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Category: Football

Thank you Mark Halsey for both being inspiring and for being a darn good referee

In 2009 the Premier League returned and Mark Halsey refereed at Goodison Park on the opening Saturday of the season. Nothing interesting here despite the 6-1 scoreline to the visitors Arsenal but the referee that day had just been given some pretty horrendous news. Mark Halsey had been diagnosed with a Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and had a cancerous tumour in his throat. This was removed and the battle started not only to return to full health but to also to return to his previous career of a full-time professional football referee.

He would do so and would referee for two more complete seasons as well as the end of the 09/10 season before announcing his retirement a couple of weeks back. Speaking yesterday after his final game the 52 year-old said the following:

‘It’s been a fantastic career for me, with ups and downs.

‘I have had three great years since I have come back from my illness and hopefully I have been an inspiration for all those men, women and children out there living with cancer, and shown them we can beat this, that we can get back out there.

‘Hopefully I have done a lot for them.’

What I have to say to Mark is that anyone who survives just an illness and returns to their profession in full health is an inspiration – certainly one that involves such a level of physical fitness. His performances on the field of play have (for me) still at in the upper echelons of Select Group referees and no doubt had he wanted to continue then he would have had another year (at least) in him. However he has decided to move on to a rather interesting new position.

As a long time fan of the NFL I have seen both FOX and latterly ESPN have had an expert that can use to talk about decisions of the referee in charge of a game. Mike Pereira and Gerry Austin have been these two gentlemen and it has added an extra insight and level of broadcasting a game. Mark Halsey will be providing this role for BT Sport when they take over one third of the Premier League TV rights next season as well as FA Cup for at least the 13/14 season.

On British TV we aren’t used to this so it will be interesting to see how BT Sport use Halsey and if the public like it. It has worked great in the States on the NFL so I see no reason why it wouldn’t work well in football over here. I’m excited for Mark that he has such an interesting job to go to but still a bit sad that a good referee has decided to leave the Select Group and the sport.

Graham Poll thought he should retire because he was getting old and didn’t see Wigan’s Callum McManaman’s horror tackle in the match against Newcastle earlier this season. Now I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure referees don’t have x-ray vision and if a player runs in front of you at the crucial moment and you are blinded then what can you do? I’m positive Graham Poll would have got it spot on as he never made a mistake. Honest guv…

One last thing on why I think Halsey was a good referee. He had played the game at a non-league level so understood the game. I have always said that bringing through referees who have played either at semi-pro or low league level can only improve the game. One of the best referees I’ve ever seen was Steve Baines who had played professionally at Chesterfield amongst others and always had the lowest rate of yellow cards in the football league but his games were always handled professionally and the players seemed to react well to his style of officiating.

So from me it is thank you and good luck to Mark Halsey. I shall miss you in the middle but your insight in the commentary box should hopefully take football coverage to the next level.

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David Moyes to United – My thoughts…

…because I know you are all dying to read them.

First of all I am surprised that the Manchester United board have gone with a guy who whilst I think can do the job – has yet to prove his ability at the very top table. It is always good to bring through new blood and give (relatively) young managers a chance but Manchester United are a club listed on the NYSE and the share price is extremely important to the club. Until Moyes can prove it I suspect investors will be uneasy.

Away from that though I am delighted that Moyes has been given a shot. I really am. I think he is the best manager outside of Sir Alex and Arsene currently plying their trade in English football. I would throw in Guy Whittingham as well but that I suspect might just be blatant bias. The job he has done at Everton has clearly been first rate and his record in the transfer market has been impressive. All managers have their misses but he has been able to keep his flops to a minimum and has always got the best out of his players. Taking chances on the likes of Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines were first rate as both of these players could be argued are in England’s best XI at the moment.

The big question though (well one of three but in my opinion the biggest and most stark) is how will David Moyes do when buying at the top table. I shop at various supermarkets but I suspect if I shopped at Fortnum and Mason I wouldn’t know where to start and would come out with posh nosh that actually wasn’t very good. Can Moyes identify the right player to spend £30million on? Can he solve the problem Manchester United have of finding that playmaker in the middle of the park? Can he attract players to join him over the likes of Mourinho etc…?

Another question is how he’ll deal with the egos of the bigger players. Lots of talk that Ronaldo might be returning but that Rooney wants out. What does he do here? Lastly can he deal with the pressure that comes from one of the biggest jobs in world football and following a legend? It is never easy to follow a beloved leader but when that leader left at the top and is still on the payroll and around? Oh boy…

I fear for David Moyes but you know what – he has well and truly earned the chance to try and whilst I’m no big Manchester United lover I will be rooting for him to succeed. However with Jose’s imminent return to the Premier League I’ll also be rooting for him. With my long team fandom of Arsene and the way his teams try to play then I have lots of rooting interests in the Premier League next season. Manchester City will not have any of that.

