ranted Scolari.

"I don't want three, four or five-nil - 2-0 is the same three points. We need to be in control of the game. They wanted to make more goals."

Silly them.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Alex Ferguson loves getting fined for misconduct. Loves it. How else could you explain this rant about John Terry getting his red card ban overturned?

"I understand [referees' chief Keith] Hackett told ref Mark Halsey to rescind the red card and he wouldn't. So now he is refereeing in League Two this weekend. I do not understand how that has happened. If it had been a Manchester United player Hackett would not have done this."

In fact, Fergie is so keen on giving away his cash he might consider investing in Newcastle United.

FOREIGN VIEW: Roma president Rosella Sensi is unhappy about her team's 2-1 defeat at home to Romanian side Cluj - so unhappy she has even brought her recently deceased father into it. Which can't be good news if you are coach Luciano Spalletti. She said: "We cannot have played this badly, what is going on? We have invested so much in this team. I continued to thnk about Roma even in the final days of my father's life."

COMING UP: More Champions League action on the way this evening. Manchester United play Villarreal, Arsenal take on Dynamo Kiev and Celtic face Aalborg. Follow it LIVE with us. It's much better than watching the telly.

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