ANALYSIS: Does the transfer system in football need a complete overhaul?

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In 1984 one of the greatest players to have played the game, Diego Maradona moved from Barcelona to Napoli for a then world record transfer fee of £6.9m and the world pondered how even he could be worth so much money to a football club.

Today that figure would not even buy you Lionel Messi’s baby toe, with a release clause of a quarter of a billion euros built into his contract it is unlikely that he will ever change clubs.

Some of the more recent fee’s paid for the likes of Gareth Bale,(€100m) Neymar (€90m), Raheem Sterling (€68m) and now Paul Pogba (€89m) have got me wondering if UEFA and other governing bodies come together and like the concept of a salary cap, introduce a Transfer Cap, where the ceiling valuation of a player is €100m for example, to try and curb the excessive costs which clubs are being forced to spend on players.

Let’s face it anyone will tell you that no footballer is worth €100m simply for playing purposes. I understand there is an economic and global side to the modern game and that players are worth as much off the pitch as they are on it but something has to be done to bring about a sensible valuation of the modern player.

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Jordan Ibe is a decent player but not worth £15m

These outrageous valuations force smaller clubs like Bournemouth etc to stump up £15m for Jordan Ibe who is completely untested at the highest level. This in turn forces them to live above their means which is killing football clubs in the long term. You only have to look at the likes of Leeds United, Portsmouth, Blackpool, Rangers and Parma for clubs who have nearly gone and have gone to the wall for this reason.

A CDES study shows us a developing trend in the transfer market as illustrated in the following table of transfers taken over a period of 15 years in the top 53 leagues in UEFA:

YEARS NUMBER OF TRANSFERS VALUE
1994-95 5,735 €402,869,000
1999-00 8,531 €1,704,603,000
2005-06 15,952 €1,952,066,000
2010-11 18,307 €3,002,198,000

2011 saw over €3bn spent on player transfers. That’s more than double the payment that the entire nation of Greece couldn’t pay to the IMF last week and has caused serious market instability across the globe, just to put the figures were talking about into some perspective.

CHANGES?

How would a redeveloped transfer market work? of course it would take some time to adjust and the figures would have to be decided upon but here is a basic template of how such a structure might work:

  • Lionel Messi is the benchmark valuation which is reassessed each summer and no player can be transferred for more than the top players valuation.
  • Following this you then have transfer bands, done by age group where by there is a maximum payment set for each band. ie -> 35+ = £5m, 30-35 = £10m etc this would give clubs a benchmark for negotiations and would make it easier to negotiate a deal based on precedent and in turn make better players more realistic targets for smaller clubs.
  • All negotiations of transfers of players under the age of 19 are to be done by appointed officials to ensure the selling club gets a fair deal for their player.
  • There is a mandatory 20% sell on fee clause inserted in the transfer of any player in this age bracket who has been at that club for more than 2 years.
  • No player can have an agent until they enter the first transfer band at 20.

The final point illustrates the other major problem with the modern transfer market is that the players along with the larger clubs hold too much power, which allows them to bully smaller clubs into selling for paltry fees because the player says he will not turn out for the club again if they don’t grant his request to leave.

This puts smaller clubs in a desperately weak negotiating position and allows the larger club to grab a player for next to nothing who could turn out to be a superstar in 3 or 4 years time.

Seamus Coleman’s transfer to Everton is an example of where a club has clearly underpaid for a player. Everton paid Sligo Rovers €60,000 for him in 2009 in a deal which included no add ons or sell on fee. Some may just call this bad dealing on the part of the Irish club but in truth it is down to the way the market has adapted over the years to the point where the bigger club has an extreme advantage in the negotiations.

Seamus Coleman in action for Sligo Rovers...

Seamus Coleman in action for Sligo Rovers…

In contrast QPR took a cool £8m from the sale of Sterling because they did have a 20% sell on clause inserted in his deal.

This has to change so that the clubs who originally took a chance on a player or developed them through their early career are compensated sufficiently for their efforts.

