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Category: Football

Lib Dem run Portsmouth City Council approve £1.45m bridging loan in attempt to save Portsmouth Football Club

In news that isn’t a huge shock Portsmouth City Council this afternoon voted unanimously to approve a £1.45m bridging loan to the Portsmouth Supporters Trust as they attempt to save the football club from being consigned to the history books.

Pompey City Council have long been supporters of the football club and have historically been pretty good to them. This includes planning permission for Parkway for the Brent Geese got involved and the stadium plans for the dockland stadium would also have sailed through but the club shut down these plans due to the credit crunch and the owner finally realising that he didn’t actually have any money. A small problem but one that owners of Portsmouth Football Club have had in the past few years.

This news leaves two offers on the table for the administrators, one from Balram Chainrai who has owned the club before but I wouldn’t trust as far as I could drop-kick him and one from the Supporters Trust who want to get the fans to takeover the club. These are (unsurprisingly) the guys that I am backing fully and should they be successful it will undoubtably be the best news to come out of Fratton Park in a long while.

Portsmouth (and the surrounding suburbs) is a bit of a strange place compared to many other towns and cities across the UK. When I was young you didn’t really see any Manchester United or Liverpool tops around – you only saw Pompey ones. A bit like Newcastle and Sunderland – if you were born in the city then you were a Portsmouth fan. That is just the way it is. Even if you didn’t like football you’d get caught up in Pompey fever if the club had a cup run or a promotion push. The club has always been an integral part of the city.

However a series of owners of dubious quality have left a lot of fans – me included – extremely disillusioned with the club. However if the supporters are able to take over the club then hopefully many of these people will once more come back into the fold. I know that if the Pompey Supporters Trust do takeover the club then my interest will be piqued once more. I hope they win and the club will be embedded into the community once more.

I have this idealistic scenario of money being spend on the foundations of the club from the youth upwards as there are extremely talented kids in the Pompey area who go elsewhere because of our lack of facilities. I also dream of players going into schools on a semi-regular basis doing coaching sessions. Giving out free tickets to schools to give to excelling pupils. The next generation of Pompey fans need to be wooed and the best way to do that is getting into the schools and having current players doing coaching say one afternoon every other week would be real progress. Maybe that is an idealistic hope but it is one I have.

I’d like to say on a personal level a huge thank you to the Trust for keeping my love of the club just above life support. If your hard work pays off then I really do think many fans will back you – and the club – and whilst many won’t buy shares I suspect they’ll be a sharp uptake in Season Ticket sales if they knew the money wasn’t going to Chainrai. Also a big thank you to the Lib Dems – and the council as a whole who unanimously backed these plans. As was said today the club itself brings in around £300m of business to various Portsmouth based businesses just by being there so this loan will help secure that business and no public services will be put at risk unless the Trust fail to repay the money but the business plan shows that a failure to repay this loan isn’t likely.

Today in the Council Chambers in Portsmouth might have been the best day in the recent history of Portsmouth Football Club. It cannot be understated and all parties – from the supporters trust through the fans and the councillors deserve credit for giving the club a real chance – not only to just survive – but to get back on its feet and finally put the past few years behind us and move forward with long-term planning.

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Portsmouth Football Club is a fortnight away from ceasing to exist – why don’t I care?

If you have known me at any point in my 29+ years of existence on this planet then you’ll probably know that football – and Portsmouth Football Club in particular – has been a large part of my life. I was born in Portsmouth. They have always been my team. They are still my team. However years of mis-management and big F U’s to fans coupled to my geographical position has led to my love of the club slowly dwindling.

I have had many amazing memories at Fratton Park. From my first game when I was in a wheelchair after an operation in 1990 against AFC Bournemouth in the FA Cup to last day survivals to promotion to the Premier League and then winning the Championship. Beating the Scum 4-1 was great but beating them 1-0 the year before was much better. Going top of the Premier League against Bolton that night where we knew a 4-0 win would get us there – and getting a 94th minute stonewall penalty.

