Day: April 30, 2010

Greed Or Unity: The Football League Must Decide

Amongst the fulsome tributes offered in the direction of Fulham over the last twenty-four hours or so in the wake of their Europa League win against Hamburg, it was mentioned more than once that they were in what is now League Two as recently as 1997. Even though Fulham’s ascent was largely funded by Mohamed Al-Fayed (and other such rises, as well as more numerous less successful attempts at emulating likes of Fulham) have more often than not been funded such money, such tributes tell a fundamental truth about the inner beauty of English football. In principle, the sky is the limit for any club, anywhere. It is one of the glories of our version of the game but the the door has been slowly closing for many years since the formation of the Premier League, and now the final push to close it altogether could be upon us. When the likes of Manchester City’s Gary Cook and Bolton Wanderers’ Phil Gartside put forward their proposals for a revolution in the organisation of the top of English football (both of which, coincidentally, specifically benefitted the exact circumstances of their clubs at the time), they were rightly laughed out of court. Now, however, the Premier League is, with the willing assistance of twenty-three out of twenty-four clubs in the Championship, trying to force through a change to the financing of...

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Are Birmingham Running Before They Can Walk?

One of the least dull points to emerge from the recent Soccerex talk-fest in Manchester was the importance of ‘local identity’ to the financial well-being of football clubs. But this was only thought true of the second-highest echelons of European football; the Football League Championship and ‘lesser’ European national leagues. The big boys, the EPL and La Liga in particular, were all “worldwide fanbases” and “global brands.” Yet there is the sense that the participants in the particular session, “European Leagues – competing in the international and domestic market place,” were getting ahead of themselves. For all the strengths of Manchester United’s reach from Thailand to Timbuktu, their fanbase remains overwhelmingly Mancunian – more local, in fact, than many of their peers, despite the Tunbridge Wells stereotype. So it is that Birmingham City’s desire to conquer China when they aren’t even the biggest club in their own city inspires unease rather than admiration for their ambition. And there is unease in the Blue part of Birmingham at rather more than that. Court cases and chief executives have gone the way of City’s league form and FA Cup dreams in a couple of turbulent months, as the regime personified by “Hong Kong businessman” Carson Yeung enters the phase where not being David Sullivan or David Gold is not enough anymore. Surprisingly little is made of Yeung’s surprisingly small stake in...

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World Cup Preview: Group C

The 2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off in six weeks today, close enough that you can start to hear the vuvuzelas. Continuing his preview of this summer (winter)’s events, Dotmund has now reached Group C, where he will do his best to cover the large three lions tattoo on his face and behave in the sort of balanced way we like here at Twohundredpercent. Let’s see what he discovered, with his little notebook at his side.

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