The Trojan Horse of Gam£ 39

HANDS up who fancies doing one extra shift of their job for a whopping £10,000 windfall. Just one shift. All expenses paid. One. In Dubai. Or Florida. Or Manila. Money for old rope. You can see why the cash-blinded turkeys were persuaded to vote for Christmas. I’d be there like a shot with the laptop, clicking away like crazy and no mistake.
But it is not going to happen. The Gazette are not going to pay me ten grand to do a colour piece on Boro v Everton in Pheonix – mainly because the aggressive Gam£ 39 global product placement will never happen, not as part of any normal Premier League matchday programme anyway. The political and logical objections and hurdles of sporting integrity will prevent the charade of a travelling circus. But that is not really what the Trojan Horse proposal is about.
The proposals, and the white noise of hysteria from supporters, are a smokescreen for other pernicious money making ventures in which clubs like Boro will not get to share.


After the initial jaw-dropping incredulity at the stupidity, greed and arrogance of the Premier League plans to trample over national boundaries and crush weaker football federations in pursuit of the satellite subscriptions of Man U fans from Sydney to Singapore, a more coherent opposition is starting to form. The money men at individual clubs, Riverside kingpin Keith Lamb included, are doing their best to spin it as a boon for the game and for their threadbare coffers – that is their primary job after all – but no one is buying it.
Fans were swift to mashall the arguments and organise an impressive internet campaign to concentrate their fire through the Football Supporters Federation’s razor sharp ‘No To Gam£ 39‘ platform, the intended host federations have rightly declined to capitulate to the sporting imperialism of the Murdoch machine, FIFA have frowned sternly like a foot-tapping parent foiling a sneaky dip in the biscuit barrel and even the former airline chief who drew up the controversial expansion plan has now admitted that the hostile reaction has left it holed below the waterline.
And the plan looks dead and buried after unlikely hero Sepp Blatter waded in to slap down the Premier League, clearly feeling they were muscling in on his monopoly of loopy marketing schemes and outlandish unworkable policies dreamt up on the hoof.
But for me this has never been about a realistic proposal. It has been a neat stepover designed to bamboozle supporters, intending to wind them up so they lose sight of the ball. For me this is a political prestdigitation. The end game here is not a round of games with low bums on seats potential, basement battlers and humdrum outfit halfway up the table. This is not about serving up Wigan v Boro or Bolton v Portsmouth for the delight of Beckham barmy Bangkok.
No, the end game here is a brand building roadshow that can take Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal into new markets, building exciting new revenue streams by promoting in the flesh teams that for billions exist only through internet streaming and PPV.
Take this gem from Bernie Ecdclestone today. The man who has made Formula One a global 200mph advertising hoarding (and who coincidentally has just taken a slice of QPR) believes that while boring, boring Boro may be hard to sell – no matter what Keith Lamb says – he would have no problem marketing the big boys.

“The current idea the Premier League is putting forward isn’t very good. They probably wouldn’t find it very easy to convince someone in Singapore to have Wigan playing somebody over there. I can’t see a promoter going for that. But if somebody said to me today ’what would you do?’, I’d have the top four clubs who are known worldwide and I’d want them playing six matches against each other in a mini-league.

“I’d run it completely separately and export it to whoever wanted to buy it. Nothing to do with anything. Not sharing the money with any of the rest of the league or anything like that.I would be very happy to enter into a contract with those four clubs to run in six events if I could put the events where I wanted to put them.â€?

That is somewhere closer to the truth. What we have is the classic political manouvere of proposing a draconian and radical measure that goes beyond the pale and provokes an outrage before climbing down and settling for a reasonable compromise. Like proposing 90 days detention without charge before settling for 28, smiling that you have smashed all existing legal constraints and precedent to go beyond the established norm of seven days.
A reasonable compromise? Well how about the Premier League promise to scrap the notion of an extra round of games and the idea of competitive games abroad? How about instead they go for a gap in fixtures – let’s make it around Christmas to chime with calls for a Winter Break and win brownie points with FIFA and UEFA for synchronising the international calendar? How about they allow those clubs who want to go and play a non-competitive game abroad do so? And what if they gave the clubs that didn’t a slice of the TV rights cash raised by the extra game?
What could be more reasonable?
It would be a win-win-win situation: the fans are pacified by not having to traipse to Tashkent to keep up their 100% competitive game attendance record; sporting integrity (as if that can exist in a cash distorted league) is maintained; the Boro’s of this world get enhanced TV revenue without any hassle; UEFA get their winter break to answer charges of burn-out; the big four get to do low risk gigs in emerging markets; the TV companies get glamour games to shift advertising in hot house economies… you know it makes sense.
Yes, we must oppose Gam£ 39, but let us also be aware of the machinations going on behind the smoke and mirrors. Let us be wary of any ‘reasonable compromise’ that hands even more of our game – and the money – over to the PLC FCs and the circus ringmasters.

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32 thoughts on “The Trojan Horse of Gam£ 39

  1. I’m watching with great interest the positioning of the media on the matter of Gam£39.
    Mirror Group Newspapers – and Never Happy has picked up on Oliver Holt’s scathing article – are taking a dimmer view than the News Intenational media outlets on this. I wonder why that might be?
    Never have I seen Sky Sports so quick to put an article sourced from Boro up as a headline as tonight on the Lamb positioning on Gam£39!
    See – it’s THAT easy to get Sky headlines. Just say what they want to publicise – whatever supports their strategic aims – and you’ll find yourself more popular and newsworthy than you ever imagined your small unfashionable industrial town club could ever have expected to be!
    How ashamed I feel that such support came from here!
    I guess Lamb’s playing a different game to the one that we want!
    Begs the question does it not??
    **AV writes: Moved from another thread