This football club has made me happy and it has made me sad. Trudging home after 4-1 defeats to Crystal Palace and Leyton Orient in the FA Cup are two low points that stick out. That 4-1 defeat to Palace when a win sent them down and ensured our safety only to put in an absolutely pathetic performance. Winning was great and losing wasn’t but that night against Arsenal where they mullered us 5-1 in the Cup was still an amazing evening. It was a vital part of my life.

My last Pompey game was our FA Cup Final win in 2008. That was a surreal experience having been away on a work weekend and travelling down to London for the match from The Cotswolds. I haven’t been to a game at Fratton Park for maybe six years and haven’t been a season ticket holder since the end of the 2004/2005 season when I became an adult (well in terms of not having a young person discount) and moved well out of the region. I moved back into the region in 2007 but didn’t return to being a season ticket holder and then left the region again in 2009.

Since then the club has been owned by crooks, mirages and people who might actually have less money than me. It has been a joke – a pretty bad one I grant you – but it has been a joke. I used to watch games on TV and rant and rave (as my former house mates would certainly attest to) but now if Pompey are on the box I’ll watch and I’ll just sit there and watch. My voice doesn’t yell or shriek.

This might not be a Pompey thing. I don’t really yell at the TV for anything any more. Maybe I have mellowed out or maybe there are just so few people involved in my day-to-day life who care about sport to any degree that I have lost my passion. I still watch a lot of it and do still work around a lot of my calendar around sport. I love so many sports and enjoy watching so much but I don’t care about it as much as I used to. I just don’t.

Going back to Portsmouth for a moment it just seems as though the club has been on life support for so long that it needs a rebirth. Whether that rebirth comes in the form of a Phoenix club or whether the Trust can actually buy the club I don’t know but one of those two things needs to happen. All Portpin taking over would do is prolong the agony and they would do whatever they could to asset strip the club to get as much of their money back as possible. They don’t care about the club. They care about money.

Talking of money there are several players that need to take a wage-cut or just write off wages otherwise the club will go to the wall a fortnight on Friday. A few of them are at least willing to talk but it seems as though a couple of players – namely Tal Ben Haim, Kanu and Dave Kitson – want all their money and aren’t willing to talk. On one hand you can see their point – they signed contracts in good faith and expect them to be honoured but on the other hand they could be the ones that sink Portsmouth Football Club once and for all.

I suppose that just sums up exactly my thoughts of Pompey – and indeed football – at the moment. No players really care about the clubs that they play for. When you are young you have this idealistic viewpoint that the players kiss the badge on the shirt and they mean it. They only care about money and to a small degree they care about their team mates and maybe their manager. The fans are an inconvenience who just happen to help pay their wages.

The clock is slowly ticking on a very famous football club disappearing into the sea and that club is my club. I’m just disappointed that it isn’t really moving my needle. I’m just sad all around with regards to Pompey. Whatever happens they’ll be a Portsmouth Football Club – either in this guise or in the guise of a newly founded club. Either way I’ll care but I do wonder whether I’ll ever care as much again as I did for the first 27 or so years of my life.

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Lee Dixon joins ITV Sport

Days after Lee Dixon announced that he was leaving the BBC, ITV have released a press release confirming that he would be joining the channel. This happened on the same day that Gareth Southgate left his job at the FA meaning that Lee Dixon is in effect the replacement for Martin O’Neill who left ITV for the managers job at Sunderland in the middle of the last football season.

The pree release reads as follows:

ITV have announced that Lee Dixon has joined its pundit team covering the range of major football competitions broadcast by the channel.

The former Arsenal and England defender will be part of ITV’s on-screen panel led by presenter Adrian Chiles from the start of the 2012/2013 football season.

Dixon will offer insight and analysis throughout England’s World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign, as well as FA Cup, UEFA Champions League and Europa League matches.

Niall Sloane, ITV Director of Sport, said: “We are delighted that Lee is joining our team with his wealth of experience, knowledge and insight. His appointment follows our acclaimed Euro 2012 broadcasts and signals ITV Sport’s intention to continue to bring viewers top-quality coverage.”

An interesting move as Dixon is well thought of but the old boys network at the BBC limited his opportunities coupled with the lack of lack football on the channel until the 2014 World Cup. ITV have recently dropped to just one staff commentator so to move to three permanent pundits is a bit of a surprising move. Still we’ll see the best of Lee Dixon I expect with him reuniting with his old MOTD2 mate Adrian Chiles.