Moyes has always come across as first and foremost a decent chap and I personally respect that a lot. I think he can succeed at Old Trafford and the six-year deal shows that the powers that be at Old Trafford see this as a long-term appointment (and is possibly why Jose Mourinho was never a genuine contender). Lots of hard work ahead for him but what a job and what an opportunity. I wish him well and also to Everton for the way they’ve acted in all this – it has been very classy.

So at least two of the top four will be changing their managers this summer (United: Moyes, Chelsea: Mourinho) and who knows what’ll happen with Roberto Mancini. Sounds like a fun summer ahead!

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Football blogger sued for column which is critical of prospective owners. At what point is it an overreaction?

Today the administrators have exchanged contracts with the Portsmouth Supporters Trust over the sale of Portsmouth Football Club to the Supporters Trust as long as the High Court sanctions the sale of Fratton Park to PST for the price of three million. The court case is still pending.

A few days ago I penned the following but sat on it. As it seems clear now that the PST will take control of PFC then it is a good time to publish. This blog is about a situation where a potential owner wants to sue a blogger who posted an article about him detailing his history and business connections.

Well what is this? Two Portsmouth related articles within a month of each other? I am getting déjà vu from the days where I actually got paid for my views on the football club. Those were the days…young and idealistic and now I’m just heading towards middle age and bitter about the fact I’m unattractive and spent my Saturday night catching up on The Apprentice. Oh well.

So anyway is has all been kicking off on the Portsmouth Football Club front in the past few days and a column by a fellow former Carisbrooke High School student Mike Hall has caused legal proceedings to be opened against him. His column featured some details about the trio who are part of a consortium hoping to takeover Portsmouth Football Club. A consortium who – lets be blunt here – face a rather uphill battle to take over Portsmouth Football Club. They have an offer on the table but it is not one that (in all likelihood) will be accepted due to the fact the Football League have said so. So in essence they are fighting the good fight but for nothing. Well if it keeps them happy…

Unsurprisingly I am not going to regurgitate any of the column for legal reasons – nor make any allegations against anyone because I haven’t done any deep research myself – I’ll just deal with facts that are out there and how I think most people would react to the situation. These are the facts:

Mr. Hall is being sued.
Mishcon de Reya have been retained to fight the case for a client.
They instructed a PR company to issue a statement confirming they have started legal proceedings against Mr. Hall.
The consortium did send correspondence to the leader of Portsmouth City Council in an attempt to get them to not agree to the bridging loan (or get them to offer the same to their consortium).
The Football League have stated that the PST are the sole preferred bidders for the club (as per their correspondence with Portsmouth City Council).

Ok back to the blog…

The column was pulled from the website after initial legal proceedings were set out but after the author decided not to issue an apology, nor pay any damages, nor pay legal costs for the other side and the fact he has decided not to ensure that he wouldn’t repeat anything from the column ever again they have decided to sue him personally. If you want to read the full Press Release – yes they have instructed a company to issue a Press Release (with basic grammatical errors) that they are suing him – then you can do so here.

Now as someone who aced his Journalism Law exam (in just 30 minutes I might add – it was a three hour exam and I walked out after half an hour) I have always been very clear on my thought processes regarding critical statements. I err very much on a safety first principle. So I was interested in what exactly was defamatory regarding the column. Having read the column I do not see anything that would stand up in court as to lower someone’s reputation in the minds of right thinking people. Nor do I see anything that couldn’t be defended as fair comment and I’m informed that nothing written was factually inaccurate (although I personally do not know whether they are or not – the stuff written was stuff you’d expect to find relatively easily at Companies House and their Swiss counterpart.

There was only one line that could put the author into legal bother (in my mind) and that line isn’t about the person who is suing – nor anyone in his family – so I don’t see it. In fact if I’m being 100% honest the whole article screams of someone being very careful not to be defamatory and going out of his way to cover himself legally.

The person who is instigating these legal proceedings certainly hasn’t been tight with regards to the solicitors he has hired to represent him (although he really should look at the PR firm they have assigned to issuing that Press Release – seriously basic grammar errors folks) but one thing is interesting – the firm he has hired – Mishcon de Reya are not specialists at going to court for defamation. They class themselves as specialists in five areas – analysing risk, protection of assets, managing wealth, resolving disputes and building businesses. So they do not want to go to court on this issue – they want to resolve it before court proceedings. If the plaintiff (do we use that term in the UK or is that just a Judge Judy thing?) wants this resolved before court – either that or he’s really bad at picking lawyers – my money is firmly on the former.

