England Euro 2016 Preparations

For the first time this year the England national team will take to the field to face Germany in an international friendly.  England also face Netherlands in this week’s international break with both fixtures expected to provide a stern test for the Three Lions ahead of the Euros in France this summer. In my opinion these types of games are important in terms of performance but less so in terms of the final result.

Roy Hodgson would have no doubt been watching the Man City game behind the sofa yesterday, after injuries to Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling has seen both ruled out of action for the international break.  Fraser Forster and Jack Butland should both have a chance to impress between the sticks in the two friendlies.  However as long as Joe Hart is fit for the Euros, he is very likely to be England number one goalkeeper choice for the tournament.

The defence display will also be keenly watched by fans and Hodgson alike to see how matches up against two teams which possess quality in the forward positions.  In qualifying for the Euros the three lions defence was rarely test and only conceded in three qualifying games.  A solid defence showing in this week friendlies will give fans hope that the defence is looking as secure as possible ahead of the Euros.

Danny Drinkwater has performance impressively for Leicester in their title bid which has been rewarded with a first England call up.  England currently have a lot of competition in the heart of the midfield and Drinkwater will need to impress in the upcoming fixtures to try to earn a call up for the Euros.  Jack Wiltshire is currently out injured and it’s not inconceivable that Drinkwater could take Wiltshire place in the final Euro 2016 squad if he performs well.  Theo Walcott is also expected to start at least one of the friendlies on the wing, especially after Sterling injury in Man City 1-0 defeat to Man Utd.

The absence of Wayne Rooney gives Hodgson the option of starting with the two Premier League top scorers in Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane.  Daniel Sturridge due to injury has not played to his full potential this season and will be keen to put behind him his average domestic form this season by scoring this week. Scoring goals in Euro qualifying was never a problem due to the level of the opponents than England faced. However scoring against Germany and Netherlands is expected to be a much tougher test than San Marino and Estonia.

Games against Netherlands and Germany should hopefully give England fans hope that the team is heading the right way after the last World Cup disaster. However no injuries and some impressive individual performance will matter most than the full time result in either friendly game.

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Scare Stories surrounding the EU Referendum

Just over three months separates the UK and the vote on staying in the EU or leaving the union. As I live in the UK I can assure many readers that this referendum is already taking its toll on voters. Information from the “in” and “out” campaigns has been very negative with both sides painting a apocalyptic view if their side of the argument doesn’t win. My local MP who is a Conservative has revealed that she will be voting for the UK staying in the EU.  This to non UK readers is as rare as seeing as a snow leopard in Brazil. However the impact of my MP’s decision is unlikely to change views on the EU referendum in my local area.

The scare stories from the “in” and “out” campaigns have increased as the date of the EU referendum comes closer. Members of the “in” campaign have been busy reminding the UK voting public many of the “benefits” from having  EU membership. However on the other side there has been many who want the UK to leave the EU discussing the savings which they claimed would be made if the UK left the EU. In truth I believe both sides have a case with their point of view which makes it hard for me to know what side I will be voting for. However with ridiculous scare stories coming out from both campaigns its harder to know what facts in the referendum are actually true. This is likely to make less people want to vote as they logically do not want vote with inaccurate facts.

I cannot see how any political figures will be able to change my thoughts on which way I will be voting in the EU referendum.  As the decision that I will be making on the 23rd June will be based on facts rather than passionate speeches from politicians.  Plenty more scare stories are likely to plague the campaign but hopefully like me, the UK population will be able to see through this and make a decision on the 23rd June that they are happy with.

The polls conducted in the UK currently show its too close to call on whenever the UK will vote to leave the EU. As I have explained in a previous blog post, any polls which are released near a political vote can have wild swings  from time to time. This is due to uncertain voters not being taken in account which can have a effect on the final outcome of the referendum. .

I have many more posts to come surrounding the EU Referendum, so please come back regularly to find out my thoughts on the campaigns as the date of the referendum comes nearer.

 

Why a Euro Super League would never work

There is no doubt that the current Premier League title race this season has been one of the most exciting in many years.  However in many other European leagues like the Ligue 1 in France, the excitement in the title race has been non existent due to PSG running away with the title. For this reason it has been reported that some of the top European clubs have been wanting to introduce a European Super League (ESL). This report was given further credence when it was suggested that elite European teams met this week to discuss a ESL. However teams such as Arsenal have since denied that a ESL was discussed at the meeting.

ESL would no doubt have many benefits to French and Spanish elite teams in my view, due to the strength of the teams in those league.  Rarely does the top three of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid ever change in the La Liga. Similarly PSG (Paris St Germain) dominate the French league and find their toughest tests in Champions League games. However in the Premier League the top 4 often changes which makes the league exciting to watch as a neutral. This season highlights this with Leicester near certain to finish in the top four which would see their first involvement in Europe in many years.

I can understand that many football fans would enjoy the mouth watering ties if a European Super League was ever introduced. The Champions League has already prove this with some great games already taken place this season. However the format of the Champions League works well and gives fans the opportunity to travel Europe to watch their side and still see their side in domestic games. A full time ESL where sides would have travel regularly around Europe would be likely to cause some considerable complications . One such issue would be for supporters which would need to travel long distances to watch their team, which would not be cheap for the average supporter to do. Inflated ticket prices would also be likely to accompany such high travel costs, this would limit many fans to what ESL matches they could attend.

FIFA and UEFA would also be likely opponents to the idea of a ESL, as it would be a direct and deadly threat to the Champions League. If Elite European teams face each other every week in the ESL the point of the Champions League would be superseded. For this reason its very unlikely that FIFA and UEFA would allow the creation of the ESL.

In the future I believe further talks and debate about creating a ESL are inevitable but this will not take place for least 10 years on from now. In the meantime the debate around the ESL to likely to go on but without any concrete action. However until then the ESL will just remain as it has always been which a distant unrealistic dream.

Champions League Last 16 Preview

Just three teams from England have survived the group stage to make it to the last 16 of the Champions League. Arsenal appear to have the hardest tie of the round after being drawn against last season La Liga winners Barcelona. Chelsea face a tough tie against French champions PSG, while Man City face Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev. Below I have previewed each last 16 tie and who I believe will prevail over the two legs.

Arsenal Vs Barcelona

Arsenal in the last five campaigns have bowed out in the champions league in the last 16 stage. In order to stop it being six, they will have to beat a Barcelona team which has been in scintillating form lately . Suarez and Messi have already scored 8 goals combined in the group stage of this years competition. The first leg of this tie is at the Emirates which will be a important opportunity for Arsenal to build a lead to take the Nou Camp. Arsenal impressively defeated Bayern Munich in the group stage of this year competition and a similar impressive performance will be needed to defeat Barcelona. Arsenal will defeat Barcelona in the first leg, but over two legs I expect Barcelona will prevail.

First Leg Prediction: Arsenal 2 Vs 1 Barcelona

Second Leg Prediction: Barcelona 3 Vs 0 Arsenal

Benfica Vs Zenit St Petersburg 

The champions of the Portuguese and Russian league from last season face each other in this fixture, both aiming to reach the quarter finials of the Champions League.  Benfica finished second in the group C in the group stage finishing three points behind group winners Atletico Madrid.  Zenit finished top in group H and impressively only dropped three points after losing against Gent. Four years ago both teams faced each other in the last 16, with Benfica progressing with a 4-3 aggregate score.  Oscar Cardozo for Benfica and Artem Dzyuba for Zenit are the main goal threats which are excepted to shine in this fixture.  This game could be very close as was the case when the sides met back in 2012, Benfica will go though in my view due to having home advantage in the first leg.

First Leg: Benfica 2 Vs 0 Zenit St Petersburg

Second Leg: Zenit St Petersburg 1 Vs 1 Benfica

Dynamo Kiev Vs Manchester City 

Manchester City will be aiming to make it to the quarter finals of the Champions League after previously losing in the last 16 in the last two campaigns. However Dynamo Kiev will be no pushovers and with the first leg in Ukraine will be hoping to cause a shock.  UEFA announced this week that they were cutting short on a stadium ban which was imposed on Dynamo Kiev for racist behavior. This will allow fans of both teams to attend this game, as a result you expect Dynamo fans to make a daunting atmosphere for Man City to play in. Despite this I believe City will prevail over two legs.

First Leg: Dynamo Kiev 1 Vs 1 Manchester City

Second Leg: Manchester City 3 Vs 1 Dynamo Kiev

Gent Vs Wolfsburg 

Gent and Wolfsburg  will be making their last 16 debuts in this fixture and both will fancy progressing in this tie. Gent have surprised many by getting to this stage of the competition after beating Valencia and Lyon to second place.  Furthermore after three group stage games the Belgian team had only one point.  Gent then won three straight group games to book their place in the last 16. Wolfsburg also defied the odds in Group B by beating Manchester United to finish top of the group B. Gent have won the last 6 home matches in the Belgian league, and will be aware the importance of taking a lead to Wolfsburg in the second leg.  This game appear on paper a very hard tie to call, but in this tie I’m going for Wolfsburg to go though.

First Leg: Gent 1 Vs 0 Wolfsburg

Second Leg: Wolfsburg 3 Vs 1 Gent

PSG Vs Chelsea 

Chelsea will be aiming for revenge in this fixture after losing to PSG at the same stage last year.  Chelsea will be aware that their best hope of being in next year Champions League will be winning this year cup. Chelsea are currently 13th in the Premier League and trail the last Champions League spot by 17 points. Conversely PSG have been in excellent domestic form and lead Ligue 1 by 24 points.  In the game last year it was very scrappy and I cannot see this years game being very different.  Despite PSG dominance in the  Ligue 1 this game will be closer than many have predicted in my opinion.  Overall this season the Champions League has been a relief of domestic form for Chelsea. Once again a very hard tie to predict but I’m going to go for Chelsea to progress by the smallest of margins.

First Leg: PSG 2 Vs 2 Chelsea

Second Leg: Chelsea 3 Vs 2 PSG

PSV Vs Atletico Madrid

PSV will look to continue their 100% home record in this years Champions League when they face Atletico Madrid.   Atletico Madrid are unbeaten away from home in this years tournament helped by the impressive goal scoring form of French striker Antoine Griezmann.  PSV will know to claim victory in this tie limiting the influence of Griezmann will be crucial.  This game promises to be a tight affair, but I think Atletico will have too much quality for PSV to handle in this fixture.

First Leg: PSV 1 Vs 2 Atletico Madrid

Second Leg: Atletico Madrid 3 Vs 0 PSV

Juventus Vs Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich go into this fixture as favourites against the Italian giants Juventus. Bayern hammered every team they faced at home in the group stage of this competition, and will aiming to dish out the same treatment against Juventus. However Juventus have won their last 12 games in Serie A and will aim to continue their impressive form into this fixture. Robert Lewandowski for Bayern and Paulo Dybala for Juventus are expected to shine in this fixture and the goals that scored by these two strikers is likely to decide who wins this tie.  Bayern Munich are at home for the second leg in this tie and based on their current european form at home they will win this tie in my view.  Juventus to have any hopes of beating Bayern will need to take a healthy lead to Germany for the second leg. Unfortunately for them in my view the chances of this happening are very slim.

First Leg: Juventus 1 Vs 2 Bayern Munich

Second Leg: Bayern Munich 3 Vs 0 Juventus

Roma Vs Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane first taste of Champions League management will be in Italy, where Real Madrid face Roma in the first leg of the last 16 tie. Rafael Bentiez before he was sacked at Madrid lead to the Spanish side to the top of Group A .  Roma journey to the last 16 was more complicated, and only qualified for the last 16 due to having a superior head to head record than Bayern Leverkusen.  Roma only recorded just the one clean sheet during the group stage and will be aware that a shaky defence against Madrid will be punished.  Even starting the tie with home advantage will not be enough for Roma in my view, I’m predicting a comfortable win for Madrid.

First Leg: Roma 0 Vs 1 Real Madrid

Second Leg: Real Madrid 3 Vs 1 Roma

EU Referendum: A undecided voter viewpoint

The referendum question for the United Kingdom voters is simple: stay in the EU or leave the EU. However what is not so simple, is what to believe if you are like me a undecided voter who sees many positives and negatives of EU membership. Cornwall has benefited massively thanks to EU funding as its deemed as a undeveloped region from year 2014-2020. In some regions of Wales the same funding applies and a vote to leave EU would likely see the money given to Cornwall and Wales stop. However many Eurosceptic would argue that the money saved by exiting the EU could be given to Cornwall and parts of Wales.

My one concern with both sides of the debate is clarity of what the UK will emerge from the vote. Obviously a EU exit would require deals to handle the exit which  could take several years. On the other hand a vote to stay in the EU would mean the renegotiation plan by David Cameron could be implemented. Undecided voters like me will be interested in what benefit of “coming out” the EU is with facts, rather than projections which are currently provided.

Recently polls have shown that the campaign for the UK to “leave the EU” has a 9 points lead over “staying in” the EU campaign. However in my view, caution should be express with polls which I described in a previous blog post can be inaccurate at the best of times. However as you would expect the press will report on each poll which shows what campaign is performing well and the other floundering.  In my opinion, the “in” and “out” campaign both have a lot to play for to win the referendum debate.

If the UK voted to leave the EU, certain rules which are dictated by the EU would no longer apply to the UK. Currently the fishing industry have to comply to EU rules on the amount of fish that can be caught in the UK waters. A ‘out’ vote in the referendum would allow the UK to set its own fishing quotas which some people in the fishing industry may benefit from.  However would the new fishing quotas be any better for the fishing industry that it is now? This in my view is one of the many unknowns in the EU referendum debate.

