Category: Latest

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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Swansea City’s Great Managerial Gamble

So, farewell then, Michael Laudrup. It would be easy to spin the story of his departure from the Liberty Stadium yesterday as being just another case of the insanity of the world of football management in the twenty-first century. True enough, the Swans are just two points from the relegation places in the Premier League, but the bottom half of the table is awfully congested at the moment and it is, of course, equally true to say that Swansea City will go into this weekend’s Premier League matches in twelfth place in the table. It has been clear from...

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Bundesliga Round Up – Week 19: Let’s Talk Tactics

I’m aware that posts about tactics can be something of a turn off in these web pages but you may be interested to learn about the possible start of a rethink regarding formations in the German club football. As in most senior European leagues, Bundesliga coaches tend to use a five man midfield with a single striker up front. Sometimes that striker has been replaced with a false nine who is more like an attacking midfielder. Think Mario Götze at Bayern Munich. However, both Stuttgart coach, Thomas Schneider and new Hannover 96 coach Tayfun Korkut have started playing with two strikers up front in  a formation which looks closer to an orthodox 4-4-2. Of course and perhaps inevitably there is something of a twist on this formation as both teams press the opposition very hard when they don’t have the ball so it’s not quite the free flowing retro football of Tim Sherwood’s Spurs which we all enjoy for various reasons but it is an interesting move by two young coaches who took their coaching badges together. In Stuttgart’s case the performances have been positive but the results fruitless. They nearly took a point of Bayern last Wednesday by taking a one goal lead only to succumb to a Claudio Pizarro equaliser and an injury time winner from Thiago Alcântara which is already a YouTube classic. Stuttgart’s defeat was the second straight...

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We Need To Talk About Financial Fair Play… Again

Was it just a matter of striking coincidence or was there something more in the timing of a story in the Daily Mail which stated confidently that “Rivals” are “ganging up to ban City” with a challenge over the blue half of Manchester’s attempts to comply with regulations meant to limit the extent to which sheikhs, oligarchs and other ne’er do wells have started to pour money into some football clubs? After all, as these words are being written, the expensively assembled teams of Manchester City and Chelsea are preparing to take to the pitch at The City of Manchester Stadium for yet another testosterone-soaked Premier League “showdown.” The eyes of the world will be watching this evening – aren’t they always nowadays? – but the eyes of some will be focusing on annual accounts of Manchester City and how these tie in with UEFA’s much-vaunted (but seldom so far tested) Financial Fair Play Regulations. On Saturday evening, Jose Mourinho added his voice to a powerful – if not necessarily particularly numerous – choir of voices within the game of the opinion that UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules aren’t treated with the respect that they deserve. We have to remember, of course, that this is Jose Mourinho we’re talking about here, and that there is probably no level of eyeball-rolling irony that the Chelsea manager wouldn’t apply in the...

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