Sunday, September 29, 2002

Following on from the article highlighted yesterday on Soccernet, comes an "exclusive" in today's Observer that only three of the 24 clubs in the First Division can actually guarantee to complete their fixtures this season due to a combination of the ITV Digital collapse and the transfer window (no mention of financial maladministration or imprudent chairmanship). A good, readable article is diminished somewhat at the end when Palace chairman Simon Jordan rehashes the argument that would split the football league, saying that the chairmen of each division should be responsible for the running of that division. Without getting into the ins and outs in this limited space, it is an argument that doesn't stand up to close scrutiny once you disregard the blatant self-interest of the first division clubs' chairmen.

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Saturday, September 28, 2002

There's an article that's sort of worth checking out on Soccernet. The piece itself, by Richard Jolly, isn't particularly well written, basically being just a list of First Division clubs' transfers during the close-season, but the article's central premise, that the cash shortfall in football means that managerial ability is more to the fore, is unarguable. Or is it? Why not argue it using the Comment facility? We wouldn't normally highlight an article devoted exclusively to a division that United aren't in, but seeing as the First is our rightful place, and that we appear to be bound back there, why not?

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Thursday, September 26, 2002

You may or may not remember that when I first introduced this weblog (or blog, as some refer to these sorts of things) I mentioned that not all posts may necessarily be about football, although all up until now have been. I thought that it was high time to diversify - live a little. As those who enjoy ripping animals to shreds were taking over the streets of London last Saturday (Ralph McTell would have been ashamed) not everyone believes that a return to a medieval type class oriented society is necessarily for the best. One such is novelist Will Self, whose article for This Is London articulates what many believe to be the hypocrisy that these Countryside types surround themselves with: "Marching for your livelihoods, are you? Where were you lot when the miners or the steelworkers lost their jobs because the Tory Government would have no truck with subsidies?" etc etc. Excellent stuff.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2002

The possibility of change to the game looms ever closer according to today's Guardian. It reports that many of Europe's top coaches are in favour of the idea of two additional match officials, monitoring the goal-lines, to assist the referees. Whilst many officials, including Pierluigi Collina, are opposed to using video technology, and the idea of two referees has never really caught on, this new approach looks both sensible (if the logistics can be overcome) and relatively popular, although not universally so. I'd be interested in your comments on this issue.


Tuesday, September 24, 2002

The PFA reckons that clubs aren't as badly off as was first feared following the ITV Digital collapse, according to this report on the Nationwide site. The number of footballers still without clubs is less than expected and it's only those first division clubs "who speculated a little bit too much in striving for the Premier League" who are really feeling the pinch (with Watford the latest club to reveal their financial plight, claiming that they need to raise £9.5 million to avoid administration). The report quotes PFA Chief Exec Mick McGuire who believes that the crisis will lead to clubs becoming more prudent in their financial management. Let's hope so.

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There's a very interesting, and very important, report in today's Guardian concerning a new FIFA directive. Essentially, from next month, a player receiving a red card will have to serve an immediate one match ban with no right to appeal except in cases of mistaken identity. This is a hard-line ruling introduced to prevent apparent abuses of the current system. In England it would mean that some of the high-profile appeals that we've been seeing recently would no longer occur. This is probably a more sensible system as it ensures that all players will be treated equally and everyone knows where they stand, whereas currently some players can use the appeal system to mean that they will be available for a game that they might otherwise be suspended for if they didn't appeal.

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Friday, September 20, 2002

It looks like the Nationwide League are to be partially successful in their quest for exemption from the ridiculous transfer window. Today's Guardian reports that the League will probably be exempt for the next two years, enough time for clubs to get their squads in order, perhaps, before this window will be enforced. The good news, if this is correct, is that it allows this season to continue as normal. The bad news is that there is a reasonable chance that in the next couple of years clubs will overstretch themselves financially in an attempt to strengthen their squads before the transfer window bites, and we all know what happens when clubs spend more than they can afford.

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Thursday, September 19, 2002

On the front page of today's Oxford Mail is a story claiming that creditors of Oxford United are saying that the Manor Ground was sold too cheaply at £6 million. Unsecured creditors, who had received 10% of what they were owed under the term of the CVA, should also have received 50% of any profit from the sale of the Manor once the secured creditors had been paid off. The money received from the sale of the ground only covered the debts owed to the secured creditors, meaning that the rest (including Stadi Varios and Keith Cox) received nothing. One year later, with planning permission received, the ground was sold to the Nuffield Nursing Trust for £12 million, the extra being profited by Firoka, rather than OUFC. No doubt we have yet to hear the last of this, although it sounds more like one of Firoz Kassam's crafty deals rather than anything particularly dodgy.

