Hail to the chief - President Brown

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The Independent Online
THE CHANCELLOR of the Exchequer has realised his dream of getting the top job. Gordon Brown, who was famously pipped to the post of leader of the Labour Party by Tony Blair, is to become a president - of Raith Rovers supporters' club.

The Chancellor revealed his new office in an interview to be published on Wednesday in the football magazine Four Four Two, saying: "I've just been invited to be president ... I think they want me to finance the team from the Budget."

Mr Brown, who plans to accept the honorary post, and has supported the Scottish First Division club since he was a child, added: "If I had money, I would put it into Raith Rovers - and that would be my lucrative directorship."

Unfortunately for Rovers fans he was only joking. Even the Chancellor, in the midst of trying to stave off a national recession, would think twice about involving himself with a club reported to be on the brink of financial crisis.

The team's manager was recently told to sell his players to save money and a club director claimed on Wednesday that the Kirkcaldy-based club could go bust within days.

The football-loving Chancellor has long been associated with Raith Rovers. He once blamed the team's erratic form for his unstatesmanlike habit of biting his fingernails.

Mr Brown's childhood relationship with the club also sheds some light on his current cabinet position. As a boy he sold programmes on match days and then got into games free at half-time. He told Four Four Two: "You got your pennies for selling programmes and you'd get to see the match, so I used to see Raith Rovers every time they played at home. If you don't have loads of money you get into the match by selling programmes. It's a good way to do it."

Although it is years since Mr Brown went to a Raith Rovers game, the supporters' club will welcome him as president with open arms. Allan Melville, the club's treasurer, said he was delighted that Mr Brown had accepted their offer. He said: "We are trying to get the club back into the limelight. There's a bit of a carry-on at the club at the moment and we've got a wee bit of cheering up to do."