During their annual conference this week - hosted by Durham University - vice-chancellors enjoyed dinner at one of the most unusual conference dinner venues of recent years - Middlesbrough Football Club. While looking out over Middlesbrough's smart new stadium during pre-dinner drinks, one delegate was overheard saying: "Maybe we could sort out the funding debate right now. A new universities 11 against the Russell Group." "Are you kidding?" replied the friend, "that would just prove we are all as unfit as each other."