(with apologies to Bill Parcells for the above headline)
Pretty recently, Toronto Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi suggested he was at an economic disadvantage having to compete in the same division as New York and Boston. As of Monday morning, Ricciardi will have even fewer resources to draw upon, as he’s now been denied a desk, telephone and title, and the lamest duck in North America is now free to resume private life as Worcester, MA’s 2nd most famous sporting personality (Bill Simmons, sadly, being the first). Ricciardi’s task in the AL East couldn’t have been easy, but he’d have done well to reflect on the fate of former Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan, whose confusing 2nd tenure at St. James Park has now resulted in a £2 million payoff. Though Newcastle’s scoreless draw with Bristol City will receive some coverage in Sunday’s papers, the big story continues to be Keegan’s allegation Newcastle was reduced to scouting new signings via You Tube. In the words of the Guardian’s David Conn, yesterday’s verdict “has shone a blinding light on the farcical insides of Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United.”
On 30 August 2008, two days before the transfer window closed: “Dennis Wise telephoned Mr Keegan and told him that he had a great player for the club to sign, namely Ignacio GonzÃ¡lez.”
Keegan found that even Google had no information to impart on GonzÃ¡lez, so Wise told him some footage could be found on YouTube. Keegan looked. “He found that the clips were of poor quality and provided no proper basis for signing a player to a Premier League club,” the judgment states. “Moreover, no one at the club had ever seen [GonzÃ¡lez] play.”
After that, the judgment records: “Notwithstanding that [Keegan] made it clear not only to Mr Wise but also to Mr Jimenez and to Mr Ashley that he very strongly objected to the signing of Mr GonzÃ¡lez, the club proceeded with the deal. The club did so, according to its witnesses who gave evidence, because it was in the club’s commercial interests to do so. The ‘commercial interests’, according to the club, were that the signing of the player on loan would be a ‘favour’ to two influential South American agents who would look favourably on the club in the future.”
Keegan suggested to the panel that the transfer was “improper and irregular”, although the panel found that the club did not pay the agents, and it was not suggested it breached Premier League rules. Most importantly, however, it agreed that Keegan left because he believed, with justification, that his role as Newcastle’s manager had been fundamentally undermined with the GonzÃ¡lez deal.