Archived entries for Football Column

Football Column – Fleet Fox

As Match of the Day (MOTD) turned 50 in the last week it drew both praise and criticism; the eighties graphics were a highlight in the birthday edition, with even the right-back named before the left-back, taking us back to common sense basics. In fact MOTD’s many good points come from not throwing the baby out with the early-bath water, notably reverting back to its best theme tune from 1970 after playing about with it in the eighties, a mistake even the BBC’s otherwise superior Athletics coverage still hasn’t learned from.

Like Athletics, MOTD has an intelligent, natural broadcaster with Gabby Logan (also sometimes a stand-in on MOTD) and Gary Lineker perfect for their roles. More on Lineker to come, but MOTD’s weakness is inconsistency in punditry. Athletics give us Michael Johnson, Tennis offer up John McEnroe and Sky Cricket have a whole team of great analysts, but MOTD is only brought to life during international football. In the World Cup Clarence Seedorf was a breath of fresh air, and in the past Terry Venables and Trevor Brooking were the non-playing stars of Italia ’90’, having to explain to the slow-on-the-uptake Jimmy Hill that Chris Waddle and John Barnes were more dangerous having a bit of freedom in the final third than chasing back full-backs.
Continue reading…

Football Column – EPL IPR OG

Football Column – EPL IPR OG: Man Utd ban tablets & laptops, the Premier League ban vines but the memorable moment of the opening weekend was viral footage.

Last Friday, on the eve of the new Premier League season, a Premier League spokesman said it would be clamping down on unofficial footage posted online while in the same sentence plugging that content would be available at a price from two brands of a global newsgroup. While it is reasonable the Premier League want to protect the value of the intellectual property rights they auction off, their comments actually go further than worrying about pirate streaming and copies of replayed goals – they also object to the paying punter sharing footage they have captured themselves.
Continue reading…

Football Column – A Few Good Men

A pre-season return for The Substantive Football Column.

The Premier League had a launch party today. It’s not entirely clear why. It’s nothing new and the media that report on the launch cover the Premier League on a daily basis anyway. A suited Mike Reilly demonstrating how a black can of whipped cream can vanish when sprayed on astro-turf doesn’t justify Richard Scudamore picking at cocktail sausages while having a dig at La Liga, boasting how many $200 tickets were sold for a pre-season friendly and no doubt checking his emails on his mobile device. Continue reading…

World Cup 2014: Land of Hope and Dreams

Fifa World Cup posters 1930 - 2014

That was the week that was, the best first week of a World Cup certainly since Espana ’82 when the entrants were increased to 24 and the competition grew to another level. It’s already, as some of us predicted, an open tournament, with no clear favourites. Before it began Paul Wilson wisely noted most teams, including England, had a chance and flair and progressive football may yet be rewarded. There have been high-quality clashes, games with end-to-end action, plenty of goals including a couple of world class ones, a degree of unpredictability, new rules that have benefited the games, and even, largely, good officiating, with the referee decision to let play go on in dying minutes of stoppage time in the Switzerland game as good as a decision as the soft penalty the hosts were awarded on the opening night was disappointing.

There are two certainties during any football World Cup: (1) People around the world will be united with a passion and interest in the global game. This is exemplified in bars in cities the world over every four years. Just as telling, in an hour plus bus ride through ethnically diverse and far from affluent towns in west London this morning, England flags were a constant with people wearing their colours for the nation where they live and work. Meanwhile, there is another category of people that always seem to pop-up while millions immerse their soul in a love of the game: (2) the passive-aggressive sneering cynics who look to discredit football at every given opportunity. What a blow for that second group this last week has been.

We can smell these naysayers from afar, as annoying and distinct as exhaled smoke. There are the landlords in pubs who originally don’t plan to show football but seeing their takings fall they begrudgingly turn their TV set on, presumably previously there as a fake decoration like a library book in an O’Neill’s pub or in case war breaks out and there is an address to the nation; having turned the telly, like a modern-day Basil Fawlty, they then insist on turning the volume down to zero, as football is beneath them. These are the type of people who have sneered at working-class kids like Beckham and Rooney earning money they can only dream of, but never mention golfers, motor racing drivers, or bankers or barristers or any other profession where having a more advantageous start in life may have played a part. Continue reading…

Born to End – Stop StubHub

Yesterday, Sky Sports, when previewing Tottenham Hotspur’s trip to Swansea City, spoke about the club making history if they repeated something they had done before, albeit half a centuary ago. As if 50 years ago doesn’t count. But perhaps not surprising from the outlet that perpetuates the notion that football was only formed 20 years ago.

Younger fans must think yesterday’s pundit Greame Souness played in a parrallel universe, like a modern day version of Melchester Rovers when Bob Wilson, Emlyn Hughes and members of Spandua Ballet teamed up with Roy Race. Footage exists of goals Souness scored, but as they weren’t in the top flight Mark II, aka the Premier League, they must seem like a piece of fiction, dramatised in grainy cinematography with a thousands of extras and a voice over from an actor called Brian Moore.

