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The Rise of Burton Albion and Britain’s Best Facilities

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If you were asked to hazard a guess at who has the highest quality and most state of the art facilities in British football, most would probably answer Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, or another club of similar stature. Yet the fact is, one could quite legitimately claim that the club which holds that title is one Burton Albion. In July of this year, the Brewers happily announced that they would continue to train at St George’s Park, and use all the facilities provided by the £105 million complex which was designed to accommodate English national team and nurture England’s youth teams.

Burton kick-started the 2015/16 campaign at the weekend with a 2-1 win over Scunthorpe. The victory was a historic one. It was Burton’s first ever game in League One and the highest level that the club has ever played at, yet this seems to have gone somewhat under the radar. Founded in 1950, the Brewers spent the first 59 years of their existence playing non-league football before being promoted to League Two from the Conference in 2009.

In a town of roughly 65,000 inhabitants, football in Burton-upon-Trent has had a difficult history, with rugby union often regarded as the sport of choice among locals and the town’s football club facing competition for supporters, most notably from Derby but also from Nottingham, Birmingham, Stoke and Wolverhampton, all of whom have had notable football teams and are within an hours drive of Burton.

It took until Nigel Clough’s first venture into football management for Burton to start their ascent, and even then it took the former Nottingham Forest striker a decade before his team really started to make waves in the Conference. Clough wasn’t at the club when they did eventually win promotion in the 2008/09 season, having left for Derby County in February of that season with Burton 19 points clear at the top of the league.

The Brewers first season in the Football League was an exciting but respectable one, finishing in 13th place after some thrilling encounters. Burton’s first win in the Football League came in their first home game, recording a 5-2 win over Morecambe. Soon after that they found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-2 scoreline against Chesterfield, before a famous 6-1 win over Aldershot. In March of 2010 they recorded one of the biggest scorelines in recent Football League history, in a 6-5 defeat at the hands of Cheltenham Town, only two weeks after beating Hereford 4-3.

The two seasons which followed were somewhat less enjoyable as the Brewers finished 19th and 17th, scoring almost 20 goals fewer. Drastic improvements were made in the 2012/13 season, with the club finishing in 4th, losing out in the play-off semi-final. In 2013/14, Burton were in the mix once more, finishing 6th and coming bitterly close, losing only in the play-off final that season. Last year though, the club finally reached the third tier in emphatic style, winning the league with 94 points.

The Brewers have played at the Pirelli Stadium since it’s build was completed back in 2005, and the ground has a capacity of 6,912, a very sensible size for a club of Burton’s stature. Although the club averaged only 3,200 last season, they opened their campaign in front of more than 4,000 people, and for a club still very much looking to grow, they have the facilities in place to do just that. Considering the ground was built when the club was still a Conference side, it reflected an ambitiousness which is beginning to be realised.

As was the case with Nigel Clough, Burton are Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s first venture into management in England, following a short stint in Belgium with Royal Antwerp. The former Holland international has won promotion in his first season at the helm, and seems very happy at the club, something which may prove very important should a bigger club come knocking, just as they did when Clough began to impress.

Burton share the same facilities as the England national squad who are pictured here using the grounds before the World Cup in 2014. The unique Nike Academy also use St. George’s Park as their breeding ground for aspiring pros.

 

The importance of Burton having access to St George’s Park’s facilities should not be underestimated. Glenn Hoddle used to talk of the great importance of a good training ground. He was horrified when he first arrived at Chelsea and saw their facilities, prioritising an enjoyable place for his players to train and work ahead of almost anything else, including recruitment. A good surface encourages players to play the game in an attractive manner, and if players enjoy where they train it is not difficult to see just how important that can be. The extra hour a player might put in refining a certain aspect of their game because they enjoy where they’re playing midweek can prove decisive on a Saturday afternoon.

To conclude, Burton are a club who are in the midst of a historic season, and one which deserves some recognition. They are being run expertly. They have a very suitably sized and relatively new stadium, as well as some of the finest training facilities in the world and a young and talented up-and-coming manager in the form of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. They started their League One debut impressively, with a convincing victory over Scunthorpe, and one wouldn’t bet against them having another impressive campaign this time out.

 

 

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Ramblings

The never-ending thrill of sports

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Today, the world of sports is not just limited to the real ground and fields, but have moved on to the virtual world. One can enjoy watching their favourite sports such as football, cricket, rugby, tennis, cycling, and horse racing online. They can book their tickets for their favourite sports or watch them online right from within the comforts of their home. It is no surprise to see the mix of sports betting and casinos.

