There is no more elegant pivot than moaning about the World Cup in Qatar to begging a Gulf state to come and buy your club

“When I want a peerage,” sniffed Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe), “I shall buy one like an honest man.” So yes: I want to begin with an apology for a ridiculous statement in my most recent column, which held that David Beckham’s mega-lucrative Qatar promotional deal meant he has been “wearing the face of a man who knows he is never going to get his knighthood now”. This was obviously wrong. Having been paid a reported £150m for his work shilling for the Qatari regime, David is in fact even better placed to buy a knighthood than he was before, and could easily run to a peerage.

But could David also be involved in the purchase of something else? Namely, Manchester United football club, which you’ll have noted is back on the market after the adored Glazer family have finally decided to cash out of the club they bought with some debt back in 2005. Can you cash out of something you never put cash into? Amazingly, yes. High finance is magic, and I’ve got a huge amount of time for it.

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