THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Tuesday 7 Barry Fry is sacked as manager of Birmingham City. "After three years and 61 players we think someone else is entitled to have a go," says the club's owner David Sullivan, adding: "Barry is a very attractive prospect for a club like Notts County or Luton" (who will both now be desperate to draw Birmingham in a cup next season). "I'd like to think I have woken up the sleeping giant," says Barry. The FA will be looking for a new commercial director after Trevor Phillips resigns due to "differences over overall strategy in relation to commercial policy". Hmmm.

Wednesday 8 It's getting murky. Trevor Phillips' resignation is being linked to police investigations into the sale of Euro '96 tickets to unlicensed agencies, many of which were raided last week by police who made eighteen arrests. The FA had authorised corporate packages to be sold through two companies but Phillips seems to have encouraged others to apply. As many as 50,000 tickets may be involved. lvano Bonetti is to sue Grimsby manager Brian Laws over the dressing room fight that led to Bonetti having a steel plate inserted in his face. The FA haven't yet found a date for their inquiry into the incident. Paris St Germain win the Cup Winners' Cup, beating Rapid Vienna 1-0 at the new Heysel Stadium.

Thursday 9 The National Sporting Club, one of the companies who had their supply of Euro 96 tickets seized by police, threaten to sue the FA. Their spokesman says, "I cannot believe that one department in the FA instigated a raid when they were clearly not aware of the actions of another department." "It is embarrassing," says the FA's Glen Kirton, "because we supported the police operation and the first thing that has happened is that the name of a colleague has been mentioned." Trevor's got some fast talking to do. York stay in Division Two after winning 3-1 at Brighton, a result which sends Carlisle down. Frustrated Conference champions Stevenage are to initiate legal proceedings against the League and Torquay Utd, as if the latter didn't have problems enough. Paul McStay is out of Scotland's Euro '96 squad due to an ankle injury. Eoin Jess will take his place.

Friday 10 Ruud Gullit is the new player manager of Chelsea. Trevor Francis takes over at Birmingham. "The boy wonder is back," says David Sullivan. (Who writes his scripts?) John Gorman, currently assistant manager at Bristol City, is to become Glenn Hoddle's number two in the England set-up. "A lot of people may be surprised by this but they don't know how well Glenn and I get on," he says. Alan Stubbs signs for Celtic, in preference to Arsenal, for £3.4 million. "He's one of the best left-sided defenders in European football," says Tommy Burns. Trevor Phillips starts his fightback, claiming that he advised companies interested in buying Euro '96 tickets to contact Synchro Systems, one of the authorised dealers: "I'm a commercial guy just doing a job. You can't do my job without making enemies. There was no financial impropriety."

Saturday 11 Man Utd do the double, winning the FA Cup thanks to an 85th minute goal by Eric Cantona. The game fails to live up to the pre-match hype (as ever) and looks to be heading for extra time until a poor punch by David James, and a deflection off Ian Rush, making his final appearance for Liverpool, sets up Cantona's winning volley. "Next season we have got to have a good go at the European Cup. We intend to make England proud of us and make the country a force in Europe again," says Alex Ferguson. "I hate the fact that United have done the double and I could cry," says Roy Evans, "but you've got to give them credit, they have put together a stunning run."

Sunday 12 In the play-offs Palace recover from conceding a first minute goal to win 2-1 at Charlton (Dave Bassett: "We told them at half time that they might be slightly more successful if they did what we asked them to"), while Leicester are held at home by Stoke. In Division Two, Crewe draw 2-2 at home with Notts County while Blackpool win 2-0 at Bradford. The Division Three games see a 1-0 home win for Colchester v Plymouth and a 2-1 away victory for Darlington at Hereford. In Scotland, Dundee United are halfway back to the Premier League after a 1-1 draw at Partick.

Monday 13 Ken Bates and Matthew Harding have fallen out again, seemingly over Harding's personal involvement in transfer negotiations with Jurgen Klinsmann. Harding will remain a director but will be withdrawing the £10 million he was going to provide for strengthening the squad. "It was time to put up or shut up," says Ken. "We don't need his money, there are other backers." Harding, meanwhile, claims that he withdrew because of lack of information about the identity of other Chelsea shareholders. Plenty of life in this one yet.

