‘Every PL boss sponsored me over £1k for marathon – but one tight-a**e did £25’

A former Premier League boss who ran marathons for charity received a donation of just 25 quid from one of the most famous bosses in the game.

John Gregory ran his first marathon back in 2000, when he was in charge at Aston Villa, to raise money for an Alzheimer’s charity after seeing his mother-in-law pass away following a battle with the disease. To drum up support, he wrote to his fellow top-flight bosses to highlight the cause and ask if they would be interested in sponsoring him.

Most managers were incredibly generous, with Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson stumping up £1,000. However, Ferguson’s arch-rival at the time, Arsenal chief Arsene Wenger, donated a paltry sum.

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“Out of 20 managers, 19 replied and they sent cheques through,” explained Gregory on the Under The Cosh podcast. "Over the months leading up to the marathon, cheques started to arrive from the Premier League managers.

"I’d come in the office one day and my PA would say that Sir Alex [Ferguson] had sent a cheque and I’d immediately want to know how much it was. She said he’d sent £1,000. I was like ‘oh, that’s fantastic’.

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“Various other managers sent £1,000, £1,500, £500. Then one day I walked in the office and my PA, Debbie, says ‘we’ve had a cheque come in from Mr Arsene Wenger’.

“I said ‘how much is it?’. She said ‘er, it’s 25 quid’. I said ‘how much? He’s missed a couple of noughts off here’. So Arsene had really splashed out!”

Gregory ran the London Marathon shortly after leading Villa to the FA Cup final, where they would meet Chelsea, managed at the by Gianluca Vialli, who was also taking part in the marathon. Early in the race, Gregory spotted the Italian, who sadly died at the start of this year, and tried to catch him.

“My thought process was ‘if I don’t catch him, we’re not going to win the final’,” recalled Gregory. “And I never did catch him. I tried and tried and tried, but I couldn’t catch him, then they beat us 1-0 in the final.”

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