Category: Latest

Snatch Of The Day

That money dominates all other considerations in twenty-first century professional football is a fact that has become so ubiquitous that to repeat it yet again feels almost superfluous. Yet the evidence is all around us. It’s in the desperation of some owners to rebrand their clubs to appeal to the mirage that is the infinite riches of the far east. It’s in the apparent attempted circumvention of Financial Fair Play rules by some clubs as governing bodies try to rein in their spending. And above all else, it’s in the attention lavished upon the agreement of each new television contract. The box in the corner of your living room is now professional football’s single biggest motivator. Although now frequently considered to be something of a dying medium in many respects, television still acts to football clubs as a lightbulb does to a moth, entrancing and revolting with the twin promises of round the clock coverage and riches to fritter away on scale previously unseen. It wasn’t always like this, of course, There was a time when the number of domestic matches to be shown live on the television could be counted comfortably on the fingers of one hand. In England, the authorities were reluctant to allow the television cameras inside grounds at all. On top of their innate conservatism, there was a genuine fear on the part of those...

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The FA Cup Second Round: Death Or Glory

Kingstonian’s recent FA Cup record, a dictionary definition of ‘dismal’, has instigated a little ritual in the Non-League Paper offices where I work on Saturday evenings as a sub-editor. “Could you do an FA Cup page, Mark?” my boss will ask. And if it is any time after the second qualifying round, I will feign some sort of visual or audible surprise that the competition “is still going.” It was not always this way. While Ks and the second qualifying round are increasingly distant cousins, there was a time, not so long ago, when the second round proper was a regular, genuine prospect. And we actually made it twice, in 1994 and 2000. For non-league teams’ fans, the second round draw presents mixed emotions. Once their team has made the competition proper, most fans would probably want a home draw against a top Division One side, or an away trip to a slightly fallen giant in a Premier League ground (e.g.: Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sheffield United).  In the second round, though, a home tie against fellow non-leaguers is a way more enticing prospect, coming as it does with a real opportunity to reach the third round, be paired with a Premier League team’s second string and make a shedload of cash from the 40% share of the gate… er… I mean, sample the true “magic of the FA Cup.” Yet...

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No Speedy Resolution To The Ricoh Arena Dispute

After a brief wobble over the course of last week, Coventry City got back to form on Saturday afternoon with a three-one win in Milton Keynes in a match watched by an astonishing seven thousand travelling supporters. The love, for now, is still there, even if this may not be quite as readily apparent from the attendances that the club has been managing at its home away from home in Northampton, where less than two thousand people turned out last Tuesday night’s three-nil home loss at the hands of Rotherham United. This evening, however, any prospect of the club returning from its self-imposed exile thirty-five miles from home seem further away than ever following an accumulation of recent events. At the end of last week, the club’s owners won their appeal against the dismissal of their application for a judicial review of the financial arrangements made at the start of this year involving stadium owners ACL and Coventry City Council. Whether this was much of a victory for the club’s owners comes down, as so much else in this story does, to which side of the divide upon which you stand. On the one hand, this was not necessarily expected result for the club’s solicitors to achieve, especially when we consider how emphatic the original judge had been in dismissing this claim. On the other, however, this is hardly...

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Match Fixing Allegations Return To The Non-League Game

It’s a curious dichotomy that when a big story breaks in non-league – and we’re talking the serious stuff here, not the “look at these poor amateur footballers and their crazy 50 fans” stories – that the larger news outlets are unsure how to cover it. Is this serious news, the kind that requires hand-wringing and pontificating for days on end, or something to be dismissed after a day because it doesn’t fit the wider news agenda? The response to the Telegraph’s scoop on match fixing and the subject in general has followed this exact pattern. From one corner, it’s only non-league – and not even professional clubs at that – so who cares if there’s a few brown envelopes exchanging hands? In the other, this shows just how awful the game of football has become and Something Must Be Done. But while media interest may have dropped a little when it became clear this didn’t involve football league clubs, there’s no doubt these are very serious allegations that need to be investigated further. The Conference Premier and North / South appears to be the focus of the investigation and while there are plenty of part-time clubs in the division, there’s also a large number of fully professional teams. If the integrity of these matches is put in doubt this throws into question of promotions across the entire pyramid,...

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Bundesliga Week 14 Round Up – Insanity in Sinsheim

Normally you would not be too bothered about a -2 goal difference after fourteen matches, that is unless you’re the Hoffenheim coach. The good news is that so far, only Borussia Dortmund have scored more goals in the Bundesliga that Markus Gisdol’s team. The bad news is that no other team has conceded more. Last Saturday, the Sinsheim club welcomed guests Werder Bremen to the Rhein Necker Arena. They stormed into a 2-0 lead after eighteen minutes with two penalties from Bosnian midfielder, Sejad Salihović, the second being a cheeky chip to catch Bremen ‘keeper, Raphael Wolf, unawares. Bremen stormed back just before halftime with a penalty of their own, scored by Aaron Hunt. The second came as a consequence of Hoffenheim ‘keeper Koen Casteels somehow managing to let a centered ball go between his hand and the near post, across the face of the goal and straight to Eljero Elia. Kevin Volland put the home side back in front, minutes after the restart and Kai Herdling extended the Hoffenheim lead to 4-2 with a larrup from distance. Game over? Not a chance. Back came Bremen with an unmarked Nils Petersen on 59 minutes and finally, with seconds remaining on the clock Philipp Bargfrede equalised. 4-4 was the final result which left Hoffenheim coach beside himself with frustration. That’s 34 (thirty four) goals conceded so far this season for...

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