It shouldn't happen to an FA Cup player of the round

FedericiPoor Reading keeper Adam Federici must have come crashing down to Earth a couple of minutes into his side's FA Cup defeat against Manchester United last night. The 22-year-old Aussie had already been voted player of the round before he let Gabriel Heinze's drive through his body two minutes into the replayed fifth-round match.

It shouldn't happen to an FA Cup player of the round continued

The star of the Royals' 1-1 draw at Old Trafford has had a pretty good time of it of late. After taking the plaudits for his performance against United, Federici was then offered his first contract of any great length. And he was the subject of this heart-warming BBC feature, which reveals that until recently he was kipping on Ibrahima Sonko's sofa! Unfortunately, Adam, this is the bit of your fifth-round exploits that will stick in my memory.

[Rob Parker]

February 28, 2007 in Manchester United, Reading, Video clips | Permalink | Comments (1)

Obscene season ticket prices to be slashed?

Money_4 News reaches us that Premiership chairmen are going to be forced into cutting 'obscene' ticket prices because fans have just about had enough of being the victims of daylight robbery every weekend, and as a result, football has reached a tipping point.

Two top-flight chairmen have expressed the same view, both of whom predict price cuts all round next season. 'It is a serious issue that has reached saturation point across the country,' said Phil Gartside, chairman of Bolton. 'We feel duty bound to make a stance by reducing the cost for our season ticket holders, and I'm sure other clubs will follow suit next season and listen to public opinion.' But surely the tickets are inflated at the chairs' behest?

This weekend saw ManYoo fans protesting about the amount being charged to let their fans watch their side at Fulham. They were asked for a whopping £45 to watch their team, and that doesn't include travel and grub... although they hadn't got far to travel from Essex eh? Ho Ho Ho... I'll get me coat. A senior executive from another of the Premiership's 'big four' clubs told Observer Sport that prices could not go any higher. 'Officially we are monitoring the situation,' he said. 'But privately we have realised that ticket prices have reached their maximum, at least in the immediate future.'

These warnings come slap bang in the middle of an attendance slump. Despite an increased capacity at Arsenal and Manchester United, the average attendance is down from last year, and whilst the big four continue to sell out their games, the overall Premiership average is down by more than 1,000 year on year and now stands at 32,775, not including this weekend. What is causing fans to stay away? Well, once, you could watch the footy and not dent the wallet too much, and know exactly when you'd be going out. Basically, high prices and amended kick-off times to enable saturated TV coverage aren't encouraging fans to get down the ground. 

Of course, a lot of money is generated by the TV rights, which obviously help clubs to bring in new players and the like. That said, the Premier League negotiated a new £600million, three-year deal for overseas TV rights to the Premiership. Add the £1.7 billion Sky and Setanta will pay to screen matches in Britain, and the £400m for internet and mobile phone rights, and it seems scandalous that ticket prices continually increase. Each club will be getting around £900m per season (starting in August).

Apart from drops in season ticket prices, a group are also want away matches addressed. The Football Supporters' Federation want a fixed price for all travelling supporters. 'Away fans in England are unique. You would not get 5,000 Milan supporters travelling to Juventus. If prices were to stay in line with the Taylor Report's recommendation, then £15 would be a fair price for those who travel to watch their team.' The report, published in January 1990 in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, stated that 'it should be possible for seating to be £6'. With inflation, that would mean fans paying just £9.60 now, rather than the average of about £30.

So what's the answer? Well, looking at Germany's Bundesliga, the average attendance was approximately 40,000, which is superior to our league matches. In fact, it's about a quarter more fans in through the turnstiles, shouting for their team. German fans can buy tickets for as little as £10 or £15 for all games, and in some cases, terracing is being used, which gives a fan a feeling of real unity, as opposed to the sterile stadia over here. What is interesting is that the Bundesliga is renowned for its competitiveness, with many teams standing a chance of winning it. Should we look at the German model to fix our game? [Mof Gimmers]

February 26, 2007 in Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, News balls, Portsmouth, Reading, Sheffield United, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Ham United, Wigan Athletic | Permalink | Comments (2)

A Reading fan's view of the Neil Warnock v Wally Downes rumble

This clip, apparently filmed on a mobile phone during Reading's 3-1 win against the Blades on Saturday, features some industrial language (ie. a lot of swearing). All together now… 'F**k off Warnock!'

