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Month: March 2010

The Labour Party & Football: The Reaction

It took a couple of days, but we got there in the end. The Labour Party’ proposals on the state of football may have been largely welcomed by supporters, but they were not going to pass uncommented upon by those that still, in spite of everything, claim that the “free market” can save the world in some way. The responses didn’t give us a great deal to feel encouraged about. The Conservative Shadow Sports & Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson seemed caught on the hop by the leak and his response was at best garbled and at worst disingenuous. After 13 years of inactivity by the Government on this issue, this has all the hallmarks of a pre-election gimmick. There are massive, massive implications for company law and insolvency law. We all know that the Conservatives are instinctively going to be light on legislative measures protect football from itself but, even accounting for this (and considering that the principle of increased supporter involvement in football clubs has all-party support), his response was weak. He didn’t go into any details about what these “massive, massive implications” might be (it is already established that the finer details on these proposals are still very much at the consultation stage – how he can make such a sweeping comment on the basis of limited information about the proposals that we have at this point in...

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Match Of The Week: Stevenage Borough 1-0 Oxford United

It seems unlikely that any team in Britain has as important a week as Stevenage Borough have this week. Five points clear at the top of the Blue Square Premier, they face second placed Oxford United and third placed Luton Town on Saturday, before finishing off a run of three matches in six days with an away match against Wimbledon. If they win all three, they will be almost home and dry in the race for a place in the Football League. Should they falter, there is plenty of experience sitting just behind them in the table waiting for them to slip up. Even if things were to go wrong for them in the league, though, they’ve already got the not inconsiderable consolation of one trip to Wembley in the FA Trophy final, which they reached a couple of weeks ago, lined up. Tonight’s match against Oxford United might just prove to be the last chance saloon for their guests’ chances of winning automatic promotion from the Blue Square Premier this season. Going into the match, Stevenage are five points clear of Oxford, with a considerably greater goal difference. Oxford themselves were the early pace-setters, but their form has dipped in recent weeks. Their win against relegation fodder Gateshead on Saturday was their first in six matches, and that required a decisive goal in stoppage time to hand them...

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Labour’s Football Proposals: Playing To The Gallery Or Genuine Change?

There was a time when members of parliament would only really queue up outside Westminster to discuss how to brow beat our game. They considered us animals that needed to be caged and carry ID cards at all times during the 1980s, it took a lot of work to undo the damage done to the reputation of the rest of us for the actions of what was always a very small minority. Times, however, have moved on. From Tony Blair playing keepy-ups with Kevin Keegan to Gordon Brown’s professed love of Raith Rovers, football’s use as a political football has almost now come full circle, and it has reached its logical conclusion with a story leaked to The Guardian this evening – possibly accidentally, more likely tactically – about Labour Party proposals for their forthcoming general election manifesto which, were it would happen, would go some way to changing the landscape of the game in this country. Amongst the plans would be the following: • Requiring clubs to hand a stake of up to 25% to fans in recognition of their links with their local community. • Implementing a change-of-control clause that would allow fans a window to put together a takeover of their club if it was up for sale or went into administration. • Giving the football authorities a deadline to reform the FA and remove “vested...

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Match Of The Week: Crystal Palace 1-2 Cardiff City

For supporters of both Crystal Palace and Cardiff City, 2009/10 has been a season that has taken a turn for the strange. Both clubs are in mortal peril. Crystal Palace are in administration and the Championship relegation places following the ten point deduction that comes with entering it, whilst Cardiff City still haven’t seen off the tax man and still face a winding up petition. However, both clubs could find routes off the hook. A place in the Premier League – certainly not an unreasonable proposition, considering that they are in fourth place in the table and heading for the play-offs at the end of the season – is still possible for Cardiff City, and this may be a route out of the crippling debt that they are currently burdened with. If that seems a contradictory state of affairs, it’s not quite as crazy as what has been going on at Crystal Palace. The club’s entry dropped them into a relegation zone like a stone into a pond. This put them up for sale, and amongst the most serious interest in buying the club is reported to have come from the noted hip hop producer, fashion designer and (probably) wearer of diamonds, Sean “Puff Daddy or P-Diddy, Depending Upon How Old You Are” Combs. The likelihood of Palace taking to the pitch wearing fur-lined and diamond-studded shirts and replacing...

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The Premier League Ponders A Salary Cap

The Premier League’s Annual General Meeting this summer will provide stringent salary cap regulations for English football’s top tier, to judge by the plethora of club chairmen who have offered unsolicited opinions in favour of such regulations in recent months. It is refreshing to see such a consensus around an issue of such magnitude, especially coming from a group of people of such sound judgement. West Ham co-owner David Gold has struck a discordant note around the subject. But he has expressed his views with admirable consistency, long before salary caps became the sexy subject in the wake of Portsmouth’s financial demise. As he said on BBC Sport last summer, in opposition to “capping”: “I think you have to be very careful that you don’t go all the way back to 50 or 60 years ago, when Blackpool was the top club in the division, because you’d end up with a very bland league.” That, alongside his view that a “league” is “the survival of the fittest,” is a healthy sign that the debate will be constructive and well-informed, I’m sure you’ll agree. The credibility of the salary cap argument is demonstrated by Fulham chairman Mohamed Fayed being its most fervent supporter. As long ago as last April, Fayed was talking in admirably emotive terms on the subject. “Take my crusade against Sky-high players’ wages,” he told London’s Evening...

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