  2. I couldn’t help but contrast the position of Mohammad bin Hammam, President of the Asian Football Confederation with that of Richard Scudamore and Keith Lamb.
    “We’ll vote strongly against it,” Hammam told BBC Radio 5 Live. “The Premier League are putting money before responsibility and dignity. As far as Asia is concerned, I’m not supportive of this initiative.”
    “I appreciate, for example, if the Premier League want to play in Darfur, Somalia or East Timor where they can act as peace makers.”
    Yeh right! Manchester United and Arsenal in a Premier League decider in Khartoum!
    What does this tell us about the relative values in our cultures? One talks about responsibility, dignity and implies respect for the people, the other is focussed solely on how much additional money can be clawed in. What the hell have we become in Western “civilisation”?
    This is the wrong way round….isn’t it?????
    **AV writes: Those who see football entirely as a business will naturally want it to emulate the strategies and dynamics of other businesses: that is, expansion of markets and globalisation – and crucially, the crushing of smaller emerging rivals in other markets to scoop up all the available revenue.
    That is what global capitalism does.
    The internet Man U juggernaut is already a threat to the financial viability of teams in Thialand/Malaysia/Oz. The prospect of a high-profile product placement on their doorstep would be a disaster.
    For Asian and African federations not to oppose it would be stupid to th point of suicidal.

  3. Let us give some credit to Gate and the team, back in October/November my view was that it was the players we already had on the books who would get us out of the dirty brown stuff. And so they have and lets hope the good work continues.
    My other prognostication was that any reinforcements from the Window or Mido returning from injury/Cup of nations would not kick in until the Liverpool match at the earliest. Looks like I got that bit wrong as we are talking another month for Midriff and Alves to get fit. So carry on lads.
    Back to the 39th match. Clearly the world bodies are not leaping up and down celebrating the prospect of the premier league visiting. It will be interesting to see their stances when the satelite broadcasters come knocking at their doors.
    The latest rich list shows the effect of broadcasting spondoolies with Spurs and Toon in the world top 20 without being in the champions league or winning trophies. It will be like a premier league table when the next tranche of money hits the club coffers.
    It is getting worse as money influences the decisions. For the clubs like Bolton and Boro we are faced with the dilemna of linking ourselves to the money merry go round or making a stand. There is the two edged sword of collective TV negotiations where all get some cake but the biggest slices go to the top clubs. Then the there is the possibility of individual negotiations which caused great problems in Italy, in Spain it resulted in Madrid’s huge leap up the rich list to the top but tough on the minnows.
    Rock and a hard place.
    At least we have an FA Cup tie to look forward to with a bumper turn out from boro fans.

  4. AV, I dont get this game 39 proposal.
    From my understanding, they are wanting to do it to make thee premer league a global brand, ok fair enough but then why add in the end about wanting the top 4 to not break away??
    Another reason I dont get it, only for about the last however long sven was in charge of england, they were talking and thinking about cutting the league down to 18 teams, now they want to play extra games, why make it just one game, why not 2?
    So im happy to play an extra 2 games a season but why waste all this money going abroad, for me they shold promote an extra team from the championship.
    Keith lamb says the money factor is why he is behind it as an xtra £5m will be useful as he cant keep going to SG wth a begging bowl each year.
    Fair enough keith, can I just ask ave you thought of the other financial implications of this scheme?
    If boro are drawn as the home team overseas, I do believe that season tcket holders pay to see all home league games, cup games are extra. Are middlesbrough willing to pay for 25k fans to travel overseas to see a home league game they have paid for or will they breach the terms of the season tickets?
    Have they considered the fans? The answer is no, they seem to think they can survive without us, if this was the case then surely viduka (and his half the gate recipt wages) would still be here as the fans wouldnt be paying for him!
    Finally, what is Mr Lambs thought on relegation as this will cost more than they will make playing abroad.
    What happens if after 38 games we are on say 38 points in 17th place &the team below are on 36, they win & we loose the 39th game, therefore they climb above us and we go down! will he still feel it was a good idea then?

  5. Mido has ballooned with his injury as a perfect excuse.
    He needs to get some stick to give something to prove.
    I propose a full length rendition of the Bad Manners- Buster Bloodvessel song ‘LIP UP FATTY.
    This one’s for you Mido as I think you are all talk.
    (Chorus):
    Lip up fatty, ah lip up fatty, for the reggae,
    Lip up fatty, ah lip up fatty, for the reggae,
    Listen to the music, shuffle up your feet,
    Listen to the music of the fatty beat.
    (Chorus)
    Moving with the rhythm, sweating with the heat,
    Moving with the rhythm of the fatty beat.
    (Chorus):
    Lip up fatty, ah lip up fatty, for the reggae,
    Trumpeet.
    (Chorus)
    Listen to the music, shuffle up your feet,
    Listen to the music of the fatty beat.
    (Chorus):
    Lip up fatty, ah lip up fatty, for the reggae,
    Trumpeet.
    (Chorus)
    (Chorus)
    Lip up fatty, ah lip up fatty, for the reggae,
    Don’t call me fat man,
    Lip up fatty, ah lip up fatty, for the reggae,
    Fat man don’t like you.
    **AV writes: In an affectionate way of course.

  6. I think the next step is to get Celtic and Rangers into the prem this would bring in tw0 full houses to every prem club. Maybe the other Scotish teams must be integrated in the other leagues on position in their various leagues.I know thats not easy but i believe both leagues would benefit with added revenue.
    After a few years of that then a super Euro league is inevetable as the top three or four pull away finacialy surely thats the future.Being unlucky to draw a top three side three times could mean relegation or staying up what do you think.

