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  • Lawrence Bailey

The week the beautiful game turned ugly

It’s said that the demise of the UK retail sector can be traced back to when large chunks of the industry started to get bought up by characters who knew nothing about trading but a great deal about making money. Most who follow football reckoned that much the same dynamic was at work with the emergence of a proposed European Super League last weekend. The negative reaction during the next few days over a seeming fait-accompli was fairly predictable. What was unprecedented however was the widespread scale of criticism from some very senior sources.

Even the government got dragged in, no doubt delighted by the prospect of having something to distract attention from sleaze allegations and whatnot.

In the fast moving game of attack and counter-attack that followed, all six English clubs had withdrawn from the deal by Tuesday night and suddenly it was all over.

Mind you, the issues behind the ruckus remain unresolved. Football is in big trouble, both on and off the field, and while the only solution from a supporter perspective is to find some irrational magnate willing to buy your club and spend cash endlessly without demur then nothing much will change.

It’s no accident that a handful of the guys behind the ill-fated euro-scheme have shared roots in the gilt-edge commercial world that controls American football (NFL) franchises – where costs are far better controlled and players’ salaries are capped.

All that may offend the purists, but there are those who argue that the Premiership is already a two tier league where half the fixtures tend to be a mis-match unless one side is having an off-day.

As for the claimed need to “maintain the competitive spirit”, I for one could have done with a few flashes of that ethos during the recent FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Man City.

The business consensus is that the people behind the project mis-timed matters and that a better selling job will be needed next time around. Because be in no doubt; it will come around again.

As ex-player John Barnes contends, all that has been won by opponents of a super league is a continuation of the status quo – and one that can’t be sustained.

Or put another way, you can only kick to touch for so long.


How to get the election result you deserve

OK, I’ll start with the news that if you haven’t yet registered to vote then it’s too late now.

Moving on, you will now be voting for who runs the “Senedd” instead of the “Assembly” and the hybrid proportional voting system favoured in Wales is as unfathomable as ever.

Besides the mainstream contenders there is a double-figure total of fringe parties, not to mention a host of independents. So no complaints please about a lack of choice.

Of course, the impact of so much competition for constituency and regional seats is that ballot paper is roughly the length of a medieval scroll.

Just to add to the fun, you will also be choosing a Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales plus there’s the possibility of a council by-election going on in your locality too.

I’m not going to urge you to vote. You have a perfect right to abstain. It could be a close-run contest but one thing is certain: if you choose to stay at home then you will definitely get the result you deserve.


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