Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you today, or sit, to explain a difficult decision the club has had to make. We have had to dismiss one of our biggest stars, a veritable superstar in fact, up there with Messi, Ronaldo and Madonna.
It seems Gibbo has been caught out making an honest mistake. He feels he has let down his club, his agent, his PR, his physio, his financial adviser, his family, his friends, his fans, me, and mostly, himself.
According to a story in a so-called Sunday newspaper, Gibbo recklessly failed to abide by government guidelines on social distancing. He did not keep two metres apart at all times. He did not sneeze into a paper handkerchief and place it into a bin. He did not wash his hands.
Furthermore, this regrettable lapse, for which he offers no excuse except that he is a professional footballer, is said to have happened in the context of something the tabloids have chosen to refer to as a ‘sex-party’.
Gibbo has explained it to me. There was no sex-party. When a young man, with a very good friend, chooses to invite two professional ladies to his elegant house in Cheshire for an evening’s entertainment, is it anybody’s business but his own?
This was more in the nature of a dinner-party that got out of hand. One minute he and his friends were rounding off the meal with a delightful Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac, the next they were down on all fours on the silk rug in front of the projection TV. We’ve all been there.
Nonetheless, he feels he should make an apology, and not just because I told him to.
The other morning, he pulled into the training ground in his midnight blue Maserati GranTurismo, with all the extras, when I grabbed his elbow. “Gibbo,” I said. “Why are you calling me that?” he replied. “My name is Alex Braithwaite.” he said. “Never mind that,” I said. “Gibbo, we’re going to let you go. And you need to come clean.”
“You’re right, Boss,” he said. That’s what he calls me, because I’m his manager.
So that’s what I’m doing now, on his behalf. He’s sorry if anyone was offended by his behavior. He was reckless, he was stupid, he did not follow the official advice to the letter. Well, you don’t, do you? He’s not going to die of it.
Furthermore, he’d like to thank the club for its support over the years and also for resisting suggestions that professional footballers should take a wage cut during the coronavirus panic. After all, no-one is suggesting that shop workers, bin men and baggage handlers take a wage cut. They are? Oh, right
Gibbo would like to thank his wife – wherever she is – for standing by him in what has been an upsetting period for him. She is truly his rock and she proves it by wearing one on her finger – or she did.
Most of all, he’d like to thank his fans, young and old. He told me he hopes that as long as he keeps slotting them away on the pitch, they won’t mind if he does likewise in the bedroom.
He hopes he will continue to be a role model even as he brings his talents to bear on the very different challenges of life in an up-and-coming club.
Last season’s replica shirts are still available in the club shop.