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17 January 2014 ~
In October Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said: "It took us three or four years to realise we had to change our business model and be more frugal. That is what we are doing now." Three months later Chelsea pay £22 million for Nemanja Matic, who they sold three years ago for £4m. Frugality isn't what it used to be.
Badge of the week ~ Harbour View FC, Jamaica
This is what happens when Estate Agents become involved with a football club ab initio. Instead of following the standard practise of naming their club for the town or city of origin, the first management team have elected to market it as a desirable residence. Not only that, they have chosen as pictorially representative of their aspirations an impenetrable image that has associative claims to a swingers' party at a Lido.
The original club motto that ran around the outside of the badge – "Club in sought-after location with many character features blank canvas must be seen" – was quickly discarded as no one was convinced of the correct Latin for "character features". It could be that Harbour View is an established and characterful town with a tedious industrial heritage and its own annual linen festival but, going strictly on their football club's name, it is more probably a gated community for people who fear their wealth slightly more than they enjoy it. Cameron Carter
from Costa Zafiropoulos
"USA Today were not impressed with Michael Bradley's decision to leave Roma for Toronto".
from Kevin Bowker
"As a Brentford fan I always appreciate a well-thoughtout Bee reference in a match report. The Guardian's Jeremy Alexander has had a brave try at least."
We've only just discovered a YouTube classic from 2009, Michael Owen's virtual helicopter ride over Dubai. If you ever have difficulty sleeping, a few minutes of Michael's monotone is sure to get you nodding off.
from Nicholas Hayhoe
"Norwich City's youngest-ever player has another claim to fame."
Also in the news this week
Swindon Town become the latest club to ban a journalist for doing his job
Joe Kinnear's forward planning as highlighted by the Mirror
Lionel Messi "looks almost British" in his loud red suit
How an offside appeal led to a goal for Napoli against Atalanta
Get with the programme A past match played this week in history
Ayr United v Hibernian January 19, 1974, Scottish First Division
Forty years ago, when Scottish football was still interesting, an Ayr United team with Alex Ferguson in its line-up hosted Hibs in a top of the table clash. Hibs were second, five points behind Celtic, while the Honest Men of Somerset Park shared third spot with Rangers. Future Scotland manager Ally McLeod was doing a decent job of keeping the part-timers in contention, and the previous season they'd made it to the League Cup semi-final.
This pocket-sized match programme is short on content, but does contain a three-page analysis of why 1973 had been one of the club's best ever years in the top flight. Of course, they'd had better years in Division 2, but that had been against "gallant little outpost teams" such as "Brechin City, Stenhousemuir, Stranraer and Berwick Rangers". Ayr was so above all that now, and "no effort will be spared to ensure that the current high standing of the club is kept up for many long years to come". Four decades on and they're still in the same league as Rangers, though trailing them by 26 points in the third tier, just behind gallant little Stranraer, but a handful of points above outpost teams like Stenhousemuir and Brechin.
Result Ayr 1 Hibs 1
Ayr A Maclean, Filippi, Murphy, McAnespie, Fleming, Mitchell, Graham, A Ferguson, Bell, R Ferguson (Sub: G McLean) McCulloch
Hibs McArthur, Bremner, Schaedler, Stanton, Black, Blackley, Edwards, O'Rourke, Gordon, Cropley, Duncan