Money the Bane of the Game
Is money ruining the beautiful game? It’s been a bone of contention for many years. The debate gathered pace the second Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Television merged with struggling BSB (British Satellite Broadcasting) to create a new television media empire called BskyB (British Sky Broadcasting). Sky Sports suddenly moved to the forefront of broadcasting, slowly it sought about monopolising live televised football, and for years it was successful. Recently Setanta Sports pushed the threshold even higher, breaking the monopoly but in doing so ensuring a bidding war ensued for the latest live football packages. Six packages were up for grabs (during the previous bidding wars -for the four year period of 2003 to 2007- the packages went for £1.024bn ($1.77bn)!). This year BskyB lost its monopoly on live football. In total the six packages went for a total of £1.7bn ($3.1bn), BskyB paying £1.3bn for its four packages consisting of 92 live matches (including the premium Sunday Afternoon games) and Setanta forking out £392m for two packages consisting of around 30games.
On top of those astonishing figures ticket prices are rising as clubs seek to squeeze every last penny out of their loyal fans. Merchandising has gone through the roof, children in Africa are just as likely to don an Everton shirt as a child running along Goodison Road. Obviously with so much money floating around, clubs are trying every method possible to get a little more of the “Green Stuff” than their rivals – obviously to try and stay one step ahead on the field (or so they would have you believe)! Basically the modern game is much more than just a sport now, it’s a global money making machine, each cog in this machine (i.e. the clubs) is seeking more and more grease (money) to keep turning smoothly, the mechanics (people putting money into the game) keep pumping more and more grease into the machine, to feed the cog’s hunger! Eventually, BANG – CRASH – WALLOP. Too much grease clogged up the system and the whole machine goes, for want of a better phrase, tits up! Ok I’m getting lost in a sea of analogies, metaphors and similes here. Basically I sense a catastrophic end to this financial bubble, which is currently lifting the game to unseen heights, eventually this bubble will burst and everything in it will come crashing back down to earth.
However, until that day we should try and enjoy the game like days of old. The passion Scotland are installing into their nation during their fantastic attempt to qualify for Euro 2008. One of either Italy or France, the 2006 World Cup Finalists, will most likely be knocked out by the Scots, a fairytale story. Then you have Leeds United (their circumstance is a perfect example of the financial bubble burst mentioned earlier!), docked 15points this year due to going into administration at the end of the previous season, they are giving a valiant attempt to return to Championship football, unbeaten all season. Then you have the humane side of the game, the tragic and sad story of Seville defender Antonio Puerta, who passed away during a match, it’s moments like that which put the financial side of football into perspective!
Such a sudden increase in finances in the game does create a flip side to that golden coin too. With such vast sums of money normally comes greed and corruption. When I say corruption I’m not talking where did Roman Abramovich get his billions from. Nor am I referring to Thaksin Shinawatra, who is facing extradition to Thailand for alleged corruption charges (unrelated to anything Football or Manchester City I hasten to add). This amazing and true story comes from Cameroon. A relegation deciding match taking place on September 15th 2007 between Bamboutos and Federal SC was the entertaining end to end match you’d expect, but things turned rather farcical just after Federal had equalised on the night to make the scores 2-2. A result that would relegate Bamboutos. The Bamboutos manager, Saturin Anaba, called Federal captain, Nkoun a Rim, to the touchline. Bemused fans, officials and players looked on as the two had a clandestine conversion at the side of the pitch. Moments later Bamboutos captain Koss Roger went down with an injury and was attended to by club physio Barthelemy Tchio. Rather than administer the magic sponge, the physio proceeded to hand over an envelope to the “stricken” player. He recovered and continued the game. Then, right before 1000 fans, officials and players Koss Roger handed the envelope to Nkoun a Rim. Later in the game Nkoun was involved in the incident that led to Bamboutos scoring a third, and winning, goal!
Now I’m not sure about you, but I’ve NEVER heard a tale of such stupidity and rightly Bamboutos were caught, convicted and relegated to the third division. Money means we see more of the game we all love. The coverage of the game is second to none. Yet with the players getting richer, the fans are getting poorer as they spend more and more to follow their team. Ultimately the game is creating a divide between those who play the game and those who watch it. This rift will burst the bubble; it’s only a matter of time!
