Richard Masters has been the focus for the collapse of the PCP / Reubens / PIF bid.
Poor bloke, I wonder if he ever wanted to actually be the Premier League CEO – he clearly impressed nobody at his interview, being the 4th choice candidate. Only taking the post after Susannah Dinnage and Tim Davie turned it down when they realised what they could be getting into, and David Pemsel resigned before he had even started when he actually found out what he’d got himself into.
But does Masters deserve to be the fall guy?
The Owners and Directors test was going swimmingly for the first few weeks. Pandemic, Lockdown and Project Restart aside, we were told there were “No red flags” and it was all about to be approved. Then we got to June and “the atmosphere changed”…
That change of atmosphere coincided with the appointment of Gary Hoffman as Chairman.
So who is Gary Hoffman?
I won’t bore you with his CV, his friendship with Richard Keys, or how many of his Barclays mates used to call Amanda Staveley a tart and are now embroiled in court proceedings, but Gary Hoffman is no stranger to the North East. It’s a place he hates.
He was Chief Exec at Northern Rock from 2008-2010 while they were our shirt sponsor.
As a big football fan, and with Northern Rock having surely one of the biggest Corporate Suites in St James Park, it is inconceivable that Hoffman didn’t sample the very finest of NUFC plc’s hospitality, so he should love the club and the area.
Far from it though – he’s on the record as loathing the North-East, describing his two years in the region as “felt more like 25”.
So what happened? What did we do to him?
Well, he was here while Joe Kinnear was briefly in charge – could it be that he bumped into JFK, got called a **** and has never forgiven the city where it happened?
We did play his club, Coventry City, while he was here, beating them 4-1 in the Chris Hughton-led season in the Championship. Was the sight of Leon Best in black and white stripes too much for him to take? Did he think Wayne Routledge dived for the penalty?
Surely he would have been in the Northern Rock Suite at SJP for that match. Did someone spill soup on his best breeks? Did the NR Employee of the month drink too much and celebrate with too much zeal?
Surely someone was there who remembers.
Or was it when he made 2,000 NR employees redundant and caused such outrage with the Unions that he was shamed into handing back the £500,000 “golden goodbye” when he was finally placed on gardening leave.
In his head, the North-East owes the banker £ half a million.
The timing of the takeover going belly-up and his appointment to the PL is no coincidence.
And if all of this hurt is one man’s vendetta, one man’s opportunity for revenge, a decade after he lived among us and he lost his bonus or someone upset him, that would be a scandal worthy of hanging the word -gate on the end of: