Blue Villa drop the claret

FOOTBALL DIARY
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The Independent Online
Rangers are to unveil a new green away strip, while Spurs plan a red-and-white number. Only joking, but many Aston Villa supporters fail to see the funny side of the club's decision to wear blue when there is a clash next season.

Abdul Rashid, Villa's commercial manager, justifies the change by claiming "market research shows blue is the dominant colour in the leisure market". That's all right then, even if it is also the colour Birmingham City play in. Nigel Kennedy modelled the new strip at Thursday's launch. Meanwhile, anyone ringing the Villa-crazed violinist lately will have missed his curiously cockney-fied tones on the telephone answering machine. Doubling as his message is the Clubcall report of the recent 7-1 walloping of Wimbledon, accompanied by Kennedy drooling: "Yessssss!"

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When it comes to football loving musicians Elton John, of course, took his passion to the limit by assuming control of Watford. An interesting insight into life at the top of a club comes in an interview Elton gave 90 Minutes in which he said that he felt a different kind of pressure at the club from that he endured as a pop star. "I used to have to tour when I didn't really want to, to afford to buy a centre-forward" he said. "If you want to be chairman of a football club you have to do that." Perish the thought that others might take up the idea. Imagine if Alan Sugar had gone on tour with the Ossie Ardiles Ensemble - five lead singers but, whoops, someone forgot to book the backing group.

Elton still has Watford at heart in his role as their life president, but at another more modest Hertfordshire club supporters have their doubts about their own supremo. Mike Thody, the president of Knebworth FC, wants to evict the Herts Senior County League club from their ground, which he owns. Thody, a former player with the club, moved the team to his stadium in 1981 and now he wants to push the club out to lay an Astroturf pitch. Only half a dozen years short of your 100th birthday is no time to be made homeless.

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Middlesbrough are on the move in more senses than one. They are hoping this season will end in promotion to the Premiership and plans to relocate are in full swing. Fans have already been to experience a virtual-reality computer simulation that shows them every detail of the new stadium, including the views they can expect from their seat. Pieces of the Ayresome Park pitch are being sold off at £50 a time. There is also a £250 prize for the person who owns the four square yard of turf on which the ball finishes at the end of the last match played there. That is a great way to buy a piece of the club's history and would look fine in the back garden. Until, that is, the neighbour looks over the fence and says: "I like your new sand pit, but what's the white spot for?"

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Striking back at unscrupulous agents are Parma and Juventus, who found themselves in a contest to bring Luis Figo from Portugal to Serie A. The player's agent fixed him up with Parma but he himself agreed to join Juventus but then tried to back out of the deal. Now Parma and Juve have agreed not to have anything to do with the player and have reported him to the game's world governing body, Fifa, for his double dealing.

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Ooh, argh. There be plenty o' fine candidates seeking the Wild Turkey this week, Uwe (Rsler) clever lot. The winner of this week's bottle is the aptly named Paul Shephard, of Edinburgh, for:

AGRICULTURAL XI: Aberdeen ANGUS, old McDONALD, FOOT and mouth, Dutch BARNES, free-range HEGGS, milking PARLOUR, Combined HARVEYster, The ALF COMMON Agricultural Policy, KEVIN HECTARE, MAURICE SETTERS-side, Hayrick CANTONA.

Next week: Heavy Metal XI. Entries to the Independent, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL.

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