And finally a quick round up of what’s happening on the pitch. Bayern Munich will face Bolton Wanderers in the group stages of the UEFA cup. Other ties of interest will see Villarreal lock horns with Fiorentina and Anderlecht battle England’s consistently fifth best team, Tottenham. Milan keeper Dida has been given a 2 game ban for his theatrics during the Celtic game and Fernando Torres is out for 10days as he injuries himself in training prior to Spain’s Euro 2008 qualifying match with Denmark, a match in which Spain romped to a 3-1 victory.
The Fall of the Roman Empire
So this would be the very first of my football blogs, and to be honest it’s a good week to start such an adventure. I’m not sitting here scratching my head trying to concoct something to talk about because nothing has happened. Quite the opposite. I’m probably going to struggle to keep this blog below the length of the latest Harry Potter novel! This week has seen some tumultuous occurrences on and off the field.
Firstly the departing of the self proclaimed “chosen one” from the Chelsea helm, and possibly our shores. Far be it from me to call those in a club’s hierarchy “fickle and hypocritical” but surely the Chelsea board should be labelled so for sacking (let’s be brutal and honest, that’s what they did, none of this “mutual consent” lark please!) a manager who has delivered two Premiership titles, two Carling cups and an FA Cup triumph during a mere three years in charge. A ludicrous act when you think during that same period those who sit in the board (whose primary job it is to deal with matters off the field, finances surely falling top of that list!) have overseen the running of a business that posted losses of £80.2million, £140million (the biggest in football history!) and £80million over the same three years Mourinho transformed fortunes on the pitch! Did anybody on the board lose their job because of this? Don’t think so, matter-of-fact the man who should ultimately be blamed for these losses, chief executive Peter Kenyon, sits next to new manager Avram Grant (aka “the normal one”) at a Chelsea press conference and scoffs “I would be the first one to celebrate my time, and the club's time, with Jose Mourinho, but we had reached the point, through the last few days, where it was right for the club to mutually agree to part company.” So there you have it, the time was right for Mourinho to go, when he was delivering success on the pitch. Basically doing the job he was paid to do. Could this moment of madness from the powers that be spell the beginning of the end for the Roman Empire? Heavens only knows what the new Roman General Avram Grant will have to do to remain in a job for the season’s entirety! Surely losing 2-0, in such an uncharacteristically poor Chelsea performance, at Old Trafford on Sunday wouldn’t have helped his cause!
Speaking of Sunday, how great it was to see Carlos Tevez finally break his Manchester United scoring duck after six games. He achieved this feet after 16 games during his brief spell at West Ham and look what he went on to achieve there, but Sunday’s goal, where he truly lived up to the moniker “Apache” as he flew from the ground to divert a classy Giggs cross past a despairing Petr Cech, had been coming, and I’m willing to bet more will follow.
The ref copped a barracking from the Monday morning media, in the wake of what was an interesting performance to say the least. Obi Mikel probably should have stayed on the pitch following an uncouth tackle on Patrice Evra, yet Joe Cole should have definitely gone for a disgraceful attempt to end Ronaldo’s career. Saha’s penalty might not have been given on a different day and by a different ref, but Evra was certainly scythed down from behind as he bombed into the penalty area during the first half (Joe Cole again the perpetrator!). So yes the ref got some key decisions wrong, but in truth, as with most cases, the overall game was officiated ably and the decisions, over the cause of 90minutes, balanced out. And the debate over the 20odd seconds of additional extra time that was played during the first half is a mute point. Firstly the two minutes that were shown were a “minimum of” amount, furthermore those 20odd seconds should not be used as an excuse by Chelsea for not defending and letting Tevez dive in unmarked to nod home the opening goal.
