Day: August 7, 2008

Trying To Get Inside The Mind Of The Football League

Back in the day, struggling Fourth Division clubs had to regularly undergo the annual ordeal of re-election, in which the bottom four clubs in the table along with any non-league clubs that would fancied their chances took part in a vote to retain league membership. It is often said that the voting was seldom an objective affair. One story goes that Gateshead FC charged visiting club dignitaries for drinks in the boardroom, and were ejected from the Football League by the other clubs when they finished third from bottom in 1960. The flipside to this was at Hartlepool United, where the hospitality was so lavish that they never needed to worry about losing their membership. We thought that this had been done away with in 1987, when meritocracy seemed to have been brought in with automatic promotion and relegation between the Fourth Division and the Conference. Two decades on, however, the nagging feeling is starting to take hold that this meritocracy is all so much smoke and mirrors and that, in fact, the League’s members are acting as selfishly as ever. This may seem like a harsh assessment, but the thirty point deduction given to Luton Town earlier in the summer gave the impression of being almost vindictive in its severity. This has been followed up this week with the League’s decision to dock Rotherham United seventeen points for...

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League One & League Two – 2008/09

If last season was a season of mixed messages in the bottom two divisions of the Football League, then this season may be the one in which size matters in League One, whilst, with the moneyed clubs both promoted from League Two, there is all to play for with anything up to a dozen clubs capable of going up. In League One, it’s difficult to see past Leeds United going up as champions. We may well have had good chortle at their “misfortune” last season, but Gary McAllister has built a strong squad with Ken Bates’ money, and had it not been for the fifteen point deduction last season, they would have most likely cantered to the title. Losing the play-off final may also have taught their supporters a little humility, which would be no bad thing. Picking a team to go up with them would look to be a fairly straightforward exercise, but Leicester City are by no means the shoo-ins that many seem to think they are. There is an air of malaise around the Walkers Stadium, and the relegation hangover may prove to be a difficult one to shake off. It would be far more profitable to discuss Huddersfield Town, who will be starting the new season with 16,000 season ticket holders thanks to a £100 season ticket scheme and a wealthy owner that has installed...

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Give Them An Ince And They’ll Take A Mile

In this day and age, racism has become easier to spot. You no longer get working class northern comedians on primetime television yakking on about “nig-nogs” and, in football, no-one could away with, say, the claim of Ron Noades that black players couldn’t cope with defending, especially in bad weather. These days, racism is veiled. Anyone that spends any time in the company of the general public knows that it still exists, but those in public positions also know that to make a racist public statement would be professional suicide. It’s still there, though – in the Islamophobia of the tabloid press and the occasional ugly shouts that you hear coming from the terraces on a Saturday afternoon. All that has happened has been that racism has become, in some respects, more difficult to spot. One way in which this manifested itself in football was in the lack of black managers in the Premier League, which was, in comparison with the number of black players at that level, a more than feeble zero for many, many years. This figure has been improved upon (it could hardly not be) with the likes of Jean Tigana and Ruud Gullit, but the lack of black British managers continued to be striking and was, if anything, only emphasised by the appointment of Paul Ince to manage Blackburn Rovers a couple of months ago....

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