25
Apr
10

What does the future hold for the Premiership?

Saturday 24th April. Kingston upon hull. Witness the growing fear amongst, football fans, chairman, managers and maybe even players in the English Premiership. With Portsmouth already in administration, and therefore relegated for chasing the dream of FA Cup glory and premiership respectability, another of England’s top-tier survivor wannabe’s, Hull City all but confirmed their relegation with a defeat against Sunderland at the KC stadium. Nothing out of the ordinary there you may think, afterall teams get relegated from leagues all over the world every season. Sadly though Hull’s Chairman Adam Pearson confirmed at the final whistle that the club owed £35 million to various creditors and had taken cash in advance for the last few seasons. Chasing the dream could, like Portsmouth before them, push them over the edge.

The question is, how in the supposed richest league in the world does a team get into debt and how does that debt get out of hand? In Portsmouth’s case it seems clear-cut. Too many owners of dubious quality and finances in a short period of time, too many hidden deals, too much cash upfront and too much spent in players wages. But Hull is a different proposition. They were rescued in the lowest tier of the football league on the brink of going out of business by Paul Duffen and Russell Bartlett in 2001. On the face of it Hull had a huge and successful run, gaining promotion after promotion and building a new, state of the art stadium. They’d never played at the highest level in England and for a city the size of Hull that was criminal. It’s a strong region for Rugby league and this is probably where their history had been diluted. But nothing in England is stronger than the Premier league and the fan base, which was always there, grew “Success has a thousand brothers… failure sadly has none.” One fan noted on the eve of their premiership debut two seasons ago.

Duffen resigned in October and was replaced by Pearson. Almost as soon as he arrived he blamed the last chairman for financial failures, and their manager Phil Brown seemed doomed. He was, lasting only until March. Iain Dowie took over, but sadly didn’t change the results. Hull are now all but mathematically doomed and rather ironically mathematics have all but doomed them.

They now face League one, with a lot of average players. The good ones if there are any, apart from Bullard will be off for little or no money. The only advantage is the shrinking of the wage bill. It’s a sad predicament for such an ambitious team. But sadly it was always going to end this way.

Chasing the dream of premiership establishment is a costly business. Newcastle United were promoted in 1993 and almost instantly they changed their recent history to one of a ‘big succesful’ club. They developed their ground to a 56,000 all seater stadium. They managed to secure a top three finish before the big four had even been thought of. They had very succesful runs in Europe and the league and even bought world record £15million players. They were riding a crest of a very succesful wave of football optimism in England but they never won anything. There was of course ups and downs, but a couple of mid-table finishes and a few bad management appointments were as bad as it got. Sadly for the Geordie supporters they were bought by a paper billionaire who has a history of supporting another club and were quickly  relegated by at best, some naive decisions by the new owners.

fast forward a year and Newcastle have again been promoted and look like a good Championship team. This time though there is no open top bus to celebrate, or massive stadium development and there will definitely not be any world record-breaking signings. Times have certainly changed. Survival is on the lips of every Newcastle united fan, not europe.

The recession is not the only thing to blame, but it certainly is a big factor. England has been hit particularly hard but then again so has Spain, but Madrid and Barcelona can still spend big. In 1993 millionaires used to buy clubs not billionaires. Jack walker for example didn’t have anywhere near a billion when he bought Blackburn. This is the problem, there isn’t a lot of billionaires willing to live in Britain when they can have the weather, lifestyle and tax-free money of places like Monaco. Players wages have reached such a height that you need to have a bank account of billions just to mount an attack on the top of the league. The ones that don’t have that luxury are left to buy or pick up free players who on the whole can be very average for huge wages and are for the most part have little or no love of a club or the area.

We here at SoccerCasuals.co.uk have seen this pattern before in business. It’s very similar to the huge bank debt crisis of  last year. The first reaction of many was to question the governments. Why hadn’t they regulated them better? Why wasn’t there more transparency in how they operated? Well the truth of the matter was the American government were mostly to blame and the rest just followed. But details emerged of how much tax was paid by these big finance companies in the Square Mile. Money is the root of all evil as the saying goes and where there’s tax, there’s profit. Basically the banks were allowed to carry on and regulate themselves because they were very, very profitable for the government.

