Football Diary

by Patrick O'Connor


A vision of football in the future emerged last week and although on the face it seemed a miserable prospect, there could be a hidden bonus.

The president of Spanish giants Barcelona Sandro Rosell was quoted as saying that the English Premier League needs to be cut by four teams to help the Champions League.

This gentleman has the bright idea of playing European games at weekends. He envisages fixtures such as Barcelona versus Manchester United on a Saturday.

Rosell, who is also vice president of the European Club Association (ECA), says such scheduling cannot happen while the leagues in England, Spain and Italy continue to have 20 clubs.

“The objective of reducing from 20 to 16 teams is to give more space to our players. Then, once the dates are liberated, these dates are not for the (national) federations. The dates are for the clubs to organise friendly games or to increase the European competitions.”

In essence that means to hell with domestic football. The big boys of Europe want to play amongst themselves, cleaning up on all the TV and sponsorship money.

Speaking at conference in Doha, Qatar, Rosell warned Uefa the ECA may not extend their agreement when it expires in 2014.

“We want to have the Champions League under the Uefa umbrella but we want them to hear our demands. If Uefa and the ECA reach an agreement then that's good for both parties.

“If not, with or without the Uefa umbrella, the ECA is entitled to organise their own champions' competition by themselves of course.”

My response to that is good riddance, clear off and do your own thing. I firmly believe that ultimately the majority of football fans, certainly those in England, prefer the traditional rivalry of domestic league competitions and ultimately supporters will grow tire of European fare and return to their roots.

The Premier League's chief executive Richard Scudamore said there would be no breakaway league but quite frankly I just don't trust football executives, certainly not the people in charge of the Premier League.

His published comments also included: “Our clubs have no view to be playing European football on a weekend. Obviously, there are some things the clubs would like to alter and, ultimately, discussions will take place and Uefa will do something to make sure things stay intact.

“When it comes to ultimate football sanctions, you just can't break away.”

We shall see..

Ten out of ten to schoolboy Jordan Young. The 12 year old, who plays at the centre of excellence for League Two side Swindon Town, has turned down the chance to join Premier League big boys Chelsea.

Jeremy Newton, director of Swindon's centre of excellence, told BBC Wiltshire: “We got a phone call from Chelsea wishing to buy him and a compensation package was drawn up.

“But the boy had already made the decision to stay with us.”

Ten out of ten to Conor Cunningham from Cork who somehow managed to get into the Estonia versus Republic Ireland European Championship play-off match in Tallin's A Le Coq Arena without a ticket – and even ending up sitting next to the Estonia manager on the bench!

The Irishman explained: “I just spotted an open door and I thought I will stick my head through there but it was just a closed-in room but I found an Estonian tracksuit and I just threw it on. I threw the bag of balls over my shoulder and just went for it.

“I didn’t know what to do, to be honest, so I thought I’d better go into the Estonian dug-out. No one said anything to me and then I realised I was sitting beside their manager (Tarmo Ruutli).

"It was about 10 or 15 minutes into the match when a UEFA official got suspicious of me. He came over and, after talking to me, told me I had to move.”

Cheeky beggar!

Nought out of ten for Canadian entrepreneur Leonard Brody. Brody has just resigned from the board of Championship club Coventry city but is continuing as shareholder of Sky Blue Sport and Leisure Limited, the club's parent company.

He has suggested that supporters vote by text, X-Factor style to decide substitutions during a game! And he wants them to be charged premium rates for the privilege.

That must be one of the most stupid footballing ideas I've ever heard. Be interesting to hear what the Coventry manager thinks of the plan.

Finally, Manchester City have reported an annual loss of £194.9 million for the 2010-11 season. Wages have continued to exceed turnover, rising from £133m in 2009-10 to £174m in 2010-11.

Those figures were posted last Friday, on the same day that the Children in Need charity held its annual charity fund-raising day throughout the United Kingdom.