Category Archives: FIFA

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!

 

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Anglesey Assembly Member strongly opposes Team GB Proposal

Rhun ap Iorwerth today criticised the English FA’s attempts to form a Team GB football team for the 2016 Olympics as something that ‘threatens the independence of our FAs’.

The GB football team at the 2012 Olympics was pitched as a one off, but still caused outrage as Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland saw the move as a threat to their independent status.

The emergence of a possible team for 2016 has seen the FA come under fire for organising the proposal with the British Olympic Association without the consent of the other three nations.

Rhun ap Iorweth expressed his disappointment with The FA’s actions: ‘I am disappointed the English FA would do this. We were told at the 2012 Olympics that a Team GB football team was a one off.

‘The FAW and SFA made it quite clear in 2012 that they were opposed to it but here the English FA are now going into 2016 and surprise, surprise they want a Team GB again.’

FAW President Trefor Lloyd Hughes added: ‘The BOA should be more open and transparent. It’s supposed to be the British Olympic Association not the English Olympic Association.

‘I am absolutely gutted with the English FA. If they want to work with us they have to be more open with us and they don’t seem to be keeping to agreements. I’m livid about it.’

Mr ap Iorwerth noted that although assurances have been given by FIFA that joining forces for the Olympics wouldn’t threaten each country’s status, the implications of a GB Team are huge.

‘This taps into a much bigger debate about national identity. We have a great, longstanding tradition of our teams playing independently of each other and against each other. ‘Frankly I think we should make sure we aren’t in a position where we undermine in anyway the integrity or the independence of our own football associations,’ He added.

The ex-journalist said that as well as the discussions that are known to be on-going between the home nations now on this matter, the public and politicians have a role to play in proceedings.

‘Politicians have a role because at the end of the day some of us are football fans and if we can use our platform to bring attention to the issue and help in any way then we have a responsibility to do so.’

The reaction to this issue in Wales particularly has been very anti-Team-GB, as many high-profile figures have criticised the proposal, but some have used the British and Irish Lions as an example of how this could work.

Mr ap Iorweth acknowledges that point but outlines the key differences: ‘I support the British and Irish Lions but the situation is totally different as there is a lot more respect to each country.

‘You only have to look at the badge to see that – each country is fairly represented. As well as that, it is a specialised tournament that is played every four years and selects players from each nation.’

The Plaid Cymru AM also referred to home nation cricket teams as an example of the disrespect that Wales could receive if it were to become part of a Team GB.

Having noted on his Twitter feed that he felt Wales could’ve qualified for the group stages of the Cricket World Cup, Mr ap Iorwerth said to me: ‘The situation regarding cricket is quite disrespectful to Wales I think.

‘What is officially abbreviated to ECB is actually the Wales and England Cricket board, and when the team plays they are only referred to as England which is totally disrespectful to Wales.’ He added.

This morning saw rumours emerge in the Daily Telegraph that the FA’s proposal was in tatters as Wales and Northern Ireland have again taken a strong stance on the issue.

It is unclear whether or not the rumours have any substance but, given Trefor Lloyd Hughes’ insistence that it would be difficult to block the FA, expect this debate to develop in the coming months.

 

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

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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A Full Transcript of my Interview with the FAW President

As promised, here is the full transcript from my interview with the President of the Welsh Football Association! It is a long read but the insight you’ll get from it means it is definitely worth spending a few minutes on! Thank you again to Mr Hughes for being good enough to give me such an interview and I hope to have many opportunities to speak to him again in the future! 🙂


Jamie Thomas: First thing’s first – its been just over two years since you took over as president of the Welsh FA. Has it been an enjoyable experience?

Trefor Lloyd Hughes: The experience as a whole has been one based on meeting many people to discuss the game in Wales – its been an experience of some plusses and some disappointments along the way, as is any experience in life. It has been hard work, very hard work. I don’t think people understand or realise just how hard the job is and how much is involved – from my role, right down to the council members of the Welsh FA. What I’ve tried to do so far is to get people looking into the future a bit more, not just the next two or three years but the next ten to fifteen years and beyond that! I’ve tried to change the governance of the Welsh FA in dealing with how to move forward in this regard but it is a very difficult thing to do. Change is essential but it is a long process and mistakes are going to be made – I believe we’re making the right changes but if they don’t work then we have to fall on our swords and go back to the drawing board.

