So the fiasco of that European Super league is over, for now. It was a hideous concept dreamt up by the billionaire owners of a dozen or so of the top teams in Europe or those faced with the biggest debts. Let’s face it these guys, be they Middle Eastern potentates, Asian oligarchs or American tycoons, made an investment in football – the world’s greatest sport – not because they had a love for the game but because at some point they wanted to make a serious return. And the American bunch convinced their counterparts to adopt the franchise example of American football; a closed group of teams protected from the threat of automatic relegation and promotion, able to soak their fans and maximise/share the incredible broadcast revenues whilst imposing a salary cap on the talent. Let’s face it, if you could afford to be in the club it must have looked liked a recipe for unbridled success with the share prices soaring along with the profits. 5 years of this model and the debts would be paid off and the asset put up for sale to the next batch of uber-entrepreneurs for huge profits. Bastards. Continue reading
Well after the news of Murray’s death, it was very sad to learn about the passing of Leeds United great Peter Lorimer. Not that I was a Leeds fan; anything but. They were the original team to hate but boy did they have some players and Lasher Lorimer was one of their greatest – the youngest ever player at 15 years +, he went on to make 703 appearances no less and scored 238 goals, many of them absolute rockets. Continue reading
Yesterday was a little bit of a special day. You see I’m a big sports fan and yesterday afternoon I found myself watching the F1 GP qualifying sessions and between times catching up with England’s progress in the Test match v the W Indies. And then I checked into Sky’s Soccer Saturday and gorged on Jeff Stelling and the footie all afternoon. For the last 3 months we haven’t been able to do any of that of course and it felt decadent and good at the same time. Ah welcome back top level sport that we are pretty darn good at. Do you ever wonder what it must be like doing that if you’re say Scottish or Welsh? Ha! Cheap joke sorry. And not that funny. And a bit offensive. Sorry again. Well slightly amusing.
Well I see that the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is having talks today with football administrators and medical experts over the possibility of allowing top class English football to return next month behind closed doors and at neutral venues. Now nobody would be happier than me to see football’s return – so long as it is safe for all concerned. Indeed yesterday the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, was gushing about how the Premier League’s return could ‘lift the spirits of the nation’. Wow it only seems a few days since Matt Hancock publicly pilloried top flight footballers for their wealthy lifestyles and shaming them into making a bigger contribution towards the cost of the NHS (that is in addition to the heavy tax they pay on their massive earnings) which many were already doing privately. It makes you laugh doesn’t it. The Government targets easy scapegoats but with 30,000 covid-19 deaths already on their watch (the largest in any country bar the USA which does have 4 times our population) they are suddenly in need of those overpaid footballers to take the attention and the pressure off them. And people accuse me of being cynical. Pah
Well I thought it might be time for a change in subject matter and whilst I don’t want to alienate my many (ahem) female readers, I thought it was about time to talk sport.
Well I have a confession. Up until very recently I’ve never really enjoyed watching women’s football. It just lacks the intensity of the men’s game to my liking – be it the physicality, skill level, pace, passion etc. However I’ve been watching the current World Cup matches on tv and I’ve really, really enjoyed it. Particularly the England matches of course. Last night the Lionesses reached the semi-finals by beating a very good Norway side 3-0 and it was a super game to watch. Maybe I’m missing the men’s game a bit but there’s no denying it was for a a compelling match. In fact all the England matches have been and I’m clearly not alone in thinking that. The last two games have seen tv audiences of 6.1m for the win against Scotland and then 6.9m for the Cameroon match – both record numbers. I haven’t seen the figures for last night’s match yet but I’m sure they’ll have smashed those figures again.
Well it’s been a great WC for a change hasn’t it? Alright England ran out of steam and composure in the end but their performance generally was as good as I’d wished for and predicted several weeks ago and my forecast of Harry Kane winning the Golden Boot looks likely to happen (unless Mbappe has a field day in the final, which he might). So as I’m clearly clairvoyant I thought I’d try a few more cheeky predictions:
– Messi to retire from international football properly this time
– Phil Jones never to play for England (and hopefully Man U) ever again
– Diego Maradona to shake the hand of God before the next WC qualifiers begin
– Gareth Southgate to be tempted by a serious offer of a job by Crystal Palace within the next 6 months but declines
– his assistant Steve Holland tempted by serious job offers from one of Southampton, Derby, Cardiff and Huddersfield within next 6 months and accepts only to leave a year later
– ManU to buy one player from each of today’s WC finalists France and Croatia but Jose Mourinho fails to get the best from them
– Paul Pogba to leave ManU
– Real Madrid to make a big name signing (ok not a stretch) but it’s not Neymar nor Mbappe then tempt THFC with a Bale/Modric double swap deal for Harry Kane/Delle Ali. Daniel Levy tempted but demands £60m too. RM Pres Perez chokes on his frittata
– Giroud to move on from Chelsea to …..who cares?
– Roberto Martinez to be sacked as Belgium manager and be replaced by Sam Allardyce (that last bit is just for fun)
– Alan Shearer to be named (and I’d never thought I’d find myself saying this) best pundit at the WC
– Russia to be judged as best WC hosts (and I’d never think I’d be saying that either)
There you go. Feel free to suggest your own
Well yesterday was a great day really. I headed in to London to see my old friend J who runs a very funky graphics design agency. We had a great meeting on how I might be able to help build awareness for him and his creative work now that I’ve sharpened up his online presence. All very exciting. En route to meeting up with him near Waterloo, I drove in to north London and parked up my car very close to where we used to live on Muswell Hill Rd. It was lovely to walk through Highgate Woods again on the way to Highgate underground station. Now you may not know it but because of the hilly terrain, the station was built in a deep cutting excavated beneath Highgate Hill. During the war, the deep-level platforms at Highgate were used by many as a shelter from the bombing of London by the Luftwaffe, and, later, V-1 and V-2 missiles. The entrance is a long way down. You can in fact get an up escalator to the surface from the booking hall but there’s only one way down via a steepish path. I’m not sure these pictures do it justice….