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VOLUME 01 / ISSUE 07 / FEBRUARY 18

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BARRY HEARN SKY SPORTS’ NATALIE SAWYER AMR ZAKI MAXIMO PARK ALEN HALILOVIC´ & THERE’S MORE AT HALFTIMEWHISTLE.CO.UK

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an£s office m ir a h c e th f o s) e( nging fac We explore the cha

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N E D S ’ DRAGON


CONTENTS

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Editor Danny Stone editor@halftimewhistle.co.uk TEL:0207 3055844 Sub Editor Laurence Kilpatrick Marketing Manager Hassan Allan marketing@halftimewhistle.co.uk TEL: 0207 3055845 Art Editor Dave Partridge art@halftimewhistle.co.uk Cover illustration Kevin February Features Writer Josh Modaberi Wordsmith Danny Stone

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THE CHANGING FACE(S) OF FOOTBALL OWNERSHIP Danny Stone delves into football’s Dragon’s Den

11 STICKERBOOK Following the transfer window we look at the most expensive signings for each position!

13 BARRY HEARN Our favourite chairmen aboard the Orient express Images ©ACTIONIMAGES unless indicated otherwise

17 NATALIE SAWYER The lady in yellow on Deadline Day and her buzzing bees!

17 halftimewhistle @htw_mag #freefootballmag

20 MAXÏMO PARK We talk to lead singer Paul Smith about all things Middlesbrough!

22 COCKNEY BOOKMAKER Fackin’ ell! Your guide to this month’s fixtures

22 YOUNG GUN We have a closer look at Croatian wonderkid Alen Hilalovic’

22 WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Where did Amr Zakhi end up after Wigan Athletic & Hull City

SPONSORS THE HTW PUB SECTION

28 PUB GUIDE Can’t get to the game? Watch it in a pub instead with HTW and Greene King pubs

29 MIND GAMES The HTW pub quiz, in association with FootballTeasers and Greene King pubs

© Halftime Whistle magazine 2013/14. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or reproduced without prior consent of the publisher. The publishers recognise all copyrights contained in this issue. Where possible we acknowledge the copyright holder.

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EDITOR'S TOP 3 THE BEST OF HTW ONLINE NOTE 1. FACT: If you want to live to 100.

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THE CHANGING FACE (S) OF

FOOTBALL OWNERSHIP Danny Stone delves into the football’s Dragon’s Den

he Premier League has changed a lot in two decades. At the time of its inception it may have seemed nothing more than a mere administrative adjustment – a simple name change from the old Division One to what was then known as the Premiership. However, with retrospect,

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the football public have now come to treat 1992 as a key juncture in the history of football both in this country and beyond – the unofficial beginning of this ultra-modern era for the sport. The rebranding of England’s top-flight, of course, coincided with Sky Sports’ ambitious

plans to increase the amount of live televised matches, changing our viewing patterns forever and with it enhancing the league’s position as the richest in the world. Changes on the playing side soon followed with clubs able to flex their financial muscle; new stadia and infrastructure would house

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the drastically increased influx of foreign players and managers that has continued to this day. It must’ve seemed crazy in the 1980s to think that fans would so soon be listing amongst their all-time cult heroes those unfamiliar names of Cantona, Zola, Henry and Djimi Traore. In more recent times another branch of the Premier League tree has extended itself into our daily consciousness. Today, back-page column inches are almost as synonymous with the names of club owners, chairmen, CEOs and directors of football as they are with star signings. And who’s surprised with the way they go about their business? Whether it’s sacking the manager before even officially being his boss, changing a club’s name, colours or even location, football ownership has in itself become a different ballgame altogether. Halftime Whistle delves into this weird and wonderful world to see if things have gone that bit too far, or if we need to stand back and let the owners run what are officially their clubs. After all, they are supposedly fit and proper...

ROMAN’S EMPIRE

I suppose it all sort of started in 2003 when, late into the night of July 1st, Chelsea FC was sold by Ken Bates to a little known Russian billionaire oil tycoon by the name of Roman Abramovich. What followed was truly remarkable. In his first season, Roman splashed out over £150 million in transfer fees alone. In total, having bought the club for £140m, the club has lost in the region of £500,000,000 since his arrival. Chelsea are now firmly established as one global football’s elite but, for a businessman, that seems kind of ridiculous? Believe me if Halftime Whistle lost £500 million in the next ten years, no number of ‘Magazine of the Year’ titles could justify its continuation! I mean, as a rule, football clubs lose money. How much they can lose is under much scrutiny at the moment with this being the inaugural season of Financial Fair Play regulations but the debt hanging over even the world’s most ‘valuable’ football clubs is well-documented.

