NORMAN GILLER has broken many of the biggest football stories in his career, but this could be the biggest
Note the date, here comes history: we can exclusively reveal that Arsenal have invited Tottenham to join them at the Emirates in a sensational ground-sharing deal.
It follows the precedent set in Milan, and could even clear the way for a similar city soccer sharing scheme involving Liverpool and Everton.
This ground-breaking news will come as a huge shock to supporters of both north London clubs. It was only 98 years ago that they became sworn enemies when the then Woolwich Arsenal moved into Tottenham territory at Highbury.
Now they are ready to bury the hatchet and share the ground that Arsenal built six years ago “down the road” from Tottenham’s current headquarters at White Hart Lane.
My insider at the Emirates told me: “We feel this is the sensible solution to the Tottenham dilemma as to where they should play. They would be fools to pass up this opportunity, and we would be heartbroken to see them move out of north London. While we have agreed in principle to the ground-sharing, we await the Tottenham response to our £9-million-per-game levy.”
Apparently, this is “levy” as in fees charged, rather than in Tottenham chief executive Daniel Levy, who was unavailable to give a comment on the plan. He was too busy advising lawyers on the proposed Spurs legal challenge to the Olympic Park Legacy Company’s decision to hand the 2012 Olympic Stadium to West Ham United.
Speaking for the majority of Tottenham fans, I say it makes more sense to ground share with Arsenal than waste time on a futile legal battle that is doomed to end in a courtroom defeat.
I was supposed to have been on an SJA-organised coach tour of the Olympic Park yesterday, but I missed the bus. A bit like Tottenham have over the Olympic Stadium. By pursuing their claims on Stratford, they are simply making fools of themselves.
THE faithful reader following my adventures as a self-publishing novelist will be interested to know some amazin’ Amazon facts about downloading for their growing army of Kindle customers.
They generously allow you, the publisher, to keep 35 per cent of the book price for the privilege of using their service.
My The Glory and the Greed football novel will be on sale as an Amazon ebook download from today for £4.99. From that subtract 20 per cent VAT (ebooks are not exempt) and Amazon’s amazin’ 65 per cent share and I am left with around 75p per sale (“This time next year, Rodney …”).
Amazon have thousands of ebooks on their Kindle outlet, and must be raking in a fortune. Yes, amazin’.
Great minds think alike. While I have my The Glory and the Greed novel up and running, that exceptional sports journalist Joe Lovejoy has a book being published by Mainstream this summer called Glory, Goals and Greed. Wish I’d thought of adding “Goals”, much more eye-catching alliteration. I based my title on The Glory and the Grief, the book I ghosted for George Graham following his sacking by Arsenal for taking bungs (allegedly).
Mine is a work of (alleged) fiction. Joe’s book is a fascinating (and at times frightening) factual look at the 20 years of the Premier League, known in some quarters as The Greed League. You will get some idea of the depth and detail of the book from Joe’s blurb:
“It is a story of football’s civil war, featuring stellar players, avaricious owners and half-baked administrators. One of the main protagonists died, a broken man, as the elitists finally got their way, others made millions as the privileged rich got richer and the discarded rump of the Football League was left poorer.”
As you would expect from one of the best-informed football reporters, the Lovejoy book is packed with revealing interviews with the key movers and shakers, who have turned the Premier League into one of the most overflowing gravy trains in the world of sport. It is a much better read than my novel, and Joe won’t have to worry about Amazon picking his pocket for 65 per cent of his royalty.
I cannot let mention of George Graham’s The Glory and the Grief book go without retelling a smashing anecdote that involves Stuart Higgins, the then Sun editor and now premier public relations consultant.
We negotiated a serialisation deal for the book with The Sun, stressing that we had been legally advised not to use the word “bung,” but to stick to “unsolicited gift”.
On the day they launched the series, the entire front page was taken up with a photograph of a suitcase full of money and the screaming headline:
GEORGE GRAHAM CONFESSES: “I TOOK £475,000 BUNG”
When I contacted Stuart – an old pal – to protest on George’s behalf, he told me with tongue deeply buried: “Well, Norm, it’s like this … ‘unsolicited gift’ wouldn’t fit ….”
I felt a right April Fool.
Read Norman Giller’s previous columns for the SJA website by clicking here
UPCOMING SJA DATES
Tue Apr 5: SJA Olympic Question Time. Click here to find out more
Wed Apr 13: SJA 2011 Annual Meeting, at offices of UK Sport, Russell Square. Strictly SJA members only.
Wed Dec 7: SJA 2011 British Sports Awards – note the date in your diary now.
All details subject to alteration. Keep checking sportsjournalists.co.uk for updates