Month: April 2007

Points Mean Prizes

Depending on your view of West Ham United, the FA’s decision to fine them £5.5m is either a rare case of them calling a disciplinary decision correctly or they fudged it to avoid making a difficult decision. On the one hand, £5.5m is a lot of money. It’s out of the league of the fines that are usually handed out for this sort of thing. On the other hand, however, there was a powerful case for a points deduction and, had one been given out in this case, it would almost certainly have guaranteed their relegation from the Premiership. Relegation might well have cost them ten times that much money. I am, as you may have gathered from my previous posts on the subject, against points deductions from teams, unless they’re absolutely necessary. The FA themselves confirmed that two significant factors had been in the fronts of their minds when the decision was taken. Firstly, the club admitted their guilt (this seems to be a new phenomenon in two ways – both in terms of clubs actually admitting guilt for once, and the FA taking the decision into account). Secondly, they are under different management now to that which they were under when the signings took place. This also strikes me as a somewhat curious statement. If a player headbutts another player and receives a six month ban, is...

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Marching Down Together

There is still a chance that they can stay up. If Leeds United can beat Derby County by eight goals next Sunday and Hull City lose their match, it will be the team from the east coast that drop, but I can’t see it happening, can you? The fact that this whole, sorry saga has been, in a mathematical sense, dragged out to the last day of the season is fairly typical of the unique way that Leeds have managed to torture their supporters. From the semi-finals of the European Cup to league trips to Walsall and Bournemouth in the space of just six years is quite an achievement. The fact of the matter is, though, that Leeds are, barring a miracle, down, and they’re not being shown a massive amount of sympathy at the moment. Why is this, then? It can’t still be a hangover from Don Revie’s sides of the early 1970s, can it? You have to be over forty to even be able to remember them. Nor can it solely be the fault of the occasionally charmless elements of their support, although they did show a less than savoury side at Elland Road against Ipswich Town yesterday – more on that to follow later on. No, Leeds have proved to become uniquely unpopular for a myriad of different reasons. You can’t, when considering their unpopularity, leave...

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A Public Service Announcement

As you may have noticed, I have been writing about football here for almost twelve months. To allow myself a creative outlet for my passion for television, I’ve started a new blog to run alongside this one. You can have a look at it here. Let me know if you want to be linked from it. Now, as it’s Saturday… booze...

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Buying And Selling, Buying And Selling…

One of the abiding talking points of this football season has been the cost of it all. Whether it’s Premiership clubs seeing more and more empty seats at their matches, the possibility of even higher wages being offered to the best (or most marketable players), or the funding and financial structure of football clubs themselves, it’s all been about money, money, money. The issue of ticket prices have been at the top of the agenda for months now. The Football Supporters Federation support a flat rate fee of £15 for away supporters for all Premiership matches, and Manchester United’s vast travelling support has threatened to boycott matches in protest at all of their away matches being classed as “Category A” matches, meaning that they pay more for their away tickets than anyone else in the Premiership. Against this backdrop, season ticket demand for next season has been reportedly low, and most clubs have reacted accordingly. Bigger clubs, frightened by the fact that their crowds are falling whilst crowds are still increasing further down the football pyramid, are slashing their season ticket prices accordingly. Charlton fans will, from the start of next season, be able to get season tickets for £275, and Crystal Palace supporters are getting a free season if they buy a four year season ticket. They have a secondary concern, too. They’re pricing out the younger supporters....

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Must Try Harder

Having reached the half-way point in the European Cup semi-finals (because, let’s face it, it is a cup rather than a league now, and anyone that tells you any differently is being frankly delusional), and I can to report back to you that I have seen absolutely nothing that has changed my opinion of the state of European football at the moment. As I’ve said on countless other occasions, if this lot are the very best that European football currently has to offer, we should probably all just concede defeat and take up cricket or something instead. At least Manchester United and Milan gave us something approaching entertainment on Tuesday night. I can only conclude that Alex Ferguson has been looking at the shredded state of his defence recently and realised that the only way that his threadbare, exhausted squad can see their way through to the end of the season is to play ridiculously attacking football and hope that Rooney and Ronaldo can keep on coming up with the goods. Of course, the last minute winner put something of a false sheen on their performance, but the fact of the matter is that United now have to go to the San Siro and, in all likelihood, keep a clean sheet there. Now, I wouldn’t trust United’s defence to keep a clean sheet against my immediate family at the...

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