Bolton Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside certainly knows how to win friends and influence people.
For having thrown his hugely controversial plans for a Premier League One and Two out into the public arena last week – in which a 'closed shop' of 36 clubs would condemn the Football League to a pauper's death – the Trotters chief told The Bolton News that the Trotters would 'qualify' for the top division of 18 clubs.
Not by virtue of their league position – this weekend's win over Manchester City took Gary Megson's men to exactly 18th spot on goal difference – but by the fact that Wanderers had been in the top flight for the last eight years.
By that logic the likes of both Hull City and Stoke City could finish above Bolton in this season's table, but – under, presumeably, the Gartside 'guidelines' – they wouldn't have as great a claim on a place in the top 18 as Bolton having only just arrived in the Premiership.
We've been there longer than you…
A 'qualification' criteria that would see the likes of Sunderland, West Ham United and Portsmouth all fall 'below' Bolton.
Rank qualification by average home attendance and Wanderers case is slightly better – they finish 17th with Pompey and their Lancashire neighbours Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers beneath them. All four 'enjoy' lower average home attendances than Norwich.
But as the debate rages in and out of football's corridors of power, so the Bolton chief appears to be clinging to the idea that Premiership 'length of service' can be a prime factor in deciding who gets to rub shoulders with the Chelseas, the Liverpools and the Manchester Uniteds and who gets to slum it in Premier League Two.
“I think you have got to look at the structure of the league and whether we have a Premier League One and a Premier League Two,” Gartside was quoted as saying in The Bolton News
“It is not so much about the income, but more about making it more attractive to the television companies to spend money on a second tier of the Premier League. I wouldn't reduce it by many, but the attraction would be you would have two divisions of 18 teams,” he added.
“We would be in the top half. We have been there for the last eight years and as far as I'm concerned, we qualify for it.”
Fail to make the grade and Gartside will have already done the sums – indeed, he claimed that relegation to the Championship would entail an 'income swing' of ?31 million – even with a parachute payment of, he suggested, ?8 million to ?10 million.
“Currently the parachute payment is half of the annual standard payout,” he told the paper. “This year that number would have been in the region of ?8 million to ?10 million. The income swing we would suffer from being in the Championship would be ?31 million, so the payment does not cover the downside any more.
“When we first got in the Premier League, the income swing was probably about ?4 million and the parachute payment was ?2 million. You could cope with it.
“The issue nowadays is the gap is too large. Teams who go out of the Premier League go bust. Not everyone, because some plan for it, but certainly some will, and it is becoming more and more difficult to plan for.”
There is, of course, another nightmare looming in the Football League for any team that goes bust – the ten-point deduction for teams entering administration. That's another little thought that will have crossed Gartside's mind; go bust and you could give everyone else a ten-point head-start.
The thought will also have crossed the mind of Wanderers' owner – Isle of Mann businessman Eddie Davies – who has, according to Gartside, pumped “anything from ?50 million to ?100 million” into his favourite football club on the back of his 94.5% share-holding.
That now rests in the hands of ex-City boss Gary Megson – stay in their current 18th spot and Davies' millions will be in danger of going completely down the pan come next summer if the Bolton manager can't pull the Trotters out of the relegation mire.
Other Eddie Davies' of the Premiership will also be looking over the edge of the abyss, claims Gartside.
To make matters worse, they are being pushed ever nearer the edge by the flood of foreign money cascading through the Premiership – Bolton's near-neighbours Manchester City being the latest on the super-rich list. They might not finish in the top six this season, but they are equally unlikely to finish in the bottom six with all that Middle Eastern wealth behind them. And the January transfer window a-looming.
“I feel sorry for Steve Gibson (Middlesbrough), Dave Whelan (Wigan), Eddie Davies and to some extent Daniel Levy (Spurs) because they are owners who actually have their clubs at heart,” he said. “No matter what you say about them, they are fans as well.
“I think they deserve some protection now. Eddie Davies' commitment to Bolton is a huge amount of money, anything from ?50 million to ?100 million ? that is the kind of number we are talking about.
“Dave Whelan and Steve Gibson have built grounds, they have covered the debts, bought players, supported managers and now they need some protection because the huge amount of money they have put in is now becoming insignificant compared to the billions that are flooding in.
“It's a billionaire's game now ? not a millionaire's game.”