Football’s need to reform, Mawhinney vs Briatore, why Sol Campbell left Notts County & is crocked Rio Ferdinand the new Ledley King?

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “Some people are already claiming I am now going to sign Sol. Well, let’s nail that one straight away – it ain’t going to happen. I said during the summer that, if I was the boss of any other Premier League club, I’d sign Sol like a shot. That statement still applies today. But there is no way in the world Sol is ever going to play for Spurs again.” – Harry Redknapp, writing in The Sun.

Runner-up: “What I do not like in the behaviour of Arsène Wenger, who is doing this again, is that at the beginning he declared his interest in Chamakh, a long time before calling me. Then he ended up doing so. And now, Mr Wenger is starting again, again starting to put doubt in the mind of the player. And I don’t find that very correct. That said, in January Marouane will not leave. Even less so on a free transfer.” – Bordeaux president, Jean-Louis Triaud.


Today’s overview: The relationship between football, government and acting within the rules of the game all come into focus this Thursday.

The Guardian’s Owen Gibson kick things off by reporting how “the government has demanded immediate reform of the Football Association, insisting it implements recommendations made by Lord Burns four years ago in full or face a £25m cut in grassroots funding and the withdrawal of political support. Gerry Sutcliffe, the sports minister, has told the Guardian the FA must implement outstanding proposals, including the introduction of two non-executive directors on to the board, and accelerate reform of the largely white, ageing and male FA Council ‘as soon as possible.'” In a supplementary article Owen Gibson explains how the story is a black mark against Lord Triesman. “The difference now [in trying to push reform in football] is that the man at the helm of the FA, the chairman Lord Triesman, was appointed as a direct result of the review he now appears to be dragging his heels on.”

Football League chairman Lord Mawhinney is facing his own backlash today as the Football League ponder whether to order disgraced Formula One “crashgate” architect Flavio Briatore, to walk away from QPR. According to Marina Hyde, “during his stint as Football League chairman, his lordship has spoken enticingly of the need to ‘refresh our product’, and what better way to do so than to finally, finally deem the owner of an English club to have failed this least stringent of exams?”

Sol Campbell’s short life at Notts County is chewed over by the fourth estate.

David Hytner and Stuart James survey the damage of Campbell’s walk-out, noting “Campbell stands to pay a heavy price for walking out on his contract at Notts County as, under Fifa rules, he will now be unable to play for a new club until January, which will raise the inevitable question about his future in the game.” In a second article David Hytner appreciates that Campbell was “a big fish out of water” in League Two while also sticking the knife in by asking “So Sol Campbell, what was it that first attracted you to the £10m contract at League Two Notts County?”

With County embarrassed by the Campbell fiasco, Matt Hughes considers where else the blame lies. “Of even greater interest is what this sorry episode reveals about the judgement of Sven-Goran Eriksson… Eriksson’s own position as director of football must now be uncertain, even if the club are capable of honouring the various promises made to him.”

The Independent’s Nick Harris and Sam Wallace, though, believe they have the skinny on why Campbell really walked out on County. “Sol Campbell walked out on Notts County because he did not believe that the promised investment from the club’s secretive owners Munto Finance would ever materialise… Campbell came to believe that Munto’s money was being channelled into their newly acquired Formula One team BMW Sauber rather than Notts County.”

Staying in the Independent, ex-Newcastle & Manchester United striker Andy Cole gets the inside scoop on the Campbell episode. “He has now left County because he had been led to believe there would be major resources invested at Meadow Lane rapidly and, obviously, not just in new players but in facilities and infrastructure. That has not happened and Sol is not sure that it will… He hoped County would work out. It didn’t. He’ll move on.”

The tabloids also wade into the Campbell-County break-up to give their own sensationalist spin on the events.

The Daily Mail’s Neil Moxley farts “Campbell was unhappy with the training pitches and conditions at the League Two club, who say he didn’t want to ‘adjust to the long term project’. A source said: ‘I think he just thought enough was enough after Saturday’s defeat at Morecambe. It was an eye-opener.'” In a second article Neil Moxley paints Campbell out to be a prima-donna writing “he was ill-informed and ill-prepared for his new life away from the baby Bentley brigade in the Barclays Premier League.”

The Daily Mirror’s James Nursey offers a third opinion on Sol’s walk-out. “Sol Campbell hated his Notts County debut at Morecambe so much it prompted the former England star to quit after just one game.”

Is Rio the new Ledley?

Keeping with English centre-halves, James Ducker raises doubts over the long term fitness of Rio Ferdinand. “The centre back has missed 30 of the past 52 matches involving United and England as nagging injuries take their toll on his body. Since April, he has started back-to-back competitive games on only two occasions.” Mischievously, the Telegraph comment on Rio’s fitness that “his lack of first-team football this season was perhaps to blame for his mistake in the Manchester derby at the weekend, which allowed City striker Craig Bellamy to equalise before Michael Owen’s injury time strike spared the defender’s blushes.”

Dangerously deciding to inject common sense into a football matter, Gabriele Marcotti defends El-Hadji Diouf from claims of racism. “What is this idiocy about the police investigating charges of racist abuse for the fact that he allegedly said “F*** off, white boy” to a ballboy? I would have thought that, in 2009, we would realise that simply putting an adjective in front of an insult does not make it racist. Racist abuse is based on a history of power relations between people. There is a difference between a white person calling a black person ‘black ****’ and a black person calling a white person ‘white ****’.”

There is tough financial news for Liverpool to swallow this Thursday, Ian Herbert documenting that “Rafael Benitez’s struggle to keep pace with the Premier League elite is revealed in documents which suggest Liverpool’s net summer spending will be locked at £20m until 2014 – a figure which will also include wage increases accruing from contract renewals.”

We end with the transfers lies.

The Daily Mail make up the story that “Tottenham Hotspur are tracking Bordeaux’s £7.5million-rated Brazilian winger Wendel,” before also printing that “West Ham United are hoping to reach a compromise with Bayern Munich that would see Luca Toni move to Upton Park in January.” The Mail continue to spew transfer nonsense claiming that “Lille midfielder Yohan Cabaye hopes to secure a January move to Arsenal,” while the Mirror report that “Juventus are monitoring Gary Cahill as a possible long-term replacement for Fabio Cannavaro after getting a glowing reference from Fabio Capello.”

Finally in news that will have Ben Foster looking at the classifieds, Matt Fortune claims that “Edwin van der Sar says he could yet be convinced to stay on at Manchester United for another season.”