It is the sort of news you would think might turn Sean Bean red with anger. Or perhaps blue with depression.
His beloved United and Wednesday are to merge to form a new super-club Sheffield City FC.
Both Bramall Lane and Hillsborough will be knocked down and sold off for supermarket development, while the famous striped kits are to be scrapped in favour of a crimson and maroon pattern.
But while such news might horrify our Sean in real life (not to mention thousands of Blades and Owls), it seems Sheffield’s most famous actor is so impressed with a new novel in which the scenario unfolds he’s already talked about appearing in a film version.
The Hollywood heavyweight threw his weight behind the self-published fiction – called Fat Chancer and written by Sheffield boy-done-good Richard Old – by giving a reading at a London launch.
The actor and the author, a retired stockbroker of Ranmoor, had previously met through mutual friends. “The lead character is a piece of work,” noted the Lord Of The Rings and Sharpe star. “It’s something I could get my teeth into.”
Well, it would have to be better than When Saturday Comes, wouldn’t it?
“The book has had a really positive reaction,” says 54-year-old Richard, talking to The Diary shortly after the launch. “I’d love to see it turned into a film, although it’s still early days.”
The story’s certainly not for the faint-hearted. And not just because that football merger leads to riots.
It also features a main character whose nickname is Fat Northern B*****d, a supporting cast of corrupt stockbrokers and high-class call girls, and – every good novel needs one – a toilet cleaner with an agenda of his own.
In it, a Whirlow businessman threatens to create Sheffield City FC after having financial success with the unwitting overweight hero.
The whole thing is set between London’s financial square mile and Sheffield’s leafy suburbs – two places Richard is perfectly placed to write about.
After growing up in Ecclesall and attending Silverdale School, he spent 27 years working as a stockbroker in London, New York and the Middle East. He retired in 2007 and moved back to Sheffield.
“I met so many extreme characters in that world – obsessives and egotists and bullies – and, though this book is complete fiction, I felt those kind of people would make for an interesting novel,” he says.
As for that merger? “It would be terrible in real life,” says the Wednesdayite. “Loss of jobs and history and players – well, maybe losing some of the players wouldn’t be such a bad thing. But I don’t think it could happen.”
Fat Chancer available from amazon £8.95.