News that Man U reserve Jonny Evans is ‘helping police with their enquiries’ over an alleged rape on the night of the team’s Christmas party just goes to show what a nightmare these events can be. With alcohol flowing liberally and high spirits abounding, the chances of someone making an exhibition of themselves are incredibly high.
Of course, a criminal investigation is a pretty extreme outcome – that’s the kind of thing that would really bring your HR department out in a cold sweat. But barely a Christmas party goes by without someone torpedoing their career by getting embarrassingly drunk, saying something incredibly rude to their boss, or doing something unmentionable in the photocopying room with a colleague who they don’t even particularly like.
We have a lot of sympathy for HR departments at this time of year. It’s not exactly as though they can send round an email beforehand telling people not to get drunk or boisterous – that’s what the Christmas party is all about. Instead, all they can do is plaintively ask everyone to have a good time and let their hair down while remembering not to be silly – whereupon everyone just accuses them of being soulless killjoys. But they’re the ones who’ll be left picking up the pieces when the young associate comes in the next day and accuses the senior partner of groping her during the cheese course.
However, one thing HR can do is try to manage the environment, as far as they can. And here’s where Manchester United don’t seem to have thought it through. OK, so they hired out a hotel in its entirety and closed it to all but invited guests. But according to the gleefully salacious press reports, the footballers (who each paid £4,000 to attend the bash) left the WAGs at home watching Coronation Street and instead filled the hotel with about 100 scantily-clad women, most of whom were literally hand-picked from the streets and bars of Manchester. Since footballers aren’t exactly known for their common sense and restraint, and since bagging a footballer seems to be the ultimate ambition for some girls these days, surely that was asking for trouble?
So by all means enjoy yourself at the Christmas party – but unless you’re planning on moving jobs in the near future, just remember that you’ll have to share an office with all your fellow party-goers for the next 12 months...