Day: June 5, 2014

The 200% World Cup: No Up Side Down Under, For Australia

The optimism that accompanied Australia to previous World Cup finals has been replaced in 2014 by something of a sense of foreboding, as Paul Caulfield writes. As Brazil 2014 gets going, Australian football fans will be trying to forget the fraught process of actually getting there. Though the Socceroos are safely through to their third successive finals – the tortuous route, through two group stages and 14 matches, was worryingly familiar. Some patchy results – including a defeat to Jordan and a draw with Oman – saw Australia stumble through to Brazil, securing the vital second place in the six team CONMEBOL group with a narrow win over Iraq. Second half substitute Josh Kennedy of Grampus Eight (Jesus to his team-mates, thanks to his ‘biblical’ appearance) scored the vital goal before 80,000 at Sydney’s ANZ stadium, heading in a Mark Bresciano cross with just eight minutes left, though Kennedy failed to make the cut when the final squad was announced. The huge turnout showed the Australian appetite for the big occasion, but Socceroos fans will know that such victories are no basis for success in Brazil. Australia’s opponents in a horrible Group B – the Netherlands, Chile and number one ranked Spain – will be far tougher than a team 46 places below them in the rankings. The Chileans are old foes from 40 years ago, but a repeat...

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Neil Doncaster: A(nother) Premier League Chief Executive Under Pressure

Scottish club football’s top man, Neil Doncaster, has little other than nominal occupation in common with slimy sexist Richard Scudamore. Both are English and league chief executives. But Doncaster, the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) boss, now has the opportunity to fashion another similarity, the ability to get away with just about anything. Scudamore, we now know, can do what he likes, how and to whom he likes. Doncaster tried this in 2012, bending over backwards, sideways and eachways to keep Rangers in the Scottish Premier League (SPL) after their liquidation was confirmed. However, more Doncaster machinations recently emerged. On May 16th the “Celtic Research” (CR) twitter account patiently – 140 characters-at-a-time – told previously unpublished tales of the November 2011 SPL broadcasting rights deal – a hurriedly-signed extension to the existing five-year deal signed with SKY and ESPN in July 2009. The deal attracted controversies – especially a clause guaranteeing four Rangers/Celtic “Old Firm” games, which Doncaster claimed was in existence for a decade. Doncaster has not revealed the precise date of its introduction, however. CR also revealed the SPL’s, now the SPFL’s, subsidies to ESPN to show Rangers games. When SPL and Scottish Football League (SFL) clubs voted a replacement Rangers into Scottish club football’s bottom tier in July 2012, Doncaster and the SPL made it more financially viable for ESPN to transmit Rangers games. The first...

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