In related news, Keith Gillespie, whose sending-off prompted this melee, has put in a formal transfer request.

January 23, 2007 in Reading, Sheffield United, Video clips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Free travel to football matches

Wewillfollow_1 Fans who have experienced the thrill of an away match will know how addictive it is. The trip down, the pre-match pints in a strange pub, being in a strange ground. It's like a holiday with a football match stuck in the middle of it! However, loads give it a wide berth because they can't get a lift down to the games. Well, you needn't fear that any more.

A website called WeWillfollow aims to stop all that worry and hassle by allowing you to offer and request lifts to games home and away, and it’s completely free. Added to that, the site also has a ticket exchange for fans with a spare. It's all rather nice isn't it? To add to the community feeling, WeWillFollow also have a unique 'Exile List' for each club, so if you've drifted away from your club (geographically speaking) you can register as a member on the site and talk to other exiled supporters of your club. With a list of 1000+ supporters clubs too, you need never feel lonely and exiled again! Have a look and sign up with the site now!

January 22, 2007 in Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, League One, League Two, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Non League, Portsmouth, Reading, Scotland, Sheffield United, The Championship, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Ham United, Wigan Athletic | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shane Long tackles the Reading mascot

Reading striker Shane Long seemed to enjoy opening the scoring against Sheffield United - just ask mascot Kingsley the Lion!

January 22, 2007 in Reading, Sheffield United, Video clips | Permalink | Comments (0)

One to watch: Jamie McCarthy

_42429441_mccarthy_snsb203A host of English and Scottish clubs are currently battling it out to capture 16-year-old Hamilton Academical wonderkid Jamie McCarthy. The midfielder/Neil Lennon Mini-Me scored his first senior goal against Livingston at the weekend.

Liverpool and Reading - where McCarthy is currently training for a couple of days - are leading the chase. Liverpool were quick to make an offer after the youngster impressed during a week-long trial. Hamilton manager Billy Reid said: "Reading is a well-run team, as are Liverpool. But there is so much interest in Jamie just now and we're not in a hurry to sell him." [Rob Parker]

January 9, 2007 in Liverpool, Players to watch, Reading, Rumours & gossip, Scotland | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sonko "scared" ahead of Chelsea clash


Reading's Ibrahima Sonko says he is "scared" ahead of the clash at Chelsea after receiving numerous death threats after his collision with Oilers' keeper Carlo Cudicini. The Italian was hurt in a collision with Sonko in October, the  same game that also saw Petr Cech suffer head injuries and John Terry take up a position between the sticks.

Sonko is pensive ahead of the Boxing Day game at Stamford Bridge. He said: "I've been scared. You have to take the letters seriously. Some people are nasty and capable of stupid things when it comes to revenge."

Cudicini was carried off on a stretcher suffering from concussion, and Cech was left with a fractured skull after a clash with Reading's Stephen Hunt in Chelsea's 1-0 win. Hunt received death threats, and Sonko has also been on the receiving end of hate mail. He told The Sun: "That incident has gone away. But now the next game is coming up. Me and Stephen probably got letters from the same people. At first it made me laugh, then when the second one came it started to get serious. I got scared. You don't know where the letters have come from so you don't know how to protect yourself. I was more worried about how and when they would do it. I can look after myself as long as I see it coming. But you don't know when it will happen and you have to start looking around you, being careful about who you are standing with. Knowing we are going to Chelsea next week, you think maybe this person will think about it again. This had nothing to do with Chelsea. It was stupid people with nothing to do other than sending letters." Calling them stupid? Sounds like fighting talk to me... [Mof Gimmers]

December 22, 2006 in Chelsea, News balls, Reading | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saints go after Pressley

Pressley Heart of Midlothian is without doubt, the most bonkers club in Europe at the minute. With the insane ramblings of chairman Vladimir Romanov (click here and here for examples), they've managed to retain the mental one, and lose one of their best players, club captain Stephen Pressley.

So just how good is Pressley? Is he worth a punt from a Premiership manager? Well, the most interest is coming from Scotland and The Championship. Southampton gaffer, and former Hearts boss, George Burley has added his name to the list of those interested in Pressley. Pressley, now 33 (or should that say an experienced defender?), is wanted by a clutch of clubs following his very public departure from Tynecastle. Burley told BBC Sport: "I'm aware of Steven Pressley's situation and I'm monitoring it. But I would have to wait and see if we could do anything in the January transfer window."