  7. As AV moved my last post I now know how a national journo works on Boro matches. Writes his report (post) in advance and the editor just adds it to whichever match (blog) comes next. A bit like Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy – the answer is 42, what is the question?
    Having read the thread after I posted it brought back a recurring theme about midwinter breaks in our game.
    We have posted regularly that the big clubs will go on warm weather training, oddly it will be where their marketing push is going to be. They will, of course, need to keep in trim so will have to play a few practice matches. Luckily there will be other big clubs who just happened to be in the same warm weather destination.
    It certainly doesnt need a great leap of faith to see formalised mini leagues with us on the outside looking in.
    No doubt we will have the Carling Cup to ourselves but it will be even more devalued than now. And what odds the big boys will come into the FA Cup at the 5th round stage.
    FIFA will decide it will need to be involved and their desire to have a world club champioship worthy of its name would lead to them adopting the competition.
    We all blamed ManU when they went off to play in the FIFA competition instead of the FA Cup but it should be remembered it was at our FA’s behest to brown nose Septic Bladder for our World Cup bid. ManU were told that they would be letting down English football if they didnt go.
    And dont think the other federations will be immune when the paymasters come knocking from TV, it isnt just the UK who have Sky type influences. You only have to look at cricket that is effectively controlled by TV in this country and abroad.

  8. You failed to discuss the monies Middlesbrough lost last year . I have long believed that football is moving towards some type of European elite league – how do clubs like Boro , who it appears from yesterdays statement, are living above their means , compete ? I don’t think that we can. Our fan base is just too small

  9. Not sure what all the fuss is about; managed properly this could be a real boon to clubs like Boro.
    People seem to be concerned about the extra fixture being unfair if you have to face a top team but, if previous season’s league positions were used, it could just be another barrier to entry for promoted clubs – and the more of those there are, the better it is for Boro and their like.
    Based on last year’s league positions, and with best playing worst, second best second worst etc, this season’s one-off games would have been:
    Man U v Derby
    Chelsea v Birmingham
    Liverpool v Sunderland
    Arsenal v Wigan
    Spurs v Fulham
    Everton v West Ham
    Bolton v Man City
    Reading v Newcastle
    Portsmouth v Boro
    Blackburn v Villa
    Not guaranteed to beat Pompey of course, but far more chance of getting points than at least five other teams and I’m sure there would be plenty of fans of both teams fancying a trip to somewhere nice and warm in January.

  10. I used to think the idea of a euro/world-super league was bad because I wanted to see us play against all of the so-called “top teams”, but now I’m getting to be of the opinion that I don’t care if the big four leave the premier league and form a “new” league with the likes of Real, Juve, etc.
    I think it’d make for a better, more competitive, domestic league over here. The “big” clubs could still play in the FA Cup and this would also give that competition a boost.
    I rarely watch Champions league games, I’m just not interested, and I certainly wouldn’t be interested in any new euro/world league either.

  11. We all assume the PL is top of the bill on worldwide tv sets. Last weekend’s Chelsea Liverpool game maybe but what was the worldwide tuning in figure for games between the also-rans? Not a lot I fancy.
    There will be half a dozen clubs interested in this but thats about all. The rest are just hanging on to avoid being jettisoned by a superleague breakaway.
    But that is still what will happen. The rest of Europe’s biggies will want in – that so called elite group of clubs (name escapes me for the moment) that are always locking horns with UEFA and FIFA for control of the game.
    The likely venues will have some degree of interest in 4 Pl clubs provided they get a Manc derby or something of that ilk but they will bite the hands off a 3rd round of Champions league club fixtures.
    The 4 teams in a Champions League group play each other home and away plus a 3rd round of fixtures overseas.
    Now that will blow away any interest in the PL idea. forget it Lamby – you wont get an invite.

  12. Mr. Vickers, I know that if I were a Middlesbrough fan in the UK, I would not be in favor of Game 39, but the fact remains the Premier League has intentionally “globalized” itself – so what would anyone logically expect ?
    The Prem has gotten what it asked for – a world-wide fan base – and I am one of those. I have fallen hopelessly in love with Boro and am saving furiously to pay a visit to the Riverside and see a match.
    In the meantime, can you blame me for wanting the chance to see “my team” closer to home? I’ve spent a lot of cash on the internet team store, stand by my computer on Saturday and Sunday mornings ( here ) listening to MatchLive and in general do everything a native Boro fan does …. live and die with his/her team, etc…. If I had a vote, I’d vote “YES”. Thank you.
    Bob Waeltermann
    St. Louis, Missouri USA
    **AV writes: Howdy Bob. Welcome aboard.

  13. AV: Very perceptive in my opinion.
    This is backed up by the fact that the head of the Asian F.A. has come down firmly against it but his counterpart in Saudi has said he would be interested but only if the games involve the big four.
    The recent batch of club owners from the U.S and elsewhere are only in it for one thing and its not the love of British football.
    The odds are so heavily stacked in favour of the big four in every facet of the game that ultimately no one else can or either is meant to get a look in.I’d like to ask Richard Scudamore whether or not he seriously thinks that if this continues for say the next ten years that the League will continue to be as popular as it is now?
    Once supporters of the rest cotton on to the fact that the top table in football is a closed shop you are bound to see a drop off in interest.

  14. Long time lurker, first time poster.
    @voice of reason
    Top vs bottom would make it unfair to relegation threatened teams and I cant see them accepting that, it would have to be random, which could of course be even worse. There’s no fair way to do it.
    It makes you realise that we as supporters on the whole just accept what happens and get on with it all the time, when really we shouldnt.
    The renaming of all the leagues and divisions (as pointed out in an article on the other thread) is an absolute farce and do any of the supporters want it? No. But we accept it and conform without resistance.
    Do any supporters groups ever get consulted on any of these changes, because if not, they should, since we are what drives the game (read business).
    And as for european mini leagues, if Boro were a top 4 team and likely to be involved in that, would we as Boro fans want us to be involved? I can’t say I’m confident that we would want it, and maybe big club fans feel the same.
    **AV writes: Welcome aboard. Come on lurkers, show yourself (except you, my stripey friend).