Now look a year or so later and turn your attention to the Premier league and the FA. They’ve never been so big, so rich. They have the most profitable league in the world, TV rights are constantly sold at higher prices year on year. This money is then filtered through to the clubs who are free to use it as they wish. There’s no real regulation of finance. This means that players are free to earn whatever they want. Afterall if wages were capped it would be illegal by European law, but also the star names wouldn’t venture to exotic locations such as Hull, or Portsmouth and that wouldn’t be good for TV rights deals.

You may think that your Sky tv subscription is the biggest money spinner for the FA but if you look closer you’ll see foreign tv rights in places like China and the Middle East are massive earners. So of course the more highly paid superstar players in the league the more money for the clubs and not least the FA.

As Hull and Portsmouth have recently found out, this money for a hired gun scenario is not sustainable and if the only way you can compete is if your club finds a billionaire with no love or link to your club then you’ll always lose in the end. What will happen to Manchester City and Chelsea when their billionaires leave? It’ll happen sooner or later and so will the free expendable cash.

Football in england is not cheap, as Liverpool’s and Newcastle’s owners can testify, but in Liverpool’s case it may just be profitable when you sell. If that’s the only way you can muster a profit then the FA premiership is going to struggle. and it’ll be criminal if the powers that be don’t step in and introduce a system that allows the smaller less fashionable clubs to stay afloat and maybe even turn a decent profit.

But will that be as entertaining? Only time will tell.

03
Mar
10

So who won?

England have beaten Egypt tonight at Wembley and the question still needs answering. Just who has won. Egypt looked like a team of world beaters that were capable of destroying England at every attack and England, well in the first half they were just hopeless. It has to be said that it doesn’t instill confidence for the World Cup in South Africa, but the second half although not great did. Capello changed some personnel but not tactics and no doubt had a few choice words at half time. And this is what’s important. Sven for all the flak he was given and a very good record for England, but never really had the players running scared. Capello like Ferguson at United seems to be like a father figure come evil tyrant who isn’t scared of any big names and if anyone steps out of line then all he has to do is show them his trophy cabinet and then the door. They won’t like either.

So now to the real battle. We here at SoccerCasual towers have stayed well clear of the Terry/Cole/Bridge story as… well it just isn’t football is it. They’ve all been made to look like a bunch of mugs lately. It’s easy to say all footballers cheat, everyone has a story of some local player ‘got off with this girl I know at work’ but never has it been played out so  publicly. There’s always rumors about why certain players move on but for the first time in history we had a tangible story to get our teeth in to. Terry has been the biggest winner and loser in these stories. He’s won his family back for now, but sadly for him he’s lost the England captain’s armband, his dignity, his England box (and wage packet that allegedly goes with it) and also his form and whatever pace he had. He’s gone from the ‘best defender in the world’ to someone who looks like he’d be well out of plays in a Dubai holiday resort 5 a side team.

Bridge seems to have come out it smelling like roses, afterall what has he done wrong. Nothing that we know of. But he’s lost his England future, his partner (she was gone already) and his form. He still has the one thing Terry will never. That’s his dignity. But then again Terry may well get something that Bridge will never get either if he’s lucky. A World Cup winners medal, and if that happens then maybe all of this will be forgotten. 

If that doesn’t happen then I can’t help but think that the biggest losers will be the English fans who were beginning to think that Capello had assembled a winning mentality only to see it disappear with Terry, Cole and Bridge’s relationships.

A real hero

Available at SoccerCasuals.co.uk

Continue reading ‘So who won?’

30
Dec
09

Fans get their way… Finally

 

Who says that fans don’t have a say at their football clubs. Bolton Wanderers finally bowed to fans pressure and sacked their manager Gary Megson today after leaving them second bottom of the league but with two games in hand. These two games could have made all the difference, but lets be fair…. Teams that are second bottom of the league are there because they can’t buy a win.

