In late February, players, staff and supporters of Lombardy side Pro Patria staged a three-day sit-in protest at the club’s Stadio Carlo Speroni. In recent years the Lega Pro Division Two (fourth tier) team has endured a litany of miserable luck and disastrous financial mismanagement. Occupying the stadium was a last attempt to save a dying club and a famous name in the Italian game, even if i tigrotti (the little tigers) last played in Serie A in 1956.
When MŠK Žilina’s first ever Champions League group stage campaign finally drew to an end last December, debate in Slovakia as to its merits and otherwise was already long underway. The general consensus was that the failure to pick up points was disappointing and the 7-0 home defeat by Marseille humiliating but also that the team had played good football in spells and learned several lessons.
One of the great names, literally, of European football is at risk of disappearing. The record 27 times champions of Switzerland, Grasshopper Club Zürich (GCZ), are in debt, struggling on the field and without a home of their own.
A bid to improve the compensation rights of non-League clubs when their young players are snapped up by Football League teams was featured in WSC 279 (May 2010). The issue of fairly reimbursing smaller clubs is set to become a major topic in the coming months, if current proposals to change England's academy system come into being.
Just the other week, I was listening to Arsenal's come-from-behind victory against Barcelona at the Emirates. "Remarkable!" said Alan Green. Indeed it was but, as they'd done something very similar last year, somehow not extraordinary. This is how the Champions League has changed European club competition. The group format and perennial participation of the same teams renders a fixture such as Arsenal v Barcelona hardly less routine than Arsenal v Bolton. Notable performances by English clubs in Europe are therefore increasingly common, but so common as to be almost mundane.
The Mirror journalist David Maddock is a sympathetic chronicler of the Merseyside football scene but his blog on Everton on January 18 was unfortunate in its timing. With David Moyes's team underperforming and rumours circulating about the club entering administration, he sought to explain "why Everton's achievements under Moyes and Kenwright are far more impressive than anything Man City have done" – urging fans to "rejoice in the fact that the club is run prudently with no danger of going bust".
On January 28, the Olympic Park Legacy Company will meet to decide the future of the £500 million state-owned stadium centrepiece of the 2012 Olympic Games. Not permitting Acts Of God or natural disasters, by then we will know whether it is West Ham or late bidders Tottenham Hotspur who will be looking to relocate to a new home in Stratford post-2012.
Huge debt and a series of winding up petitions meant Sheffield Wednesday were close to administration last year. Thanks though to Milan Mandaric's £8 million takeover, their long-standing financial problems, preceding even their relegation from the Premier League in 1999-2000, have abated at last.
In a season which so far has bought nothing but pain, disappointment and misery, the Carling Cup is providing some light relief for West Ham fans. While Avram Grant's limited team plod along unconvincingly in the Premier League, the season's first cup competition has seen them score wins over Sunderland, Stoke and, most impressively, Manchester United in the quarter-finals.
Empty plastic seats are a common feature in top-flight football in 2010. Adam Bate wonders why one region isn't reacting to success
On the face of it these are heady days for West Midlands football. West Bromwich Albion's promotion from the Championship has resulted in the region's four biggest clubs all enjoying top-flight status for the first time since the 1983-84 season. Wolves have just achieved their highest league finish for 30 years while Birmingham's ninth place last time out was their best effort in over half a century.