The England Poppy Ban – Why the FA Should Defy FIFA

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The picture above is a memorial in Flanders to the legendary (if somewhat disputed) ‘No Man’s Land’ football match that apparently took place between Allied and German troops on Christmas Day, 1914.

It says a great deal about the universal love for the game of football that sworn enemies in a conflict which eventually claimed over 16 million lives with a further 20 million wounded between 1914 and 1918 are believed to have spent much of their temporary truce playing the game.

The poppy was adopted 90 years ago in 1921 by the (now Royal) British Legion in remembrance to those who died in the conflict. This simple, powerful symbol has been a fixture of British life ever since, with the annual Poppy Appeal raising millions of pounds in support of current and former members of the Armed Forces and their dependents.

In response to the suggestion that the England football team were to have a poppy applied onto their shirts for the friendly fixture against Spain at Wembley on Saturday November 12, 2011, the day before Remembrance Sunday, FIFA refused the FA permission, stating that:

“FIFA’s regulations regarding players’ equipment are that they should not carry any political, religious or commercial messages.”

Sepp Blatter and FIFA make much of the importance of the global football family – the following names were members of that family and represent just a handful of the footballers from the English leagues who died in the 1914-1918 conflict:

  • Wilfred Bartrop (Barnsley) – Royal Field Artillery (played in the 1910 and 1912 FA Cup finals).
  • Herbert Dersley (Croydon Common) – 17th Middlesex Regiment.
  • William Jonas (Orient) – 17th Middlesex Regiment.
  • Oscar Linkson (Manchester United) – 17th Middlesex Regiment.
  • Richard McFadden (Orient) – 17th Middlesex Regiment.
  • Freddie Wheatcroft (Fulham and England) – East Surrey Regiment.
  • Walter Tull (Northampton) – 17th Middlesex Regiment and 23rd Middlesex Regiment. The first black man to be commissioned in the British Army.
  • Donald Simpson Bell (Bradford Park Avenue) – 9th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment.
  • Joseph Smith (Chesterfield) – Middlesex Regiment.
  • Evelyn Henry Lintott (Leeds and England) – 15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment.

Two players capped by England and a two-time FA Cup finalist – surely something for the FA to consider?

As you will note, many of these men served with the 17th Middlesex Regiment. This is a battalion that was set up to include footballers and football supporters. They were commanded by Major Frank Buckley, who later went on to manage Wolves.

It is almost impossible to imagine any current professional footballer or manager leaving their club to serve in the Armed Forces, but as the list above shows many did and lost their lives.

One name on that list, Donald Simpson Bell, is widely thought to be the first professional footballer to enlist in the Army, and remains the only player to be awarded the Victoria Cross. He died less than a week after being awarded the medal at the age of 25, younger than Wayne Rooney is now.

Just try to think of your club losing a number of its first team players in Afghanistan now. Difficult, isn’t it?

This does not include players of other nationalities who died in the Great War, including Welsh, Scots and Irish footballers who would have played for English clubs under the jurisdiction of the English football authorities. And consider the millions who died that were just football fans, or involved with clubs in some way (a post-war Spurs handbook makes reference to 11 staff who died, and there are indications that some clubs lost up to 40 men who enlisted during World War I).

This is just one conflict, albeit the one synonymous with the Poppy Appeal but many others linked with football in some way, whether players or fans, have served and often paid with their lives in other wars since 1918. Many are still serving in Iraq and Afghanistan – thousands of football fans amongst them. Their families and descendants are also supported by the Royal British Legion.

In the simplest terms, the Poppy Appeal and football in Great Britain are inexorably linked. The FA should not follow FIFA’s disrespectful instructions and should ensure that the poppy appears on the England team’s shirts next Saturday.

Why? The ordinary football community often finds itself at odds with the views of FIFA, but their statement about England players and the Poppy Appeal is factually incorrect. The Royal British Legion is neither a political nor a religious organisation – it is a charity, operating on a not-for-profit basis. If their view that showing the emblem of the appeal on a footballer’s shirt is a commercial message, then FIFA’s regulations are woefully out of touch with the views of millions who both support the appeal and watch, play and love the game of football.

With this in mind, I would ask all football fans, irrespective of club or national loyalties to contact the FA (details on the link below) to politely express their views on FIFA’s Poppy Ban and to urge English football’s governing body to defy it:

How to contact the FA

Please forward this article to all the football fans you know – if you are using Twitter, please use the hashtag #poppiesforengland.

And the Christmas Day game mentioned at the start of this article? Popular belief suggests that the Germans won, of course.

(With many thanks to Andrew Holmes, @agh57 who provided the factual information for this piece.)




There are 119 comments

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  1. Anonymous

    Fantastic m’lud. Be assured I will be twittering on about this using that hashtag because my #fifacunts is running out of steam. FIFA’s actions are more disrespectful to the many who have died in conflict than anything I can remember seeing. 

    • Marco

      Good on you for your principled stand.

      I do think FIFA are being insensitive and obtuse about this issue and, as I understand it, the FA are lobbying to overturn the decision as we speak.

      You don’t mention how far you want resistance to go, however. If FIFA won’t back down then refusal to comply will no doubt lead to an escalating conflict, with potential sanctions against the international side and, also, possibly, to the English club sides.

      I would imagine that you will be quizzed on that issue on LBC tomorrow. Your answer?

      Either way, a sorely-needed advert for Chelsea FC in these troubled times given that a long-standing supporter like yourself is backing the war dead and our servicemen!

