Day: July 7, 2009

Sky Pulls The Plug On Rivals

Regular users of the network of independent websites, Rivals.net, were in for something of a surprise when they logged in last week only to find a blank page with only the cursory message, “‘Rivals.net is currently unavailable” replacing their unofficial fan site. Rather than being a temporary blip, however, this was permanent. Sky, the owners of the network, had pulled it completely, claiming that “Rivals.net wasn’t performing as well as we’d hoped”. Rivals.net was founded in 1999 and, while its style wasn’t to the taste of all, there was no question that it was successful, with such fanzines as Everton’s “When Skies Are Grey”, Manchester United’s “United We Stand” and Fulham’s “There’s Only One F In Fulham” all finding an online home there. The site later became a part of the 365 Media Group, which was in turn bought out by Sky in 2007. There had been complaints about Sky’s management of the sites since it took over – not least a revamp of the design of the site and the forums which proved unpopular and were said to be less user-friendly. To this extent, Sky could be described as the architects of the site’s downfall. Some Rivals.net sites went independent, whilst others chose to move to competitors such as Vital Football. However, there had been no warning of the decision being made to the people that continued to...

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Ken Bates On The Back Foot For Once

In some ways, you almost have to hand it to Ken Bates. He is so obstinate in his behaviour, so apparently appalled by the concept of acting in a way that is half-way reasonable, that it almost appears that his self-appointed role in life is to act in a way that nobody with any scruples could even try to defend. His recent court case against former Leeds United director Melvyn Levi came to its conclusion at the end of last week and, for once, Bates was in the losing corner. Levi had sued Bates for libel for a series of articles in Leeds United match day programmes at the end of 2006 and the start of 2007. In this series of articles, Bates called Levi a “shyster” and accused him of having blackmailed the club. He also printed Levi’s home address and telephone number, in what the judge at the case called “in effect an invitation to Leeds fans to pester Mr Levi”. Bates defended the accusation on the basis that these statements were “fair comment”. He didn’t turn up to the trial and the judge didn’t agree with him, awarding £50,000 damages in favour of Levi and, more troublingly for Bates, £1,5m in legal costs against the Leeds chairman. Ken Bates is a man that has got used to getting his own way over the years, but this...

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