Friday, March 07, 2003

Ireland's Royalty

Yes, the peasant republic has its kings and queens, and they are a pretty annoying lot. Our Sean Connery post yesterday included a link to a story about one JP McManus, someone who enjoys playing the role of wealthy Irish sporting gentleman, even though for tax purposes he lives in Switzerland and his actual occupation is somewhat vaguely described as something like "currency speculator." Sounds a bit like Marc Rich, doesn't it? Now we read that JP and his horse racing buddy John Magnier might launch a takeover bid for Manchester United. MU fans were relieved when a previous Rupert Murdoch bid fell through but they should be wary rather than relieved that the new suitors are not so high profile. McManus and Magnier spent years being way too close to corrupt former Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey, and their names have a habit of surfacing in Ireland's seemingly endless Tribunals of Inquiry into those kleptocratic years. Someone who carefully manages his time in his "home" country for tax reasons (and who bases his ownership stake in the club in the Virigin Islands) is hardly likely to display much sentimental attachment to a football club that he happens to own, so if the MU fans think that their potential Oirish* owners are more likely to heed their wishes, they should think again. A useful analogy for Americans in this case is the shock that Dallas Cowboys fans must have experienced finding their team owned by an Oklahoman, Jerry Jones, and coaching legend Tom Landry being shown the door soon after. But at least Jones built another winning team. After the fun of inviting more Irish yuppies to the executive boxes at the Theatre of Dreams wears off, this pair could lose interest pretty fast.

*PS: We used the word "Oirish" above. This is not a mis-spelling. Oirish is to Irish as Wanksta is to Gangsta i.e. the airs and appearance, but not the reality.