      • Der_Kaiser

        Cheers Marco – purely from a fans’ point of view, I’d just like as many people as possible to tell the FA that they think FIFA’s standpoint is wrong; the FA is a political organisation and will act how they feel is best, but I’d reverse the question and ask what FIFA would actually do if England did trot out at Wembley with poppies on their shirts next weekend?  A fine at most, surely?

        The FA could then make the gesture of making the equivalent donation to the poppy appeal which would make Blatter and co look ridiculous.I don’t think they can take any action against club sides – poppies were present on all PL teams’ shirts this weekend, which is what makes it so absurd.

        I know I’m dreaming here – I’m expecting a politically acceptable and anodyne solution, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if a high profile England player just stepped forward and said to the media that the ban is plain wrong?

    • Anonymous

      Good luck with the interview,  Having listened to Nick for years, and been an occasional caller, I feel sure he’ll be totally supportive of your position. 

      Do you need any help with your wardrobe?  Also my brother in law is celebrity makeup artist and I could drive him round first thing!

  2. Anonymous

    Sepp Blatter and FIFA gang are bunch of disrespectful CORRUPTED bastards!! It is nothing new about them, just another ridiculous decision from this corrupted Blatter and co.

  3. WorkingClassPost

    Political Correctness or just another Sepp in the wrong direction?

    There is no political, religious or commercial significance in the poppy emblem.

    The flower was adopted as the post-armistice symbol of the futility of war because the battlefields of Europe literally erupted in seas of blood-red poppy flowers in 1919.

    Poppy seeds can lay dormant for many years, until the soil is disturbed, when they germinate and grow again. This was common in the fields during the war years, but so dramatic was the spectacle in that first year of peace, that the poppy was, and has remained, such an enduring symbol of the reality of war.

    That the fields appeared to be stained with the blood of the fallen had already been immortalised in the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae:- 

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow      Between the crosses, row on row,   That mark our place; and in the sky   The larks, still bravely singing, flyScarce heard amid the guns below.We are the Dead. Short days agoWe lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,         In Flanders fields.Take up our quarrel with the foe:To you from failing hands we throw   The torch; be yours to hold it high.   If ye break faith with us who dieWe shall not sleep, though poppies grow         In Flanders fields.

    Even today, travelling through the country lanes of Belgium when the roadsides are bedecked in red, has a poignancy that would no doubt be lost on the bumwipes of fifa.

  4. John

    Great post and more power to you. Read about it this morning and got pissed off. I continue to despair at the way this gamed is ruined by the cunts who administer it. 

  5. Dosza

    FIFA are correct in my humble opinion and I say that as a supporter of the Poppy Appeal. They’ve applied the rule evenly for many years and I think it’s extremely arrogant to ask them to alter it for our benefit. Doing anything other than telling us to jog on would set a dangerous precedent. Regardless of the links which the game may or may not have to the appeal (I’m pretty sure you could connect football to more or less anything you wanted, so the argument doesn’t hold water with me) I don’t think 22 dunces having a kick about for an hour and a half needs to be turned into another Remembrance Day celebration. For me it cheapens the emblem to see it sewn into the shirts of the megarich arseholes we currently call our national team.

    Anyway as far as I’m aware FIFA are not stopping players or managers from wearing a poppy on the lapels of their suits before and after the match, in press briefings or in the dugout they’d just rather we didn’t during the game. That’s seems reasonable to me. It’s not churlish of them, nor is it disrespectful. It’s common sense.

    • Cnnd Jshj

      How many countries have crosses on their badges? Portugal nad Northern Irkeland to name two, off the top of my head!

    • Anonymous

      It’s as Jonny says, FIFA rules state political, religious or commercial symbols. the poppy is none of those. It’s a symbol representing a charity and remembrance. Our footballers may be mega-rich arseholes but many do work for charities associated to the victims of conflict and maybe, just maybe the donning of the poppy symbol in full view of the TV audience holds more sway than on suits briefly glimpsed before and after the match or behind a table laden with microphones in a press conference. 

      I’m actually at the more extreme end of your view and sincerely hope every fan of both sides, and all games wear the poppy, along with all the players. Its time to make a stand. And then afterwards I’d like to see England work to the downfall and dismantling of FIFA by leaving it. I truly believe we would not be the last to do so. 

      Whilst you put your view over in a very lucid and decent way, I also think, like many that for a corrupt and bent organisation like FIFA which is SO far out of touch with fans (note the stupid yellow card booking rule which no-one from  FIFA can explain the reasoning behind or the fuckwittery surrounding technology in  football) to show such utter disdain for the people of this country is just plain wrong. 

      An organisation which espouses respect for race, refs, creed, religion etc shows with this petulant act that the meaning of RESPECT is something for which FIFA remains utterly clueless. They purport to run the global game for the good of the fans, well how does it then look when they ignore the view of the majority of football fans in the UK. And yes, it is the view of the majority. 

      A welcome alternative viewpoint though. 

    • Anonymous

      Well in that case FIFA might have offered something, which might unite all supporters and if not FIFA then UEFA for sure! 

    • WorkingClassPost

      Mark. Been meaning to ask if you were at the game.

      Reason is, the away fans sounded amazing, and I wondered if it was the particular acoustics of where we, or the mics of my dodgy overseas broadcaster, were situated, or was the home crowd on some sort of silent protest?

