THE VOTE Were Blackburn Rovers' fans wrong to boo Lucas Neill?

00004172fullsize West Ham defender Lucas Neill has complained about the 'disgusting' treatment he received on his return to Ewood Park:

'Five-and-a-half years at the club, 100 per cent commitment, I've never gone to the papers, never complained about anything and then, when I want to further myself for my own personal benefit, whether it be backwards, sideways or forward, I get the reception I get… I think it's disgusting because people have come here and been here only six months to a year, not worked hard, walked away with a pay-off, and here's me trying my heart out for five years and this is the reception I get.'

Aw, diddums. Seriously though, I feel Neill has a point. He was generally very loyal to Rovers, but after having a very good 2006 World Cup he started to believe his own hype. He was never going to get applauded at Ewood, but to boo him relentlessly seemed a wee bit harsh, no?

March 19, 2007 in Blackburn Rovers, Vote, West Ham United | Permalink | Comments (3)

West Sham to be investigated by the police

Westham West Ham United's season goes from bad to worse after it was revealed that the police are set to make investigations into the club. Before you start, it won't be for criminal defending, but something rather more serious.

From shambles to shameful, the Hammers season hit a new low on Sunday when large groups of supporters were filmed chanting racist and anti-semitic slogans at half-time of the club's 4-3 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. The Met confirmed that their football unit is investigating a complaint made by the Community Security Trust, an organisation that protects Britain's Jewish community from anti-semitism. Among the chants heard was one stating: "I'd rather be a Paki than a Jew".

The Guardian report that clips of the chants had been posted on the YouTube website by a member going by the username of "cockneymatt88". The trust noted that the number in the username might have been a neo-Nazi reference, the 88 being the eighth letter of the alphabet twice over, standing for "Heil Hitler". Though the username took down the clips at about 5pm yesterday the Football Association had already forwarded the video to police.

The FA will request that West Ham provide all available CCTV footage to investigators, and will push for prosecutions and for football banning orders to be imposed on guilty parties. Apart from complaints from the Community Security Trust, there had been protestations from Tottenham fans to their club, who in turn lodged a formal protest with West Ham. "We have contacted West Ham and they are conducting an investigation," said Tottenham, "we are awaiting the outcome of that." Naturally, West Ham distanced themselves from the actions of a section of their supporters while pointing to their own anti-racist credentials. "West Ham is a leading [anti-racist] campaigner and will not tolerate racist behaviour of any kind," said the club. "We will investigate this matter fully, attempt to identify the perpetrators and take the appropriate action."

What will be called into question is the lack of action by the stewards at the ground. The FA's head of stadia, Chris Whalley, will address this issue by asking the club to explain how this has happened and what is in place to prevent things like this happening. The stewards will have received training on how do deal with situations like this, but it seems unlikely that they would have been able to control a big number of fans inappropriately chanting. Were they scared to intervene? You can't blame them if they were, which will leave the blame squared at the club. [Mof Gimmers]

March 6, 2007 in News balls, West Ham United | Permalink | Comments (1)

FOR SALE: Football team, East London area, buyer to collect. Contact Curbs for more details

Curbs_3Any Championship side looking for a half-decent team, or any budding entrepreneur looking to set up his own football club, might like to have a browse around the West Ham sales. Alan Curbishley is apparently preparing for summer clearout (aka "we're already resigned to relegation") and wants to move on 16 players.

If you believe the rumours this starting XI is up for grabs:

GK Roy Carroll
DR Lucas Neill
DL Paul Konchesky
DC Matthew Upson
DC Anton Ferdinand
MR Luis Boa Morte
MC Nigel Reo-Coker
ML Matthew Etherington
ST Carlos Tevez
ST Marlon Harewood
ST Dean Ashton

You might think signing an entire (probably) relegated team would be a bit of a gamble, but apparently a fondness for a flutter is the reason Curbs wants to move on some of these players. A gambling culture at Upton Park - which has seen players lose tens of thousands of pounds to each other in card games - has been highlighted by the West Ham boss as one reason for lack of team spirit at the club.

As for the 'For Sale XI', I don't think too many sides would turn their noses up at Neill, Boa Morte or Tevez. What do you reckon?

