Category: Latest

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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Stockport County: Walking A Tightrope

There comes a point in football at which even the most precipitous falls start to slow and reverse themselves, and there has been no other club in England in recent years that has spiralled in a downward direction as dramatically as Stockport County Football Club. Twleve years ago, the club was playing its football in the Championship, but one financial diasaster after another saw it relegated from the Football League altogether eventually. Stockport’s fall from grace, however, didn’t end there, and at the end of last season the club suffered the further ignominy of relegation from the Conference National, and this season hadn’t seen much of an improvement until recently, with the club going into its Christmas and New Year fixtures dangerously close to the relegation places in that division too. What a difference the congested holiday period can make, though. On the Saturday before Christmas, Stockport ended a winless run that stretched back to the start of November by beating Oxford City at home, and they followed this up with a win against Bradford Park Avenue on Boxing Day. There followed a brief stutter in the form of a home draw against bottom of the table Workington, but last Saturday the team returned to winning ways with a five-one win at Gainsborough Trinity, and the club now sits in fifteenth place in the Conference North table. These may...

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Aston Villa & The Pursuit Of Mediocrity

Upon the tootling of the full time whistle at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon, a somewhat familiar chorus of booing rang around one of the few remaining historical homes of English football. A home defeat at the hands of a Sheffield United team that is currently struggling to keep its head above water two divisions below them isn’t a result that it’s possible to put a positive spin upon especially when the manager of your club has chucked his eggs into the basket of stating boldly that the FA Cup doesn’t matter any more, especially in comparison with the relentlessly perpetual battle to hang onto that financially important – but frequently boring – mid-table place in the Premier League. Paul Lambert’s comments regarding Saturday’s match were stupid, but not necessarily for the reasons that you might expect us to say. Quite frankly, we’re quite a long way beyond the point of caring about this tedious annual debate. We know. We see it in the attendance figures. We see see it in the annual caterwauling of supporters with a sense of the sort of sense of entitlement that is a inevitable by-product of the sort of gentrification that the game has been subjected to over the last couple of decades. We know. We’ve had this conversation before. And every year, we say that other sports are available to those for...

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