Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Not paying the penalty

Just been watching the highlights of last night's game on the official Fulham website and it seems that the Fulham back line did a good job of holding out, one missed header by Brede Hangeland aside, and had a fair few chances themselves, albeit of the long range variety.
We no longer have Sky so I was getting updated by the BBC Sport website and on the 89th minute when it said 'Fulham have a strong appeal for a penalty...' I was furiously bashing refresh to find out the outcome. Looking at the highlights I would say it is a penalty - not a stonewaller as some like to claim - but Michael Carrick does clip Danny Murphy's ankle.
However also looking at the highlights, you can tell why referee Michael Oliver doesn't give it. Irrespective of it being the 89th minute at Old Trafford, there is a copse of legs making it hard to clearly distinguish the action and the ball clearly moves in the direction that Carrick is kicking, suggesting he took the ball. He didn't and the referee got it wrong, but he got it wrong for the right reasons in my opinion.
While Fulham fans on the whole seem mainly sanguine about the decision, it has enraged fans of other clubs who don't want United to win the league - claiming the Old Trafford bias was in action again, despite the fact there there have been penalties against United at OT this season, some of which should not have been allowed. But the lot of the football fan is selective memory, through conscious or subconscious means, through stereotype reinforcement. City fans (rightly) laugh at United's claim for a first half penalty for handball when Patrice Evra fired a cross that hit an oblivious Stephen Kelly on the arm, but how many care to recall their very similar awarded penalty just two games previously against Chelsea? And Fulham fans won't have forgotten the Adam Johnson 'trick' where he kicked Chris Baird on the way down for another soft City penalty. But it is swings and roundabouts - I can remember Senderos fouling someone in the box at the Cottage and getting away with it. Referees can make mistakes as easily as the defenders making accidental fouls.
Anyway it's all getting a bit tense at the top and while the managers might be able to handle the pressure; it's telling on some of the fans. Just witness how quiet the crowd can be at both the Etihad and Old Trafford until their team scores.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Driving attendances

Bought a new car last week. Goodbye sexy convertible VW Eos, hello sensible KIA Ceed hatchback with 7 year warranty. Why's this of interest? Only because the company we bought the car from 'Premier Kia' are sponsors at Boundary Park and offer holders of its loyalty card two free tickets to Oldham Athletic games. I'm not sure if this applies to every game, but I've already secured tickets to watch two of my teams face off - Oldham v Preston in what is likely to be a drudge of a game in the bottom half of League One on 21 April. I say I have secured tickets, I've been given an A4 sheet asking the ticket office to give me two adult tickets to any game. I don't think they are that choosy at Oldham at the moment - they just want to get bums on seats. Indeed, the club has recently launched a promotion selling seats at five home matches for a total of £15.
I've also secured tickets for the West London derby, also as a freebie, via Fulham's betting partner BetButler. My only other game of the season was another free one - the dull Everton v Manchester United game back in October. Next season I shall start paying for games again, I promise. Unless I'm going to start going to Boundary park regularly!
As for tonight, another of my two favoured teams are playing. As I'm still refusing to give the Glazers any of my money, I shall have to follow this game on the wireless. And looking at the table, I want Man United to give Fulham another shoeing for the 'greater good'. Fulham are 11 points and five places from the drop and safe. United need to turnaround the four goal deficit on City before the Manchester derby at the end of next month. However United tend to be at their most vulnerable when they are at their most overconfident and given Fulham's dreadful away form (only QPR and Wolves are worse) they are overconfident now. As they were before getting beaten at Old Trafford by Blackburn Rovers.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

What's a decade between fans?

A Sheffield Wednesday fan is understandably impressed at how his Owls tattoo has come out. Unfortunately, The Wednesday were actually established in 1867.

The club was a cricket club when it formed in 1820 as The Wednesday Cricket Club (named after the day of the week when they played their matches). A meeting on the evening of Wednesday 4 September 1867 at the Adelphi Hotel established a footballing side to keep the team together and fit during the winter months. They played their first match against The Mechanics on 19 October the same year.

Still, as football tattoos go, it is nowhere near as bad as some examples out there. Manchester City fans in particular seem to have a bad ink habit.
At least the only people who will know this is wrong is Sheffield Wednesday fans and even then, QED, they might not be totally sure when their club was formed.

EDIT: It appears it's a fake! Ha! Thought the tattooist had made a good job of making those 7s look really similar. I'll put this in my box of reasons to dislike Sheffield Wednesday along with the 1991 League Cup final and an ex-girlfriend hailing from the city.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Further press releases from Rangers' administrators

7th March 2012


Duff & Phelps, the Administrators of Rangers Football Club, today issued the following statement.

David Whitehouse, Joint Administrator, said: “We are announcing today we are accelerating the sale of Rangers Football Club.

“The Club is in a perilous financial situation and that should not be under-estimated. Regrettably, we have been unable to agree cost-cutting measures with the playing staff on terms that will preserve value in the business.  We understand the players’ position as the scale of wage cuts required to achieve these savings without job losses were very substantial indeed.  

“In view of this, we are faced with a situation of making redundancies within the playing staff on such a scale that would materially erode the value of the playing squad. We are striving to strike a balance where cost-cutting measures can be implemented but do not destroy the fabric of the playing squad to the extent that it will inhibit the prospect of a sale.  

“However, no one should be in any doubt that in the absence of sufficient cost-cutting measures or receipt of substantial unplanned income, the Club will not be able to fulfil its fixtures throughout the remainder of the season. 

