Sorry for the prolonged absence, unfortunately the blog was on hiatus as my journalism thesis took over for some months.I am now some way further to understanding why British Asian footballers are so shockingly underrepresented in professional football. My findings will make their way to these pages shortly, but not before they have exited the academic process.
Having completed that, DBP is back. Let’s get on with it then.
Filed under: Football | Tags: blogging, British press, exeter, guardian, money, promotion
With Southampton’s demise highlighting the growing financial gloom haunting the Football League, a heart-warming success story is needed like never before. Cue Exeter City, who are on the verge of promotion to League One, potentially a remarkable achievement for a club that in 2003 was relegated to the then Conference and facing grave financial turmoil.
Since those dreary days, fans have bought the club through the Exeter City FC Supporters’ Trust and helped balance the books through financial negotiations and fundraising. An FA Cup draw against Manchester United in 2005 that spanned two legs and a television appearance was also a contributing factor.
The club is now close to winning a second successive promotion, achieving Exeter City’s highest league status for 15 years. Denise Watts, chairman of both the club and trust, finds the situation a welcome positive in these turbulent times for football finance.
“It’s been a fantastic season for us. We are now at the point where we have a club that is owned by its fans on the brink of League One football. It’s just amazing,” she says. “We always said we could get out of the Conference, but we have had struggles as a club. Five years in the Conference is a long time, but it takes all that time to get out and now we are just very excited. We’ve exceeded all our expectations for the season.”
Currently third in League Two, City face stiff competition for automatic promotion from Bury, who are one point and one place behind them. City’s recent form is encouraging for the 2,754 trust members, the Grecians having taken 14 from a possible 18 points. However, Watts is careful not to start popping champagne corks just yet.
“I am cautiously optimistic about the weekend [Exeter play Morecambe, who beat them two years ago in the Conference play-off final to win promotion], but there’s nothing as strange as football results, as we all know. We have to continue playing at our best to win the last two games, but whatever happens we are in that great position whereby we are still in the play-offs. But there’s no need to start celebrating yet. As Paul Tisdale [the Exeter manager] and I believe, the job is not done yet. We have had a lot of heartache in the past.”
It is hard to believe a club which has not finished below seventh in the last five seasons would be burdened with hardship. Yet the efforts of the trust members, 75% of whom are volunteers, have helped bring rewards to Exeter City. Watts, as well as becoming English football’s only female football chairman three and a half years ago, is a full-time dental consultant and single mother.
“Most of us are volunteers,” she says, “which is why it is such a real victory for a fan-run club. We are expecting a completely packed house on Saturday, almost 9,000 people. We had 40,000 people [at the play-off final] at Wembley last year. This season we’ve had average attendances of 5,000 so where have the other 35,000 gone? I think there will be a lot of them hoping to get in on Saturday, but I say we have to look after those 5,000 first. If you want to be part of Exeter City Football Club, you need to join the trust.”
As much as the trust members have achieved, the players and manager also deserve their plaudits, something Watts is more than happy to acknowledge. “All credit to the players and Paul. He’s had a clever selection policy and a great attitude. Nothing but the best is good enough for him. Our dream this season was to be in the play-offs and we have almost bettered it. So the expectation has grown, which is a good thing, but, as I said, it’s not over yet.”
It’s not too difficult to imagine Grecian victory in the last two matches of the season being politely toasted outside Exeter. Everyone loves the plucky, courageous underdog in the script, and City’s football journey fits the bill nicely.
As Watts summarises: “We have faced financial ruin, we have been to the very lowest, and now we are so much higher because we have been through so much.”
Check out my blog post on the Guardian website by clicking here.
Filed under: Football | Tags: BBC, beckham, British press, england, milan
On Saturday 14th February, after all the indecision, last minute deal-breaking and crossed Milanese fingers, Reuters reported AC Milan’s failure to capture the signature of David Beckham. Bruce Arena himself stated:
‘David remains an LA Galaxy player and we look forward to having him back with the club starting March 9.’
I wanted Beckham to sign permanently for AC and be subjected to the same magic wand that keeps Paolo Maldini playing regularly at 40 years old. Forget your age-defying super moisturiser with enhanced kumquat extract and added vitamin Q57, ladies, this is the real deal.
Forget about crazy notions of loyalty to LA Galaxy, as Richard Williams correctly argues, be loyal to football David. But alas, it wasn’t to be. After the preceding weeks of deliberation, the drama was finally over…or so we all thought.