This is playing devil’s advocate and figures would have to be adjusted but it is a simple way in how we can both curb both the ridiculous spending of the bigger clubs in today’s climate, help smaller clubs become more competitive by allowing them to be able to buy better players and also sell their own for a more realistic fee and finally help cut the mountainous debt which a lot of community clubs are piling upon themselves in order to stay or improve on their place in the footballing pyramid.

The way football is going at the minute we are seeing a lot of very ordinary players move for very extra ordinary sums of money and where do clubs try and make some of this back? With ticket price increases and through targeted merchandise at kids and adults turning the financial strain back on their fans.

It is about time that clubs and the governing bodies woke up to the fact that the current transfer model is unsustainable for clubs in the current market and took steps to try and ease the burden and change the culture of it. Otherwise it is only a matter of time before one of Europe’s major European clubs become extinct once again.

Everyone’s favourite big man Luca Toni has announced he will retire at the end of the season! #SerieA

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Hellas Verona striker Luca Toni has announced his retirement from the game at the end of the season.

Best known for his exploits with Bayern Munich and Fiorentina scoring 85 goals in 127 games for the two clubs over 5 years, Toni has suffered through the worst statistical season of his career this time around managing only 5 goals in 15 appearances for Verona as they lurked around the relegation zone all year.

He hasn’t enjoyed great success in his native country, only picking up the Serie B trophy back in 2004 but two Bundesliga titles along with a famous Italian World Cup win in 2006, where he spearheaded their attack, more than make up for that.

Toni has won numerous individual goal-scoring awards throughout his career including the European Golden Shoe in 2006, UEFA Cup top scorer in 2008 and Bundesliga top scorer in the same season.

He was also named in the all-star team at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

On his retirement decision, he told the Italian media:

“After thinking for a long time, I’ve decided that, after 22 years of football, the next game will be my last as a professional,” he told a news conference. “I’ve realised that I have reached the end of the path.

“I’m a little emotional, it was a difficult and painful decision but I’ve come to the end of my playing career. I’ve been thinking about it for some weeks, they haven’t been easy weeks. At the Bentegodi against Juventus will be my last match.”

When asked if he had any regrets, Toni pointed to the 2009-10 season, when his loan spell with Roma ended with them finishing just two points behind champions Inter.

“Any regrets? Not having won the Scudetto with Roma,” he said.

Full list of Premier League FREE signings YOUR club could make this summer!

With the summer transfer window fast approaching here is a full list of players who will be available on Free Transfers this summer, unless they sign a new contract in the coming weeks. 

With Leicester’s success at wheeling and dealing on the way to their title, there is no doubt that plenty of clubs will be taking a long look at this list during the summer months.

Arsenal:

Mathieu Flamini (Midfielder)

Mikel Arteta (Midfielder)

Tomás Rosicky (Midfielder)

Aston Villa:

Kieran Richardson (Defender)

Charles N’Zogbia (Midfielder)

Bournemouth:

Artur Boruc (Goalkeeper)

Sylvain Distin (Defender)

Stéphane Zubar (Defender)

Chelsea:

Marco Amelia (Goalkeeper)

John Terry (Defender)

Crystal Palace:

Emanuel Adebayor (Striker)

Adrian Mariappa (Defender)

Damien Delaney (Defender)

Marouane Chamakh (Striker)

Brede Hangeland (Defender)

Julian Speroni (Goalkeeper)

Paddy McCarthy (Midfielder)

Everton:

Darron Gibson (Midfielder)

Tony Hibbert (Defender)

Steven Pienaar (Left-wing)

Felipe Mattioni (Defender)

Leon Osman (Midfielder)

Leicester City:

Mark Schwarzer (Goalkeeper)

Marcin Wasilewski (Centre-back)

Liverpool:

Jose Enrique (Left-back)

João Carlos Teixeira (Midfielder)

Kolo Touré (Defender)

Manchester City:

Martín Demichelis (Defender)

Richard Wright (Goalkeeper)

Manchester United:

Michael Carrick (Midfielder)

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Left-back)

Newcastle United:

Steven Taylor (Centre-back)

Sylvain Marveaux (Winger)

Gabriel Obertan (Winger)

Kevin Mbabu (Defender)

Norwich:

Alex Tettey (Midfielder)

Steven Whittaker (Right-back)

Gary O’Neil (Centre-midfield)

Sunderland:

Valentin Roberge (Centre-back)

Steve Harper (Goalkeeper)

Wes Brown (Centre-back)

Southampton:

Kelvin Davis (Goalkeeper)

Tottenham:

Tom Carroll (Midfielder)

Watford:

Joel Ekstrand (Centre-back)

West Brom:

James Morrison (Midfielder)

Stephane Sessegnon (Forward)

West Ham:

Joey O’Brien (Right-back)

Which, if any of these players do you think could do a job for your team next season?  Let us know.

