£80million does seem an awful lot for a virus. Football, bloody hell!
SIR ALEX Ferguson stuns the football world and gets the last laughon Real Madrid when it transpires the Old Trafford icon he has soldthem is not Ron the Gone, but Fred the Red.
After two years of wrangling over image rights and his role hugging the touchline, Fred hangs up his horns for good.
'Fred had been itching for a move and was becoming a destabilisinginfluence in the dressing room,' confirmed a United insider.
'He will be a huge loss, but sometimes it is just better to let someone go, however important they are to your marketing team. Now Sir Alex will be given cash to strengthen his pre-match entertainment options and bolster his catalogue of public relations gimmicks.
'United will come back stronger and there will soon be a whole newrange of goods available both at the megastore and online.'
*** THIS week it gives Sporting Week no pleasure whatsoever to report thesad and, for all we know, terminal demise of Australian cricket.
Having departed the World Twenty20 before England, Australia celebrate by taking a two-week vacation in Leicester - apart from reserve Cameron White, who was called up when Andrew Symonds was sent home in disgrace, flew in just in time to see the Aussies lose to Sri Lanka and must now fly home again because he is not a member of the Test squad.
It's the most hopeless false start since Michael Palin set outto circumnavigate the world in 80 days only to take a wrong turning atthe end of his road.
*** ANDREW SYMONDS comes clean over his lapse in standards concerningalcohol consumption, admitting that he failed to finish off theminimum requirement of 48 tinnies during the flight from Australia.
Captain Ricky Ponting is said to feel particularly let down as he hadbet a substantial amount that Symonds would comfortably break throughthe 50 barrier. Old hands Rod Marsh, Dennis Lillee and David Boon aretoo disgusted to comment.
*** TRENT JOHNSTON is rated the best transfer of the season, having jumpedship from Australia to Ireland in time to enjoy the Super Eights stageof the World Twenty20.
*** IN FOOTBALL NEWS . . . the Singapore based Profitable Group makecontact with the Seymour Pierce investment bank commissioned by MikeAshley to sell Newcastle United.
This comes only hours after Newcastlemanaging director Derek Llambias says reports of Profitable's interestare 'total rubbish'. Llambias adds that the Titantic is expected todock in New York 'within the hour'.
Also available in green: Damien Duff
A massive 'going down' sale is announced at retail outlet SportsDirect, with Newcastle United home shirts available at just £9.99(£8.99 with player's name printed). Newcastle owner Mike Ashley alsoencourages bids for the club itself, advertising his prized assets onthe internet:
Michael Owen - high mileage, not the quickest from a standing start butstill able to manouevre well in tight spaces. No longer consideredsuitable for overseas travel.Joey Barton - prone to blow outs, fuel consumption levels excessive, difficult to handle, liable tospend extended periods locked away.Damien Duff - still corners well but struggles to respond when the pedal is applied these days.Nicky Butt - would suit retired couple, steady, reliable runner withno acceleration to speak of, unlikely to get into trouble around town.Rest of squad - decent job-lot for scrap, no longer worth much as a functioning unit.***
JENSON BUTTON is derided after winning yet another Grand Prix, withcritics claiming he is only succeeding because of his car. Sorry,isn't that the whole point of the sport? It's a bit like saying BrianFletcher only won the Grand National twice because he was on Red Rum.
ATHLETICS gets all hip and cool and 'down with the kids' as the newSuper8 series starts, featuring musical interludes and coloured kitand, err, British athletes still running around slower than theworld's best.
Please note: No elite sporting icons were harmed in the writing of this column.