Is George Clooney buying Derby County?

Does George Clooney buy Derby County Football Club?

It’s an unlikely phrase – and scenario – on so many levels and not one I might have envisioned when hitting the “publish” button a few days ago.

Whether you’re a football fan, a George Clooney fan, both, or neither, you’d be hard pressed to avoid the Clooney/Derby juggernaut since he arrived in town on Friday night.

It features in virtually every national title – The sun even leading with an “exclusive” front page on Saturday morning. He even went international, appearing in Mark in Spain.

It has been discussed on BBC News 24, Sky News, BBC radio 4 and TalkSport – the world’s largest sports radio station – to name but a few prominent and high profile outlets.

Even Ant and Dec got involved – “what Hollywood star would be keen on buying Derby County?” they asked a contestant in their prime time Saturday night takeout To display. I could hardly believe what I was looking at.

Quantuma, Derby County trustees, acknowledged the story (although they declined to give it any substance), local MPs had their say enthusiastically and even Derby manager Wayne Rooney – Manchester United and England’s top scorer – reportedly ‘surprised’. by the news.

Our interview with George Clooney appears in the April edition
– Credit: Archant

But how did it all start and what are the origins of a story that has become truly viral?

The answer lies on the evening of February 17 when, in a friendly exchange with former Fleet Street journalist Bernard Bale – who has written several articles for Derbyshire life including an interview with Timothy Dalton (of James Bond fame) – Mr. Clooney’s name came up casually.

Ever since I was inspired by Michael Parkinson’s autobiography, which I read as a teenager, I’ve wondered what it must have been like to have been a journalist on Fleet Street in those happy days, and Bernard wonderful stories to tell.

This led to the inevitable question of who he has interviewed in the past and, pertinently, who he could potentially interview for. Derbyshire life in the future.

The list Bernard returned included some high-profile names, but it was George Clooney who immediately caught my eye.

Maybe because, well, it’s George Clooney, but probably also because I knew there was a Derbyshire connection that would warrant a piece – namely the movie he worked on with Jack O’Connell from Derby.

I also knew that Jack had stated in the past that he had watched Derby matches on TV with George while working together.

Derby supporters were praised by George in the interview

Derby supporters were praised by George in the interview
– Credit: Ben Margett

Just five days later, the interview landed in my inbox and I frantically skimmed through it, desperately hoping George’s quotes would have enough substance to warrant posting. I was not deceived.

Of course, I could not have dreamed that these quotes, currently available only to me, would continue to be read by millions as the story gained ever-whimsical traction in the national press.

Knowing that Friday, April 25th saw the magazine – and with it the George Clooney exclusive (yes, our exclusive) – hit store shelves, we called for a shorter article to be posted online to guard against any further media that would divert him over the weekend.

We were the first to put something online, but more would follow quickly.

Friday night I went from watching a rerun of Great British menu with a cup of tea a minute, watching in utter disbelief and bewilderment with a Thatchers Gold Zero (hardest thing I’ve been able to get my hands on due to my charity alcohol abstinence!) Paper preview on BBC News 24 showed full page courtesy of The sunwho had directly taken all of our quotes and attached a large “Exclusive” banner to them.

And from that moment the touch paper was on. What had started as a friendly conversation about journalism on a Thursday evening weeks before had grown to a massive scale, and the narrative had shifted dramatically, from Clooney’s “weak point” for Derby, as we had accurately described it, to (and I’m paraphrasing) “George Clooney wants to buy Derbyshire”.

One argument I’ve heard about how history has ‘evolved’ is the interesting moment in our history – published on the day Derby’s administrators had set for all offers for the club to be received.

Quotes from George in Derbyshire Life quickly spread far and wide

Quotes from George in Derbyshire Life quickly spread far and wide
– Credit: Archant

It was pure coincidence. It just happened in April Derbyshire life was released on the same day – a date that had been set in stone for over a year, even before Derby entered administration.

Despite my initial dismay at the way our piece had been characterized and taken up, I did not want to rant and rave, preferring to remain philosophical and accept that the additional exposition Derbyshire life – a much-loved and trusted 91-year-old magazine with deep roots in the communities of our wonderful county – would receive couldn’t hurt us.

I did, however, tweet this Friday evening from my personal account because I thought it was important to maintain our integrity by disassociating ourselves Derbyshire life with the “creative” ways our quotes had been used and questioning what now seemingly constitutes exclusivity.

However, barely four days later, there is water under the bridge as far as I am concerned. Sometimes it’s important to refocus and if our article on Clooney was appreciated by our readers, we have done our job.

And what must George Clooney think of all this? There are many potential scenarios.

He may find it all very amusing, he may be slightly disturbed, and it’s not beyond the realms that this global superstar is blissfully oblivious to the commotion (and mild hysteria!) of his innocent comments to Derbyshire life because.

April Life in Derbyshire

April Life in Derbyshire
– Credit: Archant

The past few days have been infuriating, confusing, and, all things considered, quite fun in equal measure.

I will certainly never watch a George Clooney movie with the same eyes again and to directly answer the question if he is keen on buying Derby he certainly did not make such a suggestion in the article he has kindly done with us.

Perhaps his interview with Derbyshire life planted a seed in his head? Now, what a great sequel to the story that would be!

And what about the May edition of Derbyshire life? Maybe we have another Hollywood A-lister with Derbyshire connections up our sleeve…

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