  15. Bob Waeltermann wrote…
    That’s it, that really IS IT!!! Who do they think they are, sitting over there, sending us their money, love and support as if it entitles them a right to their opinions…..this is a local club for local peepul and we can moan about our own problems thank u very much!
    Oh, hang on a minute, Missouri is just outside Redcar, near the Gare – oh fair enough then – but mind how many parmos’ you eat!!
    Seriously – a fair point Bob is making just to see the other side for a minute. Back in Ayresome days and before, the very idea of having a US based fan who wasn’t an ex-pat would make you fall about laughing – yet here it is, football [soccer] IS a world sport and as the Premiership is its [arguably] premier brand, why not let some other fans have a look at what its all about.
    Wots that, the fans atmosphere at UK matches are a part of the experience and it really IS about the money? Oh shucks, and it sounded so good too!
    Double seriously, welcome Bob – god only knows what or why you support the Boro, but you are very welcome.
    And as an exiled Boro lad myself if you let this Board know what match you are coming over to attend when you’re ready – I shall do my level best to be there with a Newboulds pie in one hand and a pint in the other!! For you of course, not for me!

  16. How do Bob Waeltermann.
    Just curious, but what made you decide to become a Boro fan? I look out for Chicago Fire results because they wear the classic “white band” boro-style shirts (albeit made by a decent sportswear company).

  17. Thank you all for the warm welcome.
    Why must the 39th game have table implications? “Luck of the draw” would be cold comfort to a losing club in a relegation battle ….. but that could be the price paid for cashing the big check ( sorry, cheque )!
    Boro is appealing to me because Middlesbrough seems like St. Louis to me, somewhat “rusty” and un-deserving of the bad national press it sometimes receives. Plus, Boro seems true to their fans: local ownership, caring leadership, community involvement, etc.
    Satellite tv made available in my town is the culprit – and the object of my gratitude. No Big 4 clubs for me. By the way, we have an Italian restaurant that makes chicken or veal parmesan …. our version of a parmo ! Cheers.
    Bob Waeltermann
    **AV writes: It’s alright lads, he knows about the parmo. He’s one of us.

  18. It’s a rubbish idea. I like the way they are only asking the current prem league clubs. If over the next 2 seasons the league goes the way it has this season with 9/10 teams still in a relegation battle then what guarentee do any of these teams have now that if they vote yes tha they will actually see any of this money?
    Realistically by the time it comes around there could be nine different teams in the league so surely this vote if they have one should also go to the championship teams – but then in three seasons say Darlo could have an excellent run and end up in the premiership so the vote has to go all the way down to division two.
    Basically, before they do anything they should be asking every league club their opinion.
    How about this, instead of going for the league game, how about helping out the little teams and play a round of FA Cup matches abroad, say the 3rd,4th or 5th round. This would give teams even more incentive to get a giant killing if they know they are going to get a good cash payout by it being played abroad.
    If that works out then look at the league.
    But hey, these are the same guys who cant clarify the offside rule or define a two footed tackle so why should we expect them to consider anything other than the money they will make.
    **AV writes: Even discussing the lunatic idea, looking for modifications or compromises, plays into their hands.

  19. The time scale is interesting. It gives the current broadcast rights deal time to work its way through the tills of all the clubs who will then become dependent on the £50m a season.
    Then when the time for a new deal comes up and they are told “sign here” they will sign, whatever abomination and distortion it contains, however much of the pie it gives to MegaCorp FC – franchises, glamour club end of season play-offs, wildcards into the Champions League, bye to the QF of cups, whatever. They will be powerless to prevent the big clubs doing whatever thet want.
    The timescale also gives plenty of time for the Murdoch empire to bully, bamboozle or buy the behind the scenes fixers in the Asian and African game to accept the World Series on whatever terms are offered.
    Small impoverished federations are always open to the prospect of manipulation with a judicious grant or sinecure. Look at the history of FIFA.
    The horse bolted years ago.

  20. From my understanding they are saying 3 years from now. What if you are not in the prem then? I guess it would be a moot subject. Let’s concentrate on moving up the league on a permanent basis

  21. AV – been doing a bit of surfing and the blades fans can not wait to get rid of Robbo.
    No charisma, no tactics and no clue are a few of the printable descriptions of Robbo. MaClaren is being mentioned as a possible replacement for Robbo.
    The Sheff U fans are expecting about 20k at the match and that includes the Boro fans. Could be a bigger crowd if Robbo is sacked.
    C’Mon Boro!

  22. See Lawrenson strikes again: 2-1 to Sheff Utd! This guy is having a laugh aint he. Not once has he tipped us to win since New Year and here we are unbeaten since 1/1.
    We boast a team that hardly concedes to premiership outfit but will concede 2 against Beatie and co according to Mr lawrenson, a team that could only manage 3 shots in 90 minutes in there last home game.
    Plus we have 7000 travelling down and if as sugested by previous blogger their fans arent turning up then all the more reason why its a boro win.
    For me a draw would be a great result. Get them back here and let Alves loose and maybe we will get a bag full to boost confidence as the chances have been flowing.
    I cant for the life of me see us not coming away from there without anything. They are awful and the row with Robbo is surely going to help us more than hinder.
    Keep up the good work lawrenson cos the Boro love proving people wrong. Just ask the barcodes….
    COME ON BORO !!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. David Morrison – start worrying when Lawro predicts a Boro win. I always see it as a good omen when he predicts a defeat.
    If a mid-winter break were to be ‘manufactured’ for the smaller clubs with the ‘big four’ having a little tournament somewhere nice and warm and generating a shed load of cash into the bargain would it hurt the smaller clubs.
    Are we not already financially disadvantaged? There is a limit to how much advantage the big clubs can gain from yet more cash, they can already buy any player they choose.
    What is being overlooked is that the new owners foreign or otherwise want to line their own pockets, so there comes a point when extra revenue goes straight into the shareholders pocket rather than buying another player, we must be close to that point.
    I’m sure AV is right about the trojan horse scenario. I just cant see Boro vs Portsmouth being hosted by Bejing or where ever.
    I also don’t think the bigger clubs getting yet more dosh is going to disadvantage us anymore than we already are.
    Roll on Sunday, a draw would be satisfactory, but its a great opportunity for a win.

