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I am a football writer and blogger who looks at the commercial aspects of the game today both at grass roots and full blown professional aspects. I report on one game per week, taking time to research the club, talk to supporters and key personnel before writing my reports and publishing them on my blog. I recently wrote the book Passport To Football which was published in October 2009 which covers 30 "adventures" around the world watching the game. I am currently working on a new book (my 7th) which will be published in September 2010 about what it is like to follow a non-league team in England.

Football Stadiums And Naming Rights

I have no issues with stadium naming rights as long as they are done for the right reasons. A long term commercial partnership for instance. You cannot have a better example than the Reebok. It has never had a different name, and as long as Reebok are in business I doubt it ever will. A local company who saw the synergy in their brand and Bolton Wanderers. A perfect match. The Walkers Stadium certainly fits into the Bolton mould of a local company and a football club working together, with Gary Lineker the glue that binds them together.

Agents for Change

"I will not rest until I have you holding a Coke, wearing your own shoe, playing a Sega game *featuring you*, while singing your own song in a new commercial, *starring you*, broadcast during the Superbowl, in a game that you are winning, and I will not *sleep* until that happens. I'll give you fifteen minutes to call me back."

Kevin Toms – The creator of Football Manager

Once upon a time there was a young man called Kevin Toms. Some of you (probably those over the age of 35) will have known his product very well indeed. To others the name will mean nothing, but I bet if you a) Own a PC, PSP, Playstation, X-Box or Wii, b) love football and c) Do not have a demanding wife/partner you will have heard of Championship Manager. Probably only rivalled by redtube.com as the most fun you can have on your own with a PC, Championship Manager gives us all an opportunity to be Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho or Gianfranco Zola (unfortunately the "alleged" nocturnal activities of a certain manager cannot be re-created in the current versions of the game), starting with the lowest of the lows and rising to the top. My record was taking Grays Athletic to the Champions League final in my 27th year on the game.

Paul Watson – Best international English manager?

After the huge fuss of our appalling showing in South Africa, the FA started another long and tedious review of how our national game should be run, what is the future of the academy at Burton and who should eventually succeed Capello when he eventually leaves. The upshot was that we need an Englishman in charge of our national game. Great - but who? 'Appy 'Arry? Big Sam? Alan Pardew? There isn't a single Englishman who really has the experience or the track record. But do you know we actually have a number of Englishmen who have international coaching experience. For instance, Bryan Robson is currently the national coach of Thailand (he actually replaced Peter Reid), Gary Johnson managed Latvia for awhile and of course there is Stephen Constantine who has managed Nepal, India, Malawi and is now in charge of Sudan. But what about someone who has had no real experience and started right at the bottom.

England’s finest export?

Did you manage to get back to England for the Lions Play Off Final at Wembley? Unfortunately not. It was the only week off we had all summer so I had arrange to take the family away on hoilday to Rhodes. As you can imagine I was gutted!! I tried to swing the Mrs around to the benefits of a weekend in Bermondsey but she was having none of it as we havent been away for two years so I was hoping for an ash cloud over Greece haha!

So who is accountable for England’s mess?

Who has the best league in the world? Many will say the Premier League. Sky Sports will ram slo-mo 3D HD clips down our throat until the cows come home but we should be looking to our victors last night for the business model that works for all parties. Fans gets to see their teams in stadiums designed with them in mind and prices that would make some Blue Square Conference teams blush, they get to see attacking football played by players who have been given the opportunity to develop through their youth systems. TV games are rigidly structured in advance so that every one knows who is playing when and the media knows when to start and stop building the hype and intruding.

Milton Keynes today, Pretoria tomorrow

Ghana had for some reason delayed their departure to South Africa preferring to head to the delights of roundabout city instead of an alpine training camp. They had come in for some stick from their own fans for heading to Milton Keynes instead of Durban, but if you close your eyes then they both look the same anyway.

We’re on the march with Ally’s Army

I knew one thing - Scotland were going to win the cup. How did I know that? Because Rod Stewart told me (well, not me personally) on Top of the Pops when introducing Andy Cameron and the Scottish World Cup Squad singing "Ally's Army". They were going to Argentina and they were going to win the World Cup. I didn't see Germany, France or Holland on TOTP so I assumed they would not be even challenging. After all the concept of "hype" does not exist to an 8 year old.

Grazie Gazza

In a move that would have left the British Tabloids proud, the German paper Bild ran a story that the Dutch players indulged in a party the night before the final with, shock horror "Naked girls and Champagne". None of the allegations were ever proved but it must have had an unsettling effect on the team. So at 3pm BST on the 7th July 1974 English referee Jack Taylor led out the two teams into a full Olympic Stadium in Munich. Game on, or not quite. Someone had forgotten the corner flags, and a desperate search for them took 7 minutes.

It was 40 years ago today…

1970 - Mexico I was just 6 months old when England took the real/fake Jules Rimet trophy out to Mexico to defend their crown of...

Hammers – A few millionaires signing on tomorrow

Last week a strange email arrived in the The Ball is Round inbox. Every day we are blessed with offers to become a millionaire by simply sending our bank details to the relative of an African prince or a long lost relative in dire need of my help to smuggle our long lost fortune outside of some 3rd world country, but this showed an easier route to making a million. According to this email, "leaked" by someone at the club, simply be an average journeyman footballer with a poor injury record and you too could soon be earning your million pounds per annum.

The penalty shoot out lottery

I have followed England in the last six major tournaments we have played in stretching back to the European Championships held here on home...