The date for the EU referendum has not been set by the UK government yet, which allows each side of the debate time to gain support for their campaign. One certainty is the debate regarding the EU will not be boring.

FA Cup Fourth Round Preview

Oxford and Shrewsbury stole the headlines in the FA Cup third round by defeating Swansea and Cardiff respectively. Exeter came close to adding their names to headlines, but were taken to a replay by Liverpool thanks to a late goal by Brad Smith.  The Premiership class eventually came though in the replay with Liverpool winning by three goals to nil. Exeter deserve a lot of praise that they performance over the two games especially when you consider their current league position.  As you can imagine it was not easy for me to say that as a Plymouth Argyle fan!

Carlisle will start the fourth round of the FA Cup weekend as the lowest rank team left in the competition. They welcome Premier League Everton who will be keen to avoid put their indifferent domestic form behind them with a win at Brunton Park.  League One Colchester United face Tottenham in the other David vs Goliath match in the fourth round. Below I have included my predictions for these two matches, as well as a handful of other fourth round ties. Please note all kick off times are in GMT.

Saturday 30th January- Arsenal Vs Burnley (Kick off 15:00)

Last season this was a Premier League game which the Gunners eased to victory by three goals to nil, a result Burnley will not want to be repeated in this game.  After last season relegation to the Championship, Burnley are aiming to bounce back with promotion back to the Premier League. For this reason I cannot see Sean Dyche fielding a full strength line up in this fixture.  Arsenal are also excepted rest some first team players but will still win this game comfortably in my view.

Prediction: Arsenal 3 Vs 0 Burnley

Saturday 30th January- Colchester Vs Tottenham (KO 12:45)

The FA cup has been a welcome relief to Colchester, as the domestic form of the League One side has seen the Essex outfit battling against relegation to League Two.  However for Tottenham the current season, has seen the West London side continuing their quest to make the top four.  A full strength Tottenham side is not expected to start against Colchester, which is likely to give the home side some hope.  However despite this fact I cannot see any other result than a away win.

Prediction: Colchester 1 vs 4 Tottenham

Sunday 31st January- Carlisle United Vs Everton (KO 13:30)

After nearly knocking out League cup finalists Liverpool on penalties earlier in the season, Carlisle will have another chance to upset a Premier League outfit in this fixture. If there was a good time to play Everton, this weekend could possibly be the one that Carlisle would have picked.  Indifferent domestic form and with Everton likely to rest key players, Carlisle will be confident of causing a cup shock. Everton have not looked convincing in recent Premier League performances, this game will be the shock of the weekend in my opinion.

Prediction: Carlisle 2 Vs 1 Everton

Saturday 30th January- Portsmouth Vs Bournemouth (KO 15:00)

Three years ago this fixture was a League One match which the Cherries prevailed by two goals to nil. Since that fixture the South Coast clubs have ended up in very different leagues and positions. Portsmouth currently sit in fifth place in League two, with hopes of climbing the leagues after many years of misery. Bournemouth on the other hand, have made a successful climb up the leagues to the Premiership.  Despite the obvious gap between the position of these two sides, I can see this fixture being a tight affair. Bournemouth like Everton are unlikely to field a strong side against Portsmouth, which should bolster the League Two side chances of victory.  However in my view this game will ended up being a draw, which in this competition will see this game replayed.

Prediction: Portsmouth 0 Vs 0 Bournemouth

Replay: Bournemouth to progress

Sunday 31st January- Milton Keynes Dons Vs Chelsea (KO 16:00)

Chelsea like Colchester have enjoyed relief from their terrible league form this season to progress well in the FA cup.  Milton Keynes as expected have struggled in their first season in the Championship and currently sit precariously just above the relegation zone. In my opinion this game looks like it will be a tight affair, with a goal either way winning the game.  However just like the third round game against Scunthorpe, I can see Chelsea just having a touch more class to win the game.

Prediction: MK Dons 0 Vs 2 Chelsea

 

 

The return of Bundesliga

If the football in the Bundesliga lives up to its reputation of 2015, the second half of the season in 2016 should be a cracker. Bayern Munich as many had predicted have dominated the Bundesliga this season so far with a impressive 15 wins out of 17 games.  However the race for the European spots have been much tighter ,the same can be said for the scrap to avoid relegation to  2. Bundesliga.

Borussia Dortmund currently sit 8 points behind Bayern and appear to be the only team likely to stop Bayern winning the league this year. Hertha Berlin and Borussia Mönchengladbach are more likely to be fighting to hold onto the Champions League spots they currently occupy. However Bayern Leverkusen and Schalke only trail the two champions league spots by a handful of points and will be looking to overtake Hertha and Mönchengladbach over the rest of the season.

Ingolstadt fc have been the surprise package in the Bundesliga this season and currently occupy 10th place. A very impressive position for a team which was only promoted from 2. Bundesliga last season. However Ingolstadt are still only 5 points clear of the relegation zone and will be aware that safety is not yet assured.

It will be a shock for English fans who follow German football to see Werder Bremen in the relegation zone of the Bundesliga.  Werder Bremen won the Bundesliga in the noughties  but now risk being relegated to the 2. Bundesliga for the first time in 36 years.

The excitement of the Bundesliga starts again on the Friday 22nd January when Bayern face Hamburg fc.

 

Should Polls be banned before an Election?

The 2015 General Election (GE) result in the UK has led many to question whenever political polls should be banned . In the run up to the UK election, the majority of the polls suggested that a hung parliament was a “nailed on”result. However the result of the GE was a majority for the Conservatives, a result which was never predicted by many polls.

In the wider public, outcomes of political opinion polls are rarely recognised or discussed, something which has never changed over time. However a good poll result is often used by politicians to attack their rivals and support their point of view. The media often use polls near GE to tell the public who is likely to be the next Prime Minister. Introducing a ban on polls is a issue which has rarely been discussed in the UK, but has become a mainstream topic as a result of the recent 2015 GE.

Most political party use private polling to understand how their polices and popularity are being viewed outside the political bubble. Introducing a ban to these types of polls would be difficult in the age of the internet in my opinion.  Furthermore as most political parties use this type of polling, its hard to know who would implement the ban on this type of polling.

In the Greek electoral system, no political polling is allowed on the day of a GE election and the day preceding a GE election.  This appears to be a good idea as the risk of inaccurate data being released are removed. However many who believe polling should not be banned could argue keeping polling up to GE day makes the UK unique in some ways and adds to the excitement before a GE.

Despite much annoyance with the inaccurate of the poll results, I cannot see any action being taken to ban political polling.  That is of course until the next polling controversy when this issue will no doubt be raised again.

 

How can the FA Cup be great again?

The devaluation of the FA cup by Premier League (PL) teams was continued at the weekend, as many Premiership teams had weakened squads in the third round.  Liverpool made 11 changes in their 2-2 draw with League Two Exeter, Premier League strugglers Swansea also included a young squad in a 3-2 defeat to Oxford.  The reason that many PL teams rested players in the Fa Cup matches was blamed on the high amount of fixtures they have upcoming. This was very apparent to teams which are either fighting for the title or fighting relegation

In order to encourage PL teams to start stronger squads in the Fa Cup, it has been suggested that the format of the Fa Cup should be changed.  I agree that reform should be made to the cup, but would caution against a complete overhaul of the FA cup.

I believe handing the FA cup winners the 4th Champions League spot, would be one solution to get Premiership teams interested in the cup again. Obviously this reform would be highly controversial with the PL, but with support I believe that this change could be implemented.  The argument against this reform is only the Premiership teams would win the Fa Cup, therefore any competitors outside the Premiership would struggle to match. I disagree with this argument as Portsmouth who won the Fa cup in 2008 had to beat Manchester United on their way to glory. Wigan also beat Premiership opposition to win the FA Cup as they beat Manchester City in the 2013 final.

Scrapping replays in the cup is another reform which would help the FA cup to flourish in the future. The losers in this reform would be non league teams who would miss financial opportunities of playing against higher league opponents twice. However for continued popularity of the Fa Cup, changes will need to be implemented.

As a supporter of Plymouth Argyle any experience of cup success has never been forthcoming. However after a successful season in League Two so far under Derek Adams I cannot complain too much!

The Fa Cup has seen better years, without any reform the best years of the cup will always be left in the past.  The reforms I have suggested in this blog post does not holds all of the answers. But without any reform the FA Cup will start to undergo a terminal decline. Something that no football fan will ever want to see.

 

The EU referendum shutout for Young People

The House of Lords members have voted against giving 16 and 17 year old (young people) a vote at the upcoming EU (European Union) referendum.The majority of Conservatives and cross bench members were the main opposition to the plan. In my opinion this decision will delay any real chance to engage young people in politics.

The Scottish referendum last year granted young people the chance to vote if Scotland remained part of the UK.  It could be claimed that this decision had political motives(add to votes one way or another). However in my opinion this referendum also drew a big increase in young people discussing politics in Scotland. After the referendum it was revealed that over 100,000 young people voted in the Scottish referendum. In my opinion if young people were granted vote in the EU referendum ,a similar reaction to the Scottish referendum would develop. Twitter and Facebook was commonly used by young people to discuss politics in the Scottish referendum. If young people could vote in the EU referendum I believe a similar debate would have taken place on social media.

The arguments against giving young people a vote at 16 does have some merits. However the risk of not giving the young people people out outweighs the pitfalls in my opinion.  The one typical argument against giving young people a vote, “is they do not have enough experience in life to understand politics”.  However my response to this argument is education will allow young people the chance to formulate a political point of view.

Ensuring that young people are engaged in politics is critical, to ensure that a government in the future can be challenged when its deemed necessary. Furthermore the increase in more voices in politics can only enhance a democracy of the future.

England: Euro 2016 Group B Preview

The Euro 2016 draw has been made with many England fans seemingly pleased with the group they been placed in. No team has ever won the tournament from group B but this fact is unlikely to dampen English spirit ahead of the Euros.

Teams England will face in Group B:

Wales

Wales looked on paper the hardest draw that England could of have been handed from pot 4 in the draw. The talents of the Welsh side are not limited to Gareth Bale, with other players such as Aaron Ramsey showing this season that his quality could hurt England next year. However England will be aware that this will be the first appearance for Wales at the Euros,any mistakes or nerves from Wales will be punished by the English.

Slovakia

England face Slovakia on Monday 20th June 2016, which will be the last game in the group for England at the Euros. However whilst England will be expected to beat Slovakia, there will be many Spanish fans who can warn England the dangers of underestimating Slovakia. Spain suffered defeat against Slovakia in qualifying for the Euros which ended the Spanish eight year unbeaten streak in European qualifying. Despite this there would serious questions aimed at Roy Hodgson if England did not come out of this fixture with three points.  Especially when you consider England could of faced more prolific teams from pot 3 such as Czech Republic and Sweden.

Russia

Many England fans were happy to face Russia in pot 2 of the Euro draw.  Italy in pot 2 was the side that England really wanted to avoid due to quality that Italy have at their disposal. However Russia are having a upturn in form under new manager of Leonid Slutsky and England will need to be in good form to claim victory. Artem Dzyuba scored exactly half of Russia goals in qualifying and will be danger man for England to watch in the euros.
Verdict 
This group should give England a stern test at the Euros, but I would still back England to qualify top of the group. As long as Wales have Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey fit at the Euros, I believe they will also qualify in second in Group B alongside England.
Who is your tip to win the Euros? Please use the comments box below this post to submit your thoughts.

Europe and the Conservative party:When does the civil war start?

You don’t have to go back far to find disagreement and party splits when the Conservatives and the issue of European membership are raised. John Major in the 1990’s struggled with Europe splits in the party and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980’s had many memorable showdowns with Europe. However the EU referendum which has been promised by David Cameron before the 2017 could make the splits in the past look minuscule.

Regardless of the outcome of the EU Referendum it is likely the Conservative party will not look as united as it did before the referendum.  A vote to leave the EU would be a millstone around David Cameron neck for the rest of the parliament.  The far right parties across Europe would rejoice, but leave many other European leaders seeing David Cameron as the leader which allowed the UK to turn its back on the EU.  However a close vote against leaving the EU would leave many in the Conservative party demanding a second referendum.  Currently any deal which David Cameron is trying to negotiate with the Europe to change the UK relationship is not likely to be enough for eurosceptic Tory MP’s. The result they want from the EU referendum is a full UK exit from the European Union.

The other major headache for David Cameron on this issue is pressure from the UKIP party. It is no secret that many eurosceptic Tory MP’s align very similar views to UKIP on Europe, which raises the prospect of defections from the Conservatives to UKIP.  It has been suggested by David Cameron that a bad renegotiation with Europe could raise the prospect of him recommending that the UK leaves the EU.  However many political commentators have rubbished these comments as an empty threat, based on the prime minister previous comments on Europe.

On the opposite benches the issue of Europe is one that Jeremy Corbyn should be able to unite this party behind.  There were some inside the Labour party who suggested that if Jeremy Corbyn became leader he would campaign that the UK should leave the EU. However to the relief of many Labour MPs, he has confirmed that he would support and campaign for the UK staying in the EU.  This issue would also be a great chance for Corbyn to attack the Conservatives whilst having a untied party behind him on this issue.

David Cameron managed to survive the Scottish referendum with only some scratches, this issue has the possibly of being more terminal not just him but the Conservative party as well.

The sad and worrying decline of Football Referees

We have all been there, your favourite team has a stonewall penalty waved off by a referee. The crowd then goes wild and directs abuse at the referee for not giving the correct decision. I know I have certainly been in that situation many times when supporting Plymouth Argyle. The English FA in 2008 introduced a respect the ref campaign in order to eliminate abuse at referees.  There is a lot of split opinions within the football world how successful this campaign has been.

