I had that driver in the front of the cab the other day. Knowing I was in PR, he showed me his fake press ID. He said he’d used it to get into every Premier League football club in the country.
I was duly scandalised. After all, in the theatre, film, music and TV industries, rigorous accreditation procedures are the absolute order of the day.
Iron-willed control is crucial to protect the stars and the product from casual liggers, blaggers and potential malcontents with axes to grind.
This tale of easy access throws some light on the thinking – or lack of it – that led to the fcuk-ing (sorry Trev) Alex Ferguson debacle.
Football could fairly lay claim to being unique among multimillion-pound industries in its slapdash approach to media management.
Most big clubs are acutely attuned to their share price, and will have Suit, Tie and Brogues PR plc in place to spin the financial stories.
But on the personal side, either managers and players have no advice or what they’re getting is lamentably unequal to the challenge posed by the press rottweilers who are no longer craven in their respect for footie idols.
There is a tendency to look on non-financial club PR as the post-playing equivalent of the boot-room, where the lads who performed so well in the back four get pensioned off into the front line of the mucky world of media.
You might strike lucky – and they might have the natural flair to make it work – but the chances are slim. The result is a black hole in media relations and Fergie tipped over the brink and went into freefall at the weekend.
His habitual tight-lipped taciturnity was thoroughly shot by the joint provocation of Arsene Wenger’s taunts and Arsenal’s cup success.
Anybody with an ounce of media savvy would have stuck him in a bag and thrown him off the premises.
Instead, the awesome display of petulance set the scene for the most volatile grand finale imaginable.
Having lit the fire, the media is assiduously pumping petrol on to the flames, fanning a raging conflagration of contesting egos and bad blood. Great sport for the spectators.
Conspiracy theorists might suggest Fergie’s outburst was actually a consummate piece of psychological warfare from a master tactician.
If so, he must be congratulated on his attention to detail. Close-up photos at the press conference show his manicurist had done a superb job in cutting his nails back to the bone.
For what it is worth, my advice to Manchester United is either (a) pay some serious attention to this side of media relations or (b) get yourself a foreign manager.
If pursuing option (b), first make sure he is shy and retiring and relatively unversed in the niceties of the English language, or foreign, articulate and unflappable but uninterested in weather girls.
Then the xenophobic British media will give up and leave him alone and we can all get back to being bored by the game itself