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Monday, 15 April 2013

Carlos the Jackal or The Spanish Saviour?

This is beyond doubt the most difficult and serious situation in Ebbsfleet United Football Club's history that I as a supporter for over 40 years can remember.

As I sit and write this my beloved club are perilously close to going into administration. The "Fleet" have endured over 130 years of history and financial insecurity but are pretty much on their knees, desperate for help and apparently in a situation that could see them completely fold.

5 years ago MyFootballClub or MYFC completed a 75% buy out and took control of the club with lots of optimism, positivity and promises of great things to come. With a 35,000 membership it all looked so good.

Unfortunately most of the 35,000 had never heard of Ebbsfleet, they thought they were buying into a top flight club so most of them failed to renew their membership the following years.

This has meant that revenue has decreased each year, firstly the team had to revert from full time players to part time semi pro's.

The fun was over, reality set in, MYFC should have fallen on their sword a long time ago and let the club go to someone who could actually afford to support and run it. Instead they have buried their heads in the sand and  as the saying goes they tried to "Keep Calm and Carry On!"

All very noble, but like someone who can't afford to pay his electricity bill and keeps hiding it in a kitchen drawer, hoping it will go away here is a revelation........ It wont, didn't, hasn't and now it is time to pay the piper!

Forget pay the piper, how about pay the players, the bar staff and anyone else that needs to be paid? The truth is that MYFC no longer are a viable proposition and the longer they are in control the more damage is being done to the club.

It is little wonder that the team have had such poor results. Morale must be at rock bottom when you have a bunch of lads that are expected to give 100% yet are not even being paid.

Over that last few months there have been several rumours concerning potential buyers and interested parties but to date nothing has been done to secure Ebbsfleet's future. More worryingly is the distinct lack of information from MYFC regarding the situation.

This leaves supporters and fans free to make their own judgements both on the future and the conduct of MYFC. Human nature makes us fear the worst and come to conclusions that may or may not be accurate.

The latest and current situation is regarding Carlos Kabir Karani, a Spanish individual who has made it clear that he wishes to purchase the club, pay off the debts and bring in young Spanish international players to develop them and then to use the football club to "feed" these players into the Spanish game.

Now this may not be the perfect solution, in fact it may be very short sighted and not ideal but right now this is the only solution there is.

My concerns are this.....Why Ebbsfleet? Apparently he has expressed interests in other clubs such as Bury, Aldershot and Barnsley but it is Ebbsfleet that he wants. Strange? Why would you want a club that is outside of the Football League, being relegated and in severe financial trouble when the others would give him a much higher profile and more clout when tempting Spanish talent to our shores?

Secondly what happens to the club and us as fans? Price increases? Will we almost become alien in whatever league we are playing in with high risk, unknown young experimental players? What about the players that are already here and are 100% committed to this club?

Lastly what do we really know about this man? Does he actually have the money available to buy the club and to continue to run it as a viable business? How long for?

These questions will have to be answered to everyone's satisfaction before he can be considered as a truly realistic option.

However, that said the one thing that is certain is that MYFC cannot possibly continue as the controlling body at this great local grass roots football club. They have to go and go as soon as possible.

We are in a "damned if we do, damned if we don't" situation with little hope of an improvement.

I will be attending the public meeting on Wednesday and I urge every supporter to be there and to put the relevant questions to all parties. Then perhaps we will all be in a position to make a balanced judgement.

I met Carlos on Saturday and he seems totally genuine and enthusiastic and if this is the way forward then MYFC absolutely must sell to him if the club are to have any chance of survival because the future under them is certainly doomed!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Money V Success

The 'beautiful game' has become much less beautiful with the natural progression of the number of £'s needed to keep your club in a competitive position.

We all remember back in 2003 when a certain Roman Abramovich became owner of a floundering Chelsea F.C. The following year Chelsea won the league title for the first time in 50 years. 

Since that takeover Chelsea have gone on to win nine major trophies including the Champion's League, 3 Premier League titles and 4 FA Cups. Only Manchester United have won more in the same period.

Chelsea or Abramovich went on a massive spending spree from the offset and easily outbid any club for any desired player, paying exuberant salaries. This in turn lead to massive expectations both from Abramovich, and the fans.

The downside in this is that since Abramovich's take over the club has had 10 different managers, that's a new manager every year on average! 

This may be the way the owner likes to do business and you could argue that his formula works with a major trophy almost every year pro rata.

