Shinawatra found guilty of corruption

On October 23, 2008 by

Thaksin Shinawatra, the ex-owner of Manchester City Football Club, has been sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of corruption by the Thai Supreme Court. He has been punished for offences committed during his spell as Prime Minister of Thailand.

He has been found guilty of violating conflict of interest rules after helping his wife, Pojaman, purchase land from a state agency at a reduced price. The 59-year-old was removed from his position two years ago and has been investigated by the Thai authorities ever since. Graft investigators were appointed following a military coup in 2006 and they have been actively looking into claims of corruption.

Worryingly for Shinawatra, this ruling is only the first in a series of corruption charges being brought against him and his political associates. His wife was found guilty earlier this year and was handed a prison sentence of three years.

The couple returned to their home country from the UK in February of this year to face up to the charges but they came back in August, stating that they were being treated unfairly by the Thai authorities.

Shinawatra, who is currently the honorary president of Manchester City after the Abu Dhabi United Group announced their takeover of the club, has denied accusations that he tried to seek asylum in the UK.

He publicly stated that the case against him has been unfairly motivated by political factors and revealed that he has “long anticipated that it would turn out this way”.

Police beat up innocent parent – got to love PC Plod at times

On October 22, 2008 by

I am a football fan. I have travelled all over the country following my team and have never been in any trouble. There has been trouble around me but I’ve always managed to stay clear of it like the majority of fans. However there are times when trouble just runs up and finds you and in the instance of Cliff Auger he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He was walking back to his car after the Chelsea v QPR FA Cup Match in January with his two sons and two of their mates. One of their mates needed the loo so dashed into a pub to use the facilities and then the pub was under lock-down due to some trouble. The dad approached a police officer and asked if his sons mate could be allowed to leave as he had responsibility for the kid, which is fair enough I think we can all agree.

What happened next was a Police Dog was seemingly released and sunk his teeth into his sons leg. Auger then did what every dad would do and kicked the dog to get him to release his grip. It worked and the dog then turned and went for him. The parent then curled up into a ball to save himself from getting bitten anywhere too bad but instead of the dogs handler coming and saving him, the police turned on the Chelsea fan and beat him senseless. They punctured his lung and broken four ribs.

He was arrested for kicking the dog and also for using threatening behaviour. The latter charge was dismissed after a two day trial but he was found guilty of the former. The judge decided that the case didn’t warrant a conditional discharge because he thought that the parent should’ve stood back and watched his son getting bitten by a dog.

How crazy is that? I mean honestly. The evidence against him was flimsy at best as all the police stories contradicted one another but that didn’t matter when all is said and done. A parent protecting his dog from being attacked by a dog clearly deserved a £500 fine and a criminal record. The police officers who beat him to a pulp though and allowed a dog to bite an innocent boy though had no case to answer.

It disgusts me when I read this type of thing. There is little doubt that if anyone was in the wrong then it was the police but they are above the law. They cover for each other and are quite happy to club an innocent man if they fancy it. They will sleep fine at night even though they know they’ve acted inappropriately.

I know the vast majority of the police do a great job in what is very difficult circumstances. It just seems that when they get into a situation where they know they can get away with a beating then they’ll do it and give an innocent guy a right clobbering to get him back for all the guilty people that have slipped through their fingers.

Those officers involved will probably to used by the Met this weekend at some sporting event in the capital and they might do exactly the same again. They won’t think twice of it. I myself have seen a dog go for a little boy who couldn’t of been more than five and his granddad smacked the dog on the nose with his matchday programme right in front of me. The Police dog handler shouted at his dog and apologised to the man and boy straight away. This is what should’ve happened in this situation but common sense clearly didn’t prevail.

I hope the Chelsea fans who travelled to Middlesbrough managed to raise the money they were looking for to cover his fine and costs. What scares me is that sometimes you can be totally innocent (and yes he was – I don’t give two hoots that he kicked the dog – he did what every single person would do in that situation) and yet end up in the cells and walk out of court tainted by society as a criminal.

