Month: April 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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Match Of The Midweek: Fulham 2-1 Hamburg SV

It is a warm, sunny evening in West London. The sun sparkles on the Thames in the pre-match aerial shots of Craven Cottage, but there is a sense of calm before the storm in the air. Tonight, Fulham plays host to the biggest match in their history. Sometimes, it helps just to repeat the following sentence in order to assist with letting it sink in. This evening, Fulham play Hamburg SV for a place in the final of the Europa League and it is, of course, a sell-out. It’s also not unwinnable. Hamburg lost 5-1 at the weekend and fired their coach. All is not happy in the north of Germany. But have Fulham, who have already deposited the German champions Wolfsburg and Juventus on their backsides in this competition, got enough in the tank to find their way into the Europa League final? Hamburger Sport-Verein, then. Six times German champions and one-time champions of Europe, in 1983. The team that wrestled Kevin Keegan from Liverpool. The club of Horst Hrubesch, Felix Magath and Manny Kaltz. This is a club that has already won the European Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup, yet still needs this trophy to join the rarified air of clubs that have completed the hat-trick of winning all three European trophies. When much of what we in England see of German football consists of...

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Shit Shot Mungo, S02E38: Also, World Cup Wallpaper!

This week’s Shit Shot Mungo sees the race for Heart of Clackmannannshire (who, as you may remember, were kept in the SPL relegation race thanks that colossal amounts of corruption and the reintroduction of a Japanese robot that is programmed to score goals) to stay up enter its closing stages. With Mungo banished to the commentary gantry, can the team manage to string out their survival to the very end of the season? This week’s Mungo is, of course, brought to you courtesy of Ted Carter (look out for his next World Cup preview tomorrow – he is indeed a man of many talents) and is also available here. In other news, we are also very proud to be able to release the official (to the extent that such a thing can be) Twohundredpercent World Cup Wallpaper this evening. As you can see, it features the official animal of each one of the thirty-two nations that have qualified for this summer’s World Cup finals, and will look damn fine on your desktop. It is, of course, completely free charge, but we would ask you to stop by here, to have a look at (and buy, if we’re absolutely honest) some Ted Carter originals, including the original of our own wallpaper. Any pieces of artwork will look damn fine in your living room, and we have been asked to remind...

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