In what is being described as the biggest story of the January transfer window, it has emerged that David Miliband is in talks with Sunderland, with a view to taking up a non-executive role on the board of the Premier League club. Steve Bruce’s response was enthusiastic. “I did ask for a left-winger. If it comes off, then fantastic.” Rather then referring to Miliband’s political leaning, Bruce is clearly showing his tactical awareness. The politician would make an excellent addition to the playing staff for two reasons. Firstly, the grass on his side of the field would be immaculately kept, perhaps at the taxpayers’ expense. Secondly his competition is Bolo Zenden.
The story will come as good news to the Sky Sports reporter camped outside Tottenham Hotspur’s training ground, who we’re told will be allowed a brief
snooze, and possibly a trip to the buffet cart as he makes the long train journey to the north-east club for the press conference, where an interpreter is not expected to be needed. Club officials have yet to indicate how many replica shirts they expect to sell, although rumour has it that that casual embroiders around the country are experiencing a sudden shortage in ‘I’s.
Miliband’s credentials for the job are impeccable. His dedication to the Sunderland cause is beyond doubt; the 45 year old is said to be far more attached to £50,000 per year than his beloved Arsenal. Commentators do not expect Miliband’s other commitments to in any way impede his ability to get the job done. “It’s the natural progression”, one of these fictional commentators had to say. “From Westminster, to BBC television centre, to the Stadium of Light, they’ve all done it. We’ve heard Diane Abbott’s about to take up a post at Zenit St. Petersburg.”
The elder Miliband has been given more than his fair chance at redemption after being eclipsed by his brother during the Labour leadership contest. Phil Neville is said to be distressed by the preferential treatment given to MPs in this regard.
One wonders if there will soon be transfers in the opposite direction. For some reason I suspect not; footballers will hardly relish joining one of the few groups in the world whose popularity is below that of footballers. I daresay the Christmas parties are less eventful too. The conduct of footballers also rules them out; the Right Honourable Ashley Cole is admittedly completely contradictory. Meanwhile John Terry has already ruled himself out of making the switch, claiming that his colleagues’ wives are of a universally poor standard.
Miliband’s experience in foreign affairs is supposedly a great lure for any football club. Football is a truly global game, and if this appointment creates interest and investment in Sunderland then it will have been a good move, and cheap at £50,000. Unless the former Foreign Secretary is particularly adept at producing gold from lead, though, it is difficult to envisage oil rich Arabs or steel rich Indians taking much of an interest in the mediocre team from the wet, cold and miserable Tyneside. Still, atleast it will postpone Miliband’s attempts to become an astronaut, his appearance on Strictly Come Dancing and accounts of his sexual exploits in his memoirs.