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Everything posted by arwebb

  1. I disagree with that notion, primarily because it has happened before, always runs the risk of cities trying to upscale what they actually need to host a Commonwealth Games and has the potential to lead to exactly the kind of position we find ourselves in now. Glasgow was a welcome exception to the trend. Regarding the three questions posed at the beginning of this thread, I would rather the 2022 Games went to a non-recent hosting city and nation, but recognise that may not be possible. The CGF should also be prepared to consider more regionalised bids, certainly as a one-off and potentially more permanently if we are to avoid a situation like this happening again. All that said, the most persuasive alternative host to me, at this stage, is Birmingham. Most of the main venues are already in place and I think it would be big enough to cope, but small enough to make it the kind of festival the Commonwealths should be. Of its potential English opponents, London is too politically sensitive. Liverpool just doesn't seem ready unless it draws heavily on Manchester and Manchester hosted too recently. Rob has already summed up the answer to the question of suspending South Africa, so I won't dwell on it. But I don't think we should be too hasty on the idea of Durban being pushed back four years. There would need to be some significant guarantees behind it, and potentially threats of consequences if we find ourselves in a similar position again. But I see no harm in that door being left open at this stage.
  2. Given my fairly sporadic appearances here these days, I've only become aware of the problems with Durban in the past 24 hours or so. It will be hugely disappointing if the CGF does decide to go elsewhere, but probably easier for them to do so in a situation of an effective coronation rather than with the winner of a bidding process, such as Glasgow. The bigger, and I fear more fundamental, question for the CGF is why things have come to this point. Is it simply a South African issue, or is it a wider problem with the Commonwealth Games as a whole? I fear it is the latter and, if it is, I don't know how you resolve it. I'm not surprised that Liverpool appears to be throwing its hat in the ring as an alternative, particularly given how keen Joe Anderson was to go for 2026. But, given its geographical proximity to Manchester, I think there has to be a question over the extent to which any bid would be a genuine city proposal rather than a wider regional one. It's not simply a question of a main stadium, which would surely end up being a Manchester-type scenario with the athletics venue becoming a new home for Everton Football Club thereafter. It's also a matter of whether a case can be made for building a new aquatics centre, a velodrome and a hockey venue just to think of three. With Manchester so close, I think it would be a struggle to make that case.
  3. Interesting idea, but I don't see it going anywhere. No reason why Belfast couldn't bid to host either.
  4. Any thoughts on the prime minister's speech today? I thought it was broadly solid and sensible, though I'm sceptical as to how she will be able to deliver certain aspects of it.
  5. Given it's meant to be 16 groups, I assume it will be 16 seeds.
  6. Farcical perhaps, but it does tick plenty of boxes in terms of ability to accommodate corporate nonsense and fast transport links to central London. What lets it down, as I discovered on Friday night, was just how far you are from the pitch in the upper tier behind the goals. It's fine in the lower tier (I went to a rugby league test match there so have seen it from that perspective), but the huge space between the lower and upper tiers is not great. It's not a bad view, but people should bear that in mind before they buy a ticket.
  7. Not sure either the Emirates or the new Tottenham stadium would get the nod over the Olympic Stadium actually.
  8. While I am broadly in favour of expanding the World Cup, I don't think this is the right way to go about it. I am concerned that the 16 groups of three, while a more balanced proposal than others put forward, will disadvantage some teams unfairly and could even lead to a re-emergence of the kind of malpractice that has caused final group games to be played simultaneously at every major championship for as long as I can remember. Both risks stem from the same issue, namely the odd number of teams and matches in each group. The teams that play in the third game in each group, and particularly the one that plays in games two and three, will be at an advantage over the team that plays in matches one and two. From there, it is not a great leap towards match three producing a result that mutually suits the two teams playing and eliminates the other. It risks a scandal like West Germany and Austria from 1982 all over again and it is a risk, in my opinion, that is not worth taking. So what should FIFA do? Given the complexities, the simplest option might be to leave things alone. A 64-team tournament would be too big, and too long, and any 40 or 48 team format that starts with a group stage risks being too complicated. I understand the reservations about having an initial playoff round before the groups, but I think it's a better option than the one they look like going with.
  9. Personally, I'll be glad when 2016 is over. Although it ends with real hope for the immediate future, it's been a difficult year for me both personally and professionally. More broadly, though, it seems difficult to look forward to 2017 with any real optimism. Domestically, there seems to be something of a vacuum of good political ideas and I struggle to see what positives President Trump will bring to the global scene. In the sporting world, I fear the current wave of scandals still have a long way to run and the governing bodies have little idea what to do about them. Happy New Year folks.
  10. Not sure if I'm alone in this, but I thought the Mercedes team management showed incredible naivety during today's race when they started giving orders to Hamilton over the radio in the closing laps. It's a world championship decider folks. The team comes second this time.
  11. This morning feels to me very much like the morning of June 24. It may be somewhat colder and I have slept, but the feeling of not being able to fully comprehend the enormity of what is happening in the United States is very much the same as that around Brexit. While I am deeply, deeply concerned about the potential implications of a Trump victory, it seems clear that he has tapped into exactly the same types of fear and anger that the Brexit campaign did here. Goodness knows what happens now.
