Day: March 14, 2012

Sir Dave Richards: A Living Embodiment Of The Values Of The Premier League & The FA

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. If ever there was a moment when the world needed to see the arrogance, pomposity, insularity and, let’s face it, slapstick comedy stylings of the Premier League and the FA, then this week was surely it and Dave Richards, the chairman of the Premier League and vice-chairman of the Football Association, was the perfect man to deliver it. As the entire world of football know this evening, at a sports security conference in Qatar earlier today Richards humiliated English football, the Premier League, the FA (presuming that we can still reasonably describe these two organisations as separate) and, of course, himself with a rant that fell somewhere between Alan Partridge and Alf Garnett. “England gave the world football. It gave the best legacy anyone could give. We gave them the game. For 50 years, we owned the game … We were the governance of the game. We wrote the rules, designed the pitches and everything else. Then, 50 years later, some guy came along and said: ‘You’re liars,’ and they actually stole it. It was called FIFA. Fifty years later, another gang came along called UEFA and stole a bit more.” Consider that statement. Consider its historical inaccuracy, its assumption that the game was only developing in England. Curse that Ferenc Puskas for dumping Billy Wright on his backside at Wembley in 1953! Damn...

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The Battle Is Over And The FA Deserves Only Our Contempt

It was the thirty-first of May 1984  and Keith Burkinshaw, the manager of Tottenham Hotspur for the previous eight years and the man that had just brought the UEFA Cup back to White Hart Lane, was leaving the club as manager for the last time. As he greeted the asembled press outside the entrance to the ground, he gesticulated in the direction of the stadium that he had called home since 1976 and said, “There used to be a football club there.” It is possible that Burkinshaw didn’t know how prescient he was being.  The money men had arrived at Tottenham Hotspur two years earlier and herein lay sewn the seeds of the moral and spiritual death of football in England. Twenty-eight years on, the final act of their coup d’etat played out with the supine abdication of responsibility on the part of the Football Association for anything to do with English football apart from its bare bones. The Department for Media, Culture and Sport select committee’s report into the governance of football in England had the potential to be a watershed moment for the way that football is managed in England. Mountains of debt, disenfranchisement on the part of many supporters and the slow, inexorable slide of the fortunes of the national team had prompted the involvement of the government into a subject that they have seldom previously involved themselves, and the...

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Stick Or Twist? A Dilemma For Some Over The Welsh Cup

One of the quieter success stories of the last twenty years of British football has been the establishment of the Welsh Premier League. The foundation of this league, however, was far from harmonious with eight clubs which felt they were being corralled into leaving the English non-league pyramid ending up in a bitter dispute with the Football Association of Wales. Of those eight clubs – who were dubbed the “Irate Eight” by the press – five have since joined the league while two – Newport County and Colwyn Bay – remain in the English pyramid and one – Merthyr Tydfil – has subsequently folded without having joined the league and its successor club, Merthyr Town, opted also to stay within the English system. In spite of these difficulties, the Welsh Premier League is still with us with crowds at a reasonably healthy level and media coverage – thanks in no small part to S4C’s excellent programme Sgorio – has helped to keep the league firmly in the public eye. Still, though, there seems to be no significant pressure on the biggest of the country’s clubs to leave the English system and join up. At the end of last season, the potential benefits of staying within the English pyramid were shown to their fullest possible extent when Swansea City won promotion to the English Premier League at the end of...

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