A View From The Stands

Football is a game of opinions. The stories that dominate the back pages of the newspaper are often the topic of conversation on social media and in pubs up and down the country.

A View From The Stands gives everyone the opportunity to have their opinion on the beautiful game published. Whether you’re an established writer, a budding sports journalist or just a fan with a strong view, we want to hear from you.

You can email your opinion piece to info@awaygames.co.uk

If you’re one of the many fans of Liverpool FC who happen to live nowhere near the city, then you’ll certainly have considered heading to Anfield, home to the iconic Liverpool Football Club, if you haven’t already. This must-see destination is not only a pilgrimage site for football lovers but also a great place to visit – filled with lots of different attractions and entertainment options.

Whether you are visiting town for a match, to explore the area or both, there are all sorts of things to see and do near Anfield. Here’s a look at some of the best attractions if you want to make the most of your time there:

1: Anfield Stadium Tour
No visit to Anfield would be complete without a tour of the legendary Anfield Stadium – even if no match is in play. You can go behind the scenes and explore the hallowed grounds where football history has been made. Walk through the players’ tunnel, take a seat in the famous Kop stand, and visit the Liverpool FC museum, where you can learn about the club’s incredible past. Whether you’re a die-hard Liverpool fan or just interested in football, the stadium tour offers a memorable experience for everyone.

2: Stanley Park
Adjacent to Anfield Stadium lies Stanley Park, a gorgeous green oasis that provides a welcome escape from the city. You can take a nice stroll through the park’s gardens, enjoy a picnic by the lake, or just take in the calming atmosphere. With its pretty pathways and calm surroundings, Stanley Park is the perfect place for you to unwind and recharge.

3: The Beatles Story
Just a short drive from Anfield, right in the heart of Liverpool’s world-famous Albert Dock, you’ll find The Beatles Story – the biggest permanent exhibition devoted to the most iconic band in the world.

Find out all about the fascinating story of the Fab Four as you take in the plethora of interactive exhibits, memorabilia, and even recreations of some of the biggest moments in the Beatles’ history. Whether you’re a Beatles fanatic or just interested in the band and their legacy, The Beatles Story is a great place to visit for music lovers of all ages.

4: Liverpool ONE
If you’re after a bit of retail therapy or fancy a bite to eat, Liverpool ONE is the ultimate shopping and leisure centre. Just a short drive from Anfield, you’ll have access to over 170 stores, restaurants, pubs and bars, etc. You can shop till you drop, catch the latest movie release at the cinema, or enjoy a delicious meal overlooking the beautiful Chavasse Park. No matter what you enjoy, Liverpool ONE has something for everyone.

5: Grosvenor Casino Liverpool
If you’re looking for an evening of excitement and entertainment, head to Grosvenor Casino Liverpool, situated near Liverpool ONE. Whether you’re a more experienced player or someone just looking to try your luck, this casino offers all sorts of games, including blackjack, roulette, poker, and some of the most popular slot machines found at a number of slot providers meaning that you’ll have some of the best games to play.
You can enjoy free drinks as you test your strategies at the tables or try your luck on the latest slots. With its stylish decor and exciting atmosphere, Grosvenor Casino Liverpool promises an unforgettable night – and you might just even bump into a few football players while you’re there!

6: Royal Albert Dock
Last but not least, take a step back in time at the historic Royal Albert Dock, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is not far from Anfield. Take a walk around the dock’s charming cobblestone streets, home to an impressive mix of galleries, shops, cafes, and restaurants. Check out the spell-binding ships that are moored along the waterfront, or take a cruise along the River Mersey for stunning views of the city.

With its famous maritime heritage and buzzing cultural scene, Royal Albert Dock gives you a glimpse into Liverpool’s interesting past.

So, there you are. If you are interested in heading over to Anfield to see Liverpool FC in action, then why not make a weekend of it?

Simple Strategies for Winning Football Bets Every Time

Over a million fans from all over the world watch their favourite teams play every week. The thrill of the game is obvious, but there’s something else about football that draws fans in even more and that is betting. However, only some individuals win money by betting on the sport, even though there are plenty of possibilities to do so. Consistently winning bets may be challenging due to each game’s many variables and unknowns.

