Day: August 11, 2008

Premier League Preview 2008/09

You might not guess it from this morning’s papers, but the new season has already begun, and many of last weekend’s result served as a handily timely reminder of how gloriously unpredictable football can be. It’s difficult to believe that the Premier League, which kicks off this weekend, will match the competitiveness of the Football League, but August is a month for optimism rather than the harsh realities of the game. So, what can we expect a lot of, over the next eight months or so? There will be (presuming everything pans out as expected) and whether the ever-expanding gap between the rich and the poor within the division is killing the goose that lays the golden egg. There will also be much talk of Game 39. Yes, that old thing won’t go away. In the last official pronouncement on the subject, Richard Scudamore, angered Premier League club owners by proposing five mini tournaments to be played during a mid-winter break. It is also likely that the biggest clubs will re-assert their strangehold over the FA and League Cups. They took their eyes off the ball last season, and three of the big four ended up with nothing. It’s difficult to envision such a situation occurring again, unless one of them wins both of them, plus the Premier League itself. At the top of the table, the Big Four...

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Match Of The Week – Wrexham vs Stevenage Borough

It is, perhaps, no great surprise that the two most funereal evictions from the Football League since the introduction of automatic promotion and relegation between Division Four and the Conference in 1987 both involved Welsh clubs. In the case of Newport County in 1988, it was like witnessing the last day at work of a terminally ill employee. They were the most impoverished club in the Football League at a time of widespread financial crisis, and were wound up in February 1989, without even completing their first season in non-league football. The new club were founded that summer and, some nineteen years later, still find themselves two division below the trapdoor that they fell through two decades ago. The same fate befell Wrexham this summer, meaning that the number of Welsh teams in the Football League is now half what is was prior to Newport’s demotion. It is one of the ironies of Welsh football that the senior Welsh clubs, that for all their rebranding themselves in something approaching Welsh nationalist colours – Sam Hammam tried to market Cardiff City as “the club for all Wales” and Wrexham changed their nickname from “The Robins” to “The Red Dragons” – they are utterly dependent on the English league system. Ask an average Cardiff City supporter what their biggest fear for the future is, and they would be likely to say...

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