Category: Latest

Spacemonkeygate: Or, How To Create An Omnishambles Within Twenty-Four Hours

If only, we might pause to reflect, he had used the name ‘Laika’ instead. At least that way around we might have been spared the acres and acres of coverage that we have been subjected to since around about half past ten last night. There is, in a perverse way, almost something comforting about something relating to the England national football team being plunged back into CRISIS via a combination of, depending on who you believe, anything up to three or four different sources. The previous twenty-four hours of relative serenity had all been most un-English, and at least we can probably all agree that, whether this is a non-story or not, at least abnormal service has been restored. The planets are back in alignment, or, to put it another way, the circus is back in town. To try – and merely typing these words is enough to make the heart simultaneously sink towards the stomach and leap to the throat – and make some sort of sense of this story, we should probably have a go at sorting the wheat from the chaff, because there’s a lot of white noise out there at the moment.. So, what probably does matter in terms of this story, and what probably doesn’t? Things That Probably Don’t Matter The joke itself wasn’t that funny: Well, it should be perfectly self-evident to anybody...

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The Elephant In The MadStad Boardroom

Reading Football Club was due to be purchased earlier this year, but two deadlines to make the payment to complete it have now been missed. Jon Keen has some questions for those in charge of the club. Whilst we’ve been enduring this international weekend without our own clubs playing football, it’s inevitable that talk amongst supporters turn to many other subjects. But amongst Reading supporters there’s one subject that’s very much to the fore, but which is meeting with a deafening silence from within the club.  This elephant in the room – or rather this elephant in the MadStad – is the unresolved situation regarding the ownership and financial situation at the club. Rumours have been rife since the news transpired recently that the final £20m payment from Thames Sports Investments (TSI) to Sir John Madejski for the remaining 49% of the football club has not been paid. This sum was initially due in March but was delayed then, when a new deadline of the end of September was announced. But that new deadline has now been and gone, leading to a plethora of discussion and speculation amongst supporters. The club’s terse response that “both parties are comfortable extending the deadline to finish the deal” has done very little to allay the fears of some supporters that all may not be well behind the scenes, financially. This spate of rumours...

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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part Seven – Below The First Division

As a part of their contract with the Football League at a time during which the upper hand in terms of the governance of football was held by the game’s authorities rather than the broadcasters, both the BBC and ITV were compelled to cover matches from outside the top division throughout the course of the season. Of course, there was a tendency on their part to wish to cover the biggest matches at the most crucial stages of the season – although, notably, ITV covered the race for promotion from the Second Division in great details at the end of the 1982/83 season, most likely because Liverpool won the First Division title with a handful of matches to spare – but for regional ITV companies it was commonplace for a local club from outside the top flight to take the centre-stage on their weekly highlights programme. Over the course of the end of October and the start of November 1980, several lower divsion matches were featured on the television and this morning we bring you highlghts of three of them. First up is a match between two clubs that are now again regular fixtures in the Premier League, Chelsea and Newcastle United. Chelsea had been relegated from the First Division for the first time since the early 1960s at the end of the 1978/79 season in a state of...

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A Healthy Sense Of Perspective For England

Forty years ago this week, at the same stadium and against the same opposition, English football suffered one of its least dignified nights yet, to that point. Laying siege to the Polish goal in the manner of [insert clumsy and highly insensitive war analogy here], they could only force the ball over the visiting goal line once, and that, it turned out, was not enough to edge through to the finals in West Germant. In truth, though,it wasn’t the result at Wembley that night that eliminated the team from the 1974 World Cup. An anaemic two-nil defeat in Chorzow some months earlier had been plenty enough to make qualification at a time during which only group winners survived the cut, but the psychological damage was done as the players trudged from the sodden Wembley turf that night. Less than eight years earlier, Alf Ramsey’s team had been the champions of the world. In West Germany in 1974 they would have their faces pressed against the window of the party, looking in. A lot was written about that night in the build up to last night’s match between England and Poland. Something, opined a lot of very clever people with very clever things to say, was in the air. The decks had been cleared and the fall guys had been set up, Roy Hodgson for being Roy Hodgson and not...

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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part Six – Last Year’s Champions vs This Year’s Leaders

Pushed to the final day by Manchester United at the end of the previous season, the defending champions Liverpool had started the 1980/81 season with a degree, just a degree, of uncertainty. Comfortable home wins against West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City had given the optimistic plenty of hope that they could life the Football League Championship, but in a defeat at Leicester City and underwhelming draws against Birmingham City and Coventry City were to be seen the seeds of an uncharacteristically uncertain season from a team that would soon be making a habit of sweeping all before it. In the European Cup, nerves were settled after a 1-1 draw in the first leg against the Finnish club Oulu Palloseura with a 10-1 win in the second match at Anfield. In an era during which attendances fluctuated considerably more than they do nowadays, in the space of just a few days in October Liverpool demonstrated just how extreme this could be. On Wednesday the seventh of October Liverpool beat Middlesbrough at Anfield in front of a crowd of just 28,204 people. The following Saturday, however, a crowd of 48,084 people turned out for the match against Ipswich Town. Under the managership of Bobby Robson, the Suffolk club had started their league season with seven wins and two draws from their first nine matches, opening up – in era during...

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