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Blatter on target in the right goalmouth; I've a feeling the 39th step could die a death.

Byline: John Helm

IT'S not often I agree with Sepp Blatter (above) but for once he hasn't put through his own goal.

In condemning the Premier League's preposterous plan to ship its product to any country willing to pay money for it, he has - hopefully - killed the idea at birth.

What does concern me is the innuendo that if Richard Scudamore (left) and his cronies decide to go ahead with it anyway that will serve mortal damage to this country's hopes of staging the 2018 World Cup - or presumably any others.

The FIFA president's pledge that the 39th step will happen over his dead body carried with it a veiled threat and he hasn't exactly given unequivocal backing for England's bid anyway.

I was in China for the Women's World Cup last year and he made very encouraging noises towards his hosts there.

China would love to stage football's premier event - not least because it would give their team automatic entry at a time when they find it almightily difficult to qualify any other way.

Mind you I've also been in Canada when he's promised them the earth, Dubai - with it's billions of dhirams and gold to offer - has ambitions of becoming ever more global in a sporting sense, and Australia and the United States can put up a pretty good case for beating us when it comes to votes.

Don't let's run away with the idea that the rest of the world can't wait to come to England - even if we believe they want us to go to them.

A few chairmen and managers are coming out of the woodwork in support of the venture and despite the huge vocal outcry from fans there are still people who claim that it has to happen.

You'll gather I'm not one of them.

If Sepp Blatter says no, if the Federations of South America and Asia say no, then it's going to take a hefty shift of opinion somewhere for Scudamore's dream to be fulfilled.

Maybe a Community Shield in Kuala Lumpur or a prestige friendly in Beijing will satisfy both sides for the time being, but the fear would exist that that would be the thin end of the wedge.

There are some things in football that never catch on . Remember the Anglo-Italian Cup. That died a death when someone twigged that Notts County v Salernitana didn't exactly pull them in.

The Mercantile Trophy, the Confederations Cup and the World Club Championship come into the same category and I've a feeling the 39th step is heading in the same direction.

ONE question I hate to hear asked of a football manager is "Do you feel under pressure?"

The interviewer who subjected Wolves boss Mick McCarthy to just such an interrogation after the Cup defeat to Cardiff was risking life and limb.

McCarthy, quite rightly in my view, gave him short shrift and virtually told him to go forth and multiply - or wash his mouth out while he was still in one piece.

As journalists we would hate somebody to put it to us that maybe our job was on the line, so what right have we to suggest to anyone they maybe about to face the sack.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Feb 21, 2008
Words:537
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