A classic example of what is wrong with football?

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I have a somewhat ‘jaundiced’ view of the ‘beautiful game’ – I have blogged numerous times about it and have to say it really doesn’t appear to be getting any better – that is football as well as my grumpiness!

photoThis last weekend we had the 3rd round of the FA Cup – the chance for lower league clubs to have a go at some of the Premier league clubs if they are lucky enough to be drawn against them. The Premier League clubs all tend to see it as a chore to go to the lower league clubs as it gets in the way of their main reason for existing (to make money?).

Anyway – locally we had Mansfield Town taking on Liverpool, the excitement in the area was palpable – I wasn’t there (no surprise there), but I know a man who was. I gather that Mansfield left free seats in the stand in memory of the 96 who died at Hillsborough, a very nice act that I approve of. They also played well and only lost out to a last-minute goal from Suarez – which was the result of his hand ball.

Mansfield’s manager would not be drawn by the press on the foul, and was full of praise for his players. Suarez played on as if nothing had happened and then on Monday I saw this tweet from Grant Holt (Norwich City) – the general tone is in my view appalling – basically supporting cheating – (and I guess most professional footballers have the same view?) – surely not what we should be saying to our kids?

Football – you’ve got to love it?

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I have been absent from my blog for too long – I have been rather caught up with family matters and this has kept me away. I have missed my daily rants – so I am back!

Anyone that knows me will be aware of my views on football – as a kid I followed it, but as it has ‘developed’ as a ‘sport’ I have become rather sceptical about it all. The game has become all about money and it has destroyed it for me totally. I wasn’t aware however just how expensive football had become (why would I – I never go), or how greedy the clubs were getting.

I read in today’s papers that the average cost of the cheapest adult ticket in the top four divisions of English football has risen by 11.7% – more than five times the rate of inflation. Even more shocking is that the highest cost matchday ticket is Arsenal at £126 (£25 up on last year!). Now Arsenal aren’t alone in this – but they are ‘the leader’.

The price of a season ticket at Arsenal? Just under £1000!

So, we are talking here about ‘the people’s game’, but it is just not accessible by the average family now as the costs are just getting stupid. And where does all this money go – one assumes to pay the players who are now so grossly overpaid at the top-level that it is obscene.

And don’t get me started on the England team…..

How to make Euro 2012 more exciting!

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So we are now half way through the main footballing event of the year – there has been some excitement – the rain and thunder and lightning over the France match on Friday was quite something! You will gather that the football isn’t something that particularly excites me – however I believe I have a cunning plan that would ‘improve’ the tournament.

we are currently hearing all about ‘the group of death’ which includes Germany, Italy, Holland and Denmark – as only two teams go through, one of the top sides will drop out at the end of this stage. On the face of it that is fine – it was the luck of the draw. However the knock out stage is already known in terms of who will face who and this is the bit I have an issue with.

The talk was all about playing for a draw or X needs to beat Y if we don’t want to face Spain in the next round (something like that anyway). That is just wrong – so why not draw the knockout after the first round of tables, then everyone would play for a win (which is surely what the game is about?). I realise this would play havoc with people booking accommodation ahead in the correct location for their teams games – but that is a small price to pay for a ‘better’ tournament!

If England manage to by-pass Spain by playing in a specific way to manage that, and then go on to win the competition (unlikely I know!), then isn’t it a hollow victory – almost like cheating?

Told you I don’t like football!

Football – from bad to worse!

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Those that know me will be aware that I am not a fan of ‘the beatiful game’ – it has become so dependant upon money that it is a pale imitation of the game I used to enjoy when I was a kid in the 1970’s. The first million pound transfer deal was done in Nottingham, so perhaps we (or Brian Clough) have to accept some of the blame? No doubt we are in for the usual pain over the next few weeks watching England at the European Championships as well!

It appears to me that FIFA are hell bent on destroying the game, first we have the goal line technology debacle – quite why one of the richest sports in the world can’t bring in something so simple is beyond me. I am told by those ‘who understand the game’ that it would cause a break in the flow of the game. However how this differs from the break in the flow when a player takes a dive is beyond me!

Today however I see that FIFA have excelled themselves – on two counts;

Firstly for the World cup in Brazil they have forced a change in the law to allow beer to be sold in the stadiums – something that has been banned in Brazil (one assumes for a reason) since 2003! The reason? Well according to FIFA beer is ‘all part of the world cup’ – presumably just as rioting, racism and violence are? Or is it because a beer company are one of the main sponsors? The statement by FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke says it all.

“Alcoholic drinks are part of the Fifa World Cup, so we’re going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that’s something we won’t negotiate,”

Secondly the referees in Brazil are to be instructed to red card any player that leaves the pitch due to racist chants or abuse – another great message to football fans the world over!

And people wonder why I am so cynical about football!

Bad role models?

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was Lewis to blame?

I have always liked my Formula One racing, back in the days of Prost, Senna and Mansell I was a regular attendee at Brands Hatch, Silverstone and Donnington (only the once unfortunately).

