June 2007

Friday 1 Leeds’ administrators are to recount the votes taken at a creditors’ meeting, which appeared to narrowly favour Ken Bates’s proposed takeover. Nigel Worthington is to manage Northern Ireland until the end of their Euro 2008 qualifiers in November. England concede a last-minute equaliser in a 1‑1 draw with Brazil, John Terry having put them ahead in their return to Wembley. “The key thing was the amount of passion that the players showed,” says Steve McClaren, as desperate as ever.

Saturday 2 Ryan Giggs retires from international football after Wales’s goalless Euro 2008 qualifier with the Czech Republic. In Northern Ireland’s group, Denmark recover from going 3‑0 down to pull level at home to Sweden, but the match is called off in the 89th minute after the referee is attacked by a fan following the award of a penalty to the visitors. Twelve people die in a stadium crush in Zambia after a match with DR Congo. Joey Barton is set to join Newcastle, with contract clauses to indemnify the club if he goes to jail. Nice.

Monday 4 Leeds United’s creditors vote in favour of Ken Bates’s takeover by just enough for it to go through – but those who voted against have 28 days in which to appeal. Claudio Ranieri, who had been favourite for the Man City job, is to join Juventus. Wigan prepare for a season of rearguard actions by signing Titus Bramble (yes, really) while prudent shoppers Chelsea take Peru striker Claudio Pizarro on a free from Bayern; Steve Sidwell will also sign from Reading on July 1.

Wednesday 6
England win 3-0 in Estonia, with two goals set up by David Beckham. “You know it and I know it: he’s immense,” says Steve McClaren. Scotland win 2‑0 in the Faroes. Lillywhites owner Mike Ashley is close to a Newcastle takeover after buying Freddy Shepherd’s 28 per cent stake. Bristol Rovers will groundshare with Cheltenham from midway through 2007-08 while their stadium is redeveloped.

Thursday 7
Scott Parker joins West Ham. “He will set the standards we are looking for on and off the pitch,” says Alan Curbishley, who will allow alleged clique leader Nigel Reo-Coker to leave, probably for Villa. Mark Viduka completes a move to Newcastle, which dismays his compatriot Mark Schwarzer: “Rather than accumulate better players, we are actually losing them.” David Bentley withdraws from England’s squad for the European Under‑21 Championship in the Netherlands, claiming that he needs a rest, to the angry bafflement of Stuart Pearce: “I don’t agree with it in any way, shape or form.” Gavin McCann and Jlloyd Samuel leave Villa for Bolton.

Friday 8
Boston United will play in the second level of the non-League pyramid, the Blue Square North, after being refused admittance to the top flight because of continuing financial problems. The FA announce that from now on England players will donate their match fees to the newly set up Team England Footballers Charity. UEFA award Sweden a 3-0 victory for last Saturday’s Euro 2008 qualifier in Denmark, which was abandoned when a pitch invader attacked the referee; the Danes will also have to play their next four qualifiers away from Copenhagen.

Sunday 10 The Mail on Sunday claims that “a top Premiership manager” is about to be exposed by the FA corruption inquiry as having taken a bribe from an agent, who is demanding immunity in exchange for his co-operation. Leroy Lita misses a late penalty as England Under-21s draw 0-0 against the Czech Republic.

Monday 11 Real Madrid’s offer to buy out new England wonder boy David Beckham’s contract with LA Galaxy is rejected. “That ship has sailed,” says Galaxy general manager Alexi Lalas. Thierry Henry denies reports that he is to join Barcelona: “I’ve not taken any decision and my name is not up on any departures board.” Birmingham City’s owners are considering selling to Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung for £75 million. The proposed takeover of Manchester City by Thaksin Shinawatra is held up after most of his funds are frozen by anti-corruption investigators in Thailand. Hull City are bought by a consortium headed by Paul Duffen, who made previous bids for West Ham and Cardiff. “The Premiership within three years is the objective,” he says.

Tuesday 12 Joey Barton’s move to Newcastle is delayed because Man City refuse to pay a £300,000 “loyalty bonus”. “This is out of order, I am flabbergasted,” says Sam Allardyce. Italian football will return to UK terrestrial TV after Five agree a deal for a highlights programme.