Beckham and Barnes add support to 2018 World Cup bid

On October 21, 2008 by

England legend, David Beckham, and former England winger, John Barnes, have announced that they wish to join the country’s bid to host the Football World Cup in 2018. They will become vice-presidents of the newly-formed executive board that has a lot of work to do prior to the final vote, due to be made by FIFA in 2011.

John Barnes, who has recently been made manager of the Jamaican national team, admits that England need to try hard if they are to be successful in their bid. However, despite his new appointment as boss of the country in which he was born, Barnes remains fully committed to the England cause.

Likewise, David Beckham has spoken of his wish to “do everything possible" to bring the tournament to England. Beckham played an instrumental role in bringing the Olympic Games to London, acting as the public face for the country’s 2012 bid, and it is hoped that he can do the same for the World Cup bid.

John Barnes will be primarily used to further the profile of the bid in regions such as the Caribbean and Africa, whilst David Beckham will travel to the Far East to spread the word of England’s plans. Beckham is a popular figure in the Far East following trips made with Manchester United and Real Madrid, so this is a clever move from England 2018 Ltd, the company behind the World Cup bid.

The company will shortly announce further vice-presidents to add support to the executive board and it is hoped that other big names in the world of football will join Barnes and Beckham.

Although England failed to win their bid for the 2006 World Cup, which was hosted by Germany, the vice-president of Fifa has backed their bid for the 2018 tournament. Jack Warner believes that every other bid will fade into insignificance when viewed alongside England’s attempt.

England have not hosted the World Cup since 1966, the year in which they won the competition, and Warner believes that it is simply unacceptable for “any country of England’s football pedigree” to go without hosting a world cup for nearly 50 years.

The vice-president has also backed the appointment of David Beckham as the public face for England’s bid. He believes that Beckham’s universal appeal is comparable to the appeal of Pele and that his involvement will “bring a legitimacy to the bid”.

Further encouraging words for England’s bid have previously been spoken by the president of Fifa, Sepp Blatter. The president has spoken publicly about the fantastic “technical infrastructure”, organisational skills, and impressive, safe stadiums that the country can boast in its bid. He even followed these comments by saying that England is an example to the rest of the world.

David Beckham is currently helping the English national side in their quest to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, which will be hosted by South Africa. The 2014 tournament will be played in Brazil and hopefully, if Barnes and Beckham get their way, the subsequent tournament will be played on home soil.

Lampard, Rooney, and Gerrard shortlisted for 2008 European Footballer of the Year

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This weekend saw the publication of the shortlist for the prestigious 2008 European Footballer of the Year award. The list of nominees was released by France Football magazine and includes three English footballers: Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and Wayne Rooney.

They have been nominated along with eight other players from the Premier League, including the Manchester United star, Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the favourite to be handed the Ballon d’Or. Ronaldo’s team mates, Edwin van der Sar and Nemanja Vidic, have also been nominated.

These three players, alongside Wayne Rooney, were instrumental in securing the Champions League for their club in May of this year. Chelsea, who reached the final of the tournament and were unlucky to be beaten by United, have two other players in the shortlist alongside Frank Lampard.

Combative midfielder, Michael Ballack, and star striker, Didier Drogba, were important parts of the team that finished second in the Premiership last season and reached the final of the Carling Cup. Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor and Liverpool’s Fernando Torres scored numerous goals between them last season and have been rewarded for their efforts with nominations for the award.

Some football pundits have been quick to pick up on notable absentees from the shortlist. Ex-Arsenal striker and legend of the Premier League, Thierry Henry, has missed out on a place on the list following a relatively disappointing season with Barcelona.

Ronaldinho, who won the award in 2005 but was forced into moving to AC Milan following a disappointing spell at Barcelona, has also been left out. Indeed, only three players from the Italian league, Serie A, have been named in the shortlist: Kaka, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Gianluigi Buffon.

This statistic is particularly embarrassing for the Italians when viewed alongside the 11 players from the Premier League and the 11 players from Spain’s La Liga.