Now this brings up another question, why would he want this resolved before court? Now to me – a layman bum – it screams out that they want to discredit Mr Hall and scare and silence him. If Mr Hall settles out of court then they can discredit all of his work and maybe (in their eyes) just maybe still get to takeover Portsmouth Football Club. Let us be honest here – Pompey is actually ripe for a consortium of businessmen with a few bob as there is certainly money to be made out of the old girl. I can see why businessmen would be interested in buying the club. I can also see why businessmen would explore every legal avenue they could to get the best possible outcome for them.

I know Mr. Hall has said he intends to fight this all the way and wants his day in court. He doesn’t intend on settling out of court and essentially wants the people involved to prove they have been defamed by his words. Legally I think they will struggle mightily to do this but again I don’t think they ever want this to get to court. This is a tactic to get Mr. Hall to think about whether he wants to take on someone who has the money to throw at the case in the courts if needs be.

This case will obviously run and run but I have one serious issue with this whole situation. Surely if there were factual inaccuracies in the column then why didn’t they come out and issue a statement saying basically that these individual comments are factually inaccurate – with the evidence they were inaccurate – and then ask Mr Hall to apologise instead of going heavy handed and go through legal proceedings as the first measure?

If someone wrote something factually inaccurate about me and I cared enough to launch legal proceedings I would first put out a statement saying that certain things were inaccurate and explain/prove why and then ask for an apology. My first point of call wouldn’t be to retain lawyers and give the author 24 hours to apologise, pay me money for damages and legal costs and to take an understanding never to publish those – or similar comments again and if I didn’t get all that within 24 hours issue a Press Release saying that I was suing the other person.

I think in conclusion the whole situation reeks and in my opinion it now seems personal. Businessmen are not getting their own way and are blaming Mr. Hall for this and not the fact that they came to the party too late. It should be noted that these individuals tried to contact the leader of Portsmouth City Council to warn them off offering a bridging loan to the Portsmouth Supporters Trust – the letter can be read here. The letter incorrectly states that their consortium are the preferred bidder in the eyes of the administrator and the Football League. In fact the Football League contacted PCC during the debate to confirm that the PST are the sole preferred bidder according to the Portsmouth News. (update: On 08/03/11 PKF exchanged contracts with PST over the sale of the club to them) Also as they have said they do not believe PCC are in a position to offer such a bridging loan (and PCC subsequently have) then surely they will open up a legal challenge if they believe that the council have overstepped their boundary?

It’ll all come out in the wash but all we know for now is that they intend on suing Mr. Hall. If you want to help his cause then a fighting fund has been setup to help with his legal costs and if there is any money leftover at the end then all the money will go in donations to the Portsmouth Supporters Trust. You can donate via PayPal: SOS_Pompey@hotmail.co.uk. You can also add your name(s) to an e-petition here asking for the legal threat to be rescinded.

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Aaron Ramsey. I just don’t get the it…?

Look let me start with this. I’m not football scout. I’m just a guy who watches a lot of football and enjoys the game. We all have opinions on players and sometimes we go out on a limb against the vocal majority. For example I always thought Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi could be a success in the old division one but the vocal majority of Pompey fans thought he was just too short. They wanted old man Dave Beasant back in the team and eventually that is how it went down. I thought the reason we conceded so many goals had to do with the fact our defence stunk – in fact we conceded goals at the same clip when Beasant was between the sticks but that is facts that go against the perceived wisdom.

However every so often I look at a player and I just do not see what a manager sees in them and one of those is Aaron Ramsey. Arsenal are on the tellybox a lot and Ramsey seems to play a lot and yet every single time I watch him I see a technically solid player who takes too many touches and always turns back instead of barreling forward. He doesn’t have that killer pass in him but he does slow everything down and if you slow everything down when you play for a team which are at their very best when building up a head of steam then you have an issue.

He has played at the right side of a front three and yet he can’t cross a ball for toffee nor can he beat a man one on one. Today at Spurs twice he had the ball running at Spurs in a counter attack and both times instead of passing it in an attacking fashion or taking on the man he was running at he turned around and regrouped allowing the defence to get back in place.

Now I know Santi Carzola also often slows things down but he has the quality and the eye to pick a killer pass that would actually create a chance – and of course he chips in with a few goals. Ramsey today went put clean through in the inside right channel and you never fancied him to even hit the target. He dragged the chance wide (although a corner was given) but the initial shot was going wide anyway.

Ramsey doesn’t have it. If Abou Diaby is fit then surely he has to play in midfield every single time. He can tackle, has strength and has the eye for a wonderful pass. I was watching El Clasico yesterday and even Pete playing in that midfield position played more good attacking passes than Aaron Ramsey did today – and Ramsey is considered as a genuine midfielder – Pepe most certainly is not.

