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Fit & Proper


by Phil Thornton


No, it’s not the latest Streets LP or the latest Edinburgh Festival comedy double act but the Football League’s preposterous test to gauge if someone willing to buy a football club is morally upstanding enough for their very high standards.  Of course it’s just a hastily constructed smokescreen to disguise Little Englander bigotry because so many of our top clubs are now in the hands of Johnny Foreigner. How do we measure someone’s ’fitness and properness’ I wonder. Ever been in prison? Ever tortured a rodent? Ever sniffed an illegal substance or a pair of schoolie’s knickers? No, what these pompous, plastic Puritans really mean is this; ‘do you have slanty eyes or speak like Yul Bryner?’


Since when have any football chairmen been ’fit and proper’ people to run a football club?  They’ve always been a bunch of petty crooks, swindlers, megalomaniacs, bullies and tyrants, a gang of venal, self-serving egotists desperate to create their own fiefdoms in order to indulge their own narcissism. Do you think the likes of Ken Bates, Louis and Martin Edwards, Alan Sugar, Doug Ellis, Freddie Shepherd, Ron Noades, Peter Swales and all the other puffed up patricians who sat in the big chair were men of moral integrity? These boardroom bandits got away (and in some cases continue to get away with) all kinds of dodgy tricks, both in their business dealings within and outside of the game. Even so-called philanthropists such as former Liverpool chairmen David Moores’ fortune was founded upon the morally dubious basis of  gambling. The pools, like the lottery, appeals most to those who need money the most and therefore bet disproportionately than is wise, thereby perpetuating a vicious circle of poverty and debt.  That’s capitalism folks!      


But that’s OK, Moores’ money was ‘clean’ unlike the man who tried to buy him out, former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. A man wanted on corruption and human rights charges at home and who, before he was deposed in a military coup, attempted to purchase Liverpool FC using his own country’s Lottery fund. I don’t think even that bent public school crook Tony Blair would’ve attempted to buy a club using the National Lottery’s Heritage Fund…although? Still, don’t worry because his bid ended up dead in the water and, after pimping themselves to various local builders and Arab billionaires, Liverpool’s money men settled on two American hucksters. Shinawatra invested his illegal slush fund into Man City instead, the fool! 


Now we have foreigners like Icelandic Nosferatu lookalike Eggert Magnusson with his teeth in The Hammers, Yanky wankers, the hideous Glazer family sucking the soul from Manchester United while their compatriots,  Bill Hicks and Ted Bundy treat Liverpool like one of their Texan dog food ’franchises.‘  As for United, well Martin Edwards took over the reigns from his rancid meat peddling aul fellar and has attempted to enrich himself by selling off the club for over 20 years. At one point he almost sold the club to that fantasist, Michael Knighton at a knock-down price that the moustachioed maniac still couldn’t beg, borrow or steal enough dough for. Luckily for Edwards, the glory years bumped up his share price and he was now in a position to haggle with scum like Murdoch, who’s bid was prevented not by fan’s protests but by political intervention; how could a man who controls the premiership’s broadcasting rights then buy out its most successful and profitable club? How could that NOT be a conflict of interest?


The FA and the Premiership and Uefa and FIFA and even some fans, such as Tony Wilson, weren’t too bothered.  Just as now Man City fans shrug off allegations of human rights abuses directed at their owner with the appalling attitude that ’if it brings success to the club, who’s bothered?’ For all his snide self-serving machinations, I don’t think even Peter Swales ever tortured people, although perhaps he should have put some of his players and managers on the rack.  Where once upon a time fans groups would have atleast attempted to combat any hostile or even non-hostile take-over, now it appears that once radical fans openly accept anyone with big enough wallets with enthusiasm or at the very most, resignation. ‘That’s the modern game’ they’ll shrug. 


Compare and contrast the attitude of Man United and Chelsea fans to their respective takeovers. Roman Abramovich is greeted as a messiah and a hero by long-suffering Chelsea fans, desperate for success at any price. So what if he and his pal, Berezovsky swindled the Russian nation’s economic resources; hey, if they hadn’t done it, some other gangster would have. So that’s alright then. John Terry’s 130 grand a week is worth millions of Russians deprived of a post-communist future eh? That’s called ‘the triumph of capitalism’ that is! Chelsea win the league back-to-back thanks to Roman’s stolen millions. Who’s arsed? 

At United fans fought hard to prevent first Murdoch and then Malcolm Glazer taking over their club. Some, even started their own club as a protest. OK, in the end it failed, because in the end money always wins out. Share options, secret deals, city backhanders, bribes, coercion, threats. Greed always triumphs. 


So now every global tycoon is after a slice of the Premiership pie. Once upon a time it was local self-made men in sheepskin coats now it’s multi-millionaires in bespoke suits. Different era, different game, different fans, different rules,; same bunch of cunts in charge though. Just as most people apart from Daily Mail readers don’t care if their lecky company is owned by a Englishman, Irishman, Scotsman, Frenchman, German, Dane, Arab, Turk, Yank, Swede, Jap, Indian or Martian, so most fans don’t give a shit what nationality their chairman is. If we’re after total transparency and democratic accountability then Barcelona is surely the role model but even there, as with any form of democracy, it’s always a cartel of rich and influential individuals who end up as power brokers.


So, stand up all the fit and proper people in the house! If we’re gonna throw that at chairmen, then where will it end? Fit and proper players? Fit and proper fans? Fit and proper FIFA/Uefa/FA/Premership officials? Ha! These hotbeds of corruption, incompetence and cowardice have no business deciding who is and isn’t suitable to run football clubs.  Three words; Pot, kettle, black.










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