Category Archives: English Football

Bangor City Football Club looking to trial safe standing next season

The Football Supporters Federation and the Safe Standing Roadshow gave an exhibition at Bangor City Football Club today that could shape the future of how spectators watch the game in Wales.

The Citizens welcomed the exhibition to Nantporth Stadium today as supporters, politicians and a number of people from the club’s hierarchy made the trip to see what was on offer to the club.

The focal point of the day was a demonstration of a new innovation called rail seats, which enable football stands to be converted from seating areas to standing areas with the turn of a key.

Rail seats, which are very popular in Germany are more durable and more compact than the plastic seats you’ll find at football grounds across Britain and meet all of the necessary safety regulations.

Safe Standing Roadshow representative Jon Darch demonstrated the product today and was adamant that whichever club used rail seats first would see a massive increase in media attention.

He said: ‘What I feel is that I’m very excited Bangor City seem so keen to be the very first club in the UK to install rail seats. If they are to do that, the media coverage they get will be out of this world,

‘All of these people will be here again but so will Sky, The BBC, ITV, all the papers – everyone will be here – there will be coverage for whoever it is and that coverage will be a huge benefit to any club.’

Bangor City FC Chairman Dilwyn Jones expressed his satisfaction with the exhibition and gave brief details with regards to when Bangor City fans might be able to expect this innovation at Nantporth.

‘Things have been moving very, very quickly since we moved to Nantporth with the 3G pitch finished now, and we’re hoping to have this safe-standing project done over the summer.’ He said.

Jones also outlined how the move to increase Nantporth’s capacity might be necessary sooner or later anyway due to the European footballing body’s regulations with regards to stadium capacities:

“We can hold around 1100 right now but we need 1500 by 2016/17 because at the moment the FAW are getting special dispensation from UEFA to reduce their regulations to 1000 seats,

‘One day UEFA are going to stop being so generous and we’re going to suffer for it if we haven’t sorted it out because we will have been benefiting from that dispensation for a long time.

Mr Jones made it clear that the club’s intentions are to have one stand prepared over the summer, but admitted that the stumbling block of another stand being built the following summer is funding:

‘It’s all down to funding, whether or not we do one side this summer and one side next summer. Grants are a struggle because stands don’t have a community benefit.’

Alun Pugh, former Welsh Assembly Sports Minister and current Welsh Labour candidate for Arfon was pleased but said if he were still Sports Minister he would want to be reassured of its safety.

He said: ‘Naturally, I would want to be convinced on the safety of this, especially since obviously we’re meeting in the week of when the Hillsborough inquest is taking place.

‘The presentation was a very powerful one and certainly the Bundesliga in Germany don’t take risks with the safety of their fans, where this system works, so yes I would like to see this made available.’

Mr Darch understood the comparisons with Hillsborough but said that its difficult to compare the two scenarios as where in some ways there may be links, in others there definitely aren’t:

‘It’s a new product – it is the introduction of a brand new form of standing which is a lot safer. I know in many ways Hillsborough and this are linked but in other ways they aren’t linked at all.

‘Clearly Hillsborough was failings of stadium maintenance and crowd management; not the fact that they were going into a standing area. People link the two things but in reality there is really no link.’

For more information on the Football Supporters’ Federation’s Safe Standing Campaign, click here and for more information on Bangor City Football Club you can find that here!

 

Ozil’s the fall guy for Arsenal boss Wenger

The Offside Rule

Gunners’ £42.5million recording signing Mesut Ozil has been widely criticised for failing to make an impact in big games this season but here, Jamie Thomas, makes a case for the defence …

Mesut Ozil has gone from winning trophies with Real Madrid to taking the flak at Arsenal. The German failed to make an impact on the big stage as the Gunners were humbled by Monaco in the Champions League, but he was hardly to blame for their capitulation.

By Arsene Wenger’s own admission, their defending was “suicidal”. Yet, afterwards, the Ozil critics were out in force. While failing to track back, sulking when dispossessed, and being anonymous in important games, are legitimate concerns, we have to consider the reasons why Arsenal’s record signing is not living up to his price tag.

In Ozil’s case, the stats may surprise you. He has improved his all-round defensive performance by 9 per…

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Five Things We Learned – Toure lifts Manchester City as Chelsea held by Burnley

The Offside Rule

By Jamie Thomas.

This week Jamie takes a look at a weekend during which Manchester City crushed Newcastle, Chelsea failed to grab three points against visitors Burnley, and managers Tim Sherwood and Chris Ramsey both suffered defeats at their new clubs.

  1. Tourific to have him back

Pundits hailed Wilfried Bony’s move to Manchester City because the champions seemingly needed reinforcements up front, having scored just three goals in their recent four-game winless run in the league.

But gaffer Manuel Pellegrini has lots of attacking talent at his disposal – it’s just that his men were rocked by an injury crisis and missing Yaya Toure, who was busy winning the African Cup of Nations. It was obvious how much of a loss the triumphant Ivorian hero had been as he was at the heart of everything in City’s 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle at the Etihad.