Tuesday 14 If your club can't stay in the Premier League buy another one. Richard Thompson has resigned as QPR chairman and now wants to take over Leeds, ideally bringing George Graham with him, a move that would apparently be resisted: "If anyone came along and tried to lay down the law about bringing in a new manager, he wouldn't be welcome here," says acting chair Bill Fotherby. Richard has £10 million to spend, though...

Wednesday 15
Palace will play Leicester for promotion to the Premier League after play-off semi-final victories over Charlton ("We stood up and were counted," says Dave Bassett, usefully) and Stoke respectively, Leicester winning 1-0 at the Victoria Ground where home fans invade the pitch at the end. Bradford City astonishingly claw back a 2-0 first leg deficit, winning 3-0 at Blackpool. In the Division Two final they'll meet Notts County (up and down like a fiddler'swelcome omp elbow) who complete a 3-2 aggregate win over Crewe. Plymouth and Darlington will contest the Division Three game after home wins against Colchester and Hereford. Man Utd are to bid a lot (up to £12 million) for Alan Shearer. Alan, a Newcastle supporter, once turned down a move to Old Trafford in favour of Blackburn, but might think differently now. Bayern Munich win the UEFA Cup, their 3-1 victory in Bordeaux giving them a 5-1 aggregate score. J√ºrgen Klinsmann's goal in the second leg gives him a European record of 15 in one season, beating the previous record jointly held by Jos√© Altafini of Milan and . . . John Wark. (Remember Ipswich in Europe? Different times.)

Thursday 16 Talking of past European campaigners, Dundee Utd are back in the Scottish Premier League after a 3-2 aggregate win over Partick, but it's heavy work: they're 1-0 down until the 90th minute and get the winner in extra time.

Friday 17 There is still uncertainty over England's match in China. TV's assistant Ted Buxton isn't happy after the latest pitch inspection: "I had a little bit of a showdown with them. They've got new grass in the goalmouth but other areas are still bare." So whose idea was this again? Bobby Robson is to become Barcelona coach, replacing Johan Cruyff who is to leave after eight years in charge. Bobby has signed a two-year contract and will do well to last that long.

Saturday 18 England stroll to a 3-0 win against disinterested Hungary with Darren Anderton getting two on his return to the team. Mark Wright becomes the fourth centre back on the injury list, going off after just two minutes. He'll now miss the trip to the Far East. Terry Venables says he may be able to take a club job at the start of the season as his court appearances won't take up as much time as once thought. That's nice. Rangers complete the double, beating Hearts 5-1 in the Scottish Cup Final with Gordon Durie getting a hat trick. Eric Cantona and David Ginola are left out of France's Euro '96 squad, causing Nike to scrap a £100,000 Euro '96 poster campaign featuring Eric, who hasn't played internationally since the Selhurst Park incident.

Sunday 19 Macclesfield win the FA Trophy, beating Northwich 3-1 in front of a record low crowd for the competition, 8,672. (Now if it had been played at a national stadium in Manchester . . .) Llansantffraid (population 954) win the Welsh Cup on penalties after a 3-3 draw with Barry Town. Terry Venables is being tipped to take over from Bobby Robson at Porto, there being no London jobs available at the moment. Former Guinness chairman and convicted crook Ernest Saunders is having takeover talks with QPR.

Tuesday 21 John Collins becomes the first player in the UK to take advantage of the Bosman ruling, leaving Celtic for Monaco for nothing. "Ten years in the Premier League have worn me down," he says. Who he'll find to play with is in doubt as virtually every French international seems to be hankering for a move elsewhere, with Bordeaux's Zinedine Zidane and Christophe Dugarry apparently facing a difficult choice between Italy and Blackburn. Jason Lee's for sale, too, Frank Clark blaming the player's loss of confidence on the jokes made at his expense on Fantasy Football. "It's wrecking my career," says Jason, "Everyone keeps referring to it and it's not funny." Just like the programme . . .