  6. R. C.

    I’m currently serving in Afghanistan, and am pretty dismayed by this. The Poppy is a symbol of remembrance, not politics, religion or commerce. It commemorates ALL of the war dead of WWI particularly, of all involved nations, and the dead of wars since. I imagine that the poppies that would be displayed by the team would neither be paid for by the RBL, nor bought from them, so even a tenuous commercial link is broken.

    Would FIFA choose to comment on whether they consider those who have lain down their lives for what they believed in worthy of commemoration, do you think?

  7. CJ

    Hmm, actually while the poppy rememberance is great, I think that FIFA are correct in not allowing the FA to put it on the England players shirt. After all, these are rules that apply for all. In this case the symbol is unproblematic, but FIFA has 208 members, many of which are not modell democracies. What if say Armenia then comes and wants to put something on their shirt to remember the Dead of the Armenian Genocide? If the FA want to do something to support the poppy cause, I’m sure they’ll be able to find an alternative.

    No, no symbols of any kind on the shirts, apart from the FA’s badges.

  8. Der_Kaiser

    Cheers for all the comments – comes down to the point that FIFA need to realise that there are certain things that are just bigger than them; their ‘one size fits all’ approach to the poppy is inaccurate by definition and disrespectful to those who wish to show their support for the RBL.

    This is simply about commemorating the millions who have given their lives in the name of the freedoms that we enjoy.  No rule or regulation from an unelected organisation (especially one as amoral as FIFA) should take precedent over that.

    • CJ

      I don’t understand why England feel the need to be so antagonistic towards FIFA though? I mean the rules have been in place for some time, so instead of trying to push something through that in my humble opinion always only had a small chance of success, surely there would have been another way for the FA to show their support and raise money for the RBL?
      Like for example filming a small clip with the England Stars wearing poppies and calling on people to donate and then send it on the BBC. Would that not have been possible? And no problems with FIFA.

      • Der_Kaiser

        Nothing to do with being antagonistic – Adrian Bevington, the FA’s comms director has said that both the FA and the players want to wear poppies and that they respect the significance of the poppy.

        Of course, there may be other ways of doing it, but thousands of people in the crowd will be wearing them, the majority of commentators and pundits on TV will be wearing them, the game is sandwiched between Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday – really, is it such a big deal for FIFA to allow the players show their support?

      • Anonymous

        I somehow feel that it is FIFA is antagonistic to England. I mean take a look on events please. England didn’t make corrupted deals with another countries in order to deprive FIFA from it’s right to manage competition. FIFA members however have been caught doing it and actually against England. So who is antagonistic here?

  9. R. C.

    I wonder if there would be a problem with wearing black armbands with the poppy motif attached, rather than putting it on the kit.

  10. Anonymous

    I say just put it on the shirt and face the consequences (as I would say to the Armenian FA in respect of the the example provided above). What’s the worst that can happen (admittedly he says without looking this up, but judging by the fines handed out for racist chanting over the years it shouldn’t impact too much on the FA)? Our reputation within FIFA can’t get any lower so what’s there to lose. By the time comes around bidding for the 2045 World Cup (or whichever one it is that we can bid for next)  Blatter and his cronies will be long gone.

    Presumably there will be a minute’s silence before the kick off? As this is for precisely the same reason as the wearing of the poppy are they going to ban that? (and before anyone starts this shouldn’t be seen as some sort of substitution for the wearing of the poppy).

     

  11. WorkingClassPost

    Managed to catch this morning’s broadcast, and the black armband with poppy motif was mentioned. 

    It seems to be an excellent alternative, but does allow fifa off the hook, rather than exposing them for what we know them to be.

    And how is a black armband any different from a poppy, in any case? If some charity, or organisation, adopted black armbands for their fundraising, would fifa then try to stop teams from wearing them, too?

  12. Marksue2000

    FA should put the poppy on the shirts. The players should wear them. It is called freedom and it is what so many died to protect. If FIFA fine or ban England then we really know that it is as corrupt and ignorant as we currently think. 

  13. bluebayou

    JD, I’ve thought long and hard about this and I think this is very difficult territory.  Since the poppy is not an adopted international emblem of Remembrance, FIFA are being asked to make a judgement on what its meaning is and the FA are not helping themselves.

    It is used widely by the Commonwealth countries but has two separate functions as it relates to the United Kingdom. One is as a symbol of Remembrance, the other as a symbol of a donation to a specific Charity, the Royal British Legion. What is the poppy on the shirt symbolising in this case? An act of Remembrance for this country’s war dead, for everyone’s war dead in all wars everywhere (which is not its official meaning as I understand it) or for a charity dedicated to helping current and past service personnel and their dependents?

    Well, unfortunately given these two quotes from FA spokespersons (I assume they are accurate), it is not even as simple as that. They demonstrate a lack of clarity about what this important emblem means or has been taken to mean for many years.

    “The FA are proud supporters of our armed forces and we are only too pleased to recognise those that have sacrificed their lives for the nation,”

    The FA are still talking to Fifa and have not ruled out being allowed to wear the Armistice Day emblem. An FA spokesperson said: “We are still in dialogue with Fifa and have not completely [written off] the possibility of poppies being allowed on the kit on Saturday. Their training kit will carry the emblems and this will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the armed forces.”

    Armistice Day, Remembrance Sunday, the Poppy Appeal and Armed Forces Day give us an opportunity to remember the moment the brutality and suffering on the Western Front concluded, and honour those who lost their lives for this country (including those of other nations) in conflict, contribute to the care of those who have survived and separately to show support for the military and its history and traditions.  Each has a clear and different function and you can chose to partake in all, some or none. The FA seems caught up in a catch-all muddle of trying to be everything to everyone.

