Football: The Sweeper

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Politics to fore in 2002 name game

THE EMBASSY of the Republic of Korea wrote to us this week about the next World Cup. "Please note that the title `2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan' has been agreed between Korea and Japan, and approved by Fifa as the official name for this event. If your organisation decides to carry any future articles incorporating the title of the 2002 World Cup, it would be appreciated if you could use the title in the form detailed above."

We asked Hyon Tak Hwang, the press and cultural counsellor, why he felt so strongly about this. It was Fifa branding, he said. And because Korea would start the tournament and Japan end it. But is politics playing a part, given the often strained relations between the two countries? All right, he conceded. "The problem is the Korean people thinking: `Why are the media putting Japan first?' We have a history there, Korea was a colony of Japan and the people of Korea are thinking Korea should now be first." Glad we cleared that up.

CROOK TOWN of the Northern League First Division have recently shown a bit of form, so to speak, to make progress in the FA Vase. How appropriate, then, that their opponents in next weekend's third round will be the West Midlands Police.

EDDIE MAY, formerly in charge at Cardiff, Newport, Torquay and numerous foreign sides, has been appointed as the coach of the Pakistan national team. John Layton, formerly of Hereford, will take charge of the youth side.

"The salaries of both men will be $3,000 (pounds 1,900)," Farooq Mir, the secretary of the Pakistani FA, said this week. This might explain why English coaches (Peter Withe in Thailand, Gary Johnson in Latvia, Steve Perryman at Shimizu S-Pulse in Japan, and Bob Houghton in China among them) are so in demand overseas. Not only do they have the pedigree of coming from the home of football, and lead their sides to heights previously unscaled, but they'll work for peanuts. Note to Jack Walker: re-locate to Mongolia and you might save yourself a few quid replacing Brian Kidd.

The Sweeper can reveal that Gerard Houllier and Arsene Wenger are hot on the tail of the young Finnish goalkeeper, Billy Le Poisson. "I've not seen such talent since the 50s at Melchester Rovers, and it'll be sad to lose him," said Blackie Gray, now the assistant manager at Helsinki's FC Makitup. "Me and Roy Race, Makitup's manager, are gutted," he added. "Much like Billy's parents were."

SPOOKY BUT true: when Graham Kavanagh struck the first goal of Gudjon Thordarson's reign as Stoke City manager at Wycombe on Tuesday, he was maintaining an astonishing record. Kavanagh also scored Stoke's first goal under the four previous incumbents - Gary Megson, Brian Little, Chris Kamara and Chic Bates - as well as the last goal at the Victoria Ground and the first at the Britannia Stadium. Altogether now: "Iceland, it's just like watching Iceland..."

CRYSTAL PALACE'S home game with Nottingham Forest today will be shown live in China and Sweden, presumably so fans there can follow the respective fortunes of the Eagles' Fan Zhiyi and Mattias Svennson. Virgin Airways, promoting its new route to China, will have its name emblazoned, in Chinese, on the Palace players' chests, and there will also be advertising hoardings in Chinese and Swedish to tap in to the potential overseas markets. It has to be hoped Steve Coppell's men will serve the fans with sweet football and not, as so often happens, a sour display to have them contemplating chop-sueycide.

THE ISRAELI FA has cleared its national team players of allegations they spent the eve of their European 2000 play-off first leg against Denmark (which they lost 5-0) in the company of prostitutes. Two private detective firms charged with investigating the matter rejected testimonies of the call girls who implicated the players. The federation did not say how long it will take the detectives to conclude that Israel are rubbish at football.

SPOTTED ON the Newcastle United unofficial website. "A quick glance at the calendar reveals the staggering coincidence that just about the time Cherie [Blair] was being impregnated by the Sedgefield love machine, a Mr R Gullit was packing his bags and heading off in a big hurry... I just had a celebratory pint mesel, like."