Football history, with packed terraces, such as when Spurs last won five away games, is now only partially recognised. In the mind of Sky Sports, Souness’ League Cup winner in 1984, was really in the Year 8BEPL. Continue reading…

Bang and Blame

After another less than fluent performance earlier today by a Tottenham side during his tenure, Head Coach Andre Villas-Boas decided to openly criticise the club’s own fans in his post-match interviews, which brought up the theme of self-entitlement – the self-entitlement of the football industry which allows leaders of businesses to believe they can blame their most loyal customers for their under-performance.

This is an arrogance virtually unique to football, although as slopping shoulders go in public life it follows hot on the heels of the coalition Government’s Energy Secretary, determined to bury his head in the sand regarding unregulated privatised companies, unsubtly suggesting the poor and elderly whose living standards have fallen might want to wear a jumper in order for them to keep escalating bills down.

Villas-Boas’ deliberately directed comments took the shine of an important win against a Hull City side set-up to frustrate and time-waste. His delivery in the interviews with both BBC and Sky suggested it was an excuse he had built up in his mind as it looked Spurs would huff-and-puff but fail to break Hull down, with a lack of guile, despite a wealth of talent and riches at his disposal. Even more worrying, he is giving his players a ready-made excuse for future failure at home. Continue reading…

Lost in Secondary Ticketing Market

Last October, The Substantive Football Column wrote about the contempt English Football Clubs seemed to have for their own supporters with unreasonable price rises. Today The Substantive puts its name to the letter below from Tottenham Hotspur fans to the club who embarked on a partnership with secondary ticketing agency StubHub without consultation of fans and which has directly led to an unregulated market with tickets going on sale up to 1000% of face value via links on the official Spurs website.

This Saturday Spurs play Chelsea in a London derby that is a top of the table Premier League match at White Hart Lane; it has been officially sold out for some time yet on StubHub, four days before the game, 276 tickets remain on sale at up to £1265 each. 

The letter below highlights the concerns of Tottenham fans and can be supported by fans of all clubs by signing this Stop Stubhub Petition. Continue reading…

Gucci Little Piggy

The lazy journalists, part-time football fans and rolling sports news programmes in England got what they wanted when Jose Mourinho returned in the summer, a character who omits an attitude that suggests he believes he is bigger than the game. He has already given them what they want in under ten days of the new season, disingenuously saying David Moyes was the reason Wayne Rooney wanted to leave Manchester United and revelling in agreeing the transfer of Willian for what looks to be the primary purpose of stopping Spurs having him. He has created talking points from hot air while on the pitch the rest of us see the old traits, from the unspoken influence over refereeing decisions that led to an undeserved win against Aston Villa last week and negative tactics in yesterday evening’s goalless draw at Old Trafford.

Reputation is everything to Mourinho, visible from the pictures he tries to paint in his interviews to his image on the touchline (last night in pullover and jacket despite the seasonal warm climate); but legacy is more than an honours list, it is created in the manner success is achieved. Introduced as “the man himself” in his post-match interview on Monday Night Football, he left both Real Madrid and Chelsea the first-time round with dissatisfaction within at someone who caused internal unrest and tried to kill games and grind out results on the biggest stage despite having a wealth of talent at his disposal in both cases. Continue reading…

Favourite Worst Nightmare

A return for the Football Column with a brief piece to start the 2013-14 domestic season on the opening weekend of top flight football in England and Spain.

Whereas the 2011/12 season had drama to the end with Man City snatching victory from another humiliation and Chelsea’s anti-football playing out like a realistic depressing thriller on the main stage in Munich, the following 2012/13 season was an anti-climax, with only Wigan and Swansea winning the domestic cups in England, Bayern Munich’s dominance of Europe and consistent sensational individual performances by Gareth Bale standing out. Continue reading…

Blinkered

At half-time during the Saturday lunch-time kick-off at the Stadium of Light between Sunderland and Manchester United, Sky Sports briefly showed some African dancing in the centre circle, not just a novel alternative from the old days when a brass band came on to play, but taking place, as Sky explained, due to Sunderland’s first ‘Nelson Mandela Day’. Suddenly, a club that had been playing largely dour football for much of the season seemingly based on the organisation and motivation techniques of Martin O’Neill, aroused positive interest in the split second of that news.

Sporting and artistic boycotts of an Apartheid South Africa previously raised the profile of Mandela when he was a political prisoner on Robben Island and were a key instrument in change, arguably more so than economic sanctions; Sunderland’s recent partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to pursue social justice, was a positive reminder of the part sport, and popular culture, plays in shaping a wider society.

So, the announcement last night, the day after SAFC’s very own Mandela Day, that self-confessed fascist Paolo Di Canio was the club’s new Manager, to replace O’Neill, who had been relieved of his duties the previous evening, was particularly bizarre. Continue reading…



Copyright © 2004–2009. All rights reserved.

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez.