Sunday, May 24, 2020

Liverpool FC and Tranmere Rovers FC team up to help Wirral residents

Liverpool FC and Tranmere Rovers FC team up

Liverpool FC will be offering their support to Tranmere Rovers Football Club's ongoing community response initiatives by assisting residents in Wirral during the pandemic. Part of the Reds’ Unity is Strength community response to the crisis, a team of Liverpool FC staff volunteers is providing support to TRFC’s own community response initiatives – two Liverpool city region clubs working together to help those in need.

LFC staff volunteers will join TRFC volunteers distributing leaflets to thousands of residents outlining what support is in place for those in need. These will help to raise awareness of their support initiatives amongst people who perhaps do not have access to the internet or social media.

Alongside this, LFC staff volunteers will be playing a helping hand in preparing and delivering meals and food parcels to residents in the area. LFC has seconded one of its professional chefs usually based at Anfield to Tranmere Rovers for one day a week to help their team to produce meals for the most vulnerable people in the local community. TRFC (along with their partner charity, HelpLink) is also running a befriending service, which will also be supplemented by LFC staff volunteers, to make befriending phone calls to older and vulnerable people who may be isolated, worried and lonely during this challenging time.



Nicola Palios, Tranmere’s Vice Chairman, said “At a time of crisis it is great to see any football rivalries being put aside, and two Merseyside clubs working together to help our communities. When the Covid lock-down was announced, Tranmere and HelpLink quickly established a scheme to support the elderly and vulnerable in Wirral, and we are delighted that Liverpool FC are able to offer us some additional resource for that initiative, as demand for our support is increasing daily.”

Matt Parish, director of LFC Foundation, said: “We are proud to be working alongside Tranmere Rovers FC to support their local community response work. It’s so important that we unite during these difficult times to help each other and support as many people as we can in our local communities.”

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Reds chefs prepare 1,000 fresh meals a week to support LFC’s local communities and key workers

Reds chefs prepare 1,000 fresh meals a week

LFC’s professional chefs have upscaled their operation and are now producing 1,000 fresh meals every week to support the club's local communities in Anfield and Kirkby and key workers across Merseyside.

Reds chefs prepare 1,000 fresh meals a week

The meals, which form part of the Club’s ‘Unity is Strength’ COVID-19 community response work, provide essential fuel to those who need it most, including Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service firefighters and fire control officers and North West Ambulance Service staff.

Local school hubs and community groups who are currently supporting some of the most vulnerable children and families in the Club’s local communities in Anfield and Kirkby are also receiving hundreds of fresh meals every week.

Reds chefs prepare 1,000 fresh meals a week


Freshly prepared in the kitchens at Anfield, the meals offer a range of vegetarian and gluten free options, including, leek and potato soup, katsu chicken curry and braised rice, vegetable Cornish pasty, pasta bolognese and a trio of cakes. Gary Oakford, area manager, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, said: “As a long-standing partner of the LFC Foundation we were delighted to be considered to be part of this initiative along with our NWAS colleagues.

Liverpool FC.


The donation of prepared meals for our key workers is most generous and has been welcomed by all of the staff who are working in support of the broader response to COVID-19.” Forbes Duff, senior manager, Red Neighbours, added: “Since we started producing the meals, we have seen a big uptake and therefore we have been working hard to increase our volumes to support the growing demand.

Helping more local families, vulnerable people and key workers who are sacrificing so much to help people is really important to us - we want to help our local communities as much as we can. “If we can take the pressure off key workers by providing them with a fresh meal so they don’t have to cook after an exhaustingly long shift or to school hubs who are doing a fantastic job looking after vulnerable children and key workers’ children - that’s really the least we can do to say thank you.” 

North West Ambulance Service, deputy chief executive, Michael Forrest commented: “This is a fabulous gesture by Liverpool Football Club and I’m sure I speak for all the staff in Merseyside when I say how grateful we are. “Our staff are working incredibly hard at the moment. Knowing there is a hot, nutritious meal waiting for them will go a long way in letting them know how well thought of they are by the communities they serve. I’m sure the staff will love them!”