Fan Power

Your chance to reclaim the game

THE PREMIER League's ruling that BSkyB must reduce its shareholding in Manchester United to under 10 per cent (they now own 9.99 per cent) because of its interest in Leeds has not removed the dangers of media company penetration of football clubs. BSkyB owns 9.9 per cent of Manchester City; it has agreements to negotiate TV rights for Leeds and City; NTL and Granada hold strategic stakes in Newcastle and Liverpool respectively; and there are more media company/club tie-ups in the offing. The League's 10 per-cent ruling is a complete red herring, given the strategic nature of the TV companies' holdings. The threat to the collective negotiation of premium football rights and the subsequent redistribution of income from their sale, as well as football's independence from television, remain in jeopardy. Fans' interests come a very poor second. Adam Brown

The Coalition of Football Supporters is urging fans to write the authorities, demanding action to protect the integrity of football and the interests of fans. Write (and copy your letter to your MP) to:

JOHN BRIDGEMAN, Director General of Fair Trading, OFT, 15-25 Bream's Buildings, London EC4A 1PR. RICHARD SCUDAMORE, Chief Executive, Premier League, 1 Connaught Place, London, W2 2ET. DAVID DAVIES, Acting Executive Director, FA, 16 Lancaster Gate, London, W2 3LW.

Not For Sale: Manchester United, Murdoch and the defeat of BSkyB by Adam Brown and Andy Walsh, published by Mainstream.

Football Supporters' Association: PO Box 11, Liverpool, L26 1XP. Tel: 0151 737 2385. Web: www.fsa.org.uk

Coalition of Football Supporters: Tel: 0113 237 4545. Web: www.cofs.co.uk

The Price Is Right

COVENTRY PROVED too strong for struggling Aston Villa on Monday, but will find Leicester, today's visitors, a tougher test and Martin O'Neill's men can snatch a point. Everton, so unlucky to be deprived of all three points by Chelsea's last-gasp equaliser, will fancy their chances against Villa but John Gregory's men are potentially better than their latest form and they might finally turn the corner and grab a point. Newcastle may be held to a draw by classier visitors Tottenham, while West Ham's game with on-the-up Liverpool could also end in deadlock. Finally, Leeds, after their pointless trip to Moscow, might be held to a draw by Southampton at Elland Road.

THE SWEEPER'S NET pounds 100 TREBLE CHANCE WAGER

10 x pounds 3 trebles with Stanley: Coventry to draw with Leicester (9-4); West Ham to draw with Liverpool (9-4); Newcastle to draw with Tottenham (9-4); Everton to draw with Aston Villa (11-5); Leeds to draw with Southampton (100-30).

BALANCE: -pounds 88.30.

TODAY'S BET: pounds 30 STAKED.

20th Century Icons

As the new millennium approaches, The Sweeper celebrates football icons of the 20th century. Today, Duncan Edwards, the Dudley-born left- half and sometime centre-forward who made his Manchester United debut aged 16 and went on to become the youngest player to win a full England cap aged 18 years, 183 days. Bobby Charlton once said: "If I had to play for my life, and could take one man with me, it would be Duncan Edwards." Those sentiments summed up for many people the staggering talents of a player who was to lose his life at the age of 21 as a result of the Munich air disaster in 1958. Here he spreads his arms while running on goal as United meet Arsenal in 1953 Hulton Getty

In T'net

Found on the Web: A managers' home page

THE OFFICIAL site of the League Managers' Association contains news, views from the LMA, short, fact-packed profiles of the managers, and interviews in print and audio. You can even listen to Bolton's manager, Sam Allardyce, talking about how he's going to become a "techno-head" to stay ahead of the game.

The statistics table is a good idea, listing all 90 current managers in order of the length of time they've been in their jobs. Dario Gradi of Crewe (appointed in June 1983) tops the pile. Kevin Ratcliffe of Shrewsbury (appointed this month) is bottom. A quick look at the list shows that only 32 managers of the 90 have had their jobs for more than two years. Thirty have been appointed so far in 1999. Apparently there is also a private area of the site where managers will be e-mailing each other and conducting transfers. A hacker's paradise, surely?

http://www.leaguemanagers.com/

Read Of The Week

FOR LOVE OR MONEY by Alex Fynn and Lynton Guest (Andre Deutsch, paperback, pounds 6.99).

