Posted: 2/17/2016


       A really cold night in West Yorkshire as Leeds United hosted high flyers and fellow Yorkshire club Middlesborough to Elland Road. Surprise, surprise...they held out for a goalless draw. With less than a month SKY SPORTS switched it from Saturday afternoon to Monday evening,,, resulting in Scandinavian and other fans booking flights and hotels and having to return hom on Sunday.

       The Peacocks are having a torrid time with 5 managers during Massimino Cellino's two year reign. The Italian spends most of his time in Florida, or on this occasion in Italy. Whether in town or away, the fans, particularly in the South Stand, give him hell. A few days ago they paid for a poster  outside the East Stand, asking him to sell up and go away. Legal action was threatened so it was taken down. HOWEVER the best protest was reserved for match day. Fans clubbed together to pay about £2500 for a projection onto the side of the East Stand near the Billy Bremner statue from a private car park across the road.            

         On a slow news day it got world wide publicity and was a great idea. Google it to find the images.or

         Yesterday I took the train to Burton on Trent, the brewing capital of England, and home to Burton Albion at the Pirelli stadium, who are on top of the third tier of English football by 5 points clear under Nigel Clough.. My destination was St. George's Park 5 miles away in the National Park. I had a great chat with my Pakistani taxi driver from Kashmir. We talked about its beauty but troubled political history.

        The national football centre has 330 acres, cost £105 million to build and is home for all 24 Three Lions national teams, from the full times pros, to women, youth at various ages, futsal, disability and more. It is also home to the LMA-League Managers Association - possibly the most useless trade union in the nation !  In the middle of a national park it has 12 full size pitches, a Wembley size one for the glamour guys heading for the 2016 Euros, plus full size 3G indoor and futsal pitches and elaborate training, sports science, performance and medical facilities. for news and videos.

         Hilton Hotel is the only on-site accommodation. There used to be a lesser starred hotel as well but The Hilton took it over. There are 228 luxury rooms,  an expensive restaurant, called 'The Restaurant at St. George's Park',  and a severely overpriced but stunning bar called 'The Crossbar'. Three years ago I bought a couple of small cans of cola for my friends for £6.20. Lots of staff at the whole facility. I met up with Inge from Lillestrom, whose 15 year old son Erik is captain of Norway u 16s this season.  Today we watched the team play England after Italy beat The Czech Republic 2-1. Very cold, very windy but at least the sun was shining.  Far too many ERMOS walking around (Easily Replaceable Minor Officials) asking if you had your red paper wrist band. With everybody in heavy coats, gloves and hats it was impossible to check.

       The public address system was uselss. They had a line up of both teams with flags and national anthems. Unfortunately they faced the benches with their army of coaches...7 each team I believe. They should have marched to 'OUR' spectator side where the seats were full of about 700 parents, scouts and hangers on like me. They would have liked to see and hear THE CEREMONY and take some photos. THE THREE LIONS were very talented and I like the way they run full pelt at opponents. At this time of the year the Norwegians are usually training on full size outdoor or indoor pitches and found the lush surface difficult. However they held out for just a 1-0 loss which should give them hope against the Italians on Thursday.

        I would never keep a visiting club team here. Very high priced luxury accommodation, meals and pitch hire and nothing to do. Similar to my visit to Clairfontaine outside Paris a few years ago.

       After the recent bans for Blatter, Platini and Valcke it was the turn of Franz Beckenbauer on Wednesday in Zurich. He was fined about £5,000 for failure to cooperate in the investigation into alleged bribery and cooperation into the awarding of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in which he was the boss and the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Less than he earns in a day from Adidas and other commercial deals !! Der Spiegel (the mirror) alleges that a 6.7 Euros slush fund was set up to bribe voters for the 2006 awarding, which the DFB denies

      Also today at Wembley. the FA agreed to support the campaign of Gianni Infantino, the UEFA General Secretary for the FIFA Presidency in the election a week on Friday in Zurich.