Although Ronaldo is the strong favourite to be crowned the European Footballer of the Year, with Lionel Messi and Kaka both in with an outside chance, Wayne Rooney’s recent form may make things interesting in the run-up to the ceremony.

The striker believes that he is in the best form of his life after making a poor start to the season. He failed to score a goal during Manchester United’s first six games but has now scored eight goals in his last six performances for both club and country.

Rooney scored during United’s match against West Brom at the weekend and later revealed that he is “really pleased” with his form. The striker was extremely impressive during England’s match against Belarus last week, scoring twice. One of the goals was world-class and he was praised by the British media after the match.

Rooney believes that extra effort put in whilst training recently is what lies behind this “good run of goals”. The Manchester United star will celebrate his birthday at the end of this week, happy in the knowledge that he is enjoying such scintillating form. Worryingly for fans of Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool, Sir Alex Ferguson believes that Rooney has not yet reached his peak.

Liverpool Reserves 2-3 Everton Reserves

On October 20, 2008 by

Liverpool Reserves lost for the third league match in succession after letting a two-goal lead slip against Everton on Tuesday.

Goals from Jordy Brouwer and Gerardo Bruna in a frantic second half were overturned in dramatic style as Everton fought back through a James Vaughan brace and Lee Molyneux free kick to win the mini-Merseyside derby, played in Warrington.

After a first half void of chances the Reds took the lead on 55 minutes when Jay Spearing’s weak effort was fumbled by Carlo Nash and forced home by Brouwer. The lead was doubled in spectacular fashion ten minutes later, when Bruna lashed in a free kick from close to the corner flag.

Vaughan headed in from close range for the visitors to halve the deficit with just over 20 minutes remaining. Molyneux curled home a superb free kick for the equaliser just three minutes later. Then with ten minutes to go, Anichebe played in Vaughan who got to the ball before an unconvincing Bouzanis to get his second to snatch a dramatic win.

Player Review:

Dean Bouzanis (GK): Restored to the side continuing Ablett’s goalkeeper rotation policy; Bouzanis had a disappointing night, in particular for his part in Everton’s third. 4/10

Stephen Darby (RB): After being booked early on after a late tackle Darby remained as committed to the challenge as ever but was missing as Everton’s goals flew in. 6/10

Mikel San Jose (CB): The Spaniard was having a fine game until the fight back began and was left wanting, like the rest of Liverpool’s back line as the Toffees left them stunned. 5/10

Robert Huth (CB): Like his central defensive partner, Huth was keeping Anichebe and Vaughan quiet until the late collapse. 6/10

Emiliano Insua (LB): Insua’s performance was much improved from recent weeks but, like Darby on the opposite side, was missing as the visitors turned the game around. 6/10

Gerardo Bruna (RM): sub 80. Despite his quality free kick, Bruna was generally guilty of overplaying at times instead of laying the ball off when well placed. 6/10

Jay Spearing (CM): It was another all-action performance from the Scouser who was at the centre of all the Reds’ good play. 8/10

Damien Plessis (CM): As the apparent link between Liverpool’s back four and the midfield, Plessis should be disappointed in being missing for Everton’s comeback and it was another ineffective and off-key showing for a player who has been on the verge of a first team run. 5/10

Francisco Duran (LM): Showed quality touches and range of passing but unsurprisingly, after his year-long layoff, looked off the pace at times. 8/10

Dani Pacheco (ST): Like Bruna, Pacheco often tried to do too much on the ball with unnecessary touches. Almost made it 3-3 in the dying seconds with mesmeric skill and has much more to offer in the future. 6/10

Jordy Brouwer (ST): The Dutchman seemingly has no chance of making a first team push but certainly knows where the goal is at this level. He had a quiet game but that’s two in two for him this season. 7/10

SUB Ryan Flynn (RM): on 80. The Scot had no real impact on the game, not helped by coming on when the Everton comeback was in full flight. N/A

Unused Subs: Peter Gulacsi, Martin Kelly, Steven Irwin, Daniel Ayala.

