THE fixture list was extremely kind to Sky TV on Sunday, providing their football subscribers with three local Derbies in one day.
And the viewing public were not disappointed. Liverpool and Everton served up a cracking 2-2 draw, Sunderland and Newcastle battled it out for a 1-1 stalemate and in the Midlands, Birmingham and Aston Villa also tied 1-1.
These games involving close rivals always bring with them packed stadiums and passionate supporters. The football may not always be of the highest quality but they usually ensure drama and emotion and Sunday was no exception.
The Sunderland defender Anton Ferdinand managed to avoid defeat but he was a clear loser during a recent visit to a casino, according to a report in the Daily Mirror: The newspaper claimed that 25 year old Ferdinand stormed out of the club after losing £6,000 on roulette in under five minutes.
Getting into a muddle over numbers was also a problem recently for football administrators in Ireland: A live TV broadcast of the draw for the sixth round of the JJB Irish Cup was thrown in chaos after one of the numbers was called out twice! The embarrassing calamity occurred when Irish FA chairman Robert Cupples mistakenly called out the number 10 after drawing ball six from the cup. Fortunately the cock-up was quickly realised and the correct team was announced.
Maybe Anton Ferdinand, younger brother of the England and Manchester United star Rio, should try and get his thrills elsewhere – such as twittering. The Stoke City manager Tony Pulis has told BBC Sport that he will not stop his players from using social networking sites. This follows the news that Liverpool forward Ryan Babel had become the first player to be charged with improper conduct by the Football Association for comments made on Twitter. Babel linked to a mocked-up picture of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester Untied shirt after Liverpool lost to Manchester United in an FA Cup defeat which featured two controversial decisions by Webb. The link was later removed and Babel has apologised.
Stoke forward Tuncay has posted a video of his favourite goals on Facebook, which some media outlets believe was an effort to engineer a move away from the club. “If they want to do it, that’s up to them,” said Pulis. “I can’t be leaning over telling them what they can and can’t do. “It’s very, very difficult at times, but boys will be boys.” Exactly.
Not only are Arsenal winning plaudits for playing spectacular football in their bid to win the Premier League but they have also been praised by UEFA for their housekeeping. European football’s governing body is getting ready to impose tough new financial restrictions and from the 2011-12 season clubs must break even over a rolling three-year period or risk a possible ban from UEFA European competitions. UEFA compared Arsenal’s approach to that of clubs with super-rich owners.
“What model waits for a knight rider on a horse and then rides away?” said UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino. “Ten years ago Arsenal reported less income than Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle. Now it is more than those clubs and in 2009 more than double Newcastle’s. This shows what is possible with good management and careful investment.”
This is in sharp contrast from the behaviour elsewhere in the Premier League which has seen the influx of wealthy foreign businessmen who have bought control of clubs and then embarked on lavish spending on players.