Day: October 13, 2011

Who Owns Leeds United? How Football Documentaries Should Be Made

Many years ago, I listened to prize-winning author and ultra-famous Arsenal fan Nick Hornby reading extracts from the book which made his name, Fever Pitch. And the reading was a disappointment. Hornby was good, but just not as funny as the voice, indeterminate and certainly not my own, in which I’d read the original. The same disappointment arose when listening to speeches by Guardian journalist David Conn. Conn is a decent speaker – even when “10-minute” speeches to Supporters Direct conferences exceed half-an-hour, but his words spoke louder from the page in the voice inside my head. This I know to be unfair, after watching the long-heralded documentary Who Owns Leeds United, which aired on October 10th in the BBC’s Yorkshire and Lincolnshire area. For the core material of the programme overpowered concerns about presentation, and the presentation itself was of a standard to which all football documentaries should aspire. The twenty-nine minutes on Leeds’ recent ownership history focused its attention, for reasons lawyers may be best-placed to describe, on the club’s current owner, Kenneth William Bates. Conn told the story of their ownership, since the departure of former chairman Mr Peter Ridsdale esq, with a refreshing clarity. And while the story contained nothing new to close observers of Leeds since 2004 – which would include many readers of this site – it would have provided valuable insight to...

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Liverpool Kick-Start The Debate Over The Future Of European Football

There are many ironies surrounding the comments of the Liverpool Managing Director, Ian Ayre, concerning the future of overseas television rights and how they should be distributed amongst the clubs. Those of an ideological indisposition to Liverpool – and preferences amongst football clubs have, in recent years, come to take on the appearance of being somewhere between the followers of a cult and a lifestyle choice – may have taken some degree of amusement from a club which couldn’t even qualify for European football last season make such exapnsive claims regarding its grandeur. Others may have been repulsed and amused in equal measures by Ayre’s middle-management-speak with statements such as “Personally I think the game-changer is going out and recognising our brand globally” (a sentence which so brutalises the English language that is tempting to reach the conclusion that the Premier League has managed to plug the gap in its landscape left by the recent departure of Garry Cook from his position at Manchester City), whilst others still – probably a majority – might well have wondered what on earth Ayre thought he was doing, making a unilateral statement on a subject that was always likely to be divisive without, apparently, consulting with the other big clubs – if  the statements from both Manchester United and Chelsea yesterday afternoon were anything to go by. The comments were perhaps most...

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Pouring New Wine Into Young Wineskins, Or Something Like That

The call for youth to reinvigorate a national squad every two and four years must be included in the standard guidebooks for both managers and football association officials on what to say in response to failed attempts at qualification for a big tournament. Just the previous summer after Green’s Gaffe and Germany’s show of youth in revolt, England supporters received an earful from Fabio Capello–through his suddenly atrocious grasp of the language–and delivered an annoyingly vuvuleza-like din themselves about how the only way forward for the Three Lions was in bringing more youth into the senior side. Over a year later, though, the squad run out against Montenegro to play England’s final Euro 2012 group stage qualifying match included sprinklings of youth but was still anchored by the likes of John Terry, Ashley Cole, Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard, and a Scott Parker either returned to the squad because he had been spotted drinking with Juan Ponce de León or because Steven Gerrard was still injured and unavailable for selection. Change out a centre half and a fullback, bring back a forward that might have deserved to go to South Africa in the first place along with starting the GK sub left on the bench in World Cup 2010, and it’s roughly the same squad that was a failure in 2010 now a winner in 2011. Enough on England though,...

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