Day: July 23, 2010

Conflicting Season Ticket Stories At Old Trafford

A most curious little article appealed on the Daily Telegraph’s website on Thursday, stating that the Green & Gold protest against the Glazer family’s ownership of the club had failed because season ticket sales at Old Trafford for the coming season had topped 50,000. It was curious because it lacked any real detail behind the story at all and, after a banner headline and no less than two whole sentences, it trailed off into some guff about United’s match against Philapelphia Union before coming to an abrupt halt. You can see what there is of it here. Now, far be it from this humble website to cast aspersions upon the journalistic integrity of such an august institution as the Daily Telegraph, but this all felt most odd. If this was such a resounding victory against supporters groups, why were no comparisons made between this season’s sales projections and those of previous seasons. The number “50,000” is thrown out there with nothing to compare it to, and it is a big number. Is it, however, an impressive number? There is a subtle difference, after all. An answer of sorts came thanks to the BBC yesterday afternoon and, actually, it isn’t quite as grand as it might seem at first glance. Old Trafford currently seats 75,957 people, which means that the ground would be almost two-thirds full if all season ticket...

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Diagnosis: Merthyr

One of the perceived anomalies in European club football is the presence of the six Welsh clubs in the English league system. What a lot of people don’t realise, however, is that historically the Football League was the pinnacle of a system that encompassed both England and Wales, and that prior to the launch of the Football Conference in 1979, Welsh football clubs mainly competed in regional leagues that were the pinnacle of non-league football in England and Wales. Teams from North Wales mainly competed in the Northern Premier League, while the Welsh Football League catered for the teams from South Wales. Once the Conference was formed from teams from the Northern and Southern Leagues, the Welsh Football League became a feeder league for the Southern League. The main reasoning for this was down to logistics. With most of the clubs based in the north or south of the principality, as well as the road layouts favouring west-east travel, rather than north-south, playing English clubs nearer to their part of border was always more favourable than playing those at the other end of the Wales. It was only in 1991, that the Football Association of Wales got around to establishing their own national league. While the timing suggests that this was in response to the FA’s launch of the Premier League in England, the creation of the Welsh Premier...

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Portsmouth: All Kinds Of Everything Which Need Investigating

The problem with the media’s attempted coverage of Portsmouth’s saga is that the saga is little to do with Portsmouth, or football, at all. And in newspapers carefully compartmentalised into home, foreign, business and sports news… and celebrity shite, the off-the-field tale of Portsmouth doesn’t belong exclusively within any one compartment. The story is most digestable in the increasingly familiar concept of Premier League overspending – “living the dream”, and so on. “Provincial Portsmouth” made the leap from second-tier stalwarts to two-up against AC Milan…and back again, thanks to huge dollops of money coming in and then running out. We’d seen similar at Leeds and they ended up with Ken Bates, but nobody heeded what was surely the starkest warning modern football could provide. But the story is more than that, more than one story, in fact. There have been three discrete narratives. The funding of the club from 2006 by an unspecified “Mr. A. Gaydamak.” The ludicrous Sulaiman Al-Fahim, about whom, you’ll be glad to hear, I think I’ve written enough (Where is he now? I neither know nor care). And the Israeli businessmen of varying backgrounds and legitimacy who have all been wronged one way or another by Gaydamak (we know which one this time) and have tried to use Portsmouth Football Club to right those wrongs. Much of this has been in the public domain for...

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