JT: Looking back through your past work there doesn’t seem to be a role you haven’t filled somewhere in Welsh football at some point in your career, as well as your long service with the Welsh ambulance service – it must bring you great pride to find yourself now successfully filling the most important role in Welsh football mustn’t it?

TLH: There’s no doubt about that – you’ve hit it on the head. I’m so privileged to be leading my country in the football world and I’m hopefully leading well. I am showing people in Europe, I am showing people across the world even, that we have a country called Wales. It is a small nation. It is a small association compared to England, Germany, France and Italy but we are in the forefront of the game and we do have a say in deciding the rules and deciding upon some of the key issues in the game. I think it is a situation where people don’t realise how much Wales is involved in the game across the world.

JT: I remember in the middle of last summer, amidst all the drama of the confederations cup in Brazil, you were in Wales and on the verge of choosing to give up your role as president – it seemed, from the outside, like a turbulent start to your tenure as a president. What has changed since then for you because obviously its been a long time since then and you’re still in charge and you still seem to be enjoying the job?

TLH: Yes you’re right I was seriously thinking of resigning. It was a difficult situation – I called a meeting in mid-Wales and made sure all of the council members were in attendance to look at the events surrounding Barry Town at that time, if you remember, because there was more evidence which we needed to look at. We went all the way there and started the meeting but in the end standing orders wouldn’t be lifted and, to me, that was the biggest disaster in Welsh Football in my time because the Welsh FA only lost that case because we hadn’t looked at all of the evidence. It was a stupid decision. But there we are, and since then obviously one of my main motivations is to work within the FA and make sure that we change the way that we’re looking at these things and it is coming along slowly, but it is a slow, slow process indeed.

JT: Considering you were so close to quitting, its been a pretty stunning 18 months or so since for the Association and Welsh football since hasn’t it? Hosting the European Super Cup, having a Welsh Champions League final winner, putting a bid forward for Euro 2020 with England as well as constantly being mentioned as potential Champions League final or Europa League final hosts – it’s a good job for the Association and football in the country that you stayed on! What are your thoughts on what has transpired in the last 18 months since that period of uncertainty that you had?

TLH: The Chief Executive, Jonathon Ford, has been in the forefront with all of this and I’ve backed him all the way to be honest with you. With the Super Cup we put Wales, as I said earlier, in the forefront to the UEFA executive members when making the decision as to where to host this year’s Super Cup – they thought our organisation of our bid went really well. Even only yesterday, I was in Poland and people like this were saying how much they enjoyed themselves in Wales – part of my job isn’t just the footballing side of it but it is promoting the country as a whole as well! As far as the rest of it goes, such as the 2020 bid, we’ll know next Friday what happens with that and I’m looking forward to that decision. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get it – we’ve put everything into this. We’ve had good support from the Welsh Assembly government, Arriva Trains, Bus companies – you name it. Everyone has been very supportive but the real jewel in the crown for us is the Millenium Stadium – that is the big plus point.

JT: One last question about you and your role if that’s ok before we move onto talking about the teams briefly. Most of the achievements that I mentioned in my previous question were based on South Wales and the wonderful facilities we’re able to provide in that part of Wales. What I’m keen to know is, given that the likes of Cardiff and Swansea are the pinnacle of Welsh domestic football right now (despite plying their trade in the Premier League) do you think it’s realistic that we can ever see that standard of football up in the north, and if so what has to be done to make that happen do you think?

TLH: The only one really we have up in the north at the moment that can hope to achieve that standard is obviously Wrexham but they’ve been going through a lot of troubles recently which is very unfortunate. But there’s only two people fighting more than me to bring internationals back to Wrexham and those two people are North Wales members. I’m trying very hard to get international friendlies played again in the North and was speaking to Chris (Coleman) just a couple of days ago about bringing the squad up to North Wales to do some training sessions. My hope is, knowing Chris pretty well, is to get Chris and the side up to Anglesey to train. The three European trophies have recently been brought up to North Wales to bring more publicity to Anglesey and the north of Wales – I’m very appreciative of my roots and want to bring publicity to the north and Anglesey if I can. I’d love to get Wrexham done up and back to the standard they were at before but at the moment it is going to cost a lot of money!

JT: You’ve been working at the FAW for 25 years now and in that time they haven’t once qualified for a major tournament, although they’ve come close a couple of times. Do you think Euro 2016 is the best chance in your tenure so far that Wales are going to have of qualifying for a major tournament? What do you make of the group Wales have been given? Qualification is definitely achievable isn’t it?