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top 5 richest owners

Sheikh Mansour (Man City) VALUE: £20bn – Oil Alisher Usmanov (Arsenal) VALUE: £12.4bn – Mining, lumber. Roman Abramovich (Chelsea) VALUE: £10.3bn – Oil Markus Liebherr’s Estate (Southampton) VALUE: £3bn – Inheritance from crane enterprise Joe Lewis (Tottenham Hotspur) VALUE: £1.9bn from Foreign exchange & investment

It seems almost bizarre that every other aspect of the off-the-field activity at football clubs are run like any other business, driven by profit, profit, profit but that wages accounted for 70 % of Chelsea’s turnover in 2012 – and that’s actually the smallest chunk to date since he took charge! I suppose it all goes to show we’re dealing with no ordinary industry.

FOOTBALL: AN EMOTIONAL BUSINESS Despite the losses football is, of course, a huge marketplace. Its popularity and religion-mimicking loyalty means even the world’s biggest companies want a piece of

the football (mine’s a Pukka) pie. Commercial deals are everywhere – Manchester United have an official wine partner, Arsenal an official tyre (a TYRE?!). It extends in house as well, for example I noted over Christmas that my team, Bristol City, have their own highly distasteful denim range and I remember being on holiday years back and munching on some FC Barcelona CRISPS! Who buys this crap!? Well, we do – the fans. The more popular the club, the more fan interaction, the more money. Success on the pitch breeds profit off it and this is where Roman’s cut-throat business instincts trickle down to the playing side as well. In an Abramovich enterprise, if someone is set targets and charged with getting results but fails to attain them, they’re out. Across the board this is becoming more evident visible; football is being treated more and more like a business on both sides of the white line. At Chelsea this equates to ten managers in ten years. A mark of instability? Who’s going to argue with three league titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Europa League and a Champions League. But for all this success the figures still don’t add up. Today, Chelsea are valued at around £525 million, were bought for £140m and £500m been lost. If he was to sell today at value price, that’s a net loss of 115 million quid. So why does he do it? Football is arguably the most emotional market in the world, with

Abramovich bought Chelsea for £140 million and has since lost another £500 million.


FOOTBALL OWNERSHIP

Assam Allan, faces the wrath of Hull City fans with his rebranding ideas

an infinite amount of emotional shareholders. It’s brought Abramovich and millions of fans eleven trophies and countless days and nights that he will cherish forever. He does it because he loves it, it’s his favourite hobby. You don’t hear too many Chelsea fans complaining either...

DOUBTING TIGERS, FORBIDDEN DRAGONS With football clubs being treated more and more like businesses, there’s now big emphasis on the ‘brand’. One of Roman’s first branding choices was to modernise the club’s crest, something evident at other clubs including Everton last season and at Arsenal, Aston Villa and Spurs in recent times. With such a sentimental product, changes to these historical aspects often provoke controversy. When a club’s identity is tampered with it’s a different animal altogether, and no two examples are more pertinent than with the Cardiff City bluebird and the Hull City tiger. As you’ll know, Cardiff owner Vincent Tan changed the home strip from blue to red whilst Assam Allan wants to change his club’s name from Hull City to Hull Tigers. In both instances, the perceived justification is to appeal to a wider, international market and from a purely business perspective I would argue that both moves would do more good than harm. The red of Cardiff may resonate more with those neutral fans (if there are any!) in Wales and also has strong links to Asian culture. Furthermore, echoing BBC reporter

Wimbledon fans were very vocal ov er their clubs move to Milt on who wouldn’t Keynes, ?