7 of the biggest Sporting Shocks of all-time

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The whole reason we tune into watch different sports week on week is to see the best in the world excel at what they do. 

But there is no better viewing in the sport than seeing an underdog triumph over a bigger, wealthier, more world renowned rival, especially if it is done over the course of a Championship or season as opposed to a one off game.

Leicester have achieved the ultimate coup in the 2015/16 Premier League season that will be difficult to ever top, beating 5000/1 odds to lift the trophy.

Here are 7 of the best sporting underdog stories as chosen by me.

Greece (Euro 2004)

Aside from Denmark in 1992, this is the biggest upset in the history of the European Championships. 150/1 outsiders at the start of the tournament, Greece emerged from a group  containing hosts Portugal, favourites Spain and minnows Latvia and from then on there was no looking back.

They went on to defeat France in the quarter-final, the Czech Republic in the semi-final and secure a 1-0 victory over Portugal in the final to cap off what was an amazing achievement in only the country’s 2nd ever appearance at the Finals.

All the more remarkable given the team had no superstars, only 8 players who played outside of the Greek league and a coach, Otto Rehhagel who masterminded another great underdog story in leading Kaiserslautern to the Bundesliga 7 years previously.

 

Phil Taylor (BDO World Championship 1990)

Many of you will know Phil “The Power” Taylor as the most decorated player in the history of professional Darts. What you might not know is that he was a 125/1 unseeded outsider when he won his first of 16 World Championships in 1990.

Entering the tournament having only won the Canadian Open in 1988 and being sponsored by friends and fellow players to travel round to tournaments before this. Taylor only dropped 3 sets in 4 matches en route to the final, where he would play mentor and number 1 seed, Eric Bristow. “The Power” destroyed his fellow Englishman 6-1 to kick-off one of the most dominant runs in the history of any professional sport.

In one of the last unified darts World Championships before what is now known as the PDC split from the BDO, Taylor became the biggest under-dog story of the darting world. A fitting triumph for a place in this list.

 

Goran Ivanisevic (Wimbledon Singles Champion 2001)

Arguably the biggest shock at a Grand Slam in Tennis history, the Croat stunned the world by becoming the first wild card to win the biggest tournament in the game.

Ivanisevic was ranked 125th at the beginning of the event and at odds of 300/1, it was inconceivable that he would be lifting the trophy. But victories over seeds Carlos Moya, Marat Safin, Tim Henman and Pat Rafter in a thrilling 5 set final clinched his only career Grand Slam in what would be his only career singles final at a Grand Slam.

Currently he is the coach of Croat Marian Cilic whom he has led to his only Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2014.

Foinavon (1967 Grand National Winner)

As many people will know, the 40 runner marathon contest at Aintree can turn up some big priced winners, just look at fellow 100-1 winner Mon Mome in 2009.

Foinaven however was the original Cinderella story back in 1967 in one of the most famous renewal’s in history. A 23 horse pile up at the smallest fence on the course (there after named Foinaven in his honour) allowed jockey John Buckingham, who only missed the pile up as they were so far behind, to steer his horse clear of the carnage and go on to win the race at a canter.

The owner, Cyril Watkins had so little faith in the horse, he hadn’t even bothered to go to the track to watch him run. It is one of the most iconic moments in the history of the place and the fact that there’s only been one 100/1 shot win the race since, he takes his place on the list.

Ben Curtis (Open Champion 2003)

Ben Curtis might be the biggest single underdog story in sport if you consider his achievements before and after his major win. Ranked 396th in the World at the time, he has only ever won 5 golf tournaments in his professional career to date.