Megson had never been popular, and when he signed up to Bolton a poll of fans were taken and he only received 1 persent approval rate. So some would say it’s been a long time coming but others may think that the board have been patient with him. Sadly with the transfer window on the horizon, whatever money that Bolton directors planned to spend was always going to be used by their prefered manager. Sadly for him and not so sadly for the fans, it was never going to be Megson.

Gary Megson has finally been booted out of Bolton – the only surprise being he lasted as long as he did.

The Bolton faithful, who had been treated to European football and a Carling Cup final under Sam Allardyce, disliked Megson from the moment he was chosen to replace Sammy Lee just over two years ago.

Indeed, there were even anti-Megson demonstrations ahead of his first game in charge, a UEFA Cup tie against Sporting Braga.

That ill-feeling continued right though to his last game in charge, against Hull on Tuesday night, when a controversial decision to replace goalscorer Ivan Klasnic was followed by an equalising goal from the visitors that ultimately proved to be the last milestone of Megson’s time in charge.

Asked if he thought he could not win over the fans Megson replied: “Yes.

“I make the decision (to take off Klasnic) and it goes down like the Bismarck. Yet I made exactly the same decision against West Ham at 2-1 and we went on to win that one 3-1. No-one says a word.

“I don’t understand the reaction at all. Their reaction is one of ‘This would happen, that would happen’.

“Everyone has an opinion but mine has consequences, therefore it becomes a decision.”

Countless times during his reign the man dubbed “Ginger Mourinho” was forced to deflect attention on himself away from the team, insisting the fan reaction was not having an impact.

But chief executive Phil Gartside knew that situation was unsustainable over the long-term and, after tossing away a two-goal lead at the Reebok Stadium last night, has decided to act.

Gartside clearly wants to give Megson’s replacement an opportunity to exploit whatever bargains may be available during the transfer window and provide the best possible chance to avoid a financially catastrophic and drop into the Championship.

Megson becomes the third Premier League boss to lose his job this season, and the second in less than a fortnight following Mark Hughes’ exit from Manchester City, and Darren Ferguson has quickly been installed as one of the favourites to replace him.

However, whether chairman Phil Gartside would place his trust in someone who has no Premier League experience is open to question given Bolton’s current plight.

Although Megson has twice steered the Trotters to safety, they failed to escape the bottom three last night and with trips to Arsenal and Sunderland looming in a crucial seven-day period that starts with an FA Cup encounter with Lincoln at the weekend.

Paul Jewell, who had a successful stint at nearby Wigan and was successful in keeping Bradford in the Premier League, might be viewed as a better bet given the circumstances, while Gareth Southgate, Alan Curbishley and Steve Coppell are all highly-rated and currently out of work.

Of those in jobs, Burnley’s Owen Coyle is a former Bolton player, while Allardyce himself is bound to be mentioned among Trotters supporters, even if a return to old haunts is somewhat implausible.

Assistant manager Chris Evans and first-team coach Steve Wigley will take temporary charge, although whether Gartside appoints either man on a full-time basis is unlikely given the disaster that unfolded when he appointed Lee from Allardyce’s backroom team.

GARY MEGSON FACTFILE

1959: Born May 2, Manchester.

1994: Moves into coaching with Norwich after 18 years as a player with Plymouth, Everton, Nottingham Forest, Newcastle, Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester City as well as the Canaries. Works as assistant to manager John Deehan.

1995: Takes over as caretaker boss at Carrow Road following Deehan’s departure but is unable to prevent the club’s relegation from the Premiership.

Revives his playing career with short spells at Shrewsbury and Lincoln before returning to Norwich as full-time boss following Martin O’Neill’s departure.

1996: Takes manager’s post at Blackpool after making way at Norwich for returning boss Mike Walker.

1997: Takes over at Stockport and steers them to eighth place in the First Division in his first season in charge.

1999: Moves on to the Stoke manager’s job but stays in the position just four months due to disagreements with the board.

