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Sunday, January 24, 2010

QPR on Routledge Sale...Fans Should Fight Back...Fans Vesus Profiteers...Francis and Gregory Still Involved

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- Football Support for Haiti

- Next: Nottingham Forest vs QPR on Tuesday(Stats and Past Results)

- Flashback: Routledge Joins QPR - And Reports of What Routledge Cost

- Swansea Chairman Praises Sousa

- Hull's Daniel Cousin: Maybe Not QPR

- Guess The Date that Flavio Briatore Resigns as QPR Chairman

- The Club's Official Site "Vacancies" Page

- The FA Cup Draw is Sunday Night

- Three Year Flashback: A Look at QPR Signings

- West Ham's Karren Brady Suggests a name Change for West Ham United!

re Routledge to Middlesbrough?
Sunday Sun/Steve Brown - Middlesbrough face fight to keep Adam Johnson
MIDDLESBROUGH’S resolve to hang on to Adam Johnson will undergo its sternest
test this week when a host of clubs step up their pursuit of the 22-year-old winger.

However, [b]the Teessiders’ hopes of landing a ready-made replacement in Wayne Routledge have received a timely boost after a QPR source described Boro as “an attractive proposition” for the England under-21 international.[/b]

Johnson is out of contract in the summer and, though Boro boss Gordon Strachan has insisted his star player is likely to remain at the Riverside until the end of the season, cash-strapped Boro would find it hard to resist a big-money offer for a player who could leave for free in the close-season.

Strachan said: “I think he will stay in this window. That is my opinion.

“The guy likes playing for this club and he would like to get us back to the top level.”

However, potential suitors have been queuing up for the England under-21 international for some time.

Tottenham Hotspur’s ongoing interest dates back two years, while sources last week alleged Johnson was being shown around Sunderland’s Academy of Light at the same time Boro confirmed an approach from Wolves.

Everton have also been linked with the player, but the real pressure to sell could come from moneybags Manchester City and Chelsea.

- With Johnson’s fellow-wideman Mark Yeates having already exited the Riverside to join Sheffield United[b], Boro bid £500,000 for QPR winger Routledge"
The Londoners laughed that off, demanding £2 million for the 25-year-old, but a Loftus Road insider said: “Middlesbrough are an attractive proposition – and in the end money talks.]

Boro could yet pursue Routledge irrespective of Johnson’s immediate future, after Yeates’ switch to the Blades.

The Republic of Ireland star has revealed his sadness at the manner in which his spell on Teesside transpired.

Yeates said: “I would be lying if I told you I was not disappointed with the way things worked out at Boro.

“When a club of this stature wants you and the one you are at agrees a fee then it is a no-brainer.

“United have shown they have a great chance of going up this season, and there is no reason why they should not be right there in the mix. I cannot wait to get started.

“The fact the manager here seems so enthusiastic about having me is brilliant.

“As a player that is exactly what you want to hear, and I will not let him down.

“It fills you with confidence to know someone has wanted you for a while.”

Meanwhile, Boro midfielder Julio Arca has been linked with a move to Portuguese giants Benfica. Sunday Sun