Frank Keogh’s notions, the prevalence of the Tiger in India, one of the world’s most emergent economies, is one such example of how a name adaptation could work in their favour. However, this isn’t an iPhone or an electric toothbrush, this is a football team. “Without our history, what’s left?” The fans cry. “A future” the bigwigs roar. And therein lies the eternal question at the heart of this debate: Would Cardiff & Hull fans swap their grievances for a prolonged Premier League presence? It’s a very hypothetical situation and it’s certainly too early to judge the long-term benefits of the arrival of the dreaded red, yet Cardiff’s promotion has certainly gone some way to mute the initial public outcry. Identity goes far beyond merely a name and a colour of shirt and Cardiff fans must never have felt as strong a connection with their club than when Frazer Campbell nodded in the winner on the opening weekend against Manchester City. What scares me, and probably a lot of Hull fans, is how far things could go and the prospect of jeopardizing this sacred relationship. That ‘Tigers’ suffix makes me feel uneasy as it instantly conjures up images of the franchises of America, a place where there exists a far more ruthless culture of reidentification. Around the time of Abramovich’s takeover, for example, plans were being made for Major

League Baseball side Montreal Expos to be relocated to, wait for it...Washington. They moved COUNTRIES no less - the equivalent of me nipping to Brussels to watch Bristol City home matches. When this happens, the fans and decades of history are effectively deleted by the vision of a small number of powerful men, and the inking of a few signatures. Thankfully examples of similar gravity are few and far between on these shores, but the MK Dons situation of 2004 is still far too entrenched in our recent memory for us to feel completely comfortable. An ambitious club needs to be run with a strong business model behind it but a compromise has to be reached that won’t alienate the fans too much. In Germany, the 50 + 1 rule helps protect clubs from the risk of totalitarianism by giving supporters a democratic voice. Over here, it’s less black and white. An FA appointed panel granted permission on the Wimbledon relocation, whilst the FA Council will decide upon the proposed Hull City name change. It will be fascinating to see what the result is. All in all the face and faces of football ownership has changed a lot over the years. We may not know ever know the true motives of those men and women who run our football teams. However, whether it’s ego, greed, pleasure, or a mixture of all three, one thing hasn’t changed, and that’s that the majority of football owners are desperate for the same thing they always have been, and the same thing that you and I will continue to yearn for, and that’s three points on a Saturday.

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STICKERBOOK

This month HTW picks the Top XI tran sfer records by position*

HALFTIME WHISTLE

£47.5m

Gianluigi BUFFON

£32.7m

Dani ALVES

£26.5m

GK

Fabio Coentrao

RB

£30m

LB

£37m Rio FERDINAND

Thiago SILVA

CB

£64.5m

CB

£57m

Zinedine ZIDANE

CM

CM

KAKA

£80m £76m Cristiano RONALDO

£80m Gareth BALE

CF

NEYMAR

HTW TOP XI Did we miss someone out?

AM

Or do you have an idea for a Top XI for a future issue or website?

£61m *Source = transfermarkt.com

LW

Get in touch now and email: editor@halftimewhistle.co.uk

Zlatan IBRAHIMOVIC

CF

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Our favourite chairman aboard his Orient Express, hoping to derail the transfer window

BARRY HEARN Interview: Josh Modaberi

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BARRY HEARN

arry Hearn is a man with plenty to cheer about just now. His business interests continue to thrive, not least with the Premier League Darts which has just returned to our screens, as well as the possibility of a lucrative rematch between Froch & Groves on the horizon this year. And as we enter the business end of the season, Hearn edges ever closer to football history as well, as his Leyton Orient side remain in the chasing pack at the top of League One. But this time of year is one that even gets Barry’s back up. When asked his opinion on an eternally contentious recent topic in football, he was unequivocal in his response: “The transfer window is a nonsense.” In response to our feature on the changes in football ownership, Barry is very much one of the old guard, having taken over the reins at Brisbane Road in 1995. He added: “Good management is about running a controlled business, not a knee-jerk frenzy market that most of these people seem to run. In my opinion most of the people in football leave their brains in the car park when they park their Bentleys. Prior to the inception of the transfer

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window in 2002-03 clubs were able to buy, sell and loan players throughout the season and a number of managers have publicly expressed their contempt for the current system and a desire to return to the old one. Hearn continued. “It should just go back to the way it was before, all the transfer window does is drive the prices of players up. You’ve only got to look back at some of the transfers that have been made and the amount of money they have gone for.” It’s been a remarkable season for the O’s, who won their first eight league games on the trot and have done so without breaking the bank, as Hearn explains: “Wow - Orient, goodness me we are on fire! I don’t want to get too carried away but at the same time you have to enjoy these because that is what you work so hard for.” “But we haven’t bought a player for years. Bringing in players on loan and through the youth team are the two basics for us and we’ve got quite a few youth players coming through that we try to give a chance.” “We’ve got a great manager in Russell Slade who knows what he is doing. We don’t put the manager under pressure - Russell has

