If you ever thought that football ‘journalists’ wouldn’t possibly make up a story just for the sake of it, then I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong because Piers Morgan admits when he was at the Daily Mirror they did exactly that.
Following on from our story yesterday that Arsenal approached Piers Morgan to become Managing director, the mouthpiece who likes to claim he speaks for all Arsenal fans admitted in his book, ‘The Insider The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade’, that reporters at the Daily Mirror used to make up Arsenal transfer stories just to please him.
Friday 31 January 2000
The sports department have devised a cunning ruse in the last couple of years to divert attention from their deficiencies in morning conference. If they don’t have a story, they simply invent an Arsenal transfer scoop and stick it at the top of their schedule. This will get them off the hook, and depending on the stature of the alleged transfer target, everyone else too. A ‘Ronaldo for Arsenal’ exclusive is guaranteed to put me in a good mood all day. But they have overplayed their hand recently by naming Paul Ince as our intended new midfield general three times in less than a month.
To stop this nonsense once and for all, I phoned the sports editor, Dave Balmforth, who never played these games himself, and told him we were going to stitch up his worst offending executive, Bob Blair.
Dave was instructed to ring Bob from home first thing in the morning and tell him he was in Milan, where Arsenal chief David Dein had just signed Paul Ince.
Bob came into conference two hours later, looking unbelievably smug, and announced with tremendous excitement the stunning news that, after all his predictions, Ince was finally a Gunners player.
‘Do you stake your job and reputation on it, Bob?’ I asked.
‘Oh, yes, I’d go further than that – I’d stake my life on it.’
‘Do you mind if I get a second opinion, Bob?’
He looked slightly nonplussed. ‘Er…no, of course. Who from?’
I phoned out to Kerrie, my new personal assistant, and asked her to bring in my special secret guest.
He walked in, and I asked, ‘You full name, please?’
‘David Anthony Dean.’
‘Vice-chairman of Arsenal Football Club.’
‘Thank you Mr Dean. Are you in Milan?’
‘Er, no, I don’t think so.’
‘Has Paul Ince signed for Arsenal?’
‘Have you had, or do you have, any intention of signing him for Arsenal?’
I turned to Bob Blair.
‘Bob, any last words?’
‘Yes, I think I’ll get my coat.’
As you can see, it wasn’t that they were making up bullsh*t that Morgan got angry, it was because they were repeating the same bullsh*t too often. As he notes at the start of this extract, it was a practice allowed to continue for ‘years’.
If you think this practice has stopped, or only happened at the Daily Mirror, well, you probably haven’t really been paying attention.