Outside the Box: Pride of place as Brian Clough gets his way in boardroom at last

 

It is somewhat ironic that from next season Derby County's boardroom at Pride Park is to be officially named after their former manager Brian Clough.

The great man had little time for directors in general – "Football hooligans? There's the 92 club chairmen for a start," he said – or for his Derby chairman, Sam Longson. The septuagenarian Longson became infuriated by Clough's increasingly high media profile after Derby won the 1972 League championship, and in their subsequent trial of strength Clough and his assistant, Peter Taylor, made what they later acknowledged to be their greatest mistake: resigning. The boardroom was where club officials fearing for their safety locked themselves in as the protests of players and supporters became threatening.

The move follows the renaming of the Brian Clough Lounge at Pride Park as the Don Amott Suite, after a former director who has sponsored it with a six-figure sum.

Fall on Thorny ground?

Kicking off at the same time as the FA Women's Super League season last weekend was the third attempt to establish a women's professional league in the United States. A country that has won two women's World Cups and four Olympic titles since 1999 might have been expected to support one, but the previous two both failed.

One club, Portland Thorns from the "city of roses" in Oregon, play their inaugural home fixture against Seattle Reign today and have sold more than 7,000 season tickets. Marketing the women's game remains fraught, however, and the plug had to be pulled on one attempt to sell the club to the public. T-shirts bearing the legend "Feelin' Thorny?" sold well until complaints that the slogan was sexist surfaced on social media. They have now been withdrawn.

Back in England, the FAWSL hope to build on the small increases in attendances that followed last summer's popular Olympic matches, when 70,584 watched Great Britain beat Brazil at Wembley. There is particular interest in the fortunes of Liverpool Ladies, who are now being funded by the men's club and will therefore be the only team employing full-time professionals – something that has helped them attract four leading Evertonians, including England internationals Natasha Dowie and Fara Williams, all moving from a team that finished third last season to the one who were rock-bottom.

Neighbourhood switch

Liverpool and Everton have often been urged to use the Italian model of a shared stadium – not least by the city council – but the trend in Italy is actually to abandon the concept.

Sampdoria, who have shared with their city neighbours Genoa since they were founded in 1946, have just announced plans to move out and build their own 30,000-capacity ground. Lazio and Roma, who share the Olympic Stadium, both want their own home and so do Internazionale, who moved in with Milan in 1947.

Hibbies get heebie-jeebies

It's never over until it's over, as any supporters of Hibernian and Macclesfield Town who walked out on their respective teams last week should have remembered.

Hibs fans were reported to be heading back to Edinburgh when the hot favourites in the Scottish Cup semi-final trailed 3-0 to First Division Falkirk after half an hour. Final score (after extra-time): Hibs 4 The Bairns 3, and a place in next month's final against Celtic as the reward.

Macclesfield's small band of followers for the Conference game at Woking admittedly required some faith to stay any longer than the first 33 minutes, by which time their side – above Woking in the table at the time – were 5-0 down. Even the manager, John Askey, who had only taken over 10 days earlier, admitted: "I nearly ran off at half-time."

But those visitors who stayed loyal were rewarded with a second half dominated by Macclesfield, who scored four times and came close to achieving a remarkable draw.

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

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