control over the budget completely and he spends within budget on whoever he wants. “I spoke to him and told him I have money for him when he is ready, and he told me he didn’t need anyone and he would give me a shout when he does. Russell is very adept to the loan market but it’s not just about getting great players, it is about creating a great team - they don’t necessarily have to be the best players.” “For us we don’t want to sell any of our players - if someone makes us a ridiculous offer we will think about it, of course, but we are not in the market to sell and we are not particularly in the market to buy. “Apparently there are a few clubs looking at Moses Odubajo for £3m quid, well they can look, he is a great player who I think can play at the highest level, but were not going to sell at that price.” Well Barry will be happy that the transfer window is firmly shut for now. However he will of course only have to wait a few months before it the merry-go-round starts once more. The question is whether he’ll be a Championship chairman by then? At present, the prospect is anything but ‘nonsense’.

I’ve told Russell Slade I have money for him when he is ready.

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ON THE HTW WEB

For our feature article on Transfer Deadline Day CLICK HERE

WHAT A

STRIKEFORCE! Transfer deadline day with Sky Sports News’ Natalie Sawyer Interview: Josh Modaberi

ith the transfer window recently shut, clubs and fans alike can now look on with optimism at the prospect that their new signing(s) may help them in their quest for silverware, promotion, staving of relegation, or simply relaxing in the comfort of mid-table obscurity. Since the inception of the transfer window in the 2002-03 season, January 31st has become a key date in the football calendar and, being by far the busiest on average for wheeling and dealing, it has also become a media event in its own right. Leading the way is Sky Sports News and, in truth, their coverage is pretty much unrivalled. The deadline day programme starts at 6am when the agents are

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themselves only just tucking into their corn flakes, and runs through far beyond the official 11pm cutoff point. The last leg is the most eagerly anticipated as the football public awaits another day to rival those involving Tevez, Arshavin and, of course, Robinho. For the prime spot our screens are adorned with the dream team of Jim White and Natalie Sawyer, both clad in yellow to match the ‘Breaking News’ ticker that is itself working overtime. Halftime Whistle‘s Josh Modaberi spoke to Natalie about what the day is like from the inside. She told us exclusively: “It’s like no other. You walk in and straight away you can tell it’s going to be busy - a hell of a day.” It’s a hectic environment, with literally hundreds

of deals going on all around the country and it’s the same in the studio, “We don’t get much information ahead of what we break,” Sawyer continued. “So sometimes we are breaking stories and are like – where has that come from!?” Jim White orchestrates things with an esteemed cocktail of class, composure but somehow an almost over-enthusiasm that can’t help but sucker you in to believing at any moment a marquee transfer is imminent. And for Natalie, she knows we’re in safe hands. “Jim is fantastic, such a character – what you see is what you get from Jim, that is exactly how he is, full of beans, great fun to work with and I absolutely love it.” In the supporting cast are reporters

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NS: My goodness - with Brentford you get a lot of ups, probably more downs but there have been a few ups and we are flying high so far this season. Any promotion is fantastic, being at Cambridge when we won back promotion in 1999 was a fantastic day. There were three of us going for the championship, I think it was us, Cambridge and Cardiff City, we won the game and the Division Three title, it was just a great day out! We’ve had a few downs as well with playoff heartache but we seem to bounce back and go again.

Natalie with fellow Deadline Day anchor Jim White

around the country, on a day where their patience and professionalism are tested to the max in the face of potential adverse weather and ill-behaved youths who want in on the limelight. This has become a subplot all on its own and it’s not uncommon to hear swearing or see objects flying amidst the odd bare arse or two in the background! It’s all normally in good spirits and adds to a unique experience for football fans nationwide. However, Natalie knows where she’d rather be!

him!” - You just wanted give him a cuddle! How could he get it so wrong?” Away from the studio, Natalie is a big Brentford fan and we turned the tables on her with a Q & A about life supporting the buzzing Bees. HTW: Earliest memory? Natalie Sawyer: Wow, my first game was in 1987, a while back now - it was against Bristol Rovers and it was a 1-1 draw. We went for my brother’s birthday, he was born

I didn’t think being a Soccerette would lead me to where I am now! “Some of the reporters do have to put up with mischief-making fans and no doubt some of them have been out all day enjoying themselves. I’m much happier in the comfort of the studio where it’s warm, there’s no chance of fans pouring stuff over you! In truth most fans are good-natured and they know what a buzz it is and just want to be involved, all of our reporters do a great job I must say.” So now a veteran of Transfer D-Day, we asked Natalie what her standout moment has been. “Oh, goodness me – that’s a tough question. They have all been so good! There is never a dull transfer deadline day, there is always something that happens. “But I think that the moment that stands out for me though is Peter Odemwingie turning up at QPR, and everyone was just thinking “what is he doing!?” Being a mother and a woman you can’t help but think “bless

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on Bonfire Night and what I clearly remember was the haze of the floodlights because it was getting dark. It was great fun - I was the only girl as well so that was an added bonus because I thought I was pretty cool being with all these boys even though I was younger than them! I think we all just got hooked as a family, it was so much fun, it was a great day out and we’ve never looked back.

