Outside the Box: Leeds decorator in bother for refusing to paint the town red

A painter and decorator who refuses to use red paint because he supports Leeds United is embroiled in a controversy over the city council's plans to repaint three large gates on the main roundabout at Crossgates, in east Leeds. The council intend to replace the current white, blue and silver with red, white and black. When told that Leeds fans didn't want them in Manchester United colours, Councillor Pauline Grahame said: "I've never heard such a load of rubbish." Gary Edwards urged fellow fans to contact their MPs to "step in and stop this mindless vandalism", and added: "Repainting the gates will cost £143,000. I will paint them free of charge – in all-white."

Deepdale must dig deep

Local sensitivities are also being upset in Preston over plans to move the National Football Museum to Manchester because of a lack of cash after the Football Foundation cut their funding. Regarded as the world's best football exhibition, the museum, at the Deepdale Stadium, draws 100,000 visitors a year and offers free admission. Exhibits include the ball from the 1966 World Cup final and the shirt worn by Diego Maradona during the "Hand of God" game against England at the 1986 World Cup.

Fair play, here come Toon

The increasingly influential European Clubs Association have just concluded their General Assembly in Geneva, supporting the "financial fair play" campaign proposed by the Uefa president, Michel Platini, and demanding that the Olympic Games football tournament becomes an Under-21 competition with no over-age players permitted to take part. English members among the 137 clubs in the ECA are the big four of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, plus Tottenham, Aston Villa and... hang on, who's this? Newcastle United? Well, they did win the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in, er, 1969, the Anglo-Italian Cup as recently as 1973 and the coveted InterToto Cup only three years ago. The criteria for membership of the ECA are complicated; but in Newcastle's case, it was presumably not the one that states "well-organised clubs" can apply.

No home advantage

Fans who cannot wait nine months for a World Cup fix should check out the Homeless World Cup, which reaches a climax in Milan today. Homeless players from 48 countries have been competing; even Scotland get to qualify, though they failed to justify their second seeding in a 6-5 defeat by Poland after losing to Holland on penalties. England's side, who are trained by Manchester United's Football in the Community coaches, beat India 12-0, Russia 6-3 and drew 3-3 with Romania before losing 4-2 to Portugal. Scouts from professional clubs have been spotted attending the tournament, hoping to pick up a gem from an underprivileged background.

Conference is a big call

It is not often that crowd congestion at a non-League game causes the kick-off to be delayed. That was the case at last Tuesday's Blue Square Premier match between the leaders, Oxford United, and third-placed Luton, when more than 2,300 visiting supporters swelled the attendance to 10,613. It was the second-highest gate in Conference history, behind the 11,065 who watched Oxford play Woking on Boxing Day 2006. Relegation to what used to be known as the Conference tended to be regarded as a kind of death. Nowadays, as Oxford, Luton and others have shown, it can herald a new life.


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