Category: Latest

The Petulant Outbursts Of Assem Allam

There’s nothing like a bit of blackmail to liven up English football in a quiet news week (and, alas, FA Cup third round replay week is such a week). Good job, then, that Hull CITY owner Assem Allam isn’t resorting to blackmail in order to force English football’s governing body (the Football Association, in case you didn’t recognise them from the description) to accept his thoroughly-researched, precisely-budgeted rebranding of his club to Hull Tigers. Allam met the FA recently. His “promise to go away within 24 hours” if either the Hull “community” or the FA reject the rebrand suggests that meeting didn’t go according to his plan. The “antics” of the more high-profile egomaniacal football club owners constantly put me in mind of Woody Allen’s 1971 film Bananas (one of his early funny ones), where the newly-installed revolutionary leader of the fictional republic of San Marcos announces his reform plans, including the requirement for “all citizens to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check.” Allam’s theory, purloined from the Harvard Business Review (so it must be true), is that companies with shorter names perform better when floated on the stock market. Hull Tigers isn’t “shorter” than Hull CITY of course. But Allam told the Guardian newspaper’s David Conn that “everybody knows it now as Hull City Tigers”; which was news...

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Puncheon Above His Weight

It has been a busy few days for Crystal Palace’s Jason Puncheon. On Saturday afternoon, he was in the thick of the action for Palace at White Hart Lane as the visitors laboured towards little end result and a defeat which helped to steady Tim Sherwood’s Tottenham Hotspur ship following their defeat at Arsenal a week previously in the FA Cup, whilst yesterday morning he was making even bigger headlines with what has come to be recognised as a ‘Twitter rant’ on the subject of his previous manager, Neil Warnock. Saturday afternoon’s misadventure was a prime example of how luck can cease to shine on anybody that is rooted to the bottom of a league table. It occasionally feels as if there is no such thing as a comfortable win for Tottenham Hotspur, a team of many talents but who also seem plenty capable of forgetting who each other are as soon as they step onto a football pitch. Spurs are, on their day, plenty capable of beating just about any other team in the Premier League, but they are also capable of contriving to find a way to be able to turn the most routine looking of fixtures into a wicket as sticky as anything the England cricket team came across in Australia during their recent calamitous Ashes series. The teams had been playing for just eight minutes...

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Trying To Make Sense Of The Cardiff City Numbers

Yesterday afternoon at The Cardiff City Stadium, a home defeat and the hands of West Ham United pushed The Artists Formerly Known As The Bluebirds into the relegation places. This, it seems reasonable to suggest, was not part of the plan. This was after all new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first home league match in charge of the club, and furthermore their opponents were one of the most out of sorts teams in the division, with a manager himself under pressure after a defeat at the hands of Manchester City last week so heavy that one might well wonder whether it’s even worth the bother of playing the second leg of their League Cup semi-final. So, symbolism abounded in South Wales yesterday afternoon, and whils tWest Ham United returned to London cheered by a greatly improved performance by their team, Cardiff City supporters may have found themselves looking mournfully at the dotted line at the bottom of the Premier League table this morning, and they are unlikely to have had their mood lightened over the last few days by the club’s last set of annual accounts, which were released at the end of last week and which revealed that the club’s current fincancial position means that there is a distinct possibility that tougher times could yet be around the corner for the club again, especially if it is unable...

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A Watershed Moment In The Battle Against Homophobia?

It’s a truism to say that the past is a foreign country, but it certainly feels that way at times. It’s a little over twenty-two years since Justin Fashanu came out thanks to a lurid story in The Sun – much of which, Fashanu later told the Gay Times, was simply untrue – but the differences between that and the coming out of the former Aston Villa, West Ham United and Everton midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger have been considerable, and it is probably this rather than Hitzlsperger’s coming out that has been the aspect of this story from which we will learn the most this week. For years, a lot of people that state that they know a lot about this sort of thing have been arguing that it would be next to impossible for a professional football to come out publicly for the terrible abuse that he would receive for doing so. It is worth mentioning that Thomas Hitzlsperger didn’t come out until after he retired from playing, and that doing so having retired as a player might well be a slightly more manageable option than in a period of life during which he would have to face thousands of often hostile supporters, amongst whom there is likely to be a proportion of homophobes. None of this is a criticism of Hitzlsperger’s timing, of course. This was his decision...

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Bolton Wanderers: Tales From The Gartside

If New Year’s Eve is a day to bury bad news, then New Year’s Eve 2013 was a day for football to bury very bad news indeed. Chelsea received the denunciation of a cynical football press for revealing their latest ludicrous losses, producing only part of their results and doing so on New Year’s Eve. Under all that attention, any non-EPL club’s results seemed destined for the “news-in-brief” section, if they were considered newsworthy at all. The problem with the latest results from Burnden Leisure PLC, Bolton Wanderers’ parent company, was that the figures were just too big and too deep (in the) red to be buried. The Bolton “record debt” story is becoming a traditional annual event for football finance writers. When this site visited the Whites’ finances in 2010, the club were a “record” £93m in debt, placed there by a thumping annual loss of £35.4m.  Since then, of course, Bolton have been relegated and debt records have continued to fall. Last year, Burnden Leisure and club chairman Phil Gartside broke some sort of straw-clutching record when he said that “for the second year running we have reduced our losses.” There was to be no hat-trick, with BL losing (ulp!) £50.7m in the 12 months to June 2013, outstripping Chelsea by £1.3m. These figures brought two quotes to mind – well, three if you include the short...

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