HTW: What is your match-day routine when you go to Griffin Park? NS: My pre-match is that I’m involved with Bees Player, which is the Brentford radio team and I like to go and help out with them on match days both at home and away. Normally I get to the ground for about 2pm, and give my pre-match thoughts. HTW: So what was it like appearing on Soccer AM as a Soccerette? NS: I was doing work experience at Sky and it came about through that basically. I went home and said there was a possibility I could be a Soccerette and as soon as I said that to my dad and the idea of being on TV he hammered it home that I had to do it. Obviously I did it, looking back though it’s perhaps not exactly the highlight of my career but it certainly gave me the thought that actually I wouldn’t mind working in TV. It was good fun and I enjoyed it - I never would have thought it would have led to where I am now but maybe in the back of my mind it inspired me!

HTW: Who were some of your favourite Brentford players? NS: Well, Dean Holdsworth was everything to me, he was God! He scored loads of goals and as a girl he wasn’t bad to look at either! He was my number one and has always been my ultimate Brentford hero.

HTW: Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? NS: I would still like to be involved in sport - whether I would still be presenting I don’t know, I would love to still be involved in football. If I wasn’t presenting then I would like to be behind the camera and still be in television. That is how I started out, working behind the scenes as a runner and then I worked my way up, so fitting back into that would be quite nice.

HTW: What has been your highlight supporting Brentford?

For more from Natalie you can follow her on Twitter @nataliesawyer


MAXÏMO PARK Vocalist Paul Smith took some time out from his busy schedule to chat with Halftime Whistle’s Joshua Modaberi about all things Boro! aul Smith is the lead vocalist of chart sensations Maxïmo Park. When he isn’t touring the world, the 34-yearold likes nothing better than taking the short rail journey down the coast from his Tyneside home (enemy territory) to watch Middlesbrough at the Riverside.

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First of all - why Middlesbrough? They were my local big team, I’m from a place called Billingham and there a few lower league sides that play in the area but the big sides are Hartlepool, Darlington who used to be in the Football League, and

Middlesbrough. In the school yard it was always about Middlesbrough and it was just inevitable due to my location. My parents weren’t massive football fans but my granddad was a Sunderland supporter but he died when I was little and I suspect I would have been as well. In the end Boro’ got into my blood, and I would get on the bus and go and watch the games. What are your earliest memories of supporting Middlesbrough? I used to listen to the radio before I ever went to any of the games and one of my earliest

ON THE HTW WEB

For more interviews with celebrity fans CLICK HERE

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memories is when we got into the play-offs and beat Chelsea to go up to the old First Division. Late nights listening to the play-offs on the radio – that’s where it all began for me! Do you get many other footballers attend your gigs? Yeah we have had a few show up down the years. I ended up becoming good friends with Colin Cooper who used to be the first team coach at Boro and he played for the club for many years as well as Forest, Millwall and England. He’s a really top guy and a great professional – he’s managing at Hartlepool United now and I’ve been down to watch a match there this season just to see how he was getting on. He loves coming to the gigs - sometimes he comes with his daughters so I’m not sure if it is them that like the band or their dad! It is always nice to meet people from a different field, and they are interested in music and you’re interested in the football so it is quite nice to have those conversations. What have been some of the highlights for you supporting Boro? We were playing a gig on the weekend of the Middlesbrough v Seville UEFA Cup final so I was unable to go to Eindhoven but one of my best mates went and he said it was best off that I didn’t go because we got battered


MAXÏMO PARK

QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS FAVOURITE KIT I suppose when you first get into the club when you’re just a young kid you are always waiting for the new kits to come out. Those first ones are always the ones that you look for in later life, I used to have one with the local gardening centre Dickens on a the main sponsor, that was a cool strip!

Favourite CHANT I like, ‘Come On Boro’, simple but effective!

