Sir Paul will be on the pitch beforehand to launch his late wife Linda's vegetarian range which, according to Birmingham managing director Karren Brady, "might turn into something more spectacular". Perhaps he will sing for his supper. The Beatles' "White Album" was re-released as a CD over Christmas, although one can safely assume he will not be performing the number entitled "Piggies", more likely "Honey Pie".
A more appropriate track still might be "Yer Blues". After all, back in the 1960s, Sir Paul professed to be a supporter, like his father, of those other Blues on Merseyside. It would certainly not be his first appearance at a football stadium; he still holds the record for the largest paying audience for a show by a solo performer - 184,000 at the Maracana stadium in Rio nine years ago.
Steve Beachampe, of the Football Supporters' Association, welcomed the dietary change for fans. "Supporters would relish the alternative to fast food normally available," he said. "A lot of food at football matches leaves much to be desired."
SOME LIGHT has been thrown on the timing of John Rudge's sacking as Port Vale's manager by an item in this week's Nationwide League Newsletter. Under the headline "Vale Park discount for the jobless", the newsletter tells how the struggling First Division side gave discounts to fans for last week's home game against Swindon.
"Out of work football supporters from the Potteries watched at a dramatically reduced price on production of their unemployment card," the newsletter says. Each unemployed adult was guaranteed a pounds 4 reduction in the normal price and could take two accompanying children into the match for nothing.
Neil Hughes, Vale's marketing director, commented this week with no trace of irony: "The board of directors decided to reduce prices as a direct result of recent redundancies and job losses across the Stoke-on- Trent area. Many people who have lost their jobs in the process are faithful Port Vale supporters."
Vale lost the game and Rudge, with barely a thought for his 15 years' loyal service, was dismissed. One can only presume he wasn't sent packing before kick-off because the club wouldn't have been able to afford the subsidy on his ticket if he had attended.
IF PUSH comes to shove, so to speak, an FA tribunal may be called upon to rule in the dispute between Paolo di Canio and Sheffield Wednesday over the pounds 100,000 in wages which the club has docked and the pounds 90,000 imposed in fines on the player since he went AWOL on 12 December. The Italian has compiled a six-page dossier which outlines how the club has allegedly failed him since his suspension for the shove on referee Paul Alcock. Included among the list of heinous "crimes" is a claim that Di Canio's famous white boots went missing from the club's training ground.
WE KNOW that Alessandro Pistone received a sheep's heart from a Newcastle team-mate at the club's Christmas party ("It's a heart because you haven't got one," he was told) and that Alan Shearer got a Mary Poppins doll, but what of the Swede Andreas Andersson? Sheep's brains, perhaps. A group of his fellow countrymen, all clients of Newcastle Breweries, were invited over to watch the recent match against Chelsea and later that evening bumped into Andersson at a club, whereupon they explained to him how they had been the breweries' guests at the game and had generally been shown a good time by Newcastle's sponsor. To which Andersson replied: "Oh yeah, and which brewery is that?"
SWANSEA'S FA CUP hero Martin Thomas, devastated at missing today's fourth round tie against Derby County at The Vetch, at least had one bit of good news this week when the shirt which was stolen after the replay against West Ham was anonymously returned to him in a plastic bag with a note saying "Sorry". Thomas, who had knee and hernia operations yesterday, had appealed for the return of the shirt when it went missing from the dressing-room after he scored the winner against the Hammers. Rio Ferdinand can be ruled out as the thief, having happily given the Welshman his own shirt at the end of the game.
THE FIRST lecture ever to be conducted at Cambridge University on the subject of the World Cup was given this week by Dr Andy Martin, who focussed on the quarrel between France's coach Aime Jacquet and the sports daily, L'Equipe, which, he felt, was in some way symbolic of French thinking. "It was more than defence-mindedness v attack-mindedness," he said.
"There were echoes in this clash of provinces v metropolis, collectivism v existential individualism, solid peasant values v post-modern style.
"L'Equipe are basically poets, a sort of Victor Hugo, while Jacquet was seen as a Napoleon-type figure. The two never gave up exchanging insults - even after the French victory." Dr Martin added: "I fear the ultimate problem - how the hell France ever beat Brazil 3-0 - was beyond my powers of reasoning."
Top Trivia From The FA Cup Fourth Round
WOLVES V ARSENAL
ON FOUR different occasions, Arsenal have beaten Wolves and gone on to reach the FA Cup final.
OXFORD V CHELSEA
IN THE 1990-91 season, Oxford defeated Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge in the third round of the Cup, when the former were in the Second Division and the latter were in the top flight.
NEWCASTLE V BRADFORD
WHEN BRADFORD beat Newcastle in the 1911 FA Cup final, they became the first winners of the new FA Cup trophy, which was made by Messrs Fattorini and Sone of Bradford and cost 50 Guineas.
MAN UTD V LIVERPOOL
THE TWO sides have met twice in the fourth round of the FA Cup before. In 1948, United won 3-0, and in 1960 they were 3-1 victors at Anfield.
EVERTON V IPSWICH
ON ALL four occasions that Everton have beaten Ipswich in the FA Cup, the Merseysiders have progressed to at least the semi-finals.
