(Shinatwatra, moments after being told Larry Brown is no longer available)
Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Erikkson should consider himself fortunate to be facing unemployment, writes the Guardian’s Marina Hyde, “as opposed to disappeared, as Amnesty alleges has been the fate of others who have displeased Thaksin Shinawatra’s administrations in the past”. And with that in mind, Hyde proposes “instead of spending the close season coming up with a revised plan to sell Game 39 to us, perhaps the Premier League might consider overhauling the ‘fit and proper person’ test, by which potential club owners and directors are judged.”
It is not quite the most fatuous form in circulation – that honour is held by the UK immigration document which inquires of visitors: “Have you ever been involved in the financing, planning, preparation, commission or attempted commission of terrorist acts or in supporting acts of terrorism either within or outside the UK…?”Then again, the immigration form also asks: “Have you engaged in any other activities which might be relevant to the question of whether you are a person of good character?” Even though that would appear to invite the most withering sarcasm, there is something regrettable about the fact that the Premier League test doesn’t include such a question. It would at least have shown willing. Under the present, rigorous standards, Kim Jong-il would be judged fit and proper. He hasn’t evaded VAT, you see, or been done for forgery.
Perhaps extra questions might be added. Are you an asset stripper? Do you intend to use your purchase as a means of laundering your reputation? Do you expect your involvement to increase or allay the club’s debt? Are you seriously going to trot out that line about not being in it to make huge profit, just being infected with a lifelong passion for the club? Have you recently hollowed out a volcanic island to which you expect to semi-retire in the company of, say, a white cat?
Or how about “Are you a foreign government?” Because that seems kind of weird. Don’t forget that Thaksin attempted to buy Liverpool with public money while he was actually Thai PM, while the Kop’s latest suitors are the investment arm of the Dubai government.