Try Football Tipsters: They Make Accurate Forecasts about Football Games 

Bettors looking for a new and innovative way to increase their chances of winning in football might benefit from the expertise of experienced tipsters. There may be a lot of football tipsters, but only a few will show you the ropes when it comes to making money. Bettors, game watchers, and statisticians with full-time jobs or busy schedules may find it challenging to invest the time and effort required to participate in football. Football bettors at Netbet.it can save a lot of time in these scenarios by using a tipster who is skilled at research and can identify intelligent choices.

You Should Extend the Time between Bets

Second, be sure to extend your bet slip timeframe at all times. You may improve your odds of winning football bets by adding more time to your bet slip. In the interest of making quick money, the vast majority of football bettors who use accumulator wagers only choose matches scheduled on the same day. To boost their betting odds and get cash, they select the games in which they are confident and then add the ones that look uncertain.

Never Bet On Your Instincts

Bettors often rely on gut feelings while making their selections. Put your passion for football aside to make money consistently betting on the game. When betting, it’s more important to go with your heart than your brain.

Up to this point, much of the advice has been on making the most of what is currently available, such as resources and techniques. You may take your betting to the next level by learning to perform your research. First and foremost, you should research the teams you’re considering betting on. This includes their recent form, goal-scoring percentage and head-to-head results.

Know About the Odds

In this case, research also plays a primary role. You carefully consider the game votes in the time leading up to the bet. You only wager on a game if there is sufficient knowledge about it. After you’ve learned everything you can, it’s time to build your odds and see how they stack up against the bookies. Betting on a game is possible if you locate a bookmaker with better odds than you might get alone.

It Is Essential to Manage Your Funds

One of the most essential pieces of advice overlooked by some inexperienced sports bettors is to keep a careful eye on your money:

  • Never risk your life savings on a single bet; instead, bet just what you can afford to lose
  • Remain committed to your plan if you have already decided how much of your bankroll to spend on each wager. No matter how certain you are in the outcome of a particular match, it would help if you didn’t increase your wager on it
  • Your sports betting adventure will end if you impulsively add or remove funds from your bankroll

Conclusion

It would help if you had a lot of time and specific abilities to be a regular winner when betting on sports. But it shouldn’t be your downfall. Pick a plan, try several approaches to sports betting, be thoughtful, and you’ll win every time.

Cluster of Footballs

Source

The Premier League is undoubtedly the most competitive league on the planet. On any given day, any team can beat another, which has been demonstrated numerous times this season. We saw the heavyweight Liverpool struggle away at newly promoted Luton Town, only managing to salvage a draw through a last-gasp Mohamed Salah goal. Aston Villa, meanwhile, have knocked off both Arsenal and Manchester City in recent weeks to climb all the way up to third in the current standings.

But despite the success of the Villains, there are some teams which are perceived as ‘Bigger’ – whatever that word means in modern-day football – than others. The media has defined these teams as the ‘Big Six’. But which teams make up this elite tier of English football? And more importantly, when was the last time they lifted the Premier League trophy?

Manchester City

We start with the current Premier League champions – Manchester City. They won the Premier League last season, managing to overthrow an upstart Arsenal team that had topped the league for the vast majority of the season. Led by Pep Guardiola, the team had an incredible season, finishing with a 10-point lead over the Gunners, before adding the FA Cup and a maiden UEFA Champions League crown to their collection.

It was a dominant performance from the Citizens and it’s no wonder that the bookies consider them the front runners once again this term, despite them currently sitting down in fourth. With a Bet365 bonus code, you can back the Blues to lift the trophy for a sixth time in seven years at odds of 5/6, as well as bagging a free bonus.

Liverpool

Next up, Liverpool. They won the Premier League in the 2019/20 season in what was a historic moment for the club. It had been 30 long years since the Reds had won the league and, under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp, they finally ended their drought. The Merseysiders won the league with seven games to spare, finishing 18 points ahead of second-placed Manchester City after winning 26 of their first 27 games.

