Plenty of stories and tributes have flowed since the death of Victorian cricketing great Dean Jones last week, but few such tales can top the time a tip from Elton John saved the affable batsman from plunging head first into a $10 million hole.
Jones died last week after suffering a heart attack while in Mumbai, India, preparing for work as a commentator for the Indian Premier League.
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He was 59 years old.
As stories of the larrikin batsman’s exploits on and off the field have flowed in the days following his tragic passing, one involving Elton John stands head and shoulders above the others.
An episode of Shane Watson’s podcast Lessons With The Greats was published with Jones as the featured guest in June, in which he told Watson the story of how a once-in-a-lifetime meeting with the legendary musician saved him from flushing away $10 million in a bid to bring Manchester United to Australia to play a number of exhibitions.
In 1999 Jones and his event management company were deep in talks to bring the famous Premier league squad to Australia, and were attempting to beat out rival Australian businessman Rene Rivkin.
A deal was in front of Jones when he excused himself from what might have been a horrific deal to go and visit Elton John in his hotel room at Melbourne’s Crown Casino.
“I said, ‘I’ll tell you what, can we do this tomorrow, because I’ve got an appointment’,” Jones said on the podcast.
“I told Elton what date they were playing and he said, ‘Dean, I’ve got a confidentiality agreement so I’m going into the next room. You need to look on my desk,’” Jones recalls John telling him.
“I walked across to the desk and there was the invitation for him to play at (David) Beckham’s wedding which happened to be the same (time).
“And I’ve gone, ‘ohhhh, so half the team is going to be with Beckham!’”
Elton John’s cheeky intervention saves Dean Jones
Elton’s tip proved to be crucial for Jones, who ended up pulling out of the deal and selling the rights to Rivkin, only for United to arrive in Australia with significantly less star power than hoped.
The likes of Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville had all remained home for Beckham’s wedding to Victoria, as well as iconic manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Jones said the deal was such a disaster he would have lost his house were it not for the tip from Elton about the wedding.
“I went back to (United management) and said, ‘is that date right?’, I said, ‘you’ve got nothing on?’” jones told Watson.
“They said, ‘no.’ And I knew they were lying,” Jones told the Watson podcast.
“They didn’t care. Not worried about advertising these guys’ names and they don’t turn up.
“Rene Rivkin was also trying to bid for it and I gave it to him for $200k and he ended up taking the heat.
“And half the team never turned up. You know what? I would have lost my house and everything. Event management is a lot of fun, but it comes down to your networking.”
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