It wasn’t just today that got to me about Aaron Ramsey. He just doesn’t seem to have it to play at the very highest level in this team. Maybe he would be a fine player in a team that didn’t play in the style that Arsenal do but Arsenal are only really good when they build up a head of steam and play one or two touch football. Ramsey plays three or four touch football and slows the game so much that it leads to other players getting frustrated and not being able to play at the speed that they want to play at.

Look I’m sure he’s a lovely chap and a very good footballer but he doesn’t suit this Arsenal side and the fact he keeps getting the nod shows that either Arsene Wenger has a weakness for him or has no-one else that he trusts in these roles – which says a lot about what he thinks about the likes of Tomáš Rosický, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby. If Arsenal are going to be successful then Aaron Ramsey needs to be benched.

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Joe Michalczuk quits Express FM and (in part) blames the ‘great unwashed of Portsmouth’ and PST thugs. Wow!

I was about to write a blog about Seasonal Affective Disorder but then I saw a tweet that Joe Michalczuk had quit his job as commentator of Pompey games on Express FM. I wouldn’t blog about that if that is all there was but no – he didn’t just quit – he launched into a scathing attack on many people as you can see in his full resignation tweet. (Update: The resignation tweet has subsequently been deleted from the internet. He says it is the censorship/propaganda that has caused it to be so. He hasn’t done it himself.)

Talk about going out with a bang. He left the gas on and stood at the door for several hours to ensure that the whole place filled up and then lit the torch paper and legged it. I won’t comment on most of it as he is a fan – like everyone else – and is therefore entitled to his opinion but I will comment on a couple of issues that I have real issues with.

Firstly he states that some of those involved in the PST are not real fans – will get bored and go off to support their other teams and then all will be left is ‘us’ which are the real fans. The real fans are those who aren’t the ‘great unwashed of Portsmouth’ – wow talk about a diss at the regular folk of this great city. Calling a group of people ‘the great unwashed of Portsmouth’ and ‘the Dickensian vagabonds who sat at the back of classrooms swinging on their chairs picking up half an O Level’ is just such a crass shot. I just don’t get it.

He makes a point about what would the hundreds of youngsters who want to get involved in media do if it wasn’t for Express FM? Maybe they’ll go elsewhere? I was actually speaking to someone who did some work experience at Express FM just last week and it has given her a taste of radio and it might be something she wants to pursue. Now this is a valid point – a community radio station is good for the community at large and you can’t condone people threatening advertisers but if people want to boycott it for whatever reason – it is a free country.

When he goes on to say, ‘Decent, Pompey folk will be hounded out of their football club by power crazed, half witted, cloth eared, one-handed typists who will spend half their time shouting homophobic, racist abuse at our League 2 players while checking internet message boards for conspiracy theories of why man never landed on the moon,’ it really riles me up. Mainly because it in part speaks about me. I have a minor form of cerebral palsy and therefore type with one hand. Why are you calling out people of my ilk in this? Unless he is saying everyone he is speaking about has all those traits. Man if someone had all those traits then that would be quite something.

Next up, ‘Now that I’ve resigned, my gag has been lifted and I will be speaking up for the masses at every opportunity. I have more followers that the trust has pledges – and I won’t be afraid to use that audience for the good of Portsmouth Football Club.’ Look at the bit I have bolded…Talk about power crazed…’I have lots of followers…look at me…I’m all powerful and I will speak my thoughts and you will listen because I am so popular. Can you hear him wank whilst typing that? Talking about people who are power crazed in one paragraph and then write about how big of an audience you have on twitter is just pitiful and laughable.

I don’t live in Pompey any more and haven’t for many years. However I do still speak to people in the area and read many people’s thoughts on the Portsmouth Supporters Trust and Balram Chranrai etc… Now there are plenty who are skeptical of the PST but I have yet to hear from one person – one person – who wants Chainrai – or any business acquaintance of Chainrai – to have anything to do with the club. In fact the vast majority of people when given the options of Chainrai taking over again and asset striping the club to get his money out – or the club folding and starting again in a Phoenix type situation then they would prefer the latter of the two options.

Portsmouth Football Club has been a glorious old lady but has been neglected more than I neglect my Wii Fit. It has been kicked from pillar to post and no-one has treated it with the care and the love it deserves. Will the PST do this? I don’t know – but I know who won’t – and that is anyone with any links to Chainrai. So it seems that the options are PST or bust – and in fact – they are the only options thanks to the Football League.