Two articles of general football interest

The Times/Mick Hume - January 23, 2010 - It’s time for the fans to fight back
- The banner briefly displayed at Old Trafford last weekend, before it was confiscated and the guilty fans evicted, summed it up: “Love United, Hate the Glazers”. They could easily have shipped it to Anfield and changed the slogan to “Love Liverpool, Hate the Yanks”.
- As tensions rise between traditional supporters and the new breed of football proprietor, from Portsmouth to Newcastle, perhaps some enterprising fans might sell a one-size-fits-almost-all version (excluding the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City): “Love the Club, Hate the Owners”.
- Whose clubs are they, anyway? Do they belong to the mass of us fans who claim moral ownership and invest not just time and money but heart and soul? Or to the few plutocrats who hold the legal papers?
Do they exist to fulfil our dreams and generate glory? Or to make money and meet debt repayments?
- Even as a Manchester United season ticket-holder, I could share the exasperation of the Liverpool fan ranting about George Gillett Jr and Tom Hicks on a radio phone-in. “They don’t own the club! Well, all right, they do, but . . .”
- It would be historically naive to imagine that these problems began with the arrival of a few foreign freeloaders. It has always been Us and Them. Off-pitch tensions between fans — and, originally, players — who wanted to enjoy football, and owners who wanted to enjoy the rewards, are as old as the professional game.
- The railway workers’ team of Newton Heath were renamed Manchester United after they were bought by a local brewer, who paid off the club’s debts and sold beer to the crowd. The armaments workers’ team of Woolwich Arsenal were rescued from financial ruin when they were bought up by a consortium of businessmen who moved the South London club north to a more commercial site at Highbury. But at least those old burghers put their money into the clubs.
- Over the past 30 years, what originated as a mass working-class sport in Britain’s industrial age has been taken over by new financial capitalism, in which debt-financed buyouts, bond issues, sponsorship, brands and other money-circulating chicanery have become almost more important than “the product”.
- The FA opened the door in 1981, altering its rules to allow club directors to be paid for the first time and shareholders to receive fat dividends. This enabled the likes of Martin Edwards, the chief executive who turned United from an FC into a plc, to take millions out of Old Trafford long before the shareholders sold to the grisly Glazers.
- Now, with the billions from TV contracts sloshing around the Premier League, we have the new class of socca capitalists, borrowing money to buy and sell clubs to which they have no more attachment than a Kraft executive has to a bar of Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut. Like the overleveraged private-equity players in the City, they have been badly burnt in the financial crisis, leaving clubs in peril.
- No doubt some reports of imminent meltdown are scaremongering, but the scale of the problem is clear. United ended last season — having won the Barclays Premier League, the Club World Cup and the Carling Cup, and reached the Champions League final — deeper in debt than ever, the Glazers keeping their charmless heads above water thanks to the £80 million sale of Cristiano Ronaldo.
- Faced with mounting debts, rising prices, rumours of ground or player sell-offs, what is the fan in the stand to do? Marches, meetings and protests are being staged and there are even murmurs of solidarity between fans of opposing clubs. Some want the United crowd to start wearing green-and- yellow shirts — the old Newton Heath colours — to show solidarity with the founding spirit of the working men’s football club.
- Whether these prove much more than token protests remains to be seen. In practical terms, fans might be desperate to make the bad owners sell, but to whom? There is talk at some clubs of supporters making a bid. That is fantasy football finances. It was possible for 20-odd thousand people paying £35 each to buy Ebbsfleet United, but a big club are out of our league.
- Suppose you really could persuade, say, 5,000 fans to pay £5,000 a head — that would give you £25 million, or not quite enough to buy Wayne Rooney’s left leg. So is the best we can hope for really to see another sheikh or oligarch lording it over us, as at City and Chelsea, or a more benevolent-looking billionaire, as at Aston Villa – or maybe a local-boy-made-pornbaron, as at West Ham United?
- As an old Red in political as well as football terms, my preference would be for fans to storm the stadium gates and occupy Old Trafford as a sort of supporters’ soviet, but that option seems unlikely, in the short term at least. For now, frustration and impotence grow as fans are reduced to individual “customers”. Worse, the customer in football is not always right. Indeed he has no rights, because the clubs assume that supporters will always keep coming back to be ripped off, even for an inferior product.
- The ultimate sanction is to hit the owners where it hurts, with a boycott of matches. But it is hard to stage a strike against your club and one hand will always be tied behind your back in such a civil war. Yet the editors of Red Issue, the United fanzine for which I write, point out that there are already empty seats and executive boxes at many matches, and believe it would be possible to push the Glazers over the edge, even if it meant taking the team down with them.
- Their latest issue argues for “an acceptance of short-term pain for long-term gain” because to prosper in the future, “the club has to get rid of these leeches”. The question is, how many fans hate the Glazers — or Gillett and Hicks, or Mike Ashley, or whoever — sufficiently to stop loving their clubs for long enough?
- Anybody not entirely blinded by nostalgia would concede that much of the football we watch has been better in the Premier League era — but at a price many now think too high. Short of a people’s revolution, there seems no easy, fan-friendly solution, but at least a debate is starting.
- And as football fans are all dreamers, we can at least dream of all those all-seat stadiums standing together and crying with one voice: can we have our football back, please? The Times