The respect campaign in my experience is working at a youth level (under 14 years old and below) but not in senior football.  I believe that this is the case as yellow cards are not a suitable deterrent against abusing referees. In some games that I have played in, the referee has insisted that only the captain can only speak to him if he has got any issues with decisions made. The rest of players in each team are then told to report to their captain about any enquiries they want the captain to ask the referee about. I believe that this has helped reduce abuse towards referee in games that I have taken part in.

I currently play in a division in Cornwall which is currently having games cancelled every week due to a shortage of referees. Recently the Cornwall FA slashed the price which was required to take a referring course. However despite doing this only 10 new recruits could be found. Furthermore if you add this that to the amount of referee leaving the game it is leading to a situation where games are being cancelled at a alarming rate.

The reason that many referee give for leaving the game can range from retirement to as I have explained above down to abuse. I can only highlight my experience of playing and hearing thoughts of other people in the game in Cornwall regarding the referee shortage. However from my research I have found cases in Reading and Gloucester where fixtures have been cancelled due to a shortage of referees. There are many other examples but the shortage seemed to be most prominent in these two areas.

Referees will be never loved in football but without them we lose a part of the game which cannot be replaced.

Football Fans and the unsustainable ticket prices in the UK

The most frequent reasons for fans turning up late to a football match can range from traffic to finishing work late. However Bayern Munich fans did so intentionally as a protest against the expensive price of tickets in the Champions League game against Arsenal. The banner in the away end read “£64 a ticket. But without fans football is not worth a penny.” Bayern fans entered the stadium after 5 minutes into the game, but were welcomed to into the ground with applause from Arsenal fans.

In England the issue of ticket prices has always been on the agenda but has rarely been followed up with actions by clubs. However no such problems are found in Germany as ticket prices are seen by fans as realistic to an average Germany wage. Bayern Munich offer season tickets for £140 compared to £2013 for an Arsenal season ticket. In the Football League and Premier league some teams have frozen their ticket prices in order to encourage fans to keep coming through the turnstiles. Of course this should be welcome, but only a reduction in prices in my opinion will be enough to encourage more fans to watch their local clubs.

The protest by Bayern Munich fans show that even for just one game in England they were willing to show their displeasure at ticket prices. I hope that many fans in England will take their lead and stage similar protest at domestic matches. The efforts made by groups such as FSF (Football Supporters Federation) to reduce ticket prices should be applauded but wider action is needed to get clubs to take note of fans displeasure of ticket prices. If fans from teams from the Premier League to League Two, delayed their entrance into a Saturday afternoon game by 15 minutes, the displeasure of ticket prices could be shown by fans in a united front.

I have been careful not include National League sides in this post, as I understand that many teams are struggling to survive with their current tickets revenues. It is also sad to see teams that once competed in the Football League are struggling financially in non league. A strong grassroots up to Premiership should be in everyone thoughts for the prosperity of football in the UK.

The time for talking about expensive ticket prices needs to stop and serious actions is needed so that fans are still going though turnstiles in large numbers. Football should be enjoyed by everyone, lowering ticket prices can only add this enjoyment.

Perfect Qualifying record, so what is next for England?

The path for England to qualify for the Euros has been as straightforward as many had expected. After an impressive away win to Switzerland in the opening group game, finishing top in the group has been as routine as Roy Hodgson could have dreamed of. The only real test provided in the group came against Slovenia when England had to fight back from 1-0 down to win the game. However the main tournament in France is expected to be a more stern test for England than qualifying has been.

In November they face Spain and France in friendlies which should test England more than the qualifying games. These two games are expected to test supporters’ theories that the England team can now match or better the European elite. As the games are friendlies a victory or defeat will not be critical but the performances will be more eagerly watched. Furthermore it will be a chance for players to impress Hodgson before he chooses a squad for England to take to the Euros.

The draw for the group stages of the Euros takes place in December, with England already assured of a seeded position in the draw. England as a result will miss the European heavyweights such as Germany and Spain in the early stages of the tournament.

The performance of England in the Euros is expected to be as big for England as it will be for Roy Hodgson future. Currently Roy Hodgson is only contracted to be England manager until the end of the Euros, and will be aware that a poor showing could cost him his job. In my opinion reaching the semi finials should be seen as level of expectation that England should achieve. A failure to achieve this would see many England fans questioning any improvement from the dismal Word cup performance in Brazil. A perfect record in qualifying means absolutely nothing if England continues to fluff their lines on the big international stage.

It is going to be big 12 months for the English national team, back to back eliminations in the group stage of two major tournaments and the shredder could be the new home for Roy Hodgson contract. A successful Euros and England fans will dare to dream that the England team can be force in future major tournaments.

England Vs Estonia Preview

In 246 days from now the European championship in France will take place, with England already guaranteed a place at the tournament. A 2-0 win last month against Switzerland was enough for England to not only qualify for the Euros but guarantee top place in the group.

On paper the home game against Estonia could be downgraded by England fans as a simple easy win against an eastern European minnow. However Estonia who can mathematically still qualify for the play offs position in this group, will hope to take points away from this game.  Estonia currently sit in fourth place trailing Slovenia in third by two points, and will know they must take at least four points away from the next two games, to have a realistic chance of finishing third. Furthermore England only won 1-0 in the reserve fixture between these sides in Tallinn.

It is already been announced by Roy Hodgson that many of younger players are going to be given a chance to impress in the next two remaining group games. Danny Ings is one of two uncapped players in the England squad for this game and will be hoping to match his first cap with a goal. Jack Butland may also get the chance to impress by starting in goal in one of the remaining group games. Wayne Rooney is also in the squad and will be aiming to put his poor domestic goal scoring form behind him with more goals at international level.

England have strolled through this group without really being challenged at any point as many had predicted.  Upcoming friendlies against France and Germany should really test how much England has really improved since the world cup last year.  Hopefully the more optimistic mood around the England camp will survive after these friendlies.

However back to the Estonia game, I believe that Estonia will attempt to frustrate England for long periods in the game, but England should have enough quality to win this game.

Prediction: England 3 vs 0 Estonia

Back to square one for the Liberal Democrats?

In most elections in Cornwall, you can pretty much assume that a handful of seats will be won by the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems). However the disastrous night for the Lib Dems in the recent general election meant they had no Cornish MP’s elected for the first time in a considerable amount of time. The Conservatives blue touched every part of the electoral map of Cornwall, which aided the path for a overall majority for the Conservatives nationwide. Andrew George the MP for Isle of Scilly and St Ives, up to the election was seen as a popular MP in the area, lost his seat after holding the seat for 18 years.

In this parliament the Lib Dems have eight seats compared to over 30 before the election when they were part of a coalition government. In order to come back from the recent election, the Lib Dems have a uphill task to gain creditability with the electorate again. Firstly polices they suggest now must demonstrate economic competence, unlike in government where most of their polices were not implemented as most Conservatives rejected their ideas. The centre ground is up for grabs for the Lib Dems, with Jeremy Corbyn pushing the Labour party to the left of the political spectrum. This could be taken as good news by Lib Dems, as they could attempt to regain some credibility whist attacking the Conservatives on the right and Labour on the left.

It is mostly assumed by many that the road back to government for Lib Dems is so far away its not worth discussing at the moment. Instead gaining seats back in the heartlands will be more of a realistic achievement. However being five years away from the next election, the path of fully rebuilding the party is going to take longer than this in my opinion.The growing membership can be seen as good news for the Lib Dems, as it could show that more people are moving from Labour to the Lib Dems after being dissolution by Labour moving to the left.

However membership numbers will not bring out Lib Dems out of the electoral wilderness, the electorate will have the power to do that.

2015/2016: Plymouth Argyle Promotion season?

On the 14th May 2015, Argyle fans leaving Adams Park would rightly fear what the future direction of the club was. The play off defeat to Wycombe that night was deserved, but hurt nonetheless with the dream of heading to Wembley for the final shattered. John Sheridan (Argyle manager at the time), made an inevitable exit from the club. John Sheridan never had an excellent relationship with the fans so it would be fair to say there were not many tears when he made an exit from the club.

Derek Adams was appointed the new Argyle manager in the summer, with many fans hoping he would be the man who could steer Plymouth to the promotion. It would be fair to say that Argyle have had some successful and some unsuccessful times with Scottish managers in the past. Paul Sturrock was one of the most successful managers at the club as he guided Argyle from League Two to within one victory away from the championship in the early noughties. Bobby Williamson took over from Paul Sturrock and by winning his first game in charge, Argyle were promoted to the championship. However this was as good as it got for Bobby, as he was sacked within a month of the new season as a result of a poor run of form.

After a good pre season, Argyle have started this league season well and sit in second place after ten games. This has left many fans hoping for a tenure similar to Sturrock being replicated by Adams. The signings of Graham Carey and Jake Jervis have so far proved to be worthwhile, with both players already registering their first few goals with the club.  However with Ruben Reid scored 20 goals last season, Jervis and Carey would need to maintain a long scoring form in order to match Reid record from last season.

The first ten games of the season is traditionally a time when fans first start to look at the league table with some seriousness.  At the moment Argyle fans like me will be encouraged by the start that has been made under Adams tenure. However any talk of promotion would be premature with 36 games left in the season. However for the first time in many years, football at Home Park is being enjoyed by the fans, hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

Obviously it is very early to talk about Argyle achieving promotion, as the season is not even 10 games old. Despite this the fans of Argyle have every right to be excited with the style and the form of the side so far.  However time will tell if this season is the season that promotion is finally achieved by Argyle.

Could Jeremy Corbyn really become Prime Minister?

In 2020 the UK could shift the political landscape massively by appointing Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister. The polices which are thought to be proposed by a Jeremy Corbyn government would certainly change many parts of the system that the UK is used to. One such policy is renationalising the top six energy companies.

Renationalising the train service another policy of Jeremy Corbyn, would certainly have the public support if you trust various polls which have been released.  Currently the passenger flow on the trains is increasing but many argue that the price of the train is rising too much alongside this.  Hence the call by Jeremy Corbyn for a train service which could be managed by the government. Many opponents to this idea fear the amount of money which is needed to be spent to renationalise the rail network.

I believe one idea which could boost Jeremy Corbyn chances of being Prime Minister is the upcoming EU referendum.  The Conservative party is likely to have a split in opinion with each side explaining the benefits of pulling out/staying in the European Union.  However despite this in fighting, Jeremy Corbyn has not officially declared on which side he would support in the EU referendum. A clear argument in favour of staying in the European Union would allow Jeremy Corbyn to lead a united Labour party argument.

However on many other issues it would be fair to say that Jeremy Corbyn and his team would struggle to unite Labour at a general election.  The shadow chancellor John McDonnell is thought to have many radical economy polices which some Labour members would struggle to support. Renationalising the banks is one such policy which many are against, as it could see the government owning debts of a previously private bank.

Being over 4 years away from the next general election means that the leadership qualities of Jeremy Corbyn could be enhanced in future years.  However after only being in office for only 5 days the job to take Labour back in power already looks a complicated one for Jeremy Corbyn.  The question of Jeremy leading the country as a prime minister looks to be a question which has no concrete answer yet.

Qualification achieved, now what is next?

After 17 months since the Euro Championship qualification draw was made, England have qualified and can now look forward to a summer appearance at the euros in France next year. However it is widely accepted that the group which England was given meant that qualifying top  was a minimum expectation. The biggest test during the qualification so far was the away game against Slovenia where England triumph 2-1. However this game taken in isolation, England have strolled though the group with two qualifying group games. The win over Switzerland means that the top place in the group for England is assured.

Since the World Cup in 2014 the progress that has been made by England is hard to measure. Of course 8 wins a row in qualifying is positive and will surely breed confidence. Despite this the teams that England have faced could be giving fans a false gloss of the quality the England squad has. England qualified top of the group for World Cup qualification in 2014, but did not get though the group stages for the first time in over 50 years at the final tournament in Brazil. There is differences between these qualification campaigns, but it does show that a good qualification does not always secure a successful tournament appearance.

Over the nine months ahead a real test of what England will face at the euros will take place in the form of friendlies. England face France and Spain in friendlies before facing Germany next year. Harry Kane and Jonjo Shelvey are likely to feature in these friendlies as they look to be England’s brightest hopes in the future in a attacking sense. Joe Hart looks likely to vacate the goalkeeping jersey in order for Ben Foster to gain some experience in the upcoming friendlies.  The defence of John Stones, Phil Jones, Gary Cahill, and Leighton Baines has looked solid and I believe it will remain in future friendlies. Obviously in some friendlies other fringe players may feature such as Adam Lallana who has largely had a substitute appearances in the recent European qualifiers.

I cannot end this blog post without congratulating Wayne Rooney for breaking the England goal scoring record. He has performed excellent for England and hopefully his goals will continue in the next few years. As the euros is nine months away, England fans can hope that Rooney can continue his good goal scoring form into the euros.

Season tickets: A victory for Premier League fans?

For most football fans purchasing a Premier League season ticket is an expense which many can only dream of purchasing. However subtle changes to season tickets prices have been announced by two thirds of Premiership teams.  The cheapest early bird season ticket at Crystal Palace has been reduced by £50 to £500 compared to the price charge last season. However clubs such as West Ham have increased season ticket price by £35 to £675. All examples I have used is based on the cheapest season ticket price available.

