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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Five Men Walk Into A Bar Called the Premier League…….

Written by on April 11, 2011 | 55 Comments »
Posted in Arsenal, Chelsea, General, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United

Three Americans, a Russian oligarch and an United Arab Emirati kid walk into a bar called the English Premier League. They sidle up to the bar and the barkeep greets them with “hi, my name is Richard, what can I get you fine gentlemen?”

“What do you sell?” asks the Russian.

“We sell Premier League football teams here, twenty different varieties, some very popular, some not so much,” replies Richard in a way that indicates that it is not the first time that he has answered such a question.

“But we are all foreigners, do you sell to foreigners?”

“Years ago only the English were interested in visiting my establishment but since we undertook a big makeover in the 90s we get visitors from all over the world dropping by.”

“Of course there are some English customers still around. Old Joe over in the corner, he drops in whenever he is in town and there are Sully and Goldie who have a little room in the back. They do a little bit of business on the side… if you are interested in …..let us say…..more adult forms of entertainment…..just let me know.”

The visitors looked somewhat aghast at the suggestion but quickly regain their composure as they survey the products behind their suave server.

“What’s that one in the middle?” asks the first in a very thick Russian accent.

“That’s Chelsea, it has made a bit of a comeback in the last few years, it was very trendy in the 60s, very cool.”

“We Russians missed out on the 60s so Chelsea sounds good to me, give me a straight Chelsea.”

“Certainly, coming right up and how will you be paying for your Chelsea?” asks the barman.

“The Russian people will be paying in cash, here you go, and something for yourself of course,” says Roman has he quickly snuggles up to his new purchase.

“And you sir? Yes you, the older gentleman with the slippers, what’s your poison.”

“Oh, so many to chose from, let me think” says the frail looking man with the American accent.

“The big red shiny one, no not that one with the red and white stripes, the one right at the top, yes that one, what is that one called?”

“Oh,” says Richard, “I can see that you are a man who has an eye for quality, that shiny red one is called Manchester United. Extremely popular with our foreign visitors for some reason. Some call it Man U for short. Expensive though, the cost of ingredients have gone through the roof in the last few years. Not many know this but the thing that makes this one extra special is something called “fergie” and it comes all the way from Scotland.”

“That does it for me, I love anything Scattish,” yells the older gent, “I will have a Manchester United.”

“Coming right up, and how will you be paying for this?”

“No problem,  I will pay cash just like my Russian friend here, but oh dear…… just a moment……….that’s unfortunate,” exclaims the American, “I seem to have left my wallet at home.”

“This is very embarrassing…….would it be possible… perhaps……ask if it would be ok to run a tab and I will settle up later?”

“Well it is not our policy to extend credit sir, but you are foreign so that must mean you have a lot of money. Perhaps on this occasion I can  make an exception. However, I must tell you that if you don’t come back right away your Manchester United is going to cost you more and more each day until you finally settle up. It might prove to be much more expensive than you think.”

“I appreciate your concern but I want a Manchester United.”

“Ok….a Manchester United it is.”

“Right then” says the bartender as he warms to the task at hand. “Oh, young man, before I get your order I am afraid I am going to have to ask to see your identification, proof of age.”

Somewhat taken aback the dark handsome young man turns nervously to his five assistants. One reaches into the young man’s pocket to pull out some i.d.. But instead of pulling out a card thousands upon thousands of pounds fall to the floor. The assistant quickly gathers up all the money and places it on the counter.

“It seems that I have no form of identification except for this,” says the young man, as he points towards a bar now inches deep in notes.

“Well, if anyone asks please tell them you didn’t have anything stronger than a pop.”

“In that case what kind of “pop” might I have?” asks the kid.

“Might I suggest a Manchester City? It is really Manchester United without the high and it is much cheaper. I bought my last load in bulk from an Asian gentleman who had encountered some problems with his government. The locals love Manchester City though, have done for years. Unfortunately if you consume too much it does give you a dreadful hangover. So be very careful, a few too many and you can become quite delusional and when you come down the shakes are apparently awful.”