He entered The Open as a 300/1 shot and carded a final round 69 to come from 2 behind and beat Thomas Bjorn and Vijay Singh by one shot. In doing so he became the first player since Francis Ouimet in 1913 to win his maiden major tournament and he is still the lowest ranked winner of a major since the ranking system began.

Curtis turned professional in 2000 and his highest finish in a major aside from this win was a T-2 in the 2008 PGA Championship. He has currently slipped down to a ranking of 527th having risen as high as 35th following his triumph at Royal St. George’s.

 

Kaiserslautern (Bundesliga Champions 1997/98)

The original Leicester City occurred almost 20 years ago in the German Bundesliga. FC Kaiserslautern, only promoted from the 2.Bundesliga the previous season, won the league by 2 points from defending Champions Bayern Munich.

Unlike Leicester however, they had splashed a bit of cash following their promotion. They signed Ciriaco Sforza from Internazionale in a great coup for the side along with Bulgarian international Marian Hristov, German winger Andreas Buck, and a young talent called Michael Ballack.

Manager Otto Rahhagel (remember him?)  popularized the phrase “kontrollierte Offensive” or controlled offence. He prefers a grass-roots approach to football, stressing the importance of at least two but mostly three big, strong headers in central defence. This defensive solidity saw them take top spot on on the 4th weekend of the season and never relinquished it. They remain the only club in the history of German football to win promotion to the top tier and follow that up by winning the league and given Bayern Munich’s domestic dominance, it doesn’t look likely that this record will ever be equaled.

St. Louis Rams (Superbowl Winners 1999)

The NFL prides itself on its “draft” system where by the worst team from the previous season gets the choice of the best players coming out of college, theoretically giving them the best chance to win next season.

This very rarely comes to fruition however as much like in football, in takes players time to adapt to the professional game, especially at the skilled positions. The 1999 Rams, their offense dubbed “the greatest show on turf” with Kurt Warner at Quarter-back proved why the motto “any given Sunday” rings true in the NFL. They went into the season projected to be the worst team in the League in previews, even worse than that years expansion team the Cleveland Browns.

They duly went 13-3 in the regular season securing their first playoff appearance since 1989 when the team was in Los Angeles. The Rams and it has turned out to be its one and only Super Bowl win to date. Wins over Minnesota and Tampa Bay brought them to the show and a 23-16 victory over Tennessee gave the 400/1 team at the start of the season, one of the biggest shocks in the history of the NFL.

Here’s how the front pages looked after Leicester won the league #LCFC

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Last night around 10pm, it is fair to say a lot of people round the world were left pinching themselves as Tottenham’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea secured the most unlikely of title wins for Leicester. 

Similarly, publications around the globe were left scrambling to get their memorable front pages to print in time for the morning deliveries. We’ve decided to pick some of the better ones we have seen from across Europe.

La Gazetta dello Sport (Italy)

Gazetta LeicesterSource: Twitter/La Gazetta dello Sport

Marca (Spain)

Marca Leicester

Source: Twitter/Marca

L’Equipe (France)

Lequipe Leicester

Source: Twitter/L’Equipe

VG Sporten (Norway)

VG Leicester

Source: Twitter/101 Great Goals

The Irish Daily Star

Irish Daily Star

Source: Twitter/Irish Daily Star

The Guardian

Guardian Leicester

Source: Twitter/Nick Sutton

The Metro

Metro LeicesterSource: Twitter/Metro

The Daily Telegraph

Telegraph Leiceser

Source: Twitter/Nick Sutton

 

Gary Lineker’s favourite crisps are to release a special Champions packet to commemorate the feat.

Salt & Victory

Source: Twitter/Leicester Mercury

6 Things that will definitely happen following Leicester’s title success #LCFC

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They have not won the title yet but at this stage it looks a formality, but what will be the lasting effects of this dramatic Premier League season? 

I’ve taken a look at some of the more ridiculous ones:

 

Betting on ridiculous outcomes!

I think we have all heard about some of the crazy bets on Leicester to win the league at 5000/1. My favourite one being the man who bet 50p on such an outcome only to cash out the following day for a 5p loss.

Having seen a success this season, there is no doubt bookmakers will see a raft of people racing to place bets on another Premier League upset next season.

