The new missile crisis

It’s back. Or is it? We need to close grounds. We mustn’t have fences again. We can ban people who are caught on CCTV. But the pictures usually aren’t good enough. And bans don’t work anyway. Violence is on the increase. It’s nothing like the Eighties. It never gets in the papers. The media are blowing it out of all proportion.

Strength in depth – quantity over quality?

Amid the general admiration for Bobby Robson’s achievement in taking Newcastle to the top of the Premiership table at Christmas, it was widely asserted that he did not have a strong enough squad to make a serious challenge for the championship. That may well be true. However, Newcastle currently have no few­er than 40 players under contract who are considered near enough to the first team to be given a shirt number.

Is the Phoenix League a genuine breakaway threat to the Premier League?

So, the Phoenix League. If we are to believe what the Daily Mail says, and who wouldn’t, “revolution” is afoot. Some-time soon, possibly next season, more likely in 2004 when the current TV deal expires, 14 clubs will leave the Football Lea­gue to form a second tier of the Prem­ier League, where they will be joined by two clubs demoted from the top level, together with Celtic and Rangers. 

The "referee crisis" fuelled by television exposure that should just be ignored

As in so many other respects, people often look back on the 1970 World Cup as a golden age of refereeing. Do you know, not a single player was sent off, they will tell you. Not like now, when games are persistently ruined by referees des­perate to get into the limelight, imposing absurdly over-fussy regulations.

Players threaten to strike over money

It’s rare for newspapers to get the chance to report on an old fashioned trade union dispute these days. But the coverage of the PFA’s row over the share of revenue from the new TV contract has provided an opportunity to trot out some of the old stand-bys that were common currency in the strike-heavy Seventies.

How footballers' biographies are simply a form of propaganda in a feeble attempt to sway public opinion in their favour

We may never know quite why Jaap Stam left Man Utd for Lazio. Some pundits seem to think that the sudden sale of a hitherto key player had nothing do with his published comments. “Rev­enge for a literary atrocity? Forget it,” sug­gested the Independent’s James Lawton, who is inclined to think Stam’s manager had long since lost faith and was simply waiting to line up a replacement before selling him.

The Old Firm's proposal to join the Premier League

Ten years ago this summer, the FA published its Blueprint for Football, which first made explicit its support for the breakaway Premier League, to be for­med for the start of the 1992-93 season. At the time it was seen by many, including us, as a radical and damaging step which threatened to undermine the trad­itional bonds between the top of the game and the bottom. The desire of the Prem­ier League clubs to keep a greater proportion of the game’s revenue for themselves, scandalously endorsed by the FA, seem­ed likely to send many of the smaller clubs to the wall.

How football has evolved in the modern era

Some would say that the football watching has become a soulless experience, with passive spectators in expensive seats cowed by deafening tannoys. Yet the football fan of the 21st century gets any number of opportunities to recreate the stadium atmosphere of old, standing in a huddle cheering on their team. “Pubs have been dubbed football’s new terraces,” said the Sunday Telegraph, reporting ITV Digital’s plans for next season. These include trying to undercut Sky’s existing deals with the 40,000 pubs which pay an average of £500 per year for the right to show satellite transmissions.

Sol Campbell's departure from Spurs calls into question the level of players' wages

In the last week of May, the golfer Andrew Oldcorn collected more than £300,000 for winning the Volvo PGA tournament at Wentworth. Not a bad return for four days’ work by anyone’s standards, but few in the press were lining up to savage the mild-mannered Oldcorn for his rampant avarice. No matter how he performs on the tour this year, he will not be greeted on the tees of Europe by snarling fans chanting that there is “only one greedy bastard”.

After 22 years of sponsoring the top division in English football, Barclays is as big a part of the football fraternity as the clubs themselves

When Barclays first sponsored the Football League (as it then was) in 1987, the angry young men (as we then were) at WSC wrote: “What the deal says about the League is this: they believe that Barclays Bank enjoys more warmth and respect in society than football itself.” It was a fair point, particularly as the sum involved was only £4.55 million over three years, which might just be enough to attach your company’s name to Pat­rick Vieira’s socks these days. It seemed that it wasn’t so much the money the League needed, but reassurance from the corporate world that football had not sunk irredeemably beneath its notice.

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