Thursday 1 The Football League lose their court case against ITV Digital on the basis that the TV companies were not contractually bound to pay the full amount owed, £178.5 million of which is outstanding. The League may sue the legal advisers who drew up the contract with Carlton and Granada. Bradford City come out of administration after agreeing a repayment schedule with their creditors. Chairman Geoffrey Richmond is remorseful about the club’s over-spending: “I wish I had played it a different way. It looked right at the time though.” Dave Watson is sacked by Tranmere. Debt-ridden Fiorentina go bust, but may be allowed to restart in Italy’s fourth division.
Friday 2 Possibly concerned that Rivaldo has been hogging the headlines, Ronaldo announces he doesn’t want to play for Inter again. Man Utd, who share Ronaldo’s sponsor, Nike, haven’t assigned anyone to their No 9 shirt yet. And let’s not rule out Portsmouth. After an unsuccessful trial with DC United, television’s Paul Gascoigne is offered terms by the Darlington chairman George Reynolds, “provided he’d play for £1,000 a week”. Cheeky bantam Dennis Wise is sacked by Leicester after an investigation into the incident that led to Callum Davidson breaking a cheekbone.
Saturday 3 Rangers fall two points behind Celtic on the opening day of the season in Scotland, drawing 1-1 at Kilmarnock while the defending champions beat Dunfermline. Terry Butcher gets off to a bad start at Motherwell, being sent from the dugout during his team’s 3-2 defeat at Livingston. Gretna score in the first minute of their League debut against Morton, who come back to draw. Kevin Kilbane apologises for aiming a V-sign at a group of vocal Sunderland supporters during a friendly in Belgium.
Sunday 4 Scottish Premier League chairman Lex Gold says plans are being discussed for a North Atlantic League Cup, also involving clubs in Denmark, Holland and Belgium, to be played during the winter break. In keeping with the tournament’s name, matches will be staged on oil rigs in the Brent Spa field.
Tuesday 6 Chief executive David Burns and chairman Keith Harris resign from their positions with the Football League. “The petty backbiting and division into factions demean both the clubs involved and the game in general,” says Burns. Itching for a scrap after a quiet few days, Sir Alex claims that Patrick Vieira would have signed for Man Utd last season: “But they wouldn’t let him.” He continues: “There is no player in this country who wouldn’t want to play for Manchester United.” On a related theme, Leeds fans cancel their player of the year award, which has been won by Rio Ferdinand. Bradford City will be allowed to play in the First Division this season after the League approve a rescue package. But garrulous Geoffrey Richmond steps down as chairman, saying: “I believe that the supporters of this club are split and that while I am here they will remain divided.” Big-time charlies hit the First Division with the Pauls Merson and Ince joining Portsmouth and Wolves respectively. Dundee are hopeful of luring Paul Gascoigne back to Scotland: “He can have a very good effect on those around him,” says manager Jim Duffy, who might want a second opinion from Des Lynam.
Wednesday 7 Fulham are two games away from a first appearance in the UEFA Cup after a 2-0 win at Sochaux in the Intertoto. Villa, though, lose by the same score at home to Lille. Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan demands that the Football League scrap its board of directors, comprising club chairmen, and replace them with “commercial people who can restructure the League as a 21st century business”. So, off you pop, quick as you like. Spurs’ latest transfer target, Fernando Morientes, stops just short of issuing a “come and get me” plea, saying: “I have no wish to play for Tottenham. Real Madrid are European champions while Tottenham have not even qualified for the UEFA Cup.” PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor makes a surprising suggestion to solve football’s financial crisis: “We shouldn’t discount the possibility of combining with Scotland. We already have clubs from Wales in our league so I think serious talks should take place.” After a nervous 28 years, Bob Wilson announces his retirement from broadcasting.
Thursday 8 El Tel’s keenness for surrounding himself with old mates prompts Leeds to sign Nick Barmby for £2.75 million. “I am a Yorkshire lad and I know what this club is all about,” says Nick. Billy McKinlay and Nicky Summerbee agree to join Leicester for no wages. “They’ve decided to go down this road to put themselves in the shop window,” says manager Micky Adams. The club that was Wimbledon announce plans for a temporary stadium in Milton Keynes which they claim will be ready by the end of the year. The FA’s Adam Crozier is to meet with several Premiership managers in September to discuss plans for a January winter break, to begin in 2003-04.
