CAN you hum the Algerian national anthem? No? What about the Slovakian or Greek offerings?

Don’t worry, the next four weeks of World Cup action will give you plenty of opportunity to get to know these ‘catchy’ tunes.

 

 

The football feast is well and truly under way and I was extremely fortunate because the wife was away on a course over the opening weekend so I had COMPLETE control of the remote control.

That meant I could wallow in a footballing television marathon.

Whether I will be as lucky over the forthcoming days remains to be seen but my initial impressions are:

*Mexico could be a serious threat if they possessed a  quality striker and didn’t have a midget for a goalkeeper.

*Poor Greece have no money and no decent footballers.

*Full credit for the commentators for rattling off all those Korean names so easily.

*Lionel Messi is God.

*How does anybody hear the referee’s whistle?

and

*English goalkeepers used to be regarded as the best in the world!!!

The World Cup is a splendid arena for those footballers wishing to move onto pastures new and their agents who are wishing to get even richer.

Whether the English Premier League will be such a lucrative market in the future remains to be seen.

A recent report claims that soaring wage bills could threaten the stability of clubs.  The report, by Deloitte, says that Premier League clubs spent 67 per cent of their revenue on player wages during the 2008/09 season.

It comes as no big surprise to read that Chelsea (£167m) and Manchester City (£83m) are amongst the biggest payers.

"For every £100 that comes into Premier League football clubs, £67 goes out on the wage bill - that's too high," said Deloitte's Dan Jones.  "The result is that profit margins are very thin or non-existent, and with the tightening of credit as well, that is really making that problem come into sharp focus now, and those debt levels start to pinch," he said.  "The growth in wages is difficult to slow down, given existing three or four-year [player] contracts, but must nonetheless be reined back to address clubs' declining profitability," Mr Jones added.

The Football League may also be providing fewer job opportunities for overseas players.  The League has now agreed new regulations on the number of ‘home-grown’ players they can have in their squads.  From next season, clubs will have to name 10 "home grown" players in a squad restricted to 25 players aged over 21.  To qualify, players must be registered in domestic football for three seasons before turning 21.

There were mixed views when Rafael Benitez’s time at Liverpool came to an end. The Merseyside club had a very poor season by their very high standards but Benitez can still point to a Champions League trophy on his CV.  He may, however, be held in even higher esteem for his parting action – making a £96,000 donation to the Hillsborough Family Support Group.  The group was founded by families who lost loved ones in the Hillsborough Disaster in April 1989 which resulted in the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans.

"When he handed the cheque over to me he was very emotional, as I was and the committee was, especially when we saw the amount," said Margaret Aspinall, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group.  "He just said that he wanted to help with the cause and hoped we get what we rightly deserve.  We have lots of things that we spend money on; a memorial every year, upkeep of the office and expenses but Rafa just said as long as it helps the group then that's all that matters."