“I understand and I appreciate your concerns but I think I am going to love my Manchester City. One more thing, the gentlemen at the end of the bar….. what does he have in his drink?”

“Oh that is one of our special stir sticks. We carry a number of different ones, all different but they do cost extra,” explains Richard in a patronizing tone.

“You don’t think I can afford your stir sticks? I can afford anything I want. That one…..yes that one….I will have that and that and that one as well.”

“Oh I am sorry about my tone, I did not mean to be disrespectful to you. A Manchester City coming up with Tevez, Toure and Silva stir sticks.”

Richard’s attention then turns to a studious man who stands behind the others glancing at each offering in turn.

“There sure are a lot of red bottles up there. I like red, my wife likes red, we are a very red family. But we also like authentic, something real. What do you suggest my good tapster?”

“There is one I might recommend,” offers Richard. “It is an old traditional brand that was extremely popular some two decades ago and is still popular on special occasions, especially when a certain amount of nostalgia is about. It is called Liverpool and over the last couple of years people have been asking for it on the rocks.

I do have to warn you though, it has a bit of a dodgy shelf life and although many of the regulars refuse to believe it, the truth is that it has not aged well. In fact I would suggest that if you are going to partake then maybe add a chaser……a stadium chaser maybe?”

“That sounds excellent,” says the bespectacled American, “make that two, one for my wonderful wife who says she just loves your little bar.”

“And tell you what, I am expecting some other friends to join us shortly so perhaps I can settle up with you when they arrive. I hope that arrangement will be satisfactory?”

Richard serves up the two Liverpool-on-the-rocks with a stadium chaser and readies himself to go about his other chores. But out of the corner of his eye he spots the last member of the group who has been lurking in the shadows…….quietly.

“Sir, sir yes you….can I help you?” inquires Richard.

“Yes, I think you can,” says the man in nothing more than a whisper. “I would very much like an Arsenal if you please.”

“No problem, one of our most consistent sellers, very rich, smooth, sophisticated and carries more than a hint of France. And how will you be paying for your Arsenal?”

The room turns and waits for the quiet American to answer.


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55 responses to “Five Men Walk Into A Bar Called the Premier League…….”

  1. Bryan says:


    And the next time the barman goes down to the cellar to re-stock perhaps he’ll bring up an Everton?

  2. Bryan – thank you. I was hesitant to try a different route to this story. I hope others enjoy it as well.

  3. Soccerlogical says:

    I know that Kroenke has extensive experience in American sports but seeing that cheezy moustached country bumpkin Walmart fat cat from the US state of “Misery” own a cosmopolitan club like Arsenal just doesn’t sit well with me.

    There was just as much money to spend before he took over, which Wenger stubbornly refused to use on top class proven talent in the GK, DEF and DMC positions.

    Another owner just in it for a huge ROI with no sincere allegiance to the club whatsoever.

  4. rdm says:

    Bobby do you plan on exploring in more depth whether or not you feel this is a good thing for Arsenal? So far the majority of the sentiments I’ve seen are positive, excepting of course gems like the following which really doesn’t have anything to do with the takeover in the slightest.

    “Nothing will change at le Arsenal until le loser Wenger, and his 4th is good enough attitude leaves…. ”

    – Yes, how DARE they qualify for the champions league every season and balance their books. What a le BASTARD Arsene is!

  5. Gus Keri says:

    A wonderful story, Bobby.
    I enjoyed every bit if it.

    I was particularly interested in your description of cetrain “duo” and their bar fight, but you, probably, were in the bathroom (from drinking all these beer).

  6. There a lot of positives to the move but the money is the negative. Thinking of trying to answer the pertinent questions but the piece above took a lot longer than anticipated.

    Does it qualify as satire?

  7. rdm says:

    I’d say it qualifies, just as long as you don’t also have a hope that it shames the individuals involved into making changes or improvements!

  8. rahul says:

    Great article Bobby. It will be interesting to see what happens. People keep saying its not leveraged, and that may be true to (or not) to the 30% he already owns, but what about the rest that he is obligated to buy?

