Outside the Box: Ankara's away as Mayor and young Turks prove troublesome

Here's a cast-iron prediction for one of today's results: in the Turkish Super League, Ankaraspor will lose 3-0 at home to Kasimpasa. In fact they will continue to lose every game for the rest of the season by the same margin and finish bottom of the table with no points and a goal difference of 0-102 from 34 matches. The authorities have decided on this drastic punishment because of the club's "anti-competitive links" with local rivals Ankaragucu. The supposed capital city rivalry became compromised when an Ankaraspor executive suddenly took over as the chairman of Ankaragucu while his father, the local mayor, remained as chairman of Ankaraspor. A couple of unexpected transfer deals between the two then followed. Ankaragucu could yet go down as well, as despite the appointment of France's Roger Lemerre, the winning coach of Euro 2000, they are only a couple of points above the remaining two relegation places. Of course, it could never happen here. Imagine, say, Robert Maxwell moving from Oxford United to Derby County, and leaving his son Kevin in charge of Oxford, who then sell their best player, Dean Saunders, to Derby. Impossible? Ask Mark Lawrenson, who was sacked as Oxford manager for protesting about the deal.

Pain in neck for Whitby

Talking of predictable results: one floodlight failure may be a misfortune, three tends to bring concerns about the hand of Far Eastern bookmakers. But remarkably, three instances affecting Whitby Town of the Unibond League this season have all occurred at different away grounds. First there was Retford United in October, then Marine in November and last week it was Frickley Athletic. Talk about the dark side – Whitby, according to Bram Stoker's tale, was the town where Dracula landed when he first came to England. The club have also had games postponed because of snow, waterlogging, frost and other clubs' cup games. They went 39 days without a match on either side of Christmas and have played five fewer fixtures than Stocksbridge Park Steels, who are just below them.

Wheels off for Barrow boys

Regional variations in weather and pitch conditions have resulted in similar oddities this season. Going into this weekend's matches, Ebbsfleet United, who claim to have one of the best pitches in non-League football, had played six games more than Barrow, who trail them by four points in the Blue Star Premier. Harrogate, bottom of the Conference North, and postponed again on Tuesday, have not given up hope of catching Vauxhall Motors, who have played five games more but are only five points ahead of them. Further north, our old friends Fort William have managed only 18 Highland League games, six fewer than Lossiemouth, who are two places ahead of them. The Fort's problem, of course, is winning any: although two wins is better than Strathspey Thistle and Rothes, who lie below them (just) in the table.

More Turf gags please

Text of the week came from Richard of London to the BBC's online commentary of the Burnley-Stoke game in midweek. "The pitch is lacking grass at Burnley? Do they need Moor Turf?"

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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