I have to admit I think the ITV football output is the best it has been for a while. I think Dixon and Keane will be a good combination even if I think Southgate is a bit meh. I am a huge Martin O’Neill guy so that is a loss but the BBC’s coverage has just got too stale. ITV is at least trying something new and I might be one of the few people knocking about who still enjoys Adrian Chiles.

Looks like Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer and Mark Lawrenson are set to dominate at the Beeb for a good while yet…

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Ian Wright’s England punditry is right up there with my girl-pulling abilities…

This afternoon I read Ian Wright’s latest article on how England are performing at Euro 2012 in The Sun and seriously wondered if his rose tinted specs that he wears on all things England are so rose-tinted it has effected his vision – and mind.

The only thing he got right in my opinion was when he said that we were ‘okay but not great,’ which I think is probably fair. He thought we would win 2-1 if we were aggressive and came out with a more positive mind-set. This is an England team missing several key personnel against a French team who hadn’t lost a game since Laurent Blanc took over the manager duties of the French national side. The fact the weather was scorching hot also didn’t exactly favour the home side. A 2-1 victory for the English was always possible but it was never the most probable outcome.

He is not happy with Roy’s negative approach and couldn’t see us scoring from anything other than a set piece. The fact that James Milner had a one-on-one and got down the inside right channel many, many times obviously escaped his memory as it didn’t fit in with the narrative that he wanted to portray. The underlying narrative that if Harry Redknapp has been appointed then we’d have attacked and really gone for it – and lost 3-0 – but we’d have done it with good intentions.

He questions whether teams can win tournaments by being solid at the back. I’m not sure how his memory is because I distinctly remember that he used to play for Arsenal – in a team that was known for the scoreline ‘one nil to the Arsenal,’ who were strong at the back and hoped to steal games. If you don’t concede then you can’t lose. The age old adage is you have to score to win games but not letting any in is also a good starting point. We loved Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle side the first time around but I’m struggling to recall the names of any trophies they lifted in that era. Harry Redknapp himself only has one major trophy to his name and in Portsmouth’s six game run to FA Cup glory they scored just seven times and let in one. Yes Pompey and Harry Redknapp won the FA Cup but being miserly at the back.

He says that he ‘doesn’t think it can get much worse,’ and you look at the article and think ‘what?’ It is a very encouraging start. The team looked solid and it looked together. They worked hard for each other and stifled a better team. That is good enough for most pundits and indeed most of the media saw it as such but The Sun who thought Harry Redknapp was hosed and are leading the attack on Roy Hodgson already think differently.

International football is a results-based industry. So far so good for Roy Hodgson. We shall see how it works out but there is a reason optimism is down and it has very little to do with the manager. The talent is either getting on a bit, is injured, is suspended or very young and raw. Technically English footballers are so far below the likes of their European counterparts it is laughable. Until that changes then England will never be able to constantly match some of the other nations in an open game of free-flowing football and that is why we need to be more tactically astute. This is Roy Hodson’s forte and so far he hasn’t shown that he is lacking at an international level.

So whilst Ian Wright is foaming at the mouth I most certainly am not. I don’t expect England to entertain. England haven’t got the players to wow us at the moment so you need to find other ways to progress and that it what it looks like Roy is providing.

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When Sol went up to lift the FA Cup I was there…I was there

Four years ago at this very moment I was sitting (or possibly standing) inside Wembley stadium watching the Pompey team warm-up for their FA Cup Final appearance against Cardiff City. When I first started following my local team the likelihood of ever winning the FA Cup seemed pretty far-fetched. The run in 1992 was the closest I thought we would come and in all honesty that team deserved to win the competition. That Highbury semi-final was something else but that as they say was that.

We had a couple of runs to the quarter-finals but winning the competition was not going to happen. However four years ago we did. A run through the tournament including somehow winning at Old Trafford has led us to this point. It would go down as one of the most surreal days of my life.