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Sunday, September 15, 2002

Gordon Taylor, of the PFA, is suggesting that the Nationwide league "sells" one of its promotion places to the Premiership for £100 million, according to this report from the BBC. It's surprising that he stops there and hasn't suggested selling all three promotion places, thus saving the Premiership the hassle of having to worry about being too competitive, or of losing its consistently average members like Westam. Presumably that idea's being saved up for when Wolves go up, so in practice it will be on the back-burner for perpetuity.

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Friday, September 13, 2002

The football cash crisis continues with news from the Guardian that Derby were unable to pay Sheffield United money owing from the transfer of Lee Morris. Leicester are still having problems with their £5 million wage bill (not helped by Denis unWise's demand of half a mill to drop his court case), and now Northampton have to raise half a million pounds by January or face administration. Still, at least FIFA has seen some sort of sense over the ridiculous transfer window business.

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Thursday, September 12, 2002

There's a disturbing story coming from Football 365 which reveals that the British National Party, a bunch of far right goons and ne'er do wells, is to sponsor the Tipton Boilers, a pub football team from the West Midlands. BNP's West Midlands organiser Simon Darby said: "For a lot of people in Tipton the BNP is their party." This is slightly disingenuous as the Anti Nazi League proves that only 334 votes were cast for the fascist gits in the last election, amounting to 7.5% of the electorate. Still far too many, but it paints Tipton is a slightly better light than Darby (notwithstanding the 1,070 who voted for the Freedom Party, dedicated to eliminating freedom). Tipton Boilers play in the Sandwell Premier and District Sunday Football League.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Fed up with all the minutes of silence that take place before football matches these days, even for non-footy related events, even for events that took place many moons ago? Well, so is Steven Wells, who expresses his point of view quite forcefully in today's Guardian. The current Rage On has an article in a similar vein, and there appears to be a gathering momentum that these silences are happening too often, and that they're losing their import. Eventually there's going to come a time when supporters get fed up with yet another irrelevant remembrance and they're going to be irreverent, get a bad press, and generally upset people for whom these moments do actually mean something. Surely it would be better to allow people to express their grieving in their own ways, and not in contrived public displays that don't really do anyone any good anyway, unless they really are relevant to the game as a whole, or the club specifically.


Tuesday, September 10, 2002

A somewhat humorous report from today's Guardian about swindon's attempts to offload tubby Neil Ruddock from their wage bill. Okay, the report itself isn't written that funnily, but you've got to laugh at the Moonrakers, the one team in the league that makes United look almost ept.

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Sunday, September 08, 2002

There's a curious article in today's Observer where David Moffett, chief executive of Sport England argues a reasonably compelling case for scrapping promotion and relegation. The kneejerk reaction is that this is a load of bollox, and so it is, but Moffett's arguments are certainly worthy of consideration. The problem really is that the level playing field scenario that Moffett claims would ensue is, to say the least, unlikely, even if these ideas were enacted at the start of the Premiership (which is what many Premiership chairmen were arguing in favour of at the outset). Even then there would have to be serious reform of the distribution of TV and sponsorship money if Moffett's suggestions are to have any chance of succeeding.

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Friday, September 06, 2002

Greed begets greed. Some Premiership clubs are threatening to boycott this season's FA Cup according to this report from the BBC, claiming that they want a share of the FA's income generated by the competition. Although all clubs that are members of the Football Association are obliged to enter the competition, some Premiership clubs may possibly field sides that are so weakened they may as well not bother (although they would doubtless take their share of the gate money). Of course these are the same clubs that removed the away teams' share of the gate money which has been a major cause of the gap between rich and poor clubs increasing, and now they want yet more money. They won't rest until they have all the income the game generates, by which time there won't be a game.

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Thursday, September 05, 2002

Interesting item from the Leicester Mercury that suggests Rotherham are interested in buying one of the stands from the now defunct Filbert Street. The transportation logistics should set someone an interesting challenge, but they seem to have shied away from doing it all without dismantling it. Surprising that no-one expressed a similar interest in the Cuckoo Lane...

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Tuesday, September 03, 2002

York City's somewhat eccentric, and fairly dangerous, chairman John Batchelor, who is in the running to be chairman of the Football League, is talking about restructuring the format of the Nationwide League, including inviting Rangers and Celtic to join, according to a report on the Nationwide League web site. Batchelor wants the new league to start next season. One sensible idea he's come up with is ensuring that clubs are trading profitably before being allowed to enhance players' wages, which would otherwise be paid from a central pot. Let's hope that all this talk about inviting clubs to join leagues without starting at the bottom of the pyramid is cast aside by more sensible chairmen.

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Nowt to do with Oxford, but this story from today's Guardian should serve as a warning that, legally, Sunderland are not shite. Presumably this does not set a precendent for swindon...


The heartening tale of AFC Wimbledon is highlighted in Sunday's Observer by Ivor Heller, the Commercial Director of the new club. His one piece of advice is that if fans don't like the way that their club is being run they do have an option - set up an alternative club! It may not be easy, and will certainly involve a lot of hard work, but as AFCW have shown, it can be done!


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