Their next match is against Manchester City on November 3.

League Tables:

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Everton 4 10
2 Manchester City 4 9
3 Sunderland 4 9
4 Wigan Athletic 3 6
5 Middlesbrough 4 5
6 Blackburn Rovers 3 4
7 Manchester United 3 4
8 Liverpool 4 3
9 Bolton Wanderers 3 3
10 Newcastle United 4 3
11 Hull City 4 1
Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Aston Villa 4 12
2 Chelsea 4 9
3 Portsmouth 4 6
4 Arsenal 4 6
5 Fulham 4 4
6 West Brom 3 3
7 Tottenham Hotspur 3 3
8 West Ham United 3 3
9 Stoke City 3 1

Written by Michael McGuinness

Blatter to Curb Billionaire Spending

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FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, has expressed his anger at the growing trend of selling important Premier League clubs to foreign billionaires who have little or no interest in the development of professional football.

He has asked UEFA bosses to protect the economic potential of football by controlling investment and regulating the majority share holders of all European clubs.

Blatter frequently makes headlines with his outlandish comments (suggesting that female footballers should wear tighter shorts is one such example) but his latest proposal appears to have won the backing of both the European Committee for Culture and Sport and British fans who are unhappy with their favourite clubs being sold.

Unfortunately, Blatter is powerless to influence any active market without the might of the European Union firmly in his corner, and so his plans are unlikely to dethrone the financial Goliaths behind the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester United.

The former Prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, bore the brunt of Blatter’s discontent: “he goes back to his country and sells his club like you would sell a shirt.

You get people turning up with banker’s guarantees who are not interested in football and then they lose interest in the clubs and leave. What happens to the clubs then?” Blatter is hoping to stop European football clubs becoming trophies and playthings of the rich and famous.

Many of the clubs in the Premier League can survive on the sale of broadcasting rights to television companies, transfer funds, and gate receipts. A six or seven figure gift from the local billionaire is a luxury that few clubs actually need.

The plan is an addendum to Blatter’s controversial “6+5 system” whereby clubs must begin matches with a maximum of five foreign players, and whilst the scheme is designed to prevent billionaires from buying star players in bulk, critics have voiced concerns about the ‘culling’ of foreign players.

Under the new plans, many Premier League clubs may find themselves in the position of getting rid of players with little or no chance of staging a successful reconstruction within the space of a season.

The era of the rich owner has also had major implications for football management. Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, famously upset ex-manager José Mourinho by encouraging him to purchase and play Andriy Shevchenko.

Kevin Keegan voiced similar concerns during his final days at Newcastle United: "It’s my opinion that a manager must have the right to manage and that clubs should not impose upon any manager a player that he does not want."

Sepp Blatter wants to plug the gap between rich clubs and the minnows of the lower leagues before the Champions League becomes the sole domain of three or four clubs from each European country.

Premiership clubs are owned by nationals from seven different countries including Iceland (West Ham), America (Liverpool, Aston Villa, and Manchester United), and Egypt (Fulham) and their combined wealth totals hundreds of billions of pounds. Ultimately, more needs to be done to stop Premier League clubs becoming virtually invincible.

Written by Chris Illingworth

England win – again – all getting a bit predictable eh?

On October 16, 2008 by

What is going on with England? Have they suddenly remembered that they are a decent side who can actually play decent football? It sure looks like it after a good display in Belarus last night.

England have twelve points from a possible twelve and are on course to qualify for the World cup Finals in 2010 and the players couldn’t be happier. Wayne Rooney was delighted afterwards exclaiming that England could go through the qualifiers without losing and then go on to lift the FIFA World Cup Trophy in South Africa.

That all seems a very long way away as England didn’t even qualify for the last major tournament but confidence is high amongst the squad. Rooney seems to be the big difference as he looks like the player we all know he can be. Big Emile Heskey seems to be doing his job and Theo Walcott has everyone buzzing.

