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Stories we couldn’t make up

A genuinely jaw dropping tale has emerged today, and as with many of the more bizarre stories that have taken place in 2012, this one involves Liverpool’s ability to turn a mundane drama into an all-consuming crisis.

The story involves the harassment of a blogger, Duncan Jenkins, by Liverpool’s Corporate Relations and Communications Director, Jen Chang, who is convinced that Jenkins is privvy to inside information from a mole within the club, which he then shares with a growing army of online followers.

I make no judgement on the veracity of these claims, but draw your attention to the disproportionate response from Chang, who not only warns Jenkins to reveal his source, but when told that none exists, proceeds to threaten the blogger and his family.

Here’s a flavour of what Chang allegedly said to Jenkins.

“‘You know how crazy football fans are”, Chang said. ‘You’ll have dog shit coming through your letterbox, you’ll have to take your Facebook page down, you might even have to move house.’ 

“He repeated the stuff about dog shit coming through my letterbox several times, reiterating that football fans, especially Liverpool FC fans, are crazy and would make my life a living hell.”

Words fail.

The full story can be found here.

Money’s too tight to mention

Spanish football fans are faced with the prospect of missing tonight’s World  Cup qualifier in Belarus, after media companies were unable to agree terms to screen the game.

Mediaset Espana’s Telecinco channel usually televises Spain’s away matches but by Friday morning had failed to reach a deal with Sportfive.

Mediaset’s director of sports Jose Javier Santos said that Sportfive’s original asking price was €3 million and that had later been cut to €1.5 million.

“It worries me that people in Spain might not be able to see the match and follow their national team and it would leave a bad taste,” Spain coach Vicente del Bosque told a news conference in Minsk on Thursday.

The only consolation for Spanish fans is that the match against Belarus should be a foregone conclusion.

Spain have won 23 consecutive qualification matches and have long overtaken the previous record of 15, held by the Czech Republic. Their unbeaten run in World Cup qualification matches stretches back to 45 games. Their last defeat dates back to 31st March 1993, when they lost 1-0 in Denmark.

Day release

Former Bulgaria striker Georgi Ivanov has quit as coach of Lokomotiv Plovdiv just a day after agreeing a contract until the end of the season.

Ivanov was officially presented to the media at a news conference on Wednesday, replacing Emil Velev, who was fired following Lokomotiv’s disappointing start to the season. However, he decided to quit after a training session on Thursday, saying he despaired of the “organisational chaos”.

Last month, players and coaches at Lokomotiv passed lie-detector tests after club owner Veselin Mareshki said he wanted to make sure there were no suspicious factors behind their 1-0 defeat to lowly Botev Vratsa.

Goal of the day

Neymar produced a lovely curling effort for Brazil in their 5-0 win over Iraq on Thursday.

Quote of the day

“I think sometimes a change is good — it would be great to have it in the winter. Everyone will be fit, physically fit, mentally fit and I don’t see a problem with it. For the fans I think it will be great.”



Ronaldo de Boer, who works for the Qatari FA, drops a hint that the 2022 World Cup may be played in the winter.

Surprise appointment

Edgar Davids  has been named joint head coach of Barnet, the npower League Two team who currently sit bottom of the league structure in England.

Davids, 39, told the club’s website: “I’m happy to explore my possibilities and share my knowledge and experience with Barnet Football Club. I am very excited about the challenge ahead.”

A statement on Barnet’s website said he would be involved in training later today and could make his debut within a fortnight.

Davids will act as joint head coach with Mark Robson, who said he was relishing the prospect of working alongside the former Dutch international midfielder.

“I am delighted to welcome Edgar to our club,” said Robson. “His experience as a player throughout his illustrious career will be a massive benefit to all our players and I look forward to forming a strong partnership with him.”

Davids won a Champions League title, a UEFA Cup, three Serie A crowns and three in the Dutch Eredivisie before winding down his career in England. He has not played since ending a brief spell with Crystal Palace.

If this was just a publicity stunt then the club was not letting on.

Barnet’s director of football Paul Fairclough said: “The capture of Davids is a statement of intent by our club to improve results and lay further foundations for the future.