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Voices in support of LaLiga's return to action

Voices in support of LaLiga's return to action

Several key figures in Spanish football, from players and coaches to directors, have spoken out about why the time is right for LaLiga to restart. Clubs from LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank, the top two divisions in Spanish football, are returning to training this week following approval from the Spanish Ministry of Health and medical tests carried out by club staff. The return of competitive football is a step closer, and many figures from around the game are excited at the prospect of the ball starting to roll again and have spoken out in support.



Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitić and Real Madrid duo Sergio Ramos and Lucas Vázquez are just a few of the several high-profile players to have voiced their support for the return. “I think it is time for those of us who are involved in football to take a step forward,” Rakitić explained in an interview with Spanish newspaper MARCA. “Socially, we must take a step, to be able to entertain people with what they like and help people stop thinking all about viruses and disease.”

Voices in support of LaLiga's return to action

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos this week made clear his desire to return to playing speaking with Real Madrid TV: “We must listen to the instructions from the Spanish Ministry of Health. I can’t wait to get back playing and competing. To play in LaLiga, the Champions League, and for the competitions to be finished… as long as there is no risk of contagion.”

Voices in support of LaLiga's return to action


Teammate Lucas Vázquez echoed that point about football being able to take people’s minds off the tragedy associated with the coronavirus. As he told The Guardian: “If we can play, with the right safety measures, we’d all love to complete the season. It would be good for people, for society. For two hours you’re not just thinking only about this. Football brings happiness.” This opinion is also held in the coaching community.

As Villarreal head coach Javi Calleja told El Periódico Mediterráneo: “Football can give people hope that this will finish soon, and it means people will be able to have some happiness and entertainment in their homes.”

Those at more modest clubs are also keen for football to make a comeback, in many cases because of the same pressing financial realities that are also facing workers in other industries that have been affected across Spain and the rest of the world. “We don’t all earn millions,” said Dani Barrio of LaLiga SmartBank side Real Zaragoza, during a discussion on social media. “I come from playing in the third tier and am playing to put bread on the table for the next five to six years.”

Cádiz CF defender Juan Cala made a similar point during an appearance on COPE radio. “I’m in favour of returning because it’s the most logical thing,” he said. “We may come from a better or worse family, but we all need to work to put bread on the table and for the economy to make a comeback. Football isn’t just about the professional players, as there are lots of others who live from it.” Professional football in Spain has been shown to account for 1.37% of the country’s entire GDP, according to an independent study carried out by PwC.

This point was raised by Elche CF CEO Patricia Rodríguez Barrios as she tackled the issue in a social media post. “The football industry is often put down by other industries and workers, who think that we’re all privileged millionaires who only work on the day of a match,” she said. “No special treatment has been asked for. We’re only asking to be treated the same as other industries and to be allowed to work.”

Other club directors have also called for football to be allowed to return. “My first concern is health, which is the most important, but I’m also concerned about the economic stability of the clubs,” Sevilla FC sporting director Monchi told national TV broadcaster TVE. “I think we need to finish the league season and I don’t think there is any club not wanting it played,” added Villarreal CF president Fernando Roig on COPE. LaLiga is overseeing a carefully calculated protocol to ensure that football can return and that the 2019/20 season can be completed.

As LaLiga president Javier Tebas has explained: “People’s health is paramount, so we have a comprehensive protocol to safeguard the health of everyone involved as we work to restart LaLiga. Circumstances are unprecedented, but we hope to start playing again in June and finish our 2019/20 season this summer. The return of football is a sign that society is progressing towards the new normal. It will also bring back an element of life that people in Spain and around the world know and love.”

LEGENDARY FUTSAL COACH AND PLAYER - VICTOR HERMANS

LEGENDARY FUTSAL COACH AND PLAYER - VICTOR HERMANS

LEGENDARY FUTSAL COACH AND PLAYER - VICTOR HERMANS

Victor Hermans is a football legend and one of the most respected coaches in the world as he
continues to spread his love of futsal to all those who are willing to learn. Victor is a true Futsal legend and has made a global impact with his high-level coaching, mentoring, and passion at both the international and the grassroots level.

