A Euro odyssey

For months prior to the European Championships we kidded ourselves we weren’t interested in going. The relentless bad mouthing of social issues in Poland and Ukraine by the English media certainly put many potential fans off, as did the complexity in trying to work out travel arrangements. For once tickets for the matches were as easy to get as a winning hand at PartyCasino.

But then the tournament started and all we saw was mirth and (good) mayhem in the pictures from our friends via Facebook and Twitter. So we haven’t got any tales to tell from the tournament, the first European Championships we have missed since 1992, but we know a man who did go, and he was only too happy to write a report for us. It is a good lunchtime read and so we have prepared it as a pdf for you to read.

So without any further ado, let me introduce you to Vinny Goodfield, aka The Richmond Red, and his story of the ultimate jolly boys outing – euro 2012


Once the nearly-team of World Football, now double European Champions and World Cup Winners Spain have been dubbed by some misinformed and jaundiced critics ‘boring’.

Philosophy Football’s ingenious T-shirt design spells out across the Spanish team’s shirt backs ‘SER ABURRIDO’, trans: ‘To be Boring’, complete with the 3 stars for Euro 2008, Euro 2012, World Cup 2010.

As footballing internationalists Philosophy Football celebrate not only the Spaniards’ success but also their skilful free-flowing, pass and possession football minus a traditional forward. ‘Get stuck in, up and at ’em, gutsy’ vs ‘ Boring’ ? There’s only one winner in that contest. Available from www.philosophyfootball.com.

Just because you pay top dollar……

The last banners have now been taken down, hotel prices have returned to normal and bar owners are looking at the bottle half empty again. Euro2012 turned out to be a good tournament. Tournament favourites Spain romped to victory in the final against an Italian team that many doubted would get out of the group stages. But who were the over and under archives? Betting company bwin have analysed the performance of every team and compared them to the wages of the squad to create the bwin Player Value Index.

According to this index, there has been no direct correlation between wages and success at the Euro 2012 Championship, which may raise concerns for UEFA and some of the national associations about the way the game is run. England players cost their clubs almost 40% more than their German counterparts, who are the current favourites – the market may want to know just how this is justified? Furthermore, French players cost almost five times more than Greek players, yet both teams reached the same stage in the competition, surely a point for concern?

bwin’s findings certainly raise a few interesting points. Whilst we can see a direct correlation between the top payers at club level and domestic success, it simply doesn’t wash at an international level. Current Premier League champions Manchester City pay the most wages, Followed by Champions League winners Chelsea. Money buys success at club level. But put some of those high earners in their respective national side and they struggle to live with their earning potential.

The bwin Player Value Index (BPVI), which includes all teams of the EURO 2012, was first published on the 7th June and correctly predicted that Spain and Germany would offer excellent value for money from their players’ wages. It also predicted that England, Ireland and Sweden would provide poor returns from their wage bills. However, the biggest disappointment from every aspect was The Netherlands – highly paid and well backed, the team failed to deliver against expectations. A surprise? Or have we become accustom to their tournament meltdowns?

The “winners”? Well thanks to their late winner against Russia in the final group game, Greece came out on top, pipping fellow Group A qualifiers Czech Republic. Non-qualifiers who still came out well include the Danes and the Ukranians.


Devaluing the Euros

After just over three weeks of football, the world’s second biggest football tournament has played out in front of our eyes in Poland and Ukraine. Sixteen of Europe’s best teams have competed in thirty nine games to determine who would win the Henri Delaunay and join the likes of France, Holland, Denmark, West Germany, Greece and Spain in being crowned the champions of European Football. A few weeks before the tournament the bookies suggested that you should look no further than 2008 champions Spain for the winner of the tournament and when Iker Casillas elbowed Platini out of the way to lift the trophy they proved that class and form were both well judged.

However, that is all due to change in four years time. UEFA President Michel Platini has deemed the current tournament not open and fair enough and is expanding it so that 24 teams, instead of the current 16 will compete for the cup when the fifteenth tournament kicks off in France in four years time.

Just like Amino Acids are the building blocks for protein, the European Championships are the building blocks for many a player’s career.  Back in 1988, Marco Van Basten became a household name in no small part due to his tormenting of the English defence; In 1996 Gazza re-confirmed his genius on the world stage and in 2008 David Villa secured his huge transfer to Barcelona. The 1988 tournament was expanded from eight teams to sixteen to avoid the situation of heavy weights such as England, West Germany and Holland would never miss out on qualification. With just 53 nations competing for fifteen qualifications spots (fourteen this year due to the joint-hosting from Poland and Ukraine), it takes a serious shock for anyone apart from Europe’s top ranked teams not to make the tournament.

Of course occasionally there are shocks. Back in Portugal in 2004 Latvia turned up having beaten Turkey in the play offs; in 2000 Slovenia surprised everyone by qualifying and then went on to make an appearance in the World Cup Finals in South Korea two years later, whilst in 2008 the absence of England from the tournament in Austria and Switzerland was seen as a major financial blow to the tournament organisers who had budgeted on tens of thousands of England fans making the trip over the Alps. Continue reading

Don’t fix what’s not broken

In ten weeks time our pain will be over.  Thanks to an invite from Supporters Direct, we will be taking part in the inaugural Supporters Direct Shield when we face fellow fan-owned club Fisher Athletic at Enfield Town’s Donkey Lane.   Seventy days.  Ten Saturdays without any Lewes games to look forward to.  It is more than possible that we will line up on that Sunday in July without actually knowing who our first opponents are (in whatever league it could be).  Fortunately we have the best tournament in the world to keep us happy for a few weeks slap bang in the middle.

The European Championships will fill our screens from mid June for early July and showcase the best talent in European football.  Oh, and England will be there too.  The reason why this is the best tournament is that the best teams are always there.  Every game means something, and can in theory go either way.  Just look at Group B – Portugal, Germany, Holland and Denmark.  There isn’t one weak team in the whole tournament, and that is what makes it so good to watch.  Obviously, after England have been eliminated in the Quarter Finals on penalties (whose turn is it this time?  My money is on Germany again), we can enjoy the continental skill of the best players in the world (bar Messi, is there anyone else we would want to see?) in the final stages while the stampede for Euro 2012 Final Tickets begins. Continue reading