2000: Appointed West Brom manager towards end of 1999-2000 season and just keeps the club in the First Division.

2001: Guides the Baggies into the play-offs but the club are beaten by Bolton in the semi-finals.

2002: After reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, Albion snatch the second automatic promotion spot in Division One ahead of rivals Wolves after a strong late run.

Admits to having differences of opinion with chairman Paul Thompson and even suggests he could leave the club if the problems are not resolved. Thompson later steps down.

July 25 – Signs new three-year deal to stay on at the club as they prepare to embark on their first season in the Premiership.

2003: April – Albion are relegated from the Premiership.

2004: April 24 – West Brom’s return to the top flight is confirmed.

October 26 – Relieved of duties by West Brom hours after revealing he intended to leave the club at the end of his contract in summer 2005.

2005: January 10 – Confirmed as new manager of Nottingham Forest.

2006: February 16 – Resigns as Forest manager after failing to halt the club’s relegation to the third tier and making a poor start to their campaign for promotion.

2007 June: Takes a coaching role at Stoke.

September 13: Appointed Leicester manager, replacing Martin Allen.

October 24: Leicester give Megson permission to talk to Premier League side Bolton, having already rebuffed two approaches from the Trotters.

October 25: Bolton announce Megson’s appointment on a two-and-a-half-year contract, taking over from Sammy Lee with the club bottom of the Premier League.

January: Sells Nicolas Anelka to Chelsea.

February: Guides Bolton to a 1-0 aggregate win over Atletico Madrid to reach last 16 of UEFA Cup for first time in club’s history. Wanderers lose in the next round to Sporting Lisbon.

May: Bolton finish 16th in the Premier League to beat the drop by a point.

June: Buys Johan Elmander for around £8million from Toulouse.

2009 – March 1: Confirms he has finally signed a 12-month rolling contract 16 months after arriving.

May: Bolton finish 13th in the Premier League.

December 30: Sacked by Bolton a day after a 2-2 draw at home to Hull which left Wanderers third bottom of the Premier League.

29
Nov
09

3-0 to the Chelsea

If ever thee was a sign that Chelsea are the best placed to win the premiership this season then today’s game at the Emirates was it. Arsenal enjoyed the majority of the play without managing a decent chance. So after a first half in which their midfield looked as creative as ever and their attackers took just one touch too many, Chelsea popped up and snatched two late first half goals that all but ended Arsenal’s title run. Of course they rallied in the second half again without making a chance, before Drogba scored again and sent Wenger’s men on their way. 

This was even more amazing for the fact that Aresnal hadn’t lost at home since Chelsea’s last visit in May and had looked in outstanding form all season. Sure they had a few injuries but even Arsene Wenger is beginning to state the obvious, this group of players aren’t youngsters anymore and have to stand up and be counted. So for the first time in a while, this January Arsenal may have to buy.

It was the usual case of men against boys as Chelsea looked so much more physical and wiped the floor with another title contender. Arsenal may have to buy in the Summer but Chelsea may just be celebrating when Summer comes around.

 

22
Nov
09

A question of class

 

You see this smile. It only comes out when i score 5.

So Tottenham Hotspur are the big winners this weekend. A 9-1 victory over Wigan is this seasons high score and was helped along by Jermaine Defoe’s 5 goals. Tottenham find themselves in Champions league qualification and Wigan find themselves in quite a bizzare position. Having played at times this season with a flair not usually associated with the Rugby league loving city and at other times showing a total lack of understanding of tactics, you have to wonder what is wrong.

 

Their manager Martinez has been a revelation in the lower leagues with Swansea and it looked like he was going to do another great job with Wigan early doors. Sadly before the season started he lost a few influential players such as Lee cattimole and it really shows when they are attacked away from home.

So what does it mean for Martinez? In the short term, probably a tough couple of weeks, in the long term the press’s eyes will be on him. Being a fan of longevity and giving managers a chance I have to say that i think he’s moving a hard to handle club in the right direction, but no manager can take too many of these defeats. Wigan along with a few other “Premiership” clubs are difficult propositions to manage. They don’t get huge crowds, aren’t attractive to players and money is always hard to come by. So if he can steer them to mid table security it will be looked on as a huge success.

