Category: Latest

Neil Doncaster: A(nother) Premier League Chief Executive Under Pressure

Scottish club football’s top man, Neil Doncaster, has little other than nominal occupation in common with slimy sexist Richard Scudamore. Both are English and league chief executives. But Doncaster, the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) boss, now has the opportunity to fashion another similarity, the ability to get away with just about anything. Scudamore, we now know, can do what he likes, how and to whom he likes. Doncaster tried this in 2012, bending over backwards, sideways and eachways to keep Rangers in the Scottish Premier League (SPL) after their liquidation was confirmed. However, more Doncaster machinations recently emerged. On May 16th the “Celtic Research” (CR) twitter account patiently – 140 characters-at-a-time – told previously unpublished tales of the November 2011 SPL broadcasting rights deal – a hurriedly-signed extension to the existing five-year deal signed with SKY and ESPN in July 2009. The deal attracted controversies – especially a clause guaranteeing four Rangers/Celtic “Old Firm” games, which Doncaster claimed was in existence for a decade. Doncaster has not revealed the precise date of its introduction, however. CR also revealed the SPL’s, now the SPFL’s, subsidies to ESPN to show Rangers games. When SPL and Scottish Football League (SFL) clubs voted a replacement Rangers into Scottish club football’s bottom tier in July 2012, Doncaster and the SPL made it more financially viable for ESPN to transmit Rangers games. The first...

Read More

The 200% World Cup: England & Jimmy Hill The Redeemer

Banks, Cohen, Wilson, Stiles, J. Charlton, Moore, Ball, R. Charlton, Hurst, Peters, Hunt. The eleven names any football-obsessed English youngster knows. Although a significant proportion of these youngsters are now in their thirties and forties. Yes, forty-eight years is a long time. Two generations have come and gone since England accidentally won the World Cup on Saturday 30th July, 1966.  If that day was also you date of birth, it is eminently possible that you are a grandparent now. Imagine that. There are children about to grow up in England whose grandparents won’t be able to tell them first-hand about The Day England Won The World Cup. But wait! Hold thine horses, because unless I am very much mistaken there is another World Cup to be held. It starts in a few days and could prove the salvation of a generation of grandparents everywhere, because England have qualified and are a mere 7 (seven) victories away from winning it. No, you shut up. What would England winning the World Cup be like? It’s no use asking your grandparents, even. If you’re anything like me, all your grandparents are now dead for starters, but it goes beyond that. The world of football has changed beyond recognition since July 1966. It is even arguable that England’s (first/only) World Cup win was the Big Bang that created this universe. The key difference...

Read More

British Television & The World Cup, Part One – A Difficult Birth

In eleven days time, the 2014 World Cup Finals begins in Brazil, and the eyes of the world will be watching. An estimated armchair audience of at least a gazillion viewers – or at least that’s how the size of the viewing audience will be spun by those with a vested interest in making sure that advertisers believe that improbably high numbers of people have been watching matches – will tune in, and it’s difficult for those under a pensionable age to remember a time during when this wasn’t the case. However, the Home Nations’ refusal to play in the first three tournaments coupled with the technological constraints of the earlier days of the medium meant that the first four World Cup finals were not shown at all in the United Kingdom. A dispute over payments to amateur players in 1928 – ‘broken time payments,’ by which loss of pay and expenses would be met – for those who played but didn’t make a living from the game – had led to the withdrawal of the home nations, and this meant that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all sat out the first three World Cup tournaments, even though FIFA did attempt to coax the FA, the SFA, the FAW and the IFA back into the fold. It took until 1946 for a little common sense to win through,...

Read More