Over five thousand join Football League’s ‘Enjoy The Match’ campaign

Over 5,000 football fans across the country have joined up with Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker to the The Football League’s  Enjoy The Match campaign, aimed at making family enclosures in all of the 72 league club grounds, family friendly.

That of course means tackling the problems of bad language and anti social behaviour that have become more prevalent at football grounds over the years. As part of the campaign all 72 grounds will pro active stewarding in the Family Areas.

The Football League’s Marketing Manager, David Malkinson said “We are delighted to have the support of more than 5,000 fans along with Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer only two months into the season.  This backs up the great work League clubs are doing to attract more families to games with a focus on pricing and customer service”.

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Fans can pledge their support for the campaign at www.enjoythematch.co.uk

Middlesbrough sack Gareth Southgate

200px-Middlesbrough_crestGareth Southgate was sacked by Middlesbrough this morning despite leading the club to their 2-0 home win over Derby County last night.

Middlesbrough are currently fourth in the Championship table and are generally considered to be among the favourites for promotion or a play off place, come the end of the season.

It does seem a rather bizarre decision given Middlesbrough’s position in the division, just one point behind the leaders West Bromwich Albion and most surprising following the home win against Derby.

Southgate may have had some idea of what was about to unfold when he said after last night’s game;

“The margins are fine. We are a point off the top but it would have been very different if we had not won against Derby. You wonder about the consequences of defeat. You know four home defeats on the bounce would have been difficult for everyone involved with the club to accept.”

In what he describes as ‘the most difficult decision’ he has had to make in football, chairman Steve Gibson said;

“Gareth has given Boro magnificent service as a skipper and, in very difficult circumstances, as manager. I appointed Gareth in a situation that was greatly unfavourable to him. He is a good man and has all the qualities and integrity that we wanted in a manager.

However, the time is right for change and that change has had to be made. Gareth will always be welcome at our football club. English football needs people of his stature and we feel certain that this experience will serve him well. Gareth deserves another opportunity once he has had the chance to rest and refresh himself.”

A great timefor Gareth Southgate to book a winter ski holiday!

Who would you like to see replace Gareth Southgate at Middlesbrough?

Football League blog launch

FL logo (landscape - jpeg)The Football League have launched a brand new section on their website that introduces three footballing personalities who will each be giving their expert opinions in their own weekly blogs.

Matt Holland will be casting his eye on the Coca-Cola Championship and this week he reflects on the current situation his former club Ipswich Town find themselves in and who he thinks will be challenging for promotion to the Premier League.

The League 1 blog will be overseen by Andy Ritchie, in his first post he talks about the promotion hopefuls and the division’s dark horses, he also has something to say about sackings.

Peter Jackson knows all about sackings of course, he was fired by Lincoln City early this season, he is now in charge of the League 2 blog and will be talking about events both on and off the pitch. His first effort gives an interesting insight into the style of the division and who he thinks will get out of it, while also talking about the effect the media now has on clubs!

Lord Mawhinney addresses Leaders In Football conference

fl-logo-landscape-jpegThe Football League chairman Lord Mawhinney has today addressed senior figures from across football with an honest, realistic and thoughtful appraisal of the state of the game.  The event, at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground, brings together 1,000 senior executives from international clubs, leagues, federations and associated companies.

Lord Mawhinney outlined the key challenges facing the football industry during his keynote address at the Leaders in Football conference, tackling a series of tough issues including club debt and sustainability, players contracts, growing wage levels and the transfer window.

The Football League chairman outlined his concerns for the growing wage demands and long term viability of the game, saying;

“In 2007/08 in the Championship, research from Deloitte shows that clubs spent an average of 87 per cent of revenue on players’ wages.  Is there any business in the world where such a percentage would be sustainable?

We have been involved in a long debate on the controversial subject of whether control of squad wages should be exercised centrally.  My sense is that while League 1 and 2 clubs would welcome this, Championship clubs are more divided and still to be persuaded. “

He then argued that for football to demonstrate that it takes financial issues seriously, then a greater respect for players contracts must be shown.

“Player contracts are in danger of becoming worth less than the amount spent on the lawyers and agents who put the words on paper.  Why is this not a matter of broader concern to an industry that prides itself on regulation? The lack of respect for contracts also flows in the other direction.  Players voluntarily sign agreements which should bind them for a given period.  Increasingly, however, they appear to have little compunction about behaving in ways that can undermine the legal agreements they have signed.”

An unexpected inclusion in the Football League chairman’s speech related to the transfer window and a call for FIFA to “exclude our domestic market from the transfer regime.”

“I cannot believe that a player transfer tomorrow between Peterborough and Accrington Stanley or Wolverhampton Wanderers would be likely to cause sleepless nights in Rome, Madrid or Barcelona.  But the freedom to do so might reduce sleepless nights in Wycombe, Reading or Burnley.”

In conclusion Lord Mawhinney reassured his audience that football was moving in the right direction, saying;

“Our vision is not one of doom and gloom, despite issues with players’ contracts and wages, rising debt levels and a transfer system that penalises smaller clubs, The Football League is healthy.  Attendances remain above 16 million per season, revenue and profile are rising and on the pitch excitement continues until the very last match of the Play-Offs.  The League’s market value continues to rise.  All of us will work hard to ensure that remains the case.”

Read the speech in full at the Football League Leaders in Football page.

Kevin Keegan awarded £2million damages against Newcastle United

keegan awarded damages
keegan awarded damages

Kevin Keegan has won his case against Newcastle United for constructive dismissal from the club, and has been awarded £2million plus interest in damages.

The Premier League managers arbitration panel decided that in signing Uruguayan midfielder Ignacio Gonzalez, against Keegan’s wishes, the club were in breach of a term in his contract.

Keegan left Newcastle in September 2008 following the signing of Gonzalez on the final day of the summer transfer window on August 31st. The official report of the case concluded that;

“The “commercial interests”, according to the Club, were that the signing of the player on loan would be a “favour” to two influential South American agents who would look favourably on the Club in the future. The loan deal cost the Club nearly £1m in wages for a player who was not expected to play for the first team but no payment was made by the Club to the agents in respect of the deal.”

An obviously relieved Keegan made the following statement:

“I am delighted that the Premier League manager’s arbitration tribunal has today formally announced that it has upheld my claim for wrongful dismissal against Newcastle United. The tribunal has found the conduct of the club in forcing a player on me against my wishes represented a fundamental breach of my contract of employment.

I do not believe that there is any manager in football who could have remained at the club in the light of their conduct. I also want to confirm that a central purpose of my claim has always been to clear my name and restore my reputation. I consider it of vital importance that I was able to let people know about the full circumstances of my resignation and the way in which I had been treated by the club. I hope that this purpose has now been achieved.”

Newcastle United have so far made no comment on the outcome of the case.