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Football fanatics

Peter Barron | 15:15 UK time, Thursday, 8 June 2006

Since our investigation into Arsenal's secret loans last week the press and blogosphere have gone into overdrive, and it's been suggested in one or two places that our motivation was linked to the fact that I'm a "devoted Spurs fan".

Newsnight logoCertainly Spurs are my team of choice, but I think devoted is putting it a bit strongly - I hold no season tickets or bonds or club memberships and in fact have been to Highbury far more often than to White Hart Lane on account of the fact that some of my best friends are Gooners.

I know some Spurs fans hate Arsenal and vice versa, but isn't it time to get over that? We have a few devoted football fanatics on the programme - Michael Crick's devotion to Man United is well known, Peter Marshall lives for Liverpool, deputy editor Daniel Pearl is an Arsenal (yes Arsenal) season ticket holder - but I can't claim to be one of them.

Would it matter if I was? While only a small number of Newsnight employees follow football with a passion, all of them follow politics and presumably hold views and in some cases membership cards (though for the record I've never belonged to a political party either). As BBC employees they are required to leave their personal views at the door when they come to work.

When our producer Meirion Jones brought me the story I didn't think for a second: here's a good way to get back for that lasagne incident, not least because he first raised it about two years ago. I simply thought: this is potentially a very good story about the state of modern soccer, whose salaries, payments and bungs have been an issue of huge concern.

And to those of you who say this is not the most serious thing that's ever happened in football, you may well be right. We'd be delighted to hear more stories about football's murky deals, no matter which clubs, countries or associations are involved.

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