After all, it is hard to keep one segregated from the other. Browse NJ online casino to learn more about those popular sports and online betting. Many sports lovers love to make bets on sports to show their passion for the game.

The sports media

Sports journalists paly an essential role of maintaining the of press provision at the famous venues of the sports. The idea is to spread awareness regarding the high standards of sports and keep the buzz alive around them. Ever since the advent of the internet, the websites and now the smartphones, the sports media has taken off in a big way.

Now fans can enjoy their favorite games with just a few clicks or use social media apps to keep a tap on the current scores, almost anywhere at any time. There are Sports apps that provide updates, game schedules and much more. Sports fans can enjoy real-time results right when it happens. They need not be at the game or at home in front of their television to see how their favorite sports star is doing.

This is a good scenario for all the sports fans as they can now get regular updates on their favorite games and teams anytime. Online sports betting is not far behind and is fast gaining popularity. There are plenty of websites such as NJ online casino where one can enjoy casino games and bet on their favorite sports.

The experience takes their thrill to a whole new level. The gambling opportunities are quite abundant and comprise betting online sports and loads of others games. The software used for online sports and gambling are very easy to install. This is good news for all the novice gamblers out there.

Basketball and football have always enjoyed immense popularity across the world, and their total revenues are already breaking records. Football leagues around the world are raking in more money than ever before. N.B.A., the American sports league, is still one of the most popular brands in China and has more than 70 million followers. Spain’s biggest basketball teams are getting affiliated with their football counterparts.

However, it is the football that is the most heavily financed and dominant one. Popular sportsmen and international athletes get followed on social media. Cristiano Ronaldo leads with more than 127 million followers on Twitter and Facebook.

Do not miss out on any of those best sporting events happening across the world. Indulge your sporting passion and make sure that you get the best experience.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by kangkang300402

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The biggest fixing scandals in the history of football

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Of all the sports played across the globe, football has had some of the most spectacular match-fixing scandals ever seen.

Of course, football isn’t the only sport that is prone to fixing scandals. History’s top fixing incidents have occurred in horse racing, cricket, and even tennis, showing just how widespread the issue really is. FIFA’s Chris Eaton has described fixing as a crisis that threatens the entire integrity of the game, and when you take a look at history’s 7 most notorious football-fixing cases, you’ll see why.

Calciopoli (2006)

In May 2006, the Italian police cracked open the massive scandal that involved many of Italy’s top teams. Juventus, AC Milan, Reginna and Fiorentina were all involved, with the teams’ managers and referees having been caught conspiring to fix major league matches. Juve was relegated to Serie B and lost several league titles, while other team presidents were banned and fined.

Marseille (1993)

This French FC inspired outrage with its fixing involvement. The team apparently approached members of other local teams and asked them to throw games away, with former manager of Monaco Arsene Wenger dropping a big hint that uncovered the ordeal after losing to Marseille in the two years prior.

The Referee Robert Hoyzer Scandal (2005)

Referee Robert Hoyzer was banned and sentenced to two years in jail after he was caught accepting bribes to fix football matches for Croatian bar owner Ante Sapina. Hoyzer was convicted of fixing numerous matches in the 2nd and 3rd German tiers along with Bundesliga cup matches, in which he also awarded many controversial red cards and penalties to further his cause.

Plateau United Scores Too Many Goals (2013)

To earn a spot in Nigeria’s professional ranks, two teams fixed their matches, but their winning totals cast a spotlight on their plan and the Nigerian FA banned all 4 clubs involved for 10 years. The Plateau United Feeders scored an unbelievable 79-0 win, and the Police Machine FC won their match 67-0.

Belarusian Ghost Match (2015)

Two major betting agencies were caught offering bets and paying out on the results of a ‘ghost match’ in Belarus that never actually took place. The 2-1 result of FC Slutsk and Shakhter Soligorsk was confirmed by an official from the former team, only to have the story unravel later on. A former data collection company employee was found to be the brains behind the con.

SEA Games Fixing (2015)

Singaporean player Rajendran R. Kurusamny received the highest-ever prison term given to a fixer on a single charge when he was caught conspiring to fix 2015 SEA Games matches. The player received a 4-year sentence after his plot was ousted, having made over eight payments to Malaysian players to ensure they lost.

Spiked Water Bottles in Italy (2010)

Players in an Italian 3rd division match began to feel very lethargic and disorientated – only to find out goalkeeper Marco Paolini had spiked his team’s water bottles to fix the match in an attempt to pay off gambling debts. Paolini was banned for 5 years, and some believe the scam was linked to notorious fixing mogul Dan Tan.

