David Owen: A TV levy might be the best hope of avoiding a pharmaceutical free-for-all

As regular readers may know, I am sceptical about sport’s ability to bring doping by top-level athletes under anything resembling control. Equally, the spectre of a complete pharmaceutical free-for-all is, in some respects, so disturbing that I would concede we need to be certain we have exhausted all avenues before we all, to borrow a phrase used last week by Independent Commission chair Richard Pound, “go home”.

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Matt Scott: The blessings of St Mary’s are no miracle

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“For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” Mary’s Song, Luke 1:48, King James Bible

The meteoric rise of Southampton has been lauded by many as one of the truly great football achievements of our times. As recently as 2011, the 32,505-seat St Mary’s Stadium was home to a club in League One, England’s third tier.

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David Owen: Why rising international TV money may mean it is time to turn the Champions League on its head

We may be heading towards a tipping-point in the globalisation of football. Actually, that is not quite exact: we may be heading towards a tipping-point in the Europeanisation of world football culture. What I have in mind is the point when the big European leagues – Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A – start to earn more from international rights to broadcast their matches than domestic rights.

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Matt Scott: Klopp teams work hard. But rigour alone can never attain high virtue

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“Pacience is an heigh vertu, certeyn, For it venquysseth… Thyneges that rigour sholde nevere atteyne.” Geoffrey Chaucer, the Franklin’s Tale

The Franklin was the 20th of Chaucer’s pilgrims to give his tale and, like so many of his fellow travellers en route to Canterbury, he gave forth on the secrets of success in love. Thus did England’s earliest literary great teach us a lesson about the virtues of patience.

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Andrew Warshaw: FIFA runners and riders jostle in the parade ring

The clock is ticking and the behind-the-scenes horsetrading is in full swing. But like a canny game of poker, nobody is revealing their hand until they are sure of their ground. With Monday night’s deadline for FIFA presidential candidates fast approaching, cards are being clasped tightly to chests in anticipation of who will emerge as challengers for Sepp Blatter’s crown.

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Matt Scott: Home comforts are stifling for Englishmen’s football ambitions

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“Ah! There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” Jane Austen, Emma

Jane Austen’s fourth novel was published on Christmas Day in 1815 the Vienna peace accord had brought the Napoleonic wars to a close. With it began a century-long era of British commercial dominance through an empire whose roots had already begun to take hold with territories in Newfoundland, the Caribbean, west and South Africa, India and Australia.

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Matt Scott: Why the embers of past court battles could be fanned into a fire engulfing Blatter

“Il n’y a pas le feu au lac” – “The lake’s not on fire.” Swiss saying

If the famous Lake Geneva is not painting the sky with flames – and, quite obviously, it never has nor will – it’s said to be difficult to rouse a Swiss to any sense of urgency. Other French-speaking nations believe that in the land of the cuckoo clock and precision watches, time moves slowly.

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Mihir Bose: Why Platini has turned out to be not quite so unique

Michel Platini has always presented himself as unique. That he was a unique footballer cannot be doubted although the fact that he could not guide his country to a World Cup win means for all his great achievements as player he will always remain to an extent the nearly man, not quite in the class of Franz Beckenbauer. But it is his role as administrator in the last decade that raises questions about why and how he was ever considered a football administrator in any way different to the less than reputable bunch who have governed the world game for so long.

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