Football

The Premier League’s Battle Against Vine Is Doomed To Failure

In one of his more recent efforts to be perceived as a forward thinking, progressive sports administrator, FIFA President Sepp Blatter declared the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to be “the first truly mobile and social world cup” – a statement that is hard to dispute.

Twitter’s traffic records were broken, Facebook experienced a surges in popularity and mobile networks reported that live streaming, video highlights and social media use was reaching unprecedented levels.

This was partly fuelled by the sharing of video clips of goals on YouTube and Vine shortly after the ball had hit the back of the net. But despite the obvious exposure and fan engagement opportunities that such activity provides, the Premier League has pledged to crackdown on users sharing clips of its matches.

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Sky Sports Takes Advice From ‘ESPN 8: The Ocho’ To Fend Off BT Sport Competition

As football clubs across the country prepare for the start of the new season, the nation’s broadcasters have also been making moves for their own battle for supremacy, which takes place not only in our living rooms but on our mobile devices too.

Last year saw arguably the most significant development in UK sports television since the launch of Sky Sports itself, with BT Sport’s arrival in the market. Unlike Setanta or ESPN, BT has the ambition and the money to mount a serious long-term challenge to Sky’s supremacy.

Sky’s big innovation for 2014-15 is the launch of Sky Sports 5, a football-only channel that brings it perilously close to ESPN 8 ‘The Ocho’, the satirical channel featured in the movie Dodgeball that boasted “if it’s almost a sport, we’ve got it here.”

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Goal Line Technology, Social Media And Online Streaming Take Centre Stage At World Cup 2014

On the eve of the 2014 World Cup final between Germany and Argentina, FIFA president Sepp Blatter declared this year’s event to be “the first truly mobile and social world cup.” It’s easy to disagree with many of Blatter’s statements but not this one of them.

In fact the only grounds for debate was that this wasn’t just the most social World Cup of all time, it was almost the most technological, with innovations on and off the pitch helping referees, players and fans.

Goal-line technology made its debut, 4K and streaming made huge strides and fans were more involved than ever before thanks to unprecedented channels of communication.

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World Cup 2014: Multi-Ethnic Switzerland Advance In Brazil Amid Immigration Debate Back Home

This World Cup has been the best anyone can remember thanks to teams throwing caution to the wind and playing an enterprising brand of attacking football, resulting in plenty of goals and entertaining matches.

Even the traditionally conservative Swiss have been caught up in the excitement, progressing to the second round thanks to a late victory against Ecuador, a 5-2 defeat against France and a convincing 3-0 victory over Honduras.

This has set up a date with Argentina in the last 16 on Tuesday and Switzerland’s performance has been lauded by the Swiss media, which says the ghosts of South Africa, where Switzerland exited the group stage despite beating eventual champions Spain, have been laid to rest.

Blick declared the team had “graduated with flying colours” and “The business is done, now for fun. We’ll dance a tango with Argentina.” Neue Zürcher Zeitung agreed, stating the team had “met its target” and could play their second round match without pressure. State broadcaster SFR speculates Switzerland have acquired 200 million Brazilian fans, hoping Die Nati can dump Argentina out of the competition.

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Gillingham 2-2 AFC Wimbledon: Gills And Mad Dog Have Their Day In The Sun

Gillingham Priestfield (5)

Gillingham secured the point they needed to clinch the League Two title on Saturday, the club’s second ever championship and first since winning Division Four in 1963-64.

A capacity crowd of 11,172 attended the 2-2 draw with AFC Wimbledon, the most since September 2003 when West Ham were the visitors and just shy of the 11,605 that saw Gillingham take on Maidstone United in the first ever league Kent derby in 1989.

The Priestfield Stadium was bathed in sunshine and the game took place in an atmosphere unlike anything I’ve ever experienced at the ground, comparable only to the two Wembley play-off finals in 2000 and 2009.

It was a fitting end to a brilliant season for The Gills, who return to the third tier of English football for the first time in three years, although they were made to work for their draw by AFC Wimbledon, who are fighting for their league survival.

Soak up the sun

Gillingham dominated the first half in terms of possession and chances, with striker Deon Burton putting them ahead after 12 minutes. The lead was doubled less than ten minutes later when Chris Whelpdale found space on the left flank to find Danny Kedwell, who headed the ball home against his former club, and Gillingham looked as though they were cruising towards an historic achievement.

The home side started the second half the brighter of the two teams, but around the hour mark, Wimbledon began to make their presence felt. Dons striker Jack Midson scored after 65 minutes, beginning a period of dominance for the visitors.

Gillingham had looked so assured and composed, but Wimbledon were forcing them into mistakes and frantic last ditch defending. An inevitable equaliser was scored by Jonathan Meades and Gills fans were left wondering if there was going to be a repeat of last season, when they squandered a 3-1 lead to lose 3-4.

Gillingham Wimbledon 2

Great achivement

Port Vale’s inability to beat Northampton meant that even defeat would clinch the championship, but that was not an option for the Gills, who held strong to secure the point, prompting wild celebrations and the now customary pitch invasion.

Once the PA announcer’s desperate calls for the fans to return their seats were obeyed, the players and manager began to reflect on what has been an astonishing season for the club.

