David Owen: Will football’s loss be horseracing’s gain?

News of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement brought to mind two scenes nearly three decades apart.

In the first, it is 11 May 1983 and I am with friends clustered around the TV in a cramped London apartment.

A strong Scottish contingent is hoping to witness a miracle: the humbling of Real Madrid by Ferguson’s new kids on the block from Aberdeen, a side built around the indefatigable Gordon Strachan and the formidable centre-back pairing of Alex McLeish and Willie Miller.

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David Owen: Will Club Protection Programme hand wealthy a bigger slice of the cake?

It was on 23 June 1998 – Sepp Blatter’s 15th day as FIFA President – that it started to dawn on me that the governing body was probably going to have to do something about compensating clubs for players injured on international duty.

In just the fourth minute of what turned out to be a drab group match between Italy and Austria in the Stade de France, Alessandro Nesta, the elegant Lazio and Azzurri central defender,

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David Owen: Why Valcke can breathe again – but not China

Here are a few preliminary thoughts on the reform proposals approved yesterday by FIFA’s Executive Committee.

1. Jérôme Valcke can breathe again.

The third of the 10 points indicates that the ExCo has headed off a proposal put forward recently by the 53 European FIFA member associations that could, I think, have excluded FIFA’s general secretary from running for the FIFA Presidency.

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David Owen: An Irish team that deserves to be remembered

The island of Ireland is a place where history casts a particularly long shadow.

So perhaps I shouldn’t be as surprised as I am that so few people seem to know about a proud episode in the island’s footballing history that took place 99 years ago.

I first stumbled upon this years ago during one of my periodic trawls through the pages of an old Rothmans football yearbook.

With the centenary approaching,

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David Owen: On Barclays and the Premier League

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The timing is quite striking.

On July 3, Bob Diamond resigned as chief executive of Barclays, in the midst of a political firestorm touched off by a £290 million fine meted out to the bank by UK and US authorities.

On July 12, it extended until May 2016 its sponsorship of the English Premier League.

By the end of August (with Chelsea three points clear at the top of the table),

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[b]David Owen:[/b] Europe’s spanner in the works puts us on course for a gran clásico of a board meeting at FIFA

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By David Owen

So Joseph Blatter doesn’t much care for the “unanimous” package of reform proposals for world football’s governing body published last month by UEFA.

The FIFA President conveyed his disappointment last weekend at a media conference in South Africa just before Nigeria’s triumph over Burkina Faso in the final of the 2013 African Cup of Nations.

I can’t say I am at all surprised.


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David Owen: Why Platini’s Grande Idée makes sense for Africa

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By David Owen

I came upon a prescient article from the Washington Post today.

It was about a West African country where poverty was said to be fuelling a resurgence of Muslim fundamentalism.

“People want schools, they want medical attention for their children,” a local sociologist was quoted as saying.

“But who is listening to them?

“Islamists, who provide them with water and fertiliser to believe the solutions are found in religion.

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David Owen: Brazil are coming to Wembley. But will the World Cup really help Pelé’s country to make more out of football’s global money machine?

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Here’s something to ponder in a week when Brazil are expected at Wembley for a friendly international: for more than half a century, the canary-shirted Brazil playmaker has been the embodiment of all that is best about the game that conquered the world; yet, as the sport has grown rich, the home of o jogo bonito has been reduced to a dusty outpost of the shiny multinational that is Planet Football.

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David Owen: What does the Money League really tell us?

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The recently released edition of the Deloitte Football Money League raises a few points that are worth taking a harder look at.
The first is about the slipperiness of statistics.

While in euro terms, year-on-year revenue growth among Europe’s 20 highest-earning football clubs is an impressive 10%, a very different picture – of stagnation, basically – emerges if the reference currency is sterling.

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David Owen: Will Platini’s Euro 2020 experiment have a bearing on the race to succeed Sepp Blatter?

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Some thoughts on Euro 2020:

● Yes, a 24-team tournament is too unwieldy for most European countries to take on; but it is simplistic to suggest that this alone forced UEFA’s hand, necessitating the adoption of Michel Platini’s Grand Experiment – a competition spread around the great arenas of the European continent.

Turkey, pipped at the post for Euro 2016, could have coped with the expanded format and would, I’m sure,

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David Owen: Two years on from World Cup bust-up, Goal payment signifies that FA and FIFA have kissed and made up

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Suddenly the 2018 World Cup bidding campaign seems a very long time ago.

At its conclusion in December 2010, relations between the world’s oldest Football Association – whose candidate, England, was among the losers – and FIFA, world football’s governing body, were at a low ebb.

Yet today finds Joseph Blatter, FIFA’s long-serving President, dropping in on St George’s Park, the FA’s new national football centre at Burton on Trent in the English Midlands.

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David Owen: Cardiff City will always be big men with silky touches playing in blue shirts to me

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Now that I’ve seen the pictures, I am ready to believe it: Cardiff City are playing this season in red shirts (Heiðar Helguson, pictured below left, in the new shirt).

It feels wrong – like archery at Lord’s or Usain Bolt doing the polevault.

My personal image of Cardiff will always be caught up with Jimmy Scoular’s team that so nearly made it into the top tier of “English” football in 1970-71.

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