It was a deserved victory for the Reds, who had missed out on the title by just one point to Pep Guardiola’s unstoppable winning machine in each of the prior two seasons. Despite falling off in the years since their triumph, they are back to their best this season and currently sit at the top of the pile.

Chelsea Shirt

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Chelsea

Moving on to Chelsea, they last won the Premier League in the 2016/17 season. Antonio Conte was in charge of the club, and he led the team to win the league title in his first season in charge. Chelsea finished seven points clear of second-placed Tottenham, winning a total of 30 games out of their 38.

Since then, the club has gone on to win the Europa League and a second Champions League, defeating Manchester City 1-0 in Porto in the summer of 2021 courtesy of a goal from former Bayer Leverkusen man Kai Havertz.

Manchester United

Manchester United’s last Premier League win was in the 2012/13 season under Sir Alex Ferguson. This was a special moment for the club, as Sir Alex announced his retirement at the end of the season, closing his run with his13th and final Premier League title.

The Red Devils put memories of the previous year – where Sergio Aguero’s last-gasp winner took the title to the Etihad rather than Old Trafford – behind them. They finished with an impressive 89 points, winning 28 out of their 38 games. In the decade since, the club hasn’t come anywhere close to the title, and look a shadow of the team they once were.

Arsenal

Arsenal’s last Premier League win was back in the 2003/04 season, which is famously known as the Invincibles season. Under the leadership of Arsene Wenger, Arsenal went undefeated throughout the season, winning 26 games and drawing 12. The Invincibles played some beautiful football.

Now, Mikel Arteta is looking to bring Arsenal back to the promised land. They narrowly missed out on the title last season and, after bringing in the Havertz, as well as Declan Rice and Jurrien Timber, the Gunners are currently in second place and poised to strike at league leaders Liverpool.

Tottenham Hotspur

Finally, Tottenham’s last English top-flight win was all the way back in the 1960/61 season, which was over 30 years before the Premier League even existed.
Tottenham won the Football League First Division, which is the predecessor to the Premier League. They won the title by eight points, scoring 115 goals in
the process.

Football, the beautiful game, is not just a source of entertainment, but also a hub for betting aficionados. For many, placing bets on their favourite teams or outcomes can enhance the excitement of the game. The UK, with its rich football history, offers an array of betting options and markets. Bookmakers have transitioned into the digital age, making it easier than ever for punters to place bets, even on the go

.Beyond websites, mobile apps have become the preferred method of betting for many. Top football betting apps like Bet365, Ladbrokes, Coral, and Unibet are recognized for being user-friendly. These apps also come with security measures, ensuring safe and efficient payment transactions.

Interestingly, mobile betting apps don’t restrict users to sports betting. Many of these platforms also offer a range of  casino games. With the increasing trend in mobile casinos, players now have the luxury of shifting from placing bets on a football match to spinning the reels of casino slots without leaving the app. These mobile casino apps have seen a spike in popularity due to their convenience, smart visuals, and lucrative bonuses. For those keen on casino slots, technology has allowed users to experience virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI), providing a unique and immersive experience.

VR head set

Image Credit: Gambling Sites

To help punters make informed decisions, here is a list of top football betting sites in the UK, based on recent evaluations:

  1.  Ladbrokes: A solid favourite for many and a wealth of available betting options.
  2.  Sky Bet: Renowned for its diverse markets and robust football betting options.
  3.  Betfred: A favourite for many due to its unique features tailored for football enthusiasts.
  4.  Bet365: Celebrated for its live streaming options and comprehensive football betting markets.
  5.  Betfair, Coral, BoyleSports, Virgin Bet, Paddy Power: Each has distinctive features that cater to different football betting preferences.

Gaming machine

Image Credit: Casino Slots

Whether you are placing a bet on your favourite football team or trying your luck with casino slots, always remember to gamble responsibly. As the mobile casino market evolves, it’s essential to be aware of the  latest trends and choose reputable platforms to make the most of your experience.

