ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Fulham
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Posted by Phil Mison on 02/10/2012

The presses hummed, corks popped and tabloid editors beamed after a bumper week for the fourth estate. Forget that tiresome Leveson panel, this was the good old days revisited

© Getty Images
The nation got the verdict it wanted as Harry handed the Revenue a bloody nose and faced the cameras. "The case should never have come to court." Who says so, why Harry himself. A remarkable performance of braggadocio from the stand saw Spurs cockney sparrow mix jest with joust, while portraying a beguiling mix of faux naivity with candour and astonishment, the while coming clean on his own appalling lack of business acumen. Documents requiring my signature dealing in large sums of money your honour? I just left them on the sun lounger for Sandra to read through...I've no time for all that malarky.

Ahem. Plod may have been unable to keep up with play, while FIFA, UEFA and our own investigative committess down the years have been decidedly non-league when matching wits with the new world order, but anyone watching football at close quarters since the start of the 90's knows full well what went on. At the 1998 African Nations Cup a long poolside interview with a foremost agent of the time, South American by birth but with offices across Europe, resulted in my filing a report for AP that was syndicated world-wide. It highlighted those predatory agents then descending en masse on African nations to plunder talent.

It was the Klondike in footie garb. Players signed multiple contracts with different clubs. Birth certificates falsifying age were easily obtained from any village commissioner for oaths. Much money found its way into back pockets. Having a 'brother' as your agent was a simple way of keeping all the money within the family. Agents were so powerful some virtually controlled federations. They fixed certain nations' friendly schedules, had a big say in team selection, controlled the TV rights. My chatty friend however had little to do with the British scene. Why so I asked. "Your managers usually demand a kickback from transfers. No other league makes such demands like your guys." And he reeled off the names...

What a shame for the long-suffering supporters of Portsmouth to see their club yet again in administration and facing a winding up order. Yes, it's a scruffy old town and down on its luck since the dockyards got closed down, but when you talk about die-hard passionate supporters, Pompey fans are a class apart. Is yet another white knight going to gallop over the horizon at the last minute? Local folk haven't got the kind of money to keep the taxman at bay and the poor fans have had the pips squeezed out of them long since. Funny how Portsmouth's struggles for cash bring me back to some of the evidence we heard at Southwark Crown Court in the last two weeks. The £5 million pounds Harry Redknapp had out of the club, with hefty bonuses on top of his whopping salary for, well, just doing his job really. Percentages for selling players on, a cut from TV revenues, additional 'bonuses' from moneybags Mandaric.

No doubt a great help in financing the Redknapps luxurious pile overlooking Poole Harbour - purchased for £3 million, today worth ten. Ah, but then 'Arry doesn't have a head for figures...

Plenty more strong opinion and more overtime for the chief football writers of every tabloid with news of Signor Capello's resignation. No doubts whatsoever who the villain is here. And when we're talking about lining your pockets, he may never have mastered much English, nor got any closer to shaping England into a decent side, but did he have the Midas touch! A cool £20 million trousered from the whiskered old colonels who run the FA (actually, make that the fans who are bled from every orifice for following the national side). In a month when we've all been reminded that 'greed is [still] good' - from bankers to the world of football, Fabio is indeed the Daddyio! Only four months to the Euros and now no manager and no captain. Disaster continues to visit our FA like vultures to a corpse. And the next man nominated to step forward as England's saviour, guiding us on to Euro glory is...surely not? Are you kidding me..?

So what's this all got to do with my title? A momentous day of banner headlines ended with a glass of wine and by sheer chance my catching a brilliant late night documentary on urban terrorists in California during the 1970's. The Symbionese Liberation Army were a very small number of fanatics who tapped into more widespread frustration among American radicals at the time of Nixon, Kissinger and Vietnam. In short, they got themselves armed, shot up a few banks, sent taped messages to the media and utterly spooked the FBI. They notoriously 'kidnapped' American heiress Patty Hearst, who then apparently 'turned' under the influence of her captors to embrace the rebel call.

It all ended in a bloody shoot out with the LAPD pouring fire into a hideout set ablaze. Those who did not die in the firefight were rounded up and given lengthy prison terms - mostly 20 years to life. Except Hearst. Her defence team argued she'd descended into some tragic fog of delusion and was not responsible for her actions. Her super-rich family closed ranks around her, the court gave her 35 years in jail, that got reduced to just 22 months before Jimmy Carter let her out early and in 2001 Bill Clinton granted her a pardon. While her fellow guerillas ate crow or rotted in the ground Patty married her bodyguard, went out on the book and TV circuit and acted small movie parts. She became a celebrity.

In a weird kind of way it somehow summed up the mood of the day.

You may have noticed not much reference to Fulham in this piece. Well occasionally this blogger feels he has to cleanse his spirit and step back from the obsessional entrail examining that goes on with all things Fulham related. Since the end of the month neither results, club news or transfer policy has made for positive reading. Postings have been vibrant, forthright and for the most reflective of the state of apprehension. I decided to give it all a rest for a few days, allow Pog to finally join up with the team, not deal in conjecture, and approach the Stoke match with a fresh vision. You see, I'm still hooked on the club, and that will never change...

So COYW, and if you didn't enjoy my ramblings above, you haven't got this far anyway. Stoke preview up next! Twitter@fulhamphil

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Posted by Bobert on 02/10/2012

I had no idea such practices have taken place in the world of football. Brilliant post Phil, and thanks for the insight!? Here's hoping your next post can be about the positives of our stoke performance. Here's hoping there actually are positives....

Posted by fraught_with_peril on 02/12/2012

Warren Zevon: "Patty Hearst heard the worst of Roland's Thompson gun .... and bought it" (Warren the Headless Thompson Gunner)

COYW !!!

Blog Central: Way too deep for me, Only know Zevon for one song

Posted by Aitch on 02/13/2012

Superb post, Phil.

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