Looking out the window this morning I noticed with some concern that a For Sale sign has gone up next door. It wasn’t a great surprise as sadly our elderly neighbours for the last five years could no longer fend for themselves and are currently spending their twilight years in a home that can provide for them.
My concern around the arrival of the For Sale sign stems from the natural fear we all have of what character our new neighbours will have, we had got used to the quiet, non interfering nature of the couple next door, never had a issue regarding fence ownership, overhanging trees or my occasional wayward shot on goal in my own garden, that ended up amongst their prize winning runner beans. They didn’t even seem to mind when our cat took its regular good look at the content of their pond and licked his lips.
Importantly our old neighbours also had no real interest in football, so there was never any debate or ridicule over the fence when I came out to have a consolation cigarette, normally after watching another Spurs defeat or the debacle of the World Cup in 2010, despite the fact that they both were very much on the Welsh side of the counties we border.
New neighbours means change, it means adapting and after the inevitable welcome we await their true character to show itself. First disaster, way before we find out they have 10 kids, each of which will enjoy sounding louder than my own, or that they are the lending type and in three years time most of the items in my shed will be in theirs. Or that they are the dinner party type, who will want to have formal parties that my wife will want to attend so she can take a glance at the decor and I will have to make small talk with some bloke who works in I.T. Worse than any of these discoveries to me is that they may support Arsenal. I have spent the last 20 years carefully selecting my properties based on the knowledge and research that I wouldn’t end up with my own equivalent of the noisy neighbours syndrome currently experienced in football today.
I know how Alex Ferguson felt now when Sheikh Mansour moved into The City of Manchester Stadium, changed the name of the ground and City started to challenge United’s supremacy in the Manchester suburbs. After a quiet 20 years or so with the odd annoyance from teams in London and Liverpool, United suddenly had their very own noisy neighbours, close enough to cause daily discomfort, a little like Tottenham are now doing to Arsenal, it’s emphasised in a new song we have at White Hart Lane which basically asks them to move to another part of town as we are the top dogs now.
It’s strikes me just how uncomfortable Mr Ferguson could be now, everything he has built is under threat due to the moving in of a new neighbour, no longer can he feel safe in his own manor and it brings home just how many similarities to owning a football club and a house there are.
Firstly the selling of your own property can prove difficult, just ask Mike Ashley at Newcastle or Bill Kenwright of Everton how difficult it is to shift a property with negative equity and in Everton’s case a fair bit of refurbishment, those of you who have been in the lower tier away end at Goodson Park will know what I mean.
Buying a football club or new house is also similar, it’s expensive, comes with huge direct debits and if you can’t pay back quickly enough it will inevitably end up in eviction, ask Neil Warnock what you get for taking on a ram shackled old property, improving the infrastructure making it worth more but not being able to fill your cabinets quickly enough.
Your house is a place of course to invite friends, most big grounds invite 30k plus every other week to theirs and for the home faithful it becomes a second home, somewhere to share memories, emotions and feel comfortable, never to be re located, never to be renamed, you do have to let in a few thousand not so friendly folk, but then we all have to put up with the occasional unwelcome visitor to our own homes, my mother in law visits three times a year!
And what do you do if the new neighbours come in, start bashing the property around, spending countless amounts of money on new acquisitions and within a year or so start to make the structure you have build up over a decade look decidedly shabby. The wife starts to grumble that you don’t do anything around the house and how next door was showing her their new top of the range and offering you their old one on loan!
Maybe I shouldn’t worry, maybe I should follow Sir Alex’s lead, he hasn’t gone out and brought shiny new assets for his home to try and compete, he hasn’t worried how noisy his neighbours get, he has kept her indoors both in the boardroom and on the terraces quiet by staying within three points of the new kids in town and even gone into the attic to find some old antiques to give the place a familiar feel. As long as Sir Alex does not start giving out DIY advice to Mr Wenger then all will be fine.
Have to go now, just noticed the estate agent walking up the path with a new prospective neighbours, he seems to be wearing a red scarf so I’ve got to go start the dog barking!
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