Football Diary


by Patrick O’Connor


THERE may not be much football being played at the moment in the run-up to the start of Euro 2012 but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been much activity.


Football purists will be delighted by the news that the game’s governing body in England, the Football Association, has decided that small-sided formats for certain age-groups will be mandatory from now on.


Some children as young as 10 play on full-size pitches, which means that the emphasis is much more on power and strength,  than technique and skill. Many critics believe that this is one of the reasons English players lack the technical skills of foreign opponents.


The changes will see bring England into line with countries such as Spain where children are only allowed to play on adult pitches from under-14 level.


National development manager Nick Levett said: “These changes are a massive step forward for the future of children’s football in this country. We need to ensure children play on pitches appropriate to them, a 10-year-old is not half a 20-year-old! “


The move was supported by Manchester and England Rio Ferdinand who said on Twitter: “One thing our kids’ coaches don’t do that foreign coaches do is teach them to pass the ball to a player under pressure…then coach one-two.


“How to protect the ball under pressure…foreign players do that much better than us…one reason why they keep possession better.”


It was nice to read that the chairmen of Football League clubs have announced plans to rid the game of cheating and gamesmanship.


They have also agreed to tell their managers and players to cut out diving, time-wasting and feigning injury.


A League statement said: “Clubs will undertake to instruct managers, coaches and players accordingly – in particular to discourage actions which bring the game’s reputation into disrepute, such as: showing disrespect to match officials; those actions that undermine a sporting culture including diving/simulation, time wasting and feigning injury.”


Football League chairman Greg Clarke said: “As a collective of clubs we have a responsibility to protect the image and long-term health of the game of football.


“In supporting these proposals, League clubs have shown a determination to give a lead in this important area.


“We will now use them as a platform from which to engage with those parties that can help us change our game for the better.”


Right, your turn now Premier League….


According to a report in the Daily Mail, newspaper Andre Villas-Boas received £12 million in compensation after being fired by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.


Villas-Boas was only in his job as Chelsea manager for seven months before the Russian tycoon wielded his axe.


The Mail claimed that Abramovich’s ‘hire-and-fire approach’ has now cost the Champions League winners £76m in five years on management and coaching staff.


Nice work if you can get it…


A new financial report about the Premier League makes grim reading. According to Deloitte, the proportion of income that Premier League clubs spend on wages hit a new high in the 2010-11 season with clubs paying 70 per cent of their income on salaries. That figure included Manchester City who paid 114 per cent.


Deloitte’s 21st Annual Review of Football Finance said that pay discipline is needed “in order to deliver robust and sustainable businesses.”