Everton boast rap artist King Nuisance. Aston Villa have romantic wordsmith Pansy Smella. And Watford can count on lyrical genius Gladys Prothero. Confused? Well, don’t be – we’re here to help after all.
All of these people are poets — and all of them have been snapped up by Premier League clubs as their poets in residence. They are not alone as a clutch of top-flight clubs frantically try to recruit a poet to comply with a new FIFA edict that has stunned football in the upper echelons.
The new decree, which is being written into the game’s global governing body’s constitution, will come into force in 2022. It means every club in every top division of all European leagues, (except Belarus) must comply and have a professional poet on their books.
The crackpot idea comes from new FIFA Head of Arts, Dinny Cactus and was ratified by the organisation’s executive meeting last month at the annual “think-tank” bash held on the Isle of Wight, England.
Cactus, a one-time head barman at the Blyth Spartans Social Club, said:
“I really don’t see why there is such an uproarious reaction to this beautiful development. You see, football IS poetry — and, yes, poetry can be football, too. This is a universal truth. Up the Spartans!”
Fans have ridiculed the notion, commentators have dismissed it as bigwig buffoonery and the game’s leading figures have kept quiet because most of them are on the payroll. But the bottom line is that poets have never had it so good and there is a bun fight to snaffle the few poets that aren’t already in gainful employ.
And this has led to a mad scramble to secure a poet ahead of the deadline with the few remaining operatives not already hired holding out for more cash as the leading clubs fight for their services.
Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle United, for instance, are all chasing street poet KD Smith with some newspaper reports suggesting the Gunners have gone so far as to offer a signing-on fee of £1million and a weekly wage of £25,000 over a four-year-deal.
One disgruntled Arsenal follower Ajaye Gopal, a leading lawyer in the firm, Gopal, Gopal, Gopal and Gopal, has blasted FIFA — and threatened to sue them. He told the Brixton Herald:
“What the chuffing heck is going on? I’ve blasted FIFA and threatened to sue them. Why on earth do FIFA need this to be brought in and why, oh why, is there even a chap who has the position of FIFA Head of Arts? It’s an organisation designed to run football, not the arts. Yes, it is artistry in many ways but this is going too far. Too far, I say.”
FIFA president Alan Neckbrace wouldn’t be drawn on the controversy when he was quizzed at the recent Everton Ladies versus Bognor Regis Town Ladies pre-season friendly match. He was in attendance to see his daughter, Nina, in action for the Toffees. He told Battersea Bugle arts correspondent Richard Symes:
“I refuse to be drawn. Get that pencil and sketchpad away from me.”
Symes was left bemused. He added:
“I’d call this a rhyme crime, just to justify the headline.”