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Shrimpers to be potted by the Super U's at the JSCS
at 19:15 21 Apr 2021

Indeed, Nelson Mandela is a perfect example, and there are plenty more to choose from.

However, my question was actually what defines the BLM as a political organisation? As I said, demonising civil rights movements, or those that oppose state oppression in general as political (invariably left-leaning, e.g. Marxist, socialist, communist etc.) is a common ploy by the far-right throughout time. It's designed to take moderate conservative (small "c") support away from the movement and the cause they campaign for - the tried and tested "reds under your beds" scaremongering tactic.
John Williams
at 16:22 21 Apr 2021

They were at the U's about the same time, but Mick Packer stayed with us much longer than John. I didn't realise until checking the facts for myself, but John Williams, Mick Packer, Mike Walker and Brian Owen all played for Watford in their 1970 FA Cup Semi Final match against Chelsea - they lost 5-1 though...
Shrimpers to be potted by the Super U's at the JSCS
at 07:43 21 Apr 2021

Not entirely sure quite what the connection between the club making a stand against racism and the team’s performance on the pitch is, but I am keen to know what the obvious politics of the BLM are Noah? Politically branding civil rights movements to turn more moderate people away from supporting them is a common tactic of the far right, and sadly it works too. I was delighted to also learn yesterday that Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all three counts of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter following the death of George Floyd.

Edit: obvious mistake corrected :-(
[Post edited 21 Apr 8:16]
Can we stop worrying?
at 23:54 20 Apr 2021

Good - but don't forget people, they would have done it if they could have got away with it.
Letters from Wiltshire #45
at 23:17 20 Apr 2021

Remember their names, these are the people who have been suffering so much during the pandemic.

Arsenal FC - Enos Stanley Kroenke
American billionaire businessman, and owner of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, the holding company of Arsenal F.C. and Arsenal W.F.C., the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL, Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League, the Los Angeles Gladiators of the Overwatch League, and the newly formed Los Angeles Guerrillas of the Call of Duty League.

Chelsea FC - Roman Abramovich
A Russian-Israeli billionaire businessman and politician. Abramovich is the primary owner of the private investment company Millhouse LLC, and is best known outside Russia as the owner of Chelsea F.C. According to Forbes, Abramovich's net worth was US$12.9 billion in 2019.

Liverpool FC - John W Henry
An American businessman and investor and the founder of John W. Henry & Company, an investment management firm. He is the principal owner of Liverpool Football Club, the Boston Red Sox, The Boston Globe, and co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing.

Manchester City - Sheikh Mansour
The club has been majority owned by Sheikh Mansour, one of football's wealthiest owners, with an estimated individual net worth of at least £17 billion and a family fortune of at least $1 trillion.

Manchester United - the Glazer family
After being floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1991, the club was taken private after a purchase by Malcolm Glazer in 2005 at almost £800 million, of which over £500 million of borrowed money became the club's debt. From 2012, some shares of the club were listed on the New York Stock Exchange, although the Glazer family retains overall ownership and control of the club.

Tottenham Hotspur - ENIC Group
ENIC Group (formerly English National Investment Company) is a British investment company. ENIC is owned by Joe Lewis (through Tavistock Group). ENIC is a Bahamas-registered subsidiary, ENIC International Limited currently holds 85.55% of the total issued share capital of English Premier League club, Tottenham Hotspur. Club chairman Daniel Levy and his family own 29.4% of the share capital of ENIC International Limited, while Lewis owns 70.6%.

Atletico Madrid - Miguel Ángel Gil Marín
He is a Spanish sports executive and stockbreeder, CEO of Atlético de Madrid since 1993. He also is the main shareholder of the football team, lives in the exclusive La Finca in Pozuelo de Alarcón, and as of 2019, his fortune was estimated as the 192nd in Spain.

Real Madrid - Florentino Pérez Rodríguez
Perez is a Spanish businessman, civil engineer, former politician, and the current President of Real Madrid, as well as Chairman and CEO of Grupo ACS, a civil engineering company. In April 2021 Pérez was named the first chairman of the European Super League.

Barcelona - the members
FC Barcelona is one of the few clubs in the world to be owned by the club members themselves. Together these members form the governing body of the club and in 2016 there were an estimated 140,000 socis or members in Catalan.

