Breaking news across the UK today, as the Premier League football competition begins again this weekend. With pre-season tournaments like the Audi Cup having been almost completed, and many a transfer request been done (you 'ave been) via the fax machine and paper bag full of cash, you'd be hopeful that th weekend would come without a hitch. So, too, thought FA officials until they checked the ball-cupboard earlier this week and found out that someone had half-inched all the footballs.
"It's a scandal," claimed Chief Secretary John Winstone. "I'm speechless and ballless, and frankly who'd have thought that of someone in the FA?"
The news had given the English FA only 5 days to find replacement balls, including those dinky little fluorescent ones that they sometimes use when the weather turns sour. However, initial talks with SportsDirect, directly with the owner of Newcastle United Football Club, Mike Ashley, have so far seen little to no progress. An insider told us:
"Ashley's sitting pretty right now, and pretty much naming his price. The FA are looking guilty, embarrassed, but resolute that they won't pay more than Â£50 a ball. But every time they come back with an offer, Ashley just raises the price by a fiver. It's shocking all round, really."
The red-tops of the UK have, naturally, taken the story to the front page, and almost exclusively because they can use baudy language to sell their rags. Headlines range across the following:
- FA have no balls
- What a load of balls... we haven't got
- Diana still dead, but at least she had balls
- Immigrants steal balls from FA, more on page 2, 3, 4, 6, 9