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January 26, 2015

2015 Copa Libertadores, map of the 38 clubs in the competition; featuring 2014 Copa Libertadores champions San Lorenzo.

Filed under: Copa Libertadores — admin @ 7:04 pm

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2015 Copa Libertadores, map of the 38 clubs in the competition





The preliminary round of the 2015 Copa Libertadores starts on 3rd through 5th February 2015, with second legs on 10th through 12 Feb. The group-stage round (8 groups of 4/see second link below), starts on 17th and 18th February 2015.
-Here are a couple of links to see all the match-ups in the first two rounds…
2015 Copa Libertadores Preliminaries (misleadingly called the ‘First Stage’): match-ups here (en.wikipedia.org).
2015 Copa Libertadores Group Stage (misleadingly called the ‘Second Stage’): match-ups here (en.wikipedia.org); and also here (soccerway.com).

    2014 Copa Libertadores Champions & Holders – San Lorenzo, of Buenos Aires (their first Copa Libertadores title)

San Lorenzo -a club in exile…
CA San Lorenzo (Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro). Established 1908 in the Almagro district of Buenos Aires, Argentina (which was just west of the then-city-limits of Buenos Aires, and is a few kilometers north of present-day Boedo barrio [Boedo being the former and still-spiritual-home of the club]). First match: 26 April 1914. First match in Primera División [amateur era]: 4 May 1915. First match at Estadio Gasómetro in Boedo barrio (which in the preset-day is situated in Buenos Aires Federal District): 7 May 1917. The club played at the Estadio Gasómetro from 1917 to 1979. They lost ownership of the stadium in 1979, when the military junta in charge forced the club to sell the stadium, for about one-eighth of the value of the parcel (in other words, the club was robbed by the fascist regime back then). CA San Lorenzo became homeless for 14 seasons (playing at the stadiums of Huracán, Vélez Sarsfield, and CA Atlanta). The original Gasómetro was demolished and a supermarket was built there. In 1993, San Lorenzo moved into a new stadium, the Nuevo Gasómetro, but in the barrio of Flores (about 7 km or 4 mi south-west of Boedo). San Lorenzo hope to someday move back to Boedo.
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Pope Francis and his club, San Lorenzo
Pope Francis (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio), is a card-carrying member of Buenos Aires-based San Lorenzo, having paid his dues annually since 2008, even renewing them in 2011 after his election as pope. [See his card below.] As it says in an article by Joel Richards at the Soccer Gods blog, {excerpt}…”As a youngster, Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires attended every single [match] during the club’s 1946 championship winning season. His father played for San Lorenzo, albeit at basketball, and as Cardinal he blessed the club chapel that was paid for by another famous supporter, actor Viggo Mortensen.”…{excerpt from Remembering 2014: When San Lorenzo became more than “the Pope’s club” at soccergods.com}.
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Photo credits above -
Satellite view of El Gasometro, unattributed at portal-argento.com.ar/estadios-primera-division.
Curva at El Gasometro in 2009, photo by Lee Barrett stuartnoel.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/san-lorenzo-4.jpg at A South American fiesta of football (theballisround.co.uk).
Unattributed at circuitox.com/el-coco-basile-y-su-episodio-con-el-papa-francisco.
Photo of commemorative 2013 San Lorenzo jersey featuring photo of Pope Francis, photo by San Lorenzo de Almagro via worldcrunch.com.

CA San Lorenzo are finally Copa Libertadores champions in 2014, and are the 8th Argentine side to win a Copa Libertadores title…
From ESPN FC.com, from 13 Aug. 2014, by Tim Vickery, San Lorenzo capture first Copa title.

San Lorenzo had been the only one of the Big 5 in Argentina without a Copa Libertadores title. They finally won South America’s biggest prize by defeating Paraguay’s Nacional 2-1 aggregate (on 6 & 13 Aug. 2014). The trophy was won under the leadership of Rosario-born Edgardo Bauza (who had made history, 6 years previously in 2008, by leading LDU Quito to Ecuador’s first Copa Libertadores title/ see captions below).

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Photo credits above -
Edgardo Bauza, screenshot of video image from ESPN Deportes at espndeportes.com/videohub/video/clipDeportes?id=2132326. Edgardo Bauza, photo by Fernando Romero/ABC Color at abc.com.py/deportes/futbol/san-lorenzo-con-equipo-confirmado.
Nestor Ortigoza, photo by Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press at utsandiego.com/news/2014/aug/13/san-lorenzo-wins-copa-libertadores-for-1st-time.
San Lorenzo squad celebrating at the ceremonial platform, photo by Kamen/PikoPress/REX at theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/aug/14/san-lorenzo-copa-libertadores.

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Thanks to FootieMap.com, for finding stadium-locations of various clubs who have qualified for the 2015 Copa Libertadores, such as http://www.footiemap.com/?co=ecuador .
Thanks to RSSSF – I used this list for all-time Copa Libertadores appearances for each club, ‘Copa Libertadores 1960-2014 Club Histories’ at rsssf.com .

