TIBS News
Looking Back to 2013


 

TIBS News was a new and exciting sports-reporting organisation which aimed to bring you up to date with what’s happening in the sporting world. This was their website for several years.
Content is from the site's 2013 archived pages providing a glimpse of the type of articles they offered their readership.


About TIBS

Tibsnews.com is a multi-media website which features articles, blogs and reports on different sports; as well as podcasts and videos on certain issues or topics within particular sports.

 



 

Reader Reader Pumpkin Eater: Joshua Stillman
I love the quirky reporting - the unexpected and possibly off the beaten track. Enjoyed PJ Putland's piece on the championship of con men, as if fraudsters were competitive athletes. Up there for the gold was one George Binakis who may or may not have been working with his brother Patrick in a very successful con on NYC's upper west side. George would pose as a contractor available to renovate luxury apartments for elderly victims of his graft. In one well known case, he conned a 72 year old woman of over $65,000 by gaining her trust and most importantly, her sympathy - he told her he had a serious heart condition requiring a pacemaker and contant cardio monitoring. So complete was this con that when George disappeared with the money, she was mostly concerned that George had died or was suffering incapacitated somewhere. She called his brother, a real estate lawyer named Patrick Binakis to check up on George only to be told he had no contact with his own brother. But when money was mentioned, Patrick Paraskivas Binakis hung up on her. She learned several days later that he had told other people different stories - that he did have limited contact with George, and that "George was getting better." Being lied to in combination with Patrick's unnecessarily rude treatment finally convinced her that George was a criminal and that Patrick was protecting him. The George and Patrick con artist team placed for the gold in Putland's X-Con Games post due to technical points rather than sheer financial gain. Read the entire post...

 

Features




  • cardinals17

    FRIDAY FEATURE: London Jaguars? No Thanks, But I have another idea

    I would hope that I was financially able to quit, that’s what I would hope because if I was my papers would be the first ones in.”

    That is the response 8-year veteran Andrew Whitworth, a players union representative, recently gave when asked if he would ever consider playing for a franchise located in London. The All-Star Offensive Tackle didn’t stop there, saying:-

    I don’t see that a lot of guys would want to do that. I don’t see any players that would enjoy that. Sure, you may find a handful of guys that say, ‘Oh hey, that’d be cool,’ but the rest of them wouldn’t.”

    While it has to be said that Whitworth’s current team, the Cincinnati Bengals, is at no risk of being relocated to London, the age of free-agency in the NFL means he could very well be on the roster of an at-risk franchise by the time a decision is made. Are we to believe that he would rather walk away from millions of dollars in salary than play for a team based in London? If we are, this represents yet another significant problem for the NFL in their quest to conquer Europe. Many informed members of the media consider a London franchise a mere formality, expecting it to happen before the end of the decade, which raises the question, why is placing an NFL franchise in London seemingly such a formality, and is it a good idea?

    Since the Miami Dolphins hosted the New York Giants at Wembley Stadium in 2007, the NFL community in the United Kingdom has been overwhelmed with chatter of the NFL gracing London with a franchise to call its own. At first the St Louis Rams were the favourite to relocate, followed by the current favourites, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Personally I saw the chances of the Rams moving to London as likely as Lionel Messi signing for Portsmouth FC out of the kindness of his heart. It was a pipe dream, the longest-of-long-shots.

    The Rams moved from Los Angeles to St Louis in 1995 and still have a significant fan base in the City of Angels. How does this affect London? If you take a look at a map showing the locations of all 32 NFL Franchises, you will see a glaring omission. LA is the second largest television market in the United States (behind New York, which has two franchises), yet has no team to call its own. Los Angeles has to be priority number one, before London.

    The LA Raiders moved back to Oakland the same year the Rams skipped town, leaving the city crying for a franchise for almost 18 years. They came close at the turn of the millennium, but infighting between ownership groups allowed Bob McNair to swoop in at the last minute to bring us the Houston Texans.

    In recent years the Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills and St Louis Rams have all been linked with a move to Los Angeles. 7 of the 32 franchises in the NFL have been linked to a move, and 6 of those 7 is for the same reason; a stadium. A stadium means everything to an NFL Franchise. If you have a high-end stadium, you can charge high-end prices, specifically the six figures it takes to occupy a luxury box for 8 games a season. 6 of these 7 teams have been, or still are, battling their respective local governments for funds to renovate their current stadiums or build a new one from the ground up. The Vikings, Rams and Bills have all been successful in recent months in holding their local legislatures ransom for stadium upgrades with the argument of “Upgrade our facilities, or we are moving to Los Angeles”. It may be a mercenary way to treat your fans, who will end up paying in increased taxes, but it’s effectiveness as a strategy cannot be denied.

    That leaves us with the Chargers, Raiders, Panthers and Jaguars as possibilities to move to LA. As I previously mentioned, the Raiders used to be located in LA, which is precisely why they will always remain on the “contenders” list until the situation is rectified, and the Chargers seem to be in a never-ending struggle for NFL relevancy that would surely be cured by a move to LA, and the shiny new stadium that would accompany it. So with the LA void filled by the hypothetical move of either the Chargers or Raiders, that allows us to move onto London with the two teams remaining on our list, the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    These two teams were both expansion teams in 1995, and have both experienced some levels of success over the past 18 years. Unfortunately this is where the similarities end. I mentioned before how 6 of the 7 teams mentioned were linked with a move for a stadium. The outlying franchise? The Jacksonville Jaguars. While talk of the Panthers relocating is purely a negotiating ploy by politically astute (this is the kindest way I could phrase it) owner Jerry Richardson to get renovations to Bank of America Stadium paid for by anyone but himself, the Jaguars are a legitimate threat to move to London for one simple reason – nobody understands why the Jaguars are in Jacksonville.

    When Jacksonville was awarded a franchise in 1993, they were considered a long shot at best. They were competing against Charlotte, who won the first of two franchises, (Carolina Panthers) Baltimore, Memphis and St Louis. They were championed by then-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and NFL Vice-President (and current Commissioner) Roger Goodell, winning the vote with the owners 26-2. Although Jacksonville is a large city by population and land-coverage, it is not one of the largest media markets in the United States. In fact, it recently ranked 50th in the nation in market size, which is the fourth smallest of all 32 NFL Franchises, ahead of the New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers.

    So with 3 franchises with smaller markets, why are the Jaguars on the chopping block? The smallest market is in Green Bay for the Packers. The Packers have existed since 1919 and are an American institution. When they are on national TV, people tune in to watch. Their media-market size is insignificantly irrelevant when compared to the history that the word “Packers” invoked. The idea of moving the Green Bay Packers to Los Angeles, London or low-earth orbit is slightly less likely than moving Buckingham Palace to Beijing. It will not happen in my lifetime, your lifetime or the lifetime of the NFL.

    Next up is the Buffalo Bills, who as I mentioned earlier recently negotiated upgrades to their current stadium, holding them to Buffalo for the next decade. If they had not signed this deal, the debate as to whether they should move to London or Toronto would be much louder than any to be had regarding the Jaguars. They play in a small-time market with a small-time owner. Despite my belief that the Bills should cut and run as soon as possible, this is not a possibility until at least 2023. I hope I am still around in ten years to explain why the Bills should be moving to anywhere but Buffalo at the first opportunity they get. The

    So of the three teams with smaller media markets than our Jacksonville Jaguars, we have one team who have become a national institution and another that has signed a deal to stay in their city for the foreseeable future. The New Orleans Saints fall under both of these umbrellas. Since the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Saints grabbed the attention of the nation to rebuild and become champions of the world in 2010. The team was nail-bitingly close to moving to another city in the wake of Katrina. Public outcry at gutting an already gutted city by taking away their NFL franchise lead to a swift about-face and once they were back on steady ground, the state gave them a deal to stay in the Superdome until 2025.