But recently the club seems to have gone into complete meltdown. After winning the Champion's League last year with Roberto Di Matteo as the reigning Manager, he was hailed as the man to deliver! Yet with off field problems with certain players as well as a poor run of form by the club it wasn't long before the writing was on the wall and Di Matteo's services were rendered surplus to requirements. 

Enter Rafael Benitez, the ex Liverpool Manager, hated by Chelsea supporters for the comments he made regarding the club, the rivalry between Chelsea and Liverpool during his tenure there and the fact that in most football fans opinions  he was solely responsible for ruining Liverpool with his insistence on squad rotation and apparent lack of tacticle knowledge. 

Never have I heard a new manager get boo'd by the fan's as much and as loudly as he was on his debut home match. 

In his first 3 matches he saw Chelsea draw 2 and lose 1, he has also seen them exit the Champion's League at the group stage, the first time a defending Champion team has exited at this stage.

After just 4 games you can almost say that the writing is already on the wall for Benitez and it is only a matter of time before he is shoved out to make way for another lamb to the slaughter!

My belief is that the constant appointment and prompt sacking of a stream of managers can only have a negative effect on the team and thus the chances of maintaining a consistent run of success in all competitions. Let's not forget that Sir Alex Ferguson was almost sacked as Manchester United's manager but stayed on to deliver the greatest haul of trophies that any English club has ever seen over a 22 year period, proof that faith and stability does give rewards.

Now let's look at Manchester City, another cash rich club that has no issues with spending exorbitant sums of money to secure high profile players and managers.

There's no doubt that since the acquisition of  City by the Abu Dhabi United group in 2008 the club has enjoyed massive success, a stark contrast if you go back just 12 years prior when they were relegated to the third tier of domestic football and their future looked nothing less than doom and gloom.

However, similar to Chelsea, they owners have made seemingly limitless funds available and encouraged the club to buy, buy, buy in their quest to become the most dominant club in England.

They have made major purchases of very highly rated players such as Aguero, Nasri, Dzeko, Clichy, Balotelli, Tevez and the Toure brothers.

They seemed to have cracked it last year with a 6-1 thumping of Manchester United at Old Trafford and pipping them to the Premiership title but the European glory they crave eluded them once again after failing to make it past the group stages.

Then this year, like Chelsea they seem to have imploded in Europe where they have once again failed to qualify past the group stage and they now have the unenviable record of having exited the competition without managing a single win and losing 3 out of their 6 matches. 

Although they are in a healthy second place behind Manchester United in the Premier League they have failed to set the world alight and do seem to be suffering in form compared to last year.

My point is that with all the millions of pounds spent by both clubs there is absolutely no guarantee of success and maybe, just maybe the ball and chain effect of the expectations of both club and fans after such huge outlay is weighing heavily on the players concerned and also the manager to deliver results! 

English football has undoubtedly benefited by seeing some of the world's best players grace our stadiums but in the same breath, those clubs who do not have the financial clout  or glamorous appeal as the likes of Chelsea and Man City or refuse to be drawn into the spending frenzy, like Arsenal, fall further behind and the chances of major trophies seem to disappear and ultimately spoil our beautiful game!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Haye.....Are you talking to me??

Before we all jump up and down and condemn what happened in Munich on Saturday night after the boxing match between Dereck Chisora and Wladimir Klitschko let's take a look at a few hard facts.

Firstly this is no new phenomenon, pre or post fight brawls have been happening for decades, some staged and some not.

British middleweights Errol Christie and Mark Kaylor came to blows twice before their final eliminator for the British Middleweight title in 1985. It was deemed so potentially dangerous that the fight was almost cancelled due to the racially charged atmosphere of the fight.

In 1991 heavyweights Trevor Berbick and Larry Holmes exchanged insults and then blows which culminated in Holmes jumping from a car and drop kicking Berbick.

Herbie Hide and Michael Bentt got into an ugly brawl outside a London hotel in 1994 which ended with them rolling around in the puddles on the pavement.

Famously Iron Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis fought a viscious fight at their pre fight publicity event in 2002. It started with Tyson punching one of Lewis' security and the Lewis launching a right to Tyson. In the brawl that followed, WBC President Jose Sulaiman was knocked unconscious. The event ended with Tyson making very public threats to Lewis and to various other people in the room.

You can even go as far back as 1974 when Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier wrestled each other to the floor on live TV before their fight.

Now we can all point the finger at the fighters in question and accuse them of bringing the sport into disrepute but the people we should be blaming are the promoters and PR agents.

Nothing sells seats quicker than genuine or perceived ill feeling between the two fighters, and the promoters have jumped on this and exploited it at every opportunity, often to the detriment of their "cash cows".