Despite leaving Hearts at the weekend, Pressley isn't eligible to sign for another club until the January transfer window. Pressley's last game for Hearts was in November in the goalless draw at Inverness Caledonian Thistle. The Scotland international joined Hearts in 1998 but recently fell out of favour after voicing concern about the way the club was being run by mentalist majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov.

Rangers are believed to head the queue for the services of Pressley, who has been capped 27 times by Scotland and began his career at Ibrox. Celtic manager Gordon Strachan has also expressed interest and has not ruled out an approach, while Dundee United, Dunfermline, Leeds and Cardiff have also been linked with the centre-half.

In the Premiership, promoted sides Sheffield United, Reading and Watford are among the clubs said to be keen, but it looks as if Pressley would be interested in joining up with his former boss at Hearts. Burley has a record of attracting players who previously played under him (not in that way you mucky sods) and it seems that Pressley could want out of Scotland to avoid a reminder of his time in Edinburgh. Can't really blame him can you? As an outside bet, it would be worth sticking a couple of quid on his appearance in a Bolton Wanderers shirt. [Mof Gimmers]

December 11, 2006 in Bolton Wanderers, Cult Heroes, News balls, Reading, Rumours & gossip, Scotland, Sheffield United, The Championship, Watford | Permalink | Comments (2)

Reading ban testimonials. Spare a thought for Graeme Murty

MurtyReading chairman John Madejski has announced that captain Graeme Murty (pictured) will not be given a testimonial even if he signs a new contract to take him into his tenth year at the club. The 32-year-old, who is currently mulling over a new deal, is out of contract in the summer after nine seasons with Reading.

Madejski has revealed that Murty's loyalty will not be rewarded with a bumper payday. He said: "We don't do testimonials any more. There is just no reason for them any more. In days gone by there was a reason for them because players were paid diddly squat. That is not the case now — they are paid an incredible amount of money."

As that wise old sage John Barnes pointed out during last night's football coverage, surely a testimonial is about rewarding loyalty above anything else? And what if Mr Murty fancied turning the occasion into a charity event (a la Niall Quinn and others)? Madejski might like to have a bit of a re-think.

[Rob Parker]

November 24, 2006 in Reading | Permalink | Comments (3)

Reading Players Recieve Death Threats


Police are investigating death threats which have been made to the Reading players who were involved in the two incidents that saw Chelsea keepers Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini badly injured. In the aftermath of the incidents, Ibrahima Sonko and Stephen Hunt have received numerous threatening letters at the club's Arborfield training ground.

Thames Valley Police told BBC Sport: "The club is helping us with inquiries and the matter is being investigated." A Chelsea spokesman added: "There is nothing to suggest these threats came from genuine Chelsea fans." According to the Reading Chronicle newspaper, one letter said: "We are going to kill you for what you did to our players."

Initially, the Reading players treated the first letter as a joke which saw them pinning it up on the door of the training ground dressing-room for a laugh, however, when subsequent letters arrived, players were told to treat the threats seriously and the club called in the police to investigate. Cech is not expected to play again this season after sustaining a fractured skull in his collision with Hunt in the game at the Madejski stadium in October. Carlo Cudicini needed oxygen after being stretchered off in a last-minute collision with Sonko, and only recently returned to the pitch.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho hit out at Hunt's challenge, but neither Hunt nor Sonko faced any action from the FA. Hunt, on international duty with the Republic of Ireland, said: "The club is dealing with all my letters and I don't want to say any more." Sonko confirmed he had received a letter but made no further comment. Chelsea's spokesman added: "Naturally, we condemn any threats of this nature and we will assist the police fully if - and we stress if - there is any evidence linking theses threats to any of our supporters. We passed the mail onto the police, but no extra security precautions were taken, the players weren't affected and it's not an issue."

Reading gaffer Steve Coppell played down the death threats. "We wanted to keep it quiet, and didn't make an issue of it. We went through the proper channels and hoped it would die a death. To regurgitate it now is of no benefit to anybody. I don't think it's for public consumption. It's something different for the media to report but it serves no purpose to anybody else."[Mof Gimmers]

November 16, 2006 in Chelsea, News balls, Reading | Permalink | Comments (0)