    So if a small media market for these teams doesn’t matter, why should it matter for the Jacksonville Jaguars? In all honesty, they aren’t sexy.

    National TV games are a good gauge to measure a team’s nationwide popularity. Pull in big ratings, you will be placed in more prime-time games the following seasons. Currently there are 3 slots a week; Thursday night, Sunday night and Monday night. Since the beginning of last season, there have been 98 prime time games scheduled (including the upcoming season, yet to be played). Of these 98 nationally televised games, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been awarded a grand total of 2. That is 1 per season. Considering it is now mandated that each team get at least 1 national game per season, the NFL is giving the Jaguars the absolute bare minimum required in terms of exposure. Is there a bigger indication that a team has extremely limited appeal than the fact that they are not trusted by their own league and its television partners to draw viewers to the TV?

    By now you must be asking, if they aren’t in a big media market and they don’t draw viewers nationally, surely they must be beloved and well supported by Jacksonville residents for the NFL to want them there?

    It’s a nice theory, but no. The Jaguars rank near the bottom in attendance figures, often having to tarp-off large sections of the stadium to avoid the NFL “Blackout Rules”, which state a team must sell a predetermined percentage of tickets available for the game otherwise local fans will not be able to watch on TV. Rather than fill the stadium in defiance of this rule, the fans have forced the Jaguars to take the more drastic step of deciding to not even attempt to sell tickets to large portions of the stadium. At one point, former owner Wayne Weaver wrote a check to the league for unsold tickets to avoid blackouts.

    The Jaguars did not have a blackout during the 2012 season, and they are not scheduled to have one in 2013. Whilst this does mark somewhat of an improvement, the extent of the improvement is open to interpretation. $20 tickets, albeit in the less desirable seats, will always increase your attendance. They have also employed tactics like “Teal Deals”, which reward season ticket owners with up to $3000 worth of coupons for local businesses. I will be the first to admit that my knowledge of the phenomenon knows as “Extreme Couponing” is fairly limited, but $3000 for each season ticket holder, even in coupon form, is a large commitment from local businesses. Local businesses have also been known to collectively buy tickets and donate them to local charities.

    I have nothing but praise for local business owners providing tickets for in-need charities. It is a fantastic idea and if all business owners had the same philanthropic desires as those in Jacksonville, the world would be a very different place. But it isn’t 100% selfless.  Between the “Teal Deals” and helping fill out the stadium, the local businesses are illustrating why cities often bankrupt themselves to keep a professional sports team. Is what they are doing unique to Jacksonville? No. Is what they are doing a good thing for all involved? Absolutely.

    Without the Jaguars, local business would suffer and any chance that low attendance could lead to them losing their 5-month a year cash cow has to be quashed. I must stress that I fully support what they are doing, but it does highlight the issue – they are having to take drastic measures to sell-out a stadium with an already reduced capacity. If they could fill it, the Jaguars would have the 4th largest stadium in the NFL with a capacity of 76,876, but they run a weekly reduced capacity of 67,246. I can’t help but think of a golfer struggle to reach the fairway, even when he is teeing off from the front tee.

    Not one of the issues I have raised is unique to the Jaguars. They are not the smallest TV market, they are not the only team to only have 2 prime time games the last 2 seasons (Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns) and they are not the only team to have ever taken drastic measures to not black-out local coverage. They are, however, the only team to do all three on a consistent basis. So what can they do about it?

    The answer lies solely in the hands of the residents of Jacksonville. While it is not a formality that the Jaguars will move out of Jacksonville, any potential to do so depends on the fans and the fans alone.

    When Shad Khan purchased the team in 2011, he gave a commitment to Weaver, the previous owner, to keep the Jaguars in Jacksonville for at least 5 years. Failure to do so would invoke a clause where Khan would have to give $25 million to Weavers favourite charity. Khan has also spoken publicly of having a responsibility to the people of Jacksonville to support the team in the city and grow their market size around Jacksonville. He has negotiated some short-term upgrades to Everbank Stadium recently, including an oversized scoreboard that will show NFL Redzone, a phenomenon of a TV station focused around live fantasy football updates. Despite all of this, he gave an answer to the Jacksonville Daily Record that summed up the future of football in Jacksonville when asked about any long-term upgrades planned for the stadium: -

    “I think the long term is, how about getting the tarps off those seats? That would be the No. 1 long-term objective I would have.”

    Read that as you will, but I read that as he will do everything he can to give the Jaguars a chance to succeed long term in Jacksonville, but it is down to the fans. If they do not hold up their end of the deal, changes will be coming. Shad Khan is a business man, not a Football fan. This is why he was ready and willing to volunteer for one game a season at Wembley for the next four years. Those games in London make more money than the games in Jacksonville. He is an example of the American Dream, an immigrant who went onto become billionaire multiple times over. He knows how to make money, and having areas of the Stadium empty does not make money.

    So what are his options? London, which brings me back to where I started.

    With the Los Angeles situation filled by either the Raiders or Chargers, the Jaguars are in a prime position to occupy what will be (by some margin) the largest media market in the NFL. In Jacksonville the Jaguars have to compete with the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their state alone, and that is before you look north and find the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. With a move to London, they will immediately own the United Kingdom. This seems to be where the discussion of a move to London begins and ends, placing the Jaguars in the Olympic Stadium and being done with it. I want to go one step further.

    Placing a team in London will create a significant strain on the fan base, and while there is significant support for the NFL in the UK, I do have concerns about selling out 10 games (2 pre season, 8 regular season) games per year 10 years from now. With the growing presence in the UK, more and more people are committed to a specific team. All 32 teams have a representative fan base, with the 49ers and Cowboys leading the charge in support. So after the initial excitement of a team in London has subsided, where does that leave us down the road?

    In a recent poll on www.NFLUK.com, the centre for all NFL fans in the United Kingdom, 52% of respondents answered “No” when asked “Are you in support of a London Franchise?”. With over half of your core fan base not supporting the venture before it even begins, how can we be sure the sport will attract new viewers once it takes up residence in London? Winning will certainly do that, but we know that winning is no guarantee in sport.

    Every NFL team has down years (or in the case of the Buffalo Bills, down decades), so how sure can we be that a London team won’t be in the same situation Jacksonville is currently in? As big of a supporter of the NFL as I am in the UK, could I say with a degree of certainty that after a 2-14 season, the London Jaguars will not face a steep decline in attendance? No, I could not.

    So if the people of Jacksonville do not force him to keep the team in the city, what does Shad Khan do? Does he move the team to London in the hope that they will catch the long term support of the nation and become possibly the most valuable franchise in the league or does he keep them in Jacksonville and be happy with turning over reasonable profits each year? In all likelihood they will move to London. The finances make too much sense for them not to, but what about a Plan C?

    Plan C still calls for relocation to London. It still calls for them to be based out of the Olympic Stadium. Plan C will give us the European Jaguars (Team name to be replaced by PR professionals of course).

    I can hear the cries around the world, “Wait, NFL Europe Failed!”. Yes, NFL Europe did fail. It failed for one simple reason; no one wants to pay to see second rate players. For every Kurt Warner, a Quarterback who played in NFL Europe and went on to win two Most Valuable Player awards in the NFL, there were 500 mediocre players. NFL Europe had good attendance figures at the start, but the poor quality of play and severe lack of promotion lead to the downfall of the last development league of the NFL. Give Europe an NFL representative with top quality players? That will sell out every game.

