Football focus

It sounds like a pub joke. Bill Clinton, Vladimir Putin and Tony Blair meet at the Millennium Summit of world leaders in New York.

It sounds like a pub joke. Bill Clinton, Vladimir Putin and Tony Blair meet at the Millennium Summit of world leaders in New York.

Tony says to Bill: "What have you come here to achieve?" President Clinton replies: "I'd really like to get a Middle East peace deal before I leave office." Then Tony turns to Vladimir and asks the same question. The Russian president replies that he wants to demilitarise space, for both domestic and foreign policy reasons. Then Bill and Vladimir ask Tony what he came to New York to do. "Well, I think we've really got to stop Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink moving to Villa on a free transfer. Honestly, Fifa doesn't know what it's doing. I'm going to make a fuss about this one."

Goodness knows what, say, President Festus Mogae of Botswana or King Harald V of Norway will make of Mr Blair's initiative. And, just to be fair, Mr Blair has also raised some issues of truly global import, such as the plight of Africa. But the fact that our Prime Minister has let it be known that he will be bothering busy international statesmen and stateswomen with football transfer fees suggests that, just for once, the Downing Street machine may have missed the goal.

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