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Day: August 18, 2009

Arsene Wenger’s Super League Odyssey

The Champions League reaches the final knock-out stage this evening, with an all-British match between Arsenal and Celtic taking centre stage as twenty clubs play off against each other for the right to join the lucrative group stages of the competition. The big question facing the competition as it kicks off, however, is whether the Champions League is lucrative enough for its biggest clubs any more. In an interview on the eve of the match between Arsenal and Celtic, the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has given a tantalising hint at the machinations that may already be taking place behind the scenes towards the formation of a European Super League. According to Wenger, this isn’t mere speculation: The national leagues will survive but maybe in 10 years, you will have a European league. I’m not sure 100% that I’m right but I feel inside our game there are some voices behind the scenes coming up to do something about that, especially if the rules become too restrictive for these clubs. Such secrecy is understandable. A European Super League wouldn’t be universally popular at the moment. It may take a few years of planting stories in the press to change people’s minds before the idea of a European Super League would gain any significant popularity amongst the general public. The battle for hearts and minds, however, seems to be set to...

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Neil Warnock & The Phantom Goal

Sometimes, one has to wonder whether this sort of thing follows Neil Warnock around. In 2007, Sheffield United were relegated on the last day of the season after Carlos Tevez scored an unlikely winner for West Ham United at Old Trafford. In February 2008, he accused a linesman of celebrating a goal for Bristol City in a match against his Crystal Palace team. Last weekend, in what threatened to overshadow everything else that took place over the three divisions of the Football League, Crystal Palace ran into more problems at Ashton Gate with a “goal that never was” in their Championship match against – again – Bristol City. They had been playing for half an hour at Ashton Gate on Saturday when Palace’s Freddie Sears drove the ball past the onrushing Bristol City goalkeeper Dean Gerken and into the bottom corner of the net. Except for one small detail. The ball bounced up off the metal rim that holds the net down and bounced out. The referee and his assistants presumably thought that the ball bounced out off the post and refused to give a goal. In the final minutes of the match, insult was layered upon injury when Nicky Maynard scored the only goal (that was awarded) of the match for Bristol City. Cue an expected amount of apoplexy from Warnock and the Crystal Palace owner, Simon Jordan....

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