You have a famously orange face, Simon. Is it beach, bottle or booth?
Beach. Listen, this all backfired on me. A group of Palace fans wore fake tan in tribute to me, so I jokingly wrote in the match programme, “The future’s bright, the chairman’s orange.” Now the title’s stuck. I live in Spain, it’s a hot country.
Apart from the tangerine chants, what’s your favourite song opposition fans direct at you?
“There’s only one Robbie Savage” is always good. Last year at Birmingham City, just after I’d publicly stated, “The only good thing about Birmingham is the road out,” 30,000 people spat on me and then sang, “Simon Jordan is a wanker!” for a solid 90 minutes. It upset my mum but I found it funny.
Hadn’t you also said that you hoped Birmingham’s chairman impaled himself on one of his “many dildos”?
And I meant it. I hate David Gold. His partner, David Sullivan, the man that style forgot, I don’t mind so much – he’s just a little Cossack munchkin. But Gold? He’s a porn baron! What an insipid little man.
Why do you bother with all this rivalry when you could just sit on a beach and enjoy your fortune?
Well, some people would say I do that. Okay I have a bar, a football club, and some other businesses but they all have their own management teams. I make the big decisions, but I don’t own a dog and bark. And buying my football club just happened. I made £80m in five years in phones, I was 31, and Palace desperately needed a buyer.
Would you give up your millions to play up front for Palace?
No. What for? If I wanted to be a footballer, I would have been one. I had the ability. If I want to do something I’ll do it, so with all due respect, why would I give up my money to be a footballer? No way.
Is it true that you were a trainee player at Palace?
And Chelsea. I don’t mind telling you myself, I was a very good footballer. A left winger. But, when you get to 16, you discover more important things in life like birds and booze.
Why have you decided to go into TV?
I kept refusing Celebrity Big Brother and Love Island but then this Fortune: Million Pound Giveaway show came up and they promised bigger viewing figures than Dragon’s Den. My mates are on Dragon’s Den, so I signed up to piss them off. I also wanted to see if television was something I could enjoy.
Did you enjoy it?
No. I found it laborious, and now I’m constantly harassed for money in the street. Yesterday, a girl asked me for £10,000 for a boob job. I offered her 20 grand for a face-lift and told her to piss off. But I can be rude on the street; on the show they made me give £4,000 to some trainspotter kid. If he wanted to blow it in Spearmint Rhino fine, but he wanted it for trains! Idiot.
In footie pundit Alan Brazil’s recent biography he compares a visit to your boardroom to a scene from GoodFellas. Just how gangster are you?
I’m not gangster at all, he’s wrong. The last time I saw that pissed rat he was stumbling around a casino, drunk.
But he vividly describes how your henchmen threatened him and how he had to windmill his way out…
Let me tell you what happened with Fat Boy Dim. The night before Palace’s play-off final, he and his fat TalkSport co-presenter Mike Parry hosted a sporting dinner at the club. I wasn’t even there, but Parry starts singing about how I should go back to selling phones. People wanted to kill them, so my brother’s security rushed them to the safety of our boardroom. Understandably my brother was angry, and said, “How dare you insult us in our own house!” Brazil replied, “Son, get me a beer,” and that made my brother mad. Brazil claims my men chucked him out. Rubbish, they saved him from getting his head kicked in.
We’ve also read stories about you having a stalker. Are they true?
Yeah, she wasn’t nice. She’s also stalked Gary Lineker. She says she was my girlfriend but I only gave her the good news once. That was it. Then she sent me 150 texts a day, and threatened my family, so they stuck her in prison for six weeks. She thought she was going in for two, but I claimed I “couldn’t make” the trial date so it had to be put back four weeks. That meant she got an extra month banged up awaiting trial! Hilarious.
What happened in court?
She had to play all of the filthy voice messages she left on my phone. The first one went, “Simon, it’s me, I want you to come around and fuck me up the arse,” and they went downhill from that. She got a suspended sentence and isn’t allowed within 500m of me. The other day I saw her in The Sanderson [hotel] and I ran up shouting, “Five hundred metres!” She had to leave the building!
What has been the proudest moment in your career?
The obvious one is gaining promotion to the Premiership with Palace, but that’s a terrible answer to your question. It’s a stock response, and I don’t want to say it because I hated our manager at the time.
You hated Iain Dowie even then?
Yeah, I didn’t like him at all.
But he’d just won you £30 million!
Listen, his manners, outlook and attitude stank. And I told him so after we won the play-off final. So what that he got promotion? That’s what I paid him to do.
Did you enjoy his demise at Charlton?
No, I couldn’t care less about Charlton, they’re a bunch of nobodies. They represent nothing to me. They spread lies about me in the media. Dirty lies! Rotten, dirty lies. When they didn’t have a ground, we gave them ours, yet when we get relegated in the last minute at The Valley, their fans do a conga? Then, their chairman turns around to me and says, “Enjoy The Championship… tosser.” That is just despicable.
How orchestrated was the timing of the writ you famously handed Iain Dowie as he was being unveiled as Charlton manager?
His face was a picture wasn’t it? I knew what they were up to, and thought my writ could tie in nicely with their press conference. But then, I’m sitting on my sofa in Spain, Sky Sports News on, and I see they’ve brought the thing forward! I’ve got my remote in one hand, my phone in other and I’m telling the head of my security, “Quick! Get in there!” Charlton obviously won’t let him in, so I came up with a plan. I phoned Sky and said, “You want some good TV? Get my man into that press conference now!” They managed to sneak him in, and he issued Dowie the writ live on TV just as he had been unveiled as new Charlton manager. Sky called it a “new low” in football.
You have a reputation as a manager killer. Who’s been the hardest to sack?
None of them. You just call them into your office and say, “Listen, I don’t know how we’re going to get along without you, but we’re going to try.”
Have they all taken it well?
Trevor Francis didn’t. He just sat their quietly and said, “But it’s my birthday.” I had no idea, what could I do?
What did you do?
I said, “Many happy returns, Trev,” and gave him his P45.
Many football fans regard you as the kind of chairman who interferes with your managers’ tactics. Is this fair?
I actually think a lot of other teams’ fans really like me.
But they spit at you and call you a wanker!
That’s just because of my hair and sunglasses. Okay, Brighton fans get angry when I call them gays, and Charlton fans hate me, but the rest respect the way I show the same kind of enthusiasm they do. Like when I slung Neil Ruddock off the training ground for being fat – real fans like that, because that’s what they’d do.
And you put yourself in the team too!
Yeah, I was subbed on in a friendly against Man United. When I came on I did a little step over to get the ball past United legend Clayton Blackmore and the fans went mad. At the end, Fergie said, “You were good, son.”
Original interview by Lee Coan in the May 2007 issue of FHM UK magazine