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Month: December 2008

Fortune’s Always Hiding?

West Ham United have been, financially speaking, probably the English football club that has been the hardest hit by the recent changes in the international financial climate. At the start of September they lost XL Holidays, their shirt sponsors. The company went into liquidation and, in doing so, became one of the first truly visible signs of the worsening global financial situation. Unlike West Bromwich Albion who, when they failed to land themselves a deal last summer, simply wore shirts unadorned by these strangely runic exhortations and benefitted from record sales, at West Ham the XL logo was quickly covered up and replaced with a terribly tacky looking squad number logo until new sponsors were found. In the Autumn, West Ham’s financial circumstances went from bad to worse. When the Icelandic bank Landsbanki collapsed (along with the rest of the country’s economy) at the start of October, the West Ham chairman Björgólfur Gudmundsson’s fortune was obliterated. A couple of years ago there had been talk (limited talk, but talk nevertheless) of West Ham joining the rarified atmosphere of the likes of The Big Four. Now there were suddenly real concerns over their financial situation. As if this wasn’t bad enough for them, they had lost their case in front of the FA over Sheffield United’s compensation claim for the Carlos Tevez affair and, at the end of November, were...

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Non-Match Of The Week: Lewes P-P Kettering Town

The peculiarities of the Christmas programme mean that many people end up with their body clocks thrown out of kilter. The Christmas break was followed by the weekend – was yesterday Saturday or was it Sunday? The full football programme made it feel like a Saturday afternoon, but it wasn’t – a feeling that has been exacerbated by having a full week off work. Yesterday’s chosen match was between Lewes and Kettering Town in the Blue Square Premier. A quick check of the BBC website confirmed that the match appeared to be on, and the close proximity of The Dripping Pan to my own home in Brighton meant that this would be, for me, effectively a home match. No need to leave the house until two o’clock in the afternoon. An hour before I was due to leave, I made a quick trip to the shops to pick up some provisions, and nothing in my centrally heated flat had prepared me for how damn cold it was. I got home and my inner sceptic persuaded me to check the Lewes website to see if the game was still on. It wasn’t. I’m not, of course, deserving of your sympathy in this respect. As it turned out, I spent a very agreeable afternoon watching Blackburn Rovers play Manchester City in the pub. Your sympathies are probably best placed with the...

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When The Lights Went Out (Revisited)

It’s reassuring to come back from the Christmas break to find that the fallout from the much aborted FA Cup match between Droylsden and Chesterfield is still rumbling on. After the first match was abandoned due to fog with Droylsden leading by a single goal, the two sides drew 2-2 at Saltergate. Chesterfield were then winning the replay 2-0 when an electrician fixing the electricity tripped the floodlights out with eighteen minutes left to play. At the fourth attempt, the Droylsden beat their Football League opposition 2-1 to book, as they thought, a place in the Third Round of the competition and a trip to Suffolk to play Ipswich Town. There was much gnashing of teeth in Derbyshire over this result. In the third match between the sides, Chesterfield were just three minutes from the point at which the referee would normally have awarded the result to them anyway when the lights went out, and dark rumours started to circulate that this hadn’t been the accident that it seemed. Even after all of this, there is again a strong chance that Droylsden will not be allowed to take their place in the Third Round of the competition, this time in an argument over an ineligible player. Sean Newton had been the hero of the final match between the two sides, scoring both goals to win it for Droylsden. After...

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When The Lights Went Out

AFC Wimbledon supporters will already be aware of the occasionally intransigent ways of the Ryman League. A couple of seasons ago, when an administrative error meant that one of their players was incorrectly registered with the Football Association of Wales rather than the FA, they were docked fifteen points until an independent committee stepped in and reduced the punishment. Now, almost two years on, they’re at it again. This time, the victims are Redbridge FA, and the crime is failing a fllodlight inspection. The punishment might just turn out to be the club’s very existence. Redbridge FC started out as a merger of Ford Sports and Brigg Sports in 1959 under the name of Ford United. The club played was semi-adopted by the Ford Motor Company and played at the company’s Ford Sports & Social Club. However, the company withdrew its funding from the club and allowed them only a one year rolling contract on their stadium. This arrangement wasn’t acceptable to the Ryman League, so they moved to the Oakside Stadium in nearby Redbridge and changed their name accordingly. On the pitch, they had been briefly reasonably successful, getting promotion to the Conference South, but they dropped like a stone between 2005 and 2007, back to the Ryman League Division One North, ground-sharing with Essex Senior League club Barkingside. Life is difficult enough for anyone at this level...

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Match Of The Week: LDU de Quito 0-1 Manchester United

It probably won’t count for much come the end of the season, but Manchester United became the World Club Champions this morning – the first English club to win the FIFA World Club Cup. This year’s World Club Cup has been hamstrung, as ever, by the imbalance of competition. This was further emphasised by LDU de Quito’s surprise in the Copa Libertadores earlier this year. In previous years, the saving grace for the tournament came in the final, when you could be guaranteed a match between a top European club and a name that most people at home would have at least heard of. There was no such joy for FIFA this year. The fact that LDU can come from nowhere is a sign of the immense strength in depth of South American football but, for FIFA, the lack of a familiar South American name only added to the sense that this competition is an irrelevance. It isn’t an irrelevance, of course (though you can be pretty damn sure that most have Manchester United supporters would have said that it was had they lost this morning), and the likelihood is that this is a competition that will grow and grow in strength over the next few years. Expect to see more club sides being invited to enter and it posibly being shunted to the summer to capitalise on that...

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