Rough justice?

John Terry has been found not guilty of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.

The  chief magistrate, Howard Riddle, said of the England defender: “John Terry’s account has been subject to the most thorough questioning. Nobody has been able to prove he is lying. Terry is a credible witness.”

A credible witness? Terry was also voted Dad of the Year in 2009. And we know how accurate a description of the man that turned out to be.

A victory for Terry, but English football, when it reflects on the details of what has been a ugly, tawdry, unsavoury case, will be the ultimate loser.

As details of the pathetic exchanges between both players emerged over the course of the week, one couldn’t help but wonder about the oft-mentioned claim that footballers are role models. Who in their right mind could ever consider an English Premier League player to be a role model to young children. Would a parent really see anything to aspire to in the behaviour of the average man-child that stalks petulantly across a football pitch? One would hope not.

Terry walks free, but one hesitates to say that his reputation is clean. Ferdinand, his fellow protagonist, emerges with his reputation diminished. No wonder he didn’t want this to ever reach court; to hear the banality of the pair’s insults and to be assured that this kind of exchange is a regular and accepted occurrence, reflects well on no one.

Just desserts?

Well, no one can say that they haven’t paid a heavy price for their misdemeanours. Rangers’ “newco” have been voted into Division Three following a meeting of Scottish Football League clubs.

The Scottish Football Association and Scottish Premier League had offered a reorganisation of the structure if Rangers were placed in Division One, and issued apocalyptic warnings about the fate of Scottish football if Rangers were cast adrift to the basement. The clubs were placed in an invidious position: like turkeys being being offered to vote for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. They chose the nuclear option: Twizzlers to keep the tenuous metaphor going.

SFL chief executive David Longmuir said: “The member clubs of the Scottish Football League have today voted to willingly accept The Rangers Football Club as an associate member of the Scottish Football League.

“Furthermore, the Scottish Football League’s only acceptable position will be to place Rangers FC into the Third Division of the Irn-Bru Scottish Football League from the start of this season.”

It remains possible that the Scottish Football Association will now order a reconstruction in order to parachute Rangers into Division One. Expect fireworks if that happens.

For whom the bell tolls

Manchester City’s monastic retreat in the Tyrolean hills of Austria is not turning out to be the tranquil training break they were hoping for.

The club reportedly flew in special mattresses from Rome at a cost of £800 each – presumably because one or two of their pampered players could feel a pea pressing beneath the previous bedding.

Unfortunately,the players’ hotel – a former monastery – is attached to the medieval St. Oswald’s Church, which rings its bell at 7 a.m. each morning.

”Yes, they are loud,” said hotel owner Alois Seyrling in a telephone call. He suggested the chimes added to the local charm before hanging up.

Austria’s daily Heute newspaper cited coach Roberto Mancini complaining that the bell is keeping the players from getting enough sleep.

But St. Oswald’s priest Egon Pfeifer says that no on from the club has contacted him about it and even if they did, the bells will continue ringing ”even if the queen of England wants them to stop.”

”I think the bells are acceptable to everyone, and should be acceptable to football players as well,” said Pfeifer.

But Seyrling, the hotel owner, believes that a compromise might be reached.

”Perhaps if he gets an autograph, he’ll stop for a few days,” he said.

Quote of the day

“Yes, I sold Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to PSG. We will save 150 million euros in two years.”

Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi explains to Gazzetta dello Sport’s website why the sale of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva is good business for the club.

End of the road?

Out-of-contract striker Michael Owen has revealed he may retire if he cannot find the right club to join. After a career spanning 15 years playing for, and more recently, testing the medical facilities of several of Europe’s bigger clubs, the prospect of stepping down a division is not one that appeals to the former England striker.

The 32-year-old said on Twitter: “If a good opportunity doesn’t come my way then so be it. At this stage of my career it has to be something that I’m going to enjoy doing.”

“Not being disrespectful when saying I wouldn’t play in The Championship. Always said I wouldn’t drop down the leagues like some have done.”

“I know I can still bang them in at the top level. I proved that nearly every time I played for Manchester United. At 32, still got a few years in me.”

It’s refreshing to hear Owen speak so optimistically about what he has to offer, but the sad reality is that injuries have caught up with him. Last year he made just four appearances, with only one of those coming in the league.

Here’s a reminder of why he was at one time the most promising young striker in world football. Sadly, it never got any better than this.

Dying embers

If you look closely at Owen’s famous goal against Argentina, you’ll see that the pass to him was supplied by none other than David Beckham.

The former England international has been in the news recently following his omission from Britain’s Olympic football squad. As a sop to Beckham, who was instrumental in bringing the games to his hometown, it was suggested that the LA Galaxy midfielder be given the honour of lighting the torch at the London Olympics.  However, Beckham has taken himself out of the running for job, arguing that it should fall to an Olympian.

“I’ve always said, lighting the torch in the stadium is something that should be done by an Olympian… who has done incredible things for our country and won gold medals,” Beckham told reporters during an interview in Los Angeles.

Beckham has not featured for the national team since 2009 and there have been suggestions that he continued his playing career solely in the hope of earning a place as one of the over-age players in the Olympic squad. Despite seeing that hope dashed, he remains an enthusiastic supporter of the forthcoming games.