The Times/Tony Barrett - Fans share fears over Premier League profiteers
- “Football needs a Premier League side to go to the wall. I just hope it’s not mine.” These are the words of Ken Malley, a Portsmouth supporter who will march on Fratton Park tomorrow in protest at the club's financial predicament.
- Malley's fears are shared by supporters of a number of British clubs, including two of the biggest. Both Liverpool and Manchester United have been placed in financial peril because of the debts placed on them by Tom Hicks, George Gillett and Malcolm Glazer respectively, who all managed to pass the Premier League’s fit and proper persons test.
- “The two biggest clubs in this country are on the brink of financial meltdown – fit and proper persons test? Don’t make me laugh,” Paul Jones, of Liverpool fans group The Spirit of Shankly, said. “In the past three transfer windows we've made a profit on player transfers; we've recouped more money than we've spent in order to service the debt. If that continues, the quality and size of our squad will deteriorate while other clubs spend and improve.
- “No matter who our manager is, we're going to struggle to remain in that top four. What happens when turnover drops dramatically with no Champions League revenue, but the interest repayments remain the same? It's unsustainable.”
- There is a clear sense of anger amongst supporters that owners like Hicks, Gillett and Glazer have been allowed to pile such gargantuan levels of debt on clubs with little or no intervention from either the Government or Premier League.
- Manchester United recently revealed the scale of their liabilities, causing outrage amongst the more politicised elements of their fan base. “The true horror of the debt now running at over £700 million means that having struggled to equal Liverpool’s 18 league titles it is now doubtful we’ll see 19 in my lifetime," Mark Longden, of the Manchester United Supporters Trust, said. "Still Mr Richard Scudamore and Mr [Richard] Caborn were satisfied with the assurances given by the Glazers that they wouldn’t put my club in jeopardy. Not much comfort now, is it?”
- Like Malley, Graham Harper of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust, fears it could be a matter of time before a leading club goes bust – unless a revolution takes place that would see the kind of fan group that he is a part of are able to oust the profiteers.
- "The similarities between the financial meltdown in the banking sector are very similar to the problem of long term unsustainable debt in football,” Harper said. “A failure of regulation; weak governance; too many vested interests; and a complete detachment from reality. The FSA failed tax payers – the FA, PFA etc are failing football clubs.
- “The financial world came tumbling down through a failure of one investment company, Lehman Brothers, which meant tax payers took over banks. Do we really think that the Government will stop the first Premier League club going to the wall? It’s not and the fans are the only constant in the chaos of football finance, so trusts are not just an option, they are a necessity.”
- Steve Powell, of the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF), backed the fans groups that are beginning to make their voices heard across the country. "The FSF has been calling for a new deal on football club ownership and debt for years," he said. "The 'fit and proper persons' test isn’t nearly enough. We support all those fans campaigning to save the souls and futures of their clubs.
- "Wherever you look in the game clubs are vulnerable to takeovers by men on the make who don’t care about history and traditions. At the top of the game Liverpool has been turned into a financial basket case by Hicks and Gillett. Manchester United is groaning under the burden of the debts loaded onto the club by the Glazer family.
- "You simply couldn’t make up what’s happening at Portsmouth at the moment, nor lower down the leagues at clubs like Notts County and Chester City. Fans are also expressing concern about debts and/or ownership at clubs like Newcastle United, Cardiff City, Wrexham and even Arsenal. "
- Powell put the blame squarely at the door of the game's authorities and demanded they act. "The Football Association surrendered all control over club ownership in the 1980s," he said. " It’s got to get a grip again. Such rules operate successfully in North America. There’s no reason why they can’t here too." The Times