“Amazing, 10 months of hard work. They’ve just kept going, getting points, breaking records, the first title Gillingham have won for 50 years and to be the manager on this special day is a magnificent feeling,” an emotional Martin Allen told BBC Radio Kent. “This is the best highlight of my career. I’m the worst Allen in the Allen family. The others are multi-talented, and for me, to be nicknamed Mad Dog just because I tackled people and make a living from football, and to be known as a manager who keeps clubs up, to be champions is unbelievable.

“It’s a lottery win, Christmas Day, money can’t buy that. Priceless moment.”

The club were last promoted from League Two in 2009 through the play-offs under Mark Stimson, only to be relegated the following season. However that was a different team, who could have avoided the drop had they won just one away game all season. It’s difficult to remember the last time Gillingham played as well as they are doing now and if they can continue this momentum, their next spell in League One could last longer than a solitary campaign.

Inside The FA National Football Centre At St George’s Park

St Georges Park 9

Last month, I was invited to take a look around the FA’s new national football centre at St George’s Park near Burton-upon-Trent.

I was there to hear about the technology used at the centre and to speak to the FA’s CTO Rob Ray about how technology plays such an important role in administrating the sport in England. I spent less than 24 hours at St George’s Park, but that was enough time to appreciate just how impressive a facility it is.

Set in 330 acres of Staffordshire countryside, the new £110 million centre is home to England’s 24 national teams (all age groups, men and women’s teams, and disabled teams) but is also where coaches will be instructed how to implement the FA’s future game plan to teach the next generation of footballers.

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From Wembley to Maidstone

The attention to detail is staggering. There are 11 outdoor pitches, including one that is made of the same turf as Wembley Stadium and is cut at exactly the same time as the one in London. There is also a full-sized indoor pitch made from artificial 3G turf, the same used by Maidstone United at the Gallagher Stadium. So it’s obvious that Maidstone and Wembley are the two most important surfaces in England then.

The England rugby team trained here during the Six Nations and are reportedly interested in building something similar. After visiting Pennyhill Park before their game with Ireland in February, it’s easy to see why the RFU would want something more state of the art.

The UK may not have the weather of Australia or the college sports system of the US, but it does have the financial resources to aid sporting success. The impact of National Lottery funding on Team GB’s medal count at the 2012 London Olympics was obvious, while Britain has some of the best sporting arenas in the world.

While we’ve seen unprecedented sporting success in this country over the last ten years, England’s national football team has not been able to end 47 years of hurt (and counting). St George’s Park won’t change everything overnight, but it’s clear that it is a facility to make any nation in the world jealous.

UEFA Europa League Is No Longer ‘Thursday Nights, Channel 5’

UEFA Europa League

Something strange is happening in England this year. The Europa League, a competition usually treated with indifference at best in this country, has suddenly become flavour of the month with clubs, fans and the media.

The absence of a representative from the Premier League in the quarter-finals of the Champions League has contributed to this increased attention, but not even when Manchester United and Manchester City dropped down last season was there such interest.

England has three clubs remaining in the Europa League quarter-finals, indicative of the strength in depth of the Premier League, and each has their own reasons for wanting to lift the cup. For Chelsea and Rafa Benitez, it presents the chance for redemption, for Newcastle it is the ideal opportunity to end a long wait for silverware and for Tottenham and Andres Villas Boas, it could act as a platform for future success.

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App Review: Fantasy Premier League 2012-13 (iPhone/iPad)

Photo 11-03-2013 22 41 28

WARNING: As of the 2013-14 season this application appears to have stopped working. Pixel Sport has contacted the Premier League for clarificaiton

Format: iPad (reviewed), iPhone, Android

Version: 1.2

Fantasy Premier League is one of the most popular fantasy football games available, boasting 2.5 million players all keen to defeat their friends and family every week.

Given the popularity of its game, it’s not surprising that the league has come out with its own smartphone application, but it is strange it’s taken so long. Demand for such an app has been demonstrated by the unofficial applications that have tried to fill the vacuum, but none have had the official license.

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Can Premier League Highlights Drive Newspaper Subscriptions?

The Times

The Premier League’s lucrative auction of its broadcast rights continued yesterday when News International was awarded the mobile and online near-live clip rights for all 380 fixtures for three years, starting from the 2013-14 season.

The move is an intriguing one from the Rupert Murdoch-backed company and appears to suggest that it believes Premier League football can do for newspaper subscriptions what it did for the take up of Sky television in the early 1990s.

The mobile and online packages had previously been sold separately, but successful bidders have struggled to market and monetise the rights effectively, leading to the suggestion that they simply aren’t profitable as a standalone product.

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Review: Football Manager Handheld 2013 (iPhone/iPad)

Photo 04-01-2013 01 27 26 Format: iPad (Reviewed), iPhone (version 4.01)

Developer: Sports Interactive

Publisher: Sega

The more cynical among us greet yearly updates to sport franchises as though they are mere cash-ins comprising little more than updated stats coated in a fresh lick of paint.

The PlayStation Vita version of FIFA 13 has provided fresh ammunition for this school of thought, but Sports Interactive has remained immune from such criticism with its Football Manager series, adding a raft of new features with each annual release.

Football Manager Handheld 2013 includes all the expected updates to the legendary database powering the game, but beyond the addition of a few new leagues and some cosmetic improvements, there appears to be precious little novel about it.

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