THE VOTE Who do you want to get relegated?

Around this time of the season I like to adopt one or two second teams to support in their relegation dogfights. I never like to see the three that get promoted go straight back down - and Reading have made sure that is not the case this season - but then you have to lose an established Premiership side. So who do you want to get relegated? Click below to see the candidates and choose who you would like to see in the Championship next season.

Manchester City Relegation outsiders. Level on points with Sheffield United, but with two games in hand. Don't think they will mess it up that much between now and the end of the season.
Sheffield United Relegation dead-certs have shocked a few people by sneaking up to 16th. Neil Warnock has brought colour to the Premiership, and I would like to see the Blades stay up.
Wigan Last season's Reading have been unlucky with some injuries, but their constant moaning makes me reluctant to offer any sympathy.
Charlton Alan Pardew has improved their chances of avoiding the drop considerably (relatively speaking, of course).
West Ham Overachieved last season and are as good as relegated already. And that's without any pending points deduction.
Watford I would love Aidy Boothroyd's side to get out of this one. They had some rough luck at the start of the season and their approach to life in the Prem has been excellent. It is difficult to see them avoiding the drop though.

Pick your three.

[Rob Parker]

March 2, 2007 in Charlton Athletic, Manchester City, Sheffield United, Vote, Watford, West Ham United, Wigan Athletic | Permalink | Comments (14)

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)

Rob Hulse puts the ouch into Peter Crouch

16741452523_1 Q: Who put the 'ouch' in Crouch?

A: Blades striker Rob Hulse, whose stray boot connected with the blonde giraffe's face during Liverpool's 4-0 defeat of Sheffield United on Staurday. There goes Peter's catwalk career…

The injury to Crouch was the only downer of the game for Liverpool, although I've read several reports claiming that Steven Gerrard dived to win their first penalty. Still searching for the YouTube footage of said incident, will post when I find it.

In other Scouse news, the club has confirmed they have reached an agreement with Andriy Voronin to bring the Ukrainian striker to Anfield, from Bayer Leverkusen.

February 26, 2007 in Liverpool, Sheffield United | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sheffield United get game abondoned

Does this ring any bells? Sheffield United bring sub on, and sub gets sent off seconds after coming on the pitch? Well, if you thought the Keith Gillespie incident was farcical, wait until you see this. Match abondoned, three sent off, some terrifying challenges and some spilled blood. Sheffield United are a bit rough aren't they? Just ask Robin Van Persie...

February 9, 2007 in Classic Moments, Sheffield United, Video clips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gillespie may be out for some time

Gillespie Sheffield United winger Keith Gillespie is facing up to two months on the sidelines after admitting to a charge of violent conduct. The ex-Northern Ireland star was charged by the FA in relation to the incident with Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt which saw Gillespie sent off moments after entering the game. For the record, is Gillespie's sending off the quickest ever? The ref stopped his clock to allow him on and surely sent him off before restarting the match?

Anyway, Gillespie had already been dismissed by Mark Halsey for elbowing Hunt and as the winger made his way off the pitch, he again confronted Hunt and appeared to hit him in the face. In accepting the charge, and ahead of next Tuesday's disciplinary hearing, Gillespie faces the prospect of a six-match suspension which would see him ruled out until March 31st. I doubt his transfer request will do him any favours... [Mof Gimmers]

January 24, 2007 in Sheffield United | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)

THE VOTE Worst January transfer so far?

Players_1021 Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

a) Ben Thatcher, Alan Pardew's first signing as Charlton boss. Fee: £500,000. Bargain.
b) Djimi Traore, arguably the worst ever player to win a Champions League title, moves from Charlton to Portsmouth, for £1m. A steal!
c) West Ham bag journeyman Nigel Quashie from West Brom, for £1.5m.
d) Sheffield Utd sign 'striker' (I use the term very loosely) Jon Stead from Sunderland, for £750,000.

What an uninspiring quartet of transfers they make. Vote for your worst…

January 12, 2007 in Charlton Athletic, Manchester City, News balls, Portsmouth, Sheffield United, The Championship, Vote, West Ham United | Permalink | Comments (5)

Should Chris Morgan have been charged with violent conduct for his 'punch' on Robin van Persie?

Sheffield United captain Chris Morgan has been charged with violent conduct by the FA, following this incident involving Robin van Persie during the 1-0 win against Arsenal on Saturday. Morgan appears to strike the Arsenal forward, out of sight of referee Alan Wiley. He has until 6pm this Thursday to respond; a disciplinary commission will consider the case on Friday.

What do you think – is this really 'violent conduct'? Morgan was certainly out of order, but Van Persie appears to have made the most of it.

January 4, 2007 in Arsenal, News balls, Sheffield United | Permalink | Comments (9)