It’s been another busy week at Premier League Towers and especially for that Titan of football administration, Richard Masters. As news of Everton’s points deduction broke, TF had exclusive behind the scenes access to the great man’s office.
Dodgy Dickie Masters paced up and down nervously. What on earth were they playing at?! A ten-point deduction for FFP breaches? When he’d agreed to investigate Everton’s finances, he hadn’t expected the panel to actually punish them. Didn’t they know how his cosy money-making cartel worked?
Ten points? Crap. Points deductions were for those pointless little clubs in those meaningless kickabout leagues that no-one cared about. No billion pound TV deals, no overseas markets, no beautiful endless limitless oodles of cash swimming around. Bury, Macclesfield, Aldershot. They were the real problem. Punish them!
Mind you, it was only Everton and no-one gave a shit about them. In fact, he’d probably never been so popular among the great unwashed legacy fans! And to be fair, those pathologically bitter Blues had already got away with the extra hundreds of millions they’d written off as, ahem, “Covid losses”. No, there was another, much more serious problem. If he wasn’t careful, he might have to penalise one of his very special friends and that would never do.
After all, he’d already promised his impossibly wealthy, absolutely bestest pals the Mansouris that it would all be fine. The hundreds of charges against them were just window dressing. With all the legal wrangling, nothing would ever happen. It would make Jarndyce and Jarndyce look like a walk in the park.
Everyone would win. He’d look serious about FFP, and City would look like they’d passed scrutiny. No need for a busy-body independent regulator to come along and interfere. Meanwhile, all his not quite so disgustingly rich lawyer friends would make a fortune. Genius.
But then his other implausibly wealthy absolutely bestest (ex-)friend Roman had got caught out by those snooping leftie do-gooder journalists. It looked like they were going to have to investigate that one too. Balls. This self-regulation lark was turning out to be less fun that he’d thought. He was stuck.
Maybe he would give Roman’s bestie Vlad a bell. He knew how to get things sorted in a tight spot.
And to make matters worse, there was bloody VAR. It had been such a laugh last year, finding new ways to let his filthy rich, absolute best American buddies win every week despite their ineptitude on the pitch. Hell, he’d even arranged for matches at Anfield to be “next goal wins” after 90 minutes. At least that was still working at Old Trafford this season.
But now those VAR fuckwits had gone rogue, and it was more than Mad Mikel could take. Ungrateful swine. Didn’t he know how hard Dickie was trying? Cutting the Stockley Park feed for the Havertz replays had been a masterstroke, even if he did say so himself. And then three times he’d had a go at getting that Newcastle winner ruled out. But every time the VAR monkeys had refused. Something about the rules? Gah!
That was it! We needed new rules! More new rules to thwart those pesky Geordie upstarts and protect his six special friends. Loan deals between related clubs? An urgent threat to the competitive integrity of the game. A scourge on the face of modern football. The single biggest threat facing humanity. He’d always thought that. Literally since last week. Ban them! Done!
What next? Champions League places decided on a 10-year coefficient of league placings? That would do the job. Limits on sponsorship deals for clubs that play in monochrome stripes? Excellent plan! A new formula for allocating TV income in order of increasing distance from London? Now he was cooking.
Dickie scribbled furiously. He would be sure to pitch these ideas at the next PL owners meeting. He did hope his important friends would be pleased with him. That way maybe he wouldn’t have to dip any further into the truly dark arts. The ones he kept in his special drawer. To be honest, he already thought he’d been pushing things a bit this season, but no-one seemed to suspect a thing.
He pulled the black folder out of his desk and began to leaf through the pages. First, “Injuries, plague of”… Then, a little further back, “Gambling, illegal”… And finally to the appendix marked “Strictly Confidential”.
His heart raced. He turned to the page marked “Owners and Directors Test”. He’d never actually read it before – it wasn’t like anyone had ever needed to use it. Blank. Of course, it was. Len Shackleton would have been proud.
If they wanted regulation, he’d give them regulation. He started making notes: “Section 1. Authoritarian States and Proof of Separation…”. He’d always loved fairy stories.