Day: May 12, 2011

Booth Is Out, But Other Dangers Lurk At Wrexham

In the end, she couldn’t leave without one final sideswipe. Stephanie Booth, whose attempts to take control of Wrexham Football Club – or, perhaps, just The Racecourse Ground – have been characterised by what has occasionally looked at times like a pathological inability to keep quiet when she should have, has exited the ongoing soap opera at The Racecourse Ground with a press statement which invites, as so many of her previous press statements have, more questions than answers. Booth had been initially been greeted with a degree of warmth by supporters of the club, but this turned to scepticism and eventually outright hostility as time came to pass and, although she seemed more than happy to blame many people for the ultimate failure of her interest in getting involved at the club without admitting a great deal of culpability for this herself, it is difficult to avoid the ultimate conclusions that there was never a serious bid put forward by herself and that she only really has herself to blame for the supporters of the club choosing, quite categorically, to not “Back The Booth”. Booth’s full statement can been here. In it, she claims that she, “offered the WST a majority and controlling stake in the football club despite the fact that I would invest most of the money to clear debts leaving their investment for pure equity”,...

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A Blueprint for Premier League Survival

Naturally, there is no firm set of initiatives every club could implement to ensure it consolidates in the top flight after winning promotion from the Championship. Were there such an identifiable formula, it would likely have already been posted for review similarly to Manchester City’s “Bluffer’s Guide” which seems to outline how a gloryhunting fan can jump onto the blue bandwagon properly, after purchasing a new Carlos Tevez home shirt from the online shop of course. So as Queens Park Rangers, Norwich City, and the club emerging victorious from the Championship Playoff Final prepare this summer ahead of a new adventure in the Premier League, each must find its own way given its individual resources. This does not imply, however, that QPR, Norwich, and the playoff winner have no general guidance on how to stay up. The most recent seasons of Premiership football have demonstrated there are some models of success–success being defined as the ability of a newly promoted side to avoid swift relegation–while some examples might want to be avoided. With a date at Wembley for the FA Cup Final against Manchester City along with a trip to Europe approaching, Tony Pulis and Stoke City are currently the “it” club to examine. When the Potters finally returned to the top flight in 2008 after a twenty-three year absence, they were immediately pegged to go back down. While the other newly promoted side Hull...

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Scudamore, Triesman And Parliamentary Privilege

So Lord David Triesman and Richard Scudamore are at loggerheads again. Among Triesman’s mannered, patiently-explained expose of FIFA Executive Committee members…er… ‘activities’ (an unexpectedly fascinating piece of live television, thank you BBC) was, supposedly, another dig at the Premier League chief executive, which was, supposedly, “simply wrong in this instance.” But careful reading of what both said about the Premier League’s support for England’s 2018 World Cup bid reveals that, actually, they aren’t at loggerheads at all, whatever loggerheads may be.   First, the good Lord (as in “Good Lord, not b****y Triesman again!”). He was speaking to what some people in the game reportedly regard as an increasingly pesky parliamentary select committee inquiry on ‘football governance.’ (if so, more power to said committee – literally, if possible). During their ‘special’  session on England’s failed 2018 World Cup bid, Lord Triesman addressed the issue of support for the bid from the Premier and Football Leagues, whose facilities would host matches and training sessions and provide team bases throughout the tournament. He said: “It took a long time to get the Premier League on board. The point was made to me very early on that I could have them on board very quickly if I’d concede that the 39th game was a great idea, they’d be on board immediately.”  “That was seriously a negotiating point, was it?” asked a faintly amused...

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The Twohundredpercent Play-off Jamboree: Annan Athletic 2-1 Alloa Athletic

Rarely have I watched a game between two teams with such differing levels of enthusiasm for being involved in the match at all. That’s inevitable, to a large extent, when the play-offs involve teams from different divisions, one battling for promotion and the other to avoid relegation. But it’s even more the case here in this tie given the circumstances of the two clubs. For Annan, the Scotland’s newest league side, this is uncharted territory. It’s their third season after being voted in following the demise of near-neighbours Gretna in 2008, and having finished seventh then eighth in the first two, to make the play-offs and the possibility of promotion is a big step forward for them. I think it’s fair to say that that already represents a successful season, but of course having got here they’ll want to go one better, and they have a team and a set-up that looks as though it could hold its own in the second division should they be the ones to come through these play-offs. For Alloa, on the other hand, to find themselves here is the culmination of a bitterly disappointing year – or more accurately, thirteen months. Nearing the end of last season they seemed to have the second division title in the bag, only to blow up in the home straight, then lose out to Cowdenbeath in the...

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Manchester City, Stoke City, Cup Finals And Relegation

When Stoke City play Manchester City on Saturday, it won’t be the first time that the two sides have met at the end of the season. David Mayor reports on two very different sets of emotions. When my team, Manchester City, face Stoke City at Wembley this Saturday, it will, many of my nearest and dearest would say, be the biggest City game I’ve been to. The major opponent for the title of biggest City game I’ve been to was, in my opinion, also a game against Stoke. Many of you may already have correctly assumed that I am referring to the last match of the 1997/98 season in Division One (now The Championship, formerly Division Two, etc) between the two sides which resulted in relegation to the third tier for both. But which is the “bigger” game? And what makes it so? Lots of games get described as ‘big.’ Games against championship, promotion or relegation rivals are described as so, as are derby and grudge matches or, indeed, any that Sky Sports decide to show. A couple of years ago I was at Hearts v Falkirk for a mid-table SPL fixture where I overheard a bloke in the pub beforehand claim what a big game it was with regards making the top/bottom six split. It didn’t feel like what I think of a big game to be but...

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