Saturday night was a prime example. When Haye stood up at the back of the room and began to throw insults at Klitschko in an attempt to get himself another shot at the title, where was the security? This wasn't Haye's party, this was an after fight press conference between two fighters who had actually both put on a very good show.

When Haye and Chisora began to exchange words Frank Warren should have told Haye this was not the place or the time for this and should have requested security remove him if he doesn't be quiet. But he didn't! He seized the opportunity to promote a fight between the two with a promised fight against Klitschko for the winner. he was the equivalent of the school playground bully goading the small kids to fight each other for his own satisfaction.

When Chisora stood up and announced he was coming down to talk to Haye and removed his jacket you didn't have to be a rocket scientist to see what was coming next. But where was the security? Somebody should have prevented them from getting within arms length of each other.
Instead we got a clamber of media and flashbulbs like vultures eager to get their share of the pickings that were about to be placed before them.

I believe that all the pre fight build up that we get now is an invitation for fighters to lose control. Do we really need to have the nose to nose photographs at the weigh in? This should be saved for the actual fight night at the referees instructions if it is necessary at all.

Saturday night's ugly events went way past pre fight build up, these two men haven't even been contracted to fight each other.

I have watched the footage of what happened and from where I see it David Haye was the instigator and acted way over the top. In fact he clearly threw the first punch, with a glass bottle clenched in his fist. How on earth did anyone expect Chisora to react?

This could have ended far worse than it actually did and the authorities must act now and take measures to make sure that this can never happen again.

Chisora clearly has issues as his conduct prior to the fight has shown, slapping Klitschko and spitting water in his face should have been enough for the boxing authorities to cancel the fight and withdraw his license.

Boxing has enough haters without giving them further ammunition to campaign for the sport to be banned altogether.

Saturday, 23 October 2010


It has to be one of the strangest weeks in football ever and certainly one of the most farcical weeks that I can remember for a long time.

Firstly Man Utd striker and superstar Wayne Rooney reveals that he wants to leave Manchester United and issues a public statement just 1 hour before their game against Bursaspor in the Champion's League. In the statement he reveals that his reason for wanting to leave is that he has failed to receive guarantees of the future plans to buy players and therefore feels their is a lack of ambition in the club.

So let's address these issues. Under Alex Ferguson Manchester United have won 27 major trophies including the Champion's League twice. They have hosted legendary players such as Eric Cantona, Jaap Stam, David Beckham and Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

Also, interestingly let's not forget the other great Man U legends Ryan Giggs, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, Paul Scholes, and Gary Neville, all of whom could have played at any top club in the world and I am sure had numerous offers over the years but remained loyal to the club that nurtured them and gave them such happy memories.

I am sure there were times when they felt they had reason to moan or weren't entirely happy with certain things that were happening at the club but never once did they air their views publicly or tell the world that they wanted to leave. This was the mark of the professionalism that Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United try to instill in it's players. Some obviously don't always follow that rule. Names like Paul McGrath, Paul Ince and even David Beckham made public shows of their disregard for Sir Alex and the club and were soon dispatched to play for another team.

Everyone knows that no player is greater than the club and there is only one boss of the team.

So why then after this most public condemnation of the club, the team and the manager, has Wayne Rooney been allowed to back track and sign a new 5 year deal which will make him the highest paid player in the world? is it because suddenly Sir Alex and co have managed to persuade their diamond that they really are trying? They really do have ambition? "Please don't leave us"? I think not.

Make no mistake, Wayne Rooney is a fantastic player but since the end of last season he has been a shadow of his former self. His England performances during the world cup were at best appalling and his season for Manchester United so far has been just as bad.

So from a bargaining perspective he doesn't really have too much to go with does he? His personal life has been the subject of much negative publicity due to his own behaviour so you have to ask, what club would realistically want him in their team in his current form and state of mind? His mind has blatantly not been on his game for several months. Also remember he is suffering from an ankle injury.

The only conclusion I can come up with is that after long discussions with the club and Sir Alex, it was put to him that they would not sell him for less than £60 million or possibly more and that. No clubs are willing to pay that for him in his current form. Also the hatred he would endure from Untied fans, especially if he went to rivals Manchester City would probably be too much for him to bear. I also believe that he was told that if he is insistent on leaving the club he will not play another game for Manchester United until he is sold and therefore his price will drop as he will not be match fit.

My opinion is that given this food for thought he decided to sign a new 5 year contract and that Manchester Untied have been very clever as they will now know that if they decide to sell him in January, as I suspect they will, they will now be able to demand a much higher price for him and replace him with another great striker.

