July 2002

Monday 1 Airdrie United acquire the rights to Clydebank’s name and seem set to replace them in the Scottish Second Division. “If this takeover goes ahead, a franchise system for Scottish football will have been validated,” says a spokesman for the Clydebank supporters group, who had been hoping to take control of the club themselves. Mick Wadsworth, who left Oldham during last season, is Huddersfield’s new manager.

Tuesday 2 Lots of Leeds today. Imaginary archer Robbie Keane turns down a move to Sunderland, insisting: “I don’t want to play for another club.” British press reports link David O’Leary to a job at Parma, who issue a statement pointing out that they appointed a new coach before the World Cup. Meanwhile, Dave’s former employers are being discouraged from talking to Martin O’Neill. “We are committed to ensuring that he remains at this club,” says Celtic’s chief executive Ian McLeod. Ivano Bonetti denies he has been sacked as Dundee manager: “If I am leaving , it will be my decision not theirs.”

Wednesday 3 Anticipating rejection by Martin O’Neill, Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale claims to have other admirers: “I have been very pleasantly surprised to have received at least three calls from candidates we had not even considered.” Selhurst Park may be hosting record low crowds after “Wimbledon” announce that they will stay there “for the foreseeable future”. Their mooted temporary home at Milton Keynes hockey stadium has failed to meet the criteria for staging League matches – it has a capacity of 4,000, which is less than the minimum of 6,000, even by Charles Koppel’s arithmetic.

Thursday 4 League newcomers Boston United suspend manager Steve Evans, who is facing FA charges relating to alleged financial malpractice. Former Hibernian manager Jim Duffy replaces the unwillingly departed Ivano Bonetti at Dundee.

Friday 5 The Football League agree a broadcasting deal with Sky worth £95 million over four years. Martin O’Neill insists he is staying put at Celtic: “There has been no approach from Leeds and I want to see through the remaining year of my contract.” Stirrings elsewhere in Glasgow, though, as minted David Murray steps down as Rangers chairman, though he remains the majority shareholder.

Saturday 6 Fulham’s first European adventure is a letdown as they are held to a goalless draw by FC Haka of Finland in the first leg of their Intertoto Cup tie. Boisterous Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan criticises the League’s new television deal and calls for the resignation of the chief executive David Burns: “The size of this deal is beyond comprehension. Every business in the Football League has just had their product devalued for four years.”

Monday 8 “If people are surprised about it, then no more than myself,” says sun-kissed entrepreneur Terry Venables on becoming the new Leeds manager. Peter Ridsdale denies that Steve McClaren turned the job down first: “The suggestion is grossly unfair on Terry.” Middlesbrough’s new £8 million signing Massimo Maccarone sets himself a target: “I know Ravanelli did very well here but I want to beat his goalscoring record.”

Wednesday 10 First Division chairmen unhappy with the League’s new television deal are set to discuss yet another breakaway plan. League chairman Keith Harris is unimpressed: “What you hear is a very vocal minority. When you have these controversial moments you could start second-hand toy shops for things coming out of prams.” Meanwhile, militant representatives from several League clubs form a picket outside the headquarters of their sworn foes with placards reading: “Football League Health Warning: Carlton and Granada Can Seriously Damage Your Sport.” Sam Dalla Bona leaves the football branch of the Chelsea Village leisure complex to join Milan for £1.5 million. Bristol City reject managerless Brighton’s approach for Danny Wilson. A crowd of 4,657 sees AFC Wimbledon’s first match, a 4-0 defeat at Ryman League Sutton United. Hamilton Academical are to close down until staff and players receive wages owed since April.

Thursday 11 Concerned that television doesn’t love them like it used to, UEFA are to drop the second group stage of the Champions League from 2003-04, replacing it with a knockout second round. They’ll think up a snappy slogan to explain it. Arsenal confirm the signing of the French defender Pascal Cygan, seen as a replacement for the retiring Tony Adams. The latter’s hopes of entering management with Watford are dashed, however, when the club promote reserve coach Ray Lewington. Nigeria’s World Cup defender Joseph Yobo concludes a one-season deal with Everton.

