Month: June 2009

Southampton Back On The Brink

The new Football League season starts in a little over five weeks, but a huge question mark still hangs over the small matter of whether all the teams included in the fixture list will actually be starting the season after the Pinnacle group withdrew their interest in buying Southampton Football Club this week. This news isn’t a great surprise to anybody that has been watching the situation at St Marys over the last few weeks or so. Pinnacle, whose public face (at least as far as Southampton supporters were concerned) was one Matthew Le Tissier, had been the favourites to save the ailing club to the extent that they had been given a “period of exclusivity” over buying them by the administrators, Begbies Traynor. Doubts, however, had been raised over whether the seriousness of their intentions when they started to question the legality of the Football League’s points deduction which will see them start next season on minus ten points at the bottom of the League One table this August. Their period of exclusivity ended almost two weeks ago without a concrete offer having been made, and their interest formally ended today. Time isn’t on their side. The administrators confirmed at the end of last week that the club would have to be found up on Friday if a new buyer couldn’t be confirmed. The club sold striker to...

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Celtic On The Brink – No, Not That One

The icy touch of the Grim Reaper threatens to blow across non-league football yet again this summer with the news that Farsley Celtic of the Blue Square North face a winding up order at the hands of Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs on Wednesday over an unpaid tax bill said to be in excess of £200,000. Farsley merited a mention on here once before over talk of their intention to change their name to “AFC Leeds” in an attempt to boost the support in the city that they inhabit. It didn’t happen, and it remains unknown whether such a decision would have made that much difference with regards to their salvation. What we know for sure, however, is that this is another example of a club managing a combination of bad management with a small amount of somewhat bad luck. Farsley have been an example of a small club that has over-extended itself. They were members of the Yorkshire League and the North East Counties League until the formation of a second division for the Northern Premier League in 1987. They were promoted into the Football Conference via the play-offs in 2007 but lasted just one season (with all the attendant financial strains that such a promotion brings upon a club of limited means and a comparatively small support) before being relegated back into the Conference North, and it...

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The Confederations Cup: Brazil 3-2 USA

The Brazilian coach Dunga’s name translates as “Dopey” in Portuguese, but this soubriquet could have applied to his entire team this evening as the South American champions rode their luck against an American team which, unencumbered by such considerations as fatigue, outplayed them in every department in Johannesberg for forty-five minutes this evening. The Americans deployed the same tactics as they did against Spain during the week. They ran their hearts out, defended deeply and hit the Brazilians with two stunning breaks before half-time, but even these ended up being not quite enough, as Brazil found themselves in the second half and clawed their way back into the match. Earlier this afternoon, Spain had beaten South Africa to third place in the competition with a 3-2 win against the hosts in Rustenberg, in a match that came to life in the last fifteen minutes of normal time, which ended with an extraordinary thirty yard free kick from Katlego Mphela bringing South Africa level. A late, late freekick from Xabi Alonso which curled through about eighteen players to give Spain a win that much of their performance simply didn’t deserve. For South African supporters, though, there is at least cause for quiet optimism that even if they’re some way off being genuine challengers for the trophy, the rank humiliation that many had predicted for them won’t come to pass, at...

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James Milner Makes John Terry Look Like Le Tissier

An extraordinary evening in Gothenburg saw the England under-21 team break a tournament jinx and make the final of the European Under-21 Championships with a penalty shootout win against the hosts Sweden last night. The England team hadn’t made the final of this competition prior to last night since winning it in 1984 but they have made the semi-finals of it five times since then, losing every time since then including a 13-12 defeat against the Netherlands two years ago. This, however, was a pretty remarkable evening all round, though. That it went to penalties in the first place was something of a surprise. England had raced into a 3-0 lead in the first half before being pegged back by three goals in thirteen minutes in the second half, none of which bodes particularly well for the blood pressure of England supporters in five or ten years’ time. In the middle of all this, Frazier Campbell was sent off for what might euphemistically be described as “a rush of blood to the head” (which manifested itself as a raash and dangerous tackle on Sweden’s Mattias Bjarsmyr to earn himself a second yellow card). He’s not the only one that will miss the final. Has there ever been a case of a goalkeeper being suspended from a match in a major tournament after being suspended for picking up two yellow...

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Livi On The Edge?

As the fallout from the Setanta collapse threatens to throw Scottish Football into turmoil, Rob Freeman takes a look at one of Scotland’s franchise clubs, Livingston, who are close to collapse without this having happened. The Scottish Franchise club, Livingston, is one step closer to going out of business after they admitted they are unlikely to pay their rent arrears of £280k by the end of the month. Livingston may as well have been the prototype for the theft of Wimbledon FC by Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and Kjell-Inge Rokke in 2002. In this instance it was Meadowbank Thistle who were the victims. Meadowbank were originally the works team for the Ferranti engineering firm in Edinburgh, who upon election to the Scottish League in 1974 were forced to change their name, as a condition of entry, so as to meet the League’s rules on sponsorship. In the 1990s, however, the Scottish League decided to reorganise, and Meadowbank Thistle ended up dropping from Division Two to the new Division Three. When this occurred, Meadowbank Thistle chairman Bill Hunter claimed that the club were losing money and could not survive at that level – excuses Wimbledon fans will remember vividly from their own experience. The “solution” that Hunter’s used will also be familiar to Wombles – he moved Meadowbank Thistle to the new town of Livingston and took their new home’s name....

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