AC Milan - Paolo Scaroni
This one is complicated, but in 2017 Milan became a subsidiary of Rossoneri Sport Investment Luxembourg, which acquired 99.92973% shares of A.C. Milan S.p.A. from Fininvest. Eventually, Paolo Scaroni was elected as the new chairman of the board of Milan and interim CEO. The club is ranked as the eighth-wealthiest football club in the world by Forbes magazine as of 2014, making it the wealthiest in Italian football, just surpassing ninth-ranked Juventus by a narrow margin.

Juventus - the Agnelli family
The Agnelli family is an Italian multi-industry business dynasty founded by Giovanni Agnelli, one of the original founders of Fiat motor company which became Italy's largest manufacturer Fiat. They are also primarily known for other activities in the automotive industry by investing in Ferrari (1969), Lancia (1969), Alfa Romeo (1986) and Chrysler, the latter acquired by Fiat after it filed for bankruptcy in 2009. The Agnelli family is also known for managing and being majority owners of the Italian Serie A football club Juventus F.C. since the club's conversion to a public limited company in 1967.

Inter Milan - Suning Holdings Group
Suning Holdings Group Co., Ltd. is a Chinese privately-held company. The company shared the same founder Zhang Jindong with the listed company Suning.com, but Suning Holdings was the unlisted portion of Zhang's unincorporated Suning Group. According to All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, Suning Holdings Group was ranked as the second largest civilian-run enterprise in Mainland China in 2018. The holding company is also famous for the acquisition of Inter Milan.

Edit: forgot to add, all courtesy of wikipedia.
[Post edited 20 Apr 23:21]
Shrimpers to be potted by the Super U's at the JSCS
at 22:06 20 Apr 2021

Shrimpers to be potted by the Super U's at the JSCS
at 21:47 20 Apr 2021

No, what did he say?
Let’s play Countdown Rachel.
at 21:26 20 Apr 2021

Shrimpers to be potted by the Super U's at the JSCS
at 21:11 20 Apr 2021

This just says it all

I should have added, and with tremendous gratitude © MI News & Sport Ben Pooley – cheers chap!
[Post edited 20 Apr 21:46]
Letters from Wiltshire #45
at 21:07 20 Apr 2021

So, as a follow up, it's all starting to unravel for the Dirty Dozen, with Chelsea and Man City finally getting cold feet and pulling, and I have no doubt more will follow.

Don't forget though people - these and the rest were all the a'holes who would have done this if they could have got away with it.
Shrimpers to be potted by the Super U's at the JSCS
at 21:04 20 Apr 2021

Scrappy, nervy, but Southend barely laid a glove on us, and rightfully look like they're heading to non-league.

Well done U's, now let's get one more point to make absolutely certain.

A happy day at Wessex Towers - Up the U's!
Can we stop worrying?
at 19:51 20 Apr 2021

Them and Man City now have.
Shrimpers to be potted by the Super U's at the JSCS
at 19:50 20 Apr 2021

Worth every penny - we're not even 3rd from bottom at the moment, moved ahead of Barrow who are losing at home to Port Vale.

Come on Col U!!
Shrimpers to be potted by the Super U's at the JSCS
at 18:10 20 Apr 2021

Great news about Harriott, I was worried he was crocked for sure after that disgraceful 'challenge' (aka assault).
Letters from Wiltshire #45
at 16:33 20 Apr 2021

Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.

Snouts in the trough – the European Super League

However, tonight I want Letters from Wiltshire #45 to focus on what is potentially a much bigger issue for the future of football than our Essex-centric parochial concerns – and that is of course the announcement at the weekend that a new European Super League is set to replace the existing Champions League competition. It is difficult to know where to start with this, there are so many issues associated with this announcement, so let us start with who is involved.

There are six Premier League sides involved: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Across Europe, there are six more: Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, and AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan in Italy. As yet, no clubs from France or Germany have shown any interest in joining, which will obviously leave out massive clubs such as PSG and Bayern Munich. The overall intention is for the ESL to comprise 20 clubs, the 12 already mentioned plus three more yet to be announced, and who would remain permanently as members going forward, and an additional variable five to qualify through some form of qualification process (invitation, domestic performance, a one-off event?).