FAQs:

  1. What are the key features to look for in a football betting app?

   – Secure payment methods, live streaming options, a variety of betting markets, user-friendly interface, and regular promotions.

  1. How do I start using a football betting app?

   – Research and choose a reputable app, sign up, make a deposit, and start placing bets.

  1. Do betting apps offer other forms of gambling besides sports betting?

   – Yes, many betting apps also provide casino games, including popular casino slots, which provides variety to your betting experience.

A Comprehensive Guide to UK Football Stadium Tickets

The UK is one of the best places to visit for football, as it’s home to the Premier League and some of the biggest and best clubs in the world. If you have never attended a game across the country before, you’re in for a treat. You can expect an infectious atmosphere and an unforgettable game, regardless of where you are in a stadium. Of course, the difficulty you face securing tickets will depend on the match you want to attend, the home stadium, and the football league. Do you want to learn more? Read this comprehensive guide to UK football stadium tickets.

How Much Will a UK Football Match Cost?

Most football fans find different ways to add to the excitement of a game, from cheering on their team down the pub to making the latest football predictions on their smartphones. Yet, there is no better feeling for a fan than watching an exhilarating football match play out in person.
The good news is that UK football tickets aren’t too expensive, especially if you want to attend a Championship game. If you are eager to watch an EFL match, you can expect to pay approximately £30, and ticket prices are often cheaper for lower leagues. However, if you have your heart set on a Premier League match, you shouldn’t be surprised to pay £40 to £60 for a standard ticket.

How Hard is it to Buy a Ticket to a Football Match?

The club you want to buy tickets for will determine how hard it is to attend an upcoming game. As the top Premier League clubs will have fans from across the world who are willing to travel for a game, you might find that tickets will sell out quickly for the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, and Chelsea. It is wise to buy tickets as soon as they go on sale to avoid disappointment.
Yet, mid-level clubs or teams with a smaller fan base might sell out gradually, but you may only have a few days to secure tickets. If you are attending a Championship or a lower division game, the tickets are less likely to sell out.

Become a Club Member

If you notice an upcoming match doesn’t advertise a general sale date, it is likely because it doesn’t have one. Some tickets are only available to club members. Even if a football team does have a general sale date, there isn’t a guarantee that there will be any tickets left, as club members could snap them up first. Give yourself a better chance of attending a game by signing up for a club membership, which will add approximately £10 to £30 to a ticket price, and every person you buy tickets for must have a membership.

Become a Season Ticket Holder

If you have the money available and are eager to attend many games, a season ticket will improve your chances of attending every league match in person. It is a price worth paying if you are a die-hard fan who doesn’t want to miss out on a big game, such as a local derby or title match. You can almost guarantee the tickets will be snapped up by season ticket holders before they reach club members and then general sale.
Season tickets for a top Premier League club are notoriously expensive. For example, you can expect to pay approximately £2,025 for a Tottenham season ticket and £1,839 for an Arsenal season ticket. Of course, Championship and lower division games are much cheaper but aren’t always necessary, as tickets don’t sell out at a rapid rate.

What to Expect at a Football Match?

Most Premier League clubs have modern stadiums to ensure every fan has a great view of the game. Of course, the stands are the best option, as they are close to the pitch and will ensure you can identify every player. However, you must bear in mind that some older stadiums might have some view restrictions, such as Everton’s Goodison Park. For instance, they may have pillars supporting the roof, which might provide some fans with a restricted view. If this is the case, a club’s website will state the seats have a restricted view when buying the tickets, and they will likely be available at a much lower price.

The English Premier League is the most competitive and exciting football league in the world, and its season will be halted for more than a month, from mid-November to Boxing Day, to accommodate the winter running of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which means that all 20 squads will lose a slew of players to international duty just under halfway through the domestic season. It is the home of arguably the largest assemblage of top footballing talent, as well as a number of the most popular clubs in football.

When the 2022 Qatar World Cup finally arrives, many of these exciting players will be in action for their respective national teams. Indeed, this will add to the overall excitement of the competition, especially when many bettors will be heading here to place wagers on the games that take place as they will want to experience the best odds that are possible to obtain from a reputable site.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best players in the Premier League set to shine in Qatar!

