Day: May 10, 2011

The Twohundredpercent Play-Off Jamboree: Luton Town 2-1 Wrexham (5-1 Agg)

This match was supposed to be a foregone conclusion. Indeed, the final aggregate score perpetuates that feeling. Truth, however, can be stranger than fiction and the supporters of Wrexham FC can be justifiably proud of the performance of their team at Kenilworth Road this evening. In the first leg of this Blue Square Premier play-off, Luton Town put in a display of consumate professionalism at The Racecourse Ground as the home side froze on their big night. This evening, though, a match that should, with all reason, have been little more than a procession for the home side, turned, for half an hour or so into a nervy encounter which threatened to go terribly, horribly wrong for Luton. Unsurprisingly, there was something of a carnival atmosphere around Kenilworth Road tonight. A three goal advantage from the first leg was surely too much to throw away, wasn’t it? The Wrexham manager Dean Saunders – who has already performed outstandingly against a backdrop of unrest which has often spilled over into outright civil war at his club this season – evidently though not, and the visitors began aggressively and positively. After eight minutes, the comeback seemed on course when Adrian Cieslewicz crossed from the right and Andy Mangan poked the ball over the line. The Luton players seemed visibly shaken by this early set-back and Wrexham, with nothing to lose, continued...

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Lord Sugar Tackles Football: Well, Almost

Despite its fundamental flaws, the BBC Money Programme production Lord Sugar Tackles Football was a watchable attempt to evaluate English football’s financial ills. These flaws were immediately evident. Sugar’s call for football to take a “dose of hard business reality” came during an hour-long documentary whose introduction contained next-to-no reality whatsoever. It began by re-writing of Sugar’s history in the “beautiful game” (first mention: 53 seconds). Football, apparently, is “an industry close to his heart,” which – aside from implying the man has a heart – was never true even when he was Spurs chairman from 1991 to 2000…especially when he was Spurs chairman, in fact. He was categorised as a “lifelong Spurs fan” as he recalled his “first trip to the terraces” at “an absolutely packed” White Hart Lane (“health and safety would have had a nightmare, if it ever existed in those days”). But this was a rare trip, as Sugar, famously, shunned football as a youth. Sugar re-wrote the story of the Premier League’s first broadcast deal in 1992, something his documentary acknowledged was the beginning of football’s modern-day financial ills, portraying his pivotal role as entrepreneurial genius when, in reality, it was grubby business dealing at its worst. Sugar’s assertion that he was “going to talk to people in all facets of the industry”  was wrong too. “Managers, agents, owners of football clubs and people...

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Diamonds Aren’t Forever? Rushden In A Critical Condition

Non-league football is often described as a family, and one of its more recurring themes is that certain names have a tendency to turn up over and over again, like half-forgotten uncles at a reunion. Take, for example, Gary Calder. Calder was the chairman of Hornchurch FC when their money suddenly ran out towards the end of 2004 and he pitched up some time after this at Weymouth, as the Chief Executive of the club. Calder arrived at Rushden and Diamonds at the start of December with the father and son team of Steve and Liam Beasant in tow. Steve had been involved in a previous attempt to buy Weymouth, and the plans that they and Calder had were, in some respects, appealing. Their company, PB Devs, was set to be based at the club’s Nene Park ground, offering NVQs within the sport and leisure industry. Within three months, though, that plan was starting to unravel and since then the wellbeing of Rushden & Diamonds FC has taken a distinct turn for the worse. As early as the middle of January, there were signs of cracks in this potential panacea for smaller clubs. Back in Weymouth, a sports trust called WeySports was making local news headlines over confusion regarding who exactly was eligible to gain the qualification on offer, with PB Devs having acted as the link between the...

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