[Rob Parker] 

March 6, 2007 in Rumours & gossip, West Ham United | Permalink | Comments (2)

THE VOTE If you were Paul Konchesky, would you have fouled Jermain Defoe?

Why didn't Paul Konchesky commit a professional foul on Jermain Defoe and stop a likely winning goal for Spurs (see video)? Yes, he would have been sent off, but he would have probably earned a precious point for his club. Gary Neville sure as hell wouldn't have let Defoe run that far and take a shot, particularly not with several Spurs players rushing into the box. Very naive play from West Ham, and I have to blame Alan Curbishley for some of that. Cracking game though, one of the best of the season so far; Carlos Tevez didn't deserve to be on the losing team.

March 5, 2007 in Tottenham Hotspur, Vote, West Ham United | Permalink | Comments (10)

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)

West Ham could be relegated (even sooner than you expected)

103895100_16West Ham could be thrown out of the Premier League or docked points over the always-a-little-too-murky transfers of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano to Upton Park. This footballing equivalent of putting down a lame horse relates to an investigation into whether the Argentine duo are correctly registered because of the well-documented third-party ownership of Media Sports Investment which was central to the deal.

It is difficult to see how the Hammers could avoid relegation even without this latest saga, but their fans must be wondering how things can change so much in six months. In August the capture of Tevezcherano was heralded as a stroke of genius, the club was still revelling in nearly winning the FA Cup and Alan Pardew was a legend. Now the Argentine pair have flopped, last season's performance is looking like a fluke and Pardew is at Charlton handing out 4-0 spankings to his old club.

Over to Hammers hero Tony Cottee who has been doing the maths for the Telegraph. He said: "The biggest problem they have is that they are on 20 points and to stay up they need to get around 38. If you work on that basis, that's six more wins. There are 10 games left, and three of them are against Chelsea at home, and Arsenal and Manchester United away.

"Then we're saying they have to win six of the other seven. And who are they against? Bolton, Blackburn, Sheffield United, Tottenham, Everton, Middlesbrough, Wigan. They aren't easy games either. The goal difference is awful: they've got the worst defence and the worst goalscoring record. I would like to be optimistic, but it is going to take a superhuman effort."

Looking pretty bleak, I reckon. [Rob Parker]

March 2, 2007 in News balls, West Ham United | Permalink | Comments (2)

Carlton Cole is in trouble with Ken Livingstone's bailiffs

Cole_congestionWest Ham striker Carlton Cole is reportedly wanted by bailiffs over an £800 congestion charge debt. The debt collectors tracked Cole down to the West Ham training ground but were refused access by club staff. Cole has apparently built up the debt during in a dispute with Transport for London.

The 23-year-old denies that he was driving his car when the offences were committed and has withheld payment of the fine. Motorists caught flouting the £8-a-day charge face a minimum fine of £50. Cole's fine is thought to have increased because of his non-payment. [Via The Sun, Rob Parker]   

February 27, 2007 in West Ham United | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)

THE VOTE Who is the better Alan – Pardew or Curbishley?

Curb_your_enthusiasm_tv2 Tomorrow, Charlton Athletic take on West Ham at the Valley. Normally pundits would be foaming about how it's a 'crucial six-pointer' but since there's a very good chance that both teams will go down whatever the result, that's taken as read.

Anyway, the question is: who do you think is the better manager? Alan Pardew has come out and said he will 'never agree' with the decision to boot him out of Upton Park. The other Alan in this saga, Curbishley, has fared no better since replacing Pards, begging another question – why swap Alans in the first place? I think they're both decent managers, but rate Curbishley slightly higher – Pardew wears his heart on his sleeve a bit too much (like a poor man's Mourinho), where Curbs appears a bit more rational (like a poor man's Wenger). What say you?

February 23, 2007 in Charlton Athletic, Vote, West Ham United | Permalink | Comments (3)

Hooray, somebody spent some money! Matthew Upson moves to West Ham

UpsonAlan 'Last of the Big Spenders' Curbishley is the first Premiership manager to splash some decent cash on transfer deadline day. Curbs has taken Birmingham City defender Matthew Upson to West Ham for an initial £6 million. The 27-year-old has decided a five-month jaunt in the Premiership is just what he needs before returning to Championship football with the Hammers next season! [Rob Parker]

January 31, 2007 in Rumours & gossip, West Ham United | Permalink | Comments (0)