Category: Latest

An Impossible Job: Twenty Years On

Incredibly (face it, they’re a dreadful shower) it’s 20 years this week since England last failed to qualify for a World Cup Finals. Consequently there will be quite a number of you reading this who don’t remember, or perhaps weren’t even born to witness, the terrible scenes that ensued. Five days national mourning. Stock markets in Tokyo teetered on the brink. Traditionally, one might write “people who were born on that day would be shaving now”, but I feel that it is both reductive and sexist. As well as being fundamentally inaccurate – all 20 year old boys these...

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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part Two – Cox In At Newcastle

This evening we continue our look back to the 1980/81 football season with the thirteenth of September 1980 and two of the matches that featured in the weekend’s television schedules. The first match is from the First Division of the Football League, between Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion. Whilst Liverpool had ended the previous season as the champions, West Bromwich Albion had finished in mid-table, something of a disappointment considering that they had finished in third place in the league and qualified for the UEFA Cup the year before that. They went into this match in seventh place in the table but it turned out to be a comfortable afternoon’s work for Liverpool. The result saw West Bromwich Albion drop to tenth place in the table, whilst Liverpool jumped from fifth to third place in the table behind the early season pace-setters, Ipswich Town and Southampton. Meanwhile in the Second Division, the cameras of Match of The Day were at Loftus Road for the match between Queens Park Rangers and Newcastle United. Newcastle were starting their third consecutive season at this level following relegation in 1978 and following a dismal start to the season, which saw them fail to win any of their first three league matches, manager Bill McGarry was sacked after losing to Bury in the League Cup. Under caretaker manager Joe Harvey, who had previously played...

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Jack Wilshere In ‘Is Twenty-One Years Old’ Shock

It often seems as if, whenever a professional footballer opens his mouth in public, there is one phrase, varyingly attributed to Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln and others, that springs immediately to mind: it is better to remain silent and be considered a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove any doubt. This week’s outrage du jour concerns the Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, who has had a busy few days, first being caught smoking a cigarette outside a nightclub in London and then offering his opinions on who should and who shouldn’t be allowed to play for the England national team. Since there’s an England match at the end of this week, a predictable mass hysteria has descended upon a player who has previously been reasonably well protected from the worst excesses of the media, but this week Wilshere has likely learnt a couple of harsh lessons about the nature of the glare of the media spotlight. Getting caught en fumant might be looked upon as a youthful mistake, as might the compoundment of this mortal sin by apparently fibbing about what was going on at the time. In our current climate with regard to smoking, Wilshere might scarcely have been more greatly castigated had he been photographed with underage prostitute sitting on his knee whilst holding a crack pipe in his hand, but this is neither here nor...

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Rangers: More Money Madness

The news that Rangers International Football Club plc (RIFC) lost, on average, £1.1m-per-month in its first financial accounting period, wasn’t “news” to everyone. A number of bloggers alleged to be “Rangers-haters” said “the figures don’t add up” as soon as the new Rangers set-up started playing last July. To others, this was confirmed by RIFC’s “interim” accounts in March. The declaration of £7m losses in their first seven months introduced “burn rate of £1m-per-month” into Glasgow’s football lexicon. Operating losses of £14.36m in 13 months are a “burn rate” of £1.1m per month, And Rangers’ Chief Executive Craig Mather wasn’t surprised either, declaring in the accounts’ “business review” that matters were “wholly consistent with the five-year business plan… set out to investors ahead of the Initial Public Offering (IPO) in December.” It is unknown, however, whether it was “set out to investors” that their investment would be spent within ten months and that financial experts would be predicting a need to “go back” to them for more investment to keep the club going beyond another year. The biggest news story from the accounts, was hardly news either, as executive remuneration was also set out to investors… in December. Former Chief Executive Charles Green, the IPO share prospectus noted, had “an annual salary of £360,000 (plus benefits and expenses)” and was “entitled to a non-contractual bonus of 100% gross salary...

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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81 – Part One

It’s the summer of 1980, and a decade that started with England as the champions of the football world has just ended in a manner that few would have predicted ten years earlier. The national team’s arrival back in tournament football had ended in every conceivable flavour of defeat at the 1980 European Championships. The team itself found itself eliminated from the competition with a game to spare, and rioting supporters who faced tear gas in Turin as the team drew its opening match against Belgium. Perhaps the only consolation that could be taken from the whole dismal episode was that, having missed out on the previous two World Cups, at least the team had managed to find its way there in the first place. The club side of English football, on the other hand, had offered its fair share of excitement, even if the spectre of hooliganism continued to hang heavy in its background. English clubs – Liverpool in 1977 and 1978, and Nottingham Forest in 1979 and 1980 – had won the last four European Cups and the previous season’s First Division Championship race between Liverpool and Manchester United had gone to the final day of the season before Liverpool finally lifted the trophy. The 1980 FA Cup, meanwhile, had been won by West Ham United, who had beaten Arsenal at Wembley by a goal to nil,...

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