David Parkin on FIFA funny business, an aviation legend and a subtle stag do

David Parkin on FIFA funny business, an aviation legend and a subtle stag do

IS it just me or does it seem a little bit ironic that the nation that has never really embraced football (or ‘soccer’ as US prosecutors referred to it this week) has been the one to investigate and expose corruption within the sport? The arrest of seven high-ranking FIFA officials brought out into the open what many observers of football’s world governing body have suspected for some time – that much of the way it operates is shadowy, involving clandestine deals, kick-backs and out-and-out bribery. Some of the sums involved are mind-boggling. As part of a ‘plea bargain’ deal with the US authorities, one Brazilian media figure, Jose Hawilla, head of sports marketing business Traffic Group, agreed to forfeit $151m. As one commentator observed – forget Pele at the New York Cosmos, the World Cup in the US in 1984 and David Beckham at LA Galaxy, it took US Attorney General Loretta Lynch to get football as the lead item on US TV sports news channel ESPN. And FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the man who has sat at the top of this organisation since 1988 and is seeking a fifth term of office, welcomes the investigation whilst failing to explain how all this corruption could have happened around him without him having a clue. It reminds me of that scene in Carry On Up The Khyber where Sid James and Joan Simms and their guests are having dinner in the British Governor’s residence in India oblivious to the cannon fire which is exploding around them and blowing plaster from the ceiling into the soup. The only one aware of...
David Parkin on racing at York, email overload and Royal Ascot in Leeds

David Parkin on racing at York, email overload and Royal Ascot in Leeds

A TRIP to York Races is one of the great pleasures of the Yorkshire sporting calendar. Last week’s first meeting of the year, the Dante, is always popular and attracts high quality fields, but not the overwhelming crowds of the Ebor Festival in August. Surveying the carnage across the champagne lawn at the end of a boisterous Ebor Ladies’ Day a few years ago I suggested to a friend that it looked a bit like the collapse of the Roman Empire might have done when it culminated with the sacking of Rome by the Vandals in 410 AD. Men slumped in litter bins wearing women’s hats, scuffles, screeching and people trying to walk across the discarded champagne bottles on the lawn resembling Canadian lumberjacks on logs as they float them down river. The Dante Meeting doesn’t tend to end like that but I went on Friday and the fine weather and end-of-week air ensured a bumper crowd. Mark Raven of FDYL told me there was about twice the number of spectators than on Thursday. Mark also tells me he does a lot of business at the races. I’ve always liked the idea of that but have never quite achieved it as by the end of the day’s racing I’ve either lost my shirt or enjoyed myself so much I’ve forgotten who I met. Informed that York had invested in upgrading its champagne bar and lawn and added a new rooftop terrace over the Moet & Chandon bar, I spent much of my time surveying these parts of the course, rather than getting close to the race track or the...
David Parkin on a trouser-dropping election, Testing times for Strauss and a vote for the Krankies

David Parkin on a trouser-dropping election, Testing times for Strauss and a vote for the Krankies

WHEN Julian Pitts asked me to host an Election Breakfast that Begbies Traynor were holding the morning after the vote, I initially wondered whether we would have much to talk about. Several weeks out from the election, even several hours from it, all the pollsters and media and even politicians were predicting a hung parliament. So what would I talk about to the gathered throng in the smart offices of Begbies’ property firm Eddisons in Leeds? “I’m sure if there isn’t a clear cut decision in the election you can always sing a song or tell a few jokes,” said Julian helpfully, when we met to discuss plans for the event. Thankfully for me, and definitely for the audience of bankers, funders, lawyers and restructuring experts, the surprise Tory majority predicted by the exit polls was beginning to become a reality. Which led to a standing room only audience to watch the results coming in before I kicked off proceedings at 8.30am. I had promised our new events business, COPA, would deliver “remarkable” experiences, we couldn’t take credit for the shock result last Friday. Whilst the Lefties I appear to have as friends on Facebook have been slashing their wrists and predicting that the end is nigh since the result was confirmed, it appeared the audience at the Begbies Traynor breakfast was just pleased that one party that had delivered stability to the economy had won an outright majority – and now they could all get on with their business. The funders and bankers in the room gave an audible sigh of relief, hoping the result would deliver the...
David Parkin on the Tour de Yorkshire, Beyonce baring up and a Star Wars salute

David Parkin on the Tour de Yorkshire, Beyonce baring up and a Star Wars salute

DID you watch the Tour de Yorkshire last weekend? Race organisers Welcome to Yorkshire were again fortunate with the weather. Last July they had cracking weather for the Tour de France Grand Depart. The chances of the skies being blue for a bank holiday weekend at the start of May were altogether lower. But Welcome to Yorkshire head honcho, Big V himself, Gary Verity, waved his magic wand and other than for the rainy start on Sunday morning in Wakefield, the weather was kind over most of the three days. Perhaps it was the elation over the success of the event that saw Welcome to Yorkshire announce that 1.5m people had watched the race. A quarter of the population of Yorkshire? That sounds a little optimistic to me. Perhaps that included the TV audience too. Mild cynicism aside, I think this event certainly underlined Yorkshire’s eminent position in cycling in the UK and reinforced the legacy of the county’s spectacularly successful Tour de France hosting 10 months ago. I wandered down to watch the climax on Sunday in Roundhay Park in Leeds. There was a good crowd there but not huge. Many people went en famille and I saw PR people, journalists and corporate financiers among the good natured group of spectators cheering the riders home. Although given the the cyclists had tackled six steep climbs over the 167km route that day, no wonder even the race leaders looked slower finishing this stage than those who competed in last year’s Grand Depart. Luxury car brand Maserati looked to be the main sponsor and had an impressive display of motors...