Wednesday, 30 October 2013

With all that money washing around in the game

As chairman of a small local football club (Weysiders FC) I sometimes wonder what the FA does for us.

We are an adult club, and have been in existence since 1973. In that time we had a maximum of four teams at one time (currently we run two), have played a total of 2,453 games and used 787 players. We have never risen above Surrey Intermediate League level (we won that league in 1985, but didn't have the facilities to progress any further) and play on a pitch hired from the local council.

The Leagues over the years have provided us with organised competitions and the Surrey FA has provided us with County Cup competitions.

We pay both the League and the Surrey County FA for the privilege.

With all that money washing around in the game.

"They" say that there are not enough coaches in the game, yet to take a coaching course you have to pay (several times as there are several levels).

With all that money washing around in the game.

Adult clubs get no help at all at our level. We have to charge our players a match fee to play and the club runs on an annual budget of less than £7,500.

With all that money washing around in the game.

All the people who run the club (e.g. chairman, secretary, treasurer, managers) do so for free. They talked about volunteers at the Olympics. What about volunteers at local sports clubs (not just football) who have carried out their duties for free for years?

With all that money washing around in the game.

What does the FA do for a club like us?

Monday, 28 October 2013

If you really want to apply zero tolerance, Blatter, take the World Cup away from Russia

I find it fascinating that Sepp Blatter "calls for zero tolerance towards racism" (BBC:

Blatter said: "If we are not able to go zero tolerance, we have failed."

Yet it was his organisation that gave the 2018 World Cup to Russia, the country in which Manchester City's Yaya Toure complained about monkey chants last week. IT is, of course, not the first time such incidents have been reported.

Blattter, speaking at a news conference in London, said: "In the first case there should be a warning, in a second case sanctions, disciplinary sanctions or to play without spectators. But the third one is that you have to deduct points or expel a team from a competition."

"The [Fifa] congress has said we have to go zero tolerance. The congress was standing, there was not one voice against that.
"Everybody wants it to happen. Now we have to apply it and have to have the courage to have to do it."
Fine words - applicable to clubs - but awarding the most high-profile sporting event in the world to the country of Russia is a deed that gives lie to those words.
The courageous thing to do would be take the World Cup away from Russia.
THAT would demonstrate zero tolerance to racism.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

European play-offs throw up interesting ties

The European play-offs for the World Cup threw up some interesting ties - and emphasised the importance of England qualifying top of the group rather than having to make it through the play-off system.

The ties with the teams' current FIFA rankings are:

Portugal (14) v Sweden (25)
France (21) v Ukraine (20)
Greece (15) v Romania (29)
Iceland (46) v Croatia (18)

Imagine if England had failed to win their group and had to face France to qualify! As it is Ukraine, seeded as one of the top-four ranked teams, have a tough draw facing the country one below them in the rankings.
Portugal and Sweden provide a tasty looking tie, but there will be fewer British eyes watching Greece battle with Romania or Iceland tussle with Croatia.

Portugal, France, Romania and Croatia are my picks to make it to Brazil.

I hope these are on TV, so we get a chance to watch without suffering!
The two-legged ties will be played on 15 November and 19 November.

Monday, 21 October 2013

This non-story about Roy Hodgson

This story about Roy Hodgson and what he said at half-time in Tuesday's to improve England's possession and use of the ball is a joke.

The use of the word monkey does not automatically have racist connotations. The use of the word monkey in the context he used it was a perfect metaphor for what he wanted Chris Smalling to do for Andros Townsend - give him more of the ball.

Mischief makers have tried - and some are still trying - to make this into something it never was.


You have to wonder who from within the England dressing room tweeted this non-story to try and make something out of nothing. That disloyalty is the real story.

Hodgson's only purpose was - and is - to improve England as a football team. That includes making enquiries about the availability of "Belgian" teenager Adnan Januzaj.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

England make it to the Brazil World Cup

England made it to the World Cup Finals in Brazil next summer after their 2-0 win against Poland last night. When Steven Gerrard's toe-poke went in with just a few minutes remaining, it was at last time for England fans to relax.

England left themselves having to win their last two games in the group after failing to beat any of the other main contenders in the group in the first four attempts, drawing with Montenegro, Ukraine (twice) and Poland, and only beating group minnows Moldova, and ultra-minnows San Marino.

However, the performances in the final two games have been fairly impressive, with the 4-1 win against Montenegro preceding last night's victory.

What a breath of fresh air Andros Townsend has been, taking the pressure of England's defence by running 30, 40, 50 yards with the ball and moving the balance of England's play deep into the opposition half. Such a change from the sideways passing or depressing chips forward to nothing that we have suffered for so many years.

And what a delight it is to have a left full-back who is willing to get past people and cross with his left foot rather than always come inside to nothing. Surely the Baines v Cole debate is over, and is decisive in Leighton Baines's favour?

There are some good youngsters coming through, although Gerrard (33), Carrick (32), Jagielka (31) do not count, and Baines (28), Cahill (27), Rooney (28 next week) should not either!

But let's not carried away. England are not good enough to win the World Cup, but might be good enough to make the quarter finals - as we often do.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The downward plight of English football

Surely no one can be surprised at today's news that English players account for about one third of playing minutes in the Premier League.

The question, I guess, is: does it matter?

Personally I think it does matter. It can't be right that an ENGLISH League has:

  • more foreign players than home players
  • foreign owners
  • foreign managers
What is English about the English Premier League?
The grounds and the referees.

And even on the subject of grounds, "they" came up with some bright idea of playing a "39th" game abroad a few years ago!

And on referees, some called for Pierluigi Collina to take the whistle in English games a few years ago.

It seems that nothing is sacrosanct in the modern times of global shrinkage.