I would wake up at around 5AM but not in my bed. No. I would wake up in the Cotswold’s where I was away on a work weekend away. Everyone else was fast asleep and most of them had only just come in from a night of drunken antics along with some shall we say more non-curricular activities. I had a shower and was wandering around this rather nice holiday home and went outside to the lakes that surrounded it. Just surreal.

I finally got a lift to the railway station which doing my research was Kemble and got on a train to London. The train was full of Cardiff fans but I got a seat and I don’t think I had my iPod with me – or maybe I did. Anyway long dull trip into London. Got to Wembley to meet the guy with my ticket and then watched Pompey win.

The game was pretty awful and the goal was scrappy as anything although not as scrappy as our semi-final winner but still. Cardiff never really looked like scoring. David Nugent hit the bar in the second half but that was one of the major highlights. Sol went up and we lifted the FA Cup but it was just too surreal. I was in a ‘neutral’ area with mostly Cardiff fans and I wasn’t with my mates so it was just weird.

Then I made my way back to the Cotswold’s and my phone battery was just about to die and I managed to get out a text to someone telling them what time I’d be back at the railway station for a lift. I had no idea where the holiday homes we were staying in were and to be frank I still don’t. Although having typed that I have done some research and it looks like it was in South Cerney wherever that is (for the record I have since spent the past half an hour looking for these places and I’m pretty sure it was Windrush Lake and I want to buy a property there. I really really do).

Anyway the end of the day I was back in the Cotswold’s. Just surreal. What I thought was going down then didn’t happen and a few months later I’d be leaving that company. My fortunes have gone up and down since but the fortunes of PFC have pretty much only gone one way. Next season they’ll be playing in League 1 – that is if there is a club at all. I had hoped Southend United would be playing them in the league but alas it wasn’t to be.

Not exactly sure where this blog post is going or whether it has a point. It possibly doesn’t. Just wanted to note that four years ago today Portsmouth won the FA Cup and that day was just totally surreal. Totally surreal. I miss having such surreal days.

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Roy Hodgson set for England Manager Job

This evening the FA released a statement informing the world that they have approached West Bromwich Albion for permission to speak with manager Roy Hogdson regarding the job of England Football Manager. The way they wrote and released the statement has made it relatively clear that they do not expect to be speaking to anyone else.

David Bernstein of the FA said, “Roy is the only manager we have approached and we remain on course to make an appointment within the timescale we set-out soon after Fabio Capello’s departure.

“Further conversations will now take place with Roy and my Club England colleagues before any further announcements can be made.”

By saying this and not make it clear that they could still speak to other candidates it seems pretty clear that they do not expect to speak to Harry Redknapp. You have to wonder whether the way Spurs have collapsed this season has played into the thinking of the FA Board or whether they just didn’t believe that Harry was tactically astute enough to manage at the international level.

I know I’m a Pompey fan so I have mixed feelings on Redknapp but there are two big negatives that I am sure I can say without any bias coming into my thought process. Firstly he isn’t great tactically. I have seen him make questionable tactical decisions left, right and centre. Secondly when his mind isn’t on the job his teams just fall off the cliff. It happened at Pompey and at Scum and at Spurs. The night Pompey played in Portugal two days before Redknapp left for Spurs is a case in point.

Also are the FA willing to take on the baggage that Harry Redknapp comes with? I don’t need to write about it as you all know what I mean.

As for Roy I think he’d be a decent appointment. Pearce would I suspect be his number two and they could be a good pairing. I thought it was Harry’s job all the way but if the FA want to go in another direction then I’d down with that. It would be a surprise appointment but also a considered one.

I’d welcome Roy to the top job and if they couldn’t get Jose and couldn’t get Martin O’Neill then Roy isn’t a bad appointment in my view. Not by a long shot.

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AVB sacked – the end of an error

It has been a fair while since I was last paid to put my thoughts on football into prose but heck its my blog so my rules. The sacking of Andres Villas-Boas today by Chelsea was coming but it still doesn’t mean that it was the right thing to do.

For the third manager in a row the players basically got the manager the sack. The nucleus of the side was built by Jose Mourinho in his three year tenure as manager of the club. The squad has never really evolved yet alone gone under any sense of surgery in the past five years and this has been the problem.