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese international who may have fallen out of Manchester United’s starting line-up under new club manager Erik ten Hag. The Manchester United forward remains an important member of his country’s national team, scoring over 16 goals in the 2021/2022 Premier League season. Ronaldo’s future at Manchester United is uncertain as there has been plenty of speculation regarding it, with it still possible that he could leave once the January transfer window opens.

Kevin De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne is one of the best midfielders in Premier League history and has had unprecedented success in his nearly eight years with the Citizens. However, the international stage has been a different story. He has been incredible for Man City and continues to show his importance for his club, as he continues to play incredible passes and crosses to the likes of Erling Haaland that convert into goals. He will be hoping he can link up with his compatriots in the same way when they head out to Qatar.

Virgil Van Dijk

Virgil Van Dijk is widely regarded as the best defender in football due to his famed chase-down plays. Last season, the physically gifted centre-back was crucial to Liverpool’s second-place finish, and he has made a crucial contribution to the team. Whether he can have the same impact for The Netherlands remains to be seen, but the Oranje will certainly be better with him in the team.

Christian Eriksen

Christian Eriksen is still one of the top players in the Premier League and showed just how good he is when he joined Brentford following the awful events he suffered. He has since teamed up with former Ajax manager Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, and given that he is playing regularly, he will be seen as crucial to Denmark’s chances in the upcoming tournament. Many will be hoping he can continue to perform on the biggest stage, and that he will potentially create an even greater story than the one he has already written.

The magic of the FA Cup is one that many football fans talk about extremely fondly. The oldest cup competition in Europe has had so many magical moments and for the neutral many fantastic upsets along its way. When we talk about the domestic cups now in England it seems like it is an opportunity for the clubs in the Premier League and even the top teams in the Championship to rotate the squad and have a look at players perhaps on the outskirts of the first team squad or promising youngsters coming through the ranks. What has happened to teams attacking the cup, wanting to bring the prestige of winning a trophy and medals to add to the history of the clubs or players wanting to count the medal collection when they retire rather than the money in the bank.

The FA Cup 3rd round matches took place all over the weekend and all at various times, this for one has took away from fans, punters and the media interest from covering these games. TV Rights have taken the air of enthusiasm away from people at this stage of the competition. Show the matches yes, but why have a handful of games early on the Saturday, more at 3 o’clock, then another handful alongside the televised match later on in the afternoon. This makes it much harder for fans to keep up to date with all the scores that are happening on the Saturday and Sunday.

​Supporters of some Premier League clubs must watch their team when it comes to the FA Cup with a sense of disappointment and confusion. The money in the Premier League is extortionately high which allows even clubs who struggle with relegation and with mid table ambitions to have extremely large squads, this in turn has managers using the competition as a springboard to give some squad players minutes on the pitch, and to almost see how far the fringe players can get them before introducing the more established, the starting eleven players into the team in a hope to win the competition.

When it came to this weekend with 3rd round games, there was 4 Premier League clubs that made a swift exit from the competition, 2 clubs that are in a relegation fight, Fulham and Huddersfield, 1 team from playing another Premier League club in Bournemouth, and Leicester City who have no worries of relegation as they sit 7th in the Premier League. With Newcastle who historically do not emphasise a cup run and Southampton both being taken to replays. The major question for fans of Bournemouth and Leicester should be why we were not fielding are strongest possible line-ups, or at least several more of the ‘better’ players. Bournemouth are coming off the back of a very poor festive period, and this would have been a massive opportunity to gain momentum and a cup run would have brought the confidence back among the players. Leicester were guilty of the same approach in the Carabao Cup defeat at the hands of Manchester City, making a host a changes and despite drawing the game if they had attacked the competition, playing the likes of Maddison from the start they could have potentially been playing Burton in the semi-final of the competition.