ALL TIME FAVOURITE PLAYER I would have to say Bernie Slaven (pic), he scored 140 goals for Boro, was capped by the Republic of Ireland and scored some crucial goals in getting us up from the old 3rd Division up to what is now the Premier League, the old 1st Division. I think without Bernie’s goals and his individual style the club would have been a little less exciting. He had a big quiff and people called him the wolf man. he was a real character from Scotland had written to all 92 football clubs and I think Middlesbrough were the only ones to give him a trial and he ended up becoming one of our all time greatest goal scorers.

Favourite current player Lukas Jutkiewicz (now at Bolton) who played for us is big Maximo Park fan so he was my favourite! He is a battling striker, I don’t think he had the rub of the green with injuries and things when he arrived at Boro but he seems like a really nice guy.

There is a lot of bland rubbish music out there and we don’t want to be part of that! 4-0! Even though we didn’t win the final we had an amazing run to get there with some amazing comebacks against some great European sides. When we won the League Cup in 2004 is another one that springs to mind. I was watching it in a pub in Newcastle and it was one of the only times where I’ve been too excited in a pub to keep quiet in Newcastle watching a Boro game. That was a big day when we beat Bolton! Is it a mix of teams you support in the group? Yes, very mixed. The other lads are all from different parts of the country - Lukas our keyboard players is a Huddersfield supporter, Duncan our guitarist is a Derby fan, so he is my Championship rival and they’ve got our old manager Steve McLaren, then Archie and Tom are both Liverpool fans but I think I’m the football obsessive of the group! Do you guys play football yourselves? We will try to play a game whilst on tour if we have time if we’ve got a ball kicking about. I’ve actually played at Middlesbrough in front of a fairly big crowd for Gary Parkinson who used to play for Boro and noe has locked-in syndrome, so it was a charity thing for him and his family. I ended up playing against a lot of my old heroes and playing at the Riverside was a really cool experience! I’ve also met David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard when I took part in an Adidas tournament a few years ago. I’ve done a few things like that but to be honest I just prefer playing with my mates a bit of five-a-side or down the local park! How would you describe your playing style? Foolishly attractive! I love a nutmeg, I love trying to get past people, I wouldn’t say

that I’m terrible at doing that but I think sometimes it frustrates other players who want you the pass the ball a little bit more. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not touring or watching football? I like to read and I enjoy going to the cinema. I’m a bit of a music obsessive so I’m out at gigs when I’m not performing them! Could you tell us something about yourself that we wouldn’t already know? Before the band kicked-off, I used to be an art teacher actually. After I finished university I used to teach art & design to pensioners at a local college. If I had more time on my hands I would like to paint and draw a bit more. Where do you see yourself and the band being in 10-years time? Well if you had told me we would still be going today ten years ago I would have shocked! I don’t like to plan things too much - it’s nice to have the years planned out and knowing we’ve got gigs going on and knowing we’re going to end up in Tokyo and maybe America and Australia as well as around the rest of Europe but I think you should also try to justify each record to yourself when you are making music. I don’t ever want to go on autopilot and just release records because it’s your job - each record should have a reason for being out there. There is lots of bland rubbish music out there and we don’t want to be part of that! Maxïmo Park’s new single Leave This Island is OUT NOW with the album Too Much Information released in February. The band are also touring in March 2014 for more information and tickets visit www.maximopark. com and follow @maximopark

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Fackin’ hell

THE COCKNEY BOOKMAKER For betting offers and advice visit @cockneybookie on Twitter

We have identified the three of the tightest leagues across Europe’s elite. Some of the title odds are surprising considering how close they are so far through the season. See for yourself and get down the bookies before your team starts running away with it! Positions correct at time of going to press.

TIGHT AT THE TOP ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea Arsenal Manchester City Liverpool

P

PTS

ODDS

26 26 25 26

57 56 54 53

17/10 10/1 6/5 17/2

SPANISH LA LIGA Barcelona Real Madrid Athletico Madrid Athletic Bilbao

PORTUGUESE PRIMERA LIGA

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PTS

ODDS

24 24 24 24

60 60 60 44

5/6 11/8 7/1 299/1

Benfica FC Porto Sporting Lisbon Estoril-Praia

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PTS

ODDS

19 19 19 19

46 42 41 33

4/7 5/2 14/1 47/1

EUROPEAN COMPETITION CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

click to bet now!

