A man who launched a viral campaign to get England defender Harry Maguire on the new £50 note has joked it’s a “huge disappointment” that wartime codebreaker Alan Turing was chosen instead.
A petition to feature a picture of the centre back – nicknamed “slabhead” – on an inflatable unicorn received 50,000 signatures after being launched by online joker Jonny Sharples.
But after announcing that the mathematician’s image would appear on the new polymer notes from 2021, the Bank of England confirmed it had received the nomination but could not accept it because Maguire did not meet the criteria of being a scientist and not being alive.
Speaking to PA, Sharples joked: “Obviously it’s a huge disappointment, for myself and no doubt for both Harry and the inflatable unicorn as well, to have missed out on a place on the £50 note.
“Over 50,000 people signed the initial petition back in October so I believed Harry and the unicorn were in with a good chance despite the frankly draconian selection criteria such as ‘must have contributed to the field of science’, ‘must be deceased’ and ‘can’t be an inflatable unicorn’.”
“Perhaps they were too fearful of facing a backlash from the 50,000 signatories … Perhaps they were too busy regulating banks and setting the interest rate. Who can say for sure?”
Sharples’ campaign followed images of Maguire and other England stars on inflatable unicorns during England’s 2018 World Cup campaign.
It was so popular that it eventually caught the attention of the man himself, who signed it and even sent him a signed copy of his mocked-up banknote.
The Bank received 227,299 nominations in total, covering 989 eligible figures, and eventually chose Turing over the likes of Stephen Hawking, Ada Lovelace, Dorothy Hodgkin and Charles Babbage.
Despite his disappointment that Maguire didn’t make the shortlist, Sharples is hopeful that he will soon get to meet his hero in person.
He said: “With rumours circulating that he may be moving to one of the Manchester clubs, and with me living in Salford, perhaps he’ll reach out if that transfer comes to fruition – that’s if he doesn’t take out a restraining order first.”