Tuesday 1 The FA pull out of financing the new Wembley, claiming that it could bankrupt them, and ask for government assistance. “It is not right for us to act as sole sponsor of the scheme,” says Adam Crozier. Plans for a new stadium in the midlands may now be revived. Gary McAllister’s fifth goal in as many games helps Liverpool to a 2-0 win at Bradford. Huddersfield move five points clear of the relegation zone in the First Division with a 1-1 draw at Wimbledon (whose fans probably wouldn’t have minded losing). Rushden (and, of course, Diamonds) are promoted to the League after rivals Yeovil lose to a last-minute goal at home to Hereford.
Wednesday 2 Leeds 0 Valencia 0. But Big Dave has a secret weapon for the second leg: “God is good in many ways so we might yet have a great night in Valencia.” Blackburn are promoted to the Premiership after a 1-0 win at Preston. Palace move out of the bottom three in the First Division ahead of Portsmouth after beating them 4-2 at Fratton Park. Bristol Rovers’ 1-0 defeat by Wycombe means they are relegated to the Third Division. Be-Knightoned Carlisle are saved from the Conference again following a 1-1 draw at Lincoln. Gianluca Vialli is the new manager of Watford and says: “I know that I will never win the Premiership with the club but I want to do well.” Ken Bates claims that Wembley rebuilding plans were sabotaged by the sports minister: “What they should have done was shoot Kate Hoey. They would have got their money then.”
Thursday 3 The Sun publishes details of merger talks that have taken place between QPR and Wimbledon. A Football League spokesman claims to have given the plan “a provisional green light”. “We have to ask, are we stronger together than apart?” says Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel. Supporters’ groups for both clubs are to demonstrate against the merger. A group of Third Division clubs plan court action against Chesterfield to strip them of all the points won while Luke Beckett was in the team. If they succeed, Chesterfield would be relegated to the Conference. Luton defender Jude Stirling is arrested after his team’s match at Brentford for allegedly assaulting a home fan who had made racist remarks. Dave Watson leaves Everton to become manager of Tranmere.
Saturday 5 Coventry are down. They let slip a two-goal lead in being beaten 3-2 at Villa while Derby win 1-0 at a weakened Man Utd and Middlesbrough get a point at Bradford. “I am angry about the game and that is all I will say right now,” whispers wee Gordon. Leeds’ hopes of Champions League qualification are set back with a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal. David O’Leary calls for FA action against Martin Keown who appears to elbow Mark Viduka in the face. “Maybe Martin was nervous and reacted,” says his manager. Wigan hold on to the last play-off spot in the Second Division after Bournemouth concede an 88th-minute equaliser at Reading. Blackpool pip Rochdale to the final place in the Third. Barnet drop out of the League after losing 3-2 at home to Torquay. “At least we played to the rules in getting relegated,” says chairman Tony Kleanthous, possibly hopeful of salvation at Chesterfield’s expense. Adam Crozier is in hot water for a speech at a private dinner which reportedly included claims that half the clubs in the League were “technically insolvent” and that agents pocketed the majority of the £9 million paid by Aston Villa for Juan Pablo Angel. A consortium led by a Liberal peer make a £15 million offer for QPR and their tenants, Wasps. At least two people are killed when a stadium roof collapses at a match in Iran.
Sunday 6 Huddersfield are relegated from the First Division after losing 2-1 at home to Birmingham while Portsmouth beat Barnsley 3-0 and Palace snatch a late winner at Stockport from a move begun when a Palace player, David Hopkin, handled the ball. “That was the turning point, but it wasn’t deliberate,” says super caretaker Steve Kember, who is now hoping to get the job permanently. Today’s bad news for Adam Crozier comes in a leaked letter in which he asks the government to secretly underwrite the cost of rebuilding Wembley but to “keep it under wraps” until after the general election. Taunton win the FA Vase with a 2-1 win over Berkhamsted.