The only real disappointment last night was the goal that was conceded was down to just flat out comical defending. Both Theo Walcott and Wes Brown can have some blame assigned to them but that is nitpicking when all is said and done as it was a good solid result which means England have beaten Croatia and Belarus away from home so far in this qualifying campaign.

Don Fabio must be doing something right and whilst he has received quite a lot of stick from the press, he seems to be answering all the questions with aplomb. Life is good for England fans and the players and next up is a friendly in Germany which they’ll be desperate to win to keep the positive momentum flowing through their veins.

Boyd quits national team whilst it remains under Burley’s control

On October 15, 2008 by

Scottish football fans were shocked this week by Kris Boyd’s announcement that he will not play for the national team whilst it is under the control of George Burley. Boyd issued the following statement at the weekend: “I will not be playing for George Burley again, but I hope to be back in a Scotland jersey again one day”.

The Scotland manager spoke publicly about Boyd’s form, a move which angered the Rangers striker who was controversially left on the bench during Saturday’s match against Norway. When Scottish star, James McFadden, was taken off the pitch, he was replaced by Wolverhampton Wanderers striker, Chris Iwelumo. The boss defended this decision by stating that the striker still needs to prove himself at club level before becoming a regular at international level.

In all fairness, Iwelumo has been in impressive form of late, scoring eight goals in six games for his club. However, the standard of football played by the Rangers team, one of the best sides in Scotland, is better than that seen at Championship level. As such, a player who plays even intermittently for the Scottish team is likely to be more skilful than one competing every week in the Championship.

Boyd’s anger is therefore understandable but his reaction seems extreme, particularly given the timing of his decision. Scotland are at, in Burley’s words, “a crucial time" in their World Cup campaign. The loss of Kris Boyd for the remaining Group 9 World Cup qualifying matches is serious, even if he has not been involved in the first team recently.

Boyd’s announcement is also particularly disappointing given the recent news concerning Lee McCulloch. The Rangers midfielder retired from international competition last month and although the Scottish Football Association has been quick to deny that the decision was partly a result of a rift between player and manager, these rumours have not subsided. The loss of another important player in the form of Kris Boyd will simply rub salt in these wounds.

The striker also informed the chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, Gordon Smith, of his decision. Smith has since spoken of his sadness at the timing of the news and his belief that the decision may have been made on an impulse.

He stated that whilst “it’s his decision and we must always respect a player when they make that decision”, the striker may live to regret his choice, “it might have been the kind of thing that if Kris had spent a bit of time thinking about it he might have changed his mind – it’s maybe a quick reaction to how he feels”.

Whilst Smith believes that Boyd is still free to change his mind and return to the national team, whether or not the manager would allow this without a fight is debatable. Chris Iwelumo has also spoken publicly about Boyd’s decision. The Wolves striker believes that “it’s a big loss” and very “disappointing”. Furthermore, he described the Rangers striker as a “goal-machine” and “a good character to have around"

Written by Charlotte Cook

Ferdinand criticises England boo-boys

On October 14, 2008 by

Ashley Cole has been ruled out of Wednesday night’s international match against Belarus as a result of injury problems. Whilst missing a World Cup qualifying match would be gutting for most top professionals, Cole may be breathing a sigh of relief at his enforced absence.

During last Saturday’s qualifier at Wembley, the Chelsea defender decided, wrongly in retrospect, to pass the ball across his own defensive line without paying full attention to the whereabouts of Kazakhstan’s players.

This momentary error in judgment led directly to a goal, something which had not previously looked likely for the visiting team. What followed this event has since been regarded as both shocking and deserved, depending upon which newspaper you read.

After Kazakhstan’s goal, certain sections of the Wembley crowd decided to boo Ashley Cole every time he touched the ball. The defender’s team mates were quick to spring to his defence, with Rio Ferdinand stating that those guilty of booing should feel personally “ashamed”.

Since the match, more senior figures have spoken out against the actions of the Wembley crowd, including Fabio Capello, who believes that it is imperative for the crowd to “help him and not boo him”. The FA has also been vocal in its condemnation of the booing.

