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Day: July 6, 2010

At The Sharp End… Dispatches From Southend, Cardiff, Watford, Preston & Portsmouth

One of the most useful research tools for football finance writing is the “Football Management” site run by Dr. John Beech of Coventry University. Dr. Beech took ten days off recently, and came back to an in-tray” of HMRC-related football fun which would have blocked out the light from his office windows. Indeed, any hopes that any of us had of football’s financial woes holding themselves in abeyance while the world’s finest – and John Terry – were strutting their South African stuff were short-lived in the extreme. Instead, it’s almost as if certain clubs regarded the World Cup as a time to bury bad news. The worst news has come from Southend-on-Sea where the extent of the football club’s reliance on Sainsbury’s (Sainsbury’s!!) for survival has been laid bare. The local Echo newspaper has over recent months run numerous stories in its sports, business and general news pages about the funding issues surrounding Southend’s stadium project at Fossett’s Farm. Last month, they joined the dots in an impressive resume of the football club bills Sainsbury’s have recently paid, i.e. pretty much all of the major ones. To cut a very long story short, Sainsbury’s could soon be in control of Southend United if Martin puts them any more in hock to “the supermarket giants.” And while they were joining these dots, another two appeared; yet another winding-up petition...

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World Cup 2010: Uruguay 2-3 Netherlands

At times they looked like making heavy weather of it, particularly in the last couple of minutes of stoppage time. Indeed, for the first twenty minutes of the second half it looked as if both teams playing in this World Cup semi-final were going to sleepwalk their way into extra-time, but eventually the Netherlands out-muscled Uruguay to book themselves a place in the World Cup final for the first time since disco was in vogue. The question now is whether they will be set up for a Central European derby match against their biggest rivals, Germany, or a match against the World Cup semi-final debutants, Spain. Uruguay, of course, had used up much the goodwill that might had been issued in their direction with their antics against Ghana in the quarter-finals.  This, however, doesn’t undo the level of their achievement in getting this far. It was their biggest match in six decades, and the question that they may now be asking themselves is one of why they didn’t push harder with twenty minutes to play, because when they did give it everything out of desperation in the closing minutes of the game, this apparently functional Dutch defence suddenly (and, considering the circumstances, understandably) looked flustered. The Netherlands struggled over the line in a match that they could have won by three or four clear goals. It was that sort...

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Suarez Again: What Constitutes Cheating?

Tonight in Cape Town, Uruguay will take the field against Holland in their biggest match since their last World Cup semi-final in 1970. It will be the biggest match any of their players have ever played and – unless topped by an even bigger one on Sunday – are ever going to play. But, as you are of course aware, one of their key strikers will be missing through suspension, and their arrival at this stage of the competition has been highly controversial following Luis Suarez’s last minute handball in the quarter-final against Ghana last week. You will already have seen plenty of coverage of this incident, not least including Ian’s article here on twohundredpercent the other day, so I won’t go through the detail again.

I will however make my own position clear at the outset – I do not regard what Suarez did as cheating.

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How “Multiculturalism”, Apparently, Cost England The World Cup

Over the last eight days or so, England’s failed bid to win the 2010 World Cup has been picked at repeatedly by the sports press in an attempt to try to rationalise this apparent “disaster” in terms that transcend what we all saw with our own eyes – that they were beaten by a better organised, better disciplined team. The sports writers have largely been unable to top this explanation (though this hasn’t been for the want of trying) and have instead been looking at the training, the attitude of the players and problems with the coaching as being the root causes of England’s thrashing at the hands of Germany, but there is no firm consensus on the specifics of their failure yet. Once the front page writers and columnists get involved, though, the gloves are off and there is no theory, it would appear, that can be deemed too crackpot to get an airing. One might expect the South Wales Argus to be a comparatively political neutral organisation – many (though not all) local newspapers are. As a Welsh publication, it would, of course, be entitled to laugh at England’s World Cup failure somewhat. That’s the nature of local rivalry. What one probably wouldn’t expect would be a spittle-inflected rant against multiculturalism written by a columnist who seems incapable of touching upon any subject without retreating into barely-coherent...

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