FAVOURITES: BAYERN MUNICH

13/5

Unbeaten in the league in 45 games, 29 away games without losing in all competitions and 4 points dropped all season. Pep Guardiola’s record breaking Bayern team are making all the right noises as they look to be the first team to win back to back Champions Leagues.

EUROPA LEAGUE FAVOURITES: JUVENTUS

GOOD SHOUT: MANCHESTER CITY

12/1

On the way to scoring the most Premier Leagul; goals in a season and they’ve already beaten the European Champions. Some say you can’t buy happiness, but I’m sure Man City fans far and wide would disagree. You’d be a fool to right them off.

OUTSIDERS: PARIS ST GERMAIN

15/1

OUTSIDERS: AJAX

28/1

The French side sit top of Ligue 1 and have been going from strength to strength. An improved squad, Cavani being the notable addition, since being beaten quarter-finalists last year on away goals to Barcelona. They have possibly had the easiest draw in the last 16 against Leverkusen. Worth a flutter.

click to bet now!

7/2

With a clear lead in the Serie A and unfortunate to go out of the Champions League group stage, Juve look clear favourites for this competition.

GOOD SHOUT: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

8/1

The sale of Gareth Bale allowed Tottenham to strengthen their squad and can now field a second string team capable of scaring most of the teams in the Europa League. Adebayor is on fire and Sherwood seems to have them playing back at their best.

Holland legend Frank De Boer has changed the fortunes of Ajax in the last few years. Top of the Eredivsie and a young side full of confidence and that Dutch technical ability that can make you drool.

Keep an eye out for the odds on these games and have a butcher’s at my forthcoming tips at @cockneybookie

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Fackin’ hell

THE COCKNEY BOOKMAKER

For exclusive betting offers, advice and all things cockney visit @cockneybookie on Twitter “Are you hungry? Cos I am, not for Frank Skinner, but for goals!!! Check out these slips for the forthcoming weeks and the strategies behind them and you’ll be able to spot where there’s going to be goals from a mile off!”

BETTING STRATEGY:

MORE THAN 2.5 GOALS

Add all of the goals from the teams last 5 fixtures. Also count how often it has happened across the ten fixtures. 30+ goals is an average of more than 3 goals a game. If this has happened 6 times or more across the ten fixtures combined, we know that there’s likely to be goals.

Weekend commencing

Weekend commenciyng

1st March

22ndSwFansebea (3ru3 andar5)

Liverpool v and 7) Newcastle v Villa (30 2 and 9) (3 m rha the Carlisle v Ro 5 and 7) Old ham v Gillingham (3 and 6) Port Vale v Crewe (32 (37 and 7) ugh oro erb Pet v Stevenage

H Reading v Yeovil (33 and 6) Bristol City v Gillingham (33 and 8) Carlisle v Brentford (3 1 and 7) Crawley v Peterborough (37 and 7) Rotherham v Notts Co unty (36 and 8)

10 .00

Weekend commencing

Weekend commencing

8th MForarest (3ch0 and 6)

15th March

Barnsley v 2 and 7) Birmingham v QPR (3 and 7) 1 Gilligham v Crawley (3 ient (34 and 6) Or Notts County v Leyton and 7) 9 (3 Peterborough v Crewe

HTW BET TIP 24

Man U v Liverpool (32 and 7) Tottenham v Arsenal (3 2 and 6) QPR v Yeovil (33 and 7) Crewe v Old ham (34 and 6) MK Dons v Peterborough (35 and 7) Tranmere v Notts Count y (32 and 6)

Weekend commencing

22ndLiverpMoolar(31chand 7)

Cardiff v (32 and 6) Birmingham v Reading and 7) 3 (3 e ew Gillingham v Cr 6 and 7) (3 le rlis Ca v Notts County 6) and 2 (3 ley Old ham v Craw 9 and 9) (3 m rha the Ro Peterborough v

Place a bet on all possible 5 folds and the 6 fold on these six selections. Tidy profit if the 5 fold comes in, but heavy winnings if all 6 do. Cockney Bookie has got 5 out of 6 right on his last 3 +2.5 goals selections so I’d back the bookie if I was you.