A spokesman for the association stated that “it is crazy that a section of our own supporters are booing one of our own players”. The FA is also aware that booing is becoming something of a tradition at the new Wembley, with previous victims including Frank Lampard and David Bentley.

If England fans want the national team to put the horror of not qualifying for Euro 2008 behind them, they need to provide unconditional support for the players on the pitch. If a player makes a mistake, the last thing they need to hear is booing from their own fans.

This kind of behaviour is likely to instigate a vicious cycle that will prove detrimental to the overall team performance: a mistake is followed by booing, which causes lack of confidence, leading to more careless mistakes, which lead to further booing.

Some journalists have excused the behaviour of the Wembley fans by stating that Cole has become something close to a national figure of hate since his controversial move from Arsenal to Chelsea. These pundits argue that Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard would not receive this kind of treatment following a mistake on the pitch.

Whilst it may be true that Ashley Cole behaved in a selfish manner during the build-up to his move across London, when he enters the field of play in an England shirt he should be allowed to shrug off his reputation for ninety minutes and automatically receive respect as part of a larger sporting unit representing the country.

By booing any player representing England on the pitch, the fans are not just slighting the individual concerned but also the country and national identity as a whole. The Wembley crowd needs to get behind the team and stop the tradition of booing before it stops being shocking and simply becomes the norm.

Written by Charlotte Cook

Financial crisis impacts upon West Ham

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When we switch on the news in the morning, few of us are surprised, in the current financial climate, to learn of a new bank in turmoil. However, when football clubs admit that they are being placed under threat by the current banking problems, some of us may be slightly more shocked. Last week, West Ham United admitted that they will need to sell players before they can even consider buying new ones once the January transfer window opens.

The reason for this unusual prospect is that the owner of the club, Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, holds shares in Landsbanki, which has recently gone into receivership.

The personal financial uncertainty that this has no doubt caused Gudmundsson has destabilised the financial status of the whole club. The vice-chairman, Ausgeir Fridgeirsson, attempted to explain the situation to the media: “it is very unlikely he will be willing to put in more money to buy players this January”.

This latest news will not be music to the ears of new West Ham boss and former Chelsea legend, Gianfranco Zola, who stated after joining the club that he fully expected to be backed financially in the January transfer window.

Indeed, he spoke enthusiastically of his certainty that the board would back him and revealed that the club’s chief executive, Scott Duxbury, had explained to him that bringing in new players in January would “not be a problem”.

In an attempt to keep the new manager happy (something which is imperative since Zola has had such an immediate impact upon the club), the West Ham board has been quick to pretend that this latest financial news is actually positive.

The vice-chairman stated that the large size of the club’s squad would easily allow the manager to chop and change during the transfer window. Furthermore, the chief executive stated that Zola was already of the belief that the “first-team squad is too large and needs to be reduced so he can effectively coach the team”.

The board have also been keen to play down rumours that Gudmundsson may need to sell the club following the collapse of Landsbanki. Rumours had been circulating since it became clear that prospective buyers had actively shown an interest in purchasing the club but Fridgeirsson insists that these offers have been thoroughly rejected: “agents have been contacting us and we have told them we are not interested”.

This latest news concerning the finances of the club will not put a smile on the faces of West Ham fans, especially when viewed in the light of other controversial matters surrounding the club at the moment.

West Ham have called for help from the Court of Arbitration for Sport in an attempt to overturn the recent tribunal decision ordering them to pay Sheffield United compensation. Sheffield United were relegated at the end of the 2006/2007 season, whilst West Ham stayed in the Premier League, largely as a result of the goals scored by Carlos Tevez.

It was recently decided that the club broke Premier League rules whilst signing the striker, thus making them partially responsible for the downfall of Sheffield United.

However, following complaints from West Ham, the Court of Arbitration for Sport is now set to hold a hearing to decide whether to hear the club’s full appeal. West Ham must hope that this appeal is ultimately successful, especially in the light of their new financial uncertainty.

Written by Charlotte Cook