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FOOTBALL: No wonder it's such a shambles.

Byline: Ray HEPBURN

IT IS little wonder that the Premier League gets it wrong so often if the leadership of Roger Mitchell is an accurate yardstick.

Last week he was quizzed over the success, or otherwise, of the new 12 team division and some of the responses were staggering.

He kept insisting the new set up did not contain meaningless games and insisted that the old 18 team set up did.

This is quite an astonishing memory lapse because the current cumbersome hotch-potch replaced a 10 team league - the 18 team version was actually ditched in 1975.

To make matters worse, Mr Mitchell's reponse to the anomoly of seventh placed Aberdeen being a point ahead of sixth place Dundee in the table, was patronising and arrogant.

He suggested that the answer, for anyone who found the table difficult to take in, was for newspapers to print two tables of six side by side.

The truth is that any competition which involves teams playing each other three times, is completely devalued before a ball is kicked.

With kick off times on Friday night, Saturday lunchtime, Sunday afternoon, Sunday night and Monday night, the interests of the rank and file supporters are being completely ignored.

The degree to which the clubs are trawling themselves round the television companies for every last penny is demeaning and pathetic.

And the news that Ondigital are to become involved in competition with Sky will simply make their greed even worse.

Roger Mitchell is presiding over a mess. His manner can be condescending and it appears he doesn't understand the business he's running.

THERE have been some encouraging signs in the last few weeks that the exemplary behaviour of the Tartan Army is rubbing off on domestic fans.

There are many examples, including that of the Celtic supporters' wonderfully observed minute's silences for the late, great Jim Baxter.

And last Sunday, despite the fact that they were already losing 2-0, the Hibs fans gave Celtic star Alan Stubbs a rapturous reception when he came on at half time

After coming through his cancer battle it was clear that the big defender was deeply touched.

j

ON Tuesday, Channel Five have decided to carry live coverage of Tommy Boyd's testimonial match between Celtic and Manchester United

That's great news for the Scotland defender, whose testimonial kitty will be enhanced by around pounds 50,000

But anyone who has watched these 'friendlies' could be forgiven for believing that television would show tiddly winks - as long as footballers were playing it.

j

THE recent spate of Rangers jokes seems to be ruffling feathers, including the normally mild-mannered Bill Bonner from Blairgowrie, who is considering violence.

Two weeks ago we asked what a Rangers supporter with a bottle of champagne was called - a waiter, of course.

So what do you suppose a Celtic supporter with a bottle of champagne would be called? Simple - a novelty.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 13, 2001
Words:484
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