Wednesday 13 Phil Willis, MP for Harrogate, calls for the Serious Fraud Office to investigate whether “criminal activity, including money laundering” has taken place in relation to the ownership of Leeds United. The club say they will sue Willis if he makes claims to this effect outside the House of Commons. Meanwhile, rugged rascal Sean Bean takes a delegation of Sheffield United fans to Parliament to seek support for the club’s challenge to the Premier League’s ruling on the Carlos Tévez case. West Brom reject bids for Jason Koumas from Wigan and Birmingham.

Thursday 14 “If you ask every player, they want to play for Chelsea,” says their new signing Tal Ben Haim, who had been expected to rejoin Sam Allardyce at Newcastle. England Under-21s squander a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Italy. Simon Jordan wins the first part of his legal action against Iain Dowie for breaking his contract with Crystal Palace to join Charlton last May. West Ham say Liverpool have made an “insulting” offer of £1m for Yossi Benayoun. In the new season’s fixtures, as in 2006-07, there are two weekends when the “big four” play each other – which were apparently drawn at random by the computer. West Ham and Sheffield United are at home on the same days throughout the season, which may help if the latter win their appeal. “I have always admired Sam from afar,” says Joey Barton on finally completing his move to Newcastle, after they sort out the contractual spat with Man City.

Friday 15 The bungs inquiry names 17 transfers as requiring further investigation, involving five clubs – Newcastle, Bolton, Portsmouth, Chelsea and Middlesbrough. Head of the inquiry Lord Stevens has “expressed concern” about 15 agents and says there were “inconsistencies in evidence” provided by Graeme Souness and Freddy Shepherd’s son, Kenneth, relating to matters involving Newcastle. The gift of a racehorse from the agent Willie McKay to Harry Redknapp is also to be looked into, although “there is no evidence that this transaction is related to any specific transfer”. Darren Bent turns down a move to West Ham after Charlton had agreed to sell for £17m. Arsène Wenger opens negotiations with Barcelona for the transfer of Thierry Henry. “We want to stabilise in this division, then move into Europe,” says Dave Whelan, wild-eyed with ambition after Wigan sign Mario Melchiot from Rennes.

Saturday 16 Teddy Sheringham is awarded an MBE for services to football. “I have had a great career with so many people supporting me. I won’t name them,” he says, mysteriously. Ryan Giggs gets an OBE. Boro are to sign Jérémie Aliadière from Arsenal.

Sunday 17 England Under-21s reach the last four with a 2-0 win against a second-string Serbia, whose fans are threatened with expulsion from the stadium after directing racist chants towards several England players. Justin Hoyte is racially abused by Serbia players in the tunnel after the final whistle. Tom Huddlestone is sent off for swearing at a linesman. “This will be an invaluable experience for my players,” says a tough-love Stuart Pearce. Real Madrid win the Spanish league. An ex-Premiership midfielder scores two dramatic title-winning goals in his final game for the club – José Reyes had come on at 1-0 down for David Beckham, who says: “All I remember now is the great things.” Blackburn are reported to be the subject of a £67m takeover bid by an Anglo-US businessman called Daniel Williams. He is, apparently, a lifelong fan of the club. It emerges that Teddy Sheringham was one of three West Ham players questioned by police in May for allegedly supplying false information when stopped for speeding. Graeme Souness threatens to sue bung inquisitor Lord Stevens for naming him in relation to the transfer inquiry, while Harry Redknapp rages in the tabloids: “Why am I always linked to it all? If this is all they can come up with then what a waste of time.”

Monday 18 Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry is called as a witness by Sheffield United in their appeal against West Ham not being docked points. “We’re very confident of winning,” says chairman Kevin McCabe, possibly for the first time since the start of last season. Motherwell appoint Mark McGhee as their new manager. Obafemi Martins claims to have been shot at while driving in Lagos the day after playing for Nigeria in an African Nations Cup qualifier.

Tuesday 19 The arbitration panel considering Sheffield United’s appeal say they will announce their verdict by the end of June. Meanwhile, United may face a fine or points deduction themselves for insisting that their former player Steve Kabba could not play against them for Watford in April. Lawyers for the giant-among-agents, Pini Zahavi, have requested an apology from the Premier League for their client being named in the bungs inquiry. Middlesbrough turn down Portsmouth’s offer for £10m for Yakubu.