My personal opinion of the way refs are treated is they are not given the respect they disserve. True they make mistakes, but so does every person who associates themselves with football. The crisis in the lower leagues is leading to games having to be switched to different days of the week due to a shortage of refs. A point that was accentuated in Mid Wales last Saturday as a ref had to ref two games on the same day (obviously they kicked off at different times). If players and clubs don’t start showing more respect for those that officiate our game, then many lower leagues will see their games officiated by fans or players, and we all know that will spell disaster and lead to joke matches, the enjoyment will soon go from such games! The fact remains that it’s a trend of disrespect that filters down from the top, when we put on Sky Sports, Setanta Sports, BBC or ITV (I’ve lost track of who shows which games nowadays!) and see John Terry trying to grab a card from the referee’s hand as he attempts to brandish it to one of Terry’s team-mates, then surely Joe Bloggs playing for the Old Lion on a Sunday will think it’s a just and right thing to do. The FA needs to come down hard on players from all clubs, and all leagues, who abuse refs. That will solve the problem overnight of that I can assure you.
And briefly some more news – It looks like the Owen injury crisis isn’t over, just as he hits three goals in two games for England and the nation’s spirit is once again lifted, more woes were soon to follow. It appears Owen will need an operation on a troublesome groin and could miss the upcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers as well as yet more Newcastle games (as Sam Allardyce was quick to point out). Lucky for England Rooney appeared fighting fit, if not a little ring rusty, as he returned to the Manchester United line-up. Across Europe Real Madrid needed a late goal from former Barcelona star Javier Saviola to remain top of La Liga as they salvaged a 1-1 draw away at Valladolid. Bayern star Luca Toni was yet again amongst the goals as the best team not in the Champions League recorded a 4-1 win away at Karlsruher SC, a win that keeps them two points clear at the top of the league. And Juventus lost their first league game since returning to Serie A as they went down 1-0 at home to Udinese.
How things work...
...i always find it amazing, how things work out. I'm just sat here thinking to myself i have to be one of the luckiest people alive. If you were in my shoes, or in this seat, and could see who was laying behind me, you too could see that one little thing that has changed over the last few weeks, and how that one little thing, has made me sooo bloody happy!
It's been a while...
BIG WORLDWIDE STATIONERY CON!
So, this rather bizarre story started a while back, it obviously involves a website that goes by the name of Worldwide Stationery and is run by a man called James Cameron. http://www.worldwidestationery.com
This website was advertised in The Trader, The Guardian, The Times and The Telegraph, which would give it some repute you would imagine? (Turns out everything weren’t quite how it seemed!!!)
Me and my boss from work, Ian, found the website in The Trader, and were drawn by the stationery aspect of what they sell, given that they were advertised as a “wholesale stationers” and the shop Ian runs also has a stationery section.
However, upon visiting this website, we were amazed to see Cameras, Monitors and LCD TVs at low low prices. We registered, were drawn in, and ordered nearly £2000 of goods. And this is where the con gets interesting.
The man will only accept BACS or Cheque, so we done a next day bank transfer into his Clydesdale account.
Pervious to this payment, we would receive near instant replies to all our emails. Suddenly, for three days we heard almost zip, just one Email that said “delivery will be with you within 48hours.”
I waited the Thursday and Friday, no delivery, and suddenly no response to Emails! Then, out of the blue, on Monday, I had an Email saying “delivery will be with you Tuesday”, again, I waited off work, and no delivery arrived. It was at that point we decided to look a little deeper, searching for the address of the company “88a tooley street, london” and this is the website that drew out attention…
The unveiling of the scam! My advice to all who read this, DO NOT TOUCH THIS SITE, they are a bunch of frauds. I am only posting this topic in the hope that somebody, searching for Worldwide Stationery before they buy (like we did) will find this forum BEFORE THEY BUY.
And a note to James Cameron -because we know he’ll be reading- we know more about you now, then you probably know about yourself. It’s only a matter of time before your fraud catches up with you…
Ashes Come Home
check my forum/website
COME ON BABY. WE-as in England-have beaten the Aussies, credit to the guys they were magical! KP was out of this world, Giles batted really well, Flintoff and Hoggard yesterday, THE WHOLE BLOODY TEAM, are now heroes. What a day.