ON THE HTW WEB

For more of the world’s top Young Guns CLICK HERE

Halftime Whistle’s guide to the hottest young talent

ALEN HALILOVIC DINAMO ZAGREB

alilovic’ is pretty much the epitome of the wonderkid. The youngest ever debutant for both his club and Croatia, as well as being the youngest scorer in the Croatian top-flight and the second youngest ever player to appear in the Champions League, it’s little surprise that Barcelona have already made an official approach for the lad being heralded as the ‘next Luka Modric’. He even looks a bit like the shaggy-haired master. Zagreb are desperate to hold on to him for a bit longer at least but with reported interest from other European heavyweights this may prove difficult, with Barca reportedly planning a fresh bid after their original offer was rebuffed.

H

NAME: Alen Halilovic’ DATE OF BIRTH: 18/06/96 PLACE OF BIRTH: Dubrovnik, Croatia HEIGHT: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in) POSITION: Attacking Midfielder SQUAD NUMBER: 10 WATCH HIM IN ACTION CLICK HERE

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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO? AMR ZAKI WIGAN ATHLETIC

2008-2009 (32 apps/11 goals)

HULL CITY

2010 (6 apps/0 goals)

ollowing a prolific start to life in Wigan, it’s safe tto say Amr Zaki failed to live up to the high standards he set himself in the Premier League. Well, at least people didn’t get too carried away - Dave Whelan played down the chunky Egyptian’s qualities by comparing him to some lad called Alan Shearer who, after extensive research, I’ve found out to be the all-time Premier League record goal scorer. Safe to say Mr JJB would’ve probably had to throw in a few more camels for such a signature, and no doubt the comparison even gave our laugh-a-minute Geordie the hump! Elsewhere in the North East, Steve Bruce’s crystal ball may need an MOT as well, as he proclaimed that his striker ‘could have a long and successful Premiership career ahead of him’ before lamenting his ‘highly unprofessional’ departure only six months later. After leaving the small-fry world of the Prem he’s hit new heights, scoring 2 in 3 for Al-Salmiya Sporting Club of Kuwait, which followed a goalless stint at Turkey’s Elazigspor. He still chips in with a few goals for Egypt mind, although this wasn’t enough to see them through to next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil. Zaki, you probably won’t live long in the memory but you gave us some great performances for about four months, so fair play for that kid!

F

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ON THE HTW WEB

For even more blasts from the football past CLICK HERE


ONTHEBOX TV GUIDE

HTW’s guide to upcoming televised Premier League games.

GAME OF THE MONTH CHELSEA v aRSENAL 12.45 SATURDAY 22 MAR, BT SPORT 1/HD 1 As we near the end of the season, those big fixtures begin to hold even more significance at both ends of the table. Our main focus is, somewhat inevitably, on the title race as it looks to be one of the closest in recent memories between three or four genuine contenders. By the time Chelsea host Arsenal in the lunchtime kickoff on March 22nd things may have changed but, if it’s as tight as it is now, this could be a genuine six-point title showdown. This time around it may be too late to settle for a stalemate so we’re hope for some free flowing attacking football. It’s one not to miss.

SATURDAY 22nd FEBRUARY

SATURDAY 8th MARCH 2014

MONDAY 10th MARCH 2014

BT SPORT 1 / HD. Chelsea v Everton 12:45 SKY SPORTS 1 / HD / SKY 3D. Crystal Palace v Manchester United 17:30

BT SPORT 1 / HD. West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United 12:45 SKY SPORTS 1 / HD. Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur 17:30

SKY SPORTS 1 / HD. Liverpool v Sunderland 20:00

SUNDAY 23rd FEBRUARY SKY SPORTS 1 / HD / SKY 3D. Newcastle United v Aston VIlla 13:30 SKY SPORTS 1 / HD. Norwich City v Tottenham Hotspur 16:00

SATURDAY 1st MARCH 2014 SKY SPORTS 1 / HD. Southampton v Liverpool 17:30

SUNDAY 2nd MARCH 2014 SKY SPORTS 1 / HD. Aston Villa v Norwich City 16:30

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SUNDAY 9th MARCH 2014 SKY SPORTS 1 / HD. Newcastle United v Everton 16:00

SATURDAY 15th MARCH 2014 BT SPORT 1 / HD. Hull City v Manchester City 12:45 SKY SPORTS 1 / HD. Aston Villa v Chelsea 17.30

SUNDAY 16th MARCH SKY SPORTS 1 / HD / SKY 3D. Manchester United v Liverpool 13:30 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal 16:00

SATURDAY 22nd MARCH 2014 BT SPORT 1 / HD. Chelsea v Arsenal 12:45 SKY SPORTS 1 / HD. West Ham United v Manchester United 17.30


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Issue 6