Friday 12 Premier League chairmen are to discuss a proposal for a three-week winter break, to begin in the 2003-04 season. The PFA’s chief executive Gordon Taylor is in favour: “The body needs rest periods. They wouldn’t have racehorses turn out as often as footballers do.” Retailers on Teesside rush to cancel bulk orders of yellow shirts with green collars after Middlesbrough appear to have conceded defeat in their attempt to re-sign Juninho. Titus Bramble 1completes his move from Ipswich to Newcastle for £5 million.

Sunday 14 As the nation holds its breath, Rio Ferdinand ponders whether to leave Leeds for Man Utd: “I honestly don’t know what I will do.” His manager, meanwhile, takes up an unfamilar position atop the moral high ground: “Rio has a contract and I think it’s fair that contract is honoured, otherwise what’s the point?” Fulham stride into the next stage of the Intertoto with an away goals “win” in Finland, and confirm the signing of Junichi Inamoto, released by Arsenal.

Monday 15 Brighton appoint youth coach Martin Hinshelwood as their new manager, although the chairman Dick Knight claims to have been close to appointing an international coach, believed to be Winfried Schäfer of Cameroon. Football League clubs are being asked to forego £35 million owed to them by Premium TV, the company that runs all their official websites, in return for a bigger share of future profits (ha!) from web ventures over the next 20 years (haha!).

Wednesday 17 Lee Bowyer’s move to Liverpool hits a snag over the player’s terms (the personal hovercraft must be big enough to house a multiplex cinema). Leeds reject a transfer request from Rio Ferdinand, who is apparently unsettled and missing his mates in Manchester. His agent just wants him to be happy: “If they say no, then Rio will stay. He is a loyal soldier.” Southampton receive a fax from their Ecuadorian striker Augustin Delgado, who has not contacted the club since before the World Cup, to say that he’s having treatment on his dicky knee and love to all.

Thursday 18 Peter Ridsdale has “amicable and constructive talks” with Rio, for whom no one has officially bid. Everton’s shirt sponsorship deal with a Chinese mobile phone company involves their taking defender Li Weifeng on a one-year loan. He’ll be playing in the withdrawn position known as the Inamoto.

Friday 19 Boston are deducted four points and fined £100,000 at an FA hearing after being found guilty of financial irregularities. They are to appeal. Dagenham manager Gary Hill is fuming: “This decision makes a mockery of the game and I think the whole country should be surprised by it.” Everton sign another Chinese player, Li Tie, with a resounding endorsement from manager David Moyes: “He will have a great deal of work to do if he is to break into our first team.” Dennis Wise is sent home from Leicester’s pre-season tour for a “breach of club discipline”, possibly linked to Callum Davidson’s fractured cheekbone.

Saturday 20 Leeds look set to sell “England’s ace defender” to Man Utd (“They seem to think they are entitled to everything,” fumes Terry Venables) but they are stuck with Lee Bowyer after his move collapses. “Gérard Houllier was not convinced the player had either the hunger or desire to play for the club,” says a Liverpool spokesman. Fulham beat Aegaleo of Greece 1-0 in the first leg of their Intertoto tie.

Sunday 21 Aston Villa’s decision to rest players for their Intertoto tie at Zurich backfires with a 2-0 defeat. Bewildering news from Barcelona, where it appears that Samba supernova Rivaldo has been given a free transfer. Has the world finally gone mad? Has it?

Monday 22 Rio signs up. The fee, to be paid in instalments, could be up to £33 million. Sir Alex is thrilled: “We knew it was a hard road, but we’ve got to the end of it. He is going to be a fantastic player.” Meanwhile, Graeme Souness claims that only a “ridiculous” fee of £20 millon or more would tempt Blackburn to part with winger Damien Duff.

Tuesday 23 As you might expect, Arsène has a view on the big transfer: “I’d like to sign Rio Ferdinand – but for £10 million less. When you have a lot of money in your pocket, you buy expensive.” Sir Alex declines to reply publicly but a series of small explosions are heard in the vicinity of his house. “I come to Wolves with the Manchester United work ethic,” says a statesmanlike Denis Irwin, 36, who has signed a one-year deal. He was a Wolves fan as a boy, apparently.