I believe the only way that Premier League clubs could show fans that they care about reducing prices would be by capping season ticket prices for a set amount of time. This obviously is very unlikely to materialise but efforts by groups such as FSF (Football Supporters Federation) hopefully will result in clubs reducing their prices.  Away tickets next season for Swansea City supporters have been frozen to £22, efforts such as this should be welcomed.  I hope that the lead taken by Swansea in relation to away ticket prices will be followed by other Premier League teams. However I unfortunately do not see this idea being followed. Not that Swansea fans will care at all! 🙂

The point of this blog post is not just to moan about season tickets prices (despite this being a very easy to do!). Bradford City is a team which have made steps to not only keep season ticket prices low but reward loyal supporters of Bradford.  A Bradford City supporter which can provide evidence of purchasing season tickets for the last twenty five years can purchase a season ticket for only £110.00. This is more than half the price of a standard season ticket at Bradford City next season.  However it’s hard to imagine that Bradford will have many fans which qualify for the loyalty season ticket. (Please let me know Bradford fans if I’m wrong, I do not mind being corrected on this statement.) J

I understand that some clubs particularly in League Two (England) have small financial budgets, which makes discounting season tickets difficult without running into financial problems. Dagenham and Redbridge who struggle with attendance less than 2,000, could be used as an example of a team which would struggle to reduce season ticket prices. In some lower leagues in Germany, academy players are introduced into first teams of lower league German clubs, which have obvious benefits for the team and the academy player development.  Obviously I not suggesting that this idea alone will solve financial problems of smaller teams in England, but it’s an example which can have benefits to lower league teams.  As a result it could allow clubs to reduce admission charges to fans.  This is because the wages of academy players are usually cheaper than more established players.

The vocal support of teams in England will never be in doubt, it is down the clubs to introduce prices will allow fans to give this support.

The Knockout blow to Greek Islands

As the chaos of the Greek finance crisis rumbles on, you would be forgiven on thinking the Greek islands would be in a state of disaster.  However this was not the case until the deal agreement between Greece and the Eurozone was announced yesterday morning. Currently on the Greek islands the VAT (value added tax) rates are currently 30% lower than the rest of Greece mainland for many reasons. The astronomical cost of shipping products to the islands is the main reason for the lower rate in VAT.

Unfortunately as a result of the deal agreed yesterday, the VAT discount could be cancelled to the Greek islands. The devastating effect of this change is hard to measure but in my opinion it could mean the death knell to many Greek businesses on the Greek islands.  A VAT increase leading to a business closing may seem extreme but the reliance of tourism on the islands is huge. It has been reported in the media that some restaurants may have to swallow the increase in VAT to ensure they keep custom. This is on top of the dramatic austerity cuts made already and more on the way as a result of the bailout agreed yesterday.

The deal agreed yesterday will also have a dramatic effect on the working schedule on many Greek people.   Unlike in the UK, the Sunday working hours of many Greeks is limited to seven selected Sundays. However due to the bailout agreement, a UK style Sunday opening could become common place in Greece. In tourist hotspots in the summer, Sunday openings do happen, but this does not traditionally happen on the mainland.

Every country I believe should be ready to adapt to change. However in Greece case this change could and I will predict will cause damage which could be terminal to Greek people and businesses

Cornwall and the EU Referendum

A visit from West Cornwall to East Cornwall and you will find a varying level of support of the UK staying in the European Union (EU). On one hand you will find many voters from Newlyn who due to fishing quotas would like to see the United Kingdom outside the EU. The other side of the debate you would find many in the east of the county that predict the lifeblood of Cornwall would be taken away if the UK pulls out of the EU. There are many factors regarding the EU and Cornwall but in this post I will focus on EU funding and EU fishing quotas.

Fishing quotas with the UK outside the EU could see fishing quotas being reduced, but what guarantee is that the government would limit or get rid of the quotas? The decision taken by the UK in view of the leaving the UK could be minimal and leave fisherman with the same rules as in place now. On the other hand, EU supporters may argue that the current quotas help maintain a healthy stock of fish in Cornish waters. As a result it could be argued that a decision to leave the EU could damage the current healthy stock of fish in Cornish waters.

In my opinion even the most eurosceptic Cornish person would admit that Cornwall has benefited from EU funding. Cornwall benefits from EU funding as it is one of the poorest county in the UK. The Eden Project to the Tremough Canvas in Penryn are just two projects which has benefited from EU funding been pumped into Cornwall. It could be argued that the two project listed may have been built even without the funding from the EU. However I think that this type of speculation is hard to argue with solid evidence, if or buts can rarely been proved either way.

In my opinion the strongest weakness in the argument by eurosceptic supporters in Cornwall is Cornwall’s EU funding. It is unlikely that the government would back Cornwall with the same amount of funding that Cornwall receives from the EU, in the scenario that the UK leaves the EU. On a national platform, the EU funding for Cornwall will probably not get motioned in any news coverage or debates. However in Cornwall it is a major issue that I think should be addressed as it will affect Cornwall whatever the result of the EU referendum is.

I have not decide yet on which side of the EU referendum I will be supporting and luckily it appears I will have time yet to decide. However the result of the EU referendum will affect the UK as a whole massively. Cornwall taken in isolated as explained in this blog will also feel the result of the EU referendum massively as well.

I will add more posts on the EU referendum on this page, so please check back soon for more on the referendum and other political issues.

European Championship Qualifying Preview

So far for the home nations it has been a promising European qualifying campaign. However will this continue? Below you will find my preview of all euro championship qualifying games taking place this coming week and my predictions on the outcomes of each match.

Group A

Kazakhstan vs Turkey

Turkey will know games like these will be critical to win to ensure they retain hope of making the Euro Championship in France next year. They currently trail Iceland in second by seven points and will know that their automatic qualification hopes will look bleak if they do not beat Kazakhstan. Situated in bottom place a draw would represent a good result for Kazakhstan, who will attempting not to finish off bottom of the group to ensure their seeding in future qualifying draws is not affected.
Turkey will win in my opinion but it will be tight.

Prediction: Kazakhstan 1 v 2 Turkey

Iceland vs Czech Republic

The top two faces off in this fixture and on paper it looks to be the most interesting game in this round of fixtures in group A. Czech Republic could be considered favourites with their unbeaten record and their top scorer Bořek Dočkal in excellent form so far in this campaign. However Iceland are unlikely to be disappointed with the underdog tag after impressive back to back home wins against Netherlands and Turkey in recent matches. Furthermore with Gylfi Sigurdsson in equally impressive goal scoring form for Iceland this game could end up being a goal feast.
The winner of this game will end up top of the group after the current round of group fixtures. With both teams desperate not to lose, I think a draw is a likely result.

Prediction: Iceland 1 v 1 Czech Republic

Latvia Vs Netherlands

Disaster. In one word that would sum up the Netherlands qualifying campaign so far. Only seven points has been gained from 5 games which has left Netherlands languishing in third place in the group. As you would except this game has been described as “must win” by the Netherlands manager Guus Hiddink. Latvia as expected have struggled in this group and currently sit in fifth place with three points from five games.
A must win game for Netherlands which they should achieve with some comfort in this game.

Prediction: Latvia 0 v 4 Netherlands

Group B

Andorra vs Cyprus

It has been over 11 years since Andorra have won a competitive game when they beat Macedonia by one goal to nil. Since then it has been a familiar bottom position finishes and heavy defeats for the minnows. In comparison Cyprus have had a mixed qualifying campaign so far with two wins and three defeats in their five qualifying games. This has left Cyprus five points behind the top two in the group, and will be aware that any slip up to in this game to Andorra will most likely to signal the end of their automatic qualifying hopes.

Cyprus should cruise to victory and continue Andorra wait for a first European championship qualifying win.

Prediction: Andorra 0 Vs 3 Cyprus

Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Israel

Both teams have enjoyed mixed form during this European qualifying campaign and this likely to result in a very close game. Israel have nine points from five qualifying games and trail the top two (Wales and Belgium) by two points. As Wales and Belgium meet in this round of fixtures this could provide Israel the perfect chance to close the gap. Bosnia and Herzegovina have struggled in this qualifying campaign with 5 points from the same amount of games. A defeat in this game would be likely to end their top two ambitions. However with the top four best third placed teams qualifying for Euro 2016, a third place finish would not be out of the question for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Israel will start as favourites in this game but I can see Bosnia and Herzegovina edging a win in this game.

Prediction: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2 vs 1 Israel

Wales Vs Belgium

A massive game for both of the top two in this group.

Wales would do well to draw this game which I think they will do.

Prediction:Wales 1 vs 1 Belgium

Group C

Belarus vs Spain

Spain have surprised many after they are second in group C and trail Slovakia by three points after five games. However with five games still left of the qualifying campaign, you would still except Spain to recover to win this group. Belarus on the other hand will try and intimidated Spain and you would except Belarus to be trying everything to park the bus to stop Spain from winning this game. Belarus currently sit in fourth place in the group and trail Spain in second by 8 points, this makes it likely that Belarus only hope of qualification is to qualify as one of the best placed third place teams.

Spain should win this game but I don’t see it being as comfortable as many have predicted.

Prediction: Belarus 0 v 1 Spain

Slovakia Vs Macedonia

Slovakia sitting on top of group C is probably a shock to many outsiders in this group who expected Spain and Ukraine to dominate this group. However the table never lies, and by beating Spain 1-0 at home you would have to say that Slovakia deserve to be top of the table. However Macedonia will not be an easy game as many would expect, as England fans will testify when Macedonia held the three lions to a draw back in the 2006 Euro qualification campaign. Of course the Macedonia squad has changed significantly, since the nine years have passed since then. Furthermore Macedonia hopes in this campaign look to be avoid bottom place rather than trouble the top half of this group, after only gaining three points from the opening five qualifying games.
A game which should test Slovakia qualities in breaking a team down, a challenge I believe they will pass.

Prediction: Slovakia 2 v 0 Macedonia

Ukraine vs Luxembourg

Ukraine know this a must win game as they sit in third place with nine points from the opening five group games. Anything but a win in this game would make finishing in the top two in this group very unlikely. However the minnows of Luxembourg will most likely be putting a 10 men behind the ball in this game in order to stop the expected Ukraine onslaught. Luxembourg only have one point from the opening five games, and know the game against Macedonia will be the most important game to win to avoid a bottom place in this group.

Ukraine should be strong enough to win this game by a wide margin, Luxembourg on the other hand will know this will be a very tough 90 minutes and will do well to keep the game tight.

Prediction: Ukraine 4 v 0 Luxembourg

Group D

Poland vs Georgia

Arguably this is the tightest group so far in this European campaign which sees 4 teams separated by only 3 points. Poland are on top of this group with eleven points from five games but will be aware anything but a win could see them drop to third. Georgia have only managed to win one game so far against the minnows Gibraltar and will be out to frustrate Poland. The strength of the Georgia defence in my opinion will be critical on the outcome of this game. So far in this campaign Georgia have performed well and have only lost games to Scotland and Germany by small margins.

I think Georgia will surprise many in this game and take a share of the spoils.

Prediction: Poland 1 v 1 Georgia

Republic of Ireland vs Scotland

A massive game between two teams both knowing a win is likely to see either team ending the night in top two automatic qualification positions. Scotland currently have ten points which is two more than Republic of Ireland and know that a draw away from home in front of a fierce irish fans would not be a terrible result. However Ireland will be this is a game which they need to win to ensure that they keep in touch with the top two in this group. A defeat for Ireland could make a top two finish looking increasing unlikely.
A tight game which neither side wants to lose, which is why I think they will be nothing to separate the teams.

Prediction: Republic of Ireland 1 vs 1 Scotland

Gibraltar Vs Germany

In the reverse fixture Germany only beat Gibraltar by four goals to nil. Only four? Well yes, the minnows of Gibraltar were expected to be beaten by double figures. Gibraltar knows that pride will be once again on the line and will see anything less than 3-0 defeat as a good result. Gibraltar will know that getting any points in this qualifying campaign will have to be seen as an achievement. However for Germany sitting second with ten points this game, Germany will be expected to win by a good margin and put in a near perfect performance.

Gibraltar surprised many with the result against Germany last time, Can they do it again. I think they can.

Prediction: Gibraltar 0 v 2 Germany

Group E

Slovenia vs England

From the most interesting to the most boring. However you will not hear many England fans complaining about a 100% win record halfway through this qualifying campaign. This game is a test which England should pass but they should not be complacent. Slovenia currently sit in second with 9 points which is six points behind England, and currently have a 100% home record in this European qualifying campaign. However England should still expect to win this game comfortably especially when you consider that Roy Hodgson has fully fit squad available at his disposable.

Slovenia is a test for England, but England should have more than enough in this game.

Prediction: Slovenia 0 vs 2 England

Lithuania vs Switzerland

A real test of Lithuania hopes of qualification will take place when they go to battle against Switzerland this weekend. Lithuania currently sit in fourth with nine points and trail Switzerland by three points. A win could boost hopes of a first ever appearance at a European Championship finals. On the other hand Switzerland know that a win will be needed to ensure that the gap between third and second is reduced.
A game which Switzerland should win, but I predict Lithuania will upset the odds.

Prediction: Lithuania 2 v 1 Switzerland

Estonia vs San Marino

A draw in the reverse game between these two side gave San Marino their only point in this group so far. However for Estonia a draw against the minnows of San Marino was an embarrassment and has contribute to a poor fifth place achieved in the group so far.

A dull game which I think Estonia will just edge.