Victor was a legendary Futsal player and was named player of the tournament in the 1989 Most Valuable Player of the first FIFA World Futsal Championship which was held in the Netherlands. Victor has since gone on to be a world-renowned coach with teams from all around the world and is often sought as an expert to give FIFA and UEFA Futsal coaching sessions.

For the rest of the interview, please go here: https://www.soccerphile.com/interviews/victor-hermans


Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Frank Soo Google Doodle

The Frank Soo Google Doodle


Frank Soo was the first non-white player to have ever played for the England national football team and still is the only player of Asian descent to reach that level in England. However, his matches were during WWII so were not recognised as official caps. Frank played mainly at Stoke City, where he captained the late “Wizard of the Dribble”, Sir Stanley Matthews but also spent time at Leicester City and Luton Town.

He also guested for clubs such as Chelsea, Newcastle, and Everton to name but a few. He played 9 times for England and today, 9th May, marks the first time he played for England in 1942 against Wales. In honour of that momentous occasion, The Frank Soo Foundation has partnered up with Google to create a Google Doodle.

You can see the Doodle below but to see the moving Doodle in action, please visit the Google home page/search page throughout 9th May. Designed by a Doodler at Google, the Doodle features old school boots, where the laces tie around the boots, and an iconic brown leather ball. In the football card, where the second "O" is in Google, you can see Frank smiling. Frank's nickname was "The Smiler", and if you look at some of his photos you can see why that is the case!

It is difficult to determine what number Frank played with as it was largely dependent on what team he was with at the time as well as what position he played in. However, his most common number was 6 and there is footage of him playing in an England kit with that number. This is the number that was selected for the rotating "g"/"6". The Frank Soo Foundation hopes to promote Frank’s story and support those who want to follow in this footsteps.

For more information, go to - www.thefranksoofoundation.org.uk

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Stand Up for the Red Devils

MAN UTD FANS WILL SOON BE ON THEIR FEET 

Standing fans are coming back to Manchester United for the first time since the Taylor Report.
Trafford Council has approved a proposal to bring in a section of rail seating in the north-east corner of Old Trafford.

MAN UTD FANS WILL SOON BE ON THEIR FEET

At 1,500, the number of fans who can stand is small fry in a ground which holds 76,000 but symbolically it is a big victory for the Manchester United Supporters Trust which has been pushing for a return to standing for some time.

The railings separating the rows prevent the surges familiar to crowds of the terrace generations but at least some fans can savour a little of the superior atmosphere English fans enjoyed pre-Taylor.

Said report was in response to the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989 when 96 Liverpool fans asphyxiated but that was due to the fences stopping pitch incursions which prevented escape from overcrowding.

This season, Oxford, Shrewsbury and Wycombe have been trialling safe standing and the Sports Ground Safety Authority issued an interim report praising its "positive impact on spectator safety."

Safe standing already exists at Celtic and Dortmund amongst other a few clubs outside England, rail seating which converts to the seats required for UEFA competitions.

Hitherto, standing has been prohibited in England's top two divisions since the Taylor Report.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Four Year Plan - A Documentary About Queens Park Rangers

The Four Year Plan



Tagline: "A bankrupt Football Club. Billionaires with a blueprint. What could go wrong?" 

Surely when you throw enough money at a problem, the situation will alleviate itself and the status quo is maintained? Not necessarily and there is an underlying factor which is often forgotten. Yes, human beings and their complicated relationships by which seemingly simple situations are further escalated until nothing but chaos and infighting are left to emerge from the rubble. But tellingly, out of chaos and frenetic energy can come success.......