Well, we know the real reason why, the clue is in the title of this blog, but what are the Dirty Dozen saying. Apparently, it is all about money, but specifically it is the financial impact of Covid-19 on their mega-club revenue streams, playing in front of empty stadiums, and with superstar player multi-million pound salary habits to feed. I don’t doubt, it’s a problem far more keenly felt throughout the remainder of the football pyramid, but we don’t have the financial safety net of billionaire owners to fall back on. As a sweetener to entice the founder members, investment bank JP Morgan has promised each a share of a £3bn grant.

Yep, you read that right – investment bank JP Morgan have confirmed they will finance the breakaway ESL, to the tune of £4.3bn in total. If that doesn’t have people concerned, also bear in mind that following their announcement, shares in JP Morgan leapt, as did shares in most of the clubs involved. The world of football may not like the proposal, but plenty out there clearly do recognise an opportunity to get rich when they see one. As I understand it, this isn’t a gift from JP Morgan, but funding secured against the anticipated TV broadcasting rights, presumably therefore a low-interest loan of sorts. As you would expect, JP Morgan have been predictably tight-lipped about the financial arrangements.

Laughingly, ESL founder member and Real Madrid president Florentino Perez would have us believe it was created “to save football”. That’s right, it’s not about the lucrative pay-outs to finance their debt, it is so they can save football for us all. Apparently, according to Perez, young people are “no longer interested in football”, citing the poor quality of matches as the reason. I would argue that even if it were true that younger people are turning away from football, it is less to do with quality and more to do with disillusionment about the bare-faced greed and obscene amount of money that is endemic throughout the higher echelons of the game.

That is an interesting question, because in one sense the answer could be never. Some observers believe that this is really just another salvo from the major European clubs directed at Uefa, in an attempt to gain greater control (and financial return) from the existing Champions League competition – you know, blackmail. There is certainly no chance that both competitions could co-exist – both will rely on the same lucrative broadcasting rights from the same sources. However, if it goes ahead, most reckon that will be August 2022 onwards, though Perez has said the ESL want to start this August if possible.

Details released so far show the structure will comprise two mini-leagues of ten clubs each. The ten in each group will play each other home and away in mid-week games, with the top three from each group automatically qualifying for the quarter-finals, whilst 4th and 5th placed teams would play-off for the remaining two qualification slots. From there, it would be a normal two-legged path to the final.

Ironically, this is actually a simpler format than that proposed by Uefa, who announced their plans to revamp the 2024 Champions League competition onwards yesterday – a day too late it would seem. Their proposal is complicated, with 36 clubs qualifying for an expanded 'first phase', where all clubs will play against ten (not all) opponents of varying strengths. This will result in a league table, with the top eight qualifying for the knockout phase and the next 16 going into a play-off for the remaining eight slots. The controversy is that four of the additional qualification slots in the opening group of 36 will be awarded to clubs with the highest Uefa co-efficient who did not qualify for the Champions League but did qualify for another European competition. This will lead to the very real possibility that a team could qualify for the Champions League despite finishing behind teams in their league who did not qualify.

So what’s the big deal?
Fair question, because it’s not like Uefa, or Fifa, or even our own Premier League aren’t a bunch of self-serving money-grabbers on their day. So their holier than thou attitude when it comes to defending their cash cow(s) from the ESL does come across as somewhat hypocritical.

But that’s not the thing, the really massive thing is the self-appointed exclusivity they bestow upon themselves – that the founding 12 (plus the unnamed three) will never again have to ‘qualify’ for the competition. That’s it, in for life, you’re part of our mega-club big boy gang, so welcome to the trough. They’ll throw another five a bone each year, have a chance to pat someone on the head and say how well they’ve done, maybe feel good about themselves in the process.

The idiocy and arrogance is just breath-taking, I’m almost speechless in awe. To keep things simple, this basically tears up the fundamental foundation of what football is, and destroys the health and vitality that an effective and functioning football pyramid brings to the sport. Football is a meritocracy – okay, a somewhat dysfunctional one at times, particularly when we consider the already disproportionate distribution of wealth. But still, nothing is technically preventing any team, whether through hard work, expertise, investment or just plain luck, from rising to the top of the pyramid, or particularly pertinent to tonight, to sink to the bottom (hell, it wasn’t that long ago Man City were with us in the third tier).

In terms of rising to the top of the pyramid, what has always been the pinnacle as far as the English leagues are concerned? That fabled expression (ironic in these post-Brexit days) “getting into Europe”. The ESL ostensibly closes that route off – it’s basically going to become a private members club, sharing the proceeds of participation amongst themselves, and apparently because they want to save football!

