A selection of WSC contributors look forward to the new year
A sun-soaked, trouble-free, high-quality Euro 2016, ideally at which Jamie Vardy picks up a winner’s medal to go with his Premier League winner’s medal.
That Napoli will win the Scudetto. It has not been south of Rome since 1990. In fact, it has only ever been south of Rome three times, Napoli twice and Cagliari. And that the Italian federation will elect a new president who is not part of the old guard that has brought il calcio into such disrepute. Sadly, given the composition of the electorate, this is unlikely.
If I am parochial, I’d like to see Oldham Athletic start 2016-17 still in League One – that has been a hope for the last few years. But some kind of positive outcome to the FIFA shambles would be good, perhaps with the current zombie apocalypse cast replaced. Maybe Oldham staying up is more realistic.
That Portugal coach Fernando Santos can find places in the Euro 2016 squad for one or two of the classy young players being successfully blooded by the top Portuguese clubs, notably winger Gelson Martins at Sporting and midfielders Renato Sanches of Benfica and Porto's Rúben Neves (who this season became the youngest player to start as captain in the Champions League, at 18 years and 221 days). And that Boavista can turn their season round and edge away from the relegation places under new coach Erwin Sánchez.
Liverpool Ladies had a bad WSL1 2015 season and have lost the manager Matt Beard as well as several of the team; it would be nice to see my local club hold on to their biggest players (hurrah for Gemma Bonner signing a new contract) and bounce back.
That England at least perform in Euro 2016. I'd settle for glorious failure as long as the players show a positive attitude and try to win instead of sitting back and letting the opposition dictate the game. It would be nice to think that our sport's governing body could regain some degree of validity too, although that may take longer than 12 months.
There’s all manner of bigger hopes that appear on my footballing wishlist with depressing regularity – lower ticket prices, more FA investment in grassroots football and youth coaching, Sepp Blatter getting acquainted with the prison canteen rather than five course banquets – but closer to home, I hope Kingstonian can find a way to stay at Kingsmeadow, or at least in Kingston. I completely understand why AFC Wimbledon have sold their ground to Chelsea, I just hope all three clubs and the local council can find a way to keep senior football in the town.
That players, journalists, pundits and me finally stop saying “SPL” (the Scottish Premier League, wound up in 2013) when we think we mean “SPFL” – the Scottish Professional Football League which, after the winding up of the Scottish Football League (SFL),encompasses all four Scottish league divisions – but actually mean “SPFL Premiership” for the post 2012-13 top flight. I don’t get why it’s so confusing.
UEFA’s decision to expand the European Championship to 24 teams adds an exciting dimension to next summer’s tournament. Far from diluting the quality of football, it should provide some much needed unpredictability. More importantly, the potential schadenfreude of a Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal getting stuffed by Iceland will easily compensate for England’s inevitable excuse-ridden exit.
That FIFA and all its subsidiaries wake up now, finally, to the need for wholesale transparency and democratic reform before the rich clubs and leagues – and their new umbrella organisations – seize the opportunity and dictate the way that football is run. Though I fear it's already too late.
This might be slightly ambitious, but I’d like to see democratic fan representation enshrined in the running of all levels of professional football, with meaningful power and influence. Season-ticket holders vote for two representatives on their club’s board. These delegates form an FA fan congress, with members from all clubs given equal votes, to elect fan representatives to the FA board. Those elected then become part of a confederation council, which elects supporters to the newly reorganised FIFA executive committee and ensures fan interests are protected.