Monday, May 14, 2012
Hammers look to nail top four
Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.
The £90 million match
West Ham and Blackpool will come together in the Championship play-off final on Saturday, with the winner at Wembley set to make at least £90 million from their elevation to the Premier League.
The so-called "richest match in football" pairs two sides relegated from the top-flight last season, so both know all too well what they've been missing. Sam Allardyce's Hammers will go into the game as favourites, and Big Sam hasn't done much to quell the expectancy with his lofty comments in the build-up this week.
"Given enough time, we can get Champions League football here in about six or seven years," Allardyce said. "If we don't go up, I will not regard it as a failure. I have a two-year contract to get us up and we might do it in a year."
Meanwhile, Blackpool manager Ian Holloway has been watching back the DVD of his team's 2010 play-off final win for inspiration. "My wife is so sick of it she is on the verge of killing me," Holloway wrote in his column for the Independent newspaper.
Cardiff stay out of the red
It really was true. Cardiff City's Malaysian owners wanted to change the club's home colours from blue to red. They also wanted to introduce a dragon as Cardiff's logo, in an attempt to "demonstrate the symbolic fusion of Welsh and Asian cultures" at the Championship club, who were knocked out of play-offs at the semi-final stage by West Ham.
Unsurprisingly, Cardiff fans didn't react kindly when the news was leaked. In fact, they reacted so strongly that Cardiff chairman Dato Chan Tien Ghee has since let them know the plans will not be coming to fruition.
"In the light of the vociferous opposition by a number of the fans to the proposals being considered as expressed directly to our local management and through various media and other outlets, we will not proceed with the proposed change of colour and logo and the team will continue to play in blue at home for the next season with the current badge," he said.
Chinese buyers keen on Sky Blues
Chinese investors are reportedly considering a takeover of Coventry City. According to BBC Sport, Coventry are working closely with Ken Grant, an Asian-based businessman, to try to make a deal happen with the as yet unnamed group.
Coventry were relegated to League One this season.
Sixth time lucky for Blades?
The League One play-off finalists will be decided this week, with Sheffield United and Stevenage heading into the second leg of their semi-final still goalless, while Huddersfield have the relative luxury of defending a 2-0 lead against MK Dons at home.
The irrepressible Jordan Rhodes helped himself to goal 39 for the season for Huddersfield, in what Dons manager Karl Robinson described as "a really weird game". Robinson felt the encounter was evenly balanced and clearly still believes his side can turn the tie around in the return.
Sheffield United, meanwhile, are seeking to triumph in the play-offs for the first time in six attempts.
Shootout at 'Nam
Cheltenham will take a 2-0 lead into the second leg of their League Two play-off semi-final against Torquay. Jermaine McGlashan was the star for Mark Yates' team, scoring the opener and setting up the second for Ben Burgess.
"That makes us big underdogs for the second leg," Torquay manager Martin Ling said. "The bullets are certainly flying but we're not dead yet."
In the other tie, Crewe will go to Southend looking to protect a narrow 1-0 first-leg lead. Crewe are unbeaten in 17 games so will fancy their chances against a young and relatively inexperienced Southend team.
Di Canio corner
The Trawler is not sure which is more horrifying - the fact Swindon had Toploader play at a party to celebrate their League Two title success or the guest appearance by their manager Paolo Di Canio on the mic.
Watch Di Canio sing the Toploader classic Dancing in the Moonlight - very, very badly - right here.
Leeds announce summer plans
Neil Warnock will take his Leeds squad to Devon, Cornwall and Scandinavia in pre-season. The Trawler can only assume theme parks will be off limits, after the embarrassing shots of Warnock that surfaced following his team's trip to Flamingo Land in mid-season.
Ban for Hylton
Aldershot Town's Danny Hilton has been banned for eight games and fined £1,000, after being found guilty of racist abuse by the FA regulatory commission.
The punishment related to two incidents during Aldershot's League Two game against Barnet, in October 2011.