Football Diary


by Patrick O'Connor




SOME may claim it's what led us to have an empire but there's no denying that England's footballers certainly possess the bulldog spirit.


Only a dogged never-say-die attitude enabled Roy Hodgson's men to fight back and beat Sweden in their second Euro 2012 game. It certainly wasn't down to talent.


With an hour gone, England were 2-1 down and heading towards the group trapdoor but they rallied superbly to clinch the game 3-2.


Which was just as well because technically, England were dreadful. They are not as bad as a dismal Republic of Ireland team, made up primarily of players from the Championship, but the Premier League's top English players don't hold a candle to their European counterparts when it comes to technique and simple footballing skills such as control and passing.


Tactically England are still an underdeveloped nation and so the big question is how far can determination and grit take them.


If England do progress through to the knock-out stages and come up against the better nations, it might make grim viewing for their supporters.




Apparently the England Supporters Band was prevented from playing at the team's first Euro 2012 game against France – no wonder they could only draw.


According to band leader John Hemmingham, it was the first time the Sheffield-based band had not played at an England game in 16 years.


Mr Hemmingham said: “The FA had done all of the necessary agreements but it was overturned at the last minute. We got ready to play half an hour before kick-off and then stewards came up to us and said, 'no, we've made a mistake you have to take the instruments out now, you can't play'.”


He added: “We had to put our instruments in storage."


The band, which provides music to add atmosphere to each England match, sat throughout the game at the stadium in Donetsk, which ended in a 1-1 draw.


Who's been a naughty boy then?


The Arsenal and Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner could be punished by Uefa after celebrating a goal against Portugal by revealing the logo of a betting company on his underpants.


An interesting initiative has been launched by the club I support, Championship outfit Derby County.


They are to become the first club in the country to offer 'demand based' pricing for tickets at their home games.


Matchday ticket prices can change on a daily basis based on real-time market conditions such as team performance, rivalries, day of the week and the weather among other factors - reflecting the demand for tickets. This means that supporters who choose to purchase their individual tickets early will get the best possible pricing deal before any potential fluctuation in prices.


So the fat cats of the Premier League are to get even fatter – but what about the rest of football?


Broadcast rights for live Premier League games have been sold to BSkyb and BT for £3.018bn, an increase of £1.25bn on the current package which shares rights between BSkyB and ESPN.


How much of the massive windfall will go to players and agents remains to be seen but this new deal cannot fail but to widen the gap between the Premier League elite and the rest of the professional game, leading some clubs once again to gamble everything in a desperate, reckless attempt to reach the golden land.