David Parkin on a funny week for football and a Boris binge warning


It’s a funny old game, as dear old Jimmy Greaves used to say.

And in the near three decades since the former striker used to make Ian St John chuckle on ITV sports show Saint and Greavsie, his words still ring true.

In fact, football gets funnier.

And weirder.

And despite the introduction of new technology, it certainly hasn’t got any less controversial, if Harry Kane’s disallowed goal for Tottenham against Sheffield United last night is anything to go by.

When it comes to English football, the Premier League dominates the headlines.

But the world’s richest league certainly isn’t the most competitive.

In the last 20 years how many times has the Premier League been a one horse race for a large part of the season?

At best you can hope that there are two sides in it for as long as possible.

I can’t remember the last time that there were a handful of clubs in the mix to claim the Premier League title.

But step down just one tier and the Championship is a different kettle of fish entirely.

With six games to go there is still so much at stake.

Leeds and West Brom have been battling it out at the top all season with Fulham putting some pressure on them for the two automatic promotion slots.

But three wins for Brentford on the return from lockdown have brought squeaky bum time to the top teams and Nottingham Forest can also still make a dash for the top too.

When it comes to the play-off places, any of the teams in the top 12 of the table could end up in those four slots.

And at the other end of the table there are nine teams scrapping to not end up in the three relegation places.

So it’s a very competitive league.

In fact, there are probably only three teams – Sheffield Wednesday, Wigan and QPR who have nothing to play for.

They can’t be promoted – unless you believe in miracles – but they are also won’t be relegated.

For fans of those clubs it either means mid-table obscurity or a relaxed relegation-free run-in depending on your outlook and ambition.

Which makes it all the more baffling why Wigan Athletic fell into administration this week.

Going into a formal insolvency process will mean an automatic 12-point deduction for the club from the English Football League (EFL).

Wigan, managed by Paul Cook, have won all three matches since football resumed and currently sit in 14th place in the Championship, eight points above the relegation zone.

So if they stay up this season they will start next season with a 12-point deficit.

Whatever happens, the timing of all this is odd.

Wigan entered administration just four weeks after it was sold by one Hong Kong-based company to another and days before all Championship clubs were each due to receive an advanced £2.3m Premier League solidarity payment to help with the financial impact of Covid-19.

In November 2018, Wigan’s long-time owner, former footballer and JJB Sports founder Dave Whelan, sold the club for £15.9m to International Entertainment Corporation (IEC) a Hong Kong-based, Cayman Islands-registered company which runs a casino in Manila.

Wigan were promoted to the Championship last season and this season have battled back from being rock bottom at Christmas to almost certain safety from relegation.

Last month IEC sold the club to Next Leader Fund (NLF) another Hong Kong consortium which was majority owned by Dr Choi Chiu Fai Stanley – who also was the owner of IEC – for £17.5m plus repayment of £24.36m the company had invested in the club.

If you are still following, that’s not my breakfast kippers which are smelling a bit fishy.

At the time of the deal IEC told the Hong Kong stock exchange that the reasons for the sale were Wigan’s failure to reach the Premier League, the economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the suspension of football due to Covid-19.

Which as explanations go – certainly for the first two – are about as rational as blaming global warming and UFOs invading earth via a landing at the end of Wigan Pier.

In the midst of all this the EFL approved the deal having scrutinised it diligently and decided that it complied with its “test and takeover”  rules which involve making sure a new owner has the money to buy a club and support it financially for at least the remainder of the season and the whole of the following season.

A week ago Dr Choi was replaced as majority shareholder in NLF by Wai Kay Au Yeung.

On the same day the new owner decided that he couldn’t fund the club he had paid 41 million quid for and decided to put it into administration.

It is for the administrators and the authorities to look into what happened here, but things don’t add up in this increasingly murky story.

What does appear as clear as day is the EFL’s approach to policing football makes the Keystone Kops look slick.

And Greavsie’s wise words still ring as true today.


THE administrator of Wigan Athletic is Gerald Krasner of Begbies Traynor.

There is no doubt he has vast experience and was previously the administrator of AFC Bournemouth and Port Vale football clubs.

And back in 2004 he led a consortium which bought Leeds United.

It is probably fair to say that his time as chairman won’t appear in any history books of the club in the chapter entitled ‘The Glory Years’.

His personal website modestly describes him as “one of Britain’s best business brains”.

He must have been intelligent from an early age.

His Linkedin profile lists his education as Roundhay “Grammer” School.


AS the stories of major redundancies due to the coronavirus pandemic increase, the one sector of the economy which has been thriving during lockdown has been grocery retail.

The supermarkets have done well.

Some, like Morrisons, committed to paying suppliers promptly and doing what they could to support them.

But I find Sainsbury’s latest television advert a bit bizarre.

At a time when many people are under increasing financial pressure the supermarket chain thinks it is doing us all a favour by launching its ‘Price Lock’ commitment to holding prices at the same level on certain products for eight weeks.

It has been trumpeting the offer in a poorly produced TV advert.

What a pathetic boast.


Parky’s video clip of the week


WHEN it comes to random acts of stupidity you don’t have to look too far beyond football fans.

Despite requests not to, thousands of fans gathered in the centre of Liverpool last week to celebrate Liverpool Football Club winning the Premier League title.

They drank, they danced. Some even set off fireworks, one of which damaged the city’s iconic Liver Building.

A day later the sports correspondent of Channel 4 News was in Liverpool to report on the celebrations and he informed viewers that the number of people that took to the streets was much lower than last summer when Liverpool won the Champions League and one million people lined the streets.

One million?

Only 500,000 people live in Liverpool and some of them are Everton fans.

Now I know the club has a lot of fans from elsewhere but that is a lot of visitors to welcome into the city.


BORIS Johnson has urged drinkers to act responsibly when the pubs reopen on ‘Super Saturday’ tomorrow.

Apparently the Prime Minister’s words came as the emergency services and hospitals prepare for a deluge of problems tomorrow at the same level they would on ‘Mad Friday’ just before Christmas.

His message will be delivered in a speech later today but some of the text was provided to the Daily Telegraph which published them in this morning’s edition.

It was the right medium in which to deliver such a message.

We all know what Daily Telegraph readers are like.

A couple of cans of Special Brew and they’re trying to Glasgow kiss everyone.

Have a great weekend.

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