A great team in 2007 will not equate to a great team in 2012. Players have come in but have they been bought by the manager or bought for the manager? The signing of Andrei Shevchenko was the beginning of the end of the Mourinho tenure in the top job at Stamford Bridge and the owner Roman Abramovich still hasn’t learnt from that mistake.

AVB might not have been the right person for the job but I see very little different between the AVB of today and the AVB who was appointed in the summer. He wasn’t allowed to bring in his own players to play his style and instead had players bought for him. That doesn’t work. We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again. Managers need at least a say and in reality need the final say who comes in pr out of a club. Having another person make these decisions will only lead to issues.

The protégé of Jose Mourinhi might well still become a truly great manager but he was walking into a situation where he was set up to fail last summer. He can walk away with his head held high and a ginormous pay-off safe in the knowledge that he will get other top jobs.

They say that the England job is a poisoned chalice but maybe the Chelsea one is even worse. Who would take the Chelsea job now? Not many as no big name coach or manager will walk into a situation where their is an ageing squad with a large power base knowing that they don;t have final say over the future of the club?

If Abramovich was willing to let his manager have carte blanche over his playing staff then he might be able to tempt the Special One back but that is a huge if. If he won’t relinquish that type of power then he will only get a second-tier manager no matter what he pays. Top managers will get a good salary anywhere but walking into a situation where they are set up to fail, that isn’t for most.

Chelsea either had to give AVB total power or not hire him. They were the only ways in which they could be successful. Sadly for them they erred big time and now a season without Champions League football is a distinct possibility and if that happens will Roman get bored with his toy?

If he does then the future of Chelsea Football Club could be very bleak indeed.

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The Argentine War Propaganda Machine rolls on…

So we are coming up to the thirty year anniversary of the Falklands War. Prince Williams is down there for work purposes. The subject is starting to makes noticeable waves in the corridors of power and that is all thanks to the Argentine government. They want the Falklands. They think it is their right to have them. The fact the natives consider themselves British is neither here nor there. They want them (and the big fat oil reserves in the surrounding waters) but tensions are starting to brew.

With the Argentine economy in full-blown crisis the government have decided that they need a diversion to focus the anger on. Over in the UK we have used the bankers and/or the foreigners (great job people of UK – great job) but the Argentines have decided that everything will be all right once they get the islands back so have put on a full court press of the media to whip up some English hatred so they can justify going to war.

The latest way in which the government have done is by renaming the Argentine Football League. The season, which starts on Friday will be known as the Crucero General Belgrano Primera División or if you prefer the English version the Cruiser General Belgrano First Division.

Yep they are renaming the football league after a Argentine naval vessel that was sunk in the Falklands conflict. Certainly nothing in that. I doubt they even knew about the link. I bet it was a complete accident. Next you’ll be telling me the Argentine government own the TV rights and will be showing the league on free-to-air television to maximise the exposure of the newly re branded top division of football in the country *leans in to listen to something his editor has brought to his attention* Oh I see. Scratch that previous sentence. The Argentine government does actually own the rights and plans to broadcast them free-to-air. My mistake.

So yes there we have it. The Argentine government aren’t trying to whip up the country into demanding a war with the UK over the Falklands Islands. Oh no. That would be crazy.

For the piece in The Guardian please follow this link and with a hat-tip to Sean Breslin who pointed this story out to me.

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The life of a faker – the world of @pn_kev_shields

With Portsmouth fans desperate for any news about who the next manager might be suddenly last night we were overjoyed that someone was going to tell us all the inside news. A man called Kevin Shields who has never had anything published in the local rag suddenly turned up on twitter with the username pn_kev_shields (pn is used by all Portsmouth News staff on official accounts) and promised us exciting news and he started today off with this:

'Kev Shield'

A few tweets later he pulled back from the twitter username linking him with the local rag:

'Kev Shields'

A freelance who can’t even spell freelance. I bet he gets loads of work…

Then drama as the Press Conference happened but wait what’s this…the press aren’t allowed to report on it?

