Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Whether or not it's coincidental that this is Anti-Racism in Football Week, there certainly seems to be a plethora of stories circulating about racist incidents both in England and abroad. The BBC web site carries a disturbing run down of racist trouble spots around Europe, with Eastern Europe particularly badly affected, but there are also clear signs that the problem continues to grow in England, with Nottingham Forest supporters the latest offenders during their game against Leicester.

The problems of racism in football are manifold, from outright racist chanting from supporters (such as witnessed by Slovakian fans against England recently) or racist comments between players, to more subtle institutionalised racism which prevents Asian players making the grade in the English league, or stops many black players becoming coaches and managers. It will certainly take time to break down the barriers, but broken down they will surely be. In ten or fifteen years time there will be as many British Asians playing top level professional football as there are black players now.

Unless, that is, the status quo has its way and nothing is done to challenge the current complacent attitude of the football authorities and the chairmen, boards, players, managers and supporters.


Sunday, October 20, 2002

Extraordinary, astonishing, unbelievable! Today's Observer carries a story that has surely been released early, actually intended for April 1st.

It appears that those wonderful philanthropists at the FA and the Premier League, those knights in shining armour, those benevolent benefactors of the modern game, have purely out of the goodness of their hearts selflessly offered a total of £15 million to shore up the ailing Football League clubs, with those poor souls in the First Division getting a whopping 70% of it. Of course these grants and loans are offered with no strings attached and no likelihood of any favours accruing (such as a possible reduction in the number of relegation places from the Premiership, for example).

Or maybe I'm being too harsh?

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Friday, October 18, 2002

Thanks to Myles Francis for drawing our attention to this story from the BBC about the trials and tribulations of being married to a Norwich fanatic. I would have thought that the fact they combined yellow and green was enough grounds for a divorce, but apparently this bloke took things to extremes - if it was OUFC then it would be understandable, but Norwich??? As Myles so astutely points out, it makes one wonder how many members the East Kent Norwich Supporters
club has actually got.


Thursday, October 17, 2002

Following on from our pig racing story of yesterday, here's another totally unrelated snippet from the Independent about a chap accused of stealing 40,000 clothes hangers from hotel bedrooms. It's not so much the crime itself as his defence of it which is worth preserving for posterity.


Tuesday, October 15, 2002

21 things you never knew about pig racing, but didn't know that there was any point in asking.

No comment!


Monday, October 14, 2002

In case some of you missed this article from the Swiss Times, there is a new technological initiative designed to help referees tell whether or not the ball goes out of play. The system works by utilising a series of chips on the shin-pads and the ball which will transmit a signal to a series of antennae around the pitch, creating a three-dimensional virtual image, and which determines the relative positions of the ball and the twenty two players. The referee, via a special watch, will be informed of an off-side or whether ball has crossed the goal line.

The initiator of the system is a chap by the name of Roland Stucky, a former football player and a German with a large chip on his shoulder about the controversial Geoff Hurst goal in the 1966 World Cup Final (you know, the one that hit the bar and bounced down onto the line but which was awarded on the say of the Russian linesman). According to the article Nurenburg's stadium is being equipped with the relevant electronic gear over the next few weeks and there's to be a public demonstration of the system during the Winter, with the first test involving two teams in a real match scheduled for the end of 2003. Apparently both FIFA and UEFA are very interested in the results of the test, although the cost (200,000 Euros to fit out the ground) could prevent it from becoming widespread.

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Wednesday, October 09, 2002

There's an excellent article in today's Guardian, by columnist Rod Liddle, comparing Swindon Town to the Tory party. Some of the comparisons are fairly obvious: they're both obnoxious, low-lifes, supported by ignorant fools. They're also both in disarray, fighting for their survival and deeply unpopular. The article also manages to draw out some of the less clearcut similarities, such as that between Andy King and Iain Duncan Smith (and not just the fact that they're both follically challenged), and the inept tactics that both cling to in a vain, desparate hope that they might just work. The only drawback with this cutting analysis is that it leaves Oxford, as Swindon's main rivals, in the role of New Labour, which is clearly a distasteful analogy and one that we should draw a line under right here.

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Tuesday, October 08, 2002

The BBC reports on a new television deal between the Football League and ITV. The deal is worth £5 million over two years, netting Division Three clubs like Oxford just £35,000 a year. Better than nothing, but not a lot. It would seem that ITV learned very quickly the lessons of the collapse of their digital arm, and one would assume that this new contract has been closely scrutinised by the League's legal advisors. Let's just hope that the quality of coverage is better than ITV's Premiership rubbish.

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Sunday, October 06, 2002

The results of a major survey into The State of the Game have just been released, according to this report in today's Observer, and some of the results do not make for happy reading. Amongst the more worrying revelations is the news that asian and black football supporters are still put off attending matches because of the threat of racist abuse. With National Anti-Racism in Football Week just around the corner it is more imperative than ever that the concerns of ethnic minorities are heeded and action is taken by clubs and the authorities to ensure that anyone who wishes can attend a football match free from fear.

The report, which was based on a survey asking questions about all aspects of the game, also looked at women's football, players salaries, hooliganism and a number of other issues. The report is to be circulated around key figures in the game in order to prompt a debate. Let's hope that once the talking stops real action will occur to tackle the many problems that beset the game.


Thursday, October 03, 2002

Barnsley are the latest club to go into administration. Relegated from the First Division last season, just three years after being relegated from the Premiership, the Yorkshire club has amassed large debts from its days in the top flight and the collapse of ITV Digital. The Guardian has a special section devoted to clubs in crisis which makes grim, if enthralling, reading. Thankfully Oxford are not longer in that situation, but it certainly provides food for thought.


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