Prediction: Estonia 1 v 0 San Marino

Group F

Finland vs Hungary

A critical game for both teams in this fixture with both teams cut adrift from the top two teams in group F. Hungary are currently four points ahead of Finland, and will be aware that this gap must be extended or maintained to ensure that automatic qualification hopes are maintained.
A tight game which I think has draw written all over it.

Prediction: Finland 0 vs 0 Hungary

Northern Ireland vs Romania

Northern Ireland must dream of qualification in Euro 2016 in France after an impressive start in Group F. They trail Romania at the top by one point and will be aware that a win will see them top the group. Romania will except a very hostile reception in this game and I believe a draw will not be the worse result they could achieve in this game.

Northern Ireland are on a good run and I can see this run continuing.

Prediction Northern Ireland 2 vs 0 Romania

Faroe Islands vs Greece

A shocking start to this campaign has been made by Greece as they sit bottom of this group with two points from the first five games. On other hand the Faroe Islands sit in fifth place, and must be enjoying for the time not finding themselves bottom of a qualification group. However Greece will know this will be a huge opportunity o find the first win of this campaign.

This campaign has so far be a disaster for Greece, this game should at least see Greece move off the bottom of the group.

Prediction: Faroe Islands 0 vs 2 Greece

Group G

Liechtenstein Vs Moldova

As many would have predicted these two sides currently sit within in the two bottom spots in Group G. Liechtenstein sit in fifth place with four points from their opening five games, in contrast Moldova sit bottom with one point from the five games in this group so far.
A tight game where a draw looks likely.

Prediction: Liechtenstein 1 Vs 1 Moldova

Austria vs Russia

Austria start to this European campaign has been very positive as they sit top of the table with thirteen points from five games. Russia have made a less inspiring start with only 8 points gained from their opening games and trail Sweden in second by one point.

An important game for both sides, Russia to secure a narrow win for me. #

Prediction: Austria 1 vs 2 Russia

Sweden vs Montenegro
Sweden were strong favourites to win this group when the groups draw was made a couple of years ago. However three draw in their first five games has been a major factor on why Sweden are not top of the group. Montenegro are currently fourth but with five points from the same amount of games they will be aware that a win over Sweden would boost any hopes they had of finishing in the top three.

Sweden are a strong team at home and should have enough to beat Montenegro.

Prediction: Sweden 3 vs 1 Montenegro

Group H

Croatia vs Italy

The top two in Group H meet in this fixture and should be an entertaining game with both teams aiming to the end the game top of the group. Croatia have thirteen points which is two points of Italy and have won all three home games in this group so far. Italy are unbeaten from home but will know that the unbeaten record will be put under strain by Croatia in this fixture.

A fixture which is too tight to call, that why I am going for a draw.

Prediction: Croatia 1 vs 1 Italy

Malta vs Bulgaria

So far both of these sides would have been disappointed with the way that this campaign has been panned out. However since the start of the campaign both teams have lost in tight games and will expect to collect full points in this fixture. Malta could move off bottom of the group fixture and Bulgaria would boost any hopes of getting to Euro 2016 with a win.

Both teams are unlikely to feature at Euro 2016 but Bulgaria should have the edge in this game.

Prediction: Malta 0 vs 2 Bulgaria

Norway vs Azerbaijan

As Croatia and Italy play each other this fixture gives Norway the opportunity to cut the gap between them and the top two. Azerbaijan have never qualified for the European Championships and with only three points so far in this campaign a trip to the Euros looks very unlikely for Azerbaijan.

Norway will cut the gap with victory in this fixture and I think it will be comfortable.

Prediction Norway 3 vs 0 Azerbaijan

Group I

Unlike the other groups in the European championships qualifying stage, group I only has five teams competing.
Group I

Portugal vs Armenia

The strongest and weakest team meet in this fixture with Portugal strong favourites to come out as winners. Despite winning their opening four games out of five, Portugal only just remain top of this group by two points. Armenia so far only have one point and will know increasing their points total in this game will be difficult.

A must win game for Portugal which should be achieved with relatively ease.

Prediction: Portugal 4 vs 0 Armenia

Denmark vs Serbia

Despite Serbia only gaining one point in this group so far, I think the test that Denmark face will be harder than many are predicting. Serbia have great experience players such as Dusan Tadic who plays for Southampton in the Premier League. Denmark will be aware with Portugal likely to beat Armenia, a victory over Serbia will be needed to ensure the gap between the top two does not widen.

A difficult test for Denmark but it is a test which I think they will pass.

Prediction: Denmark 2 vs 1 Serbia

John Carver: The scapegoat of Newcastle Season?

This point in the season usually provides Geordie fans a chance to reflect back on a season where they have retained Premier League safety. However this season which started with dreams of Champions League football, has turned into a battle to retain their Premier League status. Why such a decline? Obviously the terrible form is one factor, with other factors such as poor decision making by John Carver and Mike Ashley being blamed.

It is a well-known fact that the relationship that Mike Ashley (Newcastle Owner) has with the fans is far from healthy, with well-known protests making the news past and present. The reason behind the bad relationship can be blamed on many decisions. One decision that was met with outrage by fans was when Mike Ashley renamed St James Park to the Sports Direct Arena. Furthermore the lack of detail of the future direction of Newcastle United has been blamed for the majority of fans dislike of Mike Ashley. In defence of Mike Ashley the club reported healthy profit figures this year, which is the aim of any successful business. However many Newcastle fans have expressed concern that the funding to strength the team is not been made from the profits being made.

John Carver was appointed as interim manager at Newcastle in January 2015, after Alan Pardew left to join Crystal Palace. Since then John Carver has only won two games out the eighteen he has been interim manager. However whilst many pundits and fans have criticized John Carver for this form, I think that some of the criticism is unfair. I understand that 2 wins out of 18 is a horrible record for any manager. However other factors at the club have largely been ignored by fans and pundits. Firstly, John Carver has not been given the chance to spend money whatsoever, as he was appointed after the January transfer window. This for any manager is important as signings are a key indicator of a team’s progress and a manager’s judgement. Secondly, the background that John Carver has had in football has been coaching in a support or assistant role and not a management position. As a result when John Carver was offered the job to manage he accepted it. Anyone reading this would surely accept a job to manage your home team town and the team you love? This is exactly what John Carver did.

I met John Carver once when he was a coach at Plymouth and can assure every Newcastle fan that he is the most passionate Geordie as you can get (from my experience). John Carver did not spend much time at Plymouth, but from his short time at the club, it was clear to see his dream was to be in part of Newcastle United coaching set up in some shape or form. I understand passion does not always win football matches but to a passionate Plymouth fan like me, it goes a long way in being successful.

I do not agree with the John Carver outburst when he claimed he was the best coach in the Premier League. But I do like the way he believes in his own self confidence! Furthermore it was reported that John Carver said the statement was taken out of context when pressed on the statement in his last press conference.

Newcastle remain in deep relegation trouble in the Premier League, they are two points clear of the last relegation spot and one position above the relegation spot. Whatever the outcome of their relegation battle, I believe the critics of John Carver are being harsh. In my opinion it is important that the fans of Newcastle United get behind the team like the amazing supporters they are, to ensure that they stay in the Premier League. The alternative? Championship football for Newcastle next season. A fact which I’m sure no Newcastle fan would want to see.

Football during Summer 2015

As the final stages of the football season in the UK takes place, many fans will endure football withdraw symptoms once the season finishes. Fortunately there is still some football which will be taking place from other countries and leagues from around the world. Below is a list of tournaments and leagues which can still give you a football fix during the summer break in the English Football Leagues.

2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship (15th-30th June 2015)

England will travel to the Czech Republic in June to fight it out with seven other teams in the European Championships. England will go into the tournament on a run of good form including winning a friendly against Germany 2-1 earlier this year. However the last showing at the last European Championship was one to forget, as England finished bottom of their group. England lost all their games and conceded 5 goals and just scoring one in the process. A huge contrast to 2009, where England reached the final of the European Championship, where they lost 4-1 to Germany. Germany are seen the favourites to win this year, with England predicted to finish a close second according to the pundits and the bookies.

Champions League Final (6th June 2015)

This year’s Champions League final takes place in Berlin. Bayern Munich will be hoping to overcome their opponents Real Madrid in the semi-final, to play the final in their home country. As always Champions League finals are always great to watch and has produced many finals which fans from all over Europe will be remember. The final I always remember was the 2003 final between Liverpool and AC Milan, which seen Liverpool overcoming a three goal deficit to win the Champions League on penalties.

Europa League and Champions League qualifying (July-August 2015)

Thought-out the month of July, teams from the UK and Europe will fight it out for the right to be in the last 32 of the Europa League and the Champions League. The team, who finishes fourth in the Premier League, has to play a final playoff game in August for the right to be in the group stages of the Champions League. In recent years the team who has finished fourth have won their playoff game. Arsenal overcame Fenerbahce last season in the Champions League playoff round. Currently in the Premier League, Manchester United sit in fourth place and would play in the final champions league playoff game. However this could change as there are four games left in the Premier League season.

Major League Soccer (MLS) (takes place over most of the summer period)

The Major League Soccer league take place over the summer months, with some of the MLS fixtures being shown live on Sky Sports. However unlike many of the summer football fixtures I have listed, the majority of MLS games take place in the night in BST(British Summer Time) . Players such as Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are playing in the MLS this summer, which I’m sure will be watched by closely by Liverpool and Chelsea fans.

Emirates Cup (2nd August-3rd August 2015)

The Emirates Cup this year takes place over two days and will be competed by between Arsenal, AS Monaco, and Valencia. The invitational cup takes place at the Emirates Stadium which is the home to Arsenal FC. However over recent years the tournament has been won by Monaco and Galatasaray. The tournament has been shown on Sky Sports in the past and is often used by teams in the tournament to get ready for their domestic football season ahead.

I hope you find this guide helpful.

Until next time

Chris

The thrilling title race in the Conference

To most football fans over the years, the conference has often been seen as the graveyard of Football League teams. As a result the league is ignored by the typical English football fan, however this season has produced a lot more excitement. With just one game left, Barnet hold just a one point lead over Bristol Rovers at the top of the table of the Conference, with the winner of the league earning automatic promotion back to the football league. The team who finishes second has to endure a fight to win the play offs with three other teams.

Bristol Rovers could end up with 91 points at the end of the season and still finish second behind Barnet. This is quite a remarkable points total to achieve and not gain promotion, and similar to Kidderminster in the conference in the 2012/2013 season. Kidderminster had 93 points after 46 games but still missed out in promotion in the play offs, Mansfield won the league in this season with 103 points. I can understand that higher leagues often get the most coverage, but this season I thought the conference should have had a lot more TV coverage rather than the odd games being on BT Sport.

It has often been argued by Conference teams that the amount of teams that can be promoted from the conference to the football league should be extended to two teams. As a result of these changes it would mean that more teams would be relegated from League Two. Obviously this would be controversial with some league two teams wanting the same format of promotion and relegation as it is currently.

Personally as a fan of League Two team, I think the idea formatting the promotion and relegation system between the League Two and the Conference would be a good idea. I believe this would be a good idea as it would follow the system used in the way, that sides are promoted and relegated between Championship and League One. A system which ensures a good quality of football in both divisions is matched every season. However it is likely that many League Two teams would not support such a move, which would make it difficult for the Football League and Conference to change the current system.

However back to the title race, Saturday will be a nail biting day for both Bristol Rovers and Barnet fans. Simply if Barnet win they will win the title, but a win for Bristol Rovers and a Barnet loss would see Bristol Rovers win the title.

Until next time

Chris

Should the Home Nations tournament be reintroduced?

In 1984 the last home nations tournament took place and contained the four home nations (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales). This tournament involved each nation playing one game against the other nations, with the team with the most points being crowed the winners. The fixtures between each home nation took place at each home nation’s stadium. The fixtures were played in a round robin format and each alternate fixture would be taken place at each home nation. If the league table ended in a draw at the end of the tournament, the home nations was shared between the teams which had the level points.

I believe that reintroducing the home nations would not only benefit the youth football in the home nations, but could generate a healthy profit though gate receipts for each home nation. Of course there would be have to be sensible dates on when the tournament took place, so in did not coincide when World Cups and European Championship took place. However I’m sure that the leaders of the FA’s of home nations would be able to negotiate on agreeable dates. There have been some small scale games between the home nations since 1984, however they have not taken the format of the last home nations.

The fixtures which the home nation’s tournament would conjure up would be a footballing delight to many supporters inside and outside the home nations. Gareth Bale vs Wayne Rooney could be one battle which I’m sure would raise a few eyebrows if England played Wales. Furthermore a battle between Scotland and England would produce match ups between players who play at the same domestic clubs in the Premier League.

It could be argued that the home nation’s competition could lead to the highest rank sides always claiming the winning trophy after every tournament. However I do not believe that is would be the case, and I can see from research, there were different winners of the tournament through the years. In the 1980’s the home nations were typically won by England, but Northern Ireland did win two of the championships. Wales often languished near the bottom of the tournament table in the later years of the home nations, but back in the 1930’s and 1950’s they did win some of the home nations tournaments.

There are no current plans that I could find from any source in regards to bring back the home nations in any captaincy. Is it time to start a new petition? 🙂

Until next time

Chris

Are Political Manifesto Pointless?

As the election campaign continues this week, the releases of the political parties manifestos will be poured over by the press. However whilst the news coverage will be filled with details of the manifestos, will the voters (who are the indented recipients of the manifesto) actually read them?

I will be first to admit that reading over 50 pages of different manifestos by different political parties will not be carried out by me over the weeks of election coverage. The main reason is simply because I do not have enough time and most polices could be changed once likely hung parliament talks begin. I understand that some voters likely to judge a party by a manifesto, but I believe that this section of voters will be in the minority.

