Become a football star... in Moldova
ThereÃ¢ÂÂs bringing a competition into disrepute and then thereÃ¢ÂÂs downright taking the p**s.
Mick McCarthy damaged the Ã¢ÂÂinternational credibility of the Premier LeagueÃ¢ÂÂ last week by fielding a second-string Wolves team at Old Trafford, or so said perennial whinger Arsene Wenger.
Just donÃ¢ÂÂt tell him whatÃ¢ÂÂs stirring in the northern Moldovan city of BÃÂlÃ Â£i with Divizia NaÃ Â£ionalÃÂ outfit Olimpia, heÃ¢ÂÂll probably have an aneurysm or something.
Last time NMTB attended a Divizia NaÃ Â£ionalÃÂ game it cost 20 lei Ã¢ÂÂ thatÃ¢ÂÂs about a pound.
It sounds good value for the top-flight of a European country, until you see what utter, utter tripe is on show.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs hardly the most lucrative league on the continent.
In fact, NMTB can't actually recall it being shown live on television in Moldova.
The English Premier League, RomaniaÃ¢ÂÂs Liga 1 and RussiaÃ¢ÂÂs Premier-Liga are all broadcast, but not the Divizia NaÃ Â£ionalÃÂ, which is reserved solely as an end-of-the-news piece, a bit like one of those Trevor McDonald Ã¢ÂÂand finallyÃ¢ÂÂ stories about some berk in India running a marathon with two frozen chickens under his arms.
However, Olimpia BÃÂlÃ Â£iÃ¢ÂÂs quest for fame and fortune this Christmas is likely to ruffle a few feathers.
Through an online auction, the misguided fools believe they are presenting one football-mad fan with the opportunity of a lifetime.
They are offering one berk with more money than sense the opportunity to join Mykhailo DunetsÃ¢ÂÂ side as a player for a European tie.
Yep, the winner of their auction will play for the club in the Champions League or Europa League next year, in a competition they are calling "Become a Football Star in a Moment!"
According to a press release: Ã¢ÂÂFC Olimpia is ready to make the dream of a single person out of six and a half billion living on this planet to come true.
"The club is ready to make out of this person a football star, regardless his age, job or hobbies, within a very short period - just a few days.Ã¢ÂÂ
Why doesnÃ¢ÂÂt every club do this, itÃ¢ÂÂs brilliant!!! Michel Platini will love this!!!
The team believes they are pioneering a new concept in the game, namely Ã¢ÂÂfootball tourism,Ã¢ÂÂ or, as others would describe it, Ã¢ÂÂs**t-idea-never-to-take-off-the-ground tourism.Ã¢ÂÂ
NMTB was wondering why anyone Ã¢ÂÂ ANYONE Ã¢ÂÂ would want to visit BÃÂlÃ Â£i.
The blog did once, in spite of its guidebook giving it a less-than-glowing review:
Ã¢ÂÂBÃÂlÃ Â£i (balts, from the Romanian word for Ã¢ÂÂswampÃ¢ÂÂ), 150km north of ChiÃ ÂinÃÂu, is Moldova's fourth-largest city, with a population of 143,630. A major industrial and mafia-influenced area, and predominantly Russian-speaking, it has little to offer beyond being a convenient stopover en route to Ukraine.Ã¢ÂÂ
This is the best bit
But the competition isn't open to anyone. Oh no.
You must be a Ã¢ÂÂhealthy man between the age of 18 and 60Ã¢ÂÂ (sorry mum, itÃ¢ÂÂs oven gloves again for you this year).
The club are obviously i) skint and ii) absolutely clueless about the value of money in the Western world, where this ludicrous competition is evidently aimed.
To be eligible to make a bid, the moron who wants to compete in a pointless qualifying round against a team of butchers, bakers and candlestick makers from Andorra or the Faroe Islands must first submit the princely sum of Ã¢ÂÂ¬300, about 260 quid, for a Ã¢ÂÂregistrationÃ¢ÂÂ fee.
Ready to part with that?
Right, the next step is to place your bid which, according to the club from EuropeÃ¢ÂÂs poorest country, Ã¢ÂÂwill cost you very little money, from 10,000 to a million Euros.Ã¢ÂÂ
Is that all? ThatÃ¢ÂÂs literally short change for most people. NMTBÃ¢ÂÂs going to enter. Twice, probably.
(In case you're wondering, the average monthly wage in Moldova is about ÃÂ£70.)
A minimum bid of Ã¢ÂÂ¬10,000 (almost ÃÂ£9,000) is required once youÃ¢ÂÂre in the auction, although the first person to weigh in with a fee one hundred times that, yes, thatÃ¢ÂÂs nearly ÃÂ£900,000, will automatically win, and fulfil their dream of playing for Olimpia BÃÂlÃ Â£i.
The club arenÃ¢ÂÂt worth that.
DonÃ¢ÂÂt worry if youÃ¢ÂÂve not got that in your bank account just yet, because the competition runs until March, so thatÃ¢ÂÂs plenty of time to scrape a few quid together.
And so confident are the team that some idiot will part with such a ludicrous amount of money, they believe this will generate hitherto unheard of interest in the Divizia NaÃ Â£ionalÃÂ, and for you, that lucky chap who wins the auction:
Ã¢ÂÂThe next day after signing the contract this person will become famous all over the world! Mass-media will be focused just on him: articles in newspapers, news on TV, all the internet will be talking about him.
"For a while he will become more popular than such football stars as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho.Ã¢ÂÂ
Or so says its chimerical vice-president Serghei Chiseliov.
Oh, and there is one small stumbling block to this ridiculous plan: Olimpia are fourth in the Divizia NaÃ Â£ionalÃÂ, one position and 13 points off third place and qualification for a Europa League spot, and miles behind Sheriff Tiraspol atop the table.
Granted, they're still in the Cupa Moldovei, but then so are Sheriff, and theyÃ¢ÂÂll have to beat them at some point to lift the trophy for the first time.
If you are interested, you can download the form here and p**s away your money, sorry, enter the competition.
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