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Correspondent’s Week

This week Gail Moss, freelance personal finance journalist

This summer has been quieter than usual for freelance work. True, there’s holiday cover but most of my clients now seem to employ 20-somethings who go away all year round, except July and August. And with advertising going through its seasonal lull, issue sizes are down.

In fact, the only business phone call I get all week comes from Pippa Russell at Selestia. A story I wrote said that a bond launched by a rival fund supermarket was the first of its kind. But apparently Selestia have been marketing their own version for 18 months. I suggest Pippa gets in touch with the news editor – perhaps Selestia could send in a letter.

Pippa rings off with a vague promise to arrange lunch. Meanwhile, to stave off the summer boredom there’s always Norway. I’m writing a piece for Investment & Pensions Europe covering Norwegian pension funds and their use of private equity. I have a huge book of European contacts to get through. But in Norway, it’s the holiday season, so no one is there.

Leafing through the book, I spot a listing for the pension fund of engineering com-pany Aker Kvaerner. I shan’t be ringing them. The company’s former boss, squillionaire Kjell Inge Rokke, was also co-owner of Wimbledon FC, and moved it to Milton Keynes. And that rather contrived leap of logic brings us nicely to the week’s highlight.

On Saturday, my football team, AFC Wimbledon plays FC United of Manchester at Kingsmeadow stadium in a pre-season friendly. The game is a showpiece for non-league football. But sadly, it is only taking place because of money. If it wasn’t for greedy businessmen, these two teams wouldn’t exist at all.

In our case, Wimbledon was moved 70 miles up the M1 to a new town which hadn’t got a league football club. So leading worthies decided to pinch one from somewhere else. Wimbledon’s then owners colluded, believing they’d make more money from a new fanbase in a bigger town.

In response, us fans formed AFC Wimbledon, starting at the lowest rung of non-league football. Meanwhile, FCUM was set up by Man United fans fearful that the Glazer takeover will mean losing their identity, and a complete sell-out to the prawn sandwich brigade.

On Saturday I arrive early at Kingsmeadow and soon it is buzzing with camera crews, police, and hundreds of fans. Just before three, the teams run out and my spine tingles. For only their second game, FCUM aren’t a bad side, and our keeper makes a great save after 10 minutes. We’re behind the goal and have a good view. We have an even better view second half when one of our strikers takes a through ball, steers it round a couple of defenders, then pops it over the keeper. We’re one-nil up. In spite of some close shaves either end, the score stays the same, and AFC Wimbledon carry off the Supporters Direct trophy. Mike Owen of Plan Invest will be pleased we’ve stuffed United – he’s a City fan. A gang of us bus happily back to a Wimbledon pub. I reflect that there may be more to life than football – but it definitely isn’t work.


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