Category: Latest

It’s Turning Ugly At Hamburg

Last Wednesday, about 400 Hamburg fans march to the club’s training ground as a demonstration of support for the beleaguered squad who had lost five games in a row, a run that saw the club descend to second from bottom of the Bundesliga. Hamburg have never been relegated from the first division and they were founder members when the league was formed in 1963. After that show of solidarity from the fans, a new wave of optimism briefly engulfed the club ahead of last Saturday’s game at home to Hertha Berlin. After the game the crowd assembled outside the...

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Six Of The Worst: Football’s Failed Rule Change Experiments

The way that the game is played might have changed, but the rules of football, both on and off the pitch, have proved to be remarkably resilient to change over the years. Although there have certainly been significant changes to the game over the course of the last three or four decades or so – the introduction of the backpass rule, for example, or changes to the offside rule to favour attacking players – these tweaks have seldom fundamentally altered the experience of watching a match. Advisors, however, do not guarantee their future livelihoods from everything staying the same in perpetuity, and so it is that, from time to time, some well-meaning soul or other will suggest a refinement to the laws or administrative rules of the game with the intention of refining it for a modern audience. Much of the time these changes end up in the bin, but every once in a while one a league administrator will have a brainwave which causes him to think that that he might just have thought of something that will completely revolutionise the game or impress some FIFA mandarin or other to such an extent that they convince some poor souls to give it a run out for a few weeks, or sometimes even longer. With this in mind – and bearing in mind that these people still walk amongst...

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Peter Pannu Is *Still* Considerably Richer Than You

I do appear to have invoked plenty of memories “for those of a certain age” in recent articles. And I’m about to do so again.  In January 1979, the then Prime Minister James Callaghan returned from a summit in Guadeloupe to a Britain entering its infamous “winter of discontent.” Rubbish was left uncollected and the dead unburied thanks to various trade unions “holding the country to ransom” (copyright: every right-wing national newspaper – i.e. all of them except the Mirror). Callaghan tried to play down suggestions of “mounting chaos” and create an impression of a leader in control when he faced the press at Heathrow Airport. This attitude was ridiculed and condemned as out of touch by the waiting press pack. And the Sun newspaper, as predictably then as it would be now, led the way with its headline the following day: “Crisis, what crisis?” Birmingham City’s forever-acting chairman Peter Pannu produced his own version of “crisis, what crisis?” this week. Leaving Wednesday’s Extraordinary General Meeting of Blues’ parent company, Birmingham International Holdings (BIH) in Hong Kong, Pannu was asked by BBC reporter Juliana Liu how the EGM would affect Blues’ future after “all the troubles the club has faced?” He replied: “What troubles?” City, it seemed to momentarily slip his mind, have been gradually sliding down English club football’s pyramid over the last three years, losing millions of...

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Hamlet Under The Hammer, Again

With a unique name, a history that includes winning the FA Amateur Cup on four occasions, and distinctive pink and blue colours, Dulwich Hamlet Football Club is one of the most idiosyncratic presences in English football. But after a little more than one hundred and twenty years of existence, one of London’s best-known non-league clubs is, despite success on the pitch that has taken it to the summit of the Ryman League Premier Division as this season approaches its closing stages, facing a battle to save itself against a backdrop of unpaid bills and intrigue over a property deal that may – or may not – take the club to a new home at the Greendale Playing Fields, just yards from the its current Champion Hill home. The convoluted story of how this came to be is one that ultimately stretches back almost a quarter of a century. Non-league football in England suffered a downturn in its fortunes from the middle of the 1960s on, and the formerly amateur clubs of London and the south-east were hit harder than most. With grounds built to house crowds several times the number of people that they were now attracting which were both expensive to maintain and, perhaps even more significantly, housed on prime real estate land, the list of clubs that were forced into oblivion or to sell up and hope...

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Plymouth Argyle: James Brent – Licensed To… Do As He Wishes

Whatever Plymouth Argyle chairman and owner James Brent is, and opinions vary passionately among Pilgrims fans on that, he is no “football man.” Nor is he a “philanthropist,” “benefactor” or “particularly nice.” Brent regularly admits to mistakes in his running of the League Two club. So regularly that it was a surprise that BBC Radio Devon’s Gordon Sparks was surprised when Brent told him last month that “every day of the week I make a huge number of errors.” Just as well then that last July Brent appointed Yeovil Town ex-chief executive and, ulp, Wishbone Ash fan Martyn Starnes. Financially, though, Plymouth ought to be in knowledgeable hands with Brent the businessman, who became a merchant banker (no jokes) straight from school, and became “global head of real estate and lodging” at financial services multi-national Citigroup in 2000. Brent’s desire “to do something entrepreneurial” manifested itself in 2008 in his own business, Akkeron Group, which, he told the Financial News website in June 2011, he formed to “establish three real estate-anchored operating businesses” covering “hotels in the British Isles; urban regeneration in the south and southwest UK; and large-scale agriculture in emerging markets.” In 2009, he became Plymouth City Development Company chairman, a short-lived stewardship thanks, partly, to the new Coalition government’s distaste for such “quangos” – its closure was announced in August 2010. Brent’s role, however, established his...

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