    How is this idea different to just calling them the London Jaguars? Well firstly, they would only play 4 of their 8 home games per season in London. The other 4 games will be played in Berlin, Frankfurt, Barcelona and Amsterdam. Those are four cities who would undoubtedly fill out a stadium once per season to support a team representing them. What if one of these cities doesn’t pull their weight? Well that is the beauty of Plan C. Each city is guaranteed a game for as long as they sell-out. If Barcelona manages to only sell 95% of their tickets, watch out Milan, here come the Jaguars!

    Why is this a better idea than placing a team in London full time? Despite the best efforts of the NFL, there is a finite number of people in the UK willing to pay out for what amounts to an expensive day to go to an NFL Game. Is that number going to grow? Of course. Will that number sustain 8 home games during a losing season? Possibly not. So with 50% of the attendance burden placed around Europe, the pressure on London to justify having a team is halved immediately. Furthermore, the market across Europe for NFL is substantial, with fans in Germany unhappy with the attention London has received from the NFL. Support for a London team is going to have limited reach across Europe, so rather than cutting all these fans out, why not invite them to the party?

    Some might say that if London is unable to support a team long-term and has to rely on games abroad, they should not be considered for a franchise. That is a valid point. That is the point I made earlier about Jacksonville, but while London might be able to support them long-term, Europe will absolutely be able to provide support and add considerable growth to the league. There is a massive void of Football in Europe waiting to be filled. Instead of being broadcast to less than 1 million viewers locally with the occasional nationally televised game, they would be broadcasting to their new market, the 739 million residents of Europe. Will they all watch? Of course not. Will more people watch compared to the ratings the Jaguars get? Without a doubt.

    So by placing a team to represent all of Europe, the NFL owners will be increasing the size of the pie they share by a significant amount. They will be creating a market of tens of millions of fans for a single team, as well as increasing the visibility of the teams who come to visit.

    Many have raised concerns over the logistics of having a team play in London, mainly the long flights between games. But having 2-3 weeks in a row of road games and allowing teams travelling to Europe to have a bye the following week, this is negated to a level on par to the travel that Seattle and San Francisco have to endure each time they head East. It is by no means an insurmountable challenge, and with the amount of money at stake, it is one the NFL ownership committee could solve before breakfast.

    So we have happy fans and happy owners. What about the players? Once again, this comes down to money.

    Many, like Andrew Whitworth, have expressed reservations about any full-time occupation of Europe, but they are not seeing the full picture. The NFL Salary cap is based of profits the league makes as a collective. The more revenue, the higher the salary cap. The higher the salary cap, more money for the players. The league recently went through a bitter lockout with the players and team owners disagreeing on how to split up the ever-expanding pie of NFL revenues. Surely they can agree that expanding the pie is best for everyone involved?

    This is a win-win-win situation for all involved, it is just down to the NFL Players Association to educate their members as to why an NFL franchise in Europe is in their best interest.

    The owners want it, Europe wants it, we just need the players to want it.

    Bring the Jaguars to Europe.

    By Jack Bloomfield


     

  • Non League

    FRIDAY FEATURE: Would salary caps help the Premier League?

    Salary caps can be defined as an agreement or rule that places a limit on the amount of money that a sporting club can spend on player salaries. British football.

    Salary caps can be defined as an agreement or rule that places a limit on the amount of money that a sporting club can spend on player salaries. British football does not currently have a salary cap, but with money becoming an increasingly more vital part in the game, one could argue that it is time for the cap to be brought in. We already see salary caps in many sports, with the USA seemingly showing the world the rest of the way, but it is starting to be seen in more and more places, with Europe also introducing salary caps into some sports. Despite there being many years of talk of salary caps in British football, it has not yet been brought in, and some will feel, unless the rest of the world also does the same, it may never be seen in the Barclays Premier League or Football Leagues.

    Salary caps have many advantages and disadvantages, especially in sport. Sometimes an advantage for one can also work out as a disadvantage for another, for example a low salary cap may help the likes of Norwich City to achieve whereas it would hinder a team such as Chelsea. This is because the budget of Norwich is already low so the salary cap would not affect them as much as it would a team with a high budget at the moment (Chelsea). However if the salary cap was set high, it would not affect either of these teams, obviously dependant on how high. There have been many talks about salary caps being introduced within England and Wigan chairman, Dave Whelan, agrees. He told the Telegraph in May 2011: “Throughout all four leagues we have got to impose a salary scheme where each league or each club pay so much in wages.”

    Any rule change that is to take place in English football would have to be agreed by no fewer than 14 of the 20 Premier League teams, however it is not clear whether a sufficient amount of clubs would favour any salary caps. With the next influx of money from television companies due to come in next year, it is felt that any move towards capping a players wages would have to be done sooner rather than later. Television does play a major role in a clubs finances and with only eight teams making a profit in the 2010-11 season it seems even television money isn’t always enough. In this season clubs were given £2.3 billion between them yet still managed to lose £361 million. The money they got was partly the result of the first year of the Premier League’s 2010-13 TV deals, in which a record £1.5bn was earned from overseas broadcasters.

    This shows that even when clubs get a large helping financial hand from other outlets, it is not always enough to stop them making losses. A salary cap would. In the season previously mentioned, £1.5bn was spent on wages by the 20 clubs. This is a large amount and it would be assumed that the rest of the money was spent on wages, training facilities, player travel and other such material. If there was a wage cap at say £50,000 a player, per year (more than enough for anybody to survive on), at 20 players per squad, this would work out at £1 million spent by each club on wages each year. Obviously for all 20 clubs, it works out as a net total of £20 million, a massive saving on the £1.5 billion.

    If there was a salary cap, it is ridiculous to think it would be this low, after all would Wayne Rooney take a loss from being on £250k a week to £50k a year? Of course not. But a simple calculation like that just shows how easy it would be for a salary cap to help finances in football. Perhaps though, it is players rather than clubs that will never accept a salary cap.

    As mentioned previously, any salary cap that would come in would have to be high. It would be likely then, that some clubs would not be able to budget towards the top end of the cap (I doubt a team such as Hull would ever pay a player £120k a week, an example of a potential high salary cap). This would mean that players would still wish to be transferred to a club that can pay them much higher wages and that can afford the higher budget. As far back as 2009, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has been in favour of a salary cap, telling the Guardian:

    “Clubs have a duty to provide more stability in our business models and some form of wage restraint is one element worth looking at. There are many different ways in which it could work.”

    This could also bring us on to another debate, which is why stop at salary caps? It would be quite simple to also introduce transfer caps. When the highest transfer fee Wigan Athletic, who only last season were relegated, have paid is £7 million, for Charles N’Zogbia, and the highest Chelsea have paid is £50 million for Fernando Torres, it shows that something isn’t right with the game. The reason Wigan’s is so much lower than Chelsea’s is because they can’t afford it, but if there was a cap, all teams would have a more equal chance of buying a player. As it is, only clubs with high budgets can buy the ‘top’ players, meaning English football as a whole tends to suffer.

    The suffering comes when there is always the same teams that rise to the top of the league. Yes, admittedly, the same thing tends to happen all over Europe, but in Germany, we are seeing more competitive leagues. The Bundesliga is now the most profitable league in the world, despite the television income being a modest €594m compared with the Premier League’s lucrative return of €1.94bn. This is because of a self imposed cap meaning Bundesliga have restrained themselves to a mere £683m on salaries. The wages to revenue ratio in the league is 51%, compared to the Premier League’s of 67%.