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Four international football tournaments you’ve probably never heard of…

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We all know the big boys get all the glory in football – well, nine times out of ten they do. Tournaments like the World Cup, Premier League, Champions League and Euros may be the most lucrative and widely broadcast tournaments, but that doesn’t mean they’re the “biggest”.

There’s no shortage of other international tournaments to tickle your fancy! And they’re well worth watching – with thousands of players and thousands of goals – they can be some of the most entertaining football tournaments to watch. Here are four to get you started:

1) The Norway Cup

Running every year bar one since 1972, the Norway Cup is more like a football festival – and the whole world is invited.

Held on the green expanse of Ekebergsletta in Oslo, the week-long 2016 tournament broke new ground with 2,199 teams competing over the course of 6,000 games – all aimed at crowning the best youth outfits in the world.

From hosting 10-19-year-old footballers, the cup has expanded to include three-a-side football so those from the age of six can join in the fun.

So not only is it the world’s largest youth football tournament, it’s already got more than three decades of history behind it. In fact, the only reason it probably doesn’t get more coverage is the work it would take to cover the 6,000 games taking place in one week!

It’s certainly not because it doesn’t deserve it. There are great stories of success and even the occasional bit of controversy to keep things interesting during the brief interludes between games: this year, the Russian team were thrown out after its players were said to have “gone berserk” on the field, violently attacking their rivals.

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2) The Gothia Cup – otherwise known as The World Youth Cup

So Norway has the biggest youth football tournament but did you know it has a neighbourly rival called the World Youth Cup?

The Gothia Cup in Sweden runs every July and caps its entry at 1,600 teams – be them school teams based either locally or abroad. It started back in 1975 – yet that first tournament included girls’ teams; a huge success and far from the norm.

Over the years, more than a million – yes, a million! – players from 141 countries have participated. It’s well worth watching too: in an “average” year more than 22,000 goals are scored, more than five per match!

As if the goal bonanza wasn’t enough, it’s heritage is first class. It’s featured some of the world’s most famous players who played at the 2006 World Cup including: Xabi Alonso (Spain), Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Ze Roberto (Brazil), José Montiel (Paraguay), Kim Källström and Teddy Lucic (Sweden).

If you didn’t catch it this year on TV, head over to the website. It carries its own live coverage for a subscription charge – but you can’t help feel it deserves a bit more. Especially that opening ceremony.

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3) The Conifa World Football Cup

Conifa – the acronym – sounds like one of the fir trees you might expect to see in Sweden – where its first “world football cup” was held in June 2014, in Ostersund. But it stands for the Confederation of Independent Football Associations – also known as a different world for the beautiful game to thrive, and the result is something quite remarkable.

Conifa puts on its tournament for a veritable feast of states and stateless people, regions and minorities unaffiliated with Fifa such as Greenland, Tibet and Western Armenia – Conifa gives them a chance to show the world exactly what they can do.

“Our main goal is to give football outsiders overseen by Fifa or left behind by their mother country’s FA the chance to win their place on a global stage and advance, football-wise and personally,” said Conifa general secretary Sascha Düerkop.

It’s more than a noble cause. It’s essential. And it’s competitive. Occitania top the current rankings from Panjab and Northern Cyprus – yet it was hosts Abkhazia who won the 2016 tournament in June. The Conifa World Football Cup feels like it’s about something more than just glory hunting – a stark contrast to Fifa’s World Cup.

It’s growing in popularity too with four new members joining in 2016. Two from Africa: Western Sahara and Matabeleland, and two from Europe, Délvidék and Karpatalya.

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4) The Gulf Cup of Nations

Sure, the Euros and Copa America fire up football imaginations across the world – the best nations in Europe and South American respectively doing football battle on an epic stage. But there is something captivating about a little-covered equivalent in the Gulf.

Also known as the Arabian Gulf Cup, the four-yearly tournament is not sanctioned by Fifa – which probably adds to the charm, as some of the world’s wealthiest states thrash it out on the pitch.

On the calendar since 1970, Kuwait is by some way the most successful nation with 10 titles – not bad for a country with a population of approaching 4,000,000. Saudi Arabia, for contrast, is second place with three titles to their name.

It’s Qatar’s turn in 2017 – five years before the state will host the Fifa World Cup. The eyes of the world should be on how they perform and with improving TV coverage in recent years, it may be the world is about to experience more of the Arabian Gulf Cup.

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