“Edgar is a world renowned footballer and will be a great example to all our young players.”

Football as art

An enterprising collector of football songs has created a website to showcase his huge collection of material.

At present Pascal Claude has uploaded 100 single covers, with the added bonus of including mp3 files for each of them. Eventually, the site will grow to accommodate his vinyl collection collection comprising 1000 7 inch singles.

‘Save the vinyl, and save football, too’ is his motto, and who could disagree.

Click here to have a browse.

There are worse ways to wile away a few hours.

Justice?

The biggest ever independent investigation into police conduct is to be carried out into the Hillsborough disaster.

The IPCC police watchdog and director of public prosecutions have announced they will both launch inquiries into possible crimes committed by police in the cover up of the disaster which resulted in the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans in 1989.

The Hillsborough Family Support Group said it was “too good to be true”.

Anne Williams, mother of 15-year-old Kevin Williams who died at Hillsborough, said: “This is really good news. Good news that they are moving quickly to save us any more heartache.

“I welcome it and I know it’s going to be a long process, but at least they are getting the ball moving.”

The chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, David Crompton, said his force would assist the IPCC inquiry.

He said: “We acknowledge that it was always going to happen that the IPCC were going to take this and run a very large inquiry.

“We, as South Yorkshire Police, stand ready to co-operate in any way whatsoever with the IPCC to assist them in their endeavours.”

Hopefully, this time, without amending the testimony of your officers.

Boardroom battle

Former Barca president Joan Laporta has accused the current Barcelona hierarchy of having links to violent supporter groups.

Laporta singled out president Rosell claiming he and the board have connections to football hooligans and want them to return to Camp Nou.

“There is evidence that these gentlemen have links to those violent groups that are lurking, hidden, and ready to return to their evil ways,” Laporta told Punto Pelota.

Sadly, Laporta refused to elaborate on his claims, which did make him sound somewhat bitter.

The 50-year-old continued in this vein, accusing the club of forcing Pep Guardiola out of the club and appointing Tito Villanova in a moment of panic.

“The decision to appoint Tito Vilanova was one of fear and panic. Guardiola left because of a dereliction of duty on the part of the board as the president was hiding because he was only concerned with making a disgusting persecution of the previous directive,” Laporta claimed.

He added, “They [the present board] are devoted to lying and said that Barca would not exist without Qatar [the Foundation]. It’s all lies.”

Laporta believes that he is still popular with Barcelona supporters and says they are asking him to stand in the next presidential elections.

He added: “At the moment I’m in a period of reflection. If I’m thinking of returning then it is because the people ask me to.”

Finally…

Tributes are being paid to former West Germany international Helmut Haller who died on Thursday at his home in Augsburg, aged 73.

Haller, possibly best remembered as the scorer of West Germany’s opening goal in the 1966 World Cup final, represented his country at the 1962, 1966 and 1970 World Cups, and was capped 33 times scoring 13 goals.

“Helmut Haller is one of the outstanding personalities of German Football,” said German Football Association president Wolfgang Niersbach.” His amazing performance, particularly at the 1966 World Cup, are unforgettable.

“We were in contact up until very recently for his work with the Sepp-Herberger-Foundation and his death really saddens us.”

His former international team-mates, Jurgen Grabowski, told the German FA website: “When I was allowed to go to the 1966 World Cup as a young player, Helmut Haller was one of the matadors. He was a special player and a wonderful person, always willing to help. I have got to say that I had the fortune of being able to spend several years with him.”

In his club career, Haller played from 1948 until 1962 for Augsburg, before being lured to Italy by a fee of 750,000 Marks and an annual salary of 200,000 Marks. At the time, in Germany salaries were officially limited to 500 Marks per month – an amount that rose to 2500 Marks after the introduction of the Bundesliga as unified first division in 1963. After a decade in Italy, first with Bologna and then with Juventus, he returned to his hometown club of Augsburg.

There’s plenty of footage of Haller representing West Germany available online, but here’s some rare archive material of him playing for Bologna in their title-winning season of 1964 – their first scudetto triumph in 23 years.

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