Blank map used for the post – Thanks to selfmade, for uploading a cropped section of this map (adapted from Brianski’s File:BlankMap-World3.svg by Canuckguy and originally based on CIA’s political world map) , to make the following: File:Latin America – First level political divisions.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).

Thanks to this article about alleged bribe-takers, at BBC World service, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11841783.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2015 Copa Libertadores‘.

Thanks to the following…Photo credit on map page (San Lorenzo 2014 Copa Libertadoes champions), photo by AP at deportes.starmedia.com/futbol/libertadores/resultado-partido-san-lorenzo-vs-nacional-por-final-copa-libertadores-2014.html.

January 21, 2015

2014-15 FA Cup, Fourth Round Proper: location-map with current average attendances./ With a brief illustrated article on the biggest winners in the 3rd Round…the supporters of the Cardiff City Bluebirds./ Plus update, with Cup-upsets chart (featuring Bradford City, Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough, Leicester City, Crystal Palace and Cambridge United).

Filed under: 2014-15 FA Cup — admin @ 10:55 pm

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2014-15 FA Cup, Fourth Round Proper: location-map with current average attendances




FA Cup fixtures bbc.com/sport/football/fa-cup/fixtures.
BBC.co.uk/FA Cup.

Broadcast games (en.wikipedia.org).

Update: biggest upsets in the 2014-15 FA Cup 4th Round
The chart below shows the 5 biggest upsets in the 2014-15 FA Cup 4th Round, plus the best result for the lower-placed club which resulted in a draw (from Friday the 23rd and Saturday the 24th of January 2015/if there are any more big upsets, the chart will be updated further). Note: league placements were from the start of the weekend (that is, Friday morning)…
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The biggest upset of the 2014-15 FA Cup 3rd Round
The biggest upset of the 2014-15 FA Cup 3rd Round was when plucky minnows/overacheiving-3rd-division-side Rochdale AFC (of Greater Manchester/originally of Lancashire), beat 2nd-division-mainstays/twice-European-champions Nottingham Forest 1-0 before 6,791 at Spotland. That crowd was almost double the ‘Dale’s current home crowd size. Here is an article on that by Daniel Taylor at the Observer, Peter Vincenti the toast of Rochdale as penalty puts out Nottingham Forest (theguardian.com/football). This is the second straight season Rochdale has upended a second division giant in the third round (last year it was Leeds Utd whom they embarrassed). Rochdale’s reward for the win is momentum in the League – the life-long lower division club is up to 5th place and Keith Hill’s squad could actually be in position to be campaigning for the club’s first-ever promotion to the second tier. Rochdale’s other reward for the win is a sweet (and lucrative) 4th Round home tie versus an in-form Stoke City. That match is on the Monday (26th Jan.), and will be televised.

Cardiff City: back to blue, thanks to a well-organized fan-boycott…
There was another victory for the little guy…a victory that had nothing to do with what happened on the pitch, but, rather, what didn’t happen in the stands. In Cardiff, irate Bluebirds supporters organized a match boycott to show owner/dictator’s crony Vincent Tan that they had had enough of his juvenile re-branding of the blue Bluebirds of Cardiff City into the red Red Dragons. A re-branding done so as to magically start selling loads of shirts in Asia. A re-branding that has left the Cardiff City house divided and bitter (and it no doubt soured their promotion to the Premier League in May 2013, and it no doubt contributed to their relegation a year later).

[Here are some relevant figures...Cardiff City averaged 27.2 K per game last year (2013-14) in the Premier League, are currently averaging 21.3 K this season back in the Championship, and drew 6.4 K for a League Cup 3rd Rd match in September 2014.]

Cardiff City season ticket holders were loath to have a boycott during matches they had paid for (and who can blame them), so they waited for a match which they would have had to pay for out-of-pocket to attend – and a Friday night FA Cup 3rd Round match (with the media attention the third round offers), fit the bill perfectly. Only a little over four thousand showed up for the match versus Colchester United (which Cardiff won 3-1) (you can see a photo of the empty stands in the illustration below). As it says in the following article from Wales Online by Steve Tucker (linked to after the quote)…”it was the silence from the stands that was most deafening with a crowd of just 4,194 turning out to watch the encounter. It was the lowest ever attendance for a match at Cardiff City Stadium since the venue opened back in 2009 and the empty seats were a stark indicator of where the Bluebirds stand as a club right now. Calls for a boycott to protest against owner Vincent Tan’s rebranding of the club’s home shirts to red looked to have been answered with just a glance around the embarrassingly empty stands all the confirmation one needed.” {end of excerpt from Cardiff City 3 – 1 Colchester match report: Bluebirds record win in front of record low home crowd, by Steve Tucker at walesonline.co.uk/football).

And guess what? The boycott was successful! Just one week later, this news came in…The Bluebirds are BACK! Cardiff owner Vincent Tan agrees to return of blue home shirts (article by Joe Short at express.co.uk/football). This article at the Telegraph by James Corrigan reports that Tan’s 87-year-old mother convinced him to drop the red and bring back the blue, Cardiff to wear blue again after Vincent Tan takes advice from his mum; Malaysian owner forced change to red two years ago but fans revolted (telegraph.co.uk/football). Cardiff City actually then asked the FA for a special waiver to allow them to start wearing the blue again at home immediately, and that request was allowed (and Cardiff wore blue their next home game, v Fulham on 10 Jan. 2015/see a photo from that below). In the FA Cup 4th Round on Saturday 24th January 2015, Cardiff host fellow Championship side Reading. There will probably be a bit more than 4 thousand attending [note: there were 11,750 in attendance as Cardiff fell to Reading 1-2].

