England to greet Germany with wall of red

Click to follow
The Independent Online

To misquote Humphrey Bogart reminiscing with Lauren Bacall in Casablanca, "we'll always have Wembley, England wore red, the Germans wore white". And so, by popular demand, the Football Association will stage a remake of that 1966 classic at Wembley next month. For the World Cup qualifier, England will again be in red, and the Germans in white, the first time the combination has been seen at Wembley since the 1966 final. The same result cannot be guaranteed, not that Kevin Keegan would welcome the 90-minute score of 2-2, there being no extra-time in qualifiers.

To misquote Humphrey Bogart reminiscing with Lauren Bacall in Casablanca, "we'll always have Wembley, England wore red, the Germans wore white". And so, by popular demand, the Football Association will stage a remake of that 1966 classic at Wembley next month. For the World Cup qualifier, England will again be in red, and the Germans in white, the first time the combination has been seen at Wembley since the 1966 final. The same result cannot be guaranteed, not that Kevin Keegan would welcome the 90-minute score of 2-2, there being no extra-time in qualifiers.

The England coach specifically requested that his team wear red because he wants to repeat the visual impact on his players of seeing the England support resplendent in red, as for the Germany game at Charleroi in Euro 2000. That night England gained their first win over Germany (who wore green) in a competitive match since 1966. The request had also been made to the FA by the England Members' Club which, like Keegan, feels a wall of red is more dramatic than one of white.

Having responded to supporter concerns over this issue, the FA yesterday appealed for fans to help it out over a less eye-catching but notably more significant one. Along with other bodies in the English game, the FA is helping to co-ordinate a pan-European response to the European Commission's assault on the transfer system and it would like to add the voice of supporters to that of FAs, leagues, clubs, players and managers.

To recap: The EC has decided the transfer system as it stands is illegal under the Treaty of Rome, which guarantees free movement to all workers within the European Union. It has thus challenged the game to come up with a legal alternative to total de-regulation before 31 October or face the consequences. These, it is widely believed, would be the destruction of youth development, the end to team-building - players being able to switch clubs whenever they want simply by giving a few months' notice - even bigger riches for the élite players and their agents, and unemployment for the rest. "Doomsday", to quote one leading figure.

The EC, having heard similar fears before Bosman, is unconvinced. Since the issue has been prompted by legal challenges to the present system by several un-named clubs, it also need persuading that all football is in favour of its retention.

Thus the FA's initiative, which has involved circulating a statement outlining the current system's benefits and calling upon the EU to retain it. This has been signed by representatives of all groups within the game (except, strangely, agents) including supporters' organisations.

However the FA, aware that politicians are sensitive to the popular vote, would like to add the weight of mass support. Fans wishing to add their voice to the campaign can do so via e-mail to info@the-fa.org.

The likelihood of the present system remaining unchanged is very slim but the FA is hopeful that the joint Uefa/Fifa task-force, which includes Gordon Taylor of the PFA and is assisted by Maurice Watkin, a lawyer and member of the Manchester United board, will be able to persuade the EU to accept a moderated system involving arbitration or compensation.

Comments