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Day: January 18, 2012

The FA Cup Third Round: Wrexham 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion (4-5 Pens)

There is, perhaps, little surprising in the fact that the most confusing tie of the Third Round of the FA Cup should involve Wrexham. The Blue Square Premier club – the last non-league club still involved in this year’s competition – have had possibly the most convoluted twelve months of any side in the entire English league system, and this extended into the arrangements for this match against Brighton & Hove Albion, following their 1-1 draw at The American Express Community Stadium a week and a half ago. Contradictory messages flooded the internet regarding when this match would be played and on which television channel it would appear, and the matter was confused further yesterday lunchtime, when a frozen pitch put the match back by twenty-four hours. Tonight, however, the game is emphatically on and the rewards of this FA Cup run for a club of Wrexham’s size – particularly one under the ownership of a supporters trust charged with balancing the books after years of mismanagement – are obvious. The television money and gate receipts from this match alone are highly significant amounts of money for them, and the rewards of winning – even if we set to one side for just a moment considerations such as the achievement that it would mark in itself – are even greater. The winners of this match have already been drawn...

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When The Clock Struck Thirteen: Darlington FC Goes To The Wire

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. There can be few other sets of football supporters that have had to bear up to the sort of agony and exhilaration that the supporters of Darlington FC have had to put up with yesterday but eventually, more than an hour after final confirmation one way or the other of the clubs fate was due to be announced, those concerned with saving the club emerged before the press to make the announcement that so many had hoped for: Darlington Football Club remains alive – for now, at least. There had been a mood of cautious optimism amongst supporters on Tuesday evening. Rumours were filtering through that agreement to buy the club some breathing space was close to being agreed. As with so many long distance races, however, it was the final furlong that proved to be the most difficult. As messages of support poured in from the length and breadth of the country this morning, dark clouds began to form. It began to be reported that previous owner Raj Singh was reconsidering his previous offer to write off the debts that the club owed him. If he could not be persuaded to let go of this all but lost money, any attempts to rescue the club would become forlorn, to say the least. Meanwhile, the administrators were...

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What Today At Darlington Tells Us About Lower Division Football

At the exact time of writing (almost one thirty in the afternoon), we do not know whether Darlington FC has been rescued or not. What we can say for certain is that a situation that may have seen the club die at one minute to midday has been extended and that further negotiations are now taking place and that a decision is due imminently over whether the club can be saved in its current form or not. There has been talk of last minute telephone calls from abroad, pleas for money from the supporters trust which may this time have been agreed to and the possibility that perhaps – just perhaps – after everything, Darlington FC will live to fight another day. We will return to this subject later this afternoon once the dust has settled, but it is worth bearing in mind that any deal agreed to today will not “rescue” Darlington Football Club. What the parties concerned are attempting to do is effectively keep the life support machine that the club is currently on going for a few more weeks, in order that further negotiations can be held to try and secure a firmer footing for the club’s future. At the last minute, it seems that all concerned parties are in the process of reaching some sort of agreement that the club can be rescued in its current form,...

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Westley & Ridsdale: Together At Preston

One advantage of Peter Ridsdale and Graham Westley being together as chairman and manager respectively of Preston North End is that they may only end up annoying each other and messing around with only one club. I recognise that will not have brightened the day of any Lilywhites fans. And I can only apologise. There aren’t many football clubs who deserve those two, and certainly not a club steeped in history such as North End. I am prepared to give Westley the benefit of some doubt. It is fifteen years since he undertook his first managerial role in senior football at the club I support, Isthmian League Kingstonian. And maybe he has improved with age. About Ridsdale, there is less doubt. As I have written before, Ridsdale isn’t primarily known as “PR-Pete” because of his initials. And he was up to his old tricks in London’s Evening Standard newspaper last week. He became North End chairman last month. He had significant spells at Barnsley, Cardiff City and Plymouth Argyle. But his “exclusive” interview with the equally self-regarding Mihir Bose in the Standard was still about bloody Leeds United. For those too young to remember, Ridsdale became Leeds chairman fifteen years ago. Within three years, Leeds were challenging for domestic and European titles. Within three more years, they were in administration. And now Ken Bates runs the club. Even judging by those...

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