The American soccer blogosphere has been getting very hot and bothered in the past week, prompted by Jason Davis at Match Fit USA’s tongue-in-cheek post questioning Columbus’ suitability for remaining in MLS, following poor attendance in their last playoff game: a mere 10,109 showed up at Crew Stadium last week to see the defending champions crash out to Real Salt Lake. Davis wrote, “Columbus had its shot, and I guess you could call it a decent fourteen year run; but it’s better to get out too early than too late, and all of those empty seats at Crew Stadium during a crucial playoff match only confirms that the time to get out is now.”
Match Fit USA has since clarified he was not being entirely serious about moving the Crew making some pertinent points about franchising and community, while Fake Sigi sums up the analysis well in a laconic but well-argued piece yesterday, concluding that “given the context, I don’t think MLS fans should overly concern themselves with the attendance at Crew Stadium. The team is young, the fan base is passionate and growing, it has an iconic stadium and a stable ownership group that has committed to the city. The idea that the Crew are holding back MLS or are a symbol of stagnation doesn’t hold water at all.”
As a Fire fan I have very little sympathy for the Crew and their much touted and absurdly comical “Hudson Street Hooligans”, but we are as ever opposed to the concept of moving teams (I know, I’ll keep hammering it) and as Fake Sigi points out, there are teams with equally big problems if we want to start pointing fingers. The quality of play the Crew has put on the field the past two years really makes any valid concerns about attendance little to worry about from an objective perspective for the league, as ten more Scheletto-driven teams would do wonders for MLS where it matters most: on the field (that is, until your coach decides to bench your best player and you end up out of the playoffs).
- Following the Football Association’s decision to impose a two game touchline ban on Alex Ferguson for his derisory comments about referee Alan Wiley’s performance and fitness, many are questioning how much protection referees are receiving for abuse, just a year after the FA’s high-profile “Respect” campaign was launched with such fanfare. In the Times, Nick Szczepanik says the ruling undermines referees, as “The two-match touchline ban imposed on Ferguson for criticizing the fitness of Alan Wiley sends a comforting message to the Manchester United manager from the footballing authorities: ‘Carry on as normal – you are more or less above the law as far as we are concerned’.” Ferguson is now facing the prospect of legal action for his allegedly defamatory comments, as an incensed referees’ union considers direct action.
- du Nord has more on the tense Egypt-Algeria game, which has already broken out into fan violence with the Algerian team bus attacked upon arrival in Cairo.
- Newcastle United’s Supporters’ Trust are moving ahead with their project to purchase the club, and have refused a meeting with the club’s managing director, Derek Llambias, saying “Deals in smoke-filled rooms will not be part of our negotiations.” Fair enough, but refusing to even meet and report back on whatever nonsense Llambias cooks up is a potential public relations mistake, allowing the club to paint the Trust as intransigent. Though at this point, perhaps such intransigence is indeed justified.
- Ahead of Ireland’s World Cup playoff match against France, a serious diplomatic dispute has broken out over a box for the French president at Croke Park.
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