    Those statements from the FA are symptoms of a worrying conflation of respectful memorial for the fallen as individuals, the marking of a specific moment in history, collecting for a Charity dedicated to aiding servicemen and veterans and support for the Armed Forces of the state as an institution.

    Observing Remembrance Sunday does not, if I understand it correctly, demonstrate support for the Armed Forces as an institution. It is a communal act of remembering those who have died, both military and civilian (merchant marine, fire service etc.) while doing service in conflict situations. It does not implicitly state your approval of what the Armed Forces as an institution were doing at the time, particularly given that this has been extended beyond service in WW1 and WW2, which involved conscripts as well as volunteers. And Armistice Day was certainly not conceived as a means of generating funds for the Armed Forces. It is an entirely separate entity, which was at one time subsumed into Remembrance Sunday, but has now been separated out again.

    Indeed the origins of Remembrance included a recoiling from the horror of large scale military conflict and a determination (ultimately unsuccessful) to avoid a recurrence.

    Buying a poppy and giving money to the Charity is a separate if related matter. Again, should contributing to the care of those who have served in the Armed Forces necessarily be seen as a tacit approval of all military action? Can it not recognise the need for support of an individual discrete from any moral judgement on how they came to be in the situation?

    Unlike some other states where a Veterans Day, or similar, celebrating the role of the military and its personnel is separate from Remembrance, it is only recently that the UK has instituted an Armed Forces Day partly perhaps in recognition that the period around Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day had to some extent become a celebration of military service and prowess, which was not the original intention of those sombre events.

    The Armed Forces of any state are a facet of that state and their deployment is of its very nature a political act.  Now, the above statements may be off the cuff remarks made to journalists rather than carefully prepared statements, but they show confusion about what all this symbolism is trying to achieve.

    Given that the UK is currently engaged in military action abroad, stating that the FA supports the Armed Forces could be construed as supporting current military action and thereby puts FIFA in an invidious position.

    If the FA want to put the poppy on a shirt as an act of Remembrance then that needs to be stated explicitly. And with that comes an acceptance that we may have to accept the display of other symbols or emblems that are part of another nation’s identity and story. But if it is to demonstrate support for the Armed Forces, then that is taking matters into the political sphere. The FA can, I suppose, align itself with British military action, but can it really ask FIFA to sanction that as part of international football?
    Concern for the individual service persons welfare and wellbeing is not of itself political. The debate about whether disagreeing with a particular use of the military is a betrayal of the serving individual is a political argument of  the “my country right or wrong” kind. If you ask FIFA to sanction that, then it’s a Pandora’s Box you’re opening.

    If the emblem is to go on the shirt to represent a charity then FIFA have to start making decisions about which charities are worthy and which are not.

    Asking a sport’s bureaucracy (particularly one as venal as FIFA) to make value judgements on matters like this in a difficult and complicated world is a hostage to fortune. On this occasion we may see it as right and of benefit to us. But it doesn’t take much imagination to see plenty of opportunity for offence to be given and taken further down the line with the use of other symbols and emblems.

    The FA’s request also prompted me to ask two other questions. Why has this not been requested in the past. Is it simply that the date of game and remembrance has not coincided? What about Wales and Scotland? Did they make a request?

    I have to say that the recent trend for putting the poppy on club shirts in recent years has made me question whether clubs as organisations should be doing this, particularly given that many of the players come from around the globe. Surely it is a personal act of memorial or donation to charity and something for the individual to choose? I think this particularly matters when the emblem is carrying at least two functions if not more.

    I would be more worried about this treatment of a memorial, than whether or not FIFA allow the poppy emblem on the England shirt.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/08/christmas-parties-war-memorial-park?newsfeed=true

    • Marksue2000

      Sorry but I cannot agree with your penultimate paragraph. People choose to come to this country to ply their trade within  football or not. Part of what makes this country appealing is the sacrifices made in past lifetimes buy unselfish men and women ( and kids in the 1st WW). Rememberance Sunday and the wearing of poppys is part and parcel of Great Britian. I have no problem with people who choose not to wear them, but NOBODY should be allowded to prevent somebody from wearing one.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Morning BB,

      Thanks for this – really appreciate it when someone puts a great deal of thought and effort into responding to an article I’ve put together.

      I think you’re right in terms of the FA – it’s ultimately almost a political organisation and as such, tries too often to be all things to all men, and rarely succeeds.

      You’re right in the sense that displaying a poppy, whilst a simple act, could be construed in many different ways (rightly or wrongly) and it is up to the FA to state clearly why they support the appeal, but taking care to keep their reasoning ‘neutral’ so as not to upset the applecart with FIFA or whoever.  If the FA and a representative of the team had said that they appreciate FIFA’s viewpoint and will be doing X, Y and Z to support the appeal instead then I’d have no issue, but they do seem keen to wear poppies on their kits for the Spain game.

      That said, I have taken a more simplistic viewpoint – often a flawed strategy, I appreciate – in that FIFA’s ruling doesn’t take into consideration the significance of what the poppy represents to many ordinary folk and those who serve.  It’s not about being confrontational with them, much as they make the blood boil on occasion, but stating clearly that the FA and the team want to display the poppy and a great deal of the fans would like them to aswell.

