On Thursday, it was reported that the Ice Edge Holdings would drop its bid to buy the Phoenix Coyotes. Instead, they'd join a collection of "global banks" in purchasing legendary soccer club Manchester United for over $1 billion, primarily with revenue bonds from "the Stonehenge Municipality, just outside of London."
Thursday was also April 1. Ice Edge marked the occasion by making some members of the media look like fools.
Ice Edge still wants to help rescue the Coyotes from bankruptcy. It's not bidding for Man U. And Stonehenge remains a fantastic Spinal Tap song rather than a municipality eager to help fund sports ownership transactions.
As Coyotes blog Five For Howling noted, the Globe & Mail in Toronto was the primary dupe, reporting the decision as fact (full screen grab here) three weeks to the day after it reported Ice Edge was having difficulty raising $160 million from banks to buy the Coyotes. Which would obviously make raising a billion for a soccer team a bit of a long-shot, one would imagine.
The Globe & Mail has had award-winning coverage of the Coyotes' bankruptcy and near relocation to Southern Ontario. After the NHL was able to purchase the team through a court decision, the paper's coverage has continued with stories about the Coyotes potentially moving to Winnipeg if either Ice Edge or a group led by Jerry Reinsdorf don't receive favorable changes to the Coyotes' lease from the City of Glendale.
Columnist David Shoalts told Fan 590 in Toronto (via Kukla's Korner) that he believed the gag had been caught before publication.
According to Phoenix Business Journal, Ice Edge COO Daryl Jones personally played the prank on the Canadian paper:
The Globe and Mail went with the story and posted it on its Web site Thursday afternoon. Jones acknowledged it was all an April Fool's Day joke aimed at easing the mood around the Coyotes situation, which has been stirring passions in Canada.
Yeah, there's nothing a working journalist likes better than an official source "easing the mood" with false info. Granted, there was enough evidence here to set off anyone's crap detector, but you can't crucify Shoalts for taking a source with Jones's credentials at his word. (Ed. Note: On second thought: No call to Man U. for verification?)
Still ... from struggling to buy the Coyotes, to purchasing Manchester United? It's no Swiss Spaghetti Harvest, but it's just as stunningly unbelievable. And silly.