“As a result, we are expediting the sale process and over the next few days we will be holding discussions with prospective purchasers who have declared their interest. The Manager, Ally McCoist will play an integral part in these discussions.    

“If however it becomes apparent that the sale process cannot be accelerated there will be no choice but to implement very severe cost cutting-measures at the Club.”

 7th March 2012


Duff & Phelps, the Administrators of Rangers Football Club, today issued the following statement.

Paul Clark, Joint Administrator, said: “As regards the Club playing in European competitions next season, there is no realistic prospect of the Club being able to fulfil its obligations prior to the March 31 deadline set by UEFA.

“There are four main reasons for this and they lie in the stewardship of the Club prior to going into administration. First, as we have stated from the outset, the likelihood of the Club being able to emerge successfully from administration before this deadline as indicated by the Chairman was, at best optimistic given the perilous financial situation at the Club at the time of insolvency.

“Second, the company accounts cannot realistically be signed off by auditors in a manner that would meet the criteria required by the footballing authorities. Even if the audited financial statements are issued prior to the end of March 2012 we would expect them to be qualified by the auditors such that under UEFA requirements the Club will have to satisfy a going concern test confirming how it will continue to be funded until the end of next season. Without knowing who will be the owner of the Club at 31 March, it is impossible to provide suitable comfort in this respect.

“Thirdly under UEFA regulations the Club must have paid or come to a satisfactory settlement with all social taxes that were outstanding at 31 December 2011. We estimate those social taxes (being PAYE and NIC) to be at least £5m. We cannot now see a scenario where those taxes will have been paid or compromised to the satisfaction of HMRC by the end of March 2012.

“The final major hurdle is that the Club must have paid or compromised all of its outstanding "Football Creditors" prior to the deadline of 31 March 2012. That issue is again extremely unlikely.

“As administrators, we will make every effort to seek dispensation from the footballing authorities given the extraordinary circumstances in which the Club has been placed.

“There has, perhaps inevitably, been speculation about Rangers Football Club facing liquidation. As we have stated previously, we remain very confident that Rangers will not cease to exist and the team will continue to play at Ibrox.
“If a Company Voluntary Arrangement is not possible for any particular reason, any buyer of the Club and its assets would complete that purchase through a sale by the Administrators allowing the Football Club to continue to operate with the old company then being placed into liquidation prior to dissolution.

“We are, however, doing our best to ensure the Company trades viably during administration and this will require a rigorous cost-cutting programme. Our preferred option remains to reach a point where a Company Voluntary Arrangement is reached and the Club can emerge from administration as a viable business within its existing corporate shell. As stated there is a possibility that if a new buyer is identified a financial case may be made to sell the business and assets of the old company, but that is not our preferred approach at this time. 

“We are aware of the statement from Mr King. We note his comments regarding the Ticketus arrangements but as this issue is subject to on-going discussion and examination, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

 8th March 2012


Duff and Phelps, administrators of Rangers Football Club, issued the following statement today.
David Whitehouse, joint administrator, said: “As part of the financial recovery process we made an emergency application to the High Court in London last week to secure money held in the client account of a firm of solicitors, Collyer Bristow, who had acted for the purchaser of the Club in May 2011. 
“Following the court hearing last week Collyer Bristow paid approximately £3.6m to our lawyers, Taylor Wessing, to be held securely by Taylor Wessing until the High Court decides whether or not it is the Club's money. 
“We are very pleased with the decision by the High Court today to order a further hearing on this matter on March 30 and I am sure that all Rangers Football Club supporters will be encouraged that this issue will be dealt with as speedily as possible.
“If we are successful in retrieving these funds that will help the recovery process of the Club and will be an important step towards the Club emerging from administration.
“No-one should be in any doubt however about the overall financial situation of the Club and every effort is being made to ensure its survival.
“We are continuing to meet prospective purchasers over the next few days. This does not mean that the Club has to be sold within the next 24 hours – we are establishing how quickly we can get to that point.
“There has been much speculation in recent days about the administration process.
“We should at this point repeat that, as administrators, our preferred strategy is that we work towards achieving a Company Voluntary Arrangement through which the Club can emerge from administration.
“There has also been comment on the decision-making process and whether so-called tough decisions should have been taken earlier in the process, such as making players redundant.
“This would not have been a tough decision – it would have been folly.
“The scale of the cost-cutting required is very substantial indeed – and making a few players redundant along the way would not have achieved the necessary savings.
“Furthermore, we are striving to strike a balance where we retain valuable assets of the business such as players, both for their performance and their potential value and this strategy is understood by major stakeholders.
“We continue to reach agreement with the players on cost cutting measures that will be a real benefit to the Club – the players themselves want that but they are being asked to make big sacrifices.
“These are difficult choices but the survival of the Club is of paramount importance.
“As administrators, we believe that most Rangers supporters will understand that from the moment the Club went into administration every effort has been made to keep the business alive.
“The reality is that the perilous cash position of the Club meant that even staging games was a major challenge and required a substantial collaborative effort between the administration team, the Club staff and suppliers who have certainly gone the extra mile.
“In addition to this, there has also been a heavy focus on retrieving funds that we believe belong to the Club and we are making good progress in this area as today’s proceedings at the High Court in London indicate.
“These are unquestionably difficult times for Rangers but we can assure all those involved we remain wholly committed to achieving the best outcome.”

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