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Foreign Exchange

FX Poll Dinner: I don’t want to go to Chelsea

How could the European football authorities be so stupid? Didn’t they know this is the same night as the FX Poll Dinner?

Being a scouser – the colloquial term for someone who comes from Liverpool – it was almost inevitable that Elvis Costello should have whined I don’t want to go to Chelsea, in what proved to be one of his most popular records. It was almost as if he was predicting more than 30 years ago that Liverpool would become habitual losers to London’s finest football team in what is known as the European Champions League.

A few weeks back, as football followers will know, Chelsea knocked Liverpool out of the competition and proceeded to the semi-finals, where they faced Barcelona. They played the first leg in Spain and held the mighty Barca to a draw; leaving it all to play for in the second leg, which was played on Wednesday in London.

How could the European football authorities be so stupid? Didn’t they know this is the same night as the FX Poll Dinner? How could they be so cruel to the hundreds of Chelsea fans – most of whom are, strangely, US citizens – who had already committed to attend the dinner? I even felt sorry for Mark Warms, general manager of Europe at FXall and a Chelsea season-ticket holder, who was doubly frustrated as his company sponsored the dinner. I understand he requested the provision of several large TV screens so we could watch the game. Unfortunately, this proved impossible but at least he kept his speech brief, allowing the huge throng to remain glued to their Blackberries and monitor the score. As we all now know, Chelsea were cheated out of the victory they deserved. Brad Leek from RBS and Sean Comer from Barclays oddly made a similar claim in the taxi on the way home about their respective rankings in the Poll, at which point I fell asleep. It’s good to see that such – I won’t call it honest – competition remains in FX.

As for the Poll Dinner itself, it was another excellent night. The venue was once again The Brewery in London and, as is always the case, the host, Hugh Dennis, played a key role in making the evening such a success. He rightly applauded the success of FX and gently made fun of some of the esoteric awards handed out.

I also had a great night, although it did get off to a bit of a disastrous start when I discovered that I had invited more guests than I had spaces for on my table. The obvious quip made about me not being able to organize a piss-up at The Brewery was harsh but entirely fair. Fortunately, David Byne at Credit Suisse stepped in and offered places to my guests, although I do fear that some damage has been done to the relationships.

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