Day: December 1, 2010

Standing Up For Scunthorpe

In the immediate aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, there was a rush to change English football and, whilst many of the changes that were introduced in the years following it were long overdue, some were smuggled through by speculators who recognised the ability to make a buck or two from football and were clued up enough to understand that perhaps football supporters weren’t spending quite as much money at matches as they could be. The Taylor Report suggested that all-seater stadia be introduced in the top two divisions, and by the time the Premier League began in 1992 many English football grounds were building sites as the concrete steps were replaced with shiny, tip-up seats. Whether this was necessary or even done entirely for the benefit of supporters has been something of a bone of contention ever since. In the two intervening decades, much has changed. In Germany, safe standing areas have become commonplace, with terraced areas converted easily to seating for European matches which require stadia to be all-seated. In England, though, the rules remain the same. The top two divisions – the Premier League and the Championship – have to be all-seater, and clubs promoted into the Championship have three years in which to comply with these rules. All of this brings us to Scunthorpe United. Scunthorpe are now in their third season in the...

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Scottish Refereeing: The Battle For Hearts And Minds (And Compensation)

After a week of chaos in the world of Scottish football, and with an enforced rest coming up due to the weather, it’s time for all parties to take a step back and take stock of the situation. On the SFA’s side, the two men at the centre of the controversy have now gone – one sacked and one resigned, although in the latter case it’s difficult to see that referee Dougie McDonald had much option, the only issue was about the timing. Opinions varied on how serious was his offence in telling his “white lie” to both Neil Lennon and to the refereeing supervisor. I’ve give my own opinion in previous articles and don’t intend to go through it again; but whatever the initial rights and wrongs, it was clear that his continued presence, and the continued media focus that would accompany his every match and his every mistake, was becoming a hindrance to the cause of his colleagues. Hugh Dallas, on the other hand, was one of a number of SFA staff sacked for circulating an email containing a visual ‘joke’ about the pope and the Catholic child abuse scandals, at the time of the Papal visit to Scotland in September. Again, there are wide variations of opinion on just how serious an offence it was. I certainly don’t regard it as trivial, but I don’t recall...

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A Homage To A Catalonian Evening

I will get to actual football in a minute. Please bear with me. In a week when former Tory minister David Mellor bleated on TV about dishonesty in public life, it came as less of a shock to see Henry Winter making a good point in the Telegraph this weekend and Martin Samuel writing sensibly in the Daily Mail on Monday. Samuel left the Mail’s bleating at the BBC about Panorama to Charles Sale, who did his usual incisive and relevant job. Samuel instead concentrated on the valid economic fault lines in the Spain/Portugal bid which don’t (yet) afflict England’s bid. Winter’s piece descended into the general BBC-bashing which appears to be a contractual obligation for most football journalists in what used to be classed the “Tory” press. But not before noting the boost that the Spain/Portugal bid might get from Monday night’s telly. The schedule included Andrew Jennings’ latest FIFA Executive corruption revelations and live from Spain, el grand clasico, Barcelona v Real Madrid. Ideal viewing, Winter mused, to help a FIFA man choose Spain over England as a 2018 World Cup venue. Of course, you have to leave aside the fact the two programmes were scheduled against each other (and leave well aside any debates about whether or not Barcelona and Catalonia are in Spain). But, as regular readers will know, I’m not one to let facts...

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