IN 1991, Gerald Ratner, head of a giant British jewellery family empire, wiped £500m sterling from the company's value virtually overnight by describing their products as "total crap" in a speech he thought was for private consumption only.
He may have only being confirming what the public already suspected, but they liked the illusion of purchasing sound merchandise. Once that was shattered, they deserted the stores and Ratner was finished.
Last Saturday, new GAA President Liam O'Neill said that aspects of modern-day Gaelic football made it boring. A day later, only 11,342 spectators attended the Allianz Football League double-header in Croke Park, a decrease of 50pc on the last time (2007) semi-finals were played.
It's unlikely there was any connection between O'Neill's remark and the turn-out, but, if the GAA were quoted on the stock exchange, his assessment would have sent the share price tumbling. After all, the word 'boring' is not included in any manual advising the entertainment business on how to put bums on seats.
Whatever the wisdom from a business perspective of a GAA President describing Gaelic football as boring, the unmistakable reality is that O'Neill told the truth. Aspects of the modern game aren't just boring, they are also deeply corrosive of the sport's core philosophy.
"The defensiveness of the game at the moment and the over-use of the handpass are slowing it down and it's boring. It's not what our supporters want; we like physical contact and the game moving forward," said O'Neill.
Less than 24 hours after O'Neill made his comments, Kerry, of all counties, discovered the perils of crabbing sideways rather than moving forward. Leading by four points against Mayo after 67 minutes, they appeared to be trying to run down the clock when it all went horribly wrong .
Kieran Donaghy, who had drifted back deep into defence, fired a long, cross-field delivery in the direction of a colleague. He miscued and the ball lost ground in flight, floating back ever closer to the Kerry goal.
Spotting the surprise gift, Alan Dillon seized possession, was fouled in the square and won a penalty which Pat Harte goaled. Mayo were back within a point of Kerry, completed the recovery with a Cillian O'Connor point and won the tie in extra-time.
It was unfortunate for Kerry, but, from a neutral spectator's perspective, the understandable sentiment was, "serves them right -- Donaghy should have taken the ball forward."
Kerry's attempt to protect a lead by keep-ball had backfired through a misplaced pass. But then, kicking the ball across your own goal in the defensive half of the field has become quite the norm in the modern game, as have backpasses to goalkeepers and other so-called security ploys which would have drawn the wrath of coaches on 10-year-olds in the past.
Retaining possession is the core principle in the modern game and if that involves incessant handpassing while players crab across the field, so be it. It's boring to watch, but it's within the rules, so coaches can't be blamed if they use a system which increases the amount of possession they enjoy while restricting opportunities for the opposition.
"Players are terrified of losing the ball. The stats will show them up as having given away possession, so it's all about making sure you're not the one who gave the ball to the opposition. There's nothing wrong with that up to a point, but it can be boring to watch," said John O'Mahony, who spent 19 seasons as manager of Mayo, Galway and Leitrim.
He believes that most of the modern game plans are based essentially on keeping the opposition score down. Again, nothing wrong with that, but if it's at the heart of all tactical blueprints, then teams will continue to keep anything up to 13 players in their own half at particular times.
"Retaining possession through handpassing has damaged kicking skills. And that's where we have to consider the entire philosophy of the game," said O'Mahony.
"As far as managers, coaches and players are concerned, it's all about winning and if using the packed defence/close handpassing game is seen as the best way to achieve that, then it will continue for as long as it's within the rules.
"That raises the question: is it good for Gaelic football? If people begin to see it as boring, the crowds will drop and if that happens, everybody suffers."
He would like to see a restriction placed on handpasses, allowing only two consecutively before the ball must be played with the boot.
"It would be an interesting experiment. Two handpasses would create enough space to get a kick away, which would move the point of play. It would also lead to improved kick-passing -- both long and short -- because players would have to work on it. It's well worth looking at. That way, we'd see if it created some other problem, but at least we'd know pretty quickly. And if it didn't it would add greatly to the game," he said.
The obsession with retaining possession, while not always doing anything especially productive with it, has taken over to such a degree that it's now accepted as the norm to have large clusters of players in close proximity to the ball while huge tracts remain unoccupied.
That would be acceptable if it made for a more entertaining spectacle, but, of course, the reverse is true.
"Mixing the short and long game is very difficult to defend against, but the balance has tipped over on the side of the short game.
"Not everywhere, but in enough counties to cause concern about dropping entertainment levels.
"I thought Dublin mixed long and short very well last year but, in fairness, they could go long when they had the likes of Bernard Brogan to aim at close to the opposition goal. Managers will devise systems around the talents they have, but what you often see happening is that teams half copy what successful opposition are doing, even if it doesn't suit them.
"For instance, there's usually a tendency to imitate whoever wins the All- Ireland.
"Tyrone were very good on the swarm defence side in 2003 and, the following year, others were at it, even when it didn't suit them.
"Some were still doing it in 2005, but Tyrone had moved on again. You'd still see Brian Dooher back behind his own 20-metre line, but a few seconds later he'd be kicking a point at the other end.
"When Galway won the All-Ireland in 1998, we went long quite a lot into the full-forward line, but opposition copped on to that and we had to change. By 2001, we were playing a two-man full-forward line.
"You have to keep adapting all the time and, in fairness, managers and coaches are prepared to do that, but the way the game has gone now, it all seems to be about holding possession. You'll see teams who open up a four-or-five-point lead trying to count down the clock from 10 minutes out.
"It's not great to watch," said O'Mahony.
Referring to last year's Dublin-Donegal All-Ireland semi-final, he said that while Donegal's possession-obsessed approach put them in a position to win the game, it failed to achieve it in the end.
"If they had put Michael Murphy in front of the Dublin goal after Diarmuid Connolly was sent off, would they have won? It doesn't matter how much you protect possession, you have to work the ball through to the scoring area at some stage and create enough space to get a shot away.
"If Donegal did that and had a deadly finisher like Murphy inside, how much more would they have scored, especially with the extra man"?
He fears that the emphasis on security has become much too concentrated and while watching good defensive play can be enjoyable, it should not be the dominant element it has now become.
"Gaelic football should never be a game of chess. There's a danger that the basic skills of the game will be less in evidence in future. The public won't like that. In turn, that could lead to lower attendances. We'd need to look at where the game is going," said O'Mahony.
O'Neill's remarks last Saturday showed that he too has concerns and it now remains to be seen what specific action he takes to address the situation during his term in office.
Describing aspects of Gaelic football as boring in his first few hours as GAA President has raised the expectation bar for his tenure pretty high.
It may also be a sign of a man who is ready to call it is as he sees it.
In the case of football, it would appear he's viewing it through very concerned eyes. But then so are many others.