    However, English sports economist Stefan Szymanski, based in Germany told ESPN: “The reason it (Bundesliga) isn’t the largest league, in spite of having the largest and wealthiest population that is fanatical about football, is that they are restrained by the rules they impose on themselves. There’s definitely a penalty in limiting your financial opportunities in the way that they do.” One would arguably disagree with this, as although Germany have not had a Champions League winner since Bayern Munich in 2001, the past two seasons has seen the resurgence of German football with Munich, and Borussia Dortmund proving their worth.

    The German national team have also progressed in the last few major competitions. Some may argue that this is to do with the fact that no team can increase their player wages so a player will stay at the club they are with, thus meaning the players are more used to playing as a team. A recent Germany national squad saw the players come from seven different teams, while a recent England squad had players from 13 different clubs. Anybody will be able to tell you that the fewer clubs involved, the better the squad will be, as a team.

    Some would argue though that what England are suffering on a national scale, they are improving at club level. 13 different clubs being used in the national squad surely shows strength in depth while many critics claim that the Premier League is the best, in terms of entertainment at least, in the world. The Premier League is the most-watched football league in the world, broadcast in 212 territories to 643 million homes, proving it to be the most popular. Many big football names also have ambitions to play in England one day, adding more fuel to the fire that is the Barclays Premier League.

    Despite English football appearing to be the most entertaining, when in Europe, English teams seem to be faltering. Chelsea won the Champions League in 2012, but many seem to think that to be down to luck rather than skill. When Manchester City were Premier League holders, they were knocked out at the group stage. This is why salary caps would need to be introduced throughout the whole of the continent, if not the whole of the world.

    Having a salary cap just in England would mean that the teams still lack the ability that the Spanish, German and Italian teams have and also lack the money. No matter what anybody says, money talks and most players would rather be paid an extra £50,000 a week and play their football in another country. This would be likely to happen if a salary cap is only introduced in England. A problem one immediately thinks of here, brings us back to the first point. Teams across Europe, all have differing wage budgets so a salary cap would have to be agreed on, something which would arguably take a long period of time.

    Not only would all countries/leagues have to agree on a set salary cap, one feels they would also have to agree on a transfer cap, for reasons stated above. There should not be able to be a ‘battle’ between Southampton, Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich over one player. With a salary cap, they would all be able to pay the same maximum wages, but Southampton would not be able to fight against the transfer fee. If the maximum fee was set at say £8 million, all clubs would be involved and it would then be down to contract negotiations and where the said player wants to play football.

    Yes, a salary and transfer cap may lead to less exciting football between the ‘bigger’ teams, but it should make for more entertaining football in other matches. All teams would be able to budget the same so the quality of players should be very similar. You would not have the likes of Manchester City going out to buy all the best players, leaving the likes of Aston Villa to struggle with the lesser quality players. This would be because both teams would have the same money to battle it out for players. Yes, one might say, City are the more successful club so a player would always pick them to be transferred to, but with caps on money, it would leave the question: How long will the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, who have arguably bought their way to success, stay at the top?

    A salary and transfer cap would also help those teams that have strong youth systems. The youth systems would help build a team, without having to pay for players. Wages would also not be originally as high as the player would have been at the club from a young age, and tend not to ask for huge pay demands. Again, this makes the whole competition a lot fairer, and could result in the national team progressing further as well.

    Will we see a salary cap in British football in the near future? One would say the answer is no, however if it is introduced relatively soon, it would only bring positives in my eyes. Of course, it’s never going to happen unless it is introduced across the continent but the sooner it does, the sooner we will have clubs not reaching huge levels of debt. You would also see a more level playing field, which ultimately, is what every fan wants.


     

  • David Beckham

    Would David Beckham sell his medals?

    Saints FA Cup 1976 winner Mel Blyth has followed many former footballers example and has decided to sell his medal to a collector.

    He becomes the second member of the victorious squad to sell the prized possession and is becoming a part of a growing trend.

    Peter Rodrigues’ daughter, Amanda controversially decided to sell her fathers medal for £10,200 after the ex-Saints skipper gave it to her as a wedding gift nine years ago.

    Dell and England legend Terry Paine sold his 1966 World Cup winners honour for £27,500  in 2011 and became the ninth player of the team to sell the award.

    Former Saints player and manager Alan Ball also sold his accolade for a staggering £164,000 in 2005.

    Only Roger Hunt, Bobby Charlton and Jack Charlton have their medals from England’s only World Cup success.

    But would you see the likes of Wayne Rooney, David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand ever do the same.

    The maximum wage in 1960’s for most footballers was around £20 a week and England’s 66 captain Bobby Moore started his professional career on around £12 a week.

    It’s a mere snip compared to Rooney’s reported £220,000 a week at Manchester United and with Beckham commanding a personal fortune of around £175m and Ferdinand owning around £42m today’s stars will easily be able to keep their medals.

    In comparison, Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas was forced to sell his Golden Boot award for scoring 83 goals in 84 international games because he needed to fund treatment for Alzheimer’s. Puskas received for £85,000 for the boot.

    George Cohen became the first member of the 66 squad to sell his medal in 1998, after he fell ill with bowl cancer. He sold it to his former club Fulham for £80,000 after the full back had financial problems.

    Ray Wilson also got £80,000 for his award.

    Nobby Stiles sold his European Cup and World Cup medals for a combined price of over £200,000, which was bought by his former club Manchester United.

    Gordon Banks decided to trade in his award instead of leaving his children with the ‘burden’ of deciding who gets it after his death. The former goalkeeper received £124,750.

    Moore and the World Cup final hero Geoff Hurst, who scored a hattrick against the West Germans, sold their medals together to former club West Ham United for a combined price of £300,000.

    All together the World Cup medals collected £935,500, Wayne Rooney earns £1.1m in just five weeks.

    The winners of the Jules Rimet trophy in 1966 received prize money of £1,000 each, whereas in 2010 the Spanish side received around £900,000 each for victory in South Africa.

    Blyth a member of the team who stunned Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley is now set to join the long line of former player to sell their prestigious awards.

    By Peter Howard


     

  • Tennis

    FRIDAY FEATURE: Have the past 12 months been a breakthrough for British tennis?

    As sporting years go; from a British perspective, the past 12 months has to be one of the most prosperous that has ever been witnessed. 

    For example, last summer’s 30th Olympiad held in London, for a record third time, has been heralded as the greatest Olympic spectacle to date.  The Paralympics that followed has recorded equal recognition as it received glowing comments for being the first Paralympic games ever sold-out at all events, and for earmarking itself rightly as its own mega-event.

    Tennis is no exception to this as the sport has progressed emphatically from previous years due to the strides that have been made on the court.

    Andy Murray

    Since he joined the professional circuit, in 2005, Andy Murray has had the spotlight of British tennis expectation shine directly on him. Becoming the youngest Briton ever to play in the Davis Cup, that year at 17, it was clear then he was a precocious talent. As the intervening years have followed this has proved the case, as the Dunblane-born player has become a leading figure at the top of the men’s game.

    Despite Murray’s prominence it was always questioned by some whether or not he could fulfil his potential and win a grand slam, thus truly elevating him as a ‘major winner’. The three players that had often denied the 26-year-old the opportunity to do so, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic; are multiple Grand Slam winners and are dubbed as ‘The Big Three’.

    The task to mould ‘The Big Three’ into ‘The Big Four’ would be a difficult one, but under new coach Ivan Lendl it was achievable. The Serb-American is a former eight-time Grand Slam winner himself and his experience as a former player has proved invaluable to Murray.

    The first big task for Murray was the 2012 Australian Open, where he succumbed in five-sets in the semi-finals to eventual champion Djokovic. A gruelling five-hour match showed already the improvements Murray had made to his game under Lendl in such a short space of time.

