When your preconceptions are wrong
22 May ~ It's not that often you find yourself on a business trip in an unfamiliar city on the same day that a title-deciding football match is played – and admission to the game is free. In fact, it had never happened to me until last Thursday – when I watched Zimbru Chisinau v Sheriff Tiraspol in the Moldovan capital. I couldn't find a local person to go with, though. A Moldovan colleague I asked told me some of his friends were "well into" football: "They were going crazy over some game the other week: Barcelona and a German club".
But plenty changed at Parc des Princes
21 May ~ Paris Saint-Germain were crowned French champions last week for the first time in 19 years. I didn't celebrate too much, having secretly hoped for a more exciting finish on the last day, similar to Manchester City last season. The celebrations at the Trocadéro square in Paris turned into a fiasco. I skipped them, having had bad memories of the Cup-Winners Cup celebrations at the Parc des Princes in 1996: soon after the team came out the pitch was invaded, first by hooligans from the "Kop of Boulogne" (KOB) stand, then by others as the players hurried back inside.
Bees fail for seventh play-off campaign
21 May ~ In recent years, it's become an established pattern that Brentford just don't win promotion via the play-offs. In their seventh play-off campaign they have failed again, this time in a tense match against a resolute Yeovil Town, who now join England's second tier for the first time. It's a memorable moment for the Somerset club and their fans. Brentford fans could only rue the defeat, their team having been so close to automatic promotion and playing attractive football for much of the season.
Finnish province overcome challenges
20 May ~ IFK Mariehamn's Europa League debut, achieved by topping Finland's Fair Play standings, will be the first time a men's club from the self-governing province of Aland has taken part in European competition (women's team Aland United took part in the Women's Champions League in 2010). Some Alanders feel they could sustain a national team just as the Faroe Islands does but FIFA's attitude to new nations ensures that is unlikely to happen any time soon. Instead, islanders have poured their energy into IFK Mariehamn.
Parent company declared insolvent
20 May ~ Hearts closed their SPL season on Saturday with a 1-1 draw against Aberdeen and the immediate threat of administration hanging over them. The club's parent company UBIG has requested to be declared insolvent, which could trigger an 18-point deduction and mean relegation to the second tier of Scottish football. UBIG are a Lithuanian investment firm that have been placed on a list of companies deemed "unable to meet their obligations" by its country's government bankruptcy management department.
Former champions almost fell to fourth tier
19 May ~ Eintracht Braunschweig are back in Germany's Bundesliga for the first time in 28 years. One of the league's founding members in 1963, Braunschweig won the title in 1967 but since the mid-1980s have been languishing in the second and third divisions. Now the city in Lower Saxony, where football was allegedly first played in Germany, can look forward to welcoming the likes of Bayern Munich and local rivals Hannover 96 next season. From the opening-day win over favourites Cologne it has been a remarkable season for the Lions.
Northampton Town v Bradford City, 1.30pm
18 May ~ Northampton Town's League Two play-off final fixture today has sparked something of a week-long nostalgia trip across the town. It was 1997 the last time Cobblers went up via the play-offs, courtesy of an extra-time free-kick from left-back John Frain that secured a famous 1-0 win over Swansea City and saw the team promoted to what was then Division Two after a seven-year absence. Since booking the trip to Wembley, after a morale-boosting 1-0 second-leg win away to Cheltenham, comparisons have been made with the team of 1997.
3-0 down after play-off first leg
17 May ~ On Sunday Dunfermline Athletic will be fighting for their Scottish Division One survival, in a play-off final second leg that could also have an impact on the historic club's existence. They went into administration in March, after overspending in an attempt to re-establish themselves as a top-flight club. Two years ago they were celebrating promotion after beating their fiercest rivals, Raith Rovers, in front of 11,000 at East End Park. At the same time, their opponents in this season's play-off final, Alloa Athletic, were being relegated to Division Three.
From WSC 289
17 May ~ Considering that virtually every move David Beckham makes is tracked by the media, it was not at all surprising that they went into overdrive after he announced his retirement from playing football yesterday. Today's newspapers, front and back, were a sea of haircut photos, tributes, four-page specials and predictable headlines such as End It Like Beckham. He will be remembered as much for his celebrity status and his work outside football as for his right foot. But, as Georgina Turner discussed in WSC 289, March 2011, he isn't entirely to blame for the media circus that follows him.