Barry Hearn didn't need the media to undermine Leyton Orient's anti-racist policy. As Dave Winter reports, he was quite capable of doing that himself

Apart from the regular awards for the best turned out pitch in their division, the greatest source of pride for many Leyton Orient fans in the recent years of failure has been the club’s imaginative community programme, featured in WSC 148. It has played a leading role in the Kick Racism Out Of Football campaign, yet the credibility of this award-winning scheme has been thrown into doubt by the recent comments of Orient’s chairman Barry Hearn.

Celtic's chief executive Allan MacDonald has sacked his manager and criticised the team, but he is not a wholly innocent party, says Gary Oliver

On the last weekend in January high winds loosened some of the guttering at Parkhead, causing the Scottish Cup tie against Inverness Caledonian Thistle to be postponed. Ten days later, the entire roof fell in on Celtic: ICT, a club just six years old, strolled to a cataclysmic 3-1 win, prompting a civil war in the home dressing-room during the half-time interval.

Reading's fortunes have improved little in recent months, but the fans have taken the club by the scruff of the neck and shown unswerving support, says Roger Titford

When Scunthorpe took the lead against Reading on November 27 at the Madejski Stad­ium 1,000 home fans instantly stood up and sang “We’re shit and we’re sick of it”. Less than three months later, when Scunthorpe took the lead against Reading at Glanford Park, 1,000 travelling fans instantly stood up and sang “Come on, Reading”. With Reading in much the same place in the Second Division relegation battle, why the transformation in mood?

Dave Jones has been replaced for a year as Southampton manager by Glenn Hoddle. The move has been marketed as an opportunity for Jones to take time out and clear his name. Tim Springett is unconvinced

The removal of Dave Jones from the manager’s job at Southampton has been described in various quarters as a compassionate move. Jones’s trial on 17 alleged offences against chil­dren arising from his employment as a social wor­ker a decade ago has been set to begin on Nov­ember 27. A club statement on January 28 in­dicated that Jones had been given 12 months’ leave of absence to prepare his defence, during which time Glenn Hoddle would be keeping the manager’s chair warm for him.

Preston were the first League champions in 1889 and still a force in the Fifties but, as Dave Russell describes, they have struggled to live up to their history ever since

Preston North End have entered the new century in good shape, with a squad that finally looks good enough to end two decades in the League’s lower divisions. The name of manager David Moyes now invariably features in any press speculation about Premiership vacancies and under chairman Bryan Gray, Deepdale has been partially but dramatically redeveloped.

John Secker reflects on Blackpool’s inability to escape the lower divisions since the trauma of a fluke relegation in 1978

In the good old days of the Sixties and before, Blackpool were one of the teams who could lay claim to a First Division place pretty well permanently. Along with teams like Preston, Burnley and Bolton, they were part of a Lancashire tradition of strong town teams that went back to Victorian times. Even in the Seventies Blackpool were a strong Second Division side, just missing out on promotion in 1974 and featuring on Goal of the Season in 1975 (Mickey Walsh against Sunderland).

Huge debt, daily losses and a bankrupt chairman – Dominic Fifield recounts the sorry saga at Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace, founder members of the Premier League which they left just two years ago, have now been perched on the brink of oblivion for nearly a year. Over £20 million in debt and losing £40,000 every week, south London’s perennial under-achievers have been brought to their knees by gross financial mis­management.

Blessed with an unpopular chairman, Colin Dobell writes on how a group of fans were encouraged to formulate a plan to make Mansfield their own once more

The story of Mansfield Town’s decline is a familiar one of dubious financial dealings, serially broken promises and a wanton lack of investment. However, it may not have a conventional ending if the efforts of a group of fans achieves its goal of ousting the current chairman Keith Haslam. Unlike other such campaigns, they also have concrete ideas about how to go about replacing him effectively.

Relieved to see the end of Peter Johnson's reign at Everton, Neil Wolstenholme hopes for better times at Goodison Park

Given the many false dawns over the past year I will only believe that Bill Kenwright has bought Everton when Peter Johnson’s shares are safely transferred. As Kenwright is a current director of the club, the process of due diligence, allowing for the books to be examined before the deal is a concluded, should not be a problem. A bigger concern for many fans lies in the identity of the new owner’s possible backers, rum­oured to include marketing moguls the Barclay brothers and the corporate raider Philip Green, recently lin­k­­ed to an attempted takeover of Marks and Spencer. It is to be hoped Kenwright will identify his partners as soon as possible.

The West Midlands has a rich heritage of football but, as Steve Field finds out, the desperation to beat the local rivals has sometimes been substituted for success

When Aston Villa’s opponents failed to show up one Saturday in the 1880s, Joe Tillotson (so legend has it) threw down the bloater he was frying in his Summer Lane coffee shop and went next door to the draper’s owned by fellow director William MacGregor. Both men were indignant and declared angrily that some­thing should be done to ensure fixtures were hon­oured. It was a first faltering step towards modern professionalism and it was to lead to the creation of a Football League for the most prosperous and am­b­itious clubs in the north and midlands.

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