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Month: July 2009

Sir Bobby Robson – 1933-2009

It has been a very sad day for football on the eve of the new season. We have lost one of us. It is, perhaps, a reflection of the hole in the heart of English football that we should mourn a football man whose greatest single attribute was nothing more or less than a sense of common decency. It is football’s loss and our loss that we may never in a quite literal sense see his like again. Rob Freeman, who supports Ipswich Town, takes a moment to remember Sir Bobby Robson. Sir Bobby – it’s always seemed a little churlish to refer to him by just his surname – was simply put, one of the greatest men to ever contribute to the game. He made an impact as a player, a manager and as a man. His playing career often gets overshadowed as a result of the achievements he had as a manager, but as an inside forward and wing-half for Fulham and West Bromwich Albion, Sir Bobby scored over a hundred goals in over five hundred games in a domestic career that spanned 18 years. He made his international debut for England against in 1957, scoring two goals in a 4-0 victory over France at Wembley. It would be the first of 20 caps that would also take in three appearances at the 1958 World Cup, and...

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Tranmere Rovers: The Pitfalls Of Attracting Investment

It has been a curious summer for the “club across the water”. Tranmere Rovers, just over the River Mersey from Liverpool and Everton, ended last season having just missed out on a play-off place in League One after dropping two points at home to Scunthorpe United on the final day season. They sacked manager Ronnie Moore at the start of June and replaced him with John Barnes, and one might have expected them to have had a quiet summer working on how they could improve on their league position this time around. Their plans, however, have been disrupted this week by the news that they have been put up for sale… on Ebay. The sorry seems to stem from owner Peter Johnson’s attempts to attract investment in the club. He engaged the services of an American company called Dornoch Capital, but Dornoch seem to have misunderstood what exactly was expected of them and put the club up for sale on the auction website with a starting price at $10m. The advertisement itself does make for intriguing reading. It makes a point of noting that the Tranmere has “zero indebtedness in a period when English Football is in the process of de-gearing/de-leveraging”, which is a pretty damning (yet hardly unfair) description of the current state of English football, and lists the ability to “upgrade the fan experience in food/beverage” as...

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Shit Shot Mungo S02E01

Well, the new season is almost upon us, so it’s time for Season Two of “Shit Shot Mungo” to begin. This week’s episode kicks off (if you’ll pardon the pun) with the team on tour in Ireland and struggling with their fitness after a Bohemian two week long summer break. The “artiste” has asked me to remind you that he has original Mungo artwork for sale, should you want any. Prices, I am reliably informed, will be low, low, low. Should you just wish to look at a bigger version of the online version of it, you can do that...

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Chester City – The Tax Man Bites Back

Upon first sight, it may seem surprising that a victory for the tax man should be greeted with the faintly audible sound of cheering in the distance but such was the mess that is Chester City Football Club that it feels increasingly as if their demise is the only way that the game will rid itself of their owner, Stephen Vaughan. The question of which Stephen Vaughan we are talking about is, of course, a moot point since his son took a directorship at the club earlier this year in place of his father. What has become increasingly apparent over the last few weeks is that the authorities have become increasingly impatient with the goings-on at The Deva Stadium, and the situation took a turn for the worse for the club’s supporters earlier this week. Since the club put itself into administration earlier this summer, there had been a hint that all was not what it might be at Chester City Football Club. This was most starkly exposed by the Football Association’s refusal to grant the club a licence to play, even in pre-season friendlies. The club thought that it had agreed an escape route to its insolvency with a CVA, but this was challenged by Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs at court this week and, in a move that seems to demonstrates just how far down the line...

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Liverpool Stick Their Finger In The Dyke

It was surely no coincidence that Share Liverpool FC chose their relaunch on the day that the club itself confirmed the details of a refinancing deal that was the financial equivalent of using a used sausage roll packet as a form of birth control. The vultures have been circling at Anfield for some time now, but while Gillett and Hicks have managed to defer the very worst that could happen for them, but serious questions remain over their medium to long term future. The Royal Bank of Scotland and the American bank Wachovia, in the current climate, could be forgiven for taking no prisoners in their deal with the club. They agreed, eventually, to extend the club’s credit, but at an immediate cost to the owners. Gillett and Hicks have to raise £60m in the next year – two-thirds of it immediately and the rest later in the year. During the summer Gillett relieved himself of his majority share in the NHL club Montreal Canadiens, a deal which should make this somewhat easier, but the very fact that this debt needed to be restructured is an indicator of the extent to which their time in charge of the club has been a failure. Liverpool Football Club probably remains in the top five football – ugh – “brands” in the world, and their inability to maintain their promise to not...

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