      It does come back to the point that I think there should be room for national associations in whichever territory to be able to make the case to FIFA that a particular issue is of importance to the participants and supporters, and ultimately should take precedent over a fairly generic ruling.  A huge can or worms, I know, but I would hope that individual nations would be sensible about any requests made.

      To end, I’d add that this wouldn’t have been such an issue for me 5 years ago, but having spent a few thought-provoking (but very enjoyable) weekends over in Flanders, it has made me a little more forthright on the subject.  I suspect that the status quo will prevail, which would be disappointing, but then again supporting England is of course ideal preparation for such things…

      • bluebayou

        I understand where you’re coming from. Were it not for FIFA’s poor reputation and the disintegration of England’s relations with them then this would probably not have erupted into a divisive issue. Is there any truth in the story that the FA missed the window pre-season where shirt designs are negotiated and approved which didn’t help? Or is that a red herring?

        The details in your piece on the Middlesex Regiment etc. were interesting. Do you know if the FA incorporated a memorial into the new national stadium, particularly given its location in the old County of Middlesex?

        I’ve yet to visit the sites of Flanders and Northern France. The dream is to combine that and a visit to a couple of the Spring Classics with the kids. Maybe one day.

        Although it’s French (subtitled, arthouse etc. etc.) Bernard Tavernier’s “Life and Nothing But” is well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it. Philippe Noiret is superb. It deals so well with the real physical aftermath of the Great War. The dead, their treatment, the effort to identify, the unknown soldier. It’s all there (all be it the French experience).

        • Anonymous

          I’m not sure about Wembley, but a new memorial to the Battalion was unveiled in the village of Longueval in the Somme earlier this year. I have got a photo somewhere which I will post later on.

          • bluebayou

            Thanks for that.

            Living around the corner from the site of the old Clapton Orient ground, I was interested to see (via the link in the piece above) that the whole team signed up for the Battalion. That was either great team spirit or a concerted effort to get out of training.

          • Anonymous

            I belive the situation was similar at Brighton. If anyone interested there is quite a good book on the Footballers Battalion called “When The Whistle Blows” by Andrew Riddock and John Kemp.

  14. Moffat

    Lets get back to real stuff for once, Terry should have seen axe and AVB reminds me of AG. Too many similarities for my fancing.

  15. Jobs

    Had Fifa garnted world cup to UK, Sep Blatter would have been the greatest man since the invention of slice bread, and there would have been no corruption in Fifa. Defying Fifa rules is no conflict as long as it suits those whos intrest(s) are served!? it is about time for some to learn how to play according to the rules.

    • WorkingClassPost

      Not wanting to lower the tone here, but when starting to read the linked page I couldn’t help noticing this intriguing article on the side panel:-

      Luis Suárez of Liverpool speaks out over Patrice Evra affair

      I’m sure that it’s not quite what it seems, but I’m way too sensitive a person to follow the link, just in case…

      • Anonymous

        Sincerely held views on both sides and somewhere in the middle have been given a good airing over a couple of days now, so I hope no one will object if we start to consider grubbier matters again now.

        Call me a cynic, but can’t help wondering if Suarez’s PR adviser was behind him urging him to get his point of view back out there [and not just get his name on the back pages again, having been rather overtaken by other events – there is no such thing as bad publicity and all that, though Chelsea and JT try very hard sometimes]. Haven’t read the article, but I’m sure he was saying they’re just good friends really and it’s all been made up by the media.

        Blue Mikel – the selling naming rights issue for Stamford Bridge has been rumbling around for some considerable time now and Ron “Building the Brand” Gourlay talked about it briefly at the CPO meeting again, though I missed most of it this time due to a call of nature. This article is not saying anything new.

        If we do move to a new stadium, there’s even more likelihood of it ending up with a crassly commercial name.

        • Anonymous

          OK I just thought that people do worry about the name of the club and stadium. Because as it seems to me now they will go further and change name of the stadium and then name of the club. That is the only way to move further disregarding of CPO’s opinion.
           

          • Anonymous

            I’ve heard a rumour that Roman is going to move without CPO approval and just leave Stamford Bridge dormant.

            Apparently the new ground is 3.25 miles away and will be called “A Bridge Too Far”

          • Anonymous

            Well CPO blokes instead of making contractual agreement in order to prevent some unwanted changes decided to say no. By saying no they pushed Roman to the corner and that is the last thing CPO should have done. When one handles ultimatum one must know what he will do, if ultimatum rejected, or ignored. Now any changes are possible.    

          • Anonymous

            Err…. I think you may have missed the essentially comic nature of Mark’s comment.

            Also, have you actually followed the CPO issue. Who do you think issued an ultimatum?

            The club put forward a proposal to CPO for discussion and vote at a meeting. Enough CPO shareholders voted No for that proposal to fail. No alternatives were allowed to be discussed or passed at that meeting, but discussions should now continue about a more acceptable proposal.

            Why do you assume Roman will go off in a strop into a PR disaster unilateral move now?

          • Anonymous

            I have got the humor of Marks comment 🙂 
            However, on purpose I have replied what I replied, because it is not going to be funny, when he (Roman) does it. Now regarding PR disaster. In our post modern world it is very difficult to define PR disaster. Lady Gaga for instance always profiting, when negative news about her are published.  The only problem might be is the name of the club, but as I said before the difference between CFC and FCC is very subtle, but enough to make unilateral move. Is it a disaster, I don’t know may be in the eyes of 6% of CPO share holders it is a disaster, but is it a big number? I am not sure. One has to remember that stadium is occupied by significant number of people who don’t really care if it CFC or FCC.  I am glad to hear that discussion with CPO continues, although I don’t know about the details. However, what I know is that Chelsea is set to announce stadium sponsor, which means name Stamford Bridge is going to change (correct me if I am wrong).             