Wednesday 22 Juventus are European champions, beating Ajax on penalties after a 1-1 draw. Gianluca Vialli, on his way to Stamford Bridge, misses a good chance to win the game in the last minute of normal time, and bursts into tears at the end - the thought of playing alongside Dennis Wise would do that to anyone. (Why do so many Italian players wear white vests?) Steve Bruce leaves Man Utd for Birmingham City and a big wodge: "I cannot imagine any player earning more," says David Sullivan, probably not trying too hard. Rangers are poised to land another Catholic, this time Fernando Couto, Parma's Portuguese defender. It'll be pre-season tours of the Vatican before you know it.

Thursday 23 China 0, England 3, with two goals for Nick Barmby but none for Alan Shearer for the eleventh successive game, in an England side showing nine changes from their previous match. "I wanted a tough test and I got it," says Terry, "It was the nearest thing to a tournament game we have played." But still not very near.

Saturday 25 A record attendance for a Third Division play-off final of 43,431 - a bigger Wembley crowd that for the last five England matches - sees Plymouth beat Darlington 1-0. It is manager Neil Warnock's fourth play-off win in six years.

Sunday 26 Not a great day for the international teams: a Les Ferdinand goal brings England (in indigo) a 1-0 win against a Hong Kong Select XI (in puce, and including Mike Duxbury, Carlton Fairweather and Dave Watson) and they are booed off. "It was never part of our plans not to play well, it just happened that way," says Terry, adding, "The lads thought the grass was too long." Scotland lose 2-1 in the USA. "We feel we can compete far better than we did," says Craig Brown. Wales (or a 'Wales XI') warm up for next week's World Cup qualifier against San Marino by losing 2-1 to Leyton Orient. "On the whole it's been a good day," says coach Neville Southall. Nev's a bit new to this. Bradford City win the Second Division play-off, beating Notts County 2-0.

Monday 27
Leicester win one of the most dramatic of all play-off finals, beating Palace 2-1 with a Steve Claridge goal in the dying seconds of extra time. Moments before Leicester had replaced keeper Kevin Poole with his deputy Zeljko Kalac in readiness for the penalty shoot-out. Palace went ahead through Andy Roberts in the first half, a Garry Parker penalty bringing Leicester level fifteen minutes from time. "It's one of the greatest moments of my life," says Martin O'Neill. "We've got to pick ourselves up and make sure we do it next season," says Dave Bassett.

Tuesday 28 The England squad is announced, Beardsley, Lee, Wise, Ehiogu and Wilcox being dropped from the 27 taken to the Far East. "I would have loved to keep them all," says Terry. Aaah. England players celebrating Gascoigne's birthday are alleged to have caused up to £10,000 worth of damage to the aeroplane bringing them back from China. Tory MPs are outraged, would you believe. Roy Keane is to be left out of the Republic of Ireland's next six matches after twice failing to turn up for friendlies in Dublin.

Wednesday 29 Northern Ireland draw 1-1 with Germany at Windsor Park. The Germans miss two first half penalties, go behind eleven minutes from time, then equalize a minute later. The Rep of Ireland are beaten at home by a 90th minute Portuguese goal. Roy Keane may be reprieved after 'clear the air' talks with Mick McCarthy. QPR could be sharing Loftus Road with the rugby team Wasps if record company boss Chris Wright succeeds in takeover bid for both clubs. "It is a chance to establish Loftus Road as London's premier venue," he says, though he may have been laughing when he said it. New Blackpool chairman Vicky Oyston, who's replaced husband Owen, imprisoned on a rape charge, gets stuck into the job by sacking manager Sam Allardyce. Barry Fry might fancy the seaside . . .

Thursday 30 But Barry is, in fact, heading for Peterborough, as their new manager/owner - the club is for sale for around £1 million. Nationwide, a building society, are to become the sponsors of the Football League in a three-year deal worth £5.25 million. Scotland's last Euro '96 warm up match ends in another defeat, this time 1-0 to Colombia in Miami. "We could easily have had three victories going into Euro '96 if we'd picked teams like Hungary," says Craig Brown, icily.

Friday 31 FIFA announce that Japan and South Korea will be joint hosts of the 2002 World Cup which represents a major victory for UEFA chief Lennart Johansson, the main backer of a joint candidature, and a setback for Joao Havelange, who apparently had his heart (assuming he's got one) set on Japan getting the nod.

From WSC 113 July 1996. What was happening this month

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