    Exiting the next Grand Slam at the quarter-finals of the French Open wasn’t too big a shock to Murray and those in the sport. On his least favourite surface, clay, defeat to Spain’s David Ferrer only focused the Brit’s attention to Wimbledon.

    The most esteemed and recognisable tournament in tennis, SW19 has been in a desperate search for a home-grown winner since Fred Perry in 1936 – then some 76 years ago. In previous years the spotlight had always intensified on Tim Henman, when he was playing, and since then this has shifted over onto Murray’s shoulders. Previous Wimbledon’s had seen the then 25-year-old reach the last three semi-finals – an impressive stat in itself. That year Murray fared even better though, reaching the final of the tournament for the first time in his career and becoming the first British male to do so since Bunny Austin in 1938.

    The four-set defeat to Federer was a tough loss on Murray. It was the first time he had won a set in a Grand Slam final, but it was the fourth major one he had lost – a record he shares with Lendl in the Open Era. Afterwards in the post-match interview the tearful scot stated, “I’m getting closer.”

    The short turnaround between Wimbledon and the Olympics turned out to be helpful to Murray. In a team environment, completely alien to the singular one he normally competes in, his gold-medal heroics in the singles and silver in the mixed-doubles wasn’t only just for his own personal gains but for Britain’s, as the wave of support for Team GB grew stronger. It can be fairly suggested that this extra fervent support helped him strive to his successes.

    The basis of that Olympic success unequivocally aided Murray in ending Britain’s 76-year wait for a male Grand Slam champion, as he conquered the US Open – the place where he won his only major at junior level in 2004.

    Murray’s five-set epic against Djokovic, in just under 5 hours, bore fruit to the potential many had seen him in his career to date.

    Immediately after the win his older brother, and fellow tennis professional, Jamie tweeted:

    “What a historic night! Tonight Andy achieved his dream. He got the result his talent, dedication and perseverance deserved. So proud of him.”

    Statistically the victory also meant Murray became the first British male to win a Grand Slam in the Open Era and the first male ever to win Olympic gold and the US Open back-to-back.

    To date 2013 has proved as equally prosperous for Britain’s number one. A third successive Grand Slam final was achieved at this year’s Australian Open. In a repeat of his US Open triumph he faced Novak Djokovic but this time it was the Serbian who prevailed in four sets.

    Injury forced him to miss the French Open, but he returned for the grass-court season to win at the Aegon Championships at Queens Club.

    The momentum gained from that victory certainly carried over as the 26-year-old entered this year’s Wimbledon. Amidst the pressure of trying to become the first British male winner at SW19 since Perry 77 years ago, Murray duly delivered as again he met Djokovic in another Grand Slam final – defeating the world number one in straight sets.

    His record in his most recent four Grand Slam appearances reads at reaching four finals and winning two of them. The eulogies of Murray’s feats have been written everywhere in the past week. The next challenge for him is now to add more Grand Slams to already the two he has won, starting with defending his US Open crown in August.


     

  • elliot macdonald

    Daft Punk – Cycling Around The World

    Gavin Macdonald had just finished college and was set to embark on the journey of a lifetime travelling the world. As he rocked up to Heathrow airport with a bag.

    Not to worry, in a smug yet smooth unzipping of the fanny pack the boy from Fremington, North Devon, had found his tickets and was ready to board the plane. Yet glancing down at his British Airways pass there was one small error.

    ‘First name – Elliot                 Origin – Britain                 Seat no. 42a                     

    Second name – Macdonald      To – Thailand                    Gate no. 3′

    Mr. Macdonald sometimes forgets that his real name is Gavin, Elliot is in fact just his middle name and Daft Punk is a nickname.

    Macdonald explained the dilemma: ‘Elliot’s my middle name and I’ve always been called it, it’s just how my family roll.  When I was booking my flights and everything for travelling I was so overly excited and wasn’t thinking properly I put Elliot down as my first name.

    “I ended up having to pay an extra £200 so I could change the name on the tickets. You wouldn’t believe the looks I got from the airline operators when I had to explain that I’d put the wrong name on the ticket.’

    Nonetheless Macdonald eventually found himself travelling the world in his own ditsy and dangerous manor and thoroughly enjoyed the experiance before returning home to the shire, where he has felt lost ever since.

    The 22-year-old has had two failed attempts at Oxford Brooks University, a few romances, some chaotic lad’s night out and a criminal record for running down Oxford Street naked.

    As he tried to find the right path in life Macdonald was hit with the passing of his uncle through motor neurone disease. Sitting at home, aimlessly wondering what to do he was inspired to achieve something amazing in turn with his passion for travelling and sport.

    Macdonald and his three friends, Sam Mitchell, Wade Luscombe and Richard Wentworth are setting off at the start of August to cycle around the world. The task will take nine months and cover a distance of 19,000 miles, as they depart from London, England and loop round to New York, America.

    The quartet have been working full time for the past year in order to save up for the trip costs and can therefore donate any money raised to four chosen charities, in particular for Macdonald MNDA (Motor Neurone Disease Association).

    Explaining his motivation Macdonald said: “About a year ago I made a bucket list of things I wanted to do in life and cycling around the world was one of them. Failing to find the right course at University and with the death of my uncle I felt the time was right, it is something we will look back on and just be like wow, it will be such a great achievement.

    “We are all excited by the challenge, the cultures we will see, the diverse scenery and freedom cycling allows. For me the motivation comes from wanting to complete something and see it through to the end. We all know the trip is going to support four great charities as well. We have all chosen one charity each but the final donation amount will be split between the four charities.

    “The charities are the Fire-fighters charity, Cancer research, MNDA and Agape volunteers. We have no idea how much we can raise but hopefully around £5000 if we can make enough people aware.”

    The three boys joining him have previous long distance peddling experience and have already completed cycling trips to Spain, a tour of Ireland and a race through the Alps. But for Macdonald it’s his first serious cycle ride beyond the Instow to Fremington Tarka Trail, meaning some hard training has been in order to complete a distance that is the equivalent of six Tour de France races.

    Macdonald goes on: “We have all been training extremely hard with many long rides (30 to 80 miles) and cycling to work, but obviously it just isn’t going to be the same as when were out there. The trip is going to be around 19,000 miles in total, over about 9 months. We do have to take three flights but everything else is by bike.”

    Commenting on the dangers and his fears he added: “We know how dangerous it is going to be in terms of cycling through dangerous areas, busy roads and crazy drivers. But it just adds to the excitement and difficulty of the challenge. The trip is going to be so tough with highs and lows and I’m not going to lye, I have a slight fear of the dark, which isn’t great for camping.

    “Other problems will probably be self inflicted, Wade can’t wait to wear a mankini through Kazakhstan and I usually end up doing something stupid.”

    It is three years since Macdonald’s first taste of travelling and with a more knowledgeable understanding of the world and a dedicated, hard-working attitude everybody is sure he can complete the task ahead.

    For Daft Punk the hardest part of the journey will not be cycling the 19,000 miles but ensuring his name is correct on the plane ticket home.


     

  • surrey-dave-thomas

    FRIDAY FEATURE: David Thomas – The story of a cricketing career

    The on strike batsman pats the ground with his bat taking guard as a tall slender figure holding a deliciously red new ball in his left hand, prepares to charge.


     

  • Griffin Park by  Diego's sideburns

    FRIDAY FEATURE: Melvin Collins – 60 years as a visually impaired Brentford FC fan

    Few football fans achieve 60 years of support for their team and amass almost 2,000 matches. Even fewer do it when they are blind. But one who has is 68-year-old Brentford...