TLH: Nobody knows in the game of football. Who would have thought that Paul Bodin would have missed that penalty against Romania back in 1994? And the handball that Joe Jordan did? That absolutely gutted us! I was there then. We were so, so close but that is the game of football. I think that we have a good team and as long as we have a good footballing surface, unlike the one in Andorra, then I think we can do well. I like the stadium in Andorra and in time, once it is completed it will be a very homely stadium and I would like to see it in about ten years’ time when it is built up and everything as I’m sure it’ll look great. We’ve got a good chance of qualifying, yes, but the support is crucial. We had absolutely great support in Andorra and if we can get that for every game then it’ll be a great boost to the team. We offer great deals on home tickets now where you can get tickets for all five home games for a combined £75 for an adult or just £18 for senior citizens or under-16s.

JT: Do you still believe Chris Coleman is the man to take this team forward? I personally think he’s doing a decent job but I remember you giving him a vote of confidence just over a year ago – a sentiment which has spelt the end was near for some managers in the past but Chris is still in the job so I guess you must be happy about how he’s doing?

TLH: I know Chris very well, perhaps more as a friend than as a manger but I do have to treat him as a manager. He is very passionate for the game and is passionate about Wales – only time will tell whether or not he is the right man. In football you are always going to have your detractors but that is part of football at the highest level – you have to accept criticism, as long as it is justifiable. But again, people just do not understand how hard it is to do our jobs and what this involved within the game

JT: I gather you were in Andorra on Tuesday? What did you think of the performance the team gave, given that the pitch was pretty shambolic? Are you happy about having to play on that pitch, given that this is a competition at the highest level of international football?

TLH: There is no doubt in my mind that it was a shambles as far as the pitch was concerned. I think it was on our players’ minds that we were on a bad pitch and that didn’t help. We shouldn’t have played on it really – if we’d have waited two weeks it might have been better because the pitch needed to have a bit of rain on it just to help it settle down and I think in that case it would have been a different game. I think Gareth and Aaron would have been much happier, Joe did a pretty good job whereas Ashley and Ben did a great job at the back. Gareth and Aaron couldn’t play the kind of game they wanted to play because of that pitch but we got the result and that is what is important. The problem now is that if this pitch is rained on in the next few weeks it will settle down, as I’ve just said, and might be a different prospect for the other teams going there and in that case it will definitely be much easier for teams to play the way they want to, so we’re at a bit of a disadvantage but again that is football.

JT: Obviously when you came in to the FAW back in the late 80s we had a pretty formidable team with some great individual talents – are we seeing today though some two of the greatest talents ever to grace Welsh football in Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey? Its surely one of those rare times where our two best players are better than England’s two best players.

TLH: Well all of these players come from different eras so it is difficult to compare. I think extremely highly of players gone by such as the Neville Southall’s, the Giggsy’s and the Ian Rush’s and the Sparky’s – who I think was one of the most brilliant players in the way he managed to control the ball. I like all of these players but I’m well aware of the current players’ talents. Gareth Bale for instance, I think he has the talent to be at the top of the world game for the next four to six years – there is no doubt in my mind about that. In the Super Cup I saw him at the trophy presentation and he saw me and came over and grabbed me. We had a quick conversation and he seems to be very happy with the way things are going for him right now. He’s a very genuine man and very talented in the game of football.

JT: When you eventually do decide to call it a day in this job, of which you’ve done so well so far, what do you want to have achieved? What do you want to be considered as your legacy? Obviously I’ve mentioned a few things earlier that Welsh football has accomplished under your leadership but is there one thing in particular you want to achieve before you call it a day?

TLH: My legacy, it is very interesting because someone asked me a similar question last week. I hope my legacy can be that I’ve put Wales in the forefront of football in the world. I also hope I can help people realise that there have to be changes – I think I have helped start those changes but all I have managed to do in my time is put the foundations down for someone else to come along after me and take what I, along with other people, have started and build up from there. I thank everyone who has given me the opportunity to be in such a prestigious position as the President of the FAW but be assured that I have not forgotten my roots – my feet are firmly on the ground!


 

A Chance Meeting with the President of the Welsh Football Association!

As any journalist will know, starting out in this industry can be exceptionally difficult! If you don’t have an established publication or broadcaster behind you it can be very hard to get people’s attention, no matter how persistent you are! This is something I have found out in the last few months! I’ve tried talking to lord knows how many people and have only turned about a quarter/a third of them into anything worth shouting about.

