BBC BLOGS - Paul Fletcher

Archives for October 2011

From Clapton to Manchester United

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Paul Fletcher | 13:12 UK time, Saturday, 22 October 2011

Within five minutes of Aldershot Town being drawn against Manchester United in the fourth round of the Carling Cup, the League Two club's website crashed and did not recover for days.

Graham Brookland, lifelong supporter and the club's communications and website manager, had to sort out the problem, but not before noticing the expression on 13-year-old son Oliver's face.

"The look of pure joy on his face took me back to when I was a kid," said Brookland. "Oliver goes to school and gets ribbed for supporting the Shots but now he can saying that his team is playing Man United."

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Youth overhaul will damage Football League

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Paul Fletcher | 14:41 UK time, Thursday, 20 October 2011

On Thursday, Football League clubs voted in favour of proposals that could result in the Premier League picking up their best young talent for a fraction of what they currently pay. There were 46 votes in favour, 22 against, three no-shows and one abstention.

I'm told it was a reluctant "yes" from many of the clubs, who felt they had no choice. If they voted "no", the Premier League threatened to withdraw over £5m of funding that they give to lower league clubs each year for youth development.

It is all tied in with the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), which will radically modernise youth development in England, introducing a four-tier academy system. The new deal will see every club receive an increase in their funding for a guaranteed four-year period, with the amount determined by their academy status.

Against a background of a reduced tv deal and an uncertain economic climate, most Football League clubs are understood to have welcomed the funding increase - but Peterborough director of football Barry Fry told me the Premier League's threat felt like blackmail.

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Birmingham show signs of post-relegation revival

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Paul Fletcher | 19:40 UK time, Sunday, 16 October 2011

At St Andrew's

Birmingham and Leicester both radically overhauled their squads in the summer - and on the evidence at St Andrew's on Sunday it is the club which acted out of financial necessity that is starting to look in better shape.

Blues defeated the Foxes 2-0 to win their third straight fixture in all competitions and deserved their three points after a second-half performance during which they rattled opponents who had not conceded in 412 minutes of Championship action coming into the contest.

It was a second-half display that added to a growing feeling around the club that, within the playing squad at least, an unsettling and uncertain summer belongs firmly in the past.

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