Football Diary: Cup ties causing cold pies

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The Independent Online
NEVER mind all that gourmet food going uneaten in Italy and Spain, all this midweek European football on the box is leading to a whole load of hot pies going cold on the snack counters of English football grounds.

That is the view of Alec King, the director of marketing at Sunderland, who has some alarming attendance figures in his computer to set before the next meeting of the League's Television Assessment Committee. By comparing the gates of the 28 Endsleigh League clubs hosting games in the week beginning 12 September with their average attendance, King has established that the armchair attraction caused an aggregate loss of 42,220 spectators. There is no form of compensation for clubs who suffer in this way.

Working on pounds 8 a head for entrance to First Division games and pounds 7 elsewhere to estimate lost income, King says: 'If this continues over a 10-week period, pounds 3m will have vanished from League clubs' balance sheets, and assuming an average spend of pounds 1 a head on refreshments, a further pounds 422,200 from the tills of the pie shops.'

BIRMINGHAM CITY'S advert in the Financial Times for 'wealthy individuals' to join their board has coincided with the appearance of a Mr Flashman at St Andrew's. Blues fans may be asking whether David Sullivan has taken leave of his senses after the almost fatal final days of the larger-than-life ticket-broker's chairmanship of Barnet. Not to worry: Mark Flashman, goalkeeping son of Stan, has signed on a non-contract basis, and there's no immediate prospect of Birmingham getting two together.

IF you are not a fan of Leeds United, then steer clear of anyone you know who is - they might just have a copy of Paul Harrison's new book The Elland Road Encyclopedia*. It is, as it claims, 'An A-Z of Leeds United FC', covering everybody and every event connected with the club. If you are pinned in a corner by someone wielding a copy, ask them to read the bit about Kevin Noteman that says he was 'never quite impressive enough to break into the first team' and then ask them what the striker was doing in Mansfield on Tuesday night.

*Mainstream Publishing, pounds 7.99

IT was a typically French row. In an interview in L'Equipe on Tuesday, Claude Simonet, president of the French Football Federation, was asked whether Eric Cantona, who leads France against Romania in St Etienne tonight, was a good national captain. Simonet said that in terms of talent he deserved the job but his 'general culture' seemed 'elementary' (primaire).

When the two men met on the day the interview appeared, they had 'a very positive conversation', according to Simonet. 'But then he phoned me to say he had seen the papers. I explained myself, but I sensed that he had been hurt.'

Later, Cantona told journalists: 'What he said to me was different from what he told the press. I couldn't give a damn about his stories. Everyone here found what he said rather elementary.'

Simonet then said he wanted to withdraw the word 'elementary'. He explained: 'I didn't mean it to refer to his culture or his education. I wanted simply to say he is hewn out of 'elementary' stuff: that is to say that he sometimes appeared to be on the defensive, that he could also appear in a threatening light.'

Elementary, I suppose.

FROM among some pretty eccentric Baldies XIs, one including in midfield 'Fight with the Robin van der Laan-mower', the winner of the Wild Turkey Bourbon is Carl Bardesley, of Gwent, with:

Comedy Acting Baldy XI: Clive (Frank) SWIFT, Roy (Joe) KINNEAR, Richard (Ray) WILSON, Mel (Tommy) SMITH, Stubby (John) KAYe, Ken (Sol) CAMPBELL, Mike (Peter) REID, Bob (Bobby) HOPE, Robert (Trevor) MORLEY, Warren (Dave) MITCHELL, Brian (Lee) GLOVER.