  12. Ireland or Italy for me. New frontiers, but confident they would pull it off. South Africa would be next choice.
  13. Wouldn't it be the English federation? I presume they would have decided between Manchester and Sheffield for 2002. Rob's quite right to say none of these English bids can be considered as fully committed yet. But it seems pretty clear to me that Birmingham has a big head start in terms of venues. Probably the main stumbling blocks are a velodrome, an aquatics centre and a facelift for Alexander Stadium
  14. Not sure whether this is a sequel to my favourite Australian headline from 60 all out at Trentbridge last year, POMICIDE, but I have to admit I really enjoyed this piece from an Australian perspective. Great Britain has obliterated Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympics With 60 all out in mind, however, something far less enjoyable was hearing the news yesterday of that fine Australian broadcaster Jim Maxwell, a very familiar voice to cricket lovers over here, being taken ill while on air the other day. Hoping he's fighting fit for an interesting season Down Under.
  15. It might be repetitive and annoying to some people, but, unless one has somehow managed to remain completely oblivious to the sporting crises of the past couple of years, it is also entirely understandable. I think it would be naive in the extreme not to have some scepticism but, given the hard line that the British Olympic Association and so many past and present sporting stars have taken on doping in particular, I would hope they're all in no doubt about the consequences if they were caught out. I've gone into the broad reasons why I think it's happened in the Team GB thread and don't intend to repeat those points here. But, in such a football-dominated country as ours, it is worth emphasising how big a shop window the Olympics are for many of these sports. World championships and other events, even in sports like cycling and rowing, simply do not come close. Anyway, as I reflect on the Games as a whole, I find myself coming to an initial conclusion of 'not as bad as feared, not as good as initially hoped'. I always loved the idea of a Rio Olympics and wanted them to win the bid. However, with the organisational, political and economic problems that have beset Brazil since 2009, not to mention Zika and security fears, I have to admit I was worried about what could happen. But, as so often happens with the Olympics, it was alright on the night and the city has provided a stunning backdrop to an outstanding event in terms of the quality of sport on show. And yet, and yet, away from the joy of our athletes' successes and the iconic quality of Neymar scoring the winning penalty in the football final, the main image I will take away from Rio is the frustrating one of empty seats. I wouldn't claim to know whether the organisers followed the example of London and priced a sizable proportion of tickets cheaply in order to bring families in particular in. But what I would suggest is that more could, and should, have been done to address the issue once the Games began. Like other members, I have serious concerns about the Paralympics, and particularly the cuts that became public knowledge the other day. But, for now, I'd say they've done OK.
  16. With the Union Jack-tinted glasses well and truly on, these 16 days have been truly magical ones, even if challenging in the sleep department, for British sport. Before the Games began, I didn't believe we had a chance of topping the success of London. But doing just that, in terms of total medals, is a far, far greater achievement than just those two extra pieces of precious metal. Most of us believed London would be special, both in terms of the spectacle and of British success, and those of us who were fortunate to be there will hopefully carry those memories with us for the rest of our days. But, at a time of real uncertainty for our country, I believe these Games, and the unexpected scale of our success, could be an even greater lift than those of four years ago. Why has this happened? To understand that, you have to go back to the dark days of Atlanta 20 years ago. We won fewer medals in total there than the number of bronze medals we won this time around. It simply wasn't good enough. It's simple to say that the introduction of Lottery funding changed everything and I am pleased to see that Sir John Major, a prime minister who actually cared about sport, has been given some of the credit he deserves in the last few days. But the impact has not simply been a question of giving athletes money and hoping for the best. It has also brought about a professionalisation of Olympic sport and a demand for results. Deliver or face the consequences. It is no coincidence that cycling is our most successful Olympic sport because it, along with rowing, has delivered the goods time after time after time and has received the continuing investment accordingly. Other sports have struggled to get to those standards but are getting there now, as shown by the fact that we have won medals in more sports than any other nation. It's that, above all else, which gives me hope that we can continue this success, even if not to this scale in Tokyo and beyond. Highlights? Far too many to mention, so I'll limit myself to three. One was professional: having the chance to report, even if it was from my own sofa, on a man from the area I work in, Danny Kerry, coaching a gold medal winning team. The second was emotional: seeing Nick Skelton win showjumping gold at the age of 58 and having returned to riding some years ago despite being advised to retire after breaking his neck in a fall. It's the sort of story they make films about. But the one that tops them all for me was in the early hours of this morning when, surely soon to be Sir, Mo Farah completed his double double. His victories were not simply the cementing of his reputation as one of our country's greatest ever sportsmen but, with his background and the context of what our country has been through in these last few weeks and months, a dignified embodiment of what this country is at its greatest.
  17. I've only caught a couple of clips this morning due to the need for sleep following a very early start to go to Edgbaston yesterday, but I thought the choice of De Lima to light the flame was absolutely spot on. The flame arrangement looked very nice and all that, but I'm like you in not being that bothered about the ceremonies. We're there for sport. Let's get on with it.
