By Paula Marcus
International breaks are a strange time for Championship fans. It wasn’t so long ago that there would be almost a full Football League schedule, but now many fans are sat taking an interest in countries they would never before have followed, hoping their players make it through unscathed. But just because the League stops, it doesn’t meant that it is all quiet.
Championship players out of the World Cup
It was a break to forget for the large number of Championship players involved with Northern Ireland, as their side went down 1-0 on aggregate to Switzerland. Northern Ireland are in the unique position of relying heavily on players from the Football League, and the better the side do, the better it is for the league. Just over half of the starting line up from the second leg consisted of players from the second tier. Despite failing to make it to the finals, it will still have been a great learning experience for all the players involved.
FA defend simulation ban
This is a story that started two weeks ago and concerns the new abilities the FA has to charge players with simulation. Bristol City was facing Fulham at Craven Cottage when Fulham player Aboubaker Kamara was sent off for an off the ball incident that saw him push Cities Bailey Wright. Wright ends up on the floor, clutching his face. Just a few days later the FA announced that not only was Bailey suspended two games for ‘the deception of a match official’ (my new favourite charge), but that the original red card was rescinded.
To say City weren’t happy would be an understatement. They suggested that Kamara ran into Bailey with arms raised (which is over doing it a little, it was more of a push) and that the reaction was natural and he was in pain. Now having seen the replay it is one of those things where if it is your team, you see a red and a huge ban, but realistically a yellow would have been enough. It wasn’t quite as aggressive as Bristol City made out.
But onto the accusation of simulation. After complaints from City, the FA decided to release their full findings this week. What is interesting in this decision is that they have not denied the clubs defence that contact occurred. Instead the FA have stated that Bristol City did not address the fact that Bailey was clutching his face whilst on the ground when the original contact was to the chest, and therefore he was attempting to get the Fulham players red carded. With the FA now taking diving seriously, this probably is just the first of many decisions we will be going over this season.
Justice for Blackpool
Whilst this is not directly about a Championship club, it has ramifications for the teams in the League (and technically part of this occurred in both the Premier League and Championship). Everyone remembers the horror story of Blackpool and their lack of players for the start of preseason in 2014. Well it turned out that that was just the start of what has been a turbulent few years for the club as over the past few seasons there have been record low season ticket sales and the club repeatedly suing fans for libel.
Over the last week there was finally some positive news for the fans and their belief that Own Oyston and his son Karl have been asset stripping their club. They were ordered to pay a minority shareholder £31 million, or what his shares were actually thought to be worth before the Oyston’s got involved. Belokon took action after finding out the Oystons had made large payments from the club to companies that the Oyston’s owned. All this occurred whilst the club were in the Premier League, and certainly goes some way to explaining how a club with Premier League money could barely put a side out after relegation.
The Judge even went as far as stating that the Oyston’s ‘abused their majority powers to the detriment of the club.’ What is more shocking is that a judge has had to state something fans up and down the country have known has been going on, and that no one within Football has lifted a finger to do anything. Hopefully this will help push the League into bringing in rules that owners must act within the best interests of the club.
As for Blackpool, the story gets even better as the club was put up for sale Friday. The Oyston’s are still hoping to appeal parts of the decision (probably to do with having to pay Belokon what his shares should have been worth) and it is unlikely that any sale will happen while that is ongoing. But regardless, this is finally some good news for the clubs fans.
As the saying goes, there is no place like home, unless you are a Sunderland fan. Sunderland go into Saturdays game with Millwall without a home win in 11 months. The last time their fans had something to celebrate at home was a 1-0 win against Watford just before Christmas. In fact, since then they have only actually been in the lead once, and failure to win against Millwall would see them tie the 20 games without a win home record. So whatever is going on at your club at the moment, remember, things can always get worse.