  24. AV : re Robbo, looks a bit more terminal… – from the Beeb site:
    “Blackwell in for Robson at Blades
    Sheffield United manager, Bryan Robson, has left the club after turning down a new “head of football” role.
    Former Leeds and Luton boss, Kevin Blackwell, has been named as his replacement until the season ends. Robson, 51, who has previously managed Middlesbrough, Bradford and West Brom, joined eight months ago but managed to oversee only 14 wins in 39 games.
    Blackwell, who was Blades assistant boss from 2000-2004, will have Sam Ellis as his number two.
    Robson met club chairman, Terry Robinson, and plc chairman, Kevin McCabe, on Wednesday to discuss “reasoned changes to the football infrastructure”. But after turning down their proposal, he and his assistant, Brian Kidd, have now left Bramall Lane.
    “I had hoped Bryan would take up a new role at the club but that was not to be,” said McCabe. “Kevin and Sam are in until the end of the season, when we will take stock. They know the situation and how we are determined to take this club forward. That will include the pursuit of a football supremo to oversee a new structure.”
    The Blades lie 16th in the Championship, seven points off the relegation zone and fans protested against Robson after Saturday’s goalless draw with Scunthorpe.
    Blackwell is a popular figure at the south Yorkshire club, with fans regarding him as pivotal in their successful 2002-3 season, when they reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and League Cup and the play-off final. He was appointed Leeds boss in 2004 and guided them to the Championship play-off final in 2006.
    After leaving Elland Road in November 2006 he took the reins at Luton in January 2007, but was sacked by the club’s administrators a year later.
    His first match in charge of Sheffield United will be the FA Cup fifth-round tie against Middlesbrough on Sunday. Robinson, meanwhile, is to step down from his role at the end of the season, but will stay on as a director.”

  25. Really not sure where to post this story, which I’ve just spotted on my ISP home page (though the source is apparently “Sporting Life”), but as it concerns a subject dear to most Boro fans’ hearts & I haven’t yet seen it reported elsewhere…
    Boro confident of keeping Downing
    Thu 14 Feb, 04:11 PM
    Middlesbrough chief executive, Keith Lamb, has revealed that Stewart Downing’s contract row will soon be resolved. The 23-year-old’s future with his home town club came under the spotlight during the January transfer window amid a row between his agent, Ian Elliott, and chairman, Steve Gibson, following the player’s rejection of Boro’s initial offer to extend his current deal.
    However, Lamb is confident that the situation could be resolved soon. Speaking at a BBC Radio Tees fans’ forum, he said: “I am very confident that we will reach agreement sooner rather than later.
    “It is something that myself and Steve Gibson have been very conscious of and have been working at over the last couple of weeks. I would not like to put a date on it, but I would hope that within the next four to six weeks, we get a solution to it that’s acceptable to Stewart and to the football club and then we can put it to bed and Stewart can concentrate on playing his football.”
    England international Downing, who has more than two years remaining on his current contract, had been linked with both Tottenham and Everton as initial talks stalled. But no official offer materialised and Elliott suggested the player could see out the rest of his deal before leaving on a free transfer.
    However, manager Gareth Southgate has made no secret of his desire to retain the services of his former team-mate and is hopeful that a breakthrough is imminent. He said: “From Stewart’s point of view, he knows how much every department of the club wants him to stay, he is very, very settled in his mind he wants to play his football here and he is an incredibly valuable part of the team.
    “I know negotiations have been going on for quite a while, but what we have tried to do with all the young players is keep rewarding them every year or two years for their performances and get their contracts sorted out before it gets to the stage where they have only a few months left.
    “With Stewart, we are talking about this, but he still has actually two years-plus of his contract to go. We see it as one of our priorities, but obviously in terms of the timescale, there is still time to negotiate with him.”

  26. This is for jc and any other posters who are sitting at their monitors in freaked out anticipation! Here goes jc – I hope you won’t be disappointed this time either!
    Talk about shutting the stable door…!
    The evening before yesterday, I posted, via snail-mail, a pleading letter to Steve Gibson. It would have been received today. (I spent a first class stamp!)
    Therefore, it was with some degree of chagrin that I listened to Lamb on BBC Tees last night expounding MFC’s official position on Gam£ 39.
    I was deeply disappointed, because I did hope, perhaps a bit optimistically, if not naively, that I’d prick a little bit of Mr Gibson’s conscience and nostalgic sentiment for the game that I know we all love. A game that is now so clearly in the hands of people much more powerful than Gibson, Lamb, Shinawatra, Lerner, the Glasers and others like them.
    I’m talking about the TV networks and predominantly, News Corporation, whose tentacles are everywhere.
    Actually, on reflection, Thaksin Shinawatra is likely to be more than comfortable in that environment, having been at the head of the biggest telecommunications company (!) in Thailand before being ousted from political power by the military, for allegedly bribing farming-class voters (!) and allegedly enabling or encouraging his family to cheaply buy up land in the vicinity of the new Bangkok Airport location before the airport project was approved by the government of which he was Prime Minister – or so I’ve been told by an old friend who lives in Thailand.
    These matters are in the public domain and have been the subject of media debate in Thailand since his extended holiday effectively became exile. (I now understand that he will be allowed back into Thailand without threat of immediate imprisonment – Bangkok Post – last week.)
    Oh, and while I’m at it, if there are any Mackems around, stealing a wee peek at this blog, have you asked yourselves yet, why your hero, Niall and his henchman manager, are so vocally positive about the prospect of Sunderland playing their relegation matches against Chelsea in Singapore?
    In case you have difficulty following this line of reasoning,…….
    Is it possibly because Niall may have some links to Setanta, who have cut themselves a deal and are current media “partners” with the Premier League?
    And it’s my “hunch” that Niall and his Irish buddies knew very well what the intentions were for globally marketing the Premier League via the media before he/they invested in SAFC. So maybe your view of St Niall the Saviour is a touch on the rosy side and in fact, good ol’ Niall is a bit of a wolf in sheep’s fur, eh lads! Good ol’ Niall’s taking you down the same road as 

