Refusing to call a spade a gardening implement has always made Wigan Athletic's Dave Whelan one of the more entertaining chairmen to listen to and he was on good form this week with his proposals for bringing some financial sanity to the Premier League.
Old school he may be, but he has made money in business and knows his way round a football pitch; indeed, he says: "I played the game and there's nothing on the field that can pull wool over my eyes." While insistent that a salary cap will not work, leaving English clubs at a disadvantage in Europe, he is proposing that no club should be allowed to borrow more than 20 or 25 per cent of their total turnover. "That gives the bigger clubs greater scope to borrow money and it puts a restriction on smaller clubs like us, Hull and Portsmouth," he said. Whelan also revealed that he is owed "50 or 60 million quid" by Wigan but is converting it into shares, as the owners of Chelsea and Manchester City have done so that if they ever walk away, the club will not be saddled with huge debts.
Supporting a good cause
Middlesbrough fan Jon Burns has set himself the formidable task of transforming the reputation of English supporters abroad this summer by combining a visit to the World Cup with some social work. A total of 200 supporters in the LionsRaw movement (www.lionsraw.org) will be travelling to the Valley of a Thousand Hills near Durban, the world epicentre of HIV/Aids, where they will work on building and rebuilding schools and orphanages. They will also run a series of football coaching clinics and in the evenings will watch World Cup matches in the fanzones. There are even more ambitious plans for 2014 in Brazil, when it is hoped that up to 1,000 fans will travel and take part in similar work. The long-term aim is nothing less than "to build a movement which will see hundreds, hopefully thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of football fans give something back to others, through their love of football".
Not just any old Irons
Gone are the days when a West Ham team seemed to be full of either cockney sparrows or players beginning with the letter B (seven of the 1964 FA Cup-winning team). But in Tony Carr, the long-serving academy director, they have a man who has done all he can for almost 40 years to bring through young players, of whom the best known are almost all Londoners. Early alumni included Tony Cottee and Paul Ince. Both brought in huge transfer fees, as did four later England internationals in Rio Ferdinand (below), Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and the Geordie Michael Carrick. The latter quartet and John Terry, who left for Chelsea aged 14, have all been invited to a testimonial match for Carr at Upton Park on Wednesday, when an Academy All-Stars XI will face Gianfranco Zola's first team. It will be a shame if the Premier League title race prevents any of them from playing, but Carr deserves the backing and gratitude of every West Ham fan. He says finding future stars is harder than ever, but the club's philosophy is unchanged. "There are more scouts, and wealthier clubs who offer better facilities, but they cannot offer the uniqueness that we can offer; to take young players and put them into our first team at a very young age."