Joe Michalczuk is entitled to his opinion. He is entitled not to be threatened for airing that opinion however when you slate a huge section of the people that listen/read your thoughts then you are basically opening yourself up to abuse. We are all human and if someone basically calls another person a bum then it shouldn’t be a shock if the responses they get aren’t all that pleasant. Threats are too far but what Joe has written in his resignation tweet is certainly throwing out a tonne of abuse at a lot of feet so if he gets some of that back then he has made his bed…

I can’t see how he can say that he wants to reclaim the football club for people of his ilk – people whom he refers to as ‘true Pompey fans’ – and not see the power craziness of it. It sounds like he believes he is the pied piper and he will lead Pompey back from the brink and save the club from people who aren’t real fans. Who is he (or anyone for that matter) to determine who is a real fan and who isn’t? Also who is he (or anyone else for that matter) to say that he is the ‘voice of the majority?’

We all speak for ourselves. If Joe Michalczuk comments then he is commentating his personal views like you or I would do. He doesn’t comment ‘for the majority’ because no-one can speak for the majority unless there has been a vote of every single Pompey fan on the issue and if then they say he is speaking for the majority then fair do’s. Until then he is just a fan who comments as a fan.

I back the PST because it is them or bust – and I trust Colin Farmery implicitly. If Colin Farmery tells me that it is the best option then I’ll go with him. I have known him for over a decade now and do not believe he would be associated with anything that he didn’t think was the best way forward. There are others involved that I have known for a long time who say the same.

The facts are it is PST or bust. If you want PFC to survive in its current guise then the best thing to do is work with the PST to make it a better organisation. Pumping up another bidder is just wasting time. The Football League say PFC or bust – and they are not changing their minds. If I were Joe Michalczuk I’d work with the PST to sort out the problems that he sees in the organisation and not just trash it and try and big up another alternative. There is no other alternative. It is a bit like me looking at my fridge when thirsty and saying, ‘I want a cream soda but I only have a cherry coke – therefore I’ll have nothing’ – it is pointless.

How his resignation comes across to me – as someone who has never met him – nor has deep links to the PST – is someone who wants as much attention as possible and doesn’t like that he’s on the outside looking in with regards to what horse he has backed. Also he sounds like someone who craves the attention. Well you can’t argue with him because look at people like Adrian Durham. If you speak loud enough, make enough waves and crazy opinions then you have a real shot at making it in radio. One thing that is evident in radio – certainly talk radio – is opinionated people work. Look at Alex Dyke who was the star of IoW Radio for many many years because he was controversial. It seems to me that Joe Michalczuk sees this as his future and heck – his resignation made me spend an hour or so writing a blog on him so something must be working!

He derides people who ‘shout the loudest’ but maybe that is exactly the position that he wants to be in. Those who shout the loudest get the most attention and as an aspiring radio presenter that isn’t a bad place to put yourself…

With that I’ll return to my usual guff of politics et al…

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How do you solve a problem like Match of the Day?

It might not scan as well as How do you solve a problem like Maria? but the BBC have a problem and they know it. The news today from the BBC that they have dropped Colin Murray as host of MOTD2 and replaced him with Mark Chapman shows that they are ready to tinker with the franchise in an attempt to restore it to its former glory. The problem though isn’t just with the Sunday version which has never been the same since Adrian Chiles but the flagship Saturday show is now lagging behind Sky in terms of quality analysis.

Sky have the best pundits and the best presentation team. Even if you takeaway their live coverage which is fronted by Ed Chamberlin, David Jones or Jeff Stelling with a pundit team including the likes of Gary Neville, Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness, Sky still has the better highlights show. So lets compare MOTD with Goals on Sunday which is the direct comparison.

Goals on Sunday is fronted by Ben Shepherd and the legend that is Chris Kamara. The show is two hours long (including adverts) so in terms of time on screen it is pretty similar to MOTD which is often one and a half hours with no adverts although GoS also shows the goals from the lower leagues and SPL. Goals on Sunday has a rotation of guests which is usually two people either still involved or involved in football in the past.

They talk about their careers and analyse the games which Chris Kamara leads. They get far more in depth than their MOTD counterparts and the show seems far more informative than MOTD. Along with being more informative it also doesn’t get stale due to the guests being different week in, week out so the perspectives are always different. The guests also have the scope to talk about events in their footballing pasts leading to funny stories like Ray Parlour calling Gareth Southgate ‘big nose’ and then being sold by him a couple of weeks later and of course the many accidental swear words which is only funny to see the presenters reactions.

Match of the Day has become stagnant. We know the names, the voices and the faces. They have become complacent and whilst I have no issue with Gary Lineker per se I do feel that everything seems all old boys club. I can’t remember the last time two of the panelists on MOTD argued with one another but we get it on Sky a lot with the likes of Souness, Neville and Redknapp disagreeing quite openly.