Wednesday 24 Eidur Gudjohnsen appears to be angling for a move if Chelsea fail to give him a pay rise. “I’m not putting a gun to their heads,” says his agent, though you have to admit it’s a nice image. Paul Gascogine is in talks with DC United of America’s Major League Soccer. “The coach wants to see how his fitness is,” says a club spokesman, dodging a water pistol fired from behind a pillar. Richard Wright hopes that his £3.5 million move from the Arsenal bench to Everton will reignite his England career. Well, he could be busy. “Discovering the Premier League is pure happiness for me,” says Cameroon defender Geremi, who is joining Middlesbrough from Real Madrid on a one-season loan. In Champions League preliminary round ties, Portadown of the Irish League lose 3-2 to Belshina of Belarus; Dublin’s Shelbourne blow a chance to play Boavista by losing at home to Hibernians of Malta; and Welsh champions Barry Town go out 6-0 on aggregate to Skonto Riga of Latvia.

Thursday 25 Glenn Hoddle denies that Spurs are interested in signing Robbie Keane, despite comments to that effect by the club’s director of football, David Pleat: “If someone wants to give you a bum steer, then so be it.” Burnley put their entire first team squad up for sale; manager Stan Ternent is still rueing the last match of 2001-02: “One goal would have got us into the play-offs, but that’s history now.” Gary Megson extends his West Brom contract for another three seasons but faces a confrontation with players over a performance-related bonus scheme which will only be implemented if the club stay up. Anyone who heard Graham Taylor praise Ecuadorian defender Ulises de la Cruz during one of his captivating World Cup commentaries won’t be surprised to learn that the player is to join Villa from Hibernian.

Friday 26 Suddenly, some serious transfer activity. The prospect of working with Noel Whelan proves irresistible to Juninho, who is return to Middlesbrough after all, while his compatriot Gilberto Silva seems set to join Arsenal for £4.5 million. “Coming to Blackburn just feels right,” says Dwight Yorke on signing for £2 million – that’s £10.5 million less than Man Utd paid for him four years ago. The least popular man in Cumbria, Michael Knighton, appears to have sold Carlisle to Irish businessman John Courtenay, who intends to reinstate his compatriot Roddy Collins, sacked as manager in April. Leicester hold an internal inquiry into Dennis Wisegate but delay a decision on his future until next week. Man Utd will play either Zalaegerszegi of Hungary or Croatia’s NK Zagreb in the qualifying round for the Champions League. They are initially drawn against Fenerbahce, but the tie has to be redrawn because Lennart Johansson wasn’t ready, or something. Newcastle face a trip to Norway or Bosnia; Celtic will play in Switzerland or Slovakia. The Republic of Ireland come back from two down to beat England 3-2 in the European Under-19 championships in Norway. Through finishing second and third in their group, both sides have qualified for next year’s World Youth Cup.

Saturday 27 Aston Villa overhaul their two-goal deficit against Zurich in the Intertoto Cup, a 3-0 win at Villa Park setting up a tie with Lille of France. Fulham will also play French opponents, Sochaux, after squeaking a 1-1 draw against Aegaleo. Arsenal’s pre-season friendly away to Rapid Vienna is abandoned due to fighting between home fans and police. “This is a problem for Austrian football and I’m certain UEFA will take it into consideration when assessing the joint Austrian-Swiss bid for Euro 2008,” says an impartial observer, the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman, Angus Robertson. No need to worry about Rivaldo – he’s joined Milan in a deal worth £3 million per season.

Tuesday 30 After haggling for an eon, the Scottish Premier League clubs agree a two-year TV deal with BBC Scotland. However, the ten who aren’t the Old Firm are to go ahead with their threatened withdrawal from the League, which will take two years to come into effect. Middlesbrough take their summer spending past the £20 million mark after agreeing a deal with Aston Villa for Dutch midfielder George Boateng, valued at around £4.5 million. George Best is in intensive care after having a liver transplant.

Wednesday 31 Aston Villa draw 1-1 at Lille in the first leg of the Intertoto semi-final, while Fulham’s two-year tenancy at Loftus Road begins with a 1-0 win over Sochaux.

From WSC 187 September 2002. What was happening this month