Stroll In Pompey Sunshine/Kroenke/United

A pleasant stroll for us in the Hampshire south coast sunshine on Saturday afternoon. Apart from a shortish period of pressure applied by Pompey in the second half, we picked up the three points to nail down a fourth place finish with some ease.
The side showed radical changes from that which took the field in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at Old Trafford last Wednesday. That was to be expected. Whether we take the last two League games of the season seriously at Old Trafford and home to Stoke City will depend on results tomorrow night and next Sunday home to Chelsea.
Fulham’s failure to get anything from their West London derby against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday is going to make a third place finish for us very difficult. Chelsea is six points ahead of us on 74 with three games to play and a goal difference of 38, seven better than our 31. Barring a complete collapse, their goal difference will be better come the end of the season so we need to make up seven points on them. I just can’t see them losing two and drawing one (or losing one and drawing two) of their remaining games. We HAVE to beat them next Sunday to have ANY chance. They then need to lose one further game and draw one or draw both. Given that their remaining games are home to Blackburn Rovers and away to Sunderland this doesn’t seem very likely.
That is all for after Tuesday however. IF, IF, IF we manage to beat United, then any consideration of further League points will go out of the window. The total focus will be on Rome, and I couldn’t argue with that. It is however a BIG if. I’m desperate for us to win through tomorrow night. I’ll be singing my head off. I hope every other Gooner there will too. I confess that I’m not too optimistic however. Let’s go out and at the very minimum let them know they’ve been in a game though.
On the ownership front there’s nothing concrete and new to report. As ever, we, the supporters, are being treated as mushrooms. Kept in the dark and fed a lot of pooh. I’m tired of all the warm words. I want some clear, unequivocal answers to some hard questions. I shall be asking some of them of Ivan Gazidis at the AST members’ meeting he’s addressing today week at the ground. One can always be surprised but I doubt I shall return home any the wiser.
There was a speculative piece in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times by one of their staff football writers suggesting that Silent Stan may seek a link-up with Anschutz Entertainment Group. AEG is heavily involved in “soccer” in the USA. It owns the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Home Depot Centre in Carson, a southern suburb of Los Angeles which is shared by the Galaxy and Chivas USA, another Major League Soccer team. It also owns the Staples Centre where the Los Angeles Lakers (in which it has a 30% stake) and the Los Angeles Clippers both of the NBA play, as well as the Los Angeles Kings (which it also owns) of the NHL. It also owns the O2 here in London (formerly the Millennium Dome), along with other arenas and stadia elsewhere in the USA and Europe.
Meanwhile on this side of the Atlantic newspapers were reporting yesterday that the NFL is in London discussing the possibility of holding the Super Bowl at Wembley in either 2014, 2015 or 2017. Whether this has any substance or not I have no idea. I do know that the stories will not pass the Premier League by. They’re paranoid about the big North American sports leagues eating their lunch. I think they’re mad personally, as is their mad, bad gam£ 39 idea.
I can see a major North American sports league putting teams in Europe in the fairly near future, most probably the NHL or possibly the NBA. Both basketball and ice hockey are  popular in different parts of Europe.
I can’t see how it’s going to be a threat to football however. I happen to enjoy gridiron football, baseball and ice hockey myself (not so keen on basketball). I always catch games when I can when I’m on the other side of the pond and have seen games staged over here at Wembley and the 02. I can’t see the threat to football as the dominant sport however.
There is also speculation that Setanta is in trouble and won’t be able to pick up its share of Premier League games which it’s been awarded in the new domestic broadcasting rights deal to start in 2010/11. Here’s a revolutionary thought. Why not not re-tender the games if Setanta does go to the wall? Just allow them to be played without live coverage at 3.00pm on a Saturday, the generally most popular time to play matches for those who actually go to the games.
It may cause some grief with the European Commission, whose free-market fundamentalists in its competition directorate would like ALL games to be available for live transmission and to do away with central bargaining for rights by the League. This could probably be squared up however.
Just a thought!
Let’s turn the Grove into a real cauldron tomorrow night!
The Gooner Nation expects every man and woman to do their duty, on the park and in the stands!
Keep the faith!

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