I’d love to see MOTD become the place for football highlights once more and I suppose if you just want the highlights it does the job but you never feel like you’ve learned anything after watching, where as with Goals on Sunday you do feel that you’ve learned and been entertained.

Now as Colin Murray has been ditched for Mark Chapman (who is in a similar mold) it seems like a relatively pointless move for me. MOTD needs a proper revamp as papering over the cracks just isn’t doing the job. I do wonder if James Richardson has ever been approached or even has any interest but I think his style of presenting would go down very well on MOTD2 and personally I’d love him to front football as a whole but the BBC would never go down that route…or would they…?

No. No they wouldn’t and that my friends is a shame for all of us.

As for pundits Alan Hansen was the man. The important word there is was. He’s become lazy and the rest of the BBC lot have never really offered any insight. They aren’t going to attract any of the Sky lot over and losing Lee Dixon was a blow so they need to find a fresh face whose willing to put the work in and not rest on their laurels with lazy cliches. Who that person is I don’t know but Matt Holland is criminally underused. Smart and puts the work in. If the BBC want to blow up MOTD and make it good again Matt Holland wouldn’t be a bad place to start…

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Sunderland kick out fans who stand and suspend them from the Stadium of Light

It has been an issue that has rumbled on for all of my football going lifetime. Some people like to stand to watch games but they simply are not allowed to. When I was a Season Ticket holder in the Fratton End every so often you’d hear rumours about the club clamping down on persistent standers and kicking them out. The stewards had no heart for it and would put in a cursory and half-hearted effort to tell people to sit down but it was never going to happen. However things are not the same up at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland have decided that the time was right to evict people who continually stood and suspended their Season Tickets. Speaking on the Official Sunderland Website head of Safety & Security Paul Weir said:

“The figure for fans ejected due to persistent standing last season as a whole was just 20 so we can see that there has been a significant increase in the early part of this season. We certainly don’t wish to spoil the enjoyment of any supporters, we want a vibrant lively match-day atmosphere just as much as the fans do, but we also have legal obligations that we must be seen to be adhering to.

“We also have a duty of care to all of our supporters, including elderly and disabled fans who have contacted us very concerned that their enjoyment on a match-day is being compromised because people around them stand throughout the game. Naturally we want to ensure a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience for everyone at the Stadium of Light and we’d ask supporters to listen to requests from stewards and help us to eradicate persistent standing for the sake of all fans.”

This is the same guy who has publicly stated that he wants to see safe standing areas in football grounds but he’s decided enough is enough and has taken a hard line against fans. My opinion on this is unsurprisingly that the man in question is an idiot who has gone way too far. The problem seems to have stemmed from the club moving away fans to a new areas and therefore displacing the standers to various areas of the ground.

Standing isn’t for everyone. I know that and everyone knows that. However there are many who do enjoy standing and fans know in general where these people are housed. As I stated earlier I had a Season Ticket in the back on the centre of the Fratton End. I knew it was an area where people stood and I prefer to watch games standing up. It worked for me and for all those round me. These unofficial standing areas are around in most clubs. I have never felt unsafe standing in a sitting area and I doubt many other have either.

Football needs to address this issue. Safe standing areas need to be brought in. It just has to happen because if clubs are actually going to start evicting and banning them from coming into the ground because of this then things have gone too far. You can stand at sporting events and be safe and the sooner the English football authorities understand this the better for everyone

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Who appointed Peter Herbert as the ambassador for minorities in football?

Who had heard of Peter Herbert a month or so ago? Anyone? Ok apart from the extremely smart and well-read people. Who apart from them had heard of this man? I thought as much. Well in the past month he has become a bit of a buzz name as he is in all the newspapers and wants to change society for the better. Good on him but changing society for the better is something that needs to be done with a plan or not just a scatter-gun approach and that is where this man is going wrong.

The majority of us first heard about him when he reported referee Mark Clattenberg to the police for using a racial slur against two Chelsea players. He decided it was his job to report said abuse even though he himself didn’t hear it but only had the word of hearsay like the rest of us had. If we all went to the police with allegations after we’d heard someone else say that someone had broken the law then the police would go into meltdown but he is perfectly entitled to report said claims to the police should he want to. I have no issue with that. Well actually I have a huge issue with it but I concede that legally there is no issue with that.

However today the police have decided to close the investigation because no victim has come forward to them and nor have that been able to obtain a shred of evidence. Chelsea Football Club have decided not to share with the police their evidence as they believe the FA are the right party to deal with this case. That is their prerogative but what does Peter Herbert think of this? Does he say ‘fair enough – it is up to those who were allegedly wronged to decide how to proceed’ or does he bleat about a conspiracy to save the skin of the referee?