      • Anonymous

        Interesting that he’s said there’s no evidence to prove he said anything racist, NOT actually denying the allegation to start with….

  16. Anonymous

    As promised, please find attached photo of the Footballer’s Battalion Memorial.

    There is a quote on the reverse side of the memorial from the Col. H. T Fenwick, Commanding Officer of the Battlion, which reads

    “I knew nothing of professional footballers when I took over this Battalion. But I have learnt to value them. I would go anywhere with such men. Their esprit de corps was amazing.  This feeling was mainly due to football – the link of fellowship which bound them together. Football has a wonderful grip on these men and on the Army generally.”

    • bluebayou

      Thanks for putting that up. “Football has a wonderful grip on these men and on the Army generally.”

      We’re nearly 100 years apart in time but some things never change.

  17. odyssean

    Perhaps there should be a universal emblem that could be worn on the shirts of players throughout FIFA. An emblem to pay homage to the thousands of innocent men women and children the world over who have lost their lives on the altar of failed international politics and failed international diplomacy.The arrogance of Brits who think the only casualties of war were the allies is typical of the cancerous zenophobia that this country is riddled with. Actually, having lived in Germany for many years, only recently returning to UK because of my wife’s work, I would say that if Hitler had been a Christian,decent man with values instead of the murderous tyrant he proved to be, we in Britain might  be living in a far stronger economy than the one we have today resulting from years of greed driven,profit obsession of the richest 1% of the country. Germany is a very different country from the one Hitler almost destroyed.The British Legion has allowed the significance of the poppy to be prostituted on the altar of modern commercialism. The poppy is in danger of evolving a new and very ugly significance as just another commercial brand if it hasn’t already done so.  

    • Cunningplan

      Tuned in via the interweb JD, I suppose it’s nice to be able to now put a voice to the type.

      Although I nearly turned off when I realised it was Julia Hartley-Brewer doing the interview, have never taken to that woman.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Is there any club with a greater in-built self destructive tendency than Newcastle?  I thought ours was the best, but they are in a different league (pardon the football cliche).  All the off-pitch drama re Ashley etc. seemed to have subsided, club being run reasonably well, some good sales and acquisitions, 3rd in the league and then bang, let’s really piss the supporters off.  Genius.

      Have to say I couldn’t give a flying one about renaming the Bridge – call it what you like, it’s still the Bridge and always will be.  Doesn’t apply for any new ground, of course…

  18. Nick

    It really isn’t worth getting upset at the prospect of the Bridge being renamed, as long as “Stamford Bridge” is retained somewhere in the name (for now) – although this isn’t strictly necessary because it will always – or for many many many years anyway – be known as and called Stamford Bridge by fans.

    The Student Union bar building at my uni was knocked down, rebuilt and renamed a few years before I got there and it was still called The Dive by everyone. Thirteen years later and I’d put money on it still being called The Dive by current students. I can’t even remember what it was called when I was there…

    *Googles*

    …OK, um. It’s now called The Pear Tree Bar. It’s been turned into a large poncey coffee shop. I despair. Now I’m wondering if current students do call it The Dive. Oh well. Stamford Bridge will always be called Stamford Bridge by fans. Until it’s turned into a large poncey coffee shop anyway.

    • Anonymous

      Ron Gourlay will no doubt think we’ll be happy because the large poncey coffee shop will feature  Chelsea prawns as its unique selling point 😉

  19. Anonymous

    Perhaps they’ll decide to use the ground as the very first place for installing goalline video technology camera thingies — then they could call it Eadweard Muy Bridge.

    • Der_Kaiser

      If it transpires that Roman and Ron Gourlay were drawn together by a mutual love of James Brown, we might be calling our hallowed ground the CanItakeittothe Bridge?

      Yep, coat on…

  20. Anonymous

    Have we run out of “bridge” jokes then, chaps?

    OK, on other matters, do you think one of our PR flunkeys might use the spare time of the international break to do something useful and circulate the Street of Shame journos with a reminder of one of UEFA/FIFA’s rules?

    I mean the one about footballers only being eligible to play for 2 clubs in any one season – and they might add a helpful reminder that Lukaku has already played for Anderlecht and Chelsea this season. Therefore the hacks might like to stop filling their columns with nonsense stories about club X,Y or Z targeting him for a loan deal in January, unless they’re looking to give him even less game time than we are in the second half of the season.

    Today’s Daily Mirror has the latest of these bollocks stories about Villarreal this time.

  21. Anonymous

    Not content with renaming the stadium, we could also change our home strip to a “light blue” which is in fact basically green, and then play our home games at Came Bridge.

    (yes, that sound you hear is the abrasion of a scraper against the bottom of a barrel)

  22. Cunningplan

    Well if we can’t compete on crowd capacity with our rivals, as long as we continually finish just high enough for the Champions League spot…. then the ‘Fourth’ Bridge would suffice.
    God… roll on next Sunday, this is getting desperate.

  23. Cunningplan

    I also have a few questions.
    Has JT really burnt his bridges with Wayne?
    If Wayne has a female offspring, should he call her Bridget?
    And can we really bridge the gap to Citeh in the league?

