Homophobia in Football

Kick It Out are leading the way

If the average football fan was asked to name an openly gay player their answer would more than likely be based on speculation rather than fact. This is because in the modern game only one man has openly declared his sexuality, Justin Fashanu, and he sadly took his own life in 1998.

Homophobia is an issue that has very rarely been tackled in the “beautiful game” and is seen by many as a taboo subject, PR tycoon Max Clifford openly admitted telling two big name Premier league players to keep their sexuality hidden because English football “remains in the dark ages and is steeped in homophobia.” Read more of this post

How do we combat sexism in football?

West Ham's Karen Brady ahs led the way for women off the pitch

In recent years, women have started to have more and more of a substantial role in football. Karen Brady has led the way off the pitch, currently as vice-chairman of West Ham United Football Club and previously as CEO of Birmingham City Football Club. On the pitch, Wendy Toms was the first ever female assistant referee, officiating in the football league as early as 1994.

So why when women have been a part of men’s football for so long is there still sexism in our game? -read on>

Are Diamonds Forever?

Rushden Diamonds, Aaron O'Connor shows what Rushden means to him - image sourced from northantset.co.uk

It is far too often that we talk of football as a money rich industry based on greed. The likes of Manchester City and Chelsea don’t even batter an eye lid at spending 30million pounds on a single player. But how often is the small club considered when talking about football and wealth? Some teams in the lower realms of English football struggle to even pay their players wages.

It is not unfamiliar for clubs in the Blue Square Premier (we will call the league its rightful name, the Conference)  to hit rock bottom. Established clubs such as Chester and Boston have had huge financial problems which have led to administration and multiple relegations over the last few season. However the Conference is full of teams that have catastrophically fallen from grace, lost nearly  everything but have just about survived! Luton Town, Grimsby, Cambridge, Darlington …. Rushden & Diamonds! -read on>

Sven’s Leicester

Sven with assistant Derek Fazackerley

At the start of the season, with their team languishing bottom of the Championship most, if not all, Leicester City fans would not have predicted the situation they find themselves in now. They are currently residing tenth in the league, just four points of the play-offs, managerial magpie Sven-Goran Eriksson is at the helm and they have a strike partnership of Yakubu and Darius Vassell. Perhaps this was not entirely out of the blue though. At the beginning of the season Leicester were brought by a Thai consortium led by 25-year-old Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn, who have since invested money into the club, bringing in new players and the new manager.

That being said, Leicester have not just gone on a spending spree and chucked money around. They have improved the squad where it was needed, and have showed integrity in how they have spent their money. This will be reassuring to fans, especially considering the controversy surrounding the takeover of the club. The owners had to undergo the new ‘fit and proper persons’ test, before they were able to complete their takeover of the club. The test was introduced to combat situations, that clubs such as Portsmouth have found themselves over the past couple of years.  Read more of this post

The Championship turned upside down

Preston recently sacked struggling manager, Darren Ferguson

Going into the New Year, many Championship clubs will be looking at their prospects of getting a play-off, or automatic promotion place by the seasons end. But while everyone is discussing how close the league is, and how any number of teams are in contention for these places, we often overlook the state of affairs at the other end of the table; more often than not it mirrors the close situation at the top.

The clubs at the foot of the table will be recovering from their festive hangovers knowing that action has to be taken soon, to stifle their demise. While other teams in the bottom half of the Championship will realize that just a short run of bad form could see them pulled down into a relegation battle. That’s why January is such an important month for these teams. The transfer window is open, so new recruits can be brought in, and there is still enough time left in the season for a new manager to make an impact, and save a club from relegation. -read on>

Identity Theft

Arsenal moved from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium

A sign of the ever-increasing financial pressure upon the modern game is the fact that many of England’s biggest clubs are in the process of arranging moves away from the sites they have called home for many generations. This isn’t new, in the last decade Manchester City moved away from Maine Road, their home of eighty years, and Arsenal departed Highbury, which had hosted the club since 1913. Arsenal were easily filling their relatively small capacity of 38,419 and were therefore operating with a huge financial disadvantage to their main competitor Manchester United who were hosted at the significantly larger Old Trafford. They took the opportunity to move out of Highbury to the Emirates which itself has been a financial success. But to what extent has it affected the identity and soul of the club? Surely there must be a negative side effect of leaving the home that for them had been the setting of countless triumphs? With Chelsea, Spurs, West Ham, Everton and Liverpool all planning on leaving their stadia for larger and more modern versions, fans will naturally be wary of the transition. All avenues should be pursued to ascertain what could be done to increase capacity whilst retaining the heart and soul of the club. Whilst for the business money and successes are key, the issue is a vital illustration of how for real fans nothing can replace the characteristics and traditions of the club that make it theirs. -read on>

A Tale of Two Cities

Steve Coppell and Keith Millen

Bristol City could argue that they had one of the worst starts in the Football League this season, after just two matches, both losses, new manager Steve Coppell had resigned with immediate effect; not only this but he had also left behind a disjointed team with an impressive injury list, which included many of the signings he had made. Many fans felt angered and betrayed by Coppell’s sudden departure, especially since so many of them had put their faith in him. Keith Millen, who was caretaker manager for the later part of the 09/10 season, was announced as the new manager on three-year deal soon after Coppell’s had left.

Keith Millen had an impressive record while being assistant manager at City since 2004, he also had been successful in his various roles as caretaker manger at the club over the years. But many fans understandably were worried about his lack of experience as an out and out manager. These worries continued as City only managed to win two out of their first 10 league games, something that was not helped by the numerous injury problems at the club. Notably that of last seasons top goal scorer Nicky Maynard, who is still yet to make an appearance this season. -read on>

Newcastle and the Managerial Circus

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With Newcastle United sitting nicely in mid table after 16 games, now ex-manager Chris Hughton might have thought “I’ve done a good job here” after big wins against Aston villa and Sunderland as well as decent results against Chelsea and Arsenal. But owner Mike Ashley had seemingly different ideas.

Two seasons ago the unthinkable happened for Newcastle; they were relegated. After a long hard season with former club heroes and ex-managers trying to keep them afloat, a final day 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa saw the Toon Army relegated for the first time in 16 years. But had the writing been on the wall for a while?

During the five year reign of Sir Bobby Robson, between 1999 and 2004, Newcastle finally started to fulfil their potential. A Premier League high finish of third seemed to finally start paying back the fans of the club who had been so famously loyal. But at the start of the 2004-2005 season, the Magpies had a couple of poor results and the club legend and fans favourite was forced out in just August of that season. All of this after taking Newcastle to the Champions league and F.A. Cup final. This was surely the beginning of Newcastle’s downfall.  

-read on>

Will Forest help Ramsey grow?

A fully fit Aaron Ramsey - sourced from http://www4.pictures.gi.zimbio.com

As an Arsenal fan living in Nottingham the story that has caught my eye this week has definitely been, Aaron Ramsey’s loan move to Nottingham Forest .

Since moving to Arsenal at just 17, for 5 million pounds, from boyhood club Cardiff City, the most interesting aspect of  Aaron Ramsey’s career has always been, what will Arsene Wenger’s next step be?  

Wenger slowly introduced the youngster in to the first team during his first season with the Gunners, playing 22 games in the 2008-2009 season, most of which being in cup competitions however it was during the 2009-2010 campaign that Ramsey got his real chance. 

Making 18 appearances in the first half of the season, Ramsey’s technique and vision enabled him to thrive in the centre of Arsenal’s midfield next to the ever influential Cesc Fabregas. But then there was that tackle! Read more of this post

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