Outside the Box: It could all end in tears as Vale fail to unveil their 'new' stand

 

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The Independent Football

It appears to be pantomime season at Port Vale, though the only ones laughing are Stoke City supporters.

Regular readers may recall that Vale claimed to have done an £8m deal with the American company Blue Sky International that would enable them to complete the "new" stand – begun in 1999 and never finished. Alas, it has all gone kiln-shaped.

The BSI investment fell through and even the promised £500,000 up front, for the stand and its Robbie Williams Suite, did not materialise. A red-card protest against the directors at the last home match was attended by more than 3,000 fans. Now the Port Vale Supporters Club, backed by the pointedly named Starve 'Em Out campaign, is trying to force an EGM to oust the four-man board while the chairman and chief executive have both left.

The club have taken out a mortgage of £277,000 with a Gibraltar company to fund the day-to-day running, including the players' wages, bringing fears of administration. The unrest caused the Supporters Club to postpone the unveiling of a statue of the late Roy Sproson, who made nearly 850 appearances for Vale from 1950-71 before becoming coach and manager.

The current manager, Micky Adams, should have known better than to tempt fate by saying "The only thing I can promise the fans is that the football side of the club is OK." Cue news that former England youth player Gary Roberts, who has had problems with alcohol and gambling, has committed "a serious breach of club discipline" for the second time this season and has had his contract terminated.

A decent interval for Moyes

So what is it that Everton put in their half-time drinks? Or is that fiery Scot David Moyes simply the best motivator around?

His side have the worst record in the Premier League based on the first 45 minutes of games, with a mere five goals scored and a half-time lead in only two matches. But come the second half, they are transformed with the fifth-best record.

The trend was duly confirmed on Boxing Day when the Moyes boys went in 1-0 down at Sunderland but revived sufficiently – albeit with the help of a decidedly dodgy penalty – to earn a point.

Support the local community

Talking of Everton, supporters of both Merseyside's Premier League clubs have jointly unveiled a 28-page prospectus for a Football Quarter around Anfield and Goodison Park that would regenerate a 40-acre swathe of north Liverpool.

Keep Everton In Our City and The Spirit of Shankly are proposing a permanent open-air venue in Stanley Park serving as a fan zone on match days, a hotel adjoining each stadium, improved travel links and a museum celebrating what is still, with 27 League titles, the most successful football city in England. The plan would require financial backing from local businesses and stakeholders, and for Everton to commit to redeveloping Goodison Park.

Earn a crust in the right way

"More than a club" is the proud boast of not just Barcelona but a lower-profile outfit in the West Midlands called Continental Star, one of only a few clubs at any level registered as a charity.

Deeply rooted in the community, they act as BAME (Black & Asian Minority Ethnic) advisors to the Football Association and the Kick It Out campaign and have in Lincoln Moses a general manager who received the MBE for community work. Continental are now lying third in the Premier Division of the Midland Combination.

Earlier this season, their 15-year-old striker Daril Bimpe joined Luton Town and now 22-year-old central defender Kristian Ramsey-Dickson has handed in his notice at Pizza Hut to sign a professional contract with Burton Albion. "Sometimes in life people need breaks and Kristian hasn't had many until now," said Burton's manager Paul Peschisolido, neatly summing up Continental's raison d'être.

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

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