Monday 7 Man City are down following a 2-1 defeat at Ipswich. Big Joe identifies the key problem: “Maybe one or two players got found out at this level.” Lee Bowyer receives a three-match UEFA ban for allegedly stamping on a Valencia player and will miss the second leg of Champions League semi. David O’Leary takes the news surprisingly well: “The only people we haven’t fallen out with lately are NATO.” Juan Pablo Angel’s agent is to start legal action against man-of-the-moment Adam Crozier.
Tuesday 8 Leeds suedeheads lose 3-0 in Valencia, whose first goal is punched in. Angry young man Alan Smith is dismissed late on. David O’Leary stays calm: “We’ve no real complaints. It’s been a brilliant run.” Liverpool fail to wrap up Champions League qualification, drawing 2-2 at home with Chelsea. “Sixth place is not good enough for this club,” sighs Jimmy Hasselbaink, who doesn’t know his history. Steve Coppell takes over at Brentford. Adam Crozier has a quiet day, sorting through papers and humming.
Wednesday 9 Harry Redknapp leaves West Ham. A disagreement over money needed for strengthening the squad seems to have been the cause: “I never thought it would happen but after meeting the chairman I found myself out of work.” “I’m here to turn things around,” says Mark Wright on becoming manager of Oxford. Bayern Munich reach the Champions League final with a 3-1 aggregate win over Real Madrid. At least 120 people are killed at a league match in Ghana after a stampede caused by police firing tear gas at rioting fans.
Thursday 10 Charlton won’t consider allowing Alan Curbishley to apply for a certain vacancy. “If West Ham approach us we’ll tell them politely to go away,” says chief executive Peter Varney. Meanwhile Frank Lampard junior “doesn’t want to know any more” after the departure of his uncle and his father. Leeds and Villa are on standby. Arsenal’s women’s team complete a treble, taking the league title with a 4-0 win at Tranmere.
Saturday 12 Liverpool win the FA Cup, Michael Owen scoring twice in the last seven minutes after Arsenal had led through Frederik Ljungberg. “The two teams nullified each other but when Michael got his first I knew we would win,” says Gérard. Arsène claims that the referee missed a clear goal-line handball by Stéphane Henchoz in the first half but has no complaints about the result: “With this and Valencia, we have lost a big game in the last 15 minutes twice this season, and that is no coincidence.”
Sunday 13 Leeds move up to fourth, a point behind Liverpool, after a 6-1 win over Bradford, two of whose players, Andy Myers and Stuart McCall, thump each other in an incident described by club chairman Geoffrey Richmond as “the most embarrassing thing I’ve seen in my football career”. Southampton caretaker Stuart Gray gets his first win, 2-1 against Man Utd reserves. In the play-offs, Bolton come back from two down to draw 2-2 at West Brom, while Birmingham will take a one-goal lead to Preston. Both Second Division matches finish scoreless. In the Third, it’s Blackpool 2 Hartlepool 0 and Hull 1 Leyton Orient 0. For the first time in 20 years, the FA Trophy is won by a club from outside the Conference, Canvey Island of the Ryman League, who beat Forest Green 1-0.
Monday 14 Claudio Caniggia is to leave Dundee for Rangers. “He’s very exciting,” says Dick Advocaat. Former Scottish international midfielder Bobby Murdoch, a member of Celtic’s European Cup winning team of 1967, dies aged 56.
Tuesday 15 Arsenal accept second best with a goalless draw at Newcastle. “That is good but obviously not good enough,” says Arsène, doing his pout. Harry Redknapp, possibly intent on mischief, suggests that Stuart Pearce should be his successor: “If anyone wants to argue with him he’d have them up against a wall.”
Wednesday 16 Cup treble for Liverpool whose run of luck continues with an own goal sealing a dramatic 5-4 win over Alavés three minutes from the end of extra time in the UEFA Cup final. “I feel numb,” says Gary McAllister, whose cross led to the winner, while Gérard goes into statesman mode: “We have written our own history for a new generation.”
Thursday 17 FIFA postpone the World Club Championship scheduled for Spain this summer, blaming “various factors” including the difficulty of finding sponsors, a project not helped by the collapse of their marketing firm ISL. One of the teams involved, Wollongong Wolves of Australia, claim to be in danger of folding as a result of the cancellation.