He chose the latter. ‘It sounds remarkably like a football cover-up’ he said this morning on BBC Radio 5live. ‘It sounds remarkably like the football industry wanted to have this issue swept under the carpet.’ are the next words out of his mouth. Yes the football industry wanted to sweep it under the carpet – that is why Chelsea Football Club went public with the allegations not two hours after they first surfaced despite Chairman Chairman Bruce Buck saying he had agonised long and hard over whether to go public with the allegations but I think that is a crock of shit personally. If I agonised long and hard over an issue I don’t take less than two hours to make up my mind – certainly when it is a fast moving matter with lots of new evidence as he spoke to all the players involved during that time. No Chelsea Football Club certainly wanted it out in the open and they wanted it known that they had accused Mark Clattenberg of using racist language towards two of their players.

So we can pretty much rule of the football club trying to sweep it under the carpet and it is they who have chosen not to cooperate with the police. Remember they did not make a formal police complaint so if no victims or no evidence come to light for the police then they can’t really do anything. This has annoyed Peter Herbert a great deal it must be said.

‘The information we had is that there are ‘no victims’. Well, if there are no victims, what on earth has been referred to the FA in the first place?

‘What on earth are the FA and Chelsea playing at then? Are they having some cosy exchange of statements between themselves and not giving it to the police?

‘We’re going to ask the borough commander for an explanation. Was there any co-operation? Was any evidence given? If none was given by the FA or Chelsea we want to raise that issue with the Minister of Sport.’

‘It really does beggar belief that the primary football authorities in the country do not understand the seriousness of hate crime.’

All of the above was said on BBC Radio 5live this morning and quoted in the article linked to above.

Well there are no victims in a criminal sense because none have come forward. Peter Herbert cannot claim he is a victim because he didn’t hear the alleged exchange between the referee and the player. So only those who heard it – and were offended by it – could be considered victims. Peter Herbert knows this but decided to ignore this as it didn’t fit in with what he wants to happen. He wants a police investigation not because it would get to the bottom of it but because it would give him a stronger platform to get his views across.

The borough commander will write back to Peter Herbert saying lots of nice things but will say something like ‘err…Peter. Sorry to tell you this but Jon Obi Mikel nor Juan Manuel Mata have come to us and made a complaint and we have to unable to get any testimony from anyone involved on the potential victims side so there is kinda no case to answer to. As a barrister I think you probably should know how these things work and stop wasting my time’ or words to that effect.

Hate crime is extremely serious and I’m pretty sure the FA know this. Remember they still charged and found John Terry guilty of using racist language despite a criminal court deciding that he didn’t. The difference between that case and this is Anton Ferdinand – the alleged victim wanted to cooperate with police and Mikel and Mata seemingly do not. Shouldn’t the alleged victims decide whether or not they want to take a matter to the police or should outsiders get to decide how each of us live our lives?

Anyway Herbert isn’t finished. Oh no. He wants Spurs fans to stop using the word ‘Yid’ and has given them a fortnight to comply before he reports every single Spurs fan who uses that term to the police. You think I’m joshing don’t you? Well I’m not. Read all about it in the Mirror. He also wants to set up a football association for just black players. Yeah that won’t fester an ‘us and them’ mentality. Of course it wouldn’t Peter…

I don’t know Peter Herbert from Adam as it were but he comes across as a man with no idea what he is talking about but he sure loves the sound of his own voice. He has decided out of nowhere that the game of football needs sorting out having attended a grand total of four games in his entire life he knows the game inside and out. Now the thing is he does make some pertinent points but they are being drowned out by his attempts at making waves.

It is not his job to decide how two football players deal with alleged racist insults towards them. No-one asked him to get involved and he has just taken it on his own back that he is the man to save the day. Well the thing is he isn’t. These two football players are grown men and can decide how they go forward. He is using a high profile case to get on his soapbox and either make a name for himself or he genuinely thinks it is his place to stick his oar in. Whichever it is he isn’t exactly helping the game – or the two players – by the way he is acting. He is trying to stir up racial tensions and when someone is doing that then personally I always question their motives…

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NBC stun pundits as they blow rivals out of the water with English Premier League bid

The English Premier League has long been the number one football league in the world according to TV figures but the move from NBC to buy the rights in the American market has stunned pretty much everyone who keeps a keen eye on these things.

When FOX and ESPN signed the last contract for the rights it was for $23million per year but the new NBC deal is for more than triple that and includes the shocking news that every single game will be broadcast. Yes every single game will be broadcast via one of NBC’s platforms (180 games solely online with 200 on TV). Up to 20 games will be broadcast over terrestrial TV live on NBC and these are expected to be the biggest games of the season. NBC Sports Network will be the primary home for the league but they are planning on having a regular set up for time slots so fans know where they’ll find games.

