Outside The Box: Royals roll out red carpet to get their hands on the readies

 

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The Independent Football

Sir John Madejski at Reading and Bill Kenwright at Everton have long been in the same position of desperately wanting new investors for their respective clubs. Now Reading appear to have found their man: the same one who was behind an attempted takeover at Goodison almost eight years ago that dragged on for months before coming to nothing.

The Russian businessman Anton Zingarevich underwrote the Fortress Sports Fund bid to invest in Everton in 2004, when he was only 21 and his English spokesman was Chris Samuelson. Now Samuelson, a "lifelong Evertonian" who didn't know who scored the Blues' winning goal in the 1966 FA Cup final, is representing Thames Sport Investment while Zingarevich attempts to get a visa to enter Britain, where he once studied in Berkshire. Madejski, who will remain as chairman, is confident a deal will go through and it appears that Reading have already felt some financial benefit after signing four new players and making an audacious bid for the Brighton striker Craig Mackail-Smith.

Get the Blues, then the sack

Beware the curse of Birmingham City. Simon Grayson of Leeds United last week became the fourth manager this season to leave after a bad result against them, a 4-1 home defeat. It is a distinguished list too: Steve McClaren of Nottingham Forest resigned in early October; he was followed by another former England manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, at Leicester; then Adrie Koster of Europa League opponents Bruges. Birmingham's win was their second in succession on the road by a resounding margin and followed a 3-0 win at home to Watford, when City's team-sheet must have caused raised eyebrows in the visitors' dressing-room and the referee's room. Listed as one of the substitutes was Wayne Rooney; which should have read Adam Rooney, the striker Chris Hughton signed from Inverness Caledonian Thistle last summer. The Blues kit-man Denis Butler had filled out the sheet and clearly lapsed into a moment of wishful thinking. Rooney says a lot of people have asked him whether he is related to his namesake, but he is actually a Dubliner who initially moved from Crumlin United to Stoke City, heading to Inverness after two seasons. Last weekend's two goals in the 4-0 FA Cup win at Sheffield United nevertheless meant he has scored more often in 2012 than Wayne.

Time for long service award?

Further to recent items on the founding dates of the country's oldest clubs, reader Roy Mitchell writes to press the claims of the Civil Service FC, the only club still in existence among the 11, all from the London area, who gathered at the historic meeting at Lincoln's Inn Fields in October 1863 to form the Football Association. The Civil Service still run eight teams in the Southern Amateur League. Next year will therefore be their 150th anniversary, as well as that of the FA, who in 1963 celebrated their centenary by playing World Cup holders Brazil and a Rest of the World side at Wembley, as well as staging the European Cup final and a dinner for Fifa bigwigs. Next year the Uefa Congress and a second Champions' League final in three years are already confirmed for London and at least one friendly can be expected, possibly against Scotland. The FA say they will announce their plans this autumn.

Strong support in long run

This week's good cause is one being supported by Les Strong, who played over 400 games for Fulham but missed out on the 1975 FA Cup final against West Ham through injury after appearing in every other game that season. At 58, he is running a half-marathon in support of Jonny Maberley, a six-year-old born with cerebral palsy who needs an operation which is only available in the United States. Strong was unique in receiving an FA Cup medal despite not playing in the final, after Fulham's chairman Tommy Trinder appealed to the FA. He also coached Anguilla, who had never previously won or even drawn a game, and took them off the bottom of the Fifa world rankings with seven victories in 21 matches.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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