As a sport it has always appeared somewhat more ‘grown up’ in nature when compared to Football or other professional sports. The stars have normally managed to ‘behave’ and set a good example to their fans. That is until Lewis Hamilton came along…..

His first ‘incident’ was a few years ago when he reportedly ‘told un-truths’ on the instructions of his team. We put that down to being young, and gave him the benefit of the doubt. There is no doubt that Lewis is a great racer, he has huge natural talent and is capable of being one of the greats – but only if he calms down!

He has however in my view reached new levels this weekend with his furious attack on stewards after twice being penalised for incidents during his race to sixth place in Monaco. He said;

“It’s an absolute frickin’ joke,I’ve been to see the stewards five times out of six this season.”

Asked why that was the case, he said apparently in jest:

 “Maybe it’s because I’m black. That’s what Ali G says.”

These comments could land him in trouble with F1’s governing body, the FIA, who may consider Hamilton has contravened the rule saying competitors must not bring the sport into disrepute. I hope they do – the comments are not acceptable on a number of levels, but in particular in relation to the last one, he of all people should know better!

Hamilton argues that he is trying to give people a spectacle to watch – fair enough, but behaving like a spoilt child is not acceptable for someone in the public eye.

Recent actions by the likes of Rooney, Giggs and now Hamilton give totally the wrong message to the youngsters who watch them. Is it not time to try to reign in the superstars and get them to behave?

Financial penalties for any of these stars for their misdemeanors are pointless – dock points from the Teams in football and points from the driver and team in motor racing – they would soon learn to behave!

I think BBC Sport’s F1 commentator Martin Brundle has got Hamilton’s problem sorted – he said;

“The problem with Lewis is that it’s always someone’s fault, you wonder if he needs a bit of a mindset change on that.”

 Too right Martin!

A Good World Cup?

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I am not the best person to comment on the World Cup, or football as a whole. It is not something that I have a great interest or if I am honest respect for. This World Cup has not really helped me with this view either!  

FIFA had I believe made a very brave move in giving the World Cup to South Africa to run, I think they have actually done them proud and the event appears to have run extremely well. Yes there have been a few empty seats, the majority it would appear due to a lack of corporate entertainment being taken up. I do however feel that the tournament has been let down by the very people who should care about it most – the players and FIFA.  

The attitude of some players and the way they behave is I believe a very poor example to the kids who will have watched the tournament to see their heroes. The list is large;  

Close to home, the England players attitude to the fans quite frankly stank. I was appalled when they did not even acknowledge the fans at the end of the game against Germany when they got knocked out of the tournament.  

Rooneys comment at the end of the Algeria game was also unforgivable.  

Half the England squad also did not sing the National Anthem (unlike all other teams) – and yes boys you are playing for your country, not for or similar!  

Funny - I thought the Goalkeeper was in yellow?


The worst I saw though was Uruguay, the blatant hand ball to stop Ghana going through – appalling professionalism!  

This is also before we consider the performance of FIFA!  

Sepp Blatter the boss of FIFA has today said he is happy with the way the World Cup has gone. He is pleased we have all survived the vuvuzelas, but has nothing to say about goal line cameras or any of the other poor football comments!  

Lets hope the final is one to remember for the right reasons.  

Come on FIFA, lead by example and get your game in order. Otherwise you will lose your fans and then your fabulous wealth – actually, perhaps that is what is needed……….

The World Cup ‘effect’

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I could not describe myself as a football fan, I show a passing interest in Nottingham Forest and Swindon (my local team when I was growing up). Both this season have almost managed to go up a division, not sure if there is a theme developing here!

The World Cup is on another level though, I love the fact that there is so much great football on TV over the month it runs (my wife wouldn’t agree though!). It also brings out a level of mischief in people, I was sent this link this morning which is rather irreverent, but very funny!

As the tournament progresses I do hope that England do well, but what ever happens lets enjoy the lift it gives to the country in terms of a feel good factor (for it surely does).

The Dutch Bank ING have recently undertaken a survey to gauge the effect the World Cup could have on the Dutch economy and to take a view of its effect world-wide also – its findings are quite interesting.

The general concept that the further a national side progresses in the competition the more it benefits that countries economy would appear to be bourne out by the report. Positive results on the field are reflected in increased consumer spending and confidence. A more positive attitude is seen in the workplace and commerce generally.

Of perhaps more interest is the view of football taken by other countries of the World. The Brazilians are most confident about their chances of winning the tournament with over 75% expecting the cup to return to Brazil. A career in football is also seen as a positive move for children far more here than in any other country surveyed (South American Countries were at the top of this section of the survey). In all countries being a footballer was seen as being more desirable than being a movie star or Prime Minister!

Expenditure on ‘fan gear’ is expected to be highest in Spain (27 Euros per head) with England and France at around 15 Euros per head.

Who knows if we do really well it may even help us further out of our current financial woes?