    I get the feeling that the Bartender is making out like a bandit.

  9. Rahul – your point is a well taken one.

  10. CDNGooner14 says:

    Loved the article!

  11. Kep says:

    Great article!

  12. Derek Taylor says:

    From the BBC:

    “The statement to the stock exchange read: “The offer will not be funded by way of any debt finance (banks loans, payment in kind loans or other debt or quasi-debt interest bearing obligations) for which the payment of interest on, repayment of or security for any liability (contingent or otherwise) will depend on the business of Arsenal.””

  13. Money however does not come free……unless you are Russian or UAE.

  14. Esjay says:

    Great piece of satire. I really enjoyed it.

  15. Gus Keri says:

    What a strike by Carroll

  16. Gus Keri says:

    Can someone pinch me, please
    3-0 in the first 30 minutes
    And it’s a wonderful brand of soccer from Liverpool

  17. SL – time for an intervention. Can’t let Gus get too happy over this performance.

  18. jimsakeeper says:

    Bobby, it’s a bit of brill. tour do force stuff. I thought the Man U purchase was made by borrowing money against the value of the club itself, I don’t think there’s a bar in the world that could happen. Maybe with a bottle of wine and selling glasses off ?

    I think it’s great you can write here and try things that would not fit the FSW format or audience.

    cheers from San Francisco

  19. Boris says:


    Good article. I really enjoyed it.

  20. Gus Keri says:

    Thanks Bobby
    It’s good to know that I have friends who care

  21. Jimsakeeper – I had to work hard to try and keep it in check. At one point the old American fella was going to explain to the barkeep that all his regular customers would just fork over money to cover his purchase.

  22. Soccerlogical says:

    I’ll let the Liverpool fans have their moment but should I see one post about how Liverpool won this game with a weak squad lacking any good players then BEWARE!

    Sorry for Repost:
    Bookmakers are now offering a measly 1/40 that Bobby McMahon will choose Seedorf (Milan) as his Player of the Weekend, while Modric and Petric didn’t even make Bobbo’s shortlist.

    Is there a betting fix going on by Chinese and Croatian mafia….. Boris?

  23. Boris says:

    Haha. That was funny Soccerlogical. I give you that.

    I think Bobby is smart not to pick Modric because he knows I’ll be writing eulogies about him…j/k.
    I haven’t really watched as many games as Bobby has this week-end so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
    I am sure all the picks were legit.

  24. Nathan says:

    Only my second time visiting the blog but I will say that was a very enjoy able piece of writing, simply fantastic!

  25. gorn says:

    Epic, Robert, epic. All it’s wanting is more about that bespectacled dewd’s wife…. ^_^

  26. Gorn – thank you, and a nice addition it would have been. It would have been heading towards a trilogy if I added everything I wanted.

  27. Nathan – thanks and welcome. I hope you become a regular.

  28. Roberto Manita says:

    Yes, let Liverfool have their day in the sun. It is now spring after all, even in Winterpeg. And besides, today’s result is still a dagger closer to Mancini’s dismissal and really gets Liverfool no closer to Europe. So, it’s a win win from a Gonner perspective.

    YNWA 🙂

  29. Roberto Manita says:

    And Bobbo, nice bit of British satire from a Scotsman. You deserve a double Glenmorangie, neat.

    Everyone else, fasten your seatbelts tomorrow for the only tie of the QFs left that is even slightly in the balance. It may just turn out to be one for the ages.

  30. Bridie Boy says:

    Doing the math – it would appear that NESV or FSV (as they are now called) bought Liverpool with no debt for about a quarter of what this latest deal values Arsenal (300 million vs 1.2 billion). Somebody please tell me if I have that wrong.

    Also, Craig Burley said about Balotelli tonight “he is more Jack Duckworth from the Rovers (Coronation St.) than Roy of The Rovers”. Magic – LOL.

    Stevie Mac – could you be more biased than Ray Wilkins (Spurs vs Madrid) last week? Apparently yes 🙂

    Hate to say it for any other fan than a Man City one – this was a mixed-blessing. The end of Mancini’s tenure is surely one-step closer. If Mourinho leaves Madrid for Manchester then City will surely be a fixture in the top-four. They were awful tonight – a 200 Million pound pile of dung.