​The clubs in the Premier League now are focused on what can bring in the most money, staying in the Premier League is obviously worth more in the long term than success in the FA Cup, but what about spirit and getting confidence among the players, Fulham especially had a fantastic opportunity to push on and build a platform for positive results, now after getting beat by league 2 Oldham at home the club will be a real downer, fans wondering if they have enough to really make a fight to stay in the Premier division. The fans of Newcastle need a lift, something to feel positive about in terms of the season ahead; they now face an extremely difficult fixture at Ewood Park against a Blackburn team that should have knocked the Magpies out of the competition completely, yet again. The fans of these clubs need to feel the optimism at the clubs, in the cup you need a bit of luck to get far, and get the right draws, but who is to say if a Newcastle drew a top six team that the top six team play a full strength eleven? Then there is a perfect opportunity to progress to the latter stages of the competition.

​The giant killings of the FA Cup is what draws the most anticipation and has the historic memories for most when we talk about the prestige of the FA Cup. The atmosphere last night at Rodney Parade from the start there was a sense of we can win this, Newport fully deserved their victory over previous Premier League winners Leicester City. The talk about the quality of some of the players was relentless, and then we remember these are league 2 footballers earning considerably less than even the back-up Leicester City players. Barnet beating high flying Sheffield United of the Championship is a result looking at the weekend results that must be considered a giant killing, and the boos around Bramall Lane at the final whistle showed the fans displeasure of the lacklustre display on such an occasion, especially knowing the history the club has with the competition. These results still happen, last season saw Lincoln City then of the National League put out a Burnley team that were flying high in the Premier League.

These lower league clubs put so much into the competition, even in the qualifying rounds that it can be hard to see clubs using the cup as an experiment tool. The lure of testing themselves against the best clubs in the country, managers wanting to show their own credentials against perhaps managers that they look up to. The TV money should they get it and from progressing is obviously fantastic for them, but watching that Newport performance against Leicester, a club who would benefit greatly from the money they will receive, the players looked like they wanted to showcase their ability, they played with a fight, a hunger to work together and show their fans that they care for the club. That is what can be great about these cups in the cup, fans who do not follow or watch lower league games can become familiar with the players, almost find a second club, where they enjoying watching them, can become embroiled with this and want to feel a part of it, all these factors can enlighten and enhance clubs from the bottom tiers.

Previous clubs among the Premier League have shown what can be done in the competition, should they take it seriously and try and have a go at winning the competition. In 2008 Harry Redknapp won the cup with his Portsmouth team, Wigan in 2013 beat the odds to overcome an extremely strong Manchester City team to lift the trophy. Only 3 teams in the last twenty five years have had the glory of winning the FA Cup outside of the top six in the Premier League, the other team was Everton back in 1995. The top clubs Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City have all tasted success during this time, teams wanting to have extra success, so they make the FA Cup a priority of the team once they reach the latter stages of the competition. Everton should be one of the clubs looking to use the cup this year as a platform to build on in terms of winning a trophy. The feel good factor at the club would be enormous, especially after the last few years which has seen many Everton fans become disgruntled at the club they support. The debate of finishing in the top four or winning the FA Cup, what is more important to Tottenham Hotspurs? Well they should finish in the top four this season given their current position , but how good was it to see Mauricio Pochettino line up with Son Heung-min, Dele Alli and Harry Kane coming off the bench at Prenton Park, a real sign that he is in a trophy hunt this season.

The FA Cup is one that needs to be reviewed, not in terms of what the FA can change with it but by clubs among the Premier League and how they prioritise it. Could they integrate a system that would stop clubs making wholesale changes to line-ups? We want to still have the moments of giant killing in the competition, so getting rid of replays is not the answer especially for the clubs lower down in the divisions who can benefit greatly from the financial gain. As a fan it would be great to see everybody taking the competition seriously and looking forward to FA Cup weekends rather than almost turning a blind eye to this. Having the majority of games on the Saturday 3 o’clock kick off time would bring back an atmosphere, with obviously a few televised games along the way.

MONEY, money, money, It’s a rich man’s world.

No, I’m not still harping on about Scudamore’s bonus. Why of course, it’s UEFA this time and the inception of a new European competition. They seem to have a thing for these at the minute. Europa League 2.

