This is the story that is all over the broadcast news tonight, and will be all over the English newspapers tomorrow:
Three Leicester City footballers have been charged with “sexual aggression” after three women claimed they were attacked at a Spanish hotel.
Paul Dickov, Frank Sinclair and Keith Gillespie, who deny the charges, will now spend another night in custody.
The judge in Cartagena said the charges were serious enough to go to trial.
We are now enduring that horrible moment when someone very famous is charged with something very serious, but when no one other than the arresting officers and the accused has the faintest idea of whether the accused are guilty or not, and when the logical thing for everyone else is to say nothing.
I can now hear the ITV news, trying desperately to turn whatever tiny scraps of information and background chit-chat they have in front of them into something portentous enough to serve the needs of this, their top story this evening. But what on earth can they say? The real writing of the story can only seriously begin when whatever court ends up being involved reaches its verdict.
Meanwhile, you have to remember just how important lots of people in England feel football to be. (A great, great many of them make our own David Carr look like a total football agnostic.) In the city of Leicester, this is the biggest news story for years. Leicester City are facing relegation from the Premier League. This could quite well finish their chances of avoiding that fate. To talk about something as trivial as the relegation of a sports team from a football league to a lower football league when some men have been charged with a crime may seem very odd. But that is what this is about, and why this is such big news here.
It is the combination of vagueness and disastrousness to something which so many people take so seriously which gives this story its special atmosphere.
With a regular disaster, like an earthquake, or a terrorist outrage, the disastrousness of the disaster is not in doubt, and there are plenty of things to say because there is actual news to report, in ghastly abundance. But not with this. Fans and other players foolish enough to open their mouths on the subject are now queueing up to say that they “do not believe” that these men would do such a thing. Others who are equally ignorant are muttering under their breath that there is no smoke without fire, and what can you expect of footballers, who are a law unto themselves and think they can get away with murder? Neither opinion is worth anything. This is why the civilised world has law courts, to replace ignorant speculations like those with disciplined investigation.
The only solid facts here are that this is very bad for Leicester City football club, and that these charges are serious.