Friday 18 Sir Alex Ferguson announces that he will leave Man Utd for good at the end of next season, the club having been unwilling to offer him another role. So far. Terry Venables reveals that he was planning to quit Middlesbrough but has now had “an interesting new offer”, which is said to involve him taking Saturdays off so he can work on ITV’s new Premiership programme. Not that they’re desperate.
Saturday 19 You get nothing for coming third but Gérard doesn’t care, as Liverpool clinch the final Champions League spot with a 4-0 win at Charlton. Leeds, Ipswich and Chelsea take the UEFA Cup places. Villa will be reacquainted with that splendid Intertoto. Matt Le Tissier scores the final League goal at The Dell, and in the last minute, as Southampton beat Arsenal 3-2. Kilmarnock clinch Scotland’s remaining UEFA Cup spot.
Monday 21 Joe Royle is sacked by Man City. “There was a fundamental difference of views on where the club is heading,” says chairman David Bernstein. An unnamed player, meanwhile, talks of a “drink culture” at the club saying: “City were the best pub side I ever played for.” George Burley is named Manager of the Year, to the rather undignified dismay of Gérard: “There is no chance of me winning it because I am foreign.” Though mysteriously Arsène won it in 1998.
Tuesday 22 Steve McClaren seems set to take over at West Ham – “Everywhere you go you get glowing reports about him,” says chief executive Paul Aldridge – but Middlesbrough make an 11th-hour move to add him to their already teeming coaching staff. Arsenal win the FA Youth Cup. The newly-shorn David Beckham is set to become the first person with a mohican to captain England.
Wednesday 23 Bayern Munich win the Champions League on penalties after a dire draw with Valencia. West Ham pull out of the chase for Steve McLaren, who now seems on his way to Middlesbrough, possibly as manager, with Terry departing for ITV and Bryan Robson gaining a lot more time to work on his garden. Paul Merson wants to be player-manager at Crystal Palace, who may not want him.
Thursday 24 Kevin Keegan is the surprise choice as new Man City manager. He has a view on why his new club have struggled: “My mum always told me to be wary of Maine Roads so that might be why people are scared of this place.” In the first of what dedicated Kev-watchers hope will be a series of faux pas, he also reveals that City first approached him the day before Joe Royle was sacked. Mohammed Al-Fulham miss out on the monstrous Czech striker Jan Koller, who opts for Dortmund.
Friday 25 England 4 Mexico 0. The ten second half substitutions include first caps for Alan Smith, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole and Danny Mills. Sven is pleased with the team spirit: “They are starting to talk more to each other, whichever club they come from.” Teddy Sheringham returns to Spurs saying: “I have joined a club where everyone is pulling in the right direction.”
Saturday 26 Celtic complete a treble with a 3-0 win in the Scottish Cup final against Hibs, whose manager Alex McLeish is the new favourite for the West Ham vacancy. Blackpool win the Third Division play-off final, beating Leyton Orient 4-2 despite conceding a goal in the first minute.
Sunday 27 Walsall come from behind in extra time to beat Reading 3-2 in the Second Division play-off final, partly thanks to an expertly crafted own goal. Winning manager Ray Graydon thanks a mystery benefactor: “Someone was pressing buttons in the stand to allow us to get back into a match like that.” Sol Campbell confirms that he is to leave Tottenham: “I need to be playing in European competition at this stage in my career.” The only club that meets his requirements for playing in the Champions League while continuing to live in London are ready to bid.
Monday 28 Bolton return to the Premiership with a 3-0 win over Preston at the Millennium Stadium. “I feel like the world’s come off my shoulders,” says Sam Allardyce, floating above Cardiff.
Thursday 31 Steve Bruce, who left Wigan earlier in the week, is appointed as new manager of Crystal Palace, whose forthright chairman Simon Jordan says: “We are a club with serious intent. I see us as a stealth bomber.” John Hartson may be refused entry to Ukraine for Wales’ World Cup qualifier because his passport in such poor condition. He explains: “It’s kept in a kitchen drawer and some of the pages got stuck together.” Morton, in administration since December, sack their entire playing staff.
From WSC 173 July 2001. What was happening this month