The candid thoughts of former Premier League referee Colin Preece, as recorded by our eavesdropping mole in the Duck and Peasant.
Ludicrous, Dave. Insane. £100m. A hundred million nicker for a player. And a player who’s not yet the finished article.
Yes, I know if someone is stupid enough to give you that sort of money you would be equally stupid to turn it down, but really. Paul Pogba. If he’s worth that much, what would Pele be worth if he was playing today? What’s Messi worth?
That’s just taking people for a ride, exactly, Baz. You’re old enough to remember when Trevor Francis became the first million pound player, aren’t you? Dave was in nappies and I wasn’t much older. 1979, wasn’t it? And Francis wasn’t worth the money either. He was a prodigy at Birmingham City – they used to call him Superboy because he was playing in the First Division at 16.
But was he worth a million? I think you’ll find even he doesn’t think so. The football world was aghast – yes, it is a funny word, and probably not the right one, but you know what I mean. People were shocked. They were still recovering from Jimmy Greaves being signed by Tottenham for £99,999. They did that, Baz, because they didn’t want him to have the pressure of being the first £100,000 player. So they paid a quid less than that.
Like you see in the supermarket, everything is a penny below a landmark price to make it seem less expensive. Did I pay a tenner for that bottle of wine? Did I hell. Bargain, mate, £9.99.
But Pogba, you see, isn’t afraid of that. His agent isn’t, anyway, and he’s getting millions out of the deal too. I tell you, boys, that’s the racket to be in. Never mind working for a living, doing something worthwhile. Like being a referee, Dave, yes. My former career contributed to the wellbeing of this country. In a modest way, I agree, but professional football provides enjoyment for millions of people and it has to be played in the right spirit, so the people who ensure that, like myself, are making a contribution to society. You could call it a form of philanthropy.
And now I’m teaching people to drive. It’s a life skill. I’m helping to keep the world moving, but in a safe way.
Cheers, Gary, bottle of Pils please. Czech Republic if they’ve got it.
So anyway, getting back to the point, if Mino Raiola, the superagent, had Baz on his books, how much would he get for him? Veteran centre half, unflappable, hard as nails, has been known to score goals from corners. Got to be getting on for the price of a bottle of wine, don’t you reckon? What do you think, Baz? Are you worth a Chilean Merlot or a magnum of champagne?
Pogba. I’d have offered Juventus a case of Chianti. Yes, I know you know what that is because I explained it when Hannibal Lecter said it in Silence of the Lambs. He had someone’s liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. Can’t have been a footballer, then, old Hannibal. Cos if he had been he’d have had some carbohydrates with it. Pasta or rice . Not mashed potatoes, Baz. Because they just don’t, mate.
Well, you could have it on top of a mound of spaghetti with the beans on the side. They’re known as broad beans in this country. No, I don’t like them either.