     

  • Bale by Mafue

    FRIDAY FEATURE: Three reasons why Gareth Bale should stay at Tottenham

    There has been a lot of speculation about Gareth Bale’s future this season with Real Madrid linked with his signature.

    He should remain at White Hart Lane though – here are three reasons why.

    Time on his hands

    Gareth Bale has just had the best season of his life. Unstoppable at times, he was the best player in the Premier League and attracted attention all over the World.

    He is only 23-years-old though, so what is the rush? Bale can benefit from more time developing as a force at Tottenham. There is no way he wants to regret moving too soon.

    After all, Spurs took a risk on Bale as a young man and stuck with him when his form wasn’t so good. At one point, it looked as if he might be sold. They kept the faith though and are now reaping the rewards.

    Bale should respect this and be aware that he has plenty of time for a big move elsewhere should he need too. Don’t jump ship too soon Gareth!

    Suits the Premier League

    If Bale was to move, Real Madrid appears to be the most likely destination. It appears to be the sort of club that he could find extremely tough to turn down.

    However, Bale must realise how successful he can be in the Premier League. More specifically, how successful he can be with Tottenham.

    Spurs play to suit his strengths and he is adored by the fans. He will always be the main focus to their attacking threat and this allows him time on the ball. He is given the platform to shine.

    The pace of the Premier League suits Bale too. If it isn’t broken, why try and fix it? Playing in Spain or Germany would be a whole different ball game, just as Bale has found his best form.

    Champions League football WILL come

    Tottenham are on the verge of something fantastic. They have a superb young manager, an excellent squad and the financial backing to push on in the next couple of years.

    If Bale commits to being part of this, he can help the club to Champions League football. This would be extremely satisfying for him and the accolades will keep coming.

    Then, should he achieve this, he will be the main man for a top Premier League team competing against the best teams in Europe. Doesn’t sound too bad does it?

    Written by Thomas Rooney from FootballTips.com.


     

  • Wembley

    Living Room Sports Guide

    As the football season nears an end, and with over a month until the Ashes, I have put together the ultimate guide to living room sports to keep you going..


     

  • Roma Ultras by tasoskaimenakis

    Friday Feature: Can Italy remove racism from calcio?

    English fans are still seen as hooligans on the continent after the trouble they caused in the 1970s and 80s; including that tragic day in Brussels, at the 1985 European.

    Whilst they have cleaned up their behaviour, their Italian counterparts have only got worse. Their hardcore fans, known as the ultras, control the stands behind the goals and often incite violence with their extreme political and sometimes racist and anti-Semitic views.

    Almost two weeks ago Milan’s home game against Roma was suspended for two minutes after the away side’s ultras racially abused Mario Balotelli. There were several announcements over the loudspeaker to get the fans to stop but they continued. So referee Gianluca Rocchi halted the game as per the rules in Italy.

    Under the rules the club immediately received a 50,000€ fine, which was met with disgust around the football world. Then during Sunday’s 2-1 win against Napoli their ultras in the ‘Curva Sud’ starting singing offensive songs about Mario Balotelli after he scored the equalizer for Milan against Siena.

    For this incident Roma received another 50,000€ fine, but this time they have also been told that their ‘Curva Sud’, which normally holds almost 8500 fans, will be closed for the first league game of next season.

    Football fans in Italy and England are very different. The Ultras use the sport as a platform to express themselves politically and get their messages heard.

    In recent years the calico name (Italian for football), has been blackened due to corruption, betting scandals, politically outspoken football players, matches abandoned due to riots, racism rows and recently even a dead player being mocked by fans.

    The Italian game is full of characters. Less than ten years ago following his infamous Roman salute in front of Lazio fans after a Rome derby, Paolo Di Canio told the Daily Telegraph, “I am a fascist but not a racist.”

    Ultras   

    Author John Foot highlights in his book Calcio that the term ‘Ultra’ should not be confused with ‘hooligan’, despite it often being translated that way in the media.

    In 1968 when AC Milan’s Fossa dei Leoni (the Lion’s Den), were formed they became the first set of Ultras. Since the 1970s clubs through all divisions have their own set of Ultras. They are so powerful that coaches, players and even club managers keep them happy so that they do not face their wrath.

    When a young Roberto Baggio was sold to Juventus in 1990 by Fiorentina’s owners, the Pontello family, the fans hit the streets to riot and protest. There were over 50 injuries and parked vehicles were set on fire. The club’s owners felt they could not continue in charge and it was sold to filmmaker Mario Cecchi Gori.

    Another protest took place in northern Italy by Udinese’s Ultras when they managed to halt the signing of Israeli Ronnie Rosenthal after the club discovered anti-Semitic graffiti near their offices.

    Being an ultra is not just a match day activity. During the build up to a game there is a lot of preparation, the groups create and paint banners for the stadium and arrange the upcoming choreography of fans.

    For the biggest games such as the derbies huge banners cover large parts of the stand when the players enter the field. The two sets of supporters try to outdo their rivals. This takes a huge amount of time and expense to get it right. The funding comes from collections around the stadium, merchandise sold and sometimes sizeable donations from wealthier fans.

    Lazio’s now defunct Ultra group Irriducibili was a particularly strange case. They were so powerful that they had the rights to sell all the club’s official products. If you were to buy a shirt from the club shop then the money would go to the Ultras rather than the team.

    Things are changing but slowly, it took a disaster for it to happen. Policeman Filippo Raciti was killed at the Sicilian derby after fighting broke out between Catania and Palermo in 2007.

    The government brought in an anti-hooliganism law that year to prevent bulk buying of tickets. It has seen the introduction of preventive bans for anyone suspected of being a hooligan and harsher penalties against anyone causing trouble inside or outside the stadium.

    Politics

    A grim day for the Italian game was during March 2004, when Lazio hosted Roma. I got to the stadium with my father just over an hour before kick-off and there were already sounds of explosions going off all around us.

    My father turned to me and said, “Wow, fireworks already!”

    I replied, “No, it’s the police firing tear gas.”

    Fans were setting off firecrackers outside the stadium and the authorities were firing tear gas into large groups. Once in the stadium the sound of fans singing was drained out by the noise of sirens going off and sporadic explosions. As the first-half wore on rumours started to spread that the police had run over a young boy outside the stadium.

    All through half-time there were chants of, ‘Assassini assassini’ aimed at the police.

    Not long into the second-half the leaders of Roma’s Ultras climbed onto the pitch and spoke to Roma captain Francesco Totti, a lifelong fan.

    The Guardian reported that the Ultras stated, “Francé, go and stop the game, the police have killed a boy, the match must not continue.”

    The Roma skipper replied, “But they’ve just said on the tannoy that the rumour isn’t true.”

    After more discussions Totti went over to tell the then manager Fabio Capello, “If we play, these guys will massacre us!”

    The president of the Italian Football league was Adriano Galliani, he ordered referee Roberto Rosetti to postpone match. As the fans left the stadium police vehicles and cars were set on fire, and rioting between fans and police continued until 1am the following morning, it was reported that 150 officers were injured.

    Over the next few days it became apparent that the whole incident was a set-up to show the strength of the ultras. After the event it was reported in England as a ‘dark night’ for the Italian game. Sports presenter James Richardson, reported in the Guardian that the Italian media wanted the ‘English solution’ with a stewarding system, where they would have power to eject unruly fans.

    Livorno are considered the most left-wing fans in Italy, if not the world. They have a huge communist following and the Italian Communist Party was formed in the town in 1921.

