This was written for ‘Eagle Eye’ in 2005 as Palace looked (correctly as it later turned out) to be heading for relegation. The club owner, Simon Jordan, and manager, Iain Dowie, did not get on well with Routledge’s agent, Paul Stretford, who was keen to move him to that graveyard of young English players – Tottenham Hotspur.
When Eagle Eye was much younger and anarchic it used to pick up club gossip by eavesdropping on players in the bar. These days we are far more establishment and simply get our MI5 colleagues to plant bugs in the chairman’s office. The following transcript was the result and sheds new light on the Wayne Routledge situation:
Sound of a door opening.
SIMON JORDAN: Ah, Dom, what have you brought me for lunch?
DOMINIC JORDAN: Sorry, Si, but the canteen has run out of food so all I’ve got are some of the stadium pies.
SIMON JORDAN: Are you trying to poison me? The expiry date on those pies is circa 1993. Their current edibility consists of a highly negative factor. They’re not fit for human consumption. Take them to the lower Holmesdale and sell them at the Birmingham game. I didn’t spend £30 million on this club just to ingest comestibles of excessive age.
DOMINIC JORDAN: Yes, boss. And the people for your meeting are here. And I did as you said and beat up Alec Ferguson.
SIMON JORDAN: You did what?!!!
DOMINIC JORDAN: You said to thump that Stretford-End knob.
SIMON JORDAN: I said to thump that knob-end Stretford!!!!! Get out!!!!!!!
Sound of a door closing followed by what sounds like a head repeatedly hitting a desk. Mutterings can be heard appearing to contain the phrase “I hope one of us is adopted”.
Sound of a door opening and people entering the room.
SIMON JORDAN: Thank you for coming Iain, Wayne and… your agent. Shall we get to business?
PAUL STRETFORD: Alright, I want lots of money or Walter will go to Spurs.
IAIN DOWIE: Walter?
PAUL STRETFORD: My meal ticket, sorry, my client here.
IAIN DOWIE: Do you mean Wayne?
PAUL STRETFORD: Oh, is that his name? I’ve always thought of him as a Wally.
IAIN DOWIE: Look, Wayne is a very talented player but still very raw. Will he be a great player one day? Yes he will if he continues to learn without too much pressure on him. Can we provide that atmosphere? Yes we can. Wayne will be far better served in his career by continuing to learn in this nurturing environment.
SIMON JORDAN: And I’ve spent £40 million on the club to create a nurturing environment.
PAUL STRETFORD: My client will feel that is insufficient.
IAIN DOWIE: “Will feel”?
PAUL STRETFORD: I’m paid to do all his thinking and I know what’s best for Walter. The poor kid is only driving a low-end Merc! Do you know how embarrassing that is? All the other young Premiership players can afford to go out and burn £50 notes, shag granny hookers and guzzle magnums of Cristal every night but my Walter can’t. Do you understand how humiliating that is for me? He’s the only one of my clients who can’t do this. At Spurs he’ll finally be able to.
IAIN DOWIE: Wayne, I feel your head is being turned by silly money here. Your joy has always been in playing and becoming a better player. The improvements in your game while I’ve been here are tremendous but you still have so much to learn. Football is not about amassing the most toys…
PAUL STRETFORD: …that’s what my chauffeur and butler and gamekeeper said…
IAIN DOWIE: …but about realising your potential through fostering close relationships with your team-mates on the training ground…
SIMON JORDAN: …which is part of the £50 million I’ve spent on this club…
IAIN DOWIE: …and using them to become a better person which will benefit you for the rest of your life.
PAUL STRETFORD: We’re forgetting the most important thing here and that is I get a 15% cut of any transfer fee plus a ‘consultation fee’ as well. Now are you going to pay Walter £40,000 per week and my fee of £100,000 for getting him to re-sign or do we go to Spurs?
SIMON JORDAN: I refuse to deal with such a scumsuckingmotherfuckingPARASITE as you any more. I haven’t put £60 million into this club just so you can try to blackmail me by using a contract loophole to blindly trade the futures of young men solely on the basis of how much money you can grasp with your grubby little hands.
IAIN DOWIE: Err…, yes. Wayne, with a club like Spurs you wouldn’t be guaranteed the first team football you need to continue your education. They have very fickle fans, even more so than ours, and they would be far less understanding of your occasional lapses in performance. You would be lucky to achieve half as much first-team football as you do here.
PAUL STRETFORD: But what player wouldn’t want £40,000 a week just to sit on the bench? That’s the dream of footballers these days. That’s what I help my boys to achieve.
IAIN DOWIE: Wayne, you’ve been very quiet. Is there anything you’d like to say?
WAYNE ROUTLEDGE: It’s not about the money. The only reason I want to leave is because I can’t stand the excitement.
IAIN DOWIE: What?
SIMON JORDAN: What?!!!
PAUL STRETFORD: What?!!!!!!!
WAYNE ROUTLEDGE: I love it at Palace but ever since I’ve been here we’ve been fighting against relegation and going for promotion and losing games in the last minute and winning games in the last minute and my nerves can’t stand any more of it. I want to go to Spurs because it’s so dull. They always finish tenth in the league and they only have a cup run once every decade. It’s the perfect place for stressed out players.
IAIN DOWIE: Um…
SIMON JORDAN: Err…
PAUL STRETFORD: OK, so that’s great. I’m guaranteed at least £200,000 for doing nothing. It’s been great working with you Wally, Ivan and Stuart. By the way I’m starving. Do you have a canteen around here?
Sound of an intercom.
SIMON JORDAN: Dom, can you bring in a couple of pies for Mr Streford.