  18. Is it really four years since those heady days of London? It feels like the world has changed since that wonderful summer and, in many ways, not for the better. The build-up to these Games has not been great, seen as it has been so often through political uncertainty, doping disgrace and Zika anxieties. But I'm confident that, whatever the doubts have been before, the action that awaits us will overcome them. For those of you who have travelled to Rio, as I alas am unable to, have the most wonderful time. And, to our Brazilian friends and hosts, may you seize all the joys and opportunities that the next few weeks have to offer. As Davey rightly says, there truly is nothing like a home Games. It was an incredible experience for me to be in London four years ago and, even though it was barely two hours' travel from where I live and work, it truly was the holiday of a lifetime. Our time has gone. It's yours now. Whatever happens, make the most of it.
  19. Very encouraging news from a city that has seen a lot of regeneration in recent years. One of the big issues will be around the main stadium, which I guess has to be a stepping stone towards a new home for Everton considering the history of stadia built here for big events like this. But without a Welsh bid, which I'm very disappointed there won't be, I don't see many British rivals.
  20. Given I had a bet on Leave (and voted against my own bet), perhaps I should have come up with a Brexit plan while I was at it. The only thing I would say is that economic armageddon doesn't seem to have happened yet.
  21. Twelve days out from the start of what should be the greatest sporting show on Earth, the Olympic movement is in an absolute mess tonight. In taking the decision it did today, the IOC's executive board, in my view, failed in its duties to provide clear leadership to Olympic sport and to protect those athletes who seek to compete within its auspices honestly and cleanly. While it may, at first glance, appear that they've been quite tough with Russia, it seems increasingly clear that, by abdicating their responsibility, they have only added to the confusion. I expect the fudge they have attempted to create to unravel during the coming days and, sadly, the implications of this decision to be felt throughout the whole of the competition in Rio. As someone who had the privilege of spending time in London four years ago, I know how angry I would have been if a decision like this had been made on the eve of those Games. I would not blame any Brazilian from feeling the same way now. The biggest risk in all this is not short-term, but long-term. The IOC had the chance today to take a real and meaningful stand against doping. It has not done that and it will be a long time for the full effects of that decision to become apparent. Personally, I regard the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport, as long as there are rules against them, as a form of fraud by false representation, primarily because of the rewards that are associated with sporting success. If other forms of corrupt practice in sport can be punished criminally, as the cricket spot fixing scandal was, then doping should be too. That might be a debate for another day. All I'm sure of is that this day is a very dark one for those of us who truly care about sport and the Olympic movement.
  22. I've slept on it. I've been to work all day and it still seems as wrong as it did when I first read the news last night. I'm not sure whether our new Prime Minister has gone mad or given him sufficient leeway to destroy his career. Either way, it is striking how the key Brexit jobs have gone to hardened Leavers and yet the context being created by May and Hammond (and I can't think of those names without expecting Clarkson to appear round the Cabinet table) is one where continued access to the single market appears to be a red line. I'm not sure how that resolves itself without a compromise that is politically damaging to the Tories one way or other, or without resignations. I wouldn't put much money on that team still being intact this time next year.
  23. This is why I said there needed to be a pretty swift general election last Friday and I haven't changed my mind. It feels like the possibility has receded following Johnson's decision to back out of the leadership election (one which I was delighted by) but, as Rob alluded to, it is impossible to predict what is going to happen. Having said that, I will suggest that what happens in the Labour party is going to be crucial to whether we get an early election or not.
  24. I think your argument about Cameron is flawed, primarily because it does not account for the threat posed to the Conservatives by UKIP. We shouldn't forget that UKIP won the European elections here two years ago as well as two by-elections in the run-up to the general election and polled more than four million votes across the country (making it the third largest party in terms of share of the popular vote) in May last year. I don't think there's any question that UKIP would have done much better without the Tory commitment to a re-negotiation and a referendum. Nor does it address the build-up over years, even decades, of anti-EU feeling within sections of the British population. That can't all be pinned on Cameron, or any of the other politicians who participated in this campaign. That is the result of we, the people, not being given a say for more than 40 years and the view, developed over that time and through the actions of too many politicians to name, that the European institutions are not what we signed up for and we were never asked to consent to the changes that have been made. As for the second part of your post, to say it has been an extraordinary week here in Britain is putting it very mildly indeed. But it is, in my mind, too early to say that we are "belittling" ourselves as a country, even if I do share that fear. There has been, on all sides, a lack of coherence in working out what should happen now that has been rather disturbing at times. But the flux that has been created is also an opportunity for everyone to work out the right path. That is just as important for Europe as it is for Britain because the perception of damaging oneself is not unique to Britain. Earlier today, I saw a tweet about a Dutch poll saying a majority there now favoured 'Nexit'. That is the threat the EU has to tackle and it belittles itself even more if it fails to do that.
  25. Italy, not for the first time in this championship, were excellent and deserved to win by more than they did. So too, frankly, did Iceland. In almost 25 years of following the fortunes of my national football team, I cannot remember seeing a worse England performance in a tournament fixture.
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