    Earlier this season Livorno played Verona, who like Lazio have a large right-wing following. There were problems inside the stadium when Verona’s Ultras starting singing offensive songs about Piermario Morosini, a Livorno player who collapsed and died on the field in 2011 against Pescara due to an genetic heart disease.

    It was similar to the medical problem that Fabrice Muamba had when he collapsed playing for English side Bolton Wanderers against Tottenham in last year’s FA Cup third round. Fortunately the Englishman was able to get medical attention and survive. British fans around the country including rival clubs sent cards and messages to the Bolton player as he recovered.

    In Livorno after taunting the dead Italian player, the Ultras involved have been banned and the club was fined €50,000.

    Love their shirts 

    In the summer of 2004, Paolo di Canio took a large pay cut to re-join his boyhood club Lazio after a number of years playing in the English Premier league. It has been highly publicised that he is a fascist and even has a Benito Mussolini tattoo on his arm.

    In his first season, Di Canio scored the opening goal in the ‘Derby della Capitale’, his team went on to beat Roma 3-1. At the end of the game he celebrated in front of the Curva Nord, where the hardcore fans stand, by making a Fascist salute. He stated he was connecting with his people and that it was a Roman salute. The authorities felt he broke the rules and he received a €10,000 fine, which the right wing political party Lega Nord offered to pay, but he declined.

    At the same time as Di Canio was joining Lazio, Cristiano Lucarelli another player with strong political beliefs was making a move to Livorno. Unlike the ex-West Ham player, Lucarelli is a staunch Communist but like his political rival he also took a large pay cut of approximately a billion lire (the equivalent of £350,000) a year, to join his boyhood club. In ‘When Saturday Comes’ Chris Taylor quoted Lucarelli, “Some players buy themselves a Ferrari or yacht with a billion lire, I just bought myself a Livorno shirt.”

    In the week before they met in that first season the two players went head-to-head on a national television show, not discussing football but politics. This is not a situation you would imagine happening between two English players.

    Racism issues

    A major problem with the Italian game is racism, often started by the Ultras. Only recently Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur travelled to Rome to play Lazio. The night before the game a group of Spurs’ fans were having a drink in the Drunken Ship, a popular tourist pub, but an infamous location for Roma Ultras attacking English supporters.

    Nine people were injured after a large group of Italians attacked the bar. Ashley Mills, received severe injuries to the head and was stabbed in the groin. It is believed that this was an ‘anti-semitic’ attack, witnesses are reported to have heard the word ‘Jew’ shouted at the travelling supporters. The North London club historically has a strong Jewish fanbase and call themselves ‘Yid Army’.

    Initially Lazio distanced themselves and their fans from that incident. However the following night the football world was left disgusted as Lazio fans chanted, “Juden Tottenham.” meaning ‘Jewish Tottenham’ in German.

    We are now waiting to see if the Italian club will face any sanctions. They have already been fined £32,500 after Tottenham’s black players were racially abused with monkey chants in the reverse fixture of the Europa League group match in October.

    When Juventus played Inter Milan in 2009, the Turin fans sang racial songs about Mario Balotelli, saying there are no black Italians. The result of this was that the Turin side had to play a game behind closed doors. Despite a number of other cases involving racism there have only ever been fines handed out to clubs and nothing more serious.

    It was only in the 1980s that Italy saw a high volume of imported foreign players with different ethnic backgrounds, yet racism still existed. Rather than colour of skin the issue was the north versus south divide.

    The notorious Hellas Verona Ultras’s produced a banner in the 1980s during a match against Napoli that read, ‘Vesuvio facci sognare’ which translated means ‘Help us dream, Vesuvius’ suggesting that the dormant volcano overlooking the southern city will erupt again one day.

    Napoli fans responded to the Veronese fans with their own banner, ‘Juliet is a slag!’ Referring to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which was set in the northern city.

    It is clear that the English and Italian games are different, especially with the latter’s hardcore supporters using their game as a platform. Surely a football stadium should only be a place for football. With players like Di Canio and Lucarelli openly flaunting their political beliefs on the field you have to ask the question; how can we expect the fans to behave differently?

    There have been a lot of changes from those frightful days when football stadiums in England were not a safe place to take families. The clubs, governments, media and fellow supporters have all worked towards ridding the English game of hooliganism and racism.

    Whilst both still exist unfortunately they are now in the minority rather than having the large presence they once had. As the country has developed over the last 20-30 years it has become more multicultural and accepting of others from different backgrounds and the majority of football fans will not tolerate such behaviour.

    By Scott Balaam

 



Writers

 

Founded from the idea of one of the writers, Luke Augustus, and implemented by another, Scott Balaam, the organisation is a tightly-knit group of 32 sports journalists.

The name ‘TIBS’ stems from the nickname of the group of writers. During our first year of studying Sports Journalism together, at Southampton Solent University, we discovered that Andrei, one of our course mates, had the middle name Tiberius.

========================================================

Aaron Aquilina – A sport’s journalist with a passion for all things, well, sporty. With a key interest in the English Premier League and inparticular Chelsea FC, my experience has been vast: from Oxford Journal newspaper/website to writing for numerous football blogs including ‘A Stamford Bridge Too Far’ and my very own blog, ‘Prem-de-la-Prem’.

Andy Maynard – My main area of expertise is football and being a Plymouth Argyle fan I tend to focus on the latest goings-on in the Football League. Away from football I closely follow darts and have developed a recent interest in horse racing. In the past I’ve written for local Plymouth newspaper ‘The Herald as well as writing a weekly Argyle column in the Cornish Times.

Ashton Schorah – Budding reporter Ashton here! I’d like to say that I’ve worked a lot in website writing before, but I can’t, simply because I haven’t. My background involves writing for the daily newspaper on the sport section, and a brief stint at Spire FM Radio Station. Much love.

Ben Blackmore – 20 years old, a massive football fan and non-league admirer. I support Crawley Town and Liverpool. Sports Journalist having worked for IMG Media, Shoot Magazine, Aldershot Town Football Club, Crawley Town Supports Alliance. My interests surround sport, I love NFL, Golf, Tennis and Football.

Chris Nightingale – Chris is currently a Sports Producer at the BBC and a sports presenter for Sonar TV. Having worked for the BBC since February, he began working in the industry as a intern for KOTV. He looks to be working in the Formula One broadcast sector in the near future.

Chris Boxx – A budding sports journalist in the making with experience on and off the football pitch, previous work for the Daily Echo, Sports Tonight and Shoot. Main interest in football with a mega passion for all kind of sports.

Craig Farrington – I’ve been writing sport blogs and articles for a few years now I enjoy writing profile pieces,previews and reviews of up coming sporting events but I would say I like writing about sporting stories that have a lot more to them than just who won and lost but reveal a really good story that’s not only interesting to sports fans but non-sports fans as well.

Greg Hobson – Hi there Readers, I’m Greg the token northerner of the group! I’m a proud Yorkshire-man from Huddersfield and a huge Huddersfield Town fan. If you share my interests in golf, cricket, football on a whole and in particular Scottish football or have a hatred of many things including the lack of tackling and amount of diving in football I think you would enjoy my work. Most of the time outspoken and enjoy a ‘debate’. Also I’m the editor of ‘Blue Moon Over Manchester’.

Greg Styles – Passionate about producing sports stories which inform, entertain and create debate on all media platforms! I’ve produced content for Hampshire C.C, Football friends and The Daily Echo and now currently co-host ‘The People’s Preview’ on Radio Sonar. Massive fan of the NFL to the amusement of fellow TIBS News writers!

