Outside the Box: Bates talks up Leeds stars but Capello fails to get the message

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The Independent Online

Spotting Fabio Capello in a restaurant recently, the ever- mischievous Leeds United chairman, Ken Bates, chose to send his fellow diner something he felt would be more useful than a bottle of champagne: a piece of paper, on which was written: "Fabian Delph, Jonathan Howson, Aidan White." The Leeds youngsters' day may come, but not yet. This week Delph was dropped from the England Under-21 squad.

Grounds for pessimism

Following last week's item about St Modwen, the property developers who have failed to do any developing at Stoke City's Victoria Ground 12 long years after buying it, it transpires that the firm have other football connections. Among them is the attempt to build a new stadium for Worcester City, the Conference South club who have just celebrated the 50th anniversary of their greatest achievement – knocking Liverpool out of the FA Cup. St Modwen claim that they need a mixed commercial development to make the scheme financially viable but opponents, including Worcester's Supporters' Trust, describe the stadium as a "Trojan horse" to get round planning regulations for the greenfield site along the protected M5 corridor. The city council, who have turned down similar enabling developments in the past, have put the plans out for public consultation until next week. But in the case of Everton, who want to leave Goodison Park for Kirkby in conjunction with Tesco, St Modwen are firmly against relocation, as they told the ongoing planning inquiry there that it would affect their proposed retail redevelopment at nearby Skelmersdale. One thing the company won't need to do is evict the former soldier who had been camping out at the Victoria Ground, hoping optimistically to establish squatters' rights. Last week his tent was burnt down.

Drawing the short straw

Two months ago, this column revealed that far more away games were being won in the Premier League this season than ever before: 34.23 per cent, or just over a third, compared with a seasonal average of 26.73. As fear of relegation kicks in among so many teams, however, it appears that caution is no longer being thrown to the wind, with away wins now down to 29.53 per cent. Last weekend was particularly hard going for pools fans seeking those magical "four aways": the 22 games in the Premier League and Championship produced a solitary away success – and a remarkable one at that, when Blackpool won 1-0 at Crystal Palace despite having goalkeeper, Paul Rachubka sent off in the third minute. One Essex punter, looking for eight draws instead, thought he had pulled off the coup of a lifetime when Littlewoods phoned to congratulate him on having won £58,229. Two hours later, the telephone went again: "Sorry, our mistake, it's only £1,509." Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but all the same...

It's a family affair

The Lampards will not be the only football family with split loyalties when Chelsea travel to Watford for Saturday's televised FA Cup fifth-round tie. Frank Lampard Jnr takes on the club his father Frank Snr works for as a consultant to Watford's manager, Brendan Rodgers. But Rodgers' 16-year-old son Anton will be cheering on Chelsea, where he is an academy midfielder.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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