Ex-QPR's Gerry Francis and Peter Reid Coaching at Stoke
Observer/Louise Taylor - Stoke's Tony Pulis sets old-school test for Arsenal's Le ProfesseurThe Stoke City manager is relying on his veteran lieutenants for the FA Cup battle with Arsène Wenger
- At first glance Tony Pulis, Peter Reid and Gerry Francis can appear a shade old-fashioned. As Stoke City's manager marches around in a shellsuit, his assistant indulges in a spot of sharp scouse banter and the first-team coach switches the conversation from defensive lines to pigeon fancying, the Britannia Stadium briefly seems stuck in the 1970s.
- Not that Arsène Wenger and his ­Arsenal players should be remotely fooled today. Le Professeur is about to encounter a formidable brains trust responsible for Stoke consistently punching well above their apparent weight.
- With Reid as his assistant and Francis the joint first-team coach, Pulis boasts one of the strongest back rooms in English football. Granted, that trio might make wonderful stars of football-based versions of television's Ashes to Ashes or even New Tricks – (although the three fiftysomethings are all younger than Wenger) – but their at times ­unashamedly old-school approach masks sharp ­tactical acumen and a man-management style based on constant, if sometimes ­uncomfortably honest, communication.
- Equally importantly, Pulis's brave decision to employ two former England midfielders who, as managers, guided Queens Park Rangers and Manchester City to fifth-place finishes in the top flight before subsequently taking Tottenham and Sunderland up to seventh, suggests a refreshing humility on the Stoke manager's part.
- "Tony's very strong and always has the ultimate say," Francis explains. "But we are certainly not afraid to disagree with him."
- He and Reid are helping Pulis mastermind Stoke's gradual evolution from a strictly choreographed, heavily set piece dependent side to a more three dimensional ensemble, and Pulis is suitably delighted with their input.
- "Peter and Gerry are chalk and cheese, a bit like the funny guy and the straight guy in a comedy double act," he says. "While Peter's the joker in the pack, Gerry goes about his business quietly but they complement each other really well.
- "Ultimately, the manager takes ­decisions but managers should never be afraid to listen. The job is easier if you can sound out the opinions of people like Peter and Gerry who've played and ­managed at the highest level."
- Mark O'Connor, who shares first-team coaching duties with Francis and helps his colleagues with DVD ­analysis and laptop downloads, is similarly enthusiastic. "It's brilliant just ­listening to Gerry and Peter," he says. "Peter's played in World Cups and Gerry's been England captain, they're very good for our ­players."
- Francis could easily have been in charge of a Premier League club today had he not stepped away from ­management in 2001. "We'd had two ­family bereavements, I had three ­children under eight and it just felt the right thing to do," he explains. "I realised football was not the be all and end all."
- It is hard to imagine Wenger saying anything similar but Francis, like Reid and Pulis, has an intriguing, renaissance-man style hinterland. His eclectic array of interests and investments includes antiques, pigeon fancying, overseas property development, and theatre and film production.
- The latter sphere led to his involvement with Magic Movies, producers of the 2004 Bafta-nominated Road to Damascus in which he played a Los Angeles postman complete with ­Californian accent before wiping off the greasepaint and returning to tend the treasured pigeons occupying a luxury loft at his Surrey home.
- Pulis, meanwhile, makes weekly escapes to Dorset and the twin ­sanctuaries of his magnificent family home and local Catholic church, where Stoke's manager – who recently had an old-fashioned fight with his striker James Beattie in Arsenal's away dressing room – is a regular at confession.
- After joining Stoke last September ­following a stint managing Thailand, Reid serves as a welcome rebuke to a sometimes rather bland soulless, increasingly commercially packaged, Premier League product. "The culture and climate made Thailand a great place to live," he says. "But Tony and I just clicked. I'm here to help Tony improve Stoke, to try and make the club stronger."
- Reid possesses the sort of common touch that once led to his consoling his erstwhile Sunderland left-back, Michael Gray, who had missed a decisive play-off final penalty, by having him to stay at his house for several days. On another occasion he whipped off his Armani shirt and swapped it for a journalist's Marks and Spencer number during a lively dinner.
- Such humanity is unlikely to cut much ice with Wenger. No stranger to ­crossing swords with Reid, the Frenchman ­sniffily regards Stoke as a personal, long-throw propelled bete noire.
- "We've got better technically," Francis says. "We're developing a Plan B but you have to make changes gradually. We're exploring different avenues of playing but we're not stupid – it won't stop us continuing doing what we're good at."
- Tuncay Sanli, the Turkey forward, looms large in this evolutionary alternative and is arguably likely to pose ­Arsenal more problems than Rory Delap's throws. "Our system is quite organised and ­regimented while Tunny is a free spirit who needs to play off the cuff," Francis says. "But he and Stoke are enjoying learning how to get along with each other. We're all having fun." Guardian

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