No, this is not a joke. It’s real and it’s coming live to you on Thursday nights from 2021.

How will it work? Will this spell the end of European football as we know?

Apparently, it will, in fact, do the opposite. UEFA claim to have listened to clubs in the region and say it will make European football more inclusive, with no fewer than 32 countries being guaranteed group stage football in both Europa League and Europa League 2.

Here’s the plan. The Champions League format will not change and every country’s champion will still enter it. However, only teams from the 15 top-ranked countries will go into the Europa League (Europa League 1, I think?) group stages or qualifiers, meaning sides from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, will be dumped down into the third-rate competition – Europa League 2.

Meanwhile, champions from these countries will still get their play-off ties to qualify for the Europa League, and failing that, UEL2, as it is now branded. So that’s three bites at the cherry for European football. Hmmm.

UEL2 and UEL will have the same format, with eight groups of four teams in both competitions. The winners will progress to the last 16. Here’s where it gets interesting though. Teams finishing second in the UEL2 group will face play-offs against teams finishing third in the UEL groups.

The winners of Europa League 2 will qualify for the Europa League, just as the UEL winners are granted automatic entry into the Champions League.

Easy, no? So what’s the problem? The smokescreen of inclusivity. UEFA has admitted a shake-up of European competition has been needed for some time now but this competition is probably not the best way to do it.

In a throwback to the days of the Cup Winners Cup and the Intertoto Cup, UEFA’s return to three midweek competitions serves only to isolate the plucky Icelanders or Faroese from their dates with the big clubs.

A format which allows only clubs from the 15 top-ranked nations takes away the David vs Goliath ties and instead relegates the minnows even further from a dream match against the Barcelonas and Bayern Munichs of our continental game.

Sure, things needed to change. Many supporters have called for the Champions League to return its original structure. A knockout competition solely for champions. Two-legged ties. No ranking or seeding system. Give the champions of Luxembourg their opportunity to face Real Madrid. None of this protection.

Yes, we might end up with the odd drubbing or two in the earlier stages but how do the smaller clubs progress and grow stronger if the quality of the sides they face is limited.

You also find the joy of gaining access to European competition watered down and what will it mean to a side like Burnley or Crystal Palace if they one, qualify for the UEL, but are then dropped into UEL2 after finishing third in their group?

Well, it would mean a potentially easier route to a European final against the lesser ranked countries but it means a hell of a lot of football and a limited level of competition. Such glory days await us all.

Burnley are currently suffering the consequences of their success. Having finished seventh in the Premier League last season they were rewarded with a place in the UEL second qualifying round. Their competitive season started on July 26 and after six European ties, the Turf Moor outfit crashed out of the competition in the play-off round to Olympiacos.

And having one of the smallest squads in the top flight, Sean Dyche’s men sit 19th in the league with just two wins to their name. Success. Many would say quite the opposite.

With the money earned by finishing higher in the Premier League more of an incentive than the potential cash cow UEL2 proffers (still to be confirmed), sides will be doing their best to avoid European football, especially if the proposed 3.30pm kick-off times are anything to go by.

While these will be limited, of course, it shuns fans once again. How many supporters will be leaving work early to get to a game when there’s a 3.30pm kick-off on a Thursday afternoon?

This is another way for UEFA to rake in money. Their moneybag elite clubs are protected from trips to the smaller nations, unless of course they fail in the Europa League and get handed a 3,000-mile round trip to Astana in the Europa League 2 play-off round.

It remains to be seen whether fans will get behind this concept but while UEFA head of competitions Giorgio Marchetti says there will be no losers, I cannot agree.

The stronger clubs from associations 16-55 will certainly benefit in the UEL2 but will be robbed of their fairytale excursions and I for one, in case you haven’t grasped it yet, am not a fan.

Watch this space.

HOW harmful can a handshake be you might ask? When it’s golden and worth £5m it certainly raises the blood pressure somewhat.

Many businesses across the UK have a tradition to offer someone a golden handshake – a contribution given to a retiring employee after many years of service.

So, what then is the problem with the Premier League doing the same for outgoing executive chairman Richard Scudamore you might ask? Let’s get into the details.

