Outside the Box: Andorra have pulling power as football masters the Apprentice

Should this column, like Fernando Torres and Michael Ballack, be rewarded with an extended contract on improved terms for next season, there will have to be an occasional item on The Power Of Football. Consider, for instance, the BBC's extraordinary decision to bring forward the final of The Apprentice from its regular Wednesday night slot to this evening, purely in order to avoid clashing with England's less than gripping World Cup game against Andorra. "Our priority is to schedule programmes in a way that offers viewers the best possible experience," said a Beeb spokesman in best possible PR-speak. More relevantly, when Sir Alan Sugar and his irritating entrepreneurs were in direct opposition to the Champions' League final, the audience dropped from 8.4 million the previous week to 6.5 million, compared to 7.9 million for the football. Now, thanks to the pulling power of those Andorrans, the apprentices need only go into bat tonight against the excellent but minority interest Empire of Cricket on BBC2. Oh, and Extreme Fishing with Robson Green.

Bluebirds, no goldfish

It will not pay for Cardiff City's new stadium across the road, but the auction of all manner of items from Ninian Park attracted some 500 bids. Highlight was the clock from the Grange End, which went for £2,600. The goalposts fetched £1,300 each and the manager's office sofa made £275. Cardiff being Cardiff, there was also keen interest in the door to the stadium police cell (£185). But those looking for Peter Ridsdale's goldfish were disappointed.

Caught in a Trap

The Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, like Fabio Capello, still keeps an interpreter at his side, though in Trap's case this does not always prevent him lurching into a kind of football Esperanto. Our sister paper in Dublin, the Irish Independent, helpfully publishes an occasional series on "Understanding Trap" for readers who did not pay sufficient attention during school language lessons. Having coached Bayern Munich and Austrian club Salzburg, he is apparently inclined to pepper his interviews with German words. Thus in the past week he said it is not " verboten" for him to speak to potential employers when his contract is due to expire; and that the friendly against Nigeria was a big " Prufung", meaning test, or examination. So it proved: the score was eins-eins.

Hampton court Barwick

What does a former Football Association chief executive do with his time and money? Brian Barwick has put one, if not the other, at the disposal of his local club Hampton and Richmond Borough by joining their board of directors and promising "it's inconceivable I wouldn't be of some use". The Blue Square Conference South club's manager Alan Devonshire, with an eye on Barwick's reported seven-figure FA pay-off, thinks he knows how, suggesting: "If I have the budget, I could take this club to the next level."

Fisher kings again?

Happy days at Hampton, and happier times for another south London non-League club. Fisher Athletic, mentioned here in the past for using a female manager and then being wound up, have reformed as AFC Fisher and hope to compete in the Kent League next season. The manageress in question, Donna Powell, whose one match in charge ended in a 2-1 defeat, has applied for the job on a permanent basis.


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