Alison Ratcliffe
Mon, Mar 16, 2009
The New Paper

I AGREE with Sepp Blatter. There. I've said it. It's out.

I think I heard the earth shift on its axis, a few souls wake from their graves, and the gentle sloosh of rivers starting to flow backwards, but apart from that, uttering those fatal, unsayable words doesn't seem to have had any ill effects. I might recite the Lord's Prayer backwards now just for a laugh.

I'm talking about this 6+5 rule Blatter is mad for, which means clubs would only be allowed five fancy foreigners in their starting line-ups.

Arsene Wenger says football would regress to a horrible caveman-like state if this rule were brought in.

Slightly hunched defenders with uncontrollably shaggy hair and beards would go around clubbing any skilful player with a pulse (Argentinian supporters would notice no difference, obviously) and huge ape-like centre-forwards would knock down long balls before dragging their trophy blondes back to their mock Tudor mansions by the hair.

Actually Wenger said, 'It's the responsibility of Fifa to lift the quality of the game as high as possible, and not to divide the top players from each other, because then you cut the quality and they do not improve any more.'

But pull your chairs around for my latest lesson in football double-speak. I can reveal that what he really meant was, 'How the hell am I going to make Arsenal invincible again (pauses for creepy power-crazed cackle) if I have to teach English players technique and build a scouting and youth set-up that might winkle out an Englishman or six?

'And how will I field a pretty passing team if I can't choose from all the footballers in the whole world? Damn, I'm really going to have to learn to manage properly.'

Baby's bum

If you take all the best players in the world and put them in about six teams, you probably will get football smoother than a baby's bum, silkier than a high-class madam's negligee, and higher tempo than an illegal rave. But what's the use of bum-negligee-rave football if only six sets of fans get to watch it on a regular basis?

I don't have a shaved head, can't drink 10 pints of lager and I'm not an ace shot with continental cafe terrace-furniture, so I'm not a huge English football patriot. But I do like the idea of having some fellas in my team who come from around these parts.

It makes my side seem more like a club and less like a place I sometimes go in North London where you can usually find some football going on.

Squeals of indignation have been heard across England this week. The press couldn't have stamped its foot more if it had been a millionaire's heiress told to let the spotty girl with glasses who always falls over her own stick take a turn in the school hockey team.

But it's not fair! (Harumph, throw hockey stick on floor, prance to changing rooms, call daddy, get him to ring the head mistress).

The argument goes that Italian clubs used to be really good in the 1990s, then Spain was the place to be, so why is everyone picking on us now it's our turn?

That's what it's all about you see - Johnny Foreigner ganging up on England. No matter if the rule means more fans get to see better football, and maybe feel a bit more connected with the club they support along the way.

But I'm speaking out. Bum-negligee-rave football for all!


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