Outside the Box: Asia wants Champions' League final kick-off moved forward


Chelsea supporters who struggled to get away from the Allianz Arena after the late finish to the Champions' League final and then had to pay for a Saturday night's accommodation might well approve of a proposal to make the final an afternoon kick-off, even if it comes for the most blatant of commercial reasons.

An executive of Mastercard, an official Champions' League sponsor, has suggested playing the game earlier to increase the worldwide TV audience, especially in Asia. The kick-off time in Munich (8.45pm locally) meant that for millions of potential viewers in China and Japan the game was played in the middle of the night. An afternoon start would make the time difference of seven or eight hours less off-putting and would still suit the American market with a breakfast-time kick-off.

The same argument would suit traditionalists who want the FA Cup final to revert to 3pm, after ITV changed it this year to 5.15pm. But David Taylor, the chief executive of Uefa Events, says: "I don't think we would be organising European football specifically for an Asian audience. It's European football first and foremost."

Audience figures of 150 million worldwide have been claimed, with ITV peaking at 10.6m and Sky Sports chipping in with another 1.5m. ITV's FA Cup final audience, peaking at 11.2m, was the best since Chelsea against Manchester United in 2007.

Drogba has the W Factor

Among those pleased to see the back of Chelsea's Munich hero Didier Drogba will be all English clubs beginning with the letter W. His three domestic hat-tricks were scored against Watford, Wigan and West Bromwich Albion.

Poland's political football

One of the most politically fraught fixtures at Euro 2012 is likely to be the Group A meeting of Poland and Russia in Warsaw on 12 June.

The game comes two days after a memorial service for the Polish president Lech Kaczynski, one of 96 people who died in a plane crash in Russia two years ago, which many Poles believe the Russians caused. The official report blamed thick fog and pilot error.

Kaczynski's twin brother Jaroslaw is a leader of the nationalist opposition and leads gatherings next to the Bristol hotel in Warsaw, where the Russian squad will stay. They have already been asked to move by the Polish government to avoid "a difficult situation" but declined, informing the Poles that they should be capable of providing security.

Irish songs of praise

After the Eurovision Song Contest comes the Euro 2012 equivalent. The official tournament anthem 'Endless Summer' by the "German-American star" Oceana is now out, complete with video of football clips and beach babes.

Mercifully, England have again spared us a ditty but in Ireland they are making up for lost time and tournaments with so many numbers it is almost impossible to keep count. YouTube has collated dozens of them, of which the official track is 'The Rocky Road To Poland' by an alleged supergroup comprising members of the Dubliners and the Coronas among others. The lyric manages to rhyme "Opel Corsa" with "Warsaw" as well as "Trap", "in the sack" and "Jack".

There is a Jedward effort called 'Put The Green Cape On'; a tribute to the former centre-half Gary Breen in 'Breen, White and Gold'; and 'I-r-e-l-a-n-d' by The Offside Trap with MC Eoin Goal (!), which uses the tune from the Tom Robinson Band's '2-4-6-8 Motorway'.

This column's music critic preferred 'Trap, Your Only Man', a karaoke version of The Pogues' song 'Sally MacLennane' and 'Trapattoni's Men' by The Deadball Specialists which has an official video that claims to feature Joey Barton (who is played by the band's drummer, standing in midfield preoccupied with tweeting).

Meanwhile the Irish squad, like England's, have stayed clear of the recording studio but unlike Roy Hodgson's boys they have been training twice a day. Marco Tardelli, Giovanni Trapattoni's No 2, was asked why, given that many of the players will be tired after long club seasons and replied: "All day in bed is not good."

s.tongue@independent.co.uk; twitter.com/@stevetongue

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