As a student I also carry a lot of skepticism of promise made in political manifestos. The most memorable promise was a pledge by Liberal Democrats which promised there would be no rise in tuition fees. This was broken as the coalition government raised tuition fees to £9,000. Obviously depending on your political alliance, you could always find many others promises stated in political manifestos which were broken. I have only listed once broken promise by a political party, but there are many others broken promises that have equally carried out by political parties.

In my opinion, voters often have to vote on the party which fits their traditional values rather than any specific promises which are made by political party. This of course makes the whole point of manifestos pointless.

Until next time

Chris

Why do People not Vote?

With just a matter of weeks until polling there will be many eligible voters who decide not vote for any political party. Whilst I totally respect what each individual decides to do, I do not understand why not voting would be consider an option if you are eligible.

As a first time voter, I can’t wait for the chance to be able to vote for the first time, but I understand that the vast majority will not have the same feelings. I am not shallow enough to believe that my vote will change the political landscape, but by just voting it makes you part of the debate on polices which affect your day to day life. My young age group is often produces the lowest turnout when it comes to voting in the general election and whilst this is disappointing, I can understand the feelings of why some people do not vote. However this understanding is not an agreement with their feelings that they feel.

I believe one way to ensure that young people vote, is making sure that issues which young people feel is expressed though the right channels. This may seem a really simple suggestion, but is often overlooked by political parties who are trying to get young voters to vote for them. Social media campaigns are a strong way to get through to young voters, as a large majority of young people hold a social media account to one of the socials media platforms. I can strongly remember the outcry which was felt on social media when it was decided that tuition fees should be raised from £3,000 to £9,000. A debate on platforms such as YouTube on reducing the tuition fees would certainly help engage young people in the debate and help increase young voters turnout.

I do not believe that campaigns made by agencies to increase the young voter turnout are very effective. This is because the people, who run the campaigns, do not understand the reason why young people do not vote in the first place. I understand that some campaigns are aided by young a person which is positive, but I do not believe that campaigns actually help a increase the young voters turn out. Unless it is in a digital format.

Voting is free and only takes a few seconds to carry out. So get involved if you are eligible to vote!

Until next time

Chris

Is the Integrity of the European Championships under threat at Euro 2016?

The history of the European Championship can be dated backed to 1927, when it was proposed that the European Championship should be created by Henri Delaunay. However during the early days of the European Championship in 1960, there were only 4 teams that competed out of 17 that originally enter the competition. However moving back to the present day it has been decided by UEFA, the Euro 2016 tournament in France will include 24 teams. This is an increase of 8 teams which took part in the competition in 2012 which was in Ukraine.  Obviously for the smaller European nations this expansion  will be supported as they have more chance to qualify for a major tournament for the first time.

How do teams qualify?- All teams will be split into eight groups which contain six teams, with a further group which only has five teams. The group winners and second place teams automatically qualify for the tournament, the teams finishing in third place will enter a two legged play offs against other teams which finish third, with the winner of the playoff game qualifying. Out of the nine groups, one team which finished a highest ranked third, qualify automatically for the tournament.

As I stated in the first paragraph, the smaller nations such as Scotland and Wales have welcomed the expansion of teams qualifying for Euro 2016. Of course for the fans and the teams of smaller nations this would present an amazing opportunity to qualify/watch a major tournament.  However as an England fan, early exits from major tournaments in the recent past, means I do not get excited when England qualify for a major tournament.  Supporters of the expansion have argued that the expansion has been made in such a way, that the amount of teams in future European Championships could be reduced.  As a result of the euro 2016 tournament not being a success.

There are many who are against the expansion of 24 teams at the euros in France.  Surprisingly to many Germany and England were the countries which openly admitted that they were against the expansion in teams.  Joachim Löw (Germany manager in 2009) claimed that the expansion was “questionable”, and the “”The sporting worth of each game and also the overall competition decreases” because of the expansion in teams. This was certainly a strong worded disagreement and was merited by UEFA to release a statement dismissing and disagreeing with the thoughts expressed by Joachim Löw.

In my opinion 32 teams in the World Cup is sensible as each part of the world has a fair proportion of teams who qualify. However expanding Euro 2016 is a bad idea and I think we will see smaller nations struggling at the euros. The old system which only seen the top teams getting automatic qualification, and the second place winning a playoff to qualify was a good system that worked. So why change it?  A consequence of an expansion in teams at the euros, could lead to an increase in profits to the host country and UEFA, in my opinion this is why UEFA have supported the Euro Championship team expansion.  I could be wrong and it is possible that the expansion could work as a new format but I have serious doubt that this will be case.

However the change to 24 teams has already been approved and whatever I say or others believe there will be 24 teams who will travel to France in 2016. At least there will be more football to watch over the summer and who is going to argue with that?

Until next time

Chris

First Anniversary for The Cornish Opinion

Today marks the first year since I started blogging on WordPress and blogging on my thoughts on football. Since then I have expanded my blog to music and politics pages with the new name ‘The Cornish Opinion’ which so far has been a great success.  I would to say thank you to all my followers and visitors for reading and liking my blog, I hope you continue to enjoy my blog in the future.  I aim in the next year to make the blog more interesting and continue to bring an insight on issues which are critically important to music, politics and football.

Once again thank you for your support

Chris

Should Football Introduce more Video Technology?

It is a tough question which is likely to be given different answers by different stakeholders involved in football. Three years ago the Premier League and the FA had to fight hard for the introduction of goal line technology in the Permier League. Before this only the referee had the power to award/not awarded if a continuous goal was scored. However now it has been suggested if more technology should be introduced into football to aid referees with decisions.

Currently in the premier league only a referee can refer to technology in deciding if a ball cross a line for a goal. However in the Football League there is no technology yet to be introduced with referee and linesman’s being the judge of goal line decisions. The goal line decision system used in the premier league is called Hawk Eye and only takes 7 seconds to alert the referee the verdict on a goal line decision. The question that many asking is should technology be used more in football?

Video decision technology is strongly supported by many top ex officials, including Mark Halsey and the current referee chief in the Premier League Mike Riley. A video decision system would simply allow for an official in another part of ground, to be referred to if, an official was not sure what decision should be given. Furthermore it has been suggested that teams could be given two challenges during a game in order to appeal against a referee decision. In my opinion video technology could be introduce with the officials used behind the goals, in European games moving from the side of the pitch to ta stand where they can be in charge of reviewing technology challenges made from the pitch.

Currently UEFA are very much against the introduction of any extension of technology use in football. Only yesterday Gianni Infantino (UEFA General Secretary) ruled out when questioned the idea of video decision technology. Furthermore it has been argued by other stakeholders in football, that video technology could make referees lazy and rely on technology to give a decision rather than them personally making a decision. It could also be argued that giving two challenges to teams could lead to technology used as a tactic by teams to stop a game to review a decision.

On the other hand, many other stakeholders in football such as the majority of Premier League fans and managers support the move to introduce video technology in football. For example Tony Pulis (manager of West Brom) argued that video technology would have prevented a wrong player being sent off in a game where West Brom lost 3-0 to Manchester City. Furthermore a survey carried out by market researchers found that out of 251 respondents over 80% fans backed the introduction of more technology in football. Whilst it is a small survey it does gives snapshot of the support of introducing video technology in football.

In my opinion I believe that more technology should be introduced in football to help referees to make decisions. I came to this view after reading and agreeing to the view of referees and supporters on the benefits of video technology. Obviously it is massive blow that Gianni Infantino (UEFA General Secretary) ruled out when questioned yesterday the increase of technology in football. However in 2012, Gianni Infantino and UEFA threaten to pour cold water over the introduction of goal line technology, and three year since then, we have goal line technology in use in the Premier League. This shows that whilst it is unlikely that extra technology will be used in the future in football, UEFA have habits for changing their mind set and introducing new supported ideas into football.

Until next time

Chris Lance

Does Second Season Syndrome exist?

In simple terms, second season syndrome is where a team struggles/suffer relegation after one positive season after being promoted. A good example of second season syndrome is Ipswich in 2002, when they had 30 points less in their second season in the Premier League (PL) compared to their first season. Obviously this is a dramatic difference in two season’s point’s totals and most PL seasons since 1990’s have not recorded any similar figures. Not surprisingly Ipswich were relegated in that season.

A misconception made by some teams and fans is surviving the first season in the PL is the hardest challenge. However it is often forgotten that whilst surviving one season in the PL is good, sustaining PL status is even harder. Second season syndrome can happen to any team in any division but in this blog post I will be focusing on PL teams.

34 teams since the existence of the PL have survived in the PL for two or more seasons after promotion. Furthermore 25 teams have finished in a lower position in their second season in the PL than their first season. If you attempted to answer this blog post question on these facts alone, I think I know what answer you would give regarding second syndrome existing! However just because a team finishes in a lower position in a second season, it does not mean they were relegated from the PL in that season.

West Ham in their first season in the PL after being promoted in 2011/2012 finished 10th with 46 points from 38 games. In comparison to their 2012/2013 season where they finished with 40 points from 38 games, which translated into finishing 13th in the PL. This shows that even though West Ham finished with fewer points and a worst position in their second season, it was not a disaster. However that would be my opinion, many West Ham fans might disagree as I know many West Ham supporters enjoy watching their side play stylish football.

So does Second Season Syndrome exist?

After researching the facts I believe that second season syndrome exist, but with a few caveats that needs to be understood. Firstly the definition of second season syndrome, which in my opinion is finishing below a position which was achieved in the first season. However many other people believe that second syndrome exist, when a side gets relegated after a successful first season. I will allow you to make your own mind up.

Until next time

Chris

England vs Lithuania Preview

After a perfect start to the European Qualifiers, England will face Lithuania in a confidence mood at Wembley on Friday 27th March.

Form

England

Perfect is the best way to describe England form so far in this European qualifying group so far. Four victories over Switzerland, Estonia, San Marino, and Slovenia have left England top and 6 points clear of their nearest rivals in Group B. Switzerland, Slovenia and Lithuania are then all locked behind England with 6 points.

Lithuania

Very mixed is the best way to describe Lithuania form so far in European qualifiers. Lithuania took maximum points from their first two games against Estonia and the minnows
San Marino. However this was followed up by two defeats against Switzerland and Slovenia who could be considered to the two strongest teams in the group apart from England.

Top players

England

Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney have both scored 4 goals in 4 games so far this qualifying campaign and will no doubt cause Lithuania problems if they start. Raheem Sterling and Andros Townsend on the wings should carry a dangerous threat to the Lithuania defence as well.

Lithuania

Arvydas Novikovas who plays at the heart of the Lithuania threat is thought to be biggest danger man to the English defence. Arvydas currently has scored one goal in three appearances and currently plays domestic football in Germany for Erzgebirge.

Head to Head

This will be the first game between the two nations.

Prediction

England will not be under any illusion with the limited quality of their opponents and victory will be expected by the nation. In my opinion I think Lithuania will struggle to cope with the attacking quality that England will possess. I have no doubt England will win and condemn Lithuania to their third loss of this qualification campaign.

Prediction England 3 vs 0 Lithuania
(Rooney, Sterling x2)

Is MP’s Pay excessive?

It’s a big question which I’m sure the public would give you different answers for every person that you asked. In the UK, a MP (Member of Parliament) will earn a basic salary of £67,061 each year, obviously expenses can also be claimed in addition to the basic salary each year.

I believe is important to evaluate what work is undertaken by MP’s and other factors, before a judgement can be made on the topic question which I have posed. The public will not see their MP’s each day, so a good indicator on the performance of a MP can be measured on their voting record in the house of parliament. Instead of just being advised on what they should vote for, I believe a local MP’s should vote with what the majority of their constituents support. Of course I am laying out a very obvious point but it is true that many MP’s do not do this. A classic example of this is when Nick Clegg voted to increase tuition fees to £9,000 when promising before the 2010 general election he would not do so. It would very easy to write this blog post criticizing politicians but obviously that would be very short sighted and pointless. Furthermore there are positive contributions which MP’s make which are not reported by the press.

My local MP Sarah Newton holds a regular surgery where member of the public can question and seek information. I am pleased to say that when I have emailed and written letters to my local MP’s, I have been impressed by the speed and depth of answers which have been given to my questions.

The location of a MP can be an indicator on whenever you believe MP’s are paid an excessive wage. In Cornwall the average yearly wage is just £23,900 in comparison to Westminster North (London) where the average wage is £39,745. This different of wage is not just down to the locations of each town but other external factors such as the infrastructure and population of Westminster North and Cornwall.

It has been claimed that by leaving the basic salary at the current level is stopping the most talented people becoming MP’s. I believe this point of view contradicts all the reason why an individual would want to become a MP. The job of an MP is to represent the voters who made them a MP, so surely the money which is earned as a MP’s should not be a main attraction of becoming a MP? However unfortunately it could be argued that many MP’s come into politics for money alone.

After looking at contrasting arguments, I am undecided about how much MP’s should earn. While £67,061 is earned by UK MP’s, a French MP could earn around £100,000 which I’m sure would not be supported by much of the UK public. The difference between a MP workload in France and the UK are different but the rough translation shows the stark different in the amount of money MP’s can make it different Europeans countries. MP’s pay has always been a hot topic in politics and I don’t believe this will change any time in the future.

The Rise in the far right in Europe and Cornwall devolution are just two of some of the future blog posts that you will find here in the the near future. Hope you have enjoy reading this particular blog post and please comment, share, and like if you would like to get involved with this blog.