So who’s for it?
Errm, no one?

Okay, not technically no one. Obviously the 12 club chairmen are fervently for it. Finance backers JP Morgan are definitely for it, they’ll be earning more than enough interest from the financial support. I’d imagine worldwide there’ll be a huge appetite for the matches from audiences with absolutely no emotional investment in the future of domestic football in Europe, and I’m particularly thinking about the Asian market here. I suppose even some employees of the clubs involved are up for it, including players and management – but certainly not all, and with some already breaking ranks and speaking out against the proposal.

Who’s not for it?
Pretty much everyone else...

Honestly, browse online, the universal level of opposition to the proposal is stunning, and frankly reassuring too – that’s across not just the UK, or Europe, but the world. There are some cracking headlines out there too. Tuttosport in Italy probably summed it up best with theirs, which appropriately and simply translates as “Are you insane?”.

Uefa and Fifa in particular are being very bullish, declaring that players involved in the competition will be barred from all other domestic, European and world competitions. The legality of that position may well be challenged I’m sure, but I kind of hope they’re right.

Premier League Rule L9 appears to preclude the English clubs from participating in the ESL:
Except with the prior written approval of the board, during the season a club shall not enter or play its senior men’s first team in any competition other than:
L.9.1 - The UEFA Champions League
L.9.2 - The UEFA Europa League
L.9.3 - The FA Cup
L.9.4 - The FA Community Shield
L.9.5 - The Football League Cup or
L.9.6 - Competitions sanctioned by the County Association of which it is a member.

I presume that will mean expulsion from the Premier League for any of the six who don’t reconsider? Again, not going to lose any sleep over that.

Otherwise, all of the remaining 14 Premier League clubs, football fans throughout Europe – most notably supporter associations for the Dirty Dozen, our Football Supporters Association, the EFL, Boris Johnson, Eric Cantona, sounds like Klopp and Guardiola at the very least are having their own doubts, even Amazon say they haven’t been consulted and are against the proposal (wtf?).

This is an utterly dreadful proposal, which definitively, finally and unequivocally demonstrates the obscene greed of the clubs involved, that they care not a jot about “saving football”, and care only about how much of the pie they can carve out and keep for themselves.

However, this might be where I’m slightly out of step with others. Whilst I’m extremely concerned about the financial impact on clubs if their share of broadcasting money is diverted into the coffers of the ESL…if it removes their cancerous influence from our game, leaving them to go and rattle around in their private members club for the rest of time, I honestly won’t be bothered.

Up the U’s
Shrimpers to be potted by the Super U's at the JSCS
at 17:48 19 Apr 2021

It wasn't just the victory either, it was the manner of the victory which really has boosted my confidence - for once we looked like the team I know we can be again. It should be nothing less than a regulation win against poor opposition tomorrow, and if that all but relegates Southend (their significantly inferior goal difference aside) than so be it.

However, as you say PWK one bad referee decision or terrible bad luck can undo the best of plans. As I've mentioned previously, at the very least let's make sure we come out of tomorrow evening without conceding any ground to Grimsby and Southend, and with everyone one less game to play - tick tock...
Can we stop worrying?
at 16:49 19 Apr 2021

I understand both UEFA and FIFA have pretty much said as much - anyone playing in the ESL would be banned from all other domestic, European and world competitions.
I Follow Codes - where to find them..
at 12:03 19 Apr 2021

[Post edited 19 Apr 12:03]
Can we stop worrying?
at 12:01 19 Apr 2021

It's not often I have sympathy for supporters of the Premier League giants involved, but I do today. This will be an appalling decision if it goes ahead, just pure unbridled greed from club owners, nothing less nothing more, and a decision that is 100% opposed by all of their supporter associations.

However, apart from taking a significant amount of investment out of football, some of which would eventually filter down to the grass roots, if they want to 'eff off and play in a pointless and meaningless little mini-league year after year, just so the uber-rich can get richer, then good riddance to them.
Not the U's first rodeo against the Saddlers today!
at 21:19 17 Apr 2021

I'm not going to get into run-ins, final games, likely outcomes etc. All I know is that we are all one game less, the clock is ticking, and Grimsby have made no ground on the U's, and Southend have fallen further behind. Eventually, inevitably, the games will run out, it's just a question of time.
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