As Aston Villa FC unravels, you can't move for attempts to blur issues that aren't that important.
It really doesn't matter just how many Villa players agreed to the initial statement last Friday, criticising Doug Ellis' parsimony - nor if others disagreed, adding their weight to the club's subsequent statement which rubbished the apparent mutiny.
This was an unprecedented attack on the chairman who pays the wages of these players, and that fact mustn't be obscured by the subsequent bluster. Whether the dissidents numbered one or five or eight, they broke cover from the usual bland evasions and fingered the chairman. They fleshed out stories we've all heard about Ellis' distinctive stance on Villa's finances.
The examples revealed in the dissidents' statements had the ring of truth about them. Every former Villa manager during Ellis' watch since 1982 could easily add to them. And, for once, we've had some players breaking cover and saying what Villa's supporters have suspected for years.
Whether or not this was a collective statement from all the senior players is irrelevant. The future of David O'Leary is not.
I can't see how the manager can ride this one out.
Although the players' statement may have come as a surprise, the content is not. The manager has several times made mention of some of the complaints attributed to the players.
Take the references to Eirik Bakke and James Milner having to return to Leeds and Newcastle respectively. O'Leary has been banging on about Bakke's departure since last January and that month some of his players climbed into Ellis in the Tottenham dressing-room, complaining that his penny-pinching was responsible. The manager has also regularly moaned to selected media outlets that he couldn't keep Milner.
The suspicion is that O'Leary was the ringmaster behind that statement. The sentence about the manager failing to get an explanation for the quoted recent cutbacks smacks of self-interest from O'Leary and a rather clumsy attempt to get his retaliation in first as the club continues to stagnate.
Always check motives. O'Leary has despaired of any breakthrough in the proposed takeover of the club, first mooted last autumn. He knows that his deteriorating relationship with the chairman and his unpopularity with the fans find him skating on thin ice.
His friend and former Ireland team-mate Niall Quinn has taken over at Sunderland. O'Leary has kept on his family home in north Yorkshire and it would be highly convenient for him to land the vacant manager's job at the Stadium of Light. Money might be as scarce there as at Villa Park but with those passionate, vociferous supporters at Sunderland and reasonable prospects of further investment drummed up by the inspirational, iconic Quinn, that is a more attractive proposition than fighting fires and Doug Ellis in Birmingham.
If O'Leary gets sacked, he is unlikely to be traumatised. There are still two years left on his contract and, given a favourable wind generated by his shrewd business manager and lawyer Michael Kennedy, he could scoop a few quid then walk into the Sunderland job. It's never worked out for O'Leary at Villa. The chemistry just isn't there and he'd go with a light heart. The supporters would feel the same way.
Ellis will surely sack him if he can be certain that O'Leary orchestrated the mutiny. Season-ticket sales this summer are dire and he knows that O'Leary's continuing employment is relevant. But he won't want to fork out much compensation and see O'Leary walk into another job.
One way to avoid that is to allege that O'Leary is guilty of gross mis-conduct. He'd try to prove that getting the players to do his dirty work was a professional suicide note. I suspect that in attempting to establish if O'Leary is complicit, Ellis will be leaning on those local journalists at the heart of the story last week. Were they tipped off by O'Leary?
It was certainly the sort of story we'd all like to have known about, and no amount of spin doctoring by the club should obscure its rarity. It would be ironic if it were established that a manager so poor in his press relations at Villa were to be undone by a ham-fisted attempt to manipulate the headlines.
Some weeks ago, I offered the thought that Villa could easily start the new season with a new manager and chairman. Friday's remarkable events have brought that scenario closer to reality.
Doug Ellis reportedly was looking chipper out in Germany during the World Cup, and I wish him well in his continuing recovery from illness. But his pride and substantial ego will have been dented by this latest episode in Villa's ongoing soap opera. His status as the elder statesman among the other Premiership chairmen has always been important to him and some of them will be smirking that if the old boy can't keep his players quiet - no matter how few of them are dissidents - then how can he keep his manager in check and run the club in a modern, dynamic manner?
It's exactly a year since Ellis began discussions with the West Midlands businessman Michael Neville about a proposed takeover. Mr Neville, a lifelong Villa fan, hasn't given up on cracking the code. He told me at the weekend that he was still very interested in leading a consortium to buy Villa and that his detailed plans for the club are more relevant than ever.
Substantial investment is needed and Ellis must now accept that the asking price of £64 million is unrealistically high. Realism and an overdue dose of leadership are necessary.
The chairman likes to boast that many of his key staff members at the club have been with him for more than 20 years, so he can't be all that fearsome a boss. True, but how many of them will tell him to his face that the game is up and the place is a shambles?
That's the trouble with football. Not enough people prepared to dole out necessary home truths. That's why the media get manipulated via Chinese whispers.