“We have submitted a bid for Robin Van Persie.”
Perhaps not in so many words, but this was the gist of what Sir Alex Ferguson told a covey of Fleet Street hell-hounds. The journos almost wet their pants in excitement. Rarely are managers so blunt during press interactions. They won’t even tell you the time of the day properly during these orgies. Then of course, there’s Roy Keane, that psychotic madman. Keane was asked if he was interested in signing Szncaihcz, budding star of the Republic of Narnia U-21s (don’t look him up on FM, you idiots, I don’t remember the name of the actual player). Keane, who had no doubt been taught at his mother’s Irish knee to tell the truth, without so much as batting an eye-lid, replied ‘no.’ The next day Keane’s team signed Szncaihcz.
What goes on when a transfer is being negotiated is anybody’s guess. We, at FP, however, have some inside info. Absolutely legit. From the horse’s mouth. Our source is yes-man to a senior Premier League manager who shall not be named, needless to say. The scouting department at your club trawls through football forums and FM databases for The Next Big Thing. Having spotted a diamond amongst the coals, they contact said diamond’s current employers. A phone call is made:
“Twenty million for the lad.”
“Won’t accept anything under thirty.”
“Twenty-five’s my limit. My billionaire owner recently lost at poker.”
“You poor chap. That happened to me last season. I’ll accept twenty-five.”
“Brilliant. I’ll toddle round with a cheque.”
Negotiations now begin with the player’s agent. A conversation not dissimilar to the one above ensues. There may be a few variations, though:
“A hundred grand a week!”
“That’s all right. What about image rights?”
“Seventy five-twenty five!”
“Sixty-forty’s my final offer.”
“Done. Congratulations, you just signed yourself a bloody good footballer!”
Why all the cloak and dagger drama? They want to avoid getting embroiled in a nasty bidding war with an Arab trizillionaire’s latest plaything, you say? They want to avoid a three-way (or worse) conference call? Selling clubs and agents can and do spark bidding wars by disclosing some info to their pet journos. So, why bother with all the evasion? Wouldn’t it be nice to hear, “I’ve offered a hundred million for Messi and I’ll be damned if that Italian thug can top it!” in a Scottish accent? We asked these same questions to our you-know-who. The yes-man shrugged. You can sometimes slip under the radar, he explained.
So, there you have it. If your club signs Andy Carroll on deadline day without so much as a whiff of a rumour, you know what happened. FM showed him to be a brilliant striker, a bargain at that price and your club’s manager really went James Bond on those nosey newspaper-men. Voila! You have yourself a ‘brilliant striker’ without so much as dreaming of it. The shock may prove to be too much for the more nervous of our kind.