Wednesday, March 01, 2006

1 March 2006: Confidential

Next, intimate tales of Southampton Football Club's first 'underground' Chairman. The action-packed diary of a man who's just a klingon away... from history!

Rupert Lowe - Confidential!

One of the hardest things to do from the secure, undisclosed location is to be able to communicate my needs and agendas to the public. Wooders and George do their best, better than Harry ever did, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like enough. Life is hard, twenty-four seven in the bunker, and my one goal – the defending and promoting of the business – never seems to be appreciated by anyone. The situation was exacerbated last week when Kim Wilde decided to put a non-specific cat among my well-fed pigeons, ducks and grouse. Cowie was the one who provided the first alert, a text message from his business meeting in Crawley.

OMG R, Tommy’s dad’s shares sold 2 sum1 2.5mill wtf now, wz it u? lol

Hard to disagree with Cowie’s hard-nosed business-oriented analysis. But no, it wasn’t me. I called Wooders down for an emergency audience.

SCW: What’s happening? What’s the emergency?
RL: Someone’s buying our shares. Two point five million of them. Nine per cent.
SCW: It wasn’t me! Honestly!
RL: I never said it was.
SCW: Then please stop pointing that shotgun at me.
RL: OK, but it goes no further than these four walls. They’re listening, you know.
SCW: *pause* The walls?
RL: The walls, the floor, the Echo, everyone. They’re everywhere. Listening for signs of weakness. Maybe they even bought the shares just to see how we’d react.
SCW: I’ve got to work on Marian’s groin strain. Is there anything you want me to do?
RL: I want your advice. I know I rarely ask for it, but these are exceptional circumstances. I need you to advise me to make a public statement about that Strode-Gibbons man.
SCW: What do you think I should advise you to say?
RL: Something denying we’ve had any contact with him. Something saying we’ll resist his takeover deals. Something showing strength and winningability in the face of the unknown.
SCW: You think it’s him? Strode-Gibbons is really trying to take the club?
RL: Him or one of his men. There are many of them. And more are joining all the time. It is like the growth of the Empire. And Darth Vader is starting to make his presence known. We must send in Luke Skywalker to destroy the Death Star before it is too late. And you are the key to this, Han. Wooders.
SCW: Is any of this in my job description?
RL: You knew the mission when you took on the role. Director of Football means so much more than directing the football. You are to advise me to deny Vader the chance to extend his empire. If indeed you haven’t already turned.
SCW: Actually, Vader wasn’t the Emperor. The Emperor was.
RL: Don’t take that tone of voice with me!
SCW: OK, OK, please put the gun down. I’ll do it. Whatever it is, I’ll do it. What exactly do you want?
RL: For the moment, nothing public. I’ll issue the statements required by the Stock Exchange and remind everyone that such large transaction must be accompanied by certain information disclosure. I need you to advise me and back me up when it all goes wrong. Publicly.
SCW: Would this make me some kind of fall-guy?
RL: We’ll have to see who the buyer is first. And if it’s anything to do with you…
SCW: Gun down, sir. Down.

Friday, nine-fifteen AM. Wooders was lucky to escape the fire. It turned out he was nothing to do with it after all. Kim Wilde, who kept calling himself Michael to hide his previous fame and career, bought the shares. I’d met him a few months ago at a public function where he tried to get me to buy his houses. He was from Liverpool. Didn’t like the Rooney chant. Maybe that was when he began planning his revenge.

Saturday, five-twenty PM. Called Wilde to the secure, undisclosed location for an audience after the footer game.

RL: Welcome, Kim, welcome.
MW: Good game today, eh? Best for a couple of years, eh? Who’d have thought Higgy would ever get a goal in the right net for a change, eh?
RL: Your jedi mind-tricks will not work on me. Now, I hear you have been buying shares.
MW: Yeah, Thompson said he was happy to sell all the shares that weren’t his so he can stay on the board. I thought, well, nice day, sun’s come out for a change, I could always do with a few shares in the club. Give me something to look at in the executive box when the game is slow, eh?
RL: We need the answer to one question, Kim. *pause* Why? Why would you choose to buy all those shares? Why now? What is your agenda?
MW: I already told Keith all this already. Don’t you read SaintsForever?
RL: As you are new here, I will overlook your use of the blasphemous phrase. There are people in that place who do not approve of my direction of this company. They consider the sports side of the business more important than the financial aspects. Fortunately the appointment of George has thrown them a bone to keep them quiet for a while.
MW: So what d’ya wanna talk about then, eh?
RL: You must understand, this business is a large-scale long-term investment scoping a variety of interests. I need to know whose side you are on. There is a war coming. I take it you know there is a war coming.
MW: You’re talking about Andrew Strode-Gibbons?
RL: Yes. And the darker forces of The Seven who ride like Nazgul through the night, barely visible, scouring the stock exchange for the lost shares of legend.
MW: Well, I don’t know about that. Andrew bought me lunch a few weeks ago but he had me pay for it, said his money was tied up in some bank transfer for a few days but he’d pay me back. Never has, ya know. Funny little man, eh?
RL: So you’re not in league with his dark forces?
MW: Look Rupert –
RL: Here you call me ‘Sir’ or ‘Mister Chairman’. There will be no exceptions.
MW: OK, Mister Chairman, OK, please put the gun down.
RL: This is where indiscipline starts. Indiscipline leads to fear, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. Judge me by my size, do you?
MW: No, no, just please put the gun down.
RL: So you claim you are an independent, not involved with the battle.
MW: No, yeah, that's right, I’m just a bright sunny scouser with some money and I thought it might be nice for a fan to own a few shares. That’s great, innit?
RL: The war is coming. You will have to choose a side. There will be none who are not aligned. If you are not for us, then you are for them. I need to know who you will side with, Kim.
MW: I’m just a happy –
RL: *click* I need to know.
MW: *pause* I’m with you.

The hardest thing is getting across to the public how much I love this business. I make wise investments and deeply-considered trades, appoint those who I know can do well for the company. Getting Kim on my side was only another small step in that process. It’s one battle to take ground, another to keep it. Wooders and Kim are on my side. But for how long? The war is coming, and all will be involved.

End of partial diary, late February 2006.

Sincerely yours,
Rupert Lowe… confidential!

Note: thanks to McDougal for the unintended prompting to put such a thing together. The real deal can be found at, for example here and here.

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