.well. But you don’t believe it for a second? He bought the club because he loves it and he played for it and his heart’s in it!? Yeh right! La la la la!
    It’ll be interesting if Sunderland do go down this season. A Niall in their coffin – or will he survive?
    And what was it really brought King Kev back to Sid James’? Kev the scouser, King of the Kop? At age 60, having been there before, was it really the passionate challenge of repeating the same old? Or was there a promise of something different with a new dimension to it under Ashley’s chairmanship?
    I wonder if all those Newcastle supporters who have signed the Football Supporters Federation’s “No to Gam£ 39â€? Petition (and hundreds of them have done so) would have been so euphoric about the Messiah’s flamboyant return if they knew that part of his remit was to train the Magpies for possible transatlantic flight?
    Anyway, back to Boro



..
    I had hopes that Steve Gibson might have the imagination and gumption to help find a way of breaking the hold that News Corporation has on the Premier League and the FA and influencing the creation of a formula that was a bit more accommodating of our domestic fans, culture and heritage, than that announced by Scudamore.
    Apparently that’s now unlikely. Unless, of course, Mr Vickers’ scenario proves to be unerringly accurate and News Corporation only ever really wanted Aramis, Porthos, Athos and the Dark Tan Yin in the first place! (I use the Alexandre Dumas metaphor because “All for one and one for allâ€?, suddenly sprang to mind, although I’ve been very tempted to paraphrase it!)
    Steve Gibson – one of us? Only in the sense that he also is hog-tied to the whims of News Corporation, the other members of the Premier League and the FA (and personally, I doubt if the FA have either the brains or the balls to do anything but nod).
    So, poor ol’ Steve, his fate is not his own to decide – unless he can attract a rich foreign investor riding in on a red & white Dodge Charger, like Starsky & Hutch, with “Boro 2010â€? emblazoned along its go-faster stripes!
    I now actually feel a bit sorry for him, in truth. It’s going to be relatively easy for me to salve MY conscience. All I have to do is save myself £550 on my West Stand Upper season ticket and whatever else I can save (probably about £150) by canceling my subscription to the Sky Sports package on Virgin Media.
    That saves me about £700 a year. That’ll easily pay for a Wii, a few games and easily cover my senior citizen’s subscription to Total Fitness. Better for me than sitting in front of Champions League football that I’ve got absolutely no emotional investment in!
    Steve on the other hand, has got a whole lot more at risk.
    Because I didn’t know what his/ the club’s official position was before I posted my letter, I didn’t include other possible “at risk” elements, such as principle, bravery, integrity, loyalty and as Mohamed bin Hammam pointed out, dignity.
    The late arrival of my letter however, doesn’t actually change any of that. It just means I didn’t get to suggest the possibility of it to him directly!
    Anyway, what to do as an ordinary fan opposed to the hijacking of the game?
    Well, as red_rebel points out in his earlier posting, I fear the time has long gone and indeed the horse has bolted. It’s almost a “fait accomplisâ€?. When Anthony’s turkeys hatched was the time it all went “toes- upâ€?.
    True Boro fans can’t simply boycott Boro matches. That only serves to financially damage Boro and it won’t hurt the main culprits in any way shape or form.
    In fact News Corporation would probably welcome it, if it led to Boro’s replacement in the Premier League by a club from a more highly-populated city with a higher global profile – or the potential to have one.
    Actually, I noticed that our new marketing guru at the club is already on the globalization trail – see today’s Boro website for news on a new Boro global website! Amazing how the timing of all of this is coming together! Another conspiratorial possibility Anthony – or just good empathic partnership?
    Even if we were all to co-ordinate a boycott of Sky and Setanta’s TV coverage, by canceling our subscriptions, the additional revenues they’ll attract by marketing “the productâ€? overseas via syndicated networks will more than compensate for any marginal loss of earnings from the UK.
    And it would give them reason to put less money into the game in this country in future – as long as they had the big four safely tucked in their deep pockets. Which is what I believe will happen anyway – but the turkeys that voted for Christmas didn’t have the crystal balls to see the future and are now being gobbled by S(et)anta and Rudolph – sorry – Rupert!
    As Anthony Vickers has said in his blog, the tactic here is
    1.Understate the intent – get the gullible domestic football-supporting public to raise the roof, then

.
    2. Back off a wee bit, giving in to such heavy public pressure (cough, cough) and
.
    3 Be seen to be the good guys when you’re getting what you wanted anyway. (It still takes you down the road of selling what you want abroad while paying lip service to the other also-rans that had little value to you anyway.)
    I’m afraid we’re ALL disposable when News Corporation is in the game – and they clearly intend that it’s for the long run!
    If you visit their home web page, there’s a wonderful piece of hypocrisy staring you in the face. It says, “Free People, Free Markets, Free Thinkingâ€?.
    Well that really depends on your definition of “freeâ€? doesn’t it? Having effectively no choice hardly smacks of freedom does it? But I guess they’d argue that one always has choice. You don’t have to subscribe! And in my case, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. My little gesture won’t dent their turnover at all, but it will make me feel a lot better!
    From any reasonable perspective, News Corporation have got too much invested in our game!!
    And if they fell on their faeces, I’d love it – just love it!
    Now where have I heard that before?
    **AV writes: Good posting. I agree with most of that.
    I think some of the new big money owners – those from and NFL background for instance – have a different outlook, culture and shopping list and have NO feeling whatsoever for the tradition of the game and the links between clubs and fans and that will become apparent when the next TV deal is thrashed out.
    The technology is in place now and the revenue possibilities stacking up in a way that will make it advantageous for the big boys to go it alone. Man United can make more selling their own rights match-by-match on TV, internet streaming and mobiles in the Far East than they can by throwing their lot in with the also rans.
    Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are not far behind and a couple of others are weighing up whether they can make the Great Leap Forward in China and the Pacific too.
    We are very close to the tipping point now.
    For my money the next move will be calls for a 16 team PL. To prevent “burn out” of course. And “to help Team England”. It will also reduce the voting rights for the also ran opposition, clear some of the deadwood and give political space for eight teams to engineer a new format.