  24. Anonymous

    If you think some of the recent jokes on here are weak try this mirthless riff on the stadium selling rights story from today’s Indie on Sunday if you want new depths in feeble non-comedy:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/welcome-to-the-world-of-wesellanynamecom-6261505.html

    Even less funny was the story on the same page of the hardcopy paper about La Liga now sanctioning noon Sunday kick-offs to attract the huge Chinese audience:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/outside-the-box-spanish-giants-skip-lunch-to-serve-up-treat-for-chinese-6261506.html

    The story suggests the EPL hasn’t yet broken into this market, and then I recalled that the Everton v Man U game two Saturdays ago kicked off at noon for no apparent reason. I assumed at the time that the local plods were a bit edgy about the return of the prodigal Rooney causing some restlessness among the natives, but now I’m wondering if it was some “building the brand” exercise?

  25. Anonymous

    Surely the best thing is for English Heritage to get involved and name it after King Harold’s less well known but more successful battle than the one before he lost to William the Conqueror.

  26. bluebayou

    Having been away in the Highlands I’ve missed out on the marvellous Bridge naming thread. Congratulations to all involved.

    Here’s my two bobs worth.

    To avoid a great long meandering name which includes Stamford Bridge, would not the most elegant solution be to a deal with the world’s leading travel information specialist who have a shop located in Covent Garden?

    Stanfords Bridge has a ring to it.

    http://www.stanfords.co.uk/

    It would help keep us on the map…………..

  27. bluebayou

    Is there a reson why it has taken the FA so long to charge AVB regarding his post match comments on the performance of Chris Foy?

    That’s Chris Foy who because he is such a Homer was incorrrectly identified by 85% of Classical Studies students as the author of the Illiad and the Odyssey.

    How long have Lucozade been the official sports nutrition partner of Chelsea?

     http://www.chelseafc.com/page/LatestNews/0,,10268~2516686,00.html

    Does someone nick the ideas from this blog? Surely we have done more recently to promote Lucozade in our retro trip down memory lane in the Genk match report thread? Until BBD spoiled it with his Irn-bru intervention.

    Have a word Nick. See if you can get us free Lucozade. Particularly with all the flu coming up.

    Sports nutrition my arse.

    • Anonymous

      Dear me, more of Ron Gourlay’s handiwork, I guess – though the Scousers seem to have been there for some time as Stevie G breathlessly tells us all here:

      http://www.liverpoolfc.tv/fans/lucozade-sport

      Does this mean we can expect cheesy, unconvincing post-match interviews with players clutching bottles of the orange stuff?

      I seem to recall participants in the League Cup being required to wander around in deep embarrassment  holding bottles of milk in the period when the tournament was sponsored by that beverage?

  28. bluebayou

    Couple o’ more defeats and we should start to see the predictions of his return I thought

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/nov/16/guus-hiddink-turkey-euro-2012

    But no. They’ve started already

    http://www.metro.co.uk/sport/football/881904-guus-hiddink-alludes-to-chelsea-return-following-turkey-chop

    Cue destabilising rumours in the months ahead if speculation that some deep inside Chelsea are not completely content with our new man is true.

    I feel a depression coming on. It might be due to coming back to London after a visit to Inverness and circumambient postal districts, but I fear it’s trouble ahead that concerns me.

  29. bluebayou

    Back in the day when I was an elite (cough) endurance athlete, pedalling in the peletons of the home counties, sports drinks came in 3 types.

    1. Cold Tea

    2. Powdery stuff that came in large tubs from Belgium, labelled with whatever is Flemish for “electrolytic drink” or some such that you mixed up with water (not to be confused with the equally Belgian large tubs of cream that you rubbed into the chamois insert in the shorts).

    3. For that boost in the last 10 miles when the hammer was down, everyone was on the rivet and your sporting refusal to ingest handfuls of amphetemines seemed like the posturing of a dilettante, there was only one drink – flat coke (or pepsi). Get a jug full of said drink the night before a race, spoon in piles of sugar and leave. In the morning, no fizz, no bubbles to get up the nose and bring tears to the eyes just when you were avoiding being ridden into the barriers, just a pure sugar rush when all else was gone.

    Thems of course were the days……..none of this sports nutrition pseudo-science marketing bollocks malarkey…..

  30. bluebayou

    And a final by the by

    I left Inverness none the wiser as to why, on one particular day, 24 females of indeterminate age all chose to leave the town en mass, in order to be “deflowered” at a ball before travelling back home when the event was over.

    A mystery. One for the social psychologists I think. 

  31. Anonymous

    Isn’t it some kind of ancient tradition, profoundly involved with the mystery of Scottish national identity?

    They sing about it before every rugby game still.

    “Deflower of Scotland, when will we see your like again?”

  32. Anonymous

    More “Building The Brand” news today when I find some junk mail from the club in my letter box in Putney which tells me I am a “local resident” as far as the club is concerned and therefore entitled to a 15% discount on match day hospitality packages just by quoting the word “local” when booking by phone.

    I’m sure many of the good burghers of Wandsworth are thrilled to learn, if they check out the website, they could therefore get a whole 15% off the still available”Bronze” package v The Scousers on Sunday at a modest £495 + VAT to the rest of the world.

    Or perhaps they could stretch to the “Platinum” package for the Citeh game at only £795 + VAT – “a fantastic gift, especially at Christmas” as the blurb says.