The problems are:
  • The England team has about 75 players to pick from - and yes, the success of the England team does matter in the long run.
  • Nearly all the money in the game goes to players, so that's 2/3 of a huge amount of money going OUT of England in the long run (not good for the economy).
  • Every bubble bursts in the end.
  • There is no foundation to the short-termism that plagues the English game.
What can be done about it?
I'm no lawyer so I don't know what laws are in place or would be broken to try and fix this. 
  • Player quotas have been mentioned, but sound unlikely in the European Union (despite plenty of non-European players in the league).
  • I guess we can't insist on home ownership.
  • Perhaps we need UEFA or FIFA to put in place some rules that mean that leagues are representative of the country.
For the moment though, I weep at the downward plight of English football.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Poyet will hope for a quick turnaround

Gus Poyet needs a quick turnaround at Sunderland after being named as boss this morning.

The Black Cats are already six points adrift of safety with only one point from seven games so far this season. Yet that will soon seem insignificant if they can pull a couple of wins out of the bag.

After the international break Sunderland face Swansea City before hosting Newcastle United on Sunday 27 October. Poyet could make himself an instant hero by winning that match!

After the short-lived reign on Paolo Di Canio, I'm sure the Sunderland fans will want a long and stable relationship with Gus Poyet - but that will only happen if he achieves some success on the field. Given the start they have had, success will presumably be retaining their Premier League status.

An apparent player revolt spelt the end for Di Canio, so Poyet will hope he can get the trust of the players quickly. Poyet was sacked by Brighton for 'gross misconduct' after being suspended at the end of last season. Such troubles must be put behind him.

Sunderland showed some good signs against Manchester United on Sunday - although they ultimately lost 2-1, demonstrating that, despite their poor start, they are by no means a lost cause.

Sunderland fans will be hoping that the speedy action of getting rid of Di Canio will give their team plenty of time to turn their problems around.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Leeds see off ten-man Bournemouth

I support Leeds United and I made my annual (sometimes twice a year) trip to Elland Road on Tuesday evening with my son. It's a 430-mile round trip up the M1 from where I live, and I'm involved with a local club down south, so it's not a trip I can make very often.

I felt the atmosphere around Elland Road was a little gloomy, and no real surprise there after four defeats in a row and only two goals scored in the previous six games. Equally, however, with plenty of goods for sale in the club shop being printed with 'The Past is the Past ...' it is evident that the club is trying to move on from the Ken Bates era, and that brings with it a new mood of optimism.

We sat in the huge East Stand (on the lower tier) with a superb view of an excellent playing surface.

The visitors for the game were Bournemouth who, likes Leeds, have had a troubled recent few years with points deductions, relegations and flirtation with demotion from the Football League. Last season, however, with the return of manager Ernie Howe, they were promoted from League One and have made a topsy-turvy start to the new season, but started the game above Leeds in the table.

Roared on by a 21,749 crowd, Leeds were, frankly, not very good. It was evidently not a confident team. In the first half an hour the game was fairly even, but nothing much happened. Then came the match-changing moment. Noel Hunt - who otherwise was extremely disappointing - burst into the penalty area and was brought down by Bournemouth goalkeeper Ryan Allsop. It was a penalty and Allsop was sent off.

Even then, however, it appeared Leeds could not take advantage as Ross McCormack's penalty was saved by replacement keeper Darryl Flahavan. But gradually the extra man began to tell as Leeds took the lion's share of possession. Seven minutes into the second half a beautiful curling cross from the left by Stephen Warnock was steered home by McCormack and the relief from the crowd was palpable.

Other chances were missed - some inexplicably - which gave Bournemouth hope and belief that a forward-looking gamble might pay off. And they were right as after 72 minutes a free-kick from ex-Leeds Ian Harte was not cleared and Lewis Grabban finished from eight yards to equalise.

Crowd frustration could have weighed heavily on the home side, but there was enough time left for them to gather themselves and mount purposeful - rather than desperate - attacks. With nine minutes left a half-cleared cross looped up to substitute Dominic Poleon who volleyed home sweetly from ten yards.

Leeds held on as Bournemouth had another go, and the home side claimed the three much-needed points and rose to 11th in the table. Overall, however, it is difficult to see this Leeds side making any significant impact on the Championship. Unless boss Brian McDermott can bring in some influential loan signings it looks like another season will drift by for the once-mighty Elland Road club.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The time-wasting substitution must be stopped

The scandal of time-wasting substitutions goes on.

The winning team - as soon as the board goes up at 90 minutes showing how many minutes will be added on - immediately get their substitute ready. When the ball goes out play they wait until the last possible moment before telling the fourth official that they want to make a substitution and then the board goes up with the number of player to be taken off. He's usually on the far side of the pitch and facing the other way. When he, with some apparent amazement, realises his number his up, he turns to face his own fans and applauds them before beginning to walk off the pitch. When encouraged by the referee to get a move on, the player makes a jogging motion (usually on the spot) for a second or two. After about a minute the player is finally off the pitch and the substitute can come on.

For some reason the TV cameras always show this farce in close-up. It would be much more revealing to show it in long-shot to demonstrate just how slowly the substituted player is moving.

The whole thing is a time-wasting disgrace.

Notwithstanding this, the winning team manager, having wasted a minute of added time, will then point animatedly at his 'watch' the instant the added time is up.

And TV commentators are fooled for some reason. "Well, the time is up," they'll say, "We're into time added on to added time," as if they can't quite understand where the time has come from.

Of course, the referees never add enough time on.

In European or international games it's even worse, as the referees add NO extra time to cater for this. In fact, they always blow early.

We're being cheated out of footballing action. When is this scandal going to be stopped?