Outside the Box: Fish out of water? Donna will sink or swim as manageress

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The Independent Football

Twenty years after Channel 4 screened 'The Manageress', in which Cherie Lunghi takes over her local Second Division team, Donna Powell will this Wednesday be in charge of Fisher Athletic for their Blue Square Conference South game against Eastleigh. It is believed to be the first time an English professional or semi-professional team have had a female calling the shots. The 27-year-old primary school teaching assistant and club turnstile operator will replace manager Dave Mehmet for one game as a reward for raising £500 with a bucket collection for the cash-strapped club. Like Lunghi's character Gabriella Benson, she has firm views on how the team can improve: "Fisher play a lot of long balls but strikers don't win long balls against defenders eight times out of 10. I want the ball played on the floor, like Fisher used to." Ms Powell will be following in some colourful footsteps. Managers of "The Fish" during their brief heyday in the late Eighties included Malcolm Allison and Dogan Arif, a member of the Arif gangland family, who was later sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment for involvement in drug-smuggling.

Grobbelaar girl's TV trial

Just what the world needs: more agents. On Saturday, BBC2 will launch a programme called 'Superagents' in which would-be Pini Zahavis compete for the chance to enter "the glamorous and cutthroat world of sports management". One of the mentors should at least be aware of the pitfalls they may face: Tahli Grobbelaar is the daughter of the former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce, who was charged with conspiracy to corrupt after being filmed discussing match-fixing. He was eventually cleared after two trials.

Ebbsfleet novelty starts to wear off

This is a crucial week for the future of MyFootballClub, the online community who own the FA Trophy holders Ebbsfleet United. At present there are about 31,000 members, and Thursday is the deadline for them to renew at £35 each. Some have set up a website at FreeMyFC.com and appear disillusioned with the whole concept. The notion of picking the team as promised is a particular bone of contention; for that to happen requires a majority of members to request it, and on the one occasion they did, the match was postponed. But John Moules, the Ebbsfleet chairman, says members have voted on individual transfers (agreeing for instance to the sale of John Akinde to Bristol City for £150,000) as well as voting for the season's budget and for free admission to the last FA Trophy game. "This is a democratic and debt-free club," Moules says, adding: "February the 19th is key to the club's future ownership." Ebbsfleet are predicting between 15,000 and 20,000 renewals, but anything less than 12,000 and budget cuts will be necessary.

Seeing red over Hartson

The former Celtic striker John Hartson believes Arsenal's disciplinary record of 76 red cards in 12 years under Arsène Wenger is "a disgrace". Oddly, he then goes on to claim that two of them were his, whereas the records show only one, against Middlesbrough in 1997. In a career of similar length to Wenger's period in charge, Hartson in fact totted up eight dismissals, which equates to 88 for a full team; 12 more than Arsenal. Oh, and there was that little matter of kicking Eyal Berkovic in the head in training at West Ham. Disgraceful.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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