Saturday 10 Rotherham’s 6-0 win at Millwall, the latter’s worst home defeat in 54 years, is the outstanding result on the opening day of the League season. Mark McGhee feels that a row over salaries may have affected his players: “I have to sort their heads out or make changes.” The 2,476 allegedly at Wimbledon v Gillingham is the lowest postwar attendance in the top two divisions, though the real figure may have been much less. Managerless Tranmere win 4-1 at Port Vale, while League newcomers Boston draw 2-2 with Bournemouth. The entire nation’s weekend is ruined by the news that Rio Ferdinand will miss Man Utd’s Champions League match in Hungary after being injured in a friendly with Boca Juniors. Juninho picks up a cruciate ligament injury that may keep him out until Christmas.
Sunday 11 Gilberto Silva’s debut goal wins the Community Shield for Arsenal. “We’re not ready yet,” says Gérard, and some would hope the same had been true of Liverpool’s dismal new black and grey change kit. Arsenal are unhappy with Steven Gerrard’s crunching tackle on Patrick Vieira. “Normally that tackle would have produced red,” says Arsène, who seems to have been looking the right way for once. Despite their lack of pre-season practice, Bradford manage a goalless draw with one of the First Division favourites, Wolves. Dutch striker Mark De Vries scores four on his home debut for Hearts in a 5-1 win over Hibernian.
Monday 12 The FA are set to fine Roy K**** for admitting in his new book that he deliberately tried to injure Alf Inge Haaland in a Manchester derby two seasons ago. Haaland, who has hardly played since, may also sue K****. International playboy Lee Sharpe returns to Devon, where he started his career with Torquay, to sign for Exeter City.
Tuesday 13 Fulham draw 2-2 at Bologna in the first leg of the Intertoto “final”, Junichi Inamoto scoring their first moments after coming on as a sub. Jean Tigana isn’t overly thrilled: “It’s possible we will pay the penalty in November or December.” Livingston make a rather ignominious European debut, drawing 1-1 with Liechtenstein’s Vaduz in the UEFA Cup preliminary round. Trevor Francis, the Frank Spencer of football management, is sent off for hitting reserve goalkeeper Alex Kolinko, who was apparently seen laughing after Palace went a goal down in their 1-1 draw against Bradford. Twenty-three away fans see Wimbledon’s goalless draw at Grimsby: “The players enjoyed playing in front of a crowd,” says manager Stuart Murdoch, set to become a doyen of gallows humour. Ipswich defender Hermann Hreidarsson turns down a move to West Brom. “I’ve been told he’s not coming because he doesn’t fancy another relegation battle,” sighs Gary Megson, while Alpay insists on leaving Villa who, it is said, refuse to double his wages to £30,000 a week: “It will be bad for me to carry on playing where I am not happy.”
Wednesday 14 Man Utd concede an injury-time winner to Zalaegerszeg in their Champions League qualifier. Sir Alex stays calm: “One attack, one goal. But a small team can have a big day and in a way I’m pleased for them.” Newcastle win 1-0 away to Zeljeznicar, Celtic beat Basel 3-1. Alex Kolinko denies having made a formal complaint to police about being struck by his manager, who now describes the incident as “a bit of fun”. Sunderland sign Liverpool full-back Steven Wright for £3 million.
Thursday 15 Today’s Spurs’ target is Michael Ricketts, for whom Bolton are said to have “laughed off” an £8 million bid. Graeme Souness’s bottom lip is trembling at reports linking Damien Duff with Liverpool: “This information is coming from somewhere and the people giving it know it is not true.” In the UEFA Cup, Ipswich get a last-minute winner away to Luxembourg’s Avenir Beggen. Aberdeen also win 1-0 at home to Nistru Otaci of Moldova.
Saturday 17 Fulham are the surprise top scorers on the opening day of the Premiership, with four, two of them penalties, against Bolton. Man Utd need a late Solskjaer goal to beat West Brom, who have Derek McInnes sent off. Charlton are to protest about the red card received by Paul Konchesky during the first half of their home game with Chelsea, who go on to win 3-2 with two goals in the last five minutes. Alan Curbishley is ruffled: “I’m not a ranter and raver but the referee was poor.” “Last season we’d have won this game,” says Little Kev, still his sunny self after Man City’s 3-0 defeat at Leeds. Robbie Keane comes off the bench to score the third – fortunately, he’s dropped the bow and arrow bit. Fearsome-looking 16-year-old Wayne Rooney becomes the youngest ever debutant in the Premiership in Everton’s 2-2 draw with Spurs. Gillingham top the First after a third successive win, 1-0 against Millwall. Grimsby’s Steve Livingstone is hospitalised with a fractured skull after a collision during his team’s 2-1 home defeat by Derby. Wigan, 2-0 winners against Bristol City, are the only team with maximun points in the lower divisions. There is mayhem at Sincil Bank, where Carlisle win 1-0 despite having three players sent off. The police are also to investigate alleged scuffles in the directors’ box after Lincoln miss a last-minute penalty. Celtic are two points clear with a goal difference of plus ten after just three matches in the SPL. AFC Wimbledon win their first match in the Combined Counties League, 2-1 at Sandhurst.