  27. AV and Richard
    Do not underestimate the role Septic Bladder and FIFA may play. Septic wanted to change the World Cup to a two year cycle, he is also keen on his World Club Championship, he is no lover of the power of european football unless it votes for him.
    It is not beyond possibility that there would be a much enlarged world club championship under FIFA banner. That would certainly mean reduced numbers in the national leagues. There would be pools of matches around the world then a knockout stage.
    Of course the major clubs would be seeded, cant have the little dears missing out on the golden trough. It could take place during January in the winter break. Oh, of course, it would then fit in nicely with the Champions league.
    Bladder may be bursting with indignation but there is the chance it is a severe case of NIHS (Not Invented Here Syndrome). In the backrooms of FIFA dont be surprised if they are working away at the ‘new’ project.

  28. Looks like this is dead in the water after Blatters comments.
    Good to see the comments on Downing’s contract, however Wheater’s is a much more pressing issue.
    Any news on this AV?
    No suprise that Lawrenson is tipping us to lose.
    If his predictions came true Boro would do well to reach double figure points in any season and Liverpool would win the PL every year.
    C’Mon Boro!

  29. In case anyone doesn’t fully comprehend the vast sums being made by the PL’s big clubs and just how far behind Boro have already fallen this recently published article seems a very relevant addition to the discussion:
    English clubs are striking it rich in assault on European money league;Football;Factbox
    Source: The Times
    They have been derided as the prawn sandwich brigade and blamed for the apathy that leads to silent encounters between top teams, but corporate guests pouring in money from the comfort of their executive boxes are helping to make English clubs the richest in the world.
    The Deloitte Football Money League, the most authoritative guide to where the money goes, shows Barclays Premier League clubs making a mass assault on the top 20 in the rich list.
    As of June 2007, Real Madrid head the Money League for the third year in succession after a 20 per cent growth in income to Euro 351million (about Pounds 260million), but Manchester United are an increasingly close second to make up a vanguard of six English clubs – along with Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United – who make up the single biggest national representation among the top 20.
    That is just the start, according to Deloitte’s experts. An explosion of television income plus innovative approaches to entertaining corporate guests willing to pay over the odds for their plush match-day seats and lavish food and wine means that the clubs’ coffers are swelling fast.
    The Deloitte team expects half the top 20 to be made up of English clubs next year, elbowing out traditionally strong rivals from Germany, Italy and France, with Manchester City, Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham United pushing to break the Euro 100million earnings barrier.
    Dan Jones, a partner at Deloitte’s sports business group, said that broadcasting deals worth Pounds 2.7billion coming on stream in the Premier League should change the order of Europe’s footballing rich list substantially. “With four English clubs already bubbling under the lower reaches of the top 20, we think 2007-08 could see England providing half the Money League clubs,” he says in the report.
    If television is having its impact, takings at the turnstiles are proving spectacular, particularly for the big clubs that have expanded, such as Manchester United, or invested in vast new stadiums that have raised capacity, such as Arsenal.
    Real attract huge home attendances of 71,500 but took a relatively poor Pounds 55.3million in gate receipts in 2006-07, while Germany is enjoying a boom thanks to the raft of new stadiums built or improved for the 2006 World Cup finals.
    Their takings pale by comparison, though, with the world-record Pounds 92.5million paid at the Old Trafford gates. Arsenal, with the 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium, are not far behind with a season’s takings of Pounds 90.6million, equivalent to an average of Pounds 3.1million for each home match. Although Chelsea’s seating capacity is low by the standards of the leading clubs, their match-day takings are the third highest at Pounds 74.5million.
    But it is the English clubs’ ability to entertain their sponsors and their guests, plus the corporate “suits” who want to be associated with the most successful league in the world, that is helping to boost revenues.
    Deloitte calculates that clubs in the Premier League took an average of Pounds 34 per spectator last season, compared with Pounds 22 in Spain, Pounds 16 in Germany, Pounds 15 in Italy and Pounds 11 in France. Ranked by match-day revenues alone, English clubs would make up six of the top ten earnings places, Deloitte says.
    The moneymaking power of all the most powerful clubs in Europe is improving rapidly. Earnings of the top 20 clubs have grown at 12 per cent a year since the 1996-97 season, from Pounds 800million to Pounds 2.5billion.
    They now account for 30 per cent of all the money going into European football and the 20 clubs at the top of the Money League generate three times more than they did a decade ago.
    Jones also gave warning that the elite few richest clubs threaten to pull away from the not-quite-so-rich in financial power with each passing season. The gap between the fifth and sixth-placed club, Arsenal and AC Milan, is now about Pounds 24million.
    “A virtuous circle exists at the elite level with success on the pitch fuelling financial riches off the pitch and vice versa,” Jones said. “The top ten continue to dominate on the pitch with these clubs having secured 34 of the 43 domestic league titles on offer since our analysis began in 1996-97. The top ten clubs have also won the Champions League in nine of the last 11 seasons.”
    Which is why Deloitte’s experts expect football’s top ten earners to dominate the Money League for years to come – unless England can provide some newly rich intruders.
    * Pounds 80.85
    The average amount men will spend watching their team away, but they will spend Pounds 51.85 on a date
    Source: Football Fans Census
    CASHING IN
    Real Madrid, football’s highest-earning club, might have made about Pounds 24.1m more than Manchester United last season but they would probably need double that to acquire the English club’s biggest asset – Cristiano Ronaldo, below.
    The gap between Europe’s two richest clubs is narrowing rapidly as English clubs enjoy a surge of popularity and income, as shown by the Deloitte Football Money League today.
    POSITION (L) AND LAST YEARS POSITION
    1 1 Real Madrid Pounds 236.2m
    2 4 Man Utd Pounds 212.1m
    3 2 Barcelona Pounds 195.3m
    4 6 Chelsea Pounds 190.5m
    5 9 Arsenal Pounds 177.6m
    6 5 AC Milan Pounds 153m
    7 8 Bayern Munich Pounds 150.3m
    8 10 Liverpool Pounds 133.9m
    9 7 Internazionale Pounds 131.3m
    10 12 AS Roma Pounds 106.1m
    11 15 Tottenham Pounds 103.1m
    12 3 Juventus Pounds 97.7m
    13 11 Lyons Pounds 94.6m
    14 13 Newcastle Pounds 87.1m
    15 16 Hamburg SV Pounds 81.0m
    16 14 Schalke Pounds 76.9m
    17 – Celtic Pounds 75.2m
    18 – Valencia Pounds 72.4m
    19 – Marseille Pounds 66.6m
    20 – Werder Bremen Pounds 65.5m
    Exchange rates calculated on June 30, 2007 at Pounds 1 = Euros 1.4856
    WHERE THE MONEY COMES FROM (Pounds m)
    Liverpool
    Matchday 38.4m Broadcasting 52.2m
    Commercial 43.3m
    Man Utd
    Matchday 92.5m
    Broadcasting 61.5m
    Commercial 58.1m
    Tottenham
    Matchday 30.9m
    Broadcasting 33.7m
    Commercial 38.5m
    Chelsea
    Matchday 74.5m
    Broadcasting 59.6m
    Commercial 56.4m
    Newcastle
    Matchday 33.6m
    Broadcasting 25.9m
    Commercial 27.6m
    Arsenal
    Matchday 90.6m
    Broadcasting 44.3m
    Commercial 42.7m
    Celtic
    Matchday 34.3m
    Broadcasting 23.2m
    Commercial 17.7m
    Source: Deloitte Football Money League 2008

