Everton’s chance to regain status

THIRTY years ago, if you named the top six clubs in England, Everton would have been among them, despite the era belonging to their neighbours Liverpool. Traditionally, Everton were one of the blue riband institutions, but in the Premier League era, they have been unable to compete for major honours. In fact, the last piece of silverware won by the Goodison Park-based club was in … Continue reading Everton’s chance to regain status

Fulham show calm regrouping pays off

ONE YEAR after newly-promoted Fulham were throwing money around and buying players for fun, the Cottagers found themselves back in the more humble surroundings of the Championship. The moneyball experiment, if that’s the right word for the way the club accumulated quantity over quality, was over and some of the higher profile names, notably some under-performing Ligue 1 captures, had been sent out on loan … Continue reading Fulham show calm regrouping pays off

Old and new… both should always have their place

FOOTBALL fans, by and large, are nostalgists, especially those that remember the days when pitches were muddy, shirts were not emblazoned with multiple sponsors, and football managers actually said something meaningful in post-match interviews. Ask any non-league fan, for example, their favourite locations and they will invariably tell you the old wooden ground at Clapped-out Rovers is full of character and “proper”. At the same … Continue reading Old and new… both should always have their place

Ground debate: The Premier – a land of make believe

YEARS AGO, England was always excluded from any realistic bid to stage a major competition. Part of this was the appalling record the country had in terms of its hooligan fans, the other factor was the sub-standard stadiums around the UK. Some cynics felt that UEFA and FIFA were very anti-England and given that 30 years separated 1966 and 1996, they may have had a … Continue reading Ground debate: The Premier – a land of make believe

Ground debate: The Championship – a league with appeal

ALTHOUGH the English Football League’s Championship is characterised by overspending, with wage bills outstripping income, the appeal of the division appears to have grown in recent years. Perhaps it is the competitive nature of the Championship or because it represents football away from the hubris and excesses of the Premier, but increasingly, people find the second tier of the English game very attractive. The average … Continue reading Ground debate: The Championship – a league with appeal

Ground debate: League One – between a rock and a hard place

WITH Sunderland now in League One, attendances in the third tier of English football are enjoying a revival, with the average above 8,000 for the first time since 2009-10 when Leeds United, Norwich City and Southampton were all in the division. Sunderland’s Stadium of Light is averaging almost 30,000 this season – some 12,000 more than Portsmouth, another famous old name that has seen better … Continue reading Ground debate: League One – between a rock and a hard place

Ground debate: League Two and its ancient homes

FOOTBALL is full of financial imbalances and the gap between the Premier and, for example, League Two is painfully vast. The gulf is so substantial that there is an argument for shifting the bottom two division of the English Football League to part-time status. However, the emotional pull of the game is such that this is unlikely to happen in the near future. Supporters of … Continue reading Ground debate: League Two and its ancient homes

The trials of a nomadic existence

GRAYS Athletic play at a very nice stadium. Brand spanking new, great facilities and a football-friendly artificial surface that performs very well. The only problem is, the club is ground-sharing at Aveley, a town of 8,000 people some four miles from Grays. They’re in their second year of a two-year agreement, and like most tenants, there is a degree of uncertainty about the future. Grays … Continue reading The trials of a nomadic existence

Commentary Box: Edge of your seat?

IN RECENT weeks, I have visited Brighton and Swansea and I stood and watched out of necessity. As soon as the referee’s whistle started the game, the fans in my section stood up and had no intention of using the seats they had paid for. Fine, if you like terracing, but having parted with £30, I wanted my seat and owing to a damaged knee, … Continue reading Commentary Box: Edge of your seat?

Commentary Box: A Passion Play

LIVERPOOL is a passionate football city, that’s what we are told. Liverpool Football Club’s fans are, arguably, the most ardent of any supporters in Britain. It is a devotion that has been built over many years, from the Shankly era, through the cultural highs of the 1960s and, in spite of the disasters of the 1980s and the city’s economic decline. But the club has … Continue reading Commentary Box: A Passion Play

They’ve got the Zeeco, but they also need Zico…Stamford at home

Stamford must be one of the nicest places to go and watch a football match. It’s a town that a lot of people don’t know much about, something of a hidden gem, you might say. From a football perspective, the club’s old ground was within walking distance of the station – just a couple of hundred yards at best – and the town itself around … Continue reading They’ve got the Zeeco, but they also need Zico…Stamford at home

So, how do you fit a ground into a busy town?

Let’s be frank, some property developers are about as popular as pantomime villains. They fill the role of Mr Nasty. They’re notoriously good at working round the rules and upsetting local communities.  For example, in many new developments, there is a commitment to provide low-cost, social housing, something which some developers really don’t want to do because it compromises their profitability, so they employ “experts” … Continue reading So, how do you fit a ground into a busy town?

Why do people get so attached to a football ground?

In a week when yet another football club is in danger of losing its long-time home, in exchange for an out-of-town site, prompting “over my dead body” reactions from its supporters, the curious relationship between football fans and stadiums comes to the fore once more. It seems that Britain is almost unique in demanding an umbilical attachment between a football team and its ground. Pragmatism … Continue reading Why do people get so attached to a football ground?