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THE SAM MORSHEAD COLUMN: Jed has come up trumps
6:00am Saturday 21st September 2013 in Sport
LAST week I updated you on Jed McCrory’s vision for the club, but I honestly never thought he’d stick to his word and have his various projects completed in time for the visit of Bristol City today.
Yet it looks as though he’s delivered, remarkably.
The Members Suite has been expanded but it’s been done with a subtle touch that made me stop and stare gormlessly around me when I wandered into the new-look lounge in midweek.
Town End punters will now be able to stand and have a pint in one of two bars beneath their seats, license willing, while the commercial team have managed to sell the majority of spaces in the club’s fancy VIP lounge – formerly office space – in double-quick time.
These ideas were formulated less than three weeks ago and since then I’ve seen them blossom and bloom with an absurd acceleration. It’s a credit to the men and women involved that you will all get the chance to see their handiwork this afternoon.
FOREST SCORE OWN GOAL
LAST week The Guardian and The Observer received notice from Nottingham Forest that they were no longer to attend matches at the City Ground after one of their reporters had the cheek not to write a match report despite being granted a press pass for a recent game.
It’s these kinds of decisions which help the clubs distance themselves from the press and thereby from the fans and, ultimately, reality.
Had the reporter in question failed to write a match report after trashing the press box, assaulting a member of staff and defecating on the chairman’s La-Z-Boy then a ban would have been in order.
But this writer’s crime was to go to the game in order to collect a few titbits of information, to speak to the manager Billy Davies and the players after the match and strengthen his contacts book. You know, just generally doing his job.
Journalists get a rough ride from many sections of society, often for the right reasons, but instances like this are prime examples of a pompous football club making a very sturdy noose from which to hang themselves.
Cooperation and mutual respect are key in the sports media industry. Forest evidently have no desire to engage in either.
HOW DID FIFA FALL FOR WORLD CUP CON?
I CAN’T be the only one thinking that the members of the Qatari World Cup bid team are amongst some of the greatest con men on this planet.
First off they managed to convince FIFA, by whatever means, that handing football’s most prized tournament to a Saudi Arabian abscess with a population of two million and a sporting past that can be listed in its entirety on the back of a napkin was a good idea.
Not content with dishing out the kind of rip-off you’d expect at a motorway service station, these cheeky tricksters then had the guile to coax our friends at the world’s governing body into believing they’d be able to subdue 40-degree heat by installing air conditioning in the dozen stadiums they’d build from scratch and then disassemble post-competition.
Even then they didn’t give up. It didn’t matter that fans’ drinking habits would be frowned upon, mainly because they’d be too dehydrated to get p****d in the first place, and of course there would be plenty of reasonably-priced accommodation in this oil-rich emirate.
Charles Ponzi would be handing their efforts a standing ovation by this time, but the 2022 bid team had more up their sleeve.
After persuading the relevant officials to agree to a summer World Cup in Qatar – you know, the summer, when the World Cup has always been staged – they then made the point, and quite rightly too, that actually it might be a little difficult for teams to play three group games in eight days and then go to extra-time in their last-16 clash when they were being asked to play in conditions which would be more suited to roasting a chicken.
And now it appears the 2022 event will take place with ‘Jingle Bells’ humming on the stereo behind us and mince pies being shared around in front of the fire.
It’s the Emperor’s New Clothes of our time, like stealing the Eiffel Tower from right under Parisian noses, replacing it with a cardboard cut-out of the Empire State Building and getting the French not to utter so much as a sacrebleu between them.
Frank Abagnale would have struggled to pull off such a ridiculous ruse.
Moving the tournament to the winter was the obvious alternative, but Qatar did not win the right to host a winter World Cup. They do not have the right to change a tradition or to alter the very fabric of the domestic game – a distinct inevitability now the event is being rescheduled.
That FIFA this week buckled to the idea shows a weakness on their part, a pathetic feebleness to admit to a mistake.
Qatar was never the right destination for this particular spectacle – regardless of its wealth, regardless of its beauty, regardless of its undoubted ability to host the tournament.
Staging the World Cup in the wrong country at the wrong time of year is madness. Sadly, madness is what we’ve come to expect from our friends at FIFA over the past decade.
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