  30. Ex-Football Association chief executive David Davies says the Premier League’s proposal to play games abroad is “unlikely to survive” according to the BBC.
    Football wise this is right that no extra ‘odd’ matches are played. Only if Boro would play in Helsinki (which I cannot see anyway)!
    Ice Hockey is attracting bigger attendances than football here in Finland and they play a couple of extra derby games – good for finances but again, is this fair sportswise? I don’t think so.
    AV: Can you calculate the average age of the following Boro teams:
    – The Jackie Charlton of the promotion year
    – Robbo’s team when at the FA Cup final
    – McClaren’s team at the UEFA Cup final
    – GS’s team in January 2008
    I think the current team is the youngest?
    **AV writes: I think the current side is the youngest by far. I’ll see if I can find the time for some number crunching.

  31. Hypothetically speaking….World domination and the dumbing down of football supporters, all brands being essentially the same. NFLism at its worst Patriots/Buccaneers/Giants/ ManUre/ Arse/Chelski/ Real/Inter is there really any difference between them? Isn’t it all about selling a product or better still getting us to buy a product which we neither need or crave.
    As we watch our teams play you see the advertising hoardings getting bigger and bigger, the shirts and shorts just become a mass of Budlightextradrycrispnfresh stickers (oh and the team logo somewhere insignificant like on the bottom of the sole of the sock)
    “Buy this, do that, eat me, dont do that”… and then the game gets stopped every 15 mins for a time out (the players need some more tips on diving, cheating and hair extensions) and the announcer comes onto the pitch to give a sermon on the righteousness of Gillette shower gel for men or how god created footballers in his image and he was Spanish/Italian/Kentuckian/whatever.
    “Hey! are we having fun yet, what was in those pies they taste a little strange, I see the guy who complained last week isn’t here today nor half the North Bank who shouted abuse at the linesman(sorry touch judge). Hmm these pies are really tasty, think I’ll have another one, not because I want one but Hansfranz Beckhammullerowen says so, so they must be good!”
    I don’t think we really need the Premier Global League. Go to any local youth football team game and I can guarantee you free admission, excitement, passion from the supporters, controvesy, end to end action, plenty of goals to cheer, lots of foreign names to get your head around these days and better still no dodgy branded pies and luke warm non fizzy fizzy stuff.
    OK not exactly Premiership football, but at least it’s honest, you got out into the fresh air and it hasn’t set you back £70. Oh and isn’t it funny watching 20 kids run around in a pack chasing a ball all over the place! Brilliant!
    Long live the true fans of football who refuse to bow down to the consumeristglobalisation of our nations most passionate game.. Our teams might not be on the BBBig4 list but at least we can sleep well at night knowing we are not selling out the these corporate money-grabbing brain-washing bigots.
    Unless you had one of those pies, in which case get another roll of toilet paper its going to be a long night. Fight the system fight back!!!

  32. Mr. Vickers …….. you probably don’t want to be the middle-man here, but may I post my e-mail address on this forum ? I’d like to stay in touch with Billy and/ or Smoggypaul …. or yourself if you wish.
    Bob Waeltermann
    St. Louis, Missouri USA
    bobkat50@swbell.net
    **AV writes: Why not, we’ve acted as Ebay before now so why not Friends Reunited as well.

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