Former television football commentator
"My love affair goes back to 1946 when I saw Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium against Bath City in the old Southern League. We had 7,000 that day and I can even remember where I was standing. I'll never forget how I queued from 9.30 in the morning for an FA Cup third round tie against QPR in 1948. The Priestfield Stadium had 23,002 for that game. I'm currently writing my autobiography and I've listed my top six matches. The best was Gillingham's FA Cup tie against Everton when we drew at Goodison in 1984. My favourite Gillingham players were Jimmy Boswell and Hughie Russell. It's a grand little club!"
As You Were
COULD THAT be Tommy Docherty (back row, centre) gathering together some of his Chelsea players in the mid-1960s and asking them what kind of futures they think they'll have in the game? Could that be Terry Venables (back row, left), grinning as he says: "Well boss, seeing 'as 'ow I'm so Continentally, internationally minded and all that, 'ow about I become a boss in Spain, do some England coaching and then make a name for myself as a pioneer importer of Chinese fellas? Oh, and then make sure I get me side knocked out of the 1999 FA Cup nice and early." Could that be George Graham (back row, second left), grimacing at the thought of football's school of hard knocks ahead and saying: "Well, boss, I can see myself taking over a London club one day, but I'm sure it won't all run smoothly, especially when I have to play Wimbledon four times in a fortnight in 1999." And could that be John Hollins (centre), saying: "Y'know, all I ever dream about is moving to Wales and having an intimate and loving relationship with a giant swan. To me that's what the game is all about." Probably not.
The price is right
THE SWEEPER'S CUP OF PLENTY
JUST FIVE late goals away from another treble. How unlucky can you get? Chelsea eventually beat Coventry, Wimbledon and Tottenham fought out a draw, but the Hammers - what a bunch of home bankers. And Internazionale weren't much better at Bologna. Never mind, the Charlton/Newcastle draw came up and Villa beat Everton, so no harm done. The bookies accept singles on cup games so let's take advantage of the best draw bets, while Aston Villa, Bristol Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday should produce a nice home banker treble. Manchester United can beat Liverpool tomorrow while Wolves can hold Arsenal to a draw at home. Bologna, the Inter killers, can complete a Milan home double in Serie A while, in the Cup on Monday, Chelsea should win at Oxford.
(pounds 2 treble with Tote): Aston Villa to beat Fulham (4-11); Bristol Rovers to beat Leyton Orient (8-13); Sheffield Wednesday to beat Stockport (1- 2). Everton to draw with Ipswich (pounds 2, 9-4, Stanley); Leicester to draw with Coventry; (pounds 2, 9-4, generally); Swansea to draw with Derby; (pounds 2, William Hill, Ladbrokes, Stanley & Tote); Wimbledon to draw with Tottenham; (pounds 2, 11-5, Ladbrokes); Wrexham to draw with Huddersfield (pounds 2, 9-4, Ladbrokes & Stanley).
SUNDAY ITV MATCH
Wolves v Arsenal
Draw (pounds 2, 13-5, Ladbrokes).
SUNDAY SKY MATCH
Man Utd v Liverpool
Man Utd (pounds 2, 10-11, Stanley).
SUNDAY C4 ITALIAN JOB
Bologna v Milan
Bologna (pounds 2, 8-5, Stanley).
MONDAY SKY MATCH
Oxford v Chelsea
Chelsea (pounds 2, 4-9, William Hill & Stanley).
ORIGINAL BANK: pounds 100.
CURRENT KITTY: pounds 151.72!
TODAY'S BETS: pounds 21.80 (includes pounds 1.80 tax).
Found on the Web: Football dream analysis.
Whether you dream of Ulrika Jonsson in your team's away kit eating pies on the top deck of a bus or of Michael Owen, dressed as a chicken and flying around your primary school yelling "I'm considerably richer than you", go to this sub-site of the When Saturday Comes pages and find out what it all means. Enter your unconscious football-related experiences and within days a range of experts will have analysed your innermost yearnings and told you just how messed-up supporting your side has made you. Fans with heart problems, nervous disorders and stress (and those who follow Nottingham Forest, who probably suffer from all three) should proceed with caution.
Seen But Not Bought
With Swansea doing so well in the FA Cup, you can buy Cyril the swan's lunchbox for pounds 5.99 from the club shop. For those wanting something more substantial, an 18in Cyril will set you back pounds 15.99. "It's been passed by the trade and safety people," a spokeswoman said of the fluffy Cyril replica. "It's a very good toy for anyone," she added with a flourish.
They're Not All Dennis Bergkamp
legionnaires No 23
LOMANA TRESOR LUA LUA:
The 18-year-old Zaire-born right winger grew up in France but has lived in Britain for several years. He was first spotted playing for a university team in London, and Colchester signed him recently on an 18-month contract before any bigger sides had any notion of his burgeoning talent. Lua Lua's strong points, according to a Colchester spokesman, are his speed and dribbling ability. Having served a short apprenticeship in the youth team, the teenager has now made two substitute appearances for the first team, and scored within minutes of making his debut two weeks ago when coming on as a late substitute against Chesterfield. Not only a bright prospect, Lua Lua is not a man to be messed with - he has a black belt in karate.Reuse content