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Opinion

Is this a Newcastle United fan conspiracy theory too far?

2 months ago
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I had an interesting discussion with another Newcastle United fan who is a regular in the comments section on The Mag, somebody who I usually agree with.

It was un response to Matt Busby Said To Joe Harvey’s reaction piece to the FA Cup draw and it inspired me to expand my comments and, hopefully, make an article out of them.

Our conversation was all to do with whether our run of away draws in cup competitions was coincidence, or the sign of a dastardly conspiracy.

The other Newcastle United fan who I was conversing with, is firmly of the opinion that it’s happened too often since the takeover to be coincidence and is an indication of somebody acting to make life difficult for us.

To be fair, there is plenty of evidence that, leading up to and, especially after, the Newcastle United takeover, that the Premier League and members of the so-called ‘Big Six; HAVE acted to try and limit our commercial options and generally put obstacles to growth in our path.

However, I am very sceptical about anyone being able to manipulate Carabao and FA Cup draws in order to disadvantage NUFC.

I’m not naive to the ways of the world or the power of money to corrupt but I’m not stupid either. As I have said above, I recognise the obstacles the Premier League have put in our way both before and after the takeover, but we’ve seen recently that they don’t get it all their own way. We have allies.

The claim, which I have seen put forward in the comments section of various Newcastle United sites and on social media, is that cup draws can be fixed by including a hot or cold ball, which can be detected by the person(s) making the draw. The Newcastle United fan I was debating with, says this has “happened 100%” elsewhere in the world and that individuals have confessed to doing it. While I can accept that this is quite possible, I don’t know of any case myself.

The draws are generally very “clunky” affairs (remember the one where a ball fell out of the bag and they finished up with only one ball left?) with one or often two football related celebs doing the honours. One holds the bag and shakes the balls about and the other draws them out or they take turns dipping in to a cheap looking plastic dish with balls spinning around (whilst warming up and/or cooling down).

For a draw to be rigged with hot and cold balls, two fundamental things have to happen.

First of all, the balls have to be prepared in advance.

How exactly does this ball heating and cooling work? Who does it and when?

Have they got a mini fridge in the studio with one ball in it, or some curling tongs, maybe, to heat one up – then slip them in amongst the rest when no one’s looking? How long does a porcelain / plastic / wooden ball retain its hot / cold nature inside that fabric bag in a hot studio with all those other balls or spinning around for ages on a cushion of warm air in a Perspex sphere? How soon before the temperature difference dissipates amongst all those others? If it’s one of those “blowy, spinny” things, how do they know which one to pluck out of the air?

Many of these celebrities are ageing characters from yesteryear. Do they have the senses and reactions required to identify the one ball with a different temperature that’s spinning around in a maelstrom containing 64, 32 or even just 8 balls and spearing them like a hunting predator? That image makes me think of Rod Stewart doing a draw (Scottish Cup, I think) and snatching and displaying the balls in a weird way. He said afterwards that he’d been suitably lubricated and decided to do it in the style of Rod Hull’s Emu!

Also, how many other balls are heated up or cooled down due to contact with ours and is it just ours that gets the special treatment?

Manchester United were drawn away in the FA Cup this week and it’s the first away draw in either domestic cup that they’ve had since March 2021. Their balls must have been freezing!

Are we saying that someone suddenly thought it was starting to look suspicious and decide to slip an away fixture in? If it was a fix, they’ve surely been a bit slow on the uptake if it’s taken three years.

Not only would the celebs have to be in the know, so would everyone else in the studio – presenters, camera and sound crew, pundits etc. – but the celebs are the key actors involved and would have to be “in on it”.

Well, of course a celebrity can be as needy and greedy as anyone and it’s certainly possible that they can be corruptible but how exactly does that work? Do they approach them beforehand, choosing only to go with the ones that promise to cooperate? If so, why haven’t we heard from the ones with honour who turned them down? Surely they’d be insulted and outraged at the suggestion that they corrupt the greatest cup competition in world football?

The alternative is to only engage celebs who are known to be corruptible in the first place. The risk there is that those kind of people, by nature, will surely be open to other offers. If there was the slightest sniff of this really happening in England, beyond the virtual world of football sites, won’t the tabloid press, and TV investigative journalists (not to mention our filthy rich owners) be all over it and be offering suitable inducements to these weak-willed individuals to cough their guts up?

Whilst anything in this world is possible – just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you – in my opinion they couldn’t keep something like this a secret.

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