31 December ~ More hopes for the coming year from WSC contributors
Footballers in Britain spend a little less time golfing, gaming and gambling, and a little more on becoming two-footed. Clubs will base ticket prices on filling stadiums rather than players' wallets. Third kits will be banned. So-called "away" kits will be called "change" kits and only permitted when there is a genuine clash of colours and no club will be allowed to bring out more than one new kit a year. Forest will somehow unearth a half-decent left-back of their own rather than relying on a succession of other clubs' cast-offs. And if all that is too hopelessly naive and improbable, I'll settle for world peace and an end to poverty. Richard Harrison
That Nick Barmby will sign up full-time as Hull City manager, bring in an experienced assistant, buy Boaz Myhill back from West Brom, wear a suit, tie and tan shoes on the touchline, and achieve promotion back to the Premier League as champions. And, to further the gluttony, we want to achieve it by winning a trophy-decider at West Ham on the last day. Beyond that, it would be nice if England weren't dreadful in the summer, though this observer stopped crying salt tears at their failures 15 years ago.
As football has finally started to eat itself, the best I can hope for is the "I want to go home, I want to go home, (insert name of opponents town)’s a shithole..." and the "we're (insert name of club), we'll do what we want" chants to be consigned to rubbish heap of history.
That Boavista manage to survive for at least another year, despite their crippling debts. There is hope in the form of a court decision that Boavisteiros await with increasing impatience. The question is whether the 2008 federation meeting that rejected the club’s appeal against demotion from the top flight – in the context of the so-called "Golden Whistle" referee-bribing scandal – was valid. In May of this year, Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa saw his appeal in respect of the same meeting accepted. A similar decision in Boavista’s favour could mean the club’s financial survival, given the potential compensation involved.
I don’t want to sound like a grump, but those club-organised card displays and the handing out of flags at English grounds before European games always seem the complete antithesis of genuine supporter expression, more akin to dutiful brand levering. I’m not talking about the now well-established UK ultra-style movement here, good luck to them. But I have my fingers crossed that some over-enthusiastic health and safety officer steps in at the Emirates and Stamford Bridge before the next round of Champions League games and knocks any plans for creating cod continental atmosphere right on the head.
After the shocking 2011 revelations in the wake of the Richard Keys and Andy Gray debacle that football might be a weeny bit sexist - they'll be claiming it is a teeny bit racist next - those nominating the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year "redress the balance" and show they have their fingers directly on the pulse of women's sport by including Dick Kerr's Ladies, the Doncaster Belles, as well as "that girl who can run hundreds of miles without stopping" for 2012's awards.
England winning Euro 2012 would be nice, but mainly I'd like to see a bit of perspective put back into the game. Just because you disagree with someone doesn't mean you have the right to abuse them. Everyone has an opinion on football but it would just be good if we all took a breath before shouting, writing or tweeting it.
That the BBC continues to televise Garth Crooks’ descent into madness. There is no finer sight in football broadcasting than that of a bug-eyed Crooks barking non-sequiturs at a grinning but terrified Gabby Logan: "Tomas Rosicky. He’s biscuits. Mmm?"
Legislation at government level to impose financial sanity on football. The game will collapse if fans decide enough is enough and begin to choose cheaper entertainment options, like seats at the opera for instance.
There have been stirrings (players’ strike over unpaid wages, mooted changes to bankruptcy laws) of changes in the way Spanish football is run, which would mean club presidents and their lackeys cannot ruin clubs by promising to spend money they don’t have and then running away from the huge debts. Last year saw Real Zaragoza’s leaked creditor’s list including €4,475 owed to the Spanish Red Cross and Racing Santander owner Ali Syed reportedly on the run from Interpol. A new agreement between the clubs, the league and the government which will hopefully bring in a more sensible, rule-based system of regulation is apparently in the works. I’m not saying it will definitely happen, but it would be nice to think it is possible.
That Marseille win the Champions League.
That Euro 2012 turns out to be such a wonderfully entertaining and high-quality tournament that UEFA decide to "lose" the memo about increasing the number of competing teams to 24 for 2016, saving us from the awkward, diluted competition that it is sure to be.
The two hottest topics in British politics during 2011 were the summer riots and falling attendances at lower league football clubs. My strategy to address both issues involves the government offering grants to unemployed youngsters to follow teams that regularly attract less than 5,000 fans. Clubs benefit from increased attendances, while our nation's young people learn a valuable lesson in humility, entitlement and stoically enduring long periods of mind-numbing boredom. How many of those kids pictured helping themselves to tellies from Comet supported Brentford, Rochdale or Tranmere? Exactly.