First of all, some pleasant news. Ben Marshall, age 13 plays for the Bridlington Rangers U14 team on the Yorkshire coast and had a pretty good season so far. In fact in the last 2 matches he has scored SEVEN Hat tricks for his team, and now gets a trial with Hull City FC.
US Soccer President Sunil Gulati stated on BBC Radio yesterday that ONLY if FIFA gave approval for the EPL's 39th match would his federation consider the idea of allowing 2 English team to cross the pond and play a competitive league match against each other. When 2 foreign teams do play in the USA, US Soccer usually insists on a US referee, something I don't believe the EPL would allow.
The President of the AFC Asian Soccer Confederation, Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar, has come down on the idea while the Saudi Arabians say that they would only be interested in the top 4 EPL teams. Since many Arsenal, Spurs and other fans are Jewish, I can't see it happening.Even in 'friendly' Dubai, Israeli passport holders are banned. Already Japan have given the thumbs down and South Korea is wary as well. Another AFC member, Australia, wants to protect the integrity of its Hyundai A-League, and would not approve the idea. FFA chief Frank Lowy was one of the first to speak out on the subject. Bin Hammam ordered Manchester United to cancel a proposed match in Malaysia last June when it coincided with the Asian Cup, and accused United of 'Soccer Colonialism'.
Sir Alex Ferguson is mad that the idea leaked out so soon, and Dennis Hill-Wood, chairman of Arsenal wasn't a big supporter of the idea. " they say that we would make £4 million to play such match half way around the world. "We make £3 million every time we play at home at the Emirates anyway".
Richards Scudamore the Director of the English Premier League is a smart guy and earns £1 million for his job. The EPL only have two directos, the other being a part timer Sir Dave Richards who many think a lightweight. He was Chairman of Sheffield Wednesday when they lost millions, and they are still suffering from his lack of leadership, and his part time pay of about £261,000 is ridiculous. Kevin McCabe, Chairman of Sheffield United syas the EPL is badly govered, and accuses Scudamore of a bad idea. McCabe is worth £200 million from commercial real estate and other businesses, but alongside Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan, a former professional player, wants to nix the idea. The Football Supporters Association, representing the fans, has come out against the plan while the Daily Express www.express.co.uk has started a write in campaign, printing forms for fans to send to the EPL offices with their views.
The Football Association, headquartered in Soho Square, 'gave away' the EPL control back in 1992, and have seen the F.A. Cup and the national team eroded. Lord Mahwhinney, who runs the Football League, the 3 divisions below the EPL, is also chairman of the F.A.'s Professional Game Board. He thinks the new 39th step is " both innovative and exciting". when speaking at a meeting with The Football Association yesterday.
Last month Lord Triesman was appointed as the independent chairman of The Football Association. It is thought that in any discussions with the EPL they will want a better 'deal' for the England national team-more time for get togethers and training, and less opposition from club manages insisiting 'their' players don't play 90 minutes. One would hope that the EPL would be reduced from 20 to 18 clubs, allowing players more, not less rest.
Across the Irish Sea, Giovanni Trappattoni has signed a 2 year deal to coach the Republic of Ireland, and hopefully qualify them to FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010. the 68 year old 'Trapp', will have former Ireland and Arsenal legend Liam Brady as his assitant, along with Claudia Gentile. Gentile and Brady played alongside each other at the Turin club for Trappatonni. The Italian coached Juventus to European Cup glory, 1-0 over Liverpool at the ill fated Heysel Stadium. He has also won league titles in Italy, Portugal and Austria, and coached The Azzuri, the Italian National team from 200-2004. He will leave his post at Red Bull Salzburg at the end of the season in late May.