Having struggled persistently to get a conversation with anyone in Welsh Football, I decided to change tack and look a bit closer to home and managed to get an interview with the President of the FAW, Mr Trefor Lloyd Hughes. Having been raised in the same area as me and one who is consistently talking up that area at any opportunity, I felt I had a good shot of getting an interview with one of the most highly respected people in Welsh Football. Read on to find an article I wrote based on my hour long chat with him (a full, unedited, transcript of our interview shall follow this in a separate post)!


“I’m so Priviliged” says FAW President

Recently celebrating his 25th year at the Football Association of Wales and the second anniversary of his appointment as FAW President, Trefor Lloyd Hughes spoke to me about how he’s found the role so far.

It has been a long journey from the Anglesey League to the top of the Welsh game – however, having recently returned from Andorra, Mr Hughes was keen to express his happiness in the role.

“I’m so privileged to be leading my country in the football world and I’m hopefully leading well. I’m showing people in Europe, I’m showing people across the world even, that we have a country called Wales.”

Mr Hughes argued that recent times had shown how well Wales could compete with other, bigger countries and footballing associations across Europe.

“I think it is a situation where people don’t realise how much Wales is involved in the game across the world.”

“In hosting the European Super Cup this summer we put Wales in the forefront to the UEFA executive members when making the decision as to where to host this year’s Super Cup – they thought the organisation of our bid went really well.”

The former FAW treasurer also thought there was reason to be optimistic about what the future holds for Welsh football with the verdict regarding Cardiff’s bid for hosting Euro 2020 matches coming soon.

“We’ll know this Friday what happens with that and I’m looking forward to that decision. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get it – we’ve put everything into this.”

“We’ve had good support from the Welsh Assembly government, transport companies – you name it. Everyone has been very supportive but the real jewel in our crown is the Millennium Stadium – that is the big plus point.”

The FAW President conceded though that it hasn’t been an easy role to fill as he went into detail regarding nearly resigning after his first six months of leading the Association.

“The Barry Town situation, to me, was the biggest disaster in Welsh Football in my time because the Welsh FA only lost that case because we hadn’t looked at all of the evidence. It was a stupid decision.”

The Barry Town situation saw Mr Hughes call his councillors down to Mid-Wales to discuss new evidence in the case to lift the standing orders against Barry Town and allow them to continue at Welsh League level but some councillors didn’t even want to discuss it.

“I was seriously thinking of resigning due to that situation, however since then my main motivation has been to work within and change the FA to stop these situations arising again!”

Change was a word that kept popping up as Mr Hughes discussed the difficulties he faced in the role and what needed to be done moving forward.

“Change is essential but it is a long process and mistakes are going to be made – I believe we’re making the right changes but if they don’t work then we have to fall on our swords and go back to the drawing board.”

A change that will surely excite many football fans in the North of Wales was the FAW President’s eagerness to bring international football back to Wrexham.

“I’m trying very hard to get international friendlies played again in the North and was speaking to Chris (Coleman) just a couple of days ago about bringing the squad up to North Wales to do some training sessions.”

“The three European trophies have recently been brought up to North Wales to bring more publicity to Anglesey and the north of Wales – I’m very appreciative of my roots and want to bring publicity to the north and Anglesey if I can.”

On the subject of the men’s national squad, Mr Hughes was bullish about their chances of qualifying for the 2016 European Championships in France.

“I think that we have a good team – I think we can do well. We’ve got a good chance of qualifying but the support is crucial. We had absolutely great support in Andorra – if we can get that for every game then it’ll be a great boost to the team.”

Unsurprisingly, Mr Hughes had nothing but good words to say about Welsh Football’s latest superstar – Gareth Bale as our interview neared its conclusion.

“Gareth Bale for instance, I think he has the talent to be at the top of the world game for the next four to six years – there is no doubt in my mind about that.”

“In the Super Cup I saw him at the trophy presentation and he saw me and came over and grabbed me. We had a quick conversation and he seems to be very happy with the way things are going for him right now.”

With just under a year left in his current role at the FAW, Mr Hughes was keen to close the interview showing his appreciation for the opportunity he had been given.

“I thank everyone who has given me the opportunity to be in such a prestigious position as the President of the FAW but be assured that I have not forgotten my roots – my feet are firmly on the ground!”