A problem nobody wants to talk about…

The new football season is almost upon us. Good news for some, bad news for all the football widows. Good news for the various gambling/casino websites whose name and logos will be emblazoned across the chests of professional footballers in the English leagues, bad news for the people who struggle with gambling problems and their families.

Earlier this year, footballer Joey Barton became just the latest in a long line of current players to admit to a gambling problem, after being banned for placing in the region of 1200 bets on football matches (not involving his own team). His ban of 18 months was considered harsh in some circles, particularly if you consider the fact that the Football Association had business and sponsorship deals with Ladbrokes. This was subsequently cancelled after Barton himself highlighted the hypocrisy. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Of the 92 football clubs in the top 4 divisions, at least 24 will have one gambling website or another printed on their shirts (source Historical Football Kits). That’s a quarter, give or take a fraction, of the teams. In the Premier League, the so-called ‘best league in the world’, 10 of the 20 teams are sponsored by these companies.

Now, personally, I feel that gambling is just as damaging as drugs, alcohol and smoking, yet you don’t seem to see any of these printed on football shirts anymore!! I remember the good old days when teams were sponsored by Electronics companies, or local enterprises. Arsenal were sponsored by JVC; Liverpool by Candy; Aston Villa by Mita Copiers and so on. Admittedly, Tottenham had a long-term sponsorship deal with Holsten, but as I recall, in the days before replica kits were the huge business they are today, the youth replica shirts did not feature the alcohol sponsor.

And that concludes this rant for today. Feel free to comment or have your say.


A World First: A Guest Post on Specs, Rugs & Sausage Rolls!!

Earlier this week, or last week, I put out a request, nay plea, for some non-football fans to share their thoughts on the new season, which, gawd help us, is almost upon us (for some, it actually started tonight). Quickest off the blocks was professional parent and semi-professional writer and blogger, (not to mention occasional Monday Night Snookerer-er-er) Carole Holland.

I Didn’t Even Know The Last Season Had Finished…

I don’t *do* football.

I mean, I know what it is and I ‘played’ it at school (I squealed whenever anyone kicked the ball at me and never knew which team I was on, but I did at least join in…), but I don’t really get why anyone over the age of 18 wants to play it.

If you ask me, I support Leeds United wholeheartedly with Shrewsbury Town coming in second place. This is nothing to do with either team’s prowess or anything, purely because my family comes from Leeds and I have lived near Shrewsbury almost all of my life.

Also it is because if I showed allegiance to any other team my Dad would probably lynch me. Yorkshire Pride and all that.

Apparently the new season starts soon (or it has started? I have no idea, there never seems to stop being stuff about it on the news at any point in the year…) and there are questions flying around all over the place causing great discussion. Some of them are things I hear every year, some are new this time around after events of last season – almost all of them would normally pass me by without being answered because I’d never stop to listen.

I probably still won’t listen but I will come up with a few answers from the perspective of a non-football minded blogger who has only the vaguest idea of what the off-side rule might be.

The World Cup. See, I know what that is – I have even watched the odd final in my time. England isn’t usually in it from what I remember and, to be honest, I can’t say as I’m all that surprised.

From what I know of things, to play for a team in the World Cup you have to be a national of that country, and, from what I hear in the news and on Twitter and so on, most of the players that score highly in English teams are, well, not English.

Which means when it comes to choosing the World Cup team there must be a whole lot of people who are suddenly not playing for us, but against us, and our team is perhaps a bit less ‘top class’.

Not entirely, obviously. I know full well there are lots of very talented English players, I just never seem to hear about more than the same ten or so.

Then there is the Champions League which, according to my research on Wiki, is apparently for the top European teams. Can an English team win this year?

Maybe. Although looking at the history, it doesn’t look all that likely. It would appear we are somewhat outclassed by Germany, Italy and Spain and, well, most of Europe.

So actually, I predict that no, and English team won’t win.

How about the Premier League? Who will win that? Well, if you give me a minute too look up what it *is* then I’ll have a think…

Ah, right, this is the one that Manchester United always seems to win.

In that case, I want anyone but them to win this season. But that’s not unusual because I want whoever is playing Manchester United to thrash them because… well, because they’re from Lancashire and they dominate everything mostly, it seems to outsiders like me, by being rich rather than good.

More specifically, having studied the list of teams playing in the upcoming season, I would like Newcastle United to win.

Sadly, I suspect the Red Roses will triumph in reality. Much as it pains me to say it.

Whilst we are on the subject of Manchester United, I must admit I was secretly rather pleased to hear that Sir Alex Fergusson was saying his farewells. I don’t like him.

There, I said it.

I think he is rude, foul mouthed and obnoxious. Also, his habit of chewing gum whilst giving interviews was beyond disgusting – nobody needs to see or hear all that slapping and chewing on live television, or at all. It makes me shudder just thinking about it. Would it really have been so hard to spit it in a bin before the interview started? No.

Perhaps without him at the helm, Manchester United will learn some manners.

I have no idea who is taking over but I hope that they are less self-absorbed and teach their players some manners and humility. Both traits generally lacking in the majority of the top teams from what I see as an outsider.

There are also rumours flying about that Wayne Rooney is thinking of leaving Manchester United.

Good for him.

I really couldn’t care less but if he is unhappy where he is, then moving is the right thing to do.

I don’t know where he is likely to go if he does move but I’m sure he will make just as many headlines there as he does now. And I’ll still ignore them all.

Talking of headlines, I hear David Beckham has finally retired.

To be honest, I thought he already had.

I know he went overseas to play after his career in England began to wane, which I didn’t really understand – do other country’s teams have lower standards? But I honestly thought he had given that up too already. Apparently not.

Well good for him I say. I’m sure he has enough money saved up and coming in from royalties and modelling and adverts and all the other stuff he does to really enjoy spending more time with his family. And perhaps he’ll get a bit more peace once everything dies down – it can’t be easy being the centre of attention all the time.

So there you have it, the most interest I think I have ever shown in a football season ever. I will now return to my usual home, underneath a football-free rock, and return to not having an opinion.

Thanks for having me, Jon


If you’re interested enough, but only able to follow links and stuff, here is the link to Carole’s very own blog: http://caroleheidi.com/

Here is the link to her very own Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/carolefindsherwings

And, by jove, if you’re also a Twitterer, why not follow Carole in a non-stalky way: https://twitter.com/caroleheidi