England stubbed

England stubbed

England stubbed

The English media have not been slow in giving the fingers to FIFA after their bid to host the 2018 World Cup Finals was thrown out last week.

Two paltry votes is the poorest of returns in anyone's language - except if that language is Russian in which case you'll be laughing all the way to the Kremlin.

The scribes and broadcasters across the way have been blaming everybody - including the B.B.C.'s Panorama programme which in the same week alleged instances of bribery in advance of the vote - having built themselves up as a near certainty to host the finals in eight years time.

Everyone from the Prime Minister to Prince William was roped in to add voice to the bid but Sportswrite can now reveal just why England failed so dismally - David Beckham.

Or to be more cutting edge, David Beckham's stubble. I mean to say you're going along to a formal gig where you'll be meeting and greeting the suits to impress on them the need to lend their vote to your World Cup bid. Just to impress them full stop. And what's the golden rule in such a scenario - arrive clean cut having put the old Wilkinson's Sword through its paces.

But there was Beckham, stubbled to his two ears, a five o'clock shadow of his former self. You can imagine the thoughts going through the minds of the FIFA officials -how does this fellow think his country's good enough to host a World Cup Finals when he couldn't even be bothered to have a shave. It can't be a coincidence that Alan Shearer, who might not have been there in an official capacity on the part of the the English campaign but was nevertheless present to add some backing, was also rough around the edges on the southern slopes of his face.

Masters of their own downfall were England. And they can bristle all want but two votes hardly suggests a close shave.

Santa Ashley arrives with the sack

If I was an adviser to Martin O'Neill or Alan Pardew or whoever, I'd have this to say - don't touch the Newcastle United job if you want to retain both your managerial reputation and your dignity. And if you want to give football some much needed credence.

The sacking of Chris Hughton this week stands as one of the most underhand actions in this or any other season. Yeah, we don't know the full story but facts are facts. And the main one is that Newcastle occupy a mid-table berth in the Premiership after having been guided there from the Championship at the end of last season by the former Republic of Ireland defender.

Shocking is one of the more milder reactions to the decision of the club's owner, Mike Ashley, to dispense of the services of the amicable Hughton (the sports editor wouldn't permit me to deploy the other words I was lining up).

Eighteen months in the job and now jettisoned like an England World Cup bid.

Where is the game going or has it already got there?

Image for the future: Hughton brings his new team (surely it won't be long) to St. James' Park for a vital fixture. His team win 4-0 and the Magpies are condemned to a return to the Championship. And Justice cocks a sneer at the Newcastle owner sitting in his corporate box.

Oh, and the weather outside is ...

Bleeding hell. I'm looking out the window and all I can see is white. Like watching Leeds United only the snow's on its way down.

The most common word on the sporting calendar these days is postponed though I see the snooker got the go-ahead even if there was a bit of White there as well.

Hay's the only answer. Hey? No, hay. As in great dollops of it used to sound effect by the groundstaff at Thomond Park to cover the pitch in the days leading up to Munster's Magners League fixture against Cardiff Blues last Saturday. Result - the game proceeded on a reasonably perfect surface.

And not alone that but big Paul O'Connell made his return after his lengthy injury absence coming on a second half substitute. At least I think he did seeing as the fog dropped down like a blanket rendering TG4's ‘live' coverage of the final twenty minutes very null and very void. No amount of hay can do anything about that.

According to the commentary team - and my Irish ain't the best - Munster won but how the last quarter went as a spectacle I haven't the foggiest.

Meanwhile, I see Dundee United's Irish ace, Jon Daly, has been urging the Scottish football authorities to take a leaf out of the League of Ireland books and adapt to a summer season. Great success in Ireland, teams better equipped for European battle, increase in attendances, insists Jon.

He obviously hasn't been at too many L.O.I. games in the past year or so seeing as crowds have very definitely not increased but there have undoubtedly been benefits for the domestic game.

Only one game went ahead in the entire Scottish programme at the weekend - Conor Gethins' club, Peterhead involved as it happens - but if the adverse weather conditions continue, it could be more than Jon Daly who will be suggesting a change over to milder climes.

Which would be ironic seeing as we could be on the verge of a return to the winter game where the League here is concerned.

That's the League of Ireland but could we see the Donegal League switch to summer if it continues to face blanket postponements as it did last weekend?