Sunday 18 Michael Owen misses a penalty but a John Arne Riise goal is enough for Liverpool at a restive Villa Park. Graham Taylor gets into an altercation with a home fan at the final whistle: “Somebody used language towards me that I did not appreciate, so I shouted back.” Forecast to remain unbeaten all season by their manager, Arsenal begin with a 2-0 win over Birmingham, who have debutant Aliou Cissé sent off for a second yellow card after what seemed to be a dive by Ashley Cole. In the First, Ipswich thrash Leicester 6-1.
Monday 19 Once again the season begins with a West Ham manager saying “We need more mental strength” – Glenn Roeder having seen his team concede four second-half goals at Newcastle. Man City’s lawyers have advised the club not to take legal action against Roy K****, Alf-Inge Haaland having admitted on his own website last year that his knee injury was not caused by K***’s challenge.
Tuesday 20 Franco Baresi resigns from his job at Fulham, which had been downgraded from director of football to “adviser to Mohamed Al Fayed”, just before he was made “executive in charge of washroom towels”. Aliou Cissé’s red card is rescinded but the FA won’t be taking action against Ashley Cole. Man Utd transfer target Julian Escude injures a cruciate ligament while walking his sheepdog and will be out of action for at least a month. United may now pursue Lazio defender Juan Pablo Sorin, who has only a hamster and tropical fish. Bournemouth chairman Tony Swaisland resigns, having been heavily criticised by fans over the proposed sale of Dean Court.
Wednesday 21 Northern Ireland captain Neil Lennon withdraws from their team for the match with Cyprus after receiving a death threat, saying: “I am very disappointed that my desire to play for my country has been taken away from me.” That game ends 0-0, the Republic win 3-0 in Finland and Wales’ revival continues, though they concede a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw away to Croatia. “We have a lot to do,” says Scotland manager Berti Vogts after his Hampden Park debut ends in a 1-0 defeat to Denmark. Leicester winger Matthew Piper joins super soaraway Sunderland for £3.5 million, with the club’s general manager Dave Bassett warning that there will more sales: “The ship is still not steady financially.”
Thursday 22 Neil Lennon announces his retirement from international football: “It’s time for me to say enough’s enough.” John Terry and Jody Morris of Chelsea are cleared of assault charges relating to a nightclub incident in January. The third player involved, Des Byrne of Wimbledon, is fined £2,000 for possession of an offensive weapon. Matt Holland becomes the second Ipswich player this month to turn down a move to a Premiership club, in this case Aston Villa. Meanwhile, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink seems keen on a move to Spain: “If Barça signed me, I would not even pack my suitcase, I would come in what I was wearing.”
Friday 23 Villa succeed in signing an Irish international midfielder, Mark Kinsella joining them from Charlton for £750,000. The League’s disciplinary commission orders Leicester City to reinstate Dennis Wise, currently training with both Watford and Don King.
Saturday 24 Leeds and Liverpool are the only clubs with maximum points after two Premiership matches, the former winning 3-1 at West Brom, while El Hadji Diouf gets two on his Anfield debut in a 3-0 victory over Southampton (“He works his arse off!” says Gérard coarsely). Arsenal come back from two down to draw 2-2 at West Ham while wearing monstrous tie-dyed blue shirts. Fulham also rescue a point with two in injury time at Middlesbrough. Wolves are two points clear in the First after a 4-1 thrashing of Derby at Pride Park. Wigan still have to drop a point after four matches in the Second, where highly fancied Luton are joint bottom having shipped 13 goals in four games – Joe will be puce. Rushden and Wrexham jointly top the Third; Boston Utd are one point in the black after a 2-0 win in their first League derby with Lincoln City. In Scotland, Celtic stay top after struggling to a 1-0 win at Partick; newcomers Gretna lead the Third. The Football League claims to have negotiated an exemption from FIFA’s international transfer window, which is set to close on August 31. One famous free agent, Faustino Asprilla, appears to be hoping for a move to Darlington: “I am a friend of the president and I want to help him take the team into the Second Division.”
