Day: June 1, 2009

Ancelotti & Chelsea – Together At Last

In the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s FA Cup win against Everton, Chelsea’s captain (and apparently now their head coach) John Terry had a couple of suggestions for the club’s owner Roman Abramovich. Terry has suggested Franck Ribery and David Villa as the calibre of player that Chelsea should be bringing in – curiously, he didn’t mention any central defenders – and herein lies the problem at Stamford Bridge over the last couple of years or so. It has been one of football’s worst kept secrets over the last couple of years or so that the senior players are running the Chelsea team. They did for Jose Mourinho, they did for Avram Grant, they did for Felipe Scolari and Guus Hiddink was only there as a short term measure. It remains difficult to escape the conclusion that Chelsea will struggle to overturn Manchester United’s domination of English football until this particular circle has been squared. What, then, of Carlo Ancelotti? Well, he should have no problem dealing with egos. His Milan team over the last two or three years has given every impression of being made up of players signed for the number of replica shirts they can sell. His defenders can point to three Champions League finals in his eight years at the San Siro, but this masks the fact that his time in charge there hasn’t necessarily been...

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Accrington & The Tax Man

The news that Accrington Stanley have been issued with a winding up order should come as no great surprise to those that watch lower league football that closely. As the cold wind of economic reality blows through the lower divisions, Accrington were always going to be amongst the favourites to struggle to keep their heads above water. With crowds having fallen by about one-third since their first season back in the Football League to an average of around just 1,400 and one of their main sponsors, Fraser Eagle, having run into financial difficulties and been unable to pay the remaining £100,000 on a stadium sponsorship deal, that the club managed to retain anything like full-time status was pretty much remarkable. Of course, maintaining this status becomes easier if you can cut corners elsewhere, and Accrington have been doing this by not paying their tax bill. The debt – £300,000 – is not a completely insurmountable one, but the fact that it has not been paid would seem to indicate that other bills were taking preference. Such is the moral vaccuum at the heart of professional football. Had they wished to, Accrington could have looked elsewhere for examples of HMRC behaving as if they were sick to the back teeth of football clubs wasting money on players and evading their responsibilities to their creditors through entering into CVAs and paying...

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