As for Defoe, he’s now fighting it out with the big boys for the World Cup places but I can’t help but think Capello doesn’t really fancy him. The problem is he has no other real choice until Owen starts playing and scoring. Sadly for tehse two the problems don’t really lie with them, but the one dimensional midfield. There’s great players there but out of the hustle and bustle of the premiership they’ve hardly proved their worth against any major team. We beat Germany years ago and Argentina a while ago (Although we were ttally played off the park.) 

So it is a question of class. Defoe’s got it but is it enough?  England have it but is it enough? Sadly Wigan don’t and I’m not sure martinez has enough to save them.

20
Nov
09

Where did it all go….. Wrong.

 

Can you spare 38p for my bus fare home mate?

So it’s official, the hard working Geordie nation deserved everything they got last season. Not only where they to blame for the new ownership being ridiculous ( see earlier posts), they were also to blame for being too ambitious and forcing their chairman to get players in who maybe could have won them their first trophy in years.

 

Now let it be said we here, at SoccerCasuals Manner don’t believe that for one moment. Today it emerged that Newcastle United paid Obafemi Martins £75k a week. This was a player who featured in one of the worst Newcastle teams in recent times, who when not injured never set the world alight and basically flattered to deceive, but now we know why.

It is alleged that during weekends he would regularly withdraw £40k out of his account and then on the following Monday withdraw another £20k. His mis-self management included nt being paid for contracts as well as mis-placing contracts from his previous club Inter Milan.

Now the usual stories of players being numpties doesn’t really apply here. This guy took it to a whole new level, but in reality he isn’t to blame. Newcastle United gave him the money and no help, it was always going to end in failure when a player from another continent who has no love for a club he has joined and only wants to party and throw cash on all the things that are associated on fast living.

They have had a few teams of them in the last decade and it never came to anything. See Dyer, Bellamy etc and see where that kind of attitude ends up.

So as a famous rapper once said, “Don’t blame the player, blame the game” or the mad Chairman that seem to lose all sense of reality when offering salaries.

 

19
Nov
09

You’ve been framed.

That Terry Henry bloke, he's a bloody cheat.

So it’s all over. The World Cup play offs are over and there’s been no real disasters. Fifa have got what they wanted, the big teams have made it due to the seeding procedure and the world is a happy place again. All except Ireland of course. Because of that evil ex gunner, Thierry Henry they haven’t made it through. It’s all his fault and France should replay the match at a neutral venue immediately.

Of course this isn’t going to happen and if I’m honest I don’t really think it should. For one, Ireland and France had enough opportunities to qualify during the earlier rounds and just like England in the Euro’s, neither were good enough. So a play off was the best way to sort it out and then it was over two games. I don’t agree with the seeding process as they’d already decided their own seeding by coming second in each of their own groups. So for that Fifa got it wrong. But Ireland didn’t hammer France into submission, they could have had a penalty awarded against them earlier and to be fair, although they played well on the night they weren’t the better team.

I generally don’t think they are a better team than France and i don’t thik they will preform better than them had they qualified. Everyone talks about the minnows qualifying for the World Cup and how it spoils it a little. I don’t really agree but I do like to see the big boys play each other when it means something. 

The bottom line is, everyone knew the rules before qualifying and they didn’t change. But sadly there’s no justification for the referee or linesman to have missed the handball and does raise the question of video footage being used yet again. The answer is probably a couple of refs behind the goals acting like linesman, but being able to put their opinion forward when needs be. I can’t help feeling that linesman at the moment are like little boys and girls. They get told that they should only speak when they are spoken to. 

Last night that didn’t really work did it Sepp? But maybe that’s how he and Mr Platini wanted it.

The best team probably won over the two legs, but it’s the nature of the win that hurts as always. For once england weren’t involved in any of this last minute drama, and although I did miss it i doubt my blood pressure did.




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