  1. Mind the gap, Mourinho!

Jose Mourinho is…

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5 Things We Learned – Manchester United slip while Arsenal & Tottenham steal the show

The Offside Rule

Jamie Thomas looks back at five things we can take away from the weekend’s derby double-header and other Premier League fixtures.

  1. Arsenal are their own worst enemies

Arsene Wenger was not wrong when he said Tottenham’s two goals were cheap. Harry Kane arrived at the back post to finish Mousa Dembele’s flick-on from a corner after Aaron Ramsey was caught napping.

Gunners goalie David Ospina later redeemed himself with a stunning double save from Nabil Bentaleb then Kane at 1-1. The keeper was like a wall at times yet, on occasions, he was infuriating because he just did not want to catch the ball.

Tottenham grafted in contrast to Arsenal after Mesut Ozil got the opener. They just didn’t have the same intensity which was epitomised by a tiring Kane, who worked tirelessly to worm his way between a lackadaisical Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal to nod in the winner.

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Blind faith: Why Daley is a key man for Louis Van Gaal at Manchester United

The Offside Rule

By Jamie Thomas.

He may be one of Manchester United’s cheapest signings of recent times, but versatile Dutch ace Daley Blind has shown his true worth at Old Trafford since joining for £13.8million from Ajax last September.

Although he’s not a player to fill up the stats sheet with goals, his significance to the United team has largely been overlooked until now. I’ve watched every game Daley’s played in that red shirt, and, let me tell you, he’s been crucial since day one.

But following another great performance in the engine room of United’s midfield during the weekend’s win over Leicester, no one can deny his emergence as a key man.

Former United star Gary Neville has criticised that sometimes he doesn’t send those searching balls forward that United fans have been used to from Paul Scholes or Michael Carrick over the years. While I take his point, I would…

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5 Things We Learned – Tottenham & Manchester United have stars whilst Arsenal have a headache

The Offside Rule

In the first of a new feature for the relaunched Offside Rule Podcast website, Jamie Thomas looks back at five things we can take away from the weekend’s Premier League fixtures.

  1. Kane is able for England

There are countless young England players who’ve been overhyped then failed to reach their expected potential. Earlier in the season, many were adding Tottenham’s Harry Kane to that list but we’ve been guilty of underestimating him. The 21-year-old striker’s been rewarded with a new five-year deal after netting 20 goals in all competitions this term.

Daniel Sturridge scored on his return for Liverpool and Raheem Sterling won another Man-of-the-Match award, while John Stones impressed for Everton and Luke Shaw’s finally finding his feet at Manchester United. England fans can start to feel a bit more optimistic about FA chairman Greg Dyke’s targets to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and win the World Cup…

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Should The FA be wary of backing Prince Ali in the FIFA presidential race?

The Offside Rule

By Jamie Thomas

Earlier this week the Football Association threw a spanner in the works of Sepp Blatter’s bid to remain Fifa president as sources announced they would be backing one of his main rivals. It was reported on Wednesday that the FA are set to give Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein of Jordan one of the five nominations he needs to stand against Blatter in May’s presidential election.

This is the same FA that has been among the leading voices criticising the present Fifa regime. Prince Ali, a Fifa vice-president himself, has long been critical of the current administration as well, making him a prime candidate to earn the backing of the FA.

Whether or not the FA are supporting him because they believe in his vision of an ethical and transparent organisation, or because they want to put as many people as possible in a position to challenge Blatter (with…

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EXCLUSIVE: Women’s Football the focus of Next Policy; Confidence in Team Ginola Growing

FIFA Presidential Candidate David Ginola this morning announced that his second of nine policies designed to change the way FIFA is run will be based on bringing equality to the women’s game.

Speaking exclusively to me before his TV appearances this morning, David Ginola said ‘We have some great policies – the first one being the tax equality and the next one is regarding equality with women’s football’.

Having committed to announcing a policy a day until the January 29th nomination deadline, Ginola yesterday announced a proposal to scrap benefits that FIFA use to avoid paying full tax in countries where World Cup tournaments are hosted.

Today the ex-Spurs winger is expected to announce a proposal that will bring the stature of the women’s game in line with that of the men’s by bringing the Olympic structure into football and combining men’s and women’s World Cup tournaments into one event.

Publicity Stunt:

Following criticism of his campaign from some circles who argue that being sponsored by Bookmakers, Paddy Power, is a gimmick, Ginola was keen to reiterate the integrity of his cause.

‘It is important to know where we are going and important to let people know where we stand on these key issues. We are absolutely for real – it is not a stunt at all’ He said.

Ginola faces a tough task to qualify for the election given the risks attached to supporting his cause and the support that other candidates are known to have for their campaigns; he is struggling at this early stage to meet any of the criteria that would make him an eligible candidate.

