Month: October 2010

Is the award of a 3-0 win a suitable punishment?

On Friday, UEFA announced the punishments for the abandonment of the Italy-Serbia European Championship Qualifier. As expected, Serbia did not get off lightly. The Football Association of Serbia (FSS) were fined €120,000, ordered to play a home qualifier behind closed doors, with a second game behind closed doors suspended for two years, as well as having their supporters banned from travelling to the rest of their qualifiers. The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) were also fined the smaller amount of €100,000, and also ordered to play a game behind closed doors, suspended for two years. While the FSS were punished because their supporters were the cause of the trouble in Genoa on the night of the game, the FIGC were punished for failing to stop the Serbian fans entering the Luigi Ferraris stadium with flares and fireworks, and for the security operation failing to stop the pitch invasion that gave Scottish referee Craig Thomson no option but to initially delay the kick-off, and ultimately abandon the match. On the face of it, both punishments seem appropriate. While it is difficult for a Football Association to prevent tickets ending up in the wrong hands, they are responsible for their fans behaviour, and the fine, and the loss of revenue from a game being played behind closed doors will certainly provide the FSS with the motivation to do all they can to...

Read More

Match Of The Week: Derby County 4-1 Watford

What, one wonders, were the expectations of Derby County supporters upon the appointment of Nigel Clough in December 2008? Easy though it is to try and draw comparisons twixt father and son, Nigel has resolutely been his own man, seeing out a lengthy managerial apprenticeship at Burton Albion (and leaving them in a strong enough position to be go on to win the Blue Square Premier title five months after he left their club) before leaving to take a job that he may have felt fated to. After all, his father took Derby County from near the bottom of the Second Division to being the champions of England in five years. Such aspirations are beyond all but the most wildly over-ambitious these days, but Derby County is a club plenty capable of hosting Premier League football again. Is Clough the man to take them there, though? In his first half-season at the Pride Park, he dragged Derby out of the relegation places in the Championship, but there was an element of damp squib about last season, which ended with the club finishing in fourteenth place in the table. This season has so far seen the inconsistency continue and Derby County sit in the middle of the Championship table but, this being one of the most unpredictable leagues in the whole of English football, it would be foolish at this...

Read More

Just Leave Chris Hughton Alone

There wasn’t a great deal of positive gloss that could be put upon Newcastle United’s thumping at the hands of Arsenal in the League Cup on Wednesday night. Comprehensively outplayed by a team that is starting to look more than capable of ending its trophy drought by the end of this season, Newcastle supporters were offered a reminder of how difficult this season could yet become for them and, in the press, the subtle yet dread sound of knives being drawn for manager Chris Hughton has become audible. Just as many of the club’s supporters may have begun to hope that the element of soap opera that had dogged the club for longer than anyone cares to remember had begun to subside, so the rumours begin again. It is in itself a testimony to Hughton’s qualities as a manager that the absolute chaos in which Newcastle United found itself a year and a half ago. After the ruinous decision to appoint Alan Shearer for the relegation run-in at the end of a desperate season ended in the club dropping out of the Premier League altogether, it felt as if this relegation could just be the beginning of their difficulties. Hughton, however, pulled the team together and his achievement in getting promoted back into the Premier League as champions at a canter cannot be understated. Newcastle supporters, who had spent...

Read More

4,000 Holes In Blackburn Takeover Bidders?

It has been a confusing week for Blackburn Rovers-watchers. All that has been certain about the club in recent times is that it would be bought by Indians, and that Mirror and People journalist Alan Nixon would be up there breaking the story to the world. Well, it looks like Nixon can take that holiday he’s been looking forward to ever since the Jack Walker Family Trust put the club up for sale in the summer of 2007.  Nixon had come up with some unlikely suitors in his time. There was a “mystery Pakistani consortium” in October 2007 which had “drawn up a short-list of clubs to bid for” and had decided – and this phrase will make it seem longer than three years ago – “Mark Hughes’ highflyers” were the “most attractive because of their cost and profile” (i.e. they were cheap). April 2008 brought Scottish “sportswear supremo” Chris Ronnie to the table, with a previous job as “a right-hand man to Mike Ashley,” a phrase to chill the blood in Newcastle. June had Ronnie “closing in” on a takeover and July had him…”pulling out because he thinks the club is only worth £25m.” While Ronnie was pulling out, “Altrincham entrepreneur” and “friend of Rovers keeper Brad Friedel” Nabeel Chowdery was pulling in, claiming the club was “probably worth £40m but the price they are asking is too...

Read More