This is the premise of the documentary "The Four Year Plan" directed by Mat Hodgson. Shot over a four year period at Queens Park Rangers, the documentary showed the boardroom infighting with all main involved parties (Flavio Briatore, Bernie Ecclestone, Lakshmi Mitta, Amit Bhati) and the endless stream of managers / care taker managers (John Gregory, Luigi Di Canio, Paulo Sousa, Iain Dowie, Gareth Ainsworth, Jim Magilton, Paul Hart / Mick Harford and finally Neil Warnock) in their attempt to return the glory days to Loftus Road at any cost, both human and financial.



When some of the world's wealthiest men decided to buy Queens Park Rangers, a then down and out West London football team, the future looks bright and promising with one sole target; to make QPR financially viable again and return the club to the heights of the English Premier League whereby simply competing guarantees a substantial revenue stream via TV rights, sponsorship and match day cash streams of ticketing and corporate boxes.

The men in question included formula one tycoons Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone who, in 2007, brought a 69 percent stake with an initial 14 million pound investment. Later on, the stakes were raised even higher when Lakshmi Mitta, the Indian billionaire also invested and receives 20 percent of Briatore's slice of the pie. Everything looked set in place for endless success...but then of course, often the best plans do not go to plan. The then team's turmoil on the pitch is matched by the dramas of the boardrooms.

Every sports fan knows what happened next. Under the guidance of Neil Warnock, QPR reached the promised land of the premiership despite a potential 10 point deduction due to financial irregularities. Back in the top flight, ownership again changed hands to Malaysian businessman, Tony Fernandes, who became a majority stakeholder.

When you give access to a camera crew to document every move of a financially struggling football team and their attempts to regain their long lost status of top level football, you can only expect fireworks to fly......

A fascinating documentary!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Green Shoots on Hold

Europe's leagues plan to return but governments hold the keys

The European COVID-19 standstill will not last forever and countries are eager everywhere to begin loosening the restrictions on everyday life. Football leagues, which were interrupted three-quarters of the way through, are all deep into discussing when and if they can resume play.

After UEFA's videoconference last week, a deadline to this season's domestic leagues has been pencilled-in for the 31st of July with the Champions League and Europa League to be completed in August, perhaps by single-leg ties.

However, all returns to action are subject to approval by particular national governments and the many details are yet to be worked out. Playing to empty stadia or at training grounds with free-to-air TV coverage has been suggested.

*England's Premier League is tentatively beginning to start up again.

Arsenal, Brighton and West Ham are starting to reopen their training grounds, it was reported today, but will not conduct any group practice sessions.

Arsenal's London Colney training ground in Hertfordshire is maintaining the UK government's social distancing guidelines: Five players can exercise individually at a time if they occupy separate areas. They will have to arrive and leave fully kitted as the changing rooms will remain closed and no socialising will be permitted before or after training.

Green Shoots on Hold

The UK government has not announced any relaxation of the national restrictions introduced on the 23rd of March but football's governing bodies are eyeing the 8th of June as a possible date of restarting English leagues.

*Germany's Bundesliga is hoping to restart on the 9th of May without fans, but their plan is subject to a stamp of approval from the government this week.

*La Liga in Spain is also itching to get back in action, having put forward three possible dates for resumption: The 29th of May, 7th and 28th of June, but again any reopening

depends on government say-so.

*In France, Ligue 1 clubs will resume training on the 11th of May, the day national restrictions are set to end. Players must keep a distance of four metres from their colleagues until further notice. The French league is due to return on the 17th of June and conclude by the 2nd of August.

*In Italy, Serie A clubs will begin individual training on the 4th of May, the day Italy's parks will reopen, with group sessions resuming on the 18th.

The Italian football association, the FIGC, has already put back the end of the season until the 2nd of August, with a tentative plan for games to resume in June, depending on government permission. There are 12 remaining league dates in the top flight as well as the Coppa Italia semi-finals to conclude.

*In what may be a case of things to come, Holland has jumped first. The Dutch football association has given up the ghost and abandoned the league season for the top two divisions. Clubs will start again in the autumn in the same division they were this year.

The KNVB felt compelled to take the nuclear option following the Hague government's decision to ban all public events in the Netherlands until the 1st of September.