Not to be caught out again, they have already trimmed the odds of even the biggest of shocks, Watford, Bournemouth and West Brom being the biggest outsiders at 1000/1. This now represent’s little value even at that price and is one of the many enduring legacies that this Leicester team will leave behind.

 

Scouts scouring Le Havre reserves!

Did you know Riyad Mahrez came from Le Havre reserves once upon a time? If not I hope you don’t use social media.

The seeming success Leicester have found signing cast-offs and players from the lower leagues will have teams searching frantically for the next Jamie Vardy or Mahrez or  Kante.

At the end of the day it is a copycat league and especially for those teams who can not afford to sign the world’s superstars, the foxes have shown that a little extra cash in the scouting department can go a long way.

Hollywood is calling!

There is already talk of Leicester’s dream season being immortalized on the big screen and Claudio Ranieri has even stated he wants Robert de Niro to play him in any film that is made.

It has been the kind of story you associate with the big screen rather than real life so it is hard to even imagine a movie being able to capture the true emotion that has been conveyed throughout the season. Some things are better off left as real-time stories as words or pictures can not tell the tale of just how spectacular the turnaround has been at this club.

Not everyone is keen on this idea however and somewhere in London, Tim Sherwood is demanding  a movie be made about his Blackburn side in 1995 with Orlando Bloom playing himself.

 

The dream Champions League draw!

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It is written in the stars, you heard it here first, Leicester will draw one of the European giants in the group stage of the Champions League.

Who doesn’t want to see Lionel Messi or Robert Lewandowski or Cristiano Ronaldo get scythed down by Wes Morgan on the halfway line? That is worth the entry fee alone. All joking aside it would be a fantastic story for football to see these teams walk out at the King Power stadium on a crisp winter Wednesday.

The hardest part for Claudio Ranieri will be holding onto his star players to give them a fighting chance of picking up any points in Europe’s top tier competition.

Jamie Vardy will have a party!

The whole of Leicester City will probably shut down for a week or two but everyone’s favourite party animal will be sinking WKD Blue’s and chatting shit to anyone who will listen for weeks to come.

It is rumored that he has been put in charge of the teams end of season party and we can only imagine what chavy activity he might have planned. FIFA tournament in his house? Bottles of Buckfast in the nearest estates? Not too sure how that would go down with Christian Fuchs but its something I’d love to watch.

Vardy will have to get his head back in the game relatively quickly however as the European Championships are not far away and he will be hoping for a fairy-tale maiden international tournament to match his fairy-tale club season.

 

The Renaissance of 4-4-2 

One of the most striking aspects of their amazing run has been the use of the quintessentially English 4-4-2 system with Vardy and Okazaki giving defenders up and down the country nightmares of them closing them down.

Now you will have to listen to that 40 year old centre back at your Sunday League team tell you that he always knew it was the best formation and “feck this 4-3-3 or diamond formation, you’ll never beat two strikers who run the channels and put them under pressure”.

Professionally it is true that so many teams have tried to mirror the success that Barcelona and other top European sides have had with the 4-3-3/4-5-1 hybrid that the value of the 4-4-2 had been forgotten by many. Not anymore, expect to see plenty of sides trying to replicate what Leicester have done tactically this season.

5 Takeaways from the #NFLDraft2016 Day 2

Day 2 of the NFL Draft for 2016 has drawn to a close in Chicago and from tomorrow on-wards, teams will be getting into the areas of speculative picks which they hope will turn out to be rough diamonds wading in the murky water of the mid-rounds. 

But with all that ahead of us, lets take a look at our 5 takeaways from the second and third round selections:

Conor Cook in a state of free-fall!

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Michigan State’s Conor Cook has plummeted in the draft.

If you told me that we would be heading into the fourth round of the draft, that 6 quarterbacks had already been selected and Michigan State’s Conor Cook would still be on the board, I’d have said not possible yet teams have passed on him 98 times so far.

Analyst Jon Gruden went so far as to say that Cook was a first round talent and could even end up being the best QB in this draft down the line. High praise from an evaluator who has met with each of the top quarterback prospects extensively.

