Struck from the Record


Daily Record: disabled their 'comments' function after being plagued by sectarian abuse

Daily Record: disabled their ‘comments’ function after being plagued by sectarian abuse

It took a bold move by the Daily Record, Scotland’s second-biggest selling daily newspaper, to disable the ‘comments’ function from football articles on its website last Friday.  Their decision was taken in light of the ever-increasing level of foul and abusive language that was appearing, and, in particular, sectarianism.  After a long and fruitless battle, there was little other option left to take.

Inevitably, the nature of sports journalism has changed because of the internet.  Newspapers columns are no longer gospel or the voice of reason – instead, in this digital era, they have developed into an interactive forum of debate.  Now, the journalist is the sitting duck, waiting to be picked off by any number of commentators.  There are many ways in which this evolution is a positive – the industry’s reflective self-regulation can be taken quickly, and so there is little hope of journalists getting away with lazy and poorly-informed articles without being outed pretty sharpish.  It also allows any old punter (ahem) to throw in their tuppence worth, take stance on their soapbox, and share their opinion with the world.

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How Non-League Day has empowered clubs across the country


Non-League Day: 13.10.12

Non-League Day: 13.10.12

Finally, in its third instalment, Non-League Day has truly landed.  All over the country tomorrow, non-league football clubs will be kicking off at the traditional time of 3pm – only with bumper crowds and any number of initiatives going on to draw in spectators.  And I’m delighted I’ve had the chance to be involved in it.

On any given weekend, around 560,000 people go to watch the Premier League and Championship in the flesh.  And that’s with half of those 44 teams playing away (naturally) – given that most stadiums are at least 90% made up of home supporters, that means that around 1,000,000 people go to watch their team play at home (and, I think it’s safe to presume, spend the day vegetating on the sofa in front of Soccer Saturday when they’re away).

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Arsenal Ladies vs Birmingham Ladies: A Continental Cup final preview


Eni Aluko - one of Birmingham's brightest stars

Eni Aluko – one of Birmingham’s brightest stars

This is not the continental cup that Birmingham City Ladies wanted to be involved in.  After the men’s team enjoyed a European campaign of their own last season – unluckily getting knocked out of the Europa League behind Braga and Club Brugge (despite the Championship side clocking a laudable 10 points in the group) – it looked as though the women’s team had their own European tour to look forward to.

Instead, it was far more short-lived than that.  By virtue of England’s coefficient, Blues Ladies entered the Uefa Women’s Champions League in the round-of-32, by which time the tournament had already entered its knockout stage.  And despite taking a 2-0 lead into the second leg from a good result at Stratford’s DCS Stadium, their opponents Bardolino Verona tied the scores up in Italy through two goals by Cristina Girelli.  Her third, scored in the second half of extra-time, was decisive.

No – instead, tonight it is the Continental Cup that the Birmingham Ladies are involved in, with a capital ‘C’ – as per the name of the competition’s sponsor, the tyre manufacturer.  Continue reading

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There’s life in the old dog yet


Can Andrei Arshavin come back from the brink?

Can Andrei Arshavin come back from the brink?

I cannot have been the only one that had to double-take when seeing Andrei Arshavin’s name on the scoresheet, as Arsenal demolished Coventry City 6-1 in the Capital One Cup.  Call it ignorance on my behalf, but I assumed he had surely ended what was becoming an increasingly barren spell at the Arsenal with a summer move away from the Emirates.

Of course, there was no real foundation to this presumption – and indeed, I’ve since learnt that he had already turned out once for the Gunners this season since returning from his loan at Zenit, a 77th-minute substitute in their opening-day draw with Sunderland.  But, given his advancing years, his frustrating form with Arsenal, the opportunity to move back to his hometown St Petersburg… for me, it seemed unthinkable that he should even attempt to resurrect his career in North London.

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The FA Cup and the redistribution of wealth


FA Cup, stolen by Budweiser

The FA Cup, stolen by Budweiser

Whether you knew it or not, the FA Cup is well and truly underway.  If you’re a supporter of an established top-tier team – one of those clubs that sees the world’s oldest football competition as an event that begins in January, and acts a bit of an inconvenience en route to a top-4 finish (or top-17, for the less ambitious) – then chances are you didn’t have the foggiest.

But last Saturday saw the Second Round Qualifying take place, and it’s at this kind of level that the FA Cup has the potential for its biggest influence.  The prize money on offer (£4,500 for passage to the Third Round Qualifying) looks like the kind of cash that a Premier League footballer would find lodged down the back of his sofa.  But for clubs well down the ladder that are only trying to keep the wolf from the door, this kind of windfall might as well be manna delivered directly from heaven, with a note from C.W. Alcock saying ‘you’re welcome’.

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