Wednesday 20 England Under-21s lose their semi-final 13-12 on penalties to Holland after a 1-1 draw; the Dutch had equalised in the 89th minute after Leroy Lita opened the scoring. “The shootouts I’ve been involved in as a player were about five or six kicks so it’s a step in the right direction,” says a crestfallen Stuart Pearce. Nottingham Forest announce plans for an entirely unnecessary 50,000-capacity stadium on the outskirts of the city, to be completed by 2014. Scarborough go bust with debts of £2.5m. Argentina’s Boca Juniors win the Copa Libertadores 5-0 on aggregate after a 2-0 second leg victory away to Gremio of Brazil.

Thursday 21 Thaksin Shinawatra launches a takeover bid for Manchester City, which will be backed by their board, on the day that he is formally charged with corruption in his native Thailand. Now it’s all down to the FA’s uniquely rigorous “fit and proper persons” test. Sven-Göran Eriksson is lined up to be manager should the takeover go ahead. “I have heard the criticism of him but nobody is perfect,” says Thaksin. Liverpool reserve midfielder Danny Guthrie joins Bolton on a year’s loan. Nigeria suspend Jon Obi Mikel from all national teams in response to his withdrawal from a recent call-up, citing injury. “Since Mikel prefers his club over his country, we can only wish him the best of luck,” says a Nigerian FA spokesman. Peterborough will not be punished by the FA for the pitch invasion in their last match of the season that led to Glenn Poole of opponents Rochdale being punched by a home supporter.

Friday 22
Thierry Henry announces that he will leave Arsenal to join Barcelona for £16m. “I am shaking as I say this,” he says, shaking. QPR are fined £20,000 for their part in the punch-up with the Chinese Olympic team in February. Plans are afoot for a biennial Celtic Cup involving Scotland, Wales and the two Irelands from 2009. “If we could pull this off, the interest would be enormous,” says Welsh FA secretary David Collins. Middlesbrough sign Turkish striker Tuncay Sanli from Fenerbahce. Iain Dowie is ordered to pay costs of around £750,000 after losing his court case to Simon Jordan.

Saturday 23 Holland beat Serbia 4-1 to win the European Under-21 Championship. Maceo Rigters gets the third to claim the golden boot ahead of Leroy Lita. David Nugent holds talks with Sunderland and Portsmouth but the Preston striker hasn’t decided who to join, seemingly because he hopes that Everton will also make a bid.

Sunday 24 Charlton disband their successful women’s team in a cost cutting exercise. “I’m disgusted with the club,” says captain and England defender Casey Stoney. Former Northern Ireland striker Derek Dougan, an ex‑chairman of the PFA, dies aged 69. The USA win the Concacaf Gold Cup, beating Mexico 2-1 in the final.

Monday 25 Paul Ince is appointed manager of MK Dons, having resigned from Macclesfield on Friday. “It feels like the decision Thierry Henry has had to make regarding going to Barcelona,” he says. Scarborough fans get permission to form a new club, Scarborough Athletic, in the Northern Counties East, four levels below the Conference. With their McCain Stadium being sold for redevelopment, they will groundshare at Bridlington.
Tuesday 26 Sports Minister Richard Caborn calls a meeting of football authorities to discuss the increase in foreign ownership of clubs. “We have got to make sure the Premier League does not turn into a billionaires’ playground,” he says as the stable door clangs shut behind him. Everton fans protest outside the offices of Knowsley Council which is considering plans for the club’s move to Kirkby, a couple of miles outside the boundaries of the city of Liverpool.

Wednesday 27 Three Leeds MPs call on the Treasury to examine the creditors’ vote that allowed Ken Bates’s consortium to take control of the club in June. Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood describes as “just an excuse” Thierry Henry’s claim that he left Arsenal because of the departure of David Dein. Aaron Hughes leaves Villa for Fulham; Sunderland sign defender Russell Anderson from Aberdeen.

Thursday 28
West Ham are apparently to offer Carlos Tévez £110,000 a week to stay. Fabio Capello is sacked by Real Madrid. Chris Coleman is to be the new coach of Real Sociedad, newly relegated from La Liga. “He brings freshness and new ideas,” says the club president.

Friday 29 Darren Bent is to join Spurs for £16.5m. “It’s a squad going forward and that’s the direction I wanted to take,” he says. Derby spend a club record £3.5m on Robert Earnshaw from Norwich. Fernando Torres look set for a £26.5m move to Liverpool, with Luis García coincidentally going in the other direction, to Atlético Madrid. Macclesfield appoint reserve coach Ian Brightwell as their new manager. Hugh Johns, ITV’s commentator on the 1966 World Cup final, dies aged 83.

From WSC 246 August 2007