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Month: March 2012

West Ham United’s Faustian Pact Bares Its Teeth

A quite, considered hush fell over Upon Park about ten minutes into the second half of West Ham Uniteds match against Reading yesterday afternoon. As the visiting team dispatched their third goal, a penalty kick from Ian Harte after a clumsy tackle by Abdoulaye Faye in fifteen minutes either side of half-time and extended their lead to three-one, it was as if this was the collective moment of realisation for their supporters that, having been there or thereabouts for most of this season, the possibility of thereabouts being the sum total of their forty-six league matches us starting to become rather more of a likelihood. The afternoon had started reasonably well, an early lead grabbed through Carlton Cole and enough possession being maintained to raise the question of what all the fuss over this Reading that has been quietly shuffling its way up the Championship table is all about. In the space of three minutes at the end of the half, however, old unfamiliarities reasserted themselves with two goals for the visitors from Kaspars Gorkss and Noel Hunt to turn the scoreline upside-down. To an extent, the third Reading goal was merely confirmation that the couple of minutes prior to half-time hadn’t merely been confirmation that the couple of minutes prior to the half-time whistle hadn’t merely been some sort of collective hallucinatory experience. Hope came again with a...

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Peter Storrie vs The Pompey Community Share Scheme: Is This The Supporters Choice?

If there is one lesson that can surely be taken from the last few years of the subsistence of Portsmouth Football Club, it must surely be that this, perhaps above all other clubs, is the one that defines everything that is wrong with football club ownership in this country at this time. This is the club at which wages far above and beyond a level that could ever reasonably maintained and which eventually found itself eventually being kicked from pillar to post as speculators from across the world, none of whom had any previous connection with the club and who, we can be reasonably certain, were primarily interested only in the possibility of that elusive pot of gold at the end of the Premier League rainbow, walked away scot-free as the club bumped from crisis to crisis. This is the football club that failed twice in two years, which demonstrated the inefficacy of this country’s insolvency laws in doing anything but absolving serial debtors from their responsibilities and making it easy for them to do so. It is also the club which now, at its lowest ebb, at the point at which a sizable number of its own supporters are arriving at the opinion that it this is incarnation of it is a busted flush and that the most sensible thing to do might be to walk away from...

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Time For A Fresh Start For Northwich Victoria Supporters

Seldom in recent years can there have been a greater contrast between a clubs performance on the pitch and the condition in which it finds itself away from it. Northwich Victoria, of the Premier Division of the Northern Premier League find themselves continuing to challenge for a play-off place for promotion into the Blue Square Bet North for next season, but such considerations have come to pale in comparison with a state of absolute chaos off of it. Evicted from their ground earlier this year and with an attempt to ground-share elsewhere now apparently in tatters, the future of the club now lays in ruins thanks to the hopeless mismanagement of one individual. Yet again. Jim Rushe, the current owner of the club, has managed quite an achievement in managing to run the club even closer to the ground than his predecessors did. Northwich left its home, The Drill Field, one of world football’s oldest continually used homes, in 2005 for the newly-built Victoria Stadium, but the new ground has come to a millstone around the clubs neck. An attempt by the clubs previous owner – and, for a while, still the owner of the ground – Mike Connett ended in an attempt to evicted the club which ended in failure when Connetts company collapsed into receivership, but this lucky break only provided temporary respite for one of our...

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Buddies Or Enemies? St Mirren Get Dragged Into The Rangers Story

The timing was perfect – two-and-a-half years ago. Stewart Gilmour had been St. Mirren chair longer than anyone else in the club’s then 132-year history. He had overseen a ground move which, with the help of Tesco (other supermarket chains are available), had left the “Buddies” debt-cleared. And, perhaps conscious that the Scottish professional football model wasn’t over-conducive to debt-freedom, he and a consortium of fellow directors put their collective shareholding, a controlling 52%, up for sale in September 2009. Yet this takeover saga is still far from over and is making bigger headlines than ever… now that it has a link to the Old Firm. A takeover bid by supporters under the auspices of a Community Interest Company (CIC), a ‘social enterprises’ business model, has encountered numerous problems since its two driving forces, Richard Atkinson and Chris Stewart, joined the Saints board in June 2010. And it lost significant funding last November. However, a restructure into a “supporters’ co-operative” breathed new life into the bid whilst another bid, led by Buddies’ directors Ken McGeoch and Paul Davies, appeared as little more than a footnote in the overall story. Then, on March 7th, about ninety-four statements were released by various Rangers ‘people’, which were ostensibly in response to a 1500-word “liquidation is inevitable” rant from Ibrox non-executive director Dave King but may actually have been part of an early...

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European Championship Stories: 1996 – A Whole New Ball Game

It almost goes without saying that the near-death – and very much beyond – experiences suffered by English football during the 1980s shaped the game that we watch today. There was a time – a period from the middle to the end of that decade – when the definite feeling that this was a game on its last legs became tangible. Crowds dwindled to somewhere beyond what might have been considered the bare bones, whilst an unhappy trinity of disasters carried both a literal and symbolic loss, with deaths that represented scores of personal tragedies alongside a wider sense of corrosion in what had been the nations number one pastime. Yet well within a decade, the hype was telling us that all was right with the world again, and the 1996 European Championships became a celebration of this rebirth, whether we liked it or not. With the benefit of almost a generations worth of hindsight, it is possible to consider that the most shocking thing about the Bradford fire, the Heysel Stadium disaster and the Hillsborough tragedy is not that they happened in the first place – each of this three had their roots in systematic neglect of the game from those charged with the responsibility of ensuring the safety of spectators – but that they happened within such a short space of time. After Bradford and Heysel, sticking plasters were...

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