    To SOCCERLOGICAL – tonight was a good example of what a manager can do for a team in terms of preparation, organisation, tactics and motivation. And vice-versa.

    The way that Liverpool hunted in packs of 4 or 5 all over the pitch tonight was superb. Their movement all over the field was excellent. One big difference tonight from the West Brom game was a well-rested Dirk Kuyt. Took his goal so well and I kept thinking I was seeing things as he seemed to be everywhere all over the field.

    Andy Carroll took his chances well didn’t he? 13 EPL goals thus far in his debut top-flight season – nae too shabby at all. Unlike the player he was bought to replace he doesn’t seem slightly fazed by his price-tag. I won’t belabour the “is he worth it” discussion but for 8 more million than Dzeko he brings attributes that every manager would love to have at his disposal. His second goal was delightful in its effective simplicity when you’d give the defender the greater odds of getting the ball.

    The renaissance continues under Dalglish. Close to an average of 2 points vs 1.25 for Hodgson. I was delighted to see Carroll and Suarez start to click and fair-play to him for deploying Meireles effectively on the left. Likewise his decison to start Flanagan. Encouraging that apart from his first two games in charge that Liverpool haven’t been poor two games in a row. The doubters will continue to doubt but he and Steve Clarke have gotten their preparation and tactics spot-on for most games.

  31. Roberto Manita says:

    SL – Berbatov has no pace either and can only play as the frontman in a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1. Both Rooney and Hernandez can play that position or out on the wings. The Mexican has scored goals with his head this year in very limited time (Berba headers?). I also believe Rooney is just as skillful in tight spaces and offers much more in every other aspect of the game than Berba. The work rate of both Rooney and Hernandez sets them apart from Berba. Berba had to be bought at a premium because he played at the Spuds. Hernandez was bought on the cheap. Now that both are scoring goals on a regular basis, Berba is an endangered species. And versatile and mobile forwards (that score goals) are certainly not a dime a dozen and I would choose the first kind of forward over a statue every day of the week (and so would Fergie; and so would Pep in the case of the donkey Ibra v Villa … Berba is ManU’s Ibra while Hernandez is ManU’s Villa). Fergie has his forward hierarchy correct: Rooney, Hernandez, and then Berba. I could write an article for you but I am on an iPhone. Hernandez has shown great patience waiting for his chance, been lethal once given a chance, and has firmly displaced Berba (despite his EPL golden boot status).

    Boris the Croatian – I’m not bringing race into the equation. I’m only countering your excessive Croatian pomp pomp waving dilerium. If Modric was better than both Bale and VdV he would have been on the list. He is not. Must I draw a picture for you? If either Bale or VdV were Croatian you would be the first to be waving those checkered pomp pomps of yours.

  32. Roberto Manita says:

    And for all the Liverfool fans out there, please, let’s not get into a discussion over the Pony Tail being a better player than the Spaniard. Please. The Spaniard is in a rut. Rooney was in a rut. A rut is just that, a rut. Form is temporary, class is permanent. The Pony Tail has no class (especially off the field; nor does Rooney off the field for that matter), and Torres will find his form … hopefully tomorrow.

  33. Boris says:

    Wow..that is great reasoning Roberto….They got picked so they have to be better. That’s like saying Alex Smith (if you follow football) must be a great QB because he got picked first in the draft.
    Please come back to me when you actually start watching Tottenham.
    I think Bale is very good. I think if he continues to roam from left to the middle like he has been doing recently and improves on his technique, he could become a devastating player. VDV has impressed early but his form dropped drastically. They are both good players, but having watched them all play all season, I can say that Modric is the better player than either one of them. This is what I see. I also think Bale is a better option than Kranjcar on the left and he is Croatian too.
    If you actually sit down and watch a few games and then come to the conclusion that Bale is actually better, then fine. I respect that but until then I willl not take coments such as the one above seriously.