“Obviously, all the talk of me possibly performing in the Olympics, it would have been a very proud moment for me,” said Beckham.

“Everyone knows how proud I am of representing my country and to do it in my home town on such a big stage would have been incredible so, of course, I’m disappointed, but life goes on.

“My family are healthy, I’m pretty healthy, so at the end of the day, I’ll be there to support the GB team.

“It’s going to be a proud moment to be there and know that I was part of bringing the Olympics to the East End of London.

“Like I said, life moves on and I hope the GB team go to the Olympics and win as many medals, as many gold medals as possible.”

Calls to resign

Sepp Blatter is resisting calls to step down as president of FIFA.

The clamour for the Swiss to resign has been growing since the publication of a court ruling detailing bribes made to former FIFA president, Joao Havelange, and his former son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira, by collapsed marketing company ISL.

The court documents show that Blatter, who was FIFA general secretary at the time the bribes were being paid, knew about their existence but did nothing to prevent them, and was even involved in attempting to suppress the exposure of both Havelange and Teixeira.

Asked to respond to having known about the bribes, Blatter told “Known what? That commission was paid? Back then, such payments could even be deducted from tax as a business expense. Today, that would be punishable under law.

“You can’t judge the past on the basis of today’s standards. Otherwise it would end up with moral justice. I can’t have known about an offence that wasn’t even one.”

Blatter said the ISL case had led him to establish an ethics committee and the ongoing reform process.

He added: “That is why we have started to strengthen our control mechanisms: to prevent something like this happening in the future.

“The ethics committee, which was created in 2006 on my initiative, is a direct result of the ISL case. The reform process is moving exactly in this direction.

“To strengthen FIFA’s judicial system, some important steps have already been taken with the introduction of a two-chamber system – an adjudicatory body and an investigatory body. The executive committee will appoint the chairmen of these two chambers next week.”

Which is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.

Back to the future

New York Cosmos are set to return to competitive play for the first time in nearly three decades after it was announced the team will join the North American Soccer League (NASL) in its 2013 season.

The NASL, which is now a Division 2 league in North America, approved the Cosmos’ membership this week in New York. Their return to NASL revives memories of the club’s golden the 1970s when they were five-times NASL champions and fielded a stellar case including the likes of Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto.

When the reformed Cosmos were originally launched as a new franchise in 2010, the ultimate goal was to become a Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team. However, in the wake of a takeover and restructuring, they appear to have changed strategy.

Seamus O’Brien, chairman of the New York Cosmos, said: “We are delighted to return to our historic home with the NASL and bring the New York Cosmos back to the playing field. We are committed to running the franchise with the highest possible standards on and off the field, and look forward to putting together a competitive and entertaining team our fans can be proud of.”

As for the NASL the appeal of an iconic name is obvious.

NASL commissioner, David Downs, stated: “Bringing the Cosmos into the NASL is a logical next step as we embrace the heritage of our own past and now reunite the Cosmos, (Fort Lauderdale) Strikers, (Tampa Bay) Rowdies and several markets with ties to the NASL’s early days.  Most importantly, we look forward to the Cosmos enhancing the quality of our league both on and off the field.”

Art for art’s sake

If you’re in New York today and you’re at a loose end, why not pop down to Madison Square Garden to see a football/art crossover experiement.

New York Red Bulls Thierry Henry will be pairing up with graffiti artist Tristan Eaton to fulfil a unique artistic vision (their words, not mine).

Henry will strike a number of shots which will in turn initiate a mechanised system that will paint, spray, push and pull a blank canvas, eventually creating a giant (24’ by 21’) mural work of art inspired by the City of New York.

It’s sounds like a sporting Jackson Pollack for the 21th century. Well, it sounds like Thierry Henry kicking a ball at some tins of paint. But will anyone be able to tell the difference?

Shift in the balance of power

Just 24 hours after reaching agreement with Milan over the transfer of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahomovic, Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed that they intend to become serious global players by declaring an interest in Real Madrid target Luka Modric.

PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti, the latest manager to experience that child in a Qatari sweet shop sensation, admitted that he was an admirer of Spurs’ Croatian midfielder.

“I did not need to see him at the Euros to know how much talent he has,” Ancelotti told AS.

“I knew his capabilities before. Now he has confirmed his high quality for those who did not know.”

He added: “I know that is what matters most now, but I am sorry to disappoint you. I cannot speak publicly about the transfer market.

“You have to understand that it would be foolish of me to speak openly about our objectives and movements in relation to quality players.”

Meanwhile, as PSG contemplate taking their spending for the summer through the €100million barrier, former big cats of European football, Manchester United, were unveiling their two, rather humble, new signings.

Shinji Kagawa 23, and Nick Powell 18, were signed from Borussia Dortmund and Crewe respectively, and the pair conform to United’s current recruitment policy of signing promising, modestly-priced players, with possible re-sale values. The days when the self-styled biggest club in the world could compete for the best in Britain, let alone the world, already seem like a distant memory.

For the foreseeable future, and until the Financial FairPlay rules kick in (will they ever?), the best players will remain the preserve of a tiny elite group comprising PSG, Manchester City and Chelsea, with Real Madrid and Barcelona hoovering up the abundant talent in Spain.