Until next time

Chris

Chris’s Cornish Bands of the week

In this blog post I will share with you my top 5 bands that I seen in Cornwall and would recommended that you go and see. I know many of my international visitors will not get a chance to see these bands, but many of these bands that I discuss do have videos on YouTube and Facebook. So you have no excuse to not get involved and watch these bands.

5. Area 51
A rock cover band which I have seen performed in many locations from within the geographic area of Cornwall. This band play a wide range of music from Good Charlotte to Bon Jovi. They also did a very good cover of Basket Case from Green Day, which is often a cover song which is not covered well by a lot of acts.

4.High Voltage
The band was created in 2008, but from their live perform you would think they have been playing together for a decade. Again they cover a lot of the old classics from AC/DC to more recent bands such as Stereophonics. They love crowd interaction and their encore is not to be missed.

3. Cold Feet
Cold feet have recently had new band members, which I believe has improved the band each time I have had seen Cold Feet. Very much a band that loves living up to an event, with the lead singer Kenny attempting the Pavarotti world cup song before the world cup game when England met Italy.

2. Mighty Offbeats
The claim on their official website is they are the premier 8 piece ska band in Cornwall. This would be hard to argue with, once you have seen a live set of this band. Every gig that I seen this band always has the crowd on their feet and dancing to various great songs from bands such as Madness.

1. The Prevention
In my opinion they are the best live rock cover band that you can see in Cornwall. They perform amazing covers from 80’s hits such as Hungry like a wolf, compared to Coldplay and the song ‘clocks’. The band seems very professional and you can tell they love playing to the crowds as much as the crowd loves seeing their performances.

Until next time

Chris

How Football is Annoying

During the weekend I have seen many issues which is wrong about football, as a result I thought it would be good to list 5 ways I believe that football could be improved.

1.Second Yellow Cards
I cannot understand why teams cannot appeal when a player is given a second yellow card in a match. Obviously for a red card a team can appeal a decision and attempt to get the decision overturned. By introducing an appeal system, a team could have debatable decisions overturned and allow innocent players to continue to contribute to their teams if they were given a second yellow card. However as it stands teams have to accept a decision, if the player is given a two yellow cards which equals a sent off.

2.Referee talking about decisions
I cannot understand why a referee cannot explain a controversial decision which he has given during a game? Ok, talking to the media would be too far, but surely a statement or a record message could allow referee to explain why he had given certain decision. This would allow teams and fans to understand why a referee then had given a certain decision. Even if they still disagree with his decision after hearing the reason he gave the decision.

3.Diving
I believe diving should be allowed to be acted upon by the Football Association (FA) after games. As a result diving can then be punished rather than teams and players consistently getting way with cheating (not mentioning any teams in particular.)

4.Introduce a Cap on the amount of foreign players allowed in squads

In order for home grown players to be develop in England a cap should be introduced on the amount of foreign players allowed in squads. It has happened in Germany and has allowed for youth German players having a realistic chance of making a different in the senior squad of Germany.

5.Do not Allow Local derbies to kick off at evenings

After seeing the wild scenes of fans of the pitch at Aston Villa, I believe that local derbies should not kick off at evenings. For people who are not aware, there were large amount of fans running on the pitch during the game vs West Brom in the FA cup. This lead to a 5 minute delay and could lead to Aston Villa being fined for failing to control their fans. However I believe if the game was not allowed to kick off at the evening scenes such as the ones seen at Villa park would not have happened.

Not sure if the FA will read this, but we can we always hope they do.

Until next time

Chris

Should 16 year olds be given the vote?

In the 1969 a change to the law meant that all UK residents who were older than 18 would be able to vote. It is now being suggested by some politicians and some public figures that the voting age should be reduce to 16. Obviously this is issue which has many supporters and opposition which is why I will be looking at the each argument in this blog post. Then at the end of the post I will try and conclude on what I believe if 16 years old should be given the vote.

I can remember when I was 16 the issue of politics did not bother me, and my limited knowledge of the British politics was Gordon Brown was prime minister. I can understand and agree with the argument, that when is power given to young people in form of vote they will use it. For example when the Scottish referendum was debated, many 16 and 17 year olds used social media to share their arguments and the way they intended to vote. The people in the UK will also acknowledge the Scottish referendum had the electorate talking about politics not just 16 years olds and young people. It was reported that 75% of 16 and year olds voted in the referendum that were registered to vote. The different between a referendum that effect a country future forever and general election result that last for five years is very different. Nonetheless it shows that when 16 and 17 year olds had the chance to vote they did use it in Scotland.
The support for the lowering the voting age has quite significant support than it has previously had in the UK. Ed Milband (Leader of the Labour party) had said a majority labour government would give 16 and 17 year olds the vote after the general election in 7th May 2015. The SNP is also in favour in lowering the voting age to 16, with a bill going thought the Scottish parliament in order to achieve this. It can be argued that the SNP could be adopting this policy, as they believe that many young people will be more willing to vote for SNP than the other main political parties.

On the other hand there are many arguments, which have been put forward by some quarters on why 16 year olds should not be given the vote. One reason is some believe that 16 year olds are not mature enough to be able to vote. However many will contradict this by saying that a lottery ticket or a joining the army can be done when a person reach 16. Furthermore many suggest it could be a pointless exercise by giving the vote to 16 year olds as they would not use the vote. As a result lowering the age of voting a pointless and ineffective decision. The prime minister is also against the idea and stated last year he does not consider changing the voting age the correct policy to adopt.

In my opinion looking through evidence I have decide I would be in favour of allowing 16 year olds to vote. I came to this decision as I believe the Scottish referendum is the foam horse, and many other young people not just in Scotland will be inspired to vote if they are given the chance.

Cornwall and the TV debates plus MP’s pay are just some of the issues that I will be discussing in future blog posts. So please come back and check back for future blog posts. Hope you have enjoy reading this blog post and please comment, share, and like if you would like to get involved with this blog.

Until next time

Chris

The rise of Minority parties in the UK

In the 2010 UKIP only took 3% of the vote and ended up with no MP’s representing the party in the House of Commons. In comparison the Green party took only 1% of the vote in the 2010 election which resulted with a MP being elected to the House of Commons. Moving to five years later these results are very unlikely to repeated at the 2015 election. The green party has been predicted to gain 3 or 4% or the vote in this election. UKIP has been forecast in some polls to have 17% share of the vote.

So does this mean that Nigel Farage (leader of the UK Independence Party) could be Prime Minister? No, even Nigel Farage has admitted there is a very limited chance that he will serve as prime minister in his politics lifetime. However what it is likely is many minority party leaders could become MP’s. This may seem normal outside the UK, but in the UK this would be a shock and change to the political system which has not been seen before. Typically in the UK, the Labour and the Conservatives often switch power every couple of years. However now it is being predicated that the smaller parties could have more influence in the next shape of parliament than that has never been seen before.

There are many minority parties in the UK which have very different polices for the UK, with some very far right and some of the left of the political spectrum. The Green party headed by Natalie Bennett are seen as on the left wing of British politics, compared to UKIP who are seen as right wing with Nigel Farage head of the party. As you would expect both parties have very different views, with some polices that some may see as radical such as the right for prisoners to vote for being proposed by the green party. In comparison UKIP has polices such as leaving the European Union immediately, which could cause an unknown effect on the british economy and relationship with the rest of the European union. This certainly not an exhaust list of polices from the Green party and UKIP, but is just to give you a flavor on what type of polices which the Green party and UKIP support.

Others minority parties in the UK, include the BNP (British National Party and SNP (Scottish National Party) which again have very different visions for the UK. For example the SNP believe the UK should be split, with Scotland becoming a separate nation away from the rest of the UK. However the BNP like UKIP is a far right party, but argued that the UK should adopted more extreme policies. For example the BNP believe that the government should be much tougher on immigration. The SNP have had much more success than BNP in the past and currently form part of the leadership of the Scotland at the devolved parliament in Scotland. There are many others minority parties in the UK, but in order to keep the blog a reasonable length, I have mentioned a board selection of the minority parties from the left and right of the political spectrum.

What is the probability of the minority parties gaining seats in the election? Well, without having a crystal ball it is very hard to know and predict. However below I have attempted to decipher how I believe each party will perform in the election.

SNP-Recent polls show a strong vote for the SNP is likely, with 50 seats likely being taken by the SNP in Scotland. This would certainly mean that the SNP would have a strong power base to force new powers being devolved to Scotland from Westminster.

Greens- Currently the Green party already have one Member of Parliament, which is Caroline Lucas who won the seat of Brighton Pavilion back in 2010. In some recent polls it has been shown that the greens will finish above the Liberal Democrats in terms of percentage of votes in this election. However the amount of seats that the green party is going to take has been measured to be around 2 or 3 in recent polls.

UKIP- UKIP currently have two MP’s in parliament after two recent by-elections when they gained two seats which were previously held by the Conservatives. The amount of seats which could be won by UKIP, in this election has been speculated a huge amount by the UK media. My prediction is that UKIP will take 5 seats in this election, which would make a bigger difference that it first may appear. If UKIP did take 5 seats it could mean that UKIP may decide to support a coalition in a hung parliament. Alternatively it could lead to confident and supply agreement with a party which is in power. A confident and supply agreement is where a political party such as UKIP could decide to support a government on certain decision which it backs. An immediate vote on the EU membership would obviously be a policy that UKIP would be strongly arguing for.

I’m sure that many of you reading this blog have counted many if, but’s, and maybe in this blog. This has been deliberate done, as I believe that the election results of the minority parties is very hard to predict. It could be that some minority parties change British politics like never before, or it could be that the ‘bigger parties’ (Labour and Conservatives) could have majority governments. So many possibilities and with just 64 days left until the election, there is a lot to play for every political party. One certainty it will not stop all the election discussion that I and many will be doing.

MP’s pay and the vote for 16 years old is just some of the issues that I will be discussing in future blog posts. So please come back and check back for future blog posts. Hope you have enjoy reading this blog post and please comment, share, and like if you would like to get involved with this blog.

Until next time

Chris

Will Promotion/Relegation help generate more interest in the MLS?

I will be the first to admit that my knowledge of the MLS (Major league Soccer), is not as good as my knowledge of the European leagues. However though research I aim to still provide accurate knowledge of the MLS in this blog post.

The reason I have decided to add this blog post is because Sky has announced that it will be starting to show MLS games on their channels. So it got me thinking: Would the MLS benefit from a promotion and relegation system as used in European leagues?

I totally understand from research the concept of promotion and relegation is not in widespread use in America. However it got to be asked would the addition of promotion and relegation help the profile of the MLS and increase the audience of the MLS? Or alliteratively would it damage the MLS and turn away American fans from the MLS?

In my opinion I think the need for promotion and relegation would help the MLS be more open, to the world audience and generate interest in new teams who get be promoted. However currently the danger is the MLS could have “zombie teams” who always finish bottom. Furthermore the introduction of the promotion would allow other teams in America the chance to play in the MLS, which can deliver many benefits. For example a team that gets promoted to the MLS would be able to tap into TV revenue money and generate an income for the city where the new team is based. Even Jurgen Klinsmann (USA soccer manager) has put his support behind the introduction of promotion and relegation in the MLS. Of course just one voice will not lead to a change to the current system. Bad news for those who want change is a MLS official confirmed last year they would not consider a promotion and relegation system.

Even though I have been very negative about some of the aspects of the MLS, I am looking forward to the MLS play offs being easily accessed on TV. The difference between the MLS play offs and the England division play offs is very different though, as the American play offs are much bigger. In England there are typically five games, with two semi finials then a grand finial at Wembley. However in America there is different conferences who battle it out to become the winners of the play offs.

The popularity of American football, baseball, and basketball also makes the job of promoting the MLS much harder. Major TV deals and news coverage which goes to the big sports in America, does not help football case (known as soccer in America) as baseball for example will always generate the biggest money and audience for America broadcasters. However recent impressive World cup performance by the USA soccer team, like in the recent 2014 World Cup will hopefully engage the American fans into soccer.

The announcement of big players to the MLS is hoped by MLS teams to engage the America audience into watching soccer. Steve Gerrard and Frank Lampard are not likely to make the same impact on America as David Beckham did. However the premier league is popular in America so it should help teams such as Los Angeles Galaxy (who Steven Gerrard has signed for) recruit more fans to the ground.

In summary, it does not look likely that the MLS will add a promotion and relegation system in the MLS. However at least for British fans whilst the premier league is on its summer break, football can still be enjoyed.

Until next time

Chris

Should the UK remain in Europe?

1974 was the last time the people of the United Kingdom, had a chance to choose if the UK should remain part of the European Union. Depending on what the outcome of the UK Election will decide whenever the public of the UK will have a chance to vote on the big Euro question. On one hand a conservative majority or minority government has pledge to hold a referendum in 2017. However on the other hand, a majority for labour or a labour government in some form have stated there would be no EU referendum. There are many more ways that the election could see an EU referendum take/not take place, but I have just stated the most likely possibilities.

As a unsure voter when it comes to the euro question, I thought it would be good to layout in this blog post either sides to the euro question. Then hopefully come up with a conclusion on the side that I am likely to vote for. Just to clarify I will be calling all people who support the EU (European Union) “pro euro” and against Europe as “anti Europe” in this post.

Too much immigration inward to the UK, is the argument that anti-euro voters will say why the UK should leave the EU. It has been reported today that the population of England has risen 565,000 since 2011, two thirds of this is made up by European Union people. In my opinion the UK is stuck between a rock and hard place when it comes to immigration. On one hand you will have many who will say that immigration is bad as it is stretching resources, when services are already at breaking point. However many will argue immigration is good for the UK, as many Europeans contribute a lot to British society from working and being active member of the community.