Here we are, Wednesday 18th February, and the epic tale continues. Kaka’s name has entered the mix, reports the BBC. The web of discussion just keeps growing. As for Bruce Arena, there is a palpable resignation in his latest comments:
‘Obviously, I would suspect from the comments I’ve heard from David that there would be some discussions. But I have nothing confirmed at this point.’
Despite their best efforts to keep hold of a prize asset, Arena and the MLS are looking essentially powerless in this entire scenario. The threat of Don Garber’s Friday 13th deadline, however ominous it sounds, clearly just hasn’t been enough to deter Milan.
We have no official confirmation that Beckham will move to Italy. But we know where the influence in world football lies and it’s not at the Home Depot Centre in Carson, California.
It would be foolish to bet against it, whether it happens now or by the end of the season. I myself will drink a Peroni tonight in eager anticipation.
“These things just unsettle players. Spurs are after every player in the league.”
Ricky Sbragia’s statement is not, of course, shocking news. I reckon bets are still on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer strolling into White Hart Lane to add to Harry’s growing collection of strikers.
The Spurs shopping list is extensive as always, with the usual dollop of outlandishness; this season in the shape of Adriano. Harry apparently only went to watch a football match. In the transfer window. At Inter, who have a notoriously unsettled striker with shades of brilliance. Having made it clear he wants to sign a powerful centre forward.
Never mind that, then. Harry’s ruffled some feathers, but insists he isn’t doing anything wrong. Let’s look at his various responses:
Stewart Downing: ‘The club has made a big offer for him, but Middlesbrough are a good club and if the chairman [Steve Gibson] decides he doesn’t want to sell him, that’s his right to do that and that’s the end of that one.’
Robbie Keane: ‘I wouldn’t sit here and say that I wouldn’t like to have Robbie Keane at my football club, I’d be a liar, but he belongs to Liverpool so it’s not an option unfortunately. But as a player and a person, I’ve got a lot of time for Robbie Keane, I think he is fantastic.’
I think we can all agree he’s a sly talker. It’s very clever to seem astonished about turning players’ heads whilst simultaneously indicating your interest. He’s just on the right side of the law, which means all this is fine. I guess I doff my cap to you Harry.
Besides, how does anyone make a transfer these days without tapping someone up?
Filed under: Cricket | Tags: British press, Cricket, england, pietersen, press image
We’re all used to hearing – if we’ve not said it ourselves – the old adage: “Honestly mate, if I was [insert England sports team/federation here] manager, I’d have it sorted.” This is usually followed by the statutory grunts and murmurs of assent, a clinking of pint glasses and another quid in the Itbox. Fair enough, we’re all entitled to feel this way every now and then as dedicated, paying sport fans.
But then you think about the complications and intracacies that these select people have to deal with. Once home, you re-evaluate your comments and give yourself a mental kick in the privates. Of course you can’t do it, idiot, that’s why you’re not doing it. You resolve to put this right at the next gathering. Job done.
However, if you’re an England cricket fan, shout those timeless words proudly. For nobody can claim they did not see Kevin Pietersen’s wranglings with coach Peter Moores ending any other way, except good old Giles Clarke. Prostituting English limited-over cricket to Alan Stanford wasn’t enough, he had to trump it with feigned ignorance of these troubling issues. As Nasser Hussein puts it:
“It’s something that could have been avoided if people had gone about it the right way, and they’ve certainly not gone about it the right way. The ECB knew when they gave Kevin Pietersen the job what sort of guy he is.”
Everybody saw the signs: selection disputes, the Stanford debacle, factions over returning to India, a divided front to the press. Yet the ECB couldn’t deal with the issues internally, and the dirty laundry was publicly aired.
Not that I’m letting KP off the hook. Going to the papers is a cardinal sin of professionalism if you ask me and one that hasn’t helped those who take this road. No one’s setting up an Ashley Cole fan club.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: British press, Sarah Palin, USA politics
It’s clear to most of us that French President Nicolas Sarkozy wouldn’t choose a Montreal radio call-in show to speak to Sarah Palin about…well, anything.
Unfortunately, this didn’t register with Palin herself. A basic knowledge of French music or Hustler magazine’s current agenda would have made it abundantly clear she was the victim of a well organised prank.
‘Maybe Palin – like many others – still can’t believe the position she’s in right now.’
A casual reminder that the British press don’t let her get away with it completely.
Skip across the Atlantic, however, and coverage picks up where Walker left off. The Canadian Press had a field day. I’m just not sure why we didn’t. Perhaps the British press decided to let this one pass, in light of the many that have preceded it.