Sunday 25 Leeds are set to return to court in a compensation dispute with David O’Leary, who is holding out for £1 million plus unlimited use of the club solarium. Bob Russell MP, the Lib Dems’ sports spokesman, calls for a police investigation into Roy K****’s tackle on Haaland: “When is football going to realise that it cannot be above the law of the land?” When, Bob, when?
Monday 26 It’s hats off to happy Harry as Portsmouth go top of the First after a late winner at Grimsby. Rotherham, 2-1 winners against Derby, are two points behind but Ipswich undermine their good start by losing 2-1 at home to Bradford. Gary McAllister will wish he had hair to tear out after a terrible defensive performance sends Coventry to a 5-2 defeat at Watford.
Tuesday 27 Man Utd have no trouble overcoming their one-goal deficit against Zalaegerszeg, finally winning 5-0. Diego “Birtles” Forlan rushes to take the penalty for the fourth goal but is waved away. Junichi Inamoto scores all Fulham’s goals in the 3-1 Intertoto win over Bologna that takes them into the UEFA Cup. “I think the chairman wants to keep him,” sniffs Jean Tigana, who may have been looking the other way when the goals went in. Arsenal go top with a 5-2 win over West Brom. “That’s where we’re comfortable,” says Arsène, failing to keep the smirk in check.
Wednesday 28 El Tel has the look of someone whose honeymoon has come to a sudden end as Leeds are booed off after losing 1-0 at home to Sunderland. “If you don’t get emotional you might as well stay at home,” says Graeme Souness after being sent off for complaining about a heavy challenge by Emile Heskey in Blackburn’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool. Birmingham are denied a first Premiership win by David Unsworth’s injury time equaliser for Everton at Goodison. In the Champions League, Newcastle complete a 5-0 aggregate win over Zeljeznicar but Celtic can bid adieu to £10 million after a 2-0 defeat in Basle sends them out on away goals. Troubled kingpin Roy Keane may be out for two months after being told he needs knee surgery.
Thursday 29 In the UEFA Cup preliminary round Aberdeen are saved by the referee, who blows for time just before Vaduz of Liechtenstein get the ball in the net for what would have been a 2-1 aggregate victory. Ipswich beat Avenir Beggen of Luxembourg 8-1. Lee Sharpe is released by Exeter who claim his presence caused “unrest” in the dressing room. After months of dogged pursuit, West Brom finally land Tranmere midfielder Jason Koumas for £2.5 million.
Friday 30 Among the transfers wrapped up before the window closes, Sunderland spend £10 million on strikers Tore Andre Flo and Marcus Stewart, Lee Hughes returns to West Brom for £2.5 million, Man Utd and Arsenal both shop abroad for backup keepers, signing Ricardo Lopez from Valladolid and Rami Shaaban from Djurgaarden respectively. Tino Asprilla is not going to sign for Darlington, however, having left overnight without telling anyone: “We’re devastated,” says a club spokesman.
Saturday 31 Tireless book promoter Roy Keane is sent off in Man Utd’s 1-1 draw at Sunderland for elbowing his former Ireland team-mate Jason McAteer. After watching the replays even Sir Alex is forced to retract his initial conclusion that “There was nothing in it”. New signing Robbie Keane (“I think this is the right club for him” – Glenn Hoddle) watches Tottenham zoom to the top of the table with a 2-1 win over Southampton thanks to a laughable last-minute penalty for handball against one of the south coast Svenssons, who is sent off. Nicolas Anelka (“He is at the right club now” – Kevin Keegan) gets a hat-trick as Man City beat Everton 3-1. Birmingham and West Brom both record their first wins of the season, beating Leeds and Fulham respectively, while West Ham’s England posse slump to the bottom after a 2-0 defeat at home to Charlton. First Division leaders Portsmouth are rampant, beating Brighton 4-2. Crewe’s 5-0 win at Mansfield is the result of the day in the Second, while Hartlepool top the Third after winning 1-0 at Oxford. In Italy, Lazio fans protesting against the sale of Hernan Crespo and Alessandro Nesta smash up offices, set fire to cars and stab two Juventus fans in the buttocks outside Rome’s Olympic Stadium. Crespo’s move is the knock-on effect from Ronaldo’s departure from Inter to Real Madrid, which moves Corriere dello Sport to melodrama, commenting: “He arrived like a king, but he leaves like a thief.”
From WSC 188 October 2002. What was happening this month