    Another flyer reminds me, as I heard on Paul Jones’ Blues radio programme recently, that the night club under the East Stand appears to have been re-branded as “London’s new intimate music venue” called “Under The Bridge”:

    http://underthebridge.co.uk/

    Could give a new lease of life to our punsters?

  33. Anonymous

    “or when Fernando Torres hits the back of the net.”

    I’m sorry. What? Lucozade is why Torres is shit, is that what the club’s saying?

    I hate international weeks. Can’t wait for the proper football to return. Am a little bit nervous about Sunday though. Our flaky defence against Suarez should be a good battle.

    The back 4 will probably make Carroll look good as well. At the other end, will Torres do it when it’s crucial? No, probably not…

  34. bluebayou

    Teetering on the brink of a defensive shambles.

    Autumn watch update

    “The return of the hopeful punt in Drogba’s direction. Probably just here on the way to its winter feeding grounds” 

    Still plenty of time to turn it round

  35. bluebayou

    How to snatch defeat from the jaws of a draw.

    At least they showed something second half but the defence is a door wth well oiled hinges.

  36. Anonymous

    I quite like the new Chelsea. Every season, the title challenge is over earlier and earlier.

    As a defensive unit we are an utter fucking embarrassment. Shambles doesn’t come clear. The Luiz yellow card sums it all up. Lose ball. Win it ba. Hold off two challenges. Lose ball. Concede foul. Never once looked like passing. Still, it’s all part of the comedy now.

  37. Anonymous

    My phones playing up so I have no idea what’s posting or not.

    I’m angry and disgusted. Mainly left wondering when Hiddink will take over? Will AVB get to the end of the season?

    Will we take the Europa League seriously next season?

  38. Anonymous

    Lots of utter cock being spread around the twitterverse tonight calling for AVB to go. Seriously, how the fuck is he responsible for the Cech/Mikel fuck up and ‘the worlds best left back’ (sic) being AWOL for the second? 

    Bad day for DD, FM, JT, PC and AC. Lamps anonymous. Luiz awesome, Ramires average, Ivan superb, Mata mystified. 

    Report being written now. 

  39. Cunningplan

    We certainly can’t go on giving nice shiny gift wrapped packages to any premier league team for them to score, another one straight out of the Titus Bramble school of defending.
    And if Glen Johnson controls another ball like that during the season, then I’ll eat my turds for a month.
    Good luck on the report Tony.

  40. SweetDairyAir

    Pasted from what I said elsewhere:

    AVB can be labelled as slightly naive, but only in the sense that he is expecting too much from our players. Our players aren’t suited to this system. And playing like we have for the past 6 or 7 years isn’t going to work in the future with the way football is going. It is going to be painful, but evolving to a new system has to be done. We can’t bully teams with strength and power anymore. The players are too old for that, and technique and precision is what is required nowadays.Lampard doesn’t have the quickness of feet, Drogba can’t control the ball, we don’t have any wingers, let alone any with pace, our right wing backs aren’t good enough (Ivanovic can defend but isn’t the best going forward, Bosingwa is just useless), Ashley Cole is losing his pace and needs to be replaced in 3 years max, Terry has no pace, and overall a lot of our players are just too old.You cannot fix that in one season. If we played with power and strength like the last few seasons we would get into the top four, but in the future it won’t actually win us anything of note. Slowly evolving the system with players like Sturridge, Torres, Mata, Meireles, Luiz (needs to be less erratic but has the technique centre backs require today, like Pique), Ramires and some youth prospects is a good thing. But that list is not a whole team. Far from it. We need more players, and I suspect Abramovich will go out and buy some more in January, like last year. Everybody can see we need change.Rant over. But it isn’t entirely AVB’s fault. We could play like we used to, pumping long balls up to Drogba, and just about be ok, but that won’t work in the long term. What is happening now has to be done. I just wish we had more new players to do it as opposed to this current stop gap of forcing our current players to do it until we buy replacements.

    • Ryan

      If that is the case, and I think you’re right, AVB should now have the courage to drop the players that we all know can’t cut it anymore, (and I’d include Terry, Lampard and Drogba along with the usual suspects Malouda, Bosingwa, Mikel, Kalou etc) give younger players a chance, sell the dead wood listed above and make Abramovich understand that if he doesn’t trust him enough to give him the money to rebuild the squad he might as well sack him now. We are too far behind to win the league now. We are probably the seventh best team in the league at the moment. So it’s probably time to forget the CL for next season.
      Personally I wouldn’t trust a manager who thinks we can play like Barcelona with the players we’ve got. Not one Chelsea player on the pitch today would get in Barcelona’s team. Why? They can’t pass the ball well enough. Their movement is average and so is their technique. (Maybe one or two exceptions here but they still wouldn’t get in the Barca team). I just wouldn’t trust the manager who picked the team he picked today. A few more games like this (a humiliation by City looking more likely as it gets closer) and AVB will be down the road. Rightly or wrongly. And if he thinks Roman won’t sack him because of the money then he really must be naive. He is a multi-billionaire, and to coin a phrase he sacks who he wants. Ask Jose or Scolari or Wilkins or Ancelotti. He just doesn’t give a toss. Hiddink will come in as director of football soon I suppose and if things don’t pick up then the inevitable will happen.

  41. bluebayou

    I was just wondering, is the bus that teams come and park at the Bridge from time to time (though not of late), the same vehicle that we are currently chucking half the squad and a manager undeneath?

    If it is, do you think we should scrape all the meaty bits off it and use it ourselves next week?

    I know it’s only Wolves but these are trying times.


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