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Monday, 6 January 2014

Flurries of Follies Abound in Football

There are three types of ‘dough’. The foolhardy kind, the financial kind and the baked kind and there have been cases of all three within football in recent times on both sides of the pond.

In a story that would make Homer Simpson proud, the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles battled through some of the worst snow conditions in NFL history in a game already dubbed ‘The Snow Bowl’. While much of the league faced cold weather, the two teams met in six inches of snow that would have been more suitable for a toboggan run than a professional game. Quarterback Matthew Stafford, whose Lions side ended up on the wrong end of a 34-20 defeat, said “It’s not the same as a sunny day, that’s for sure. But you’ve got to make adjustments.” The maintenance team at Lincoln Financial Field began shovelling the snow that started falling two hours before the game but conditions were so bad neither team attempted a single field goal.

In warmer climates stories continued to break surrounding the round ball. Due in part to an extremely active transfer window, agent fees reached an all time high last year. Fees paid to sports agents by the 20 teams in the league were recently published as £96m. Chelsea was the biggest spender, parting with over £13m as Jose Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge and a big war chest. Roman Abramovich gave him free reign in the club’s transfer dealings, with Andre Schurrle, Willian and Samuel Eto'o all joining the London club’s expensive roster. Not to be outdone, Manchester City also topped the £10m mark, bringing in Fernandinho, Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo, much to the delight of the sports agencies that represent them.

While major clubs are willing to part with their cash, some fans are not so keen. Most agree the luxury boxes at the Emirates would be a great place to entertain sports management clients but to some that’s only true if you cut the bread properly.  One box owner at the Emirates refused to pay their fees because the bread they were served wasn’t sliced to their liking. According to the Daily Mail, the baked goods lovers were due to pay £465,000 in instalments for the box until 2016. They stopped paying in April 2012, saying Arsenal had promised but failed to take any proper action to fix the bread problem. Still, with Arsenal at the top of the table, there is little chance of the dough debacle affecting their sport public relations.

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