I’m sure if you are reading this blog from the UK, you will be accustomed to Nigel Farage (UKIP leader) comments on the astronomical money that goes to the EU from the UK. It is a fact that the UK pays more into the EU than it gains, but is this a bad thing? I say this because Cornwall will receive €613 euros due to its poverty in the next few years, which has helped build projects such as the Eden Project. Whilst this does not help the rest of the UK, you can understand why a Cornish born citizen like me would be extremely worried about the UK pulling out of Europe. Anti Euro supporters may claim that some of the money saved by pulling out of Europe could be spend in Cornwall. However it could be equally argued by Pro Euro supporters that the money that would be saved would just be spend on other government expenditure.

The other big topic which surrounds the European debate is power and the influence of being in Europe. In some pro euro quarters it has been claimed that the UK, would lose some of the power and reputation if it decided to pull out of Europe. In comparison many anti euro supporters would say that this is a false prediction. In my opinion, I believe there can be no accurate prediction on this argument. Some countries could react differently if the UK decides to pull out of the EU. For example, some countries may seek to a closer relationship with the UK. Conversely some EU countries may see the UK as a less powerful force because of the EU withdrawal.

Currently the EU makes many of the laws of the UK, which effect many parts of the lives of the general public in the UK. However a withdraw of the UK from the EU would be very likely to change this fact. For example the European arrest warrant which allows criminal to be deported other countries within Europe, may not apply to the UK if it voted to leave the EU. Of course this could lead to criminals being kept in the UK, rather than be deported to their own Euro countries. However anti euro supporters would of course argue that better laws and more appropriate laws could be made by the UK it left the European Union.

What about Eurovision? Well it is high likely that if the UK left the EU, the UK would not take part in the Eurovision contest in future years. As a Eurovision fan, I could not forget to add this important fact to the argument. Personally I think Nigel Farage should present the contest if the UK ever holds the contest. 

After a lot of thought I am currently leaning (if I had the opportunity) to vote to stay in the EU. I have come to this conclusion as I believe that as Europe is the UK biggest trading partner, and by leaving the EU, this could be damaged. Furthermore I have seen first-hand how EU money has helped Cornwall move forward, and see the economy move onto a positive footing. I understand that many who read this blog will not be able to understand this fact, but a visit to Cornwall I am sure would demonstrate this fact. However I would still count myself as an undecided voter, and totally understand why some people believe that the UK would be better outside the European Union.

The rise of minority parties and MP’s pay are the next issues that I will be writing about in the next few blog posts. So please come back for these posts and I hope you have found this particular blog post interesting.

Until next time

Chris

Would online voting help engage young people in politics?

It is a fact that the young people in this country vote less than any other age demographics in this country. As a 21 year old this year will be the first time that I will be legal to vote, and I will be voting, the question is will you?

It has been suggested that online voting should be introduced, so that more young people may be more willing to vote than they have been before. Just having an online element I got to say probably would make me more willing to vote and engage in politics. Why? Well as a twitter user (you can follow me at @chrissouthwest1) will know any big news story will find its way onto twitter, and which demographics uses twitter the most? It is the young people aged between 16-21. This may sound too simple too work, but I certainly enjoy flicking though twitter and I’m sure that many other young people would take the effort to click one button to vote if there was an option. I think it would be the same case for other well-known social media channels such as Facebook. Or Instagram (where you can follow me at chrissouthwest1.) It can be argued that it is lazy to vote online, but the same be said with other services. For example, Burger King is rolling out trails around the country to allow home deliveries to be made to UK homes.

Anyway back on topic, some may claim that online voting may lead to an increase in ‘spoil votes’. However I think that is calling young people childish, and surely you get that type of behavior in normal UK general election, when people go to polling station to vote?

Another claim which would could be made against online voting could be, will more far left/right parties gain votes? The answer either way to that argument is very hard to predict as some family traits may sway young voters. For example a working class family could be considered to be more likely to vote Labour. In comparison to a wealth land owner which could be claimed would be more likely to vote Conservative. Furthermore a vote for a far left/right party is what democracy is all about? Even if Nigel Farage and UKIP believe that everything that is wrong about Britain is Europe. 🙂 Or if Green party gain more votes would we see every street lights being turned off?

I find it quite fascinating the way that the increase in young people voting in Greece has turned out in their recent troubles. Mass unemployment and poverty can be blamed partly, but even without that a factor such as this, it must offer hope that more people not in just Greece will find their voice and vote.

Even if that is with or without online voting.

I hope you have enjoyed my first election 2015 blog post, I am planning other topics to discuss and will upload these soon. These will include a look into and the questions of “Should the UK stay in the euro?” “Can social media popularity win a political party a General Election? and my prediction on who will come out on top in the Election 2015.

Until next time

Chris

The TV contract that could kill the Football League

It is the TV deal that everyone is talking about, £5.14 billion has been paid for by BT and Sky to show Premier League games from next year. I’m sure that many premier league clubs will enjoy a share a share of the £5.14 billion, but the question that I will be addressing in this blog is: Will this TV deal kill the football league?

 

The first notable difference to the football schedule next year will be that some of the premier league games will be played on Friday nights. However as many football league fans will be point out is when Championship, League One, and League Two games are shown by Sky or BT Sport. I accept this fact alone will not have a dramatic effect on finances of football league teams. However it is one part of the weekend football leagues team can have a welcome windfall of money from Sky.  Sadly, this windfall will not happen now because of the new TV deal. This is surely not fair?

 

Furthermore as I have referenced in other blogs posts, the increase in parachute payments to all premier league clubs, is making it more difficult for other clubs in the football league to gain promotion. It just shows that there are double standards between the Premier League and the Football League.  Many conference teams have gone into liquidation for debt around £250,000 which Wayne Rooney is reported to earn that figure within under a month.

 

Even premier league fans will suffer due to the TV deal, it is reported that many Premiership clubs will make tickets to home games and season tickets more expensive after next year due to the TV deal. Some may argue that this rise should take place, after a standard of living in the UK has picked up in the last year or so. However with the profits that premier teams are making, a continuous drop in ticket prices should take place? Instead I think we have more chance of England winning the world cup.

 

I believe many football league fans would not be so worried about the deal, if most clubs in the football league pyramid were making a reasonable profit. However many clubs are not, take Accrington and Morecambe, how can these clubs survive on crowds around 1,000 each home game?  Even if Plymouth (the team I support) gets crowds of 6,000, the amount of profit that can be made is minimal in comparison to Championship and Premier League teams. Furthermore with Plymouth stilling paying off creditors after administration, a healthy profit will take longer than may have been the case a few years ago.

 

To the answer my original question, I do not believe this TV deal will kill the football league completely. However in my opinion, the inequality in football league finances needs to be address. The German model is not perfect, but the relationship between the fans and the clubs is much better and should be followed by the Premier League teams. The ticket prices in Germany top division would struggle to get most fans in a league two game in this country. Bayern Dortmund tickets are advertised online for £13, compared to Plymouth Argyle where tickets can be cost for £21 for an average fan.

 

In summary, as much as football fans dislike the TV deal like me, the fact will have to be accepted, the TV deal will be going ahead.  Alternatives?  Go and support your local team. That is if you do not live next to one of the Premiership giants.

 

Please also look at my new blog called election 2015, which will provide a different insight into the election in the United Kingdom this year.

 

Hope you have enjoyed reading this blog, please rate and comment!

 

Chris

Changes to the Blog

Firstly I would like to apologize for the lack of activity on my blog since the turn of the year. I have been so busy with work and whilst coming up with ideas to blog about, I have not had time to publish the materiel that was planned.

As mentioned in the last blog, I have decided to make some subtle changes to the blog. In order for the blog to be more interesting for you to read and more enjoyable for me to write.

The first change that you will see will be a new section called Election 2015. This will document my thoughts on the general election in the UK which is a few months away. I must stress that this will be my first time voting and I hold no political alliance to any party. Furthermore I hope to bring a honest but accurate opinion on what I think of the election as it develops.

The second change will be called ‘Chris’s acca tips’, this will update most weeks and offer you a insight in who I think will be celebrating a victories at the weekend. This will all be a bit of fun, and I will not be making any guarantees that my predictions will always be correct (as much as I want them to!).

The third change to the blog will be a new section called Chris’s Band of the week. I often go around Cornwall listening to some amazing live bands, by creating this section I hope to give a insight to the great live bands which sing around Cornwall.

I also will be continuing to deliver my thoughts on various football topics, as always. Please let me know if there is any topics you would like me to write about. The comment box is the easiest way to contact me.

I hope you enjoy reading my blog, and hope the changes that I am making will make the blog more enjoyable for you to read! 🙂

Football and the Christmas period

Firstly I would like to apologize for not posting in the last month of this blog. I have been very busy at work and a result I have not had time to plan, let alone decide what to write for blog posts. However as a new year solution I will try to write more posts which I hope you will like! 🙂

As the football season nears the halfway stage of the season it can only mean one thing. It is Christmas! However just ask many footballers it will not feel like Christmas with many teams having to play 4 games within the next 12 days. However the question I want to explore is: Can Christmas fixtures define the destiny of a team season?

Of course a bad first half of the season before Christmas will obviously limit a team ability what can be achieved for the rest of the season. However boosting promotion chances or aiding a relegation can be possible during Christmas, 12 points may seem a small amount of points at the time, but over a season the points gained at Christmas can decide a team fate regarding promotion or relegation.

I often find it amusing how many Premier League teams complain about the games that they have to play over Christmas compared to the amount of games that are played over a season by football leagues teams. Plymouth Argyle often play 4 games over 14 days over various times of the year. Furthermore, many of these games involve long trips to the north of England, which due to the geographical position of Plymouth can mean 8 hours is journey are common practice. This is not mentioning the conditions which football can be played in over the winter period.

Finally, I would just like to say thank you to all to my followers and people following my blog, liking, suggesting recommendations, and commenting on various football topics I have discuss this year. This type of feedback allows me to improve the blog and hopefully explore football topics which are important to teams outside the premier league but not often talked about. I am not saying the premier league is not interesting but the issues surrounding premier leagues sides are often covered by other blogs already. I have new ideas what to do with the blog and will share these ideas with you in the new year but until then…

Happy Christmas and new year to everyone!!!!!!! 🙂

Should the Rooney Rule be introduced into Football?

I think it is important to stress that at the moment, diversity in football has not really happened and more needs to be done. As it has been reported in the media the amount of black mangers in the football structure is minimal. As a result the question that needs to be asked is: How can a wide range of people from various ethnic origins be encouraged to get involved within the football structure.

The Rooney rule which has been suggested as one solution, tries to ensure that at least one racial or ethnic minority is a candidate for a role within football. However I believe this would not work as some football clubs at times already have a clear idea who they are they going to appoint. As a result by interviewing a candidate from a racial or ethnic minority would not serve any purpose to the candidate or the club who are employing. Furthermore, this rule could lead to some geographical location requesting that they are included in the rule. However as a standalone idea this would not be wrong, but this addition would make the task of employing a manager a near impossible task for some football clubs.

My solution for this problem is quite simple, I believe that football needs to be promoted in all areas where it is currently not. I know many will say this is very simplistic idea of thinking, but where I have live in Cornwall it has helped people from different ethnic backgrounds to get involved in football activities. Many parts of Cornwall is rural which means that access to football can be very difficult as the number of football fields are minimal and access to them are even harder to come across. In some ways, England has too many teams which have a large amount of one ethnic origin. Reducing the amount of teams would allow for more people from a mix of ethnic origins to join one team.

I totally accept that my plan above will not solve the main issue surrounding the blog, but I believe that a stronger effort should be made in regards to more ethnic groups undertaking football activities.

Could Scottish football be changed if Scotland votes for Independence?

Being born in Cornwall I can understand the different feelings that Scottish people will have when they decide to vote for independence or not. Cornwall is a similar distance as Glasgow away from London, and like Scotland I can understand how isolated it can feel living such a distance away from London. However, as this is a football blog I will leave it to other more qualified and knowledgeable people to discuss the pros and cons of independence.

One of the biggest changes to Scottish football as a result of independence could affect the two biggest teams in Scottish football. Rangers and Celtic have always been thought to be attempting join the premier league and leave the Scottish Premier league, which would change if Scotland became Independence. As the likeliness of Rangers and Celtic joining the premier league would be near impossible, leaving the Rangers and Celtic seemingly doomed in the Scottish Premier league. In my opinion with the inclusion of welsh teams such as Cardiff and Swansea in the Premier league, the chance of Scottish teams being allowed in the premiership should be explored.

In a ideal world for Celtic and Rangers they would join the premier league in the 2015 season replacing two for the teams that get relegated from the premiership. However in reality it would throw up a lot of issues which would be hard to sort out, such as “Do Rangers and Celtic have the quality to compete in the premier league?”. Furthermore, teams such as Dundee United and Aberdeen may also want to join the premier league, as the premier league only has 20 teams this would be near impossible to resolve.

The euro 2020 bid for Scotland to hold a group stage game could also be affected as a result of Scotland voting for Independence. UFEA yesterday stated that they would revisit the Scottish bid if Scotland votes to become a independence country. ‘Revisit’ is a very vague word, so I believe that it is very hard to understand what UFEA is trying to talk about regarding this comment.

On the contrary if Scotland votes no to independence, the situation may only change very slightly to what is taking place in Scottish football at the moment. As Rangers and Celtic would continue to lobby the premier league to join, and Scotland euro 2020 bid would have the same application status as it has always had.