  34. Roberto Manita says:


    Alex Smith was drafted. Bale and VdV were picked based on their performance in the league. Your analogy is a red herring. True, the PFA list is top heavy and based on the first part of the year. I don’t agree with that. If there are 38 games in the year such a list should not be released until after the year. Nasri is on the list and hasn’t done much lately, much like both Bale and VdV.

    And I watch pleanty of Spuds games (I’ve got Setanta). Much more than any Gooner should. Bale short on technique? Are you drunk? How about his volley goal from the edge of the box early (of course) in the year?

    VdV pushed them to another level this year. Bale is coveted by all of Europe. Modric was there last year and is a fine passer of the ball. You don’t see the difference in this equation?

  35. Roberto Manita says:

    Boris – at least you conceded that Bale is better than Krancjar. That’s a start.

  36. Boris says:

    Alex Smith was also picked based on performances, though the scouting was very bad…
    The only reason I used that comparison was because that popped in my head first. You can use plenty of other comparisons.

    I didn’t say he lacked technique. I simply stated that he had room to improve. He is a young player so why not improve on the technique as well. He is still not good enough in a roaming position but that could improve in years to come. He has plenty of time to grow.

    Nasri is on the list and hasn’t done much lately, much like both Bale and VdV.
    – Thank you. I’ve been trying to explain this all along.

    Tottenham finished fourth without VDV last year. I would say an improvement to the team would be a striker not an advanced attacking midfielder, the same role that Modric can play and Kranjcar just as well. Just watch the Werder Bremen game as an example.

    What I am seeing is that Modric is being moved further up front and getting more involved in the final third again as was evident against West Ham and Stoke and it has payed off dividends, albeit the strikers did not know how to score against West Ham I am hoping to see more of this in the coming games. In both games, VDV was a non-factor.
    VDV can be replaced and as I have been saying for some time, I would have been happier with a quality striker.

    Boris – at least you conceded that Bale is better than Krancjar. That’s a start.

    – That is what I see, the same way to me Modric is better than the guys who are getting the accolodes.

    I forgive you for being a gonner. Maybe that’s why you are so negative, but at least you won’t see me compare Arsenal players to one another as I don’t watch Arseanal as much nor do I really care so I’d appreciate if you respected my opinions about Tottenham players too.

  37. Bridie Boy – you need to compare apples to apples. With Arsenal you get a 60,000 stadium in a city where you are going to be able to charge higher prices; and that is just a start. The starting point for comparisons is what you get not what you pay.

    No debt – really? So John W Henry just pealed a few hundred million of the walls and handed it to the bank?
    There is almost always debt (exc. Chelsea and City) – the issue is what is the debt secured against.

  38. Soccerlogical says:

    Roberto – I don’t know what your definition of “on the field class” is but for me, a striker who can hold up play, is very formidable in the air and has a great shot on goal is class. I have admired Carrol (not in a Michael Jackson kinda way) since his Newcastle debut and “The Pony Tail” has demonstarted that he has the skills to be a more consistent Adriano of early Inter days.

  39. Gillian says:

    Very clever.

  40. Roberto Manita says:

    Boris – you are as sensitive about the Spuds as Gus is about Liverfool. Even though this might be blasphemy, I hope the Spuds finish fourth ahead of Mancini because I believe that is the greater evil. Mancini is a cancer on the game. Let him take his impressive CV back to Italy and ply his ‘trade’ there, for it makes my stomach turn.

  41. Roberto Manita says:


    I believe the Mexican jumping bean has shown more aerial prowess than Berba to date.

    And if you are referring to the Pony Tail, he is strong in the air, no doubt. As for the rest of his game I am not sold. He has played a half year in the top flight. On the ground he seems quite clumsy to me. His goal today should have been stopped by England’s #1. Hart had a poor game today for my money. Iker would have stopped the first two goals today.

    I’ll say it again, “the Pony Tail is Crouch dressed up with a pony tail”.

  42. Soccerlogical says:

    Roberto – I wasn’t talking about Berba, I was talking about Carrol.