Personally I wish they had just let him go as the damage he has done to his own relationships with his team mates is unrepairable. By implying that their is no ambition at the club with the current squad he has effectively said that his team mates are not good enough to play for Manchester United. Now that may or may not be true but as a fellow professional footballer he should have kept his opinions to the confounds of the Manager's office or the changing room.

I feel that Rooney is going to have a very uncomfortable few months ahead and I have to say I feel no sympathy for him.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Ebbsfleet United

I went to watch my beloved Ebbsfleet United tonight (formally Gravesend and Northfleet FC for the purists) and to say it was a poor performance is giving Ebbsfleet too much credit.

They started strongly enough but it soon became apparent that since their relegation from the Blue Square Conference they have lost any class players that they had and any hope of promotion next year seems a distant memory already.

When the ball was in the air they seemed at a loss as to what to do and showed a complete lack of any commitment. They seemed happier to ball watch and then chase the ball once Dover were in possession which is a recipe for disaster. So it wasn't too long before Dover capitalised on this and had their nose in front.

It was 1-0 at half time but soon after the break Dover made it 2 with a gift of a goal amongst a hapless Utd defense. The ball broke free to the edge of the box and was struck sweetly giving Ebbsfleets keeper no chance from the resulting shot that rocketed into the top left corner of the net.

It is early days but if you can't win the ball in the air or retain possession then the writing is on the wall for another dire season in the lower non league , leagues!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Just maybe?

So here we are, within touching distance of the launch of the World Cup and we have become a nation of millions of England Managers.
The speculation is over now, we know who the 23 are and there really were very few shocks. Personally I am disappointed that Darren Bent hasn't made it as I think he is a good goal poacher, Linikeresk like. His goal scoring record last season for Sunderland was more than impressive in a mediocre team. Imagine what he could have done in a team that provided better service!
I was pleased that Walcott didn't make the final 23 as I don't think he is the best of his type of player. The last performance against Japan was poor to say the least and it seems that he has a problem with following the Manager's instructions.
So overall I was content with the squad that landed in South Africa although to win this tournament I think is a tall order. Then disaster, our captain and arguably our best defender gets crocked by non other than the lumbering Emile Heskey in training yesterday. Oh dear, it doesn't look good. Bring on Dawson, who could turn out to be our hero at the end. But I have to put this to you. If we had taken Bent instead of Heskey, we may still have Rio Ferdinand in the team and may actually stand a chance of winning it. Instead we are minus a great defender at the back and are carrying a non achiever in Heskey at the front.
One piece if good news, Drogba is also out with a fractured arm and although I wish him a speedy recovery it is one less prolific forward we have to worry about over the next few weeks.
Can we win it? Yes. Will we win it? I don't think so but I will be cheering them every kick, header and tackle that they make.
Come on England!!

Friday, 9 April 2010


Last Saturday I went to Manchester to watch the Utd V Chelsea game with my son as a treat for his 18th Birthday.
We arrived at the ground nice and early and had a look around the shop and waited to "boo"" the Chelsea players off the coach before taking our seat, only to find we were seated right next to the Chelsea away fans section.
I thought we were in for a real treat with Lots of atmosphere and would be right in the heart of the exchanges between Man U and Chelsea fans.
As it turned out, Chelsea must have thought they were playing at home as the United fans sat in almost silence whilst the Chelsea fans sang their hearts out with a mixture of funny, rude, crude and insulting songs. They didn't stop singing from before the kick off to well after the match had ended.
Only in the second half when United scored did any form of chanting or singing begin from the United fans but it was all too little too late. Chelsea were the better team and deserved to win the match.
A football club is not just about the team, it is about the family! The fans, the management, the ground, the atmosphere, making your home ground a fortress by supporting your team with songs, cheers, chants and colours. Not sitting there like dummies as the opposition rip you apart!
I honestly felt ashamed of my team's support last Saturday, even the Chelsea fans were singing "Isn't it quiet in here?" and "Shall we sing a song for you?" How embarrassing is that?
Home fans should act as the 12th man and create an atmosphere that makes the opposition feel uncomfortable and give the home team that vital edge, particularly in a massive, potentially season defining game such as this.
The United fans were obviously not up for it and I believe that rubbed off on to the pitch.
I have been to Stamford Bridge several times over the past few seasons and their fans seem to sing constantly, it gives a real tight knit feel to the supporters and the players respond and show their appreciation at the end of the match.
For such a massive club with supposedly the biggest following in the world, where were the supporters when they needed them last Saturday?