Harry Hunt – With a place on a media training academy with Aldershot Town FC, it has always been an ambition to work within the football industry. Sport media is something I have always enjoyed, after spending two years as the press officer for the WWJCA, a junior cricket organisation in Winchester. This preceeded doing work for Hampshire CCC. I have also written blogs for Football Friends Media and done local match reports for the Daily Echo. For my sins, I am a Southampton season ticket holder.

Jack Fox – I’m a massive sports fan, with a huge passion for football, golf cycling and cricket with an interest in skiing as well. I have been a season ticket holder at West Ham United for the past nine years. I have previously written for Shoot! Magazine and I am currently co-editor of a Manchester City fan site, Blue moon over Manchester.

Jack Griffiths - Griff here, I’m very passionate about sport, especially football. I keep close tabs on the Premier League, for my sins Chelsea FC are my team. You may seen a some of my articles for ‘A Stamford Bridge too far’, alongside our now famous TIBSNews. I am very interested in Spanish football and hope to take this interest further with articles and blogs on this very website. Basketball is not only a hobby it is also an interest of mine too, with me keeping an all seeing eye on the NBA. As a flexible journalist I will cover whatever sport is needed.

Jack Murphy – Currently working for a television production company called M & Y Media Ltd alongside writing for TIBS News, I have written articles for the official Hampshire CC website in the past too. Like most British journalists I am mainly interested in football but follow sports across the board in order to become more knowledgable. I also co-hosted the ‘People’s Preview’ show on Radio Sonar each week alongside Greg Styles and (very rarely) Luke Augustus. The TIBS News project is one which excites me greatly and has got off to a great start so far!

James Newnham – I’ve been a big sports fan for years, and follow most team sports, as well as Tennis and Boxing. Football is my biggest passion and unfortunately due to family circumstances I am a bitter Portsmouth fan. I have previously written articles for websites such as Football Friends, and Football league72. Today I still write for the Football League online magazine. Most of my work for the site consists of opinion pieces, blogs, and a weekly podcast.

James Shipp - Writer, presenter, trend-setter, birthday forgetter and Portsmouth’s answer to James Bond. Mainly a cricket and football type of geezer, written for the Portsmouth News, Sky Sports Fanzone, Shoot Magazine and Hampshire Cricket Club. You could have also heard me on Absolute Radio a couple of times.

Jamie Bassett – I’m a 21-year-old journalist and have previously written for A Stamford Bridge Too Far and am currently writing for Formula One Fancast, producing weekly blogs and features. I am a big follower of football, Formula One and combat sports such as MMA, boxing and wrestling.

Jamie Hopkins - I’m a 22-year old aspiring Sports Journalist whose current roles include Media Manager for the League Cricketers Association and Matchday Reporter for Aldershot Town Football Club. Passionate about all things sport and for my sins I’m a supporter of the Lambert revolution at Aston Villa. With graduation from university just around the corner I’m hoping to build a successful career in journalism.

Jimi Chialoufas – The sports I love covering most are Cricket and Boxing. While primarily I’m a writer, you can also hear me give my point of view on a whole host of different Sporting topics via podcast.

Joe Aird- I’m a 22-year-old sports journalist with an interest in most sports, but mainly football and cricket. I watch football whatever the league, in particular Sunderland and Dover Athletic . I have experience writing and editing for Match Preview Zone as well as writing for Football Friends online. My interests outside of journalism are mainly sports based, including playing cricket for a local side.

Jordan Brown – From wanting to play like Zinedine Zidane on a football pitch to writing about him. Jordan is a passionate Manchester United fan on the football side and a West Indies fan on the cricketing side. He has previously written for Football Friends, State of The Game and is currently writing for Money Makers Magazine.

Josh Peck – Non-League football fanatic who has supported Ebbsfleet United since birth. Have previously worked for the Non-League Paper as well as the Daily Express. Currently writing for every Ebbsfleet home match programme. Love my football, but don’t mind a bit of cricket, tennis, snooker or darts!

Lee Rowley – 20 year old Sports Journalist. I specialize in both English and European football but also have a great interest in Tennis, Rugby and the NBA. I have previously written for footballfriends.co.uk. A massive Newcastle United fan.

Liam Curtis -  Creative and adaptable Liam specializes in feature articles and interview-led pieces . Most of his work fills the website with alternative articles from slamball to octopush in the ‘Discover new sports’ section.  A keen nutritionist he also provides the material for ‘health and fitness’.  Supplying news for mobile app football24 keeps his free hours busy and he has produced for TheKopTimes and FootballFriendsMedia in the past.

Luke Augustus - Hi, I’m a 21-year-old from Kent. When it comes to sports enthusiasts I like to think I can be included as one. From an early age I have loved several sports and have had a go at playing the majority of them at some point. It seemed only natural then to pursue a career in sports journalism. Apart from contributing to TIBS News, I have also written online for Shoot Magazine and a Manchester United fansite called We All Follow United. In addition to that, I co-hosted ‘The People’s Preview’ show on Radio Sonar. Last summer I also worked for the London Youth Games reporting on the events that took place there. I was also part of their first ever radio team, LYG Radio, and through this I got to meet and interview their famous alumni such as athletes Zoe Smith, Leon Baptiste, Natasha Danvers and footballer Rachel Yankee, to name a few.

Matt Cotton- Matt says he’s wanted to be a football commentator ever since he realised he was never going to play for Arsenal. Matt has been commentating for the RNIB at Exeter City since 2008, which has led him to commentating at Wembley and at Arsenal on numerous occasions, covering a vast variety of teams from Droylsden to AC Milan. He is also the editor of Arsenal fansite Welcome to the Gunners Town.

Peter Howard - Peter is a writer and broadcaster with a passion for all sports. Peter reports on local football and has written for the Southern Daily Echo, Hampshire Chronicle, Salisbury Journal and Romsey Advertiser. Contributor to varying websites he also occasionally helps BBC Gloucestershire’s commentary at Gloucester Rugby. Peter is also an avid Saints fan and season ticket holder.

Peter Mannion – Talented sports journalist and broadcaster who’s done it all from writing for sports websites to being the presenter of a local online magazine show. Absolutely love football, especially my team: Manchester City. Other interests include boxing, rugby and American football.

Phil Wilbraham - Previous experience includes golf travel writing for agolfingexperience.com as well as writing news for local media including both the Times series, the Guardian series and the Watford Observer. A keen sportsman I cover a variety of events and you can join me on Radio Sonar every Tuesday from 6-7pm.

Scott Balaam – I love most sports but most of my work has been in football, I worked on BBC’s Late Kick Off (2012) as a Broadcast Assistant, was a Senior Editor of ‘Two Left Feet’ and have contributed to numerous websites and I am part of the management team at Football Friends Media. I also work for Setanta Ireland TV on a freelance basis and currently hold the position of Media Officer for Winchester City.

Simon Blaquiere – A passionate writer and a sports fanatic from South London with a love for Newcastle United, European football and Boxing. I’ve wrote for reputable publications such as FourFourTwo magazine, Goal.com, Shoot Magazine, SB.TV as well as assisting on television programme sports tonight live.

Tom Eastwood – If you’re looking for someone who knows everything there is to know about table tennis, I’m your guy. As well as Table Tennis, I’m a massive sports fan and have worked at various places within the industry. My experience includes writing for FourFourTwo, AutoCar, The Cricketer, Trinity South Mirror as well as working for Sports Tonight Live and Brooklands Radio.

Tom Veitch – Veitch, Tom – Plymouth. (1991) Solent University Press. I write for Shoot Magazine and am a Plymouth Argyle blogger while being a big Pilgrims fan. I enjoy a wide variety of sports, especially Football, Golf, Tennis and F1. I also co-host my show on Radio Sonar: Two Beards, One Question.



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