    * Berba can hold the ball, set a calm tempo on the game (if needed) and MOST IMPORTANTLY he makes everyone around him a more “clever” footballer when linking up.

    As for Carrol, not only is he strong on the air but he makes any ball into the 6 yard box a real goalscoring opportunity (either by shooting on goal or heading it down to a teammate). In addition to his domination in the air, go youtube his various shots on goal and you will see he has a thunderous right foot not like plastic man Crouch. By the age of 25, Carrol will be indomitable!

    PS Please don’t put words in my mouth as I never said I was impressed with either Crouch or Zigic. I was however impressed with Adriano at Inter, and Carrol displays the same skill set.

  43. Roberto Manita says:


    And if you are impressed with Crouch and Zigic then the Pony Tail should be right up your alley. Now, consider the outrageous price tag (more than Villa), his off the field activities, and what the opportunity cost that that money could have bought in the summer and you have a bad cocktail. Suarez will be more than twice the player than the Pony Tail at a little more than half the price.

  44. Roberto Manita says:

    SL – yes, Carrol will be a “Monster” before he reaches 25. He already has been. Just ask two of his past lady friends. I expect that monstrousity to continue unabated in fact. He’ll make Rooney and Crouch look like angels in comparison. He’s a nutter … give him more time and you will see the light.

  45. Roberto Manita says:

    SL – your thoughts on the Pony Tail’s aerial abilities in the six yard box are akin to Twitchy Redsnapper’s beliefs in Crouch in Europe …

    The battery in my phone is getting low and I have to make my way home. Always good to debate with you. How are the batteries working in your black helicopter btw?

  46. Soccerlogical says:

    Roberto – I am stating that he has already demonstrated great skill (heading, shooting, etc) and potential at a young age. I’m not debating the personal life of a 20 year old footballer millionaire living in a bubble just like the rest.

    My black helicopter is operating quite well, shall I fly you over a prescription for your ADD so you can stay on track and debate what skills Carrol has already demonstrated on the pitch.

  47. Bridie Boy says:

    Bobby – fair points but I’d wager that $300 million for one of the most storied, most widely-followeed and successful clubs in the world is a good piece of business.

    FSV’s actions on a new or redeveloped stadium will tell us a lot if they are playing a long or short game re: ownership.

    The authors of “Soccernomics” make the great point that clubs have very few ways to monetise the value of millions of arm-chair and bar-stool football fans across the globe.

    My guess is the owners think they can derive ever-expanding world-wide revenues (sorta like a global NFL) from tv and internet royalties from the EPL.

    Time will tell if this is based on hard logic rather than wishful thinking.

  48. Revenue gold is ultimately about cutting out the middle man and selling games directly to the fans around the wold.

  49. BB – You might want to go easy on the “Liverpool a bargain” line or you may find yourself being called to testify that it was a massive fraud by lawyers for Mr. T Hicks.

  50. houyhnhnm twit says:

    Outside of foreign ownership, what may the foreign owners bring to the PL. How will the bar change with foreign owners

  51. HT – probably need an more detailed response so I will respond later this week as part of an “Ask the Extra” segment if that is ok.

  52. Gus Keri says:

    Bridie Boy:

    First of all, it isn’t 300 M vs. 1.2 B

    It’s either 300 million pounds vs. 730 million pounds,
    or 470 million dollars vs. 1.2 billion dollars

    Secondly, Arsenal has a state of the art stadium with a capacity of 60,000 while Anfield is an old stadium with a capacity of 45,000

    Thirdly, the form of the clubs at the time of the deals couldn’t be any more different.

    Fourthly, John Henry took a tremendous advantage of a very odd situation. And as Bobby said, I don’t want to be called as a witness, either.

  53. Bridie Boy says:

    Thanks Gus. Had just glanced the details and thought I might not have had the currencies right.

    Liverpool have desperately needed a new or revamped stadium for 5+ years.

  54. Jonathan says:

    I am abit late, but that was a 1st rate story,its just sad that Brits do not owe any of their major football clubs; but thats business. The Silverware and China have all been sold!

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