"Unfortunately with the cabinet's most recent Coronavirus measures, it has become impossible to play out the 2019/2020 season," their press release said.

"It was a very bitter day," said Just Spee, KNVB President. "We feel sad....we sympathise a lot...At the same time there was no way around it."

Ajax led AZ Alkmaar on goal difference with nine games to play. AZ were hoping for their first title since their 2009 win under Louis Van Gaal. At the other end, relegation certs Waalwijk and Den Haag have won a reprieve.

Cambuur, 11 points clear of the race for promotion from the second tier, will have to try again next season.

Next season's UEFA competitions will take Ajax and AZ into the Champions League and  Feyenoord, PSV and Willem II, 3rd, 4th, and 5th respectively, into the Europa League.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Sunday, April 26, 2020

HKFA organizes an E-sports campaign “HKPL-STAY AT HOME”

HKFA organizes an E-sports campaign



Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) has announced to parter with ER eSports and ten premier leagues clubs to organize a Esports campaign “HKPL-STAY AT HOME” in mid April. Supporters can experience a special and innovative football competition at the comfort of their home. Competition will be in knock out format after random draw for 10 participated teams.

The most highlighted feature is that each team representative will be represented their own team in the game to fight for the championship.

Prizes will be given to the competition winners and the fans who expressed their most interesting reasons to support the team to final . Prize will include the PES2020 football game and prepaid card of up to $1000 value.

“HKPL-STAY AT HOME” will be showed on“Hong Kong Premier League” Facebook page. Professional commentators from Esports and football will provide analysis for matches, so that supporters can enjoy this special featured competition with live atmosphere.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Reds Send Special Message to NHS staff and Health Professionals

Reds Send Special Message to NHS staff and Health Professionals




Liverpool FC has shared a special message of appreciation and support in recognition of NHS workers and health professionals on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

Anfield’s hallowed turf has been carefully marked by LFC’s grounds team using a GPS line marker to create a special tribute to NHS staff ahead of Thursday’s opportunity to ‘Clap for our Carers’, which thanks them for their bravery and selflessness.

Liverpool Football Club is proud to join the nation in paying tribute and saying a heartfelt ‘thanks’ as people up and down the country come together to show appreciation and gratitude for the heroism of health professionals and other key workers during these challenging times. In addition, LFC players also paid tribute to the NHS staff with actions: Liverpool FC first team players wanted to say a big thank you to local NHS staff, with a small gesture during Easter.



To show their appreciation for all the hard work they’ve been doing during this difficult time, the players organised and paid for 200 chocolate hampers. The hampers were delivered to the 14 hospitals (200 wards) across Liverpool yesterday.

The players arranged for the team bus driver and his team of drivers to deliver all the hampers to the hospitals. Jordan Henderson, Andy Robertson, and Trent Alexander-Arnold recorded their own videos to say a personal thank you.

Some NHS staff also shared their own videos of appreciation to say thank you for the kind gesture:

https://twitter.com/janetomkinson07/status/1251105250620080128 

https://twitter.com/LivHospitals/status/1251184258888196097 

https://twitter.com/LHCHFT/status/1251149166945792003 

https://twitter.com/LHCHFT/status/1251141226645958658

https://www.instagram.com/lhch.ft/

Hong Kong League Suspended Until August 2020

Hong Kong League Suspended Until August 2020



Further to the feedback of premier league clubs and considering the latest situation, 2019-20 BOC Life Hong Kong Premier League will be resumed not earlier than mid-August, with an aim to finish by early November this year and no relegation system will be applied.

Details of the fixture arrangement will be further announced in due course.

Meanwhile, the remaining matches including Reserve League, 1st Division, 2nd Division, 3rd Division, Jockey Club Women’s League, Jockey Club Youth League, Jockey Club Futsal League, and Jockey Club Girls' League will be cancelled.

In addition, the 2020-21 BOC Life Hong Kong Premier League will begin from late November and to be completed by end of June 2021.