ANOTHER OF Fynn and Guest's forensic examinations into the current state of football in this amoral money-obsessed era. This time the authors primarily focus on Manchester United and England in the 1997-98 season, climaxing with England's ultimate failure at France 98. The book's strongest points derive from Fynn's unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to key figures at Old Trafford, BSkyB and at the FA, and his understanding of the motives of football's new investors.

In a fascinating postscript, Fynn reveals his role in the downfall of Glen Hoddle, England's coach at the World Cup in France. Although the two were close, the authors don't hold back on their criticisms of how Hoddle's high-handed manner alienated public and players alike. On the whole, they brilliantly dissect a game in transition and chillingly show how money and politics have corrupted the game's soul.

Courtesy of Sportspages bookshops, 94-96 Charing Cross Road, London (0171 240 9604); & St Ann's Square, Manchester (0161 832 8530). www.sportspages.co.uk

Unsung Heroes

No 17

PHIL STANT: Lincoln City's 37-year-old assistant manager (and striker), is a former bomb-disposal expert in the Army. Since being bought of the forces by Reading at 19, he's proved to be a live wire in many senses. He's also been the epitome of the journeyman footballer.

After starting his professional career at Elm Park in 1982, he played for Hereford, Notts County, Blackpool, Lincoln, Huddersfield, Fulham, Mansfield, Cardiff (where the fans sang `Who-needs-Can-to-na? We got Stan- ta-na'), Mansfield (again), Bury and Northampton before returning, in 1996, to Sincil Bank.

He made his second Imps debut on Boxing Day that year and went on to score 15 goals in 22 games in that first season. He has scored more than 200 goals in some 450 matches in his career altogether.

"Although he is likely to be deployed in a predominantly off-the-field role now, his attitude and relationship with the fans ensures he is one of the most popular faces at Sincil Bank," one fans' group proclaimed recently on its website. Two matches in the past eight days suggest that there may be more mileage and valuable contributions left in the legs yet, however.

A week ago yesterday, away at Luton in the second round of the FA Cup, Stant came on in the second half to steady his side and help them to a 2-2 draw and a replay. On Tuesday night, he was called upon again, against Brighton, in the league. He scored a late goal to level the match at 2- 2 and scupper the Seagulls' chances of a fourth successive

home win.

Do you have an unsung hero to recommend? A "one club for life" man perhaps? An octogenarian groundsman? A hospital radio team? A super tea lady or a programme seller who's not missed a match in 50 years? Let us know.

Sign Of The Times

From The Sweeper's autograph collection from the late 1970s and early 80s. Who are they?

ONE OF these hoop-wearers was fond of a flutter. The other is the namesake of the fastest milkman in the west, questionably.

Answers next week. Congratulations to Gordon Winder of Surrey who was the first to correctly identify Derby County's Archie Gemmill and Leighton James last week. The prize is entry to the season's-end draw (open to all published Sweeper contributors) for a rare double-volume 1,500-page, original copy of England's 2006 World Cup bid prospectus.

Just Imagine...

... after the "playmaker problem" and the "left-sided problem", what problem England will have next?

The "realisation we are pants" problem.

A rash of injuries which may result from the players falling from a height (ie: off their wallets).

For next week, The Sweeper invites you, in the wake of the AXA wild card, to imagine what the next FA Cup innovation will be. Addresses as above.

SONG SHEET: SPURS

White Hart Lane's appreciation for players of Scandinavian extraction, sung to Steffen Iversen these days

I love Erik the Viking,

And Erik the Viking loves me,

I love Erik the Viiiiking,

And Erik the Viking loves me.

Tune: usually out of tune

Don't dodge the draft. Send your contributions to The Sweeper.

By post:18th Floor, I Canada Sq, Canary Wharf, London. E14 5DL

By fax: 0171 293 2894

e-mail: sport@independent.co.uk

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