FIVE MILLION POUNDS? That’s at least 5,000,000 reasons why it’s not right just there. Premier League clubs have been asked to foot the bill, a staggering £250,000 from each club – some of whom are in only their second or third campaign in Scudamore’s domestic super league.

Couldn’t this money be used for grassroots football or even contributed to the rising numbers of homeless people and shelters in the cities these clubs are based?

Who is Richard Scudamore and why the need for such a hefty exit bonus? I’m pretty sure Britain won’t get anything near that when Theresa (May) and Co drag us kicking and screaming from the EU in March.

It was in 1999 that Scudamore joined the Premier League and he became executive chairman in June 2014. It is fair to say he’s done a good job. TV rights have skyrocketed during his time at the helm, from an estimated £670m to a mind-blowing £5.14bn.

After 19 years though, with a reported wage of £2.5m per season, is a two-year salary payment too much? Most firms would tend to offer a two- or three-month salary bonus. So, in simple terms, Yes. It’s too much.

The announcement has been met with anger among supporters, while initially five of the league’s 20 clubs said they wouldn’t pay up. By the end of the week, all 20 had coughed up.

And as the domestic game returned on Saturday, it was Liverpool fans who led the protests during their 3-0 victory at Watford.

The banners read: ’11,662 Premier League season tickets. 56,180 weekly shops for food banks. Scudamore’s £5,000,000. Greed.’
And that says it all. 56,180 weekly shops. Homelessness in our country is at an all-time high. Reports claim no fewer than one person in every 200 in Britain in 2018, with London seeing numbers of one in 53, Birmingham one in 73 and Manchester one in 135. Five million pounds. What could that money do?

So what exactly did the Premier League or FA contribute? Sweet FA you could say. If they were so pleased with his services, wasn’t it for them to make this payment? I know when an ex-employer of mine was dishing out redundancies and farewell gifts, John, Steve nor Diane from the copy room were not asked to contribute, so why can’t the Premier League take from their own coffers?

The gap between the Premier League and the English Football League has been growing since its inception in 1992. Fans are being messed around with surging ticket prices, TV deals see matches that have been scheduled for Saturday afternoon for four months, suddenly swapped to a Monday night and generally, fans have had enough.

The supporters are not sat in an ivory tower with the means to throw an extra £30 – if you find the best bargain – at another train so they can attend their beloved side. They are the everyday man, many of whom are towing the breadline, who has to ask his boss if he can leave the office at 2pm to get the train down to London for a Newcastle United away match on a Monday evening.

Critics will say, watch it on TV. But not everyone can afford to do that either. Pay over the odds for a subscription to see your team on the box four times in the season while the top six feature in every second match? No thanks.

I don’t actually have a problem with Scudamore getting a parting gift. It’s the amount I have a problem with. Grassroots football has been crying out for support for many years. Premier League clubs claim to use up all their budgets, without having any excess? But when one of the clubs’ chairmen puts it before a vote, all 20 can just magic £250,000 out of thin air? OK then.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of these top-flight clubs do a lot of work in the community but many, myself included, see it as a two-fingered salute to everyone outside football’s top table.

Just this weekend a Kendal Town FC sponsor made a plea in their matchday programme for supporters to return, claiming difficult times lay ahead as fewer people turn up to games. They are grassroots. They are your local team. A meeting will be held in the New Year for supporters to bring their ideas forward in a bid to revive the club and take it forward.

It is the same the country over. More and more clubs are struggling. Non-league sides dropping out of the game. Once-strong football league hopefuls, now withering away in the tenth and 11th tiers of British football. Something has to change.

The golden handshake sums up the type of incessant back-slapping that has been all too familiar since the Premier League got going. Kudos to Scudamore for how he has developed the Premier League on a global stage, but in doing so, the everyday football fan is being priced out of the game.

What will they do when they have no supporters in the ground for the games. It is time the FA, Premier League and football clubs around the country sit up and take note of their supporters. More and more people are turning their backs on football and if the big wigs don’t listen there won’t be a league for them to bury their treasure in.