'Kev Shields'

In all my days of covering sport (well those days were a while ago now) I have never heard of this. I have been told things off the record by PFC staff back in the day and that news was embargoed until…the press conference. Something is fishy here…I don’t even think he’s an employee of the paper at all…

'Kev Shields'

So he is despite never having had a piece in the rag ever published. Must be a pretty shit journalist and yet they let him cover the big breaking PFC stories…?

But wait…he backtracks when a real Pompey News journalist tweets him:

'Kev Shields'

Busted.

He’s clearly a wind-up merchant and it is there for all to see but the sad thing is many Pompey fans seem to be getting sucked in. A basic background check – i.e. googling will prove him to be a fake and then his stories don’t add up either.

So the @pn_kev_shields saga is over or is it…? What will the fake The News reporter say tomorrow? I await with baited breath.

Update: Google Jeffrey Noebels and you’ll notice the same photo as he has used as his twitter avatar.

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Are we human or are we football fans? We need to burst the bubble.

The big south coast derby just before Christmas promises to be an exciting affair. I have been to four Pompey v Saints games in my life – two at St Mary’s and two at Fratton Park. I have seen us win twice (1-0, 4-1) and lose twice (2-0, 2-1) and in none of the four games did I once fear for my own personal safety.

The only time where my senses were even peaked were when Pompey fans ran down Goldsmith Ave after winning 1-0 in the league game where Yak scored and Kevin Phillips hit the post deep into injury time. There were many arrests that day and I could see it going off from my vantage point waiting for the train on Fratton station.

The main point here is at the football games themselves I felt fine. Even on the bus after the Carling Cup game in Scum going back to the car park I felt safe enough despite lots of Scummers bashing on the windows etc… I felt safe and wasn’t in a position where I felt like I had to be on my guard.

Some may have noticed the issue – and that isn’t with the fans that attend the actual games. The problem arise with the hangers on. Very few who actually go to the games get involved in any violence. This can be seen by the amount of people arrested for these crimes who actually went to the games.

Hampshire Police though have decided that it is better to treat opposition fans as rats and in doing so saying it is for their own good.

Superintendent Rick Burrows is leading the planning for the policing operation on December 18 and spoke to The News aboout the forces plans for dealing with Southampton fans:

‘The most important objective of the day is to ensure that it is a safe environment for everybody coming to the football.

‘There is a history of trouble caused by a small minority at previous derby matches and balancing up the interests of everybody involved, this unusual tactic is the best one to ensure it is a safe event.

‘Although this tactic hasn’t been used in Hampshire before, it has been proven to be successful in other forces for matches such as Cardiff v Swansea and the West Midlands derby matches.

‘It would be great to have free access for all fans, but the reality is actions of the minority can disproportionately impact on the enjoyment of others.

‘We have to minimise their opportunities to do so.’

So there we have it. Shuttled in, shuttled out without being able to actually enjoy the day. Are SW Trains stopping all trains from Southampton that day and is the M27 being put on lockdown? What do you mean it isn’t? So people without a ticket for the football game can still travel into Portsmouth and cause a ruckus?

Score one for the hooligans and score zero for the local plod.

I think the club should make it an option for people travelling to the game to do so via official coaches but not make it compulsory. Football fans know the way it is and if they decide to go to a game then they should have the freedom to do so at their leisure. The last I heard human beings weren’t cattle.

The small minority as they call it who want to cause trouble will still be there and they will cause trouble unless the police are right on top of it. I fear that by employing this tactic the local police have set themselves up for a hammering because they are treating people differently depending on the colour of their shirt and that isn’t right nor is it fair.

I’ll be watching from my sofa as it is live on the BBC and I rarely get to games these days due to my location but I do not like the idea of fans – even Scummers – being treated like this. It sounds a lot like Tony Blair trying to scare the country into ID cards and other anti-terror laws that were just in fact an excuse to treat people inhumanely under the umbrella of ‘anti-terror’.

What I’m not doing is saying these fans are being treated inhumanely but what I am saying is there isn’t a lot of difference between the two. Just because someone says they are doing something ‘for your own protection’ doesn’t necessarily make it true. Football fans can choose their own way to make it to football matches and if the police are doing their job properly then it will be a safe way however they decide to travel.

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