Reason for Optimism:

  • The Frenchman, however detailed that there have been some developments recently in gaining the crucial support from the five Football Associations he needs for his campaign to be eligible to progress to the final election in May.
  • ‘We have spoken to a few Associations actually. A few have contacted us and we’ve contacted a few ourselves. We need their support and we will have some definite answers on that in the coming days’ He said.
  • ‘The confidence is coming along as our policies come out. We need to carry on unveiling our great ideas and assure people that if I become president of FIFA those ideas will be implemented’ He added.

Welsh Backing?

Ginola was campaigning in Cardiff yesterday evening in a FA Wales tracksuit – a move that sources say has angered the FAW who insist that, beyond allowing him to take his coaching courses in the country, they have no plans to support him.

‘Just to have their support would be nice but to have that support you need to believe in something and I hope they’re going to believe in me, in what we’re saying, what we want to change but I am very realistic’ Ginola said of the Welsh FA.

With the Welsh FA’s support or without it, the Frenchman has just over a week to win over the financial and political support he needs but is confident that it will come.

‘Once the first one joins the cause then the others might feel more confident in joining us too. We only need five to carry on the campaign and that is what is important because this campaign needs to go forward’.

‘This is the people’s campaign and if we’re going to be successful at the end it is going to be because the people decided that David Ginola is going to be their candidate and I hope I can make the people proud’ Ginola added.

You can follow David Ginola’s campaign on Twitter via @TeamGinola or pledge support, donate or keep up to date via teamginola.com

They’ve been Fantastic with me and I’ve really enjoyed it! – Wayne Hennessey on life at Crystal Palace

Just under a year after signing on the dotted line for Crystal Palace, Wales’ goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey spoke very fondly about his experiences at the South-East London club so far.

The former Wolves stopper has been in stunning form for the Welsh national side recently but is struggling to dislodge Julian Speroni from the Palace XI, Hennessey insists though that he is enjoying being back in England’s top division.

“It’s always nice to be back in the Premier League – for myself it’s good because obviously I’ve had my time at Wolves and they were in League One and things weren’t going well with me getting an injury but everyone here has been fantastic with me so yeah I’ve really enjoyed it.

“At the moment obviously I’m not playing but Julian Speroni is doing really well, the team is playing really well – hopefully we can get a few more points on the board and push on now”.

When the Welsh Stopper signed for Crystal Palace back in January he cited the fact that he wanted more playing time as a reason for the move but today noted that he wasn’t frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“It’s just part of goalkeeping. There’s only one spot isn’t there so it’s never going to be easy! The important thing is that I’m ready to step in but Speroni isn’t making any mistakes at the moment though so he deservedly keeps the shirt!”

It is clear to see from speaking to the Welshman that he and his Argentinian counterpart have a great relationship “He’s 35 years old but he’s in better shape than me I reckon! He could go for longer than me! He’s a legend, a great guy to know and a top goalkeeper”.

Hennessey has become part of somewhat of a Welsh Revolution at Palace as when he signed for the club Danny Gabbidon and Jonny Williams were playing for The Eagles before Joe Ledley followed Hennessey to sign a deadline day deal.

“Well I spoke to Joe and he was in negotiations with Palace too at the time and obviously I knew Gabbs – have done for years – they’re both just great guys to have around”.

When I was having my medical I was on the phone to Joe and we were saying how much we were looking forward to joining the club – plus it’s always nice to get a few Welshmen in the building!”

Despite being only 27-years-old, the Welsh Number 1 has been making a name for himself in football since he was a teenager at Wolves back in the mid-2000s. Hennessey was keen to express how much he’s enjoyed his career to date:

“I had some fantastic times for Wolves and I am approaching fifty caps for Wales at a very young age so I’m really happy with how everything has gone so far!”

I’ve not set any goals for the future because it’s very difficult to know what is around the corner so I’m just taking it day by day right now and I’m really enjoying it! Especially with Wales – I’m so happy with how we’re doing right now!”

Hennessey travels up north with the Eagles today as he and his teammates take on champions Manchester City in the early kick-off on BT Sport! Follow the side’s progress via the club Twitter feed – @CPFC

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FIFA Report causes mass uproar.

The Offside Rule

By Jamie Thomas

As I’m sure you’ve heard, FIFA released their long-awaited report investigating the legality of the bidding process for the 2018/2022 World Cups and, to say the least, it has caused quite a stir.

The report cleared Qatar and Russia – although admitting there might have been attempts to bend the rules – of any wrongdoing and in a shocking turn of events, pointed the finger firmly at England, the USA and Australia with regards to their conduct in the voting process.

It is fair to say that a number of high-profile figures involved in English football, whether in a journalistic capacity or within the game itself, are flabbergasted.

Read on to find our analysis of the 42-page report!

FIFA dismiss Michael Garcia's report. FIFA dismiss Michael Garcia’s report.

FIFA’s Investigative Powers

Before looking at the report and its reliability it’s worth outlining that FIFA themselves do mention frequently that there is a…

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