This slide is not due to talent or effectiveness, teams judge QB’s on intangibles more so than another other position on the team and the various rumours from anonymous sources regarding Cook’s off the field habits have clearly led to serious character concerns from NFL front offices.

Cook will be by far the most talented player on the board on Saturday and it will be interesting to see who takes a chance on what is already going to be a steal no matter what position he is drafted in from here on out.

Kickers are people too!

Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo is essentially the 3rd highest kicker ever drafted.

Tampa Bay didn’t just select Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo in the 2nd round, they traded UP 15 places to do it, giving their spots at 76 and 106 to Kansas City in the process.

In draft value, that is the equivalent to drafting at the number 34 slot. WOW. Essentially the Bucs have drafted to lock up a position in the second round that most teams fill with un-drafted free agents Monday morning. Only two kickers have been selected higher than Aguayo, Sebastian Janitowski (17th Overall) and Rob Lee (32nd Overall) but they were back in 2000 and 1986 respectively.

To say this is a surprise is an understatement  its a huge shock and one that given Tampa Bay’s paltry season in 2015, will be scrutinized heavily by local media given that the team is lacking talent at so many position’s that would be perceived as more important to the team.

Take note however, various rule changes on the kick-offs and extra points in the last two seasons have made it more important to have a solid place kicker in the team, could this be the beginning of the trickle down effect of that?

Defense Wins Championships! 

Myles Jack was a consensus top 5 selection before this years draft.

Of the 67 selections made on day two of the draft, 41 of them were defensive players including 22 of the 32 in the second round. That is an astounding 61% and is the highest run on defensive players in the second round in the draft’s common era (began 1967).

This stat was bumped by Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith falling to Jacksonville and Dallas in the second round when if it wasn’t for knee injuries, were a lock to go in the top 5 picks.

This is no surprise given that the NFL is a copycat league and the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks have won the last two Lombardi trophies on the back of devastating pass rushes and ball hawking on the back end.

There is also a noted talent imbalance in this years draft (50 of the top 70 rated players were defensive ones) that will be replicated on the offensive side of the ball in 12 months time, so expect a similarly impressive run on QB’s and WR’s in 2017.

 

Will this be the year of the Jaguar?

Jags Head Coach Gus Bradley has been making waves at the draft.

Now I am far from suggesting that the Jags will be contending come February but the moves they have made on defense in the last two days mean that I can see them having their first winning season since 2007.

On Thursday, the Jaguars grabbed the best defensive back in the draft, Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Friday, they drafted Jack — who might have been the draft’s best player before a knee injury hurt his draft position. The Jaguars also drafted defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, a speedy pass-rusher, in the third round.

Add to this that they will be getting back last year’s 1st round choice Dante Fowler Jr. from a torn ACL and they have added 4 young studs to improve a defense that is 2nd in most points allowed since 2010 at 26.1 points per game.

You have to be impressed with the moves head coach Gus Bradley has made and if Blake Bortles can show the continued improvement he displayed in 2015 then it figures to be a breakout year for a franchise in desperate need for some positivity around the stadium.

Roger Goodell just can’t keep his mouth closed! 

Roger Goodell gets set to announce a pick at the 2016 draft.

As per the norm of Draft weekend, Roger Goodell spent his time walking from green room to podium to a torrent of boos from the NFL fans in attendance.

Friday however, he was the subject of a whole new chorus of boos following an answer to a question regarding draft slider Laremy Tunsil. Speaking on ESPN Radio, Goodell said that Tunsil’s social media fiasco Thursday night was “part of what makes the draft so exciting”. Tunsil, of course, fell out of the top 10 of the first round when both his Twitter and Instagram accounts were hacked with damning posts just moments before the draft began.

This has led to heated responses from NFL Players Association chief Eric Winston and NFLPA chief executive director DeMaurice Smith, with the former saying:

“It just shows you that they can care less that this kid’s world just fell apart in a matter of three hours.”

Goodell at times is criticized somewhat unfairly by the media as he is in a lose/lose middle ground between owners and players the majority of the time, but in this case every single boo in that auditorium is richly deserved. In a position like his, a little compassion for the next generation of players who figure to keep your sport as one of the top attractions around the world would go a long way.