The EPL was first broadcast on terrestrial TV live last season when FOX used the Chelsea v Manchester United game as a lead-in to their Superbowl coverage and it performed way above expectations. Football in the States is slowly becoming more of a TV sport and last season’s final days slate of games saw FOX (and ESPN) show all ten games on Survival Sunday live over their collection of channels for a 72% increase on the previous season. Clearly eyeballs are being drawn to the EPL and the fact it now makes the home pages of SI, FOX and ESPN shows that the league (along with the Champions League and El Clasico) make enough waves to get written about amongst the big four sports.

What this means for UK viewers is not a lot apart from the fact Ian Darke now doesn’t have an EPL contract for next season. The Pompey fan and voice of the sport in the States is contracted through 2014 to ESPN in the States and will head up their coverage of the 2014 World Cup. He’s also slated to work on US Men’s National Team games as they attempt to quality for Brazil 2014. Now does ESPN allow him to go to NBC for EPL coverage? They might but another possibility is ESPN allowing Darke to be the voice of the new BT Sport channel which signed the rights to 38 live games from next season here in the UK.

After snapping up Jake Humphrey last month, the next thing BT Sport had to do was decide on who’ll be the voice of the channel. The obvious choice was always going to be Jon Champion but if Ian Darke is available then does he have interest? Would moving to BT Sport also end his boxing association with Sky Sports that has continued despite his ESPN football duties in the States. Does Darke return to the Sky Sports stable? Many questions but the possibility has arisen that Ian Darke could return to the UK screens for EPL coverage and would certainly be our gain. I’ll certainly be keeping a keen on on the developments on this front…

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Hear that Chainrai? That is the sound of the good guy winning – now sling your hook

There is only one thing in my world that is more depressing than my private life and that is the very public farce that has become Portsmouth Football Club. The club that I have supported since I was knee high to a grasshopper has been dragged through the mill by a series of shall we say less than squeaky clean owners and that is probably the best thing I can say about them. Carisbrooke High School’s best investigative journalist – or man with a bone attached to the dodgy ones and wouldn’t let go of them Mike Hall has been absolutely crushing the former owners and his hard work has paid of and the administrators have today decided that Portpin are not their preferred bidders any more and the Portsmouth Supporters Trust are.

The people behind the Portsmouth Supporters Trust have done so much against such long odds. The Pompey fanbase was never fractured but they were (and I was without a doubt) at the point where I could see no light at the end of the tunnel. I thought that Chainrai would get his hands on the club again and once more attempt to asset strip it to get his money back – or to make more money at the expense of the beleaguered old club.

However these people saw light and had hope and belief where I had none. The hard work of the likes of Ashley Brown, Mick Williams, Scott McLachlan, Colin Farmery and many others should now go down in history of the club. Obviously this is not a victory that will change everything but it does mean that there is now real hope that we have reached that horrific rock bottom and that the club can now move onwards and upwards.

Like many Pompey fans I am sceptical how the PST will work but they were without even a shadow of a doubt the only people I wanted in charge as they were the only people who I genuinely believed would have the clubs interests at its heart. I don’t care too much about winning and losing any more – at the age of 29 I have mellowed and a bad result doesn’t ruin my weekend but I do care about getting all the shady characters out and most importantly being proud of the club once more.

How many Pompey fans have had people feeling apologetic towards them when they are introduced as a Pompey fan? Back in the day Pompey were known for their passionate fans who would travel the country in vast numbers, be extremely vocal and were one of the few places in the country where you would only see local club shirts being worn up and down the high street. If you were a Pompey boy or girl then you would become a Pompey fan, not Manchester United, not Liverpool, not Arsenal, you’d be Pompey. That has changed after a succession of shady owners who didn’t care about either the club or the community.

I hope that the PST seals the deal and first thing first installs the club into the heart of the community once more. The club needs the next generation of fans to flourish and at the moment that next generation are not as passionate as I was as a kid nor how many adult fans were. If the PST can more more make the club one with the city and the community that surrounds it then all the other problems will be fixed. That in my opinion is priority number one and success there will lead to success everywhere else.

This is a good day to be a Pompey fan. Quite possibly the best day I’ve known and yes I was at Wembley and saw us win the FA Cup in 2008. That was good but a chance for the club to get back to its roots and flourish from a financially sustainable standpoint? The grown up me says that is a far better day.

Oh and as for Balram Chainrai. The airport is that way. I’m sure there will be plenty of locals who would be more than happy to taxi you there and even not charge you for the experience…

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