Old content disclaimer. I posted the original version of this illustration below 13 months ago; I could not resist updating it & re-posting it…
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Image and Photo credits above –
Old Cardiff City crests from kassiesa.nl/uefa/clubs/html/C; uefa.wikidot.com/england:cardiff-city-fc. [Template for CCFC crests from last 25 years from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardiff_City_F.C.#Club_logo_history.]. Photo of Vincent Tan (in classic Bond-villian look), flanked by 2 local toadies, both of whom sport flourishes of red (in true suck-up fashion), photo from Getty Images via dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2402081/Cardiff-owner-Vincent-Tan-adds-teams-kit-shirt-tie-combo. Photo of Cardiff City fans (some in red but more in blue), photo from Reuters via mirror.co.uk/sport/football. Photo of ‘Tan Out’ T-shirt uploaded by mugitmugit at ebay.com, ebay.co.uk/itm/Tan-Out-Cardiff-City-Bluebirds-t-shirt. Photo of Cardiff City fans’ protest banner from msn.foxsports.com/foxsoccer/premierleague/story/cardiff-fans-stage-protest-against-owner-vincent-tan-before-boxing-day-fixture. Photo of Cardiff fans with ‘Hate the red/love the blue’ banner, photo by Getty Images via telegraph.co.uk/football. Photo of empty seats via fan-boycott at Cardiff City Stadium by Huw Evans Picture Agency via walesonline.co.uk/football. Photo of Cardiff players back in blue, photo by Wales News Service via bbc.com/football.

___
Thanks to Soccerway.com for attendance figures. You can find attendance figures (updated daily) for levels 1 through 6 of the English football pyramid at Soccerway, http://us.soccerway.com/national/england/premier-league/20142015/regular-season/r25191/.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, 2014–15 FA Cup.

January 8, 2015

Argentina: location-map for the 30-club Primera División of 2015, following the 10-team promotion of December 2014./ Featuring top 3 scorers for Racing (current champions)./ With an article on Argentine 1st division format history, the Buenos Aires-centric nature of the top tier, and the 10-team expansion to a 30-club 1st division for 2015.

Filed under: Argentina — admin @ 2:01 pm

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Argentina: location-map for the 30-club Primera División of 2015, following the 10-team promotion of December 2014






2014 – Torneo de Transición champions, Racing Club de Avellaneda
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Photo credits above -
Gustavo Bou, photo by Gabriel Rossi/STF/Getty Images at gettyimages.com.
Diego Milito, photo by FotoBAIRES via canchallena.lanacion.com.ar/diego-milito-recibio-el-afecto-del-cilindro-tras-una-decada.
Gabriel Hauche, photo by racing.com.ar.

Introduction: the Buenos Aires-centric nature of Argentin’s Primera División
The Buenos Aires-centric nature of the Argentine top flight has existed from the very start of football in Argentina, and is partly attributable to the lack of decent transportation infrastructure out to the hinterlands, back in the very late 1800s and early 1900s. In fact, in the early days of amateur league football (1891; 1893-1930), and in the first eight seasons of pro league football in Argentina (1931 to 1938), only teams from Buenos Aires Federal District, Greater Buenos Aires, and the nearby city of La Plata were allowed to play in the first division (the distance from Buenos Aires city center to La Plata is around 53 km or 33 mi). The Buenos Aires-centric nature of Argentina’s first division also simply reflects the huge influence that the giant and sprawling city and metropolitan-area of Buenos Aires has always had on the country itself. Simple demographics point to this, with, currently, over one-quarter (around 28%) of Argentina’s population living within Greater Buenos Aires. Argentina has a population of around 44.6 million {2014 estimate}, and Greater Buenos Aires has a population of around 12.8 million {2010 census}. There is another reason why most of the big and successful clubs in Argentina come from the Buenos Aires region, and that is how the AFA (Asociación del Fútbol Argentino) rules for club representation in 1931 gave the “Big Five” clubs (three from Buenos Aires FD and two from the adjacent municipality of Avellaneda) triple the representation of other clubs (see two paragraphs below).

The Argentine first division was established at a rather early time period – 1891 and 1893 – and the 1893-to-1930 iteration was in fact the first functioning football league established outside of Great Britain (the Argentine first division turned professional in 1931). Once the clubs and the game itself got established, that Buenos Aires-centric nature became embedded. The Buenos-Aires/La-Plata-clubs-only rule existed all through the amateur era (1891; 1893-1930) and for the first 8 pro seasons (1931-38). Then in 1939, two clubs from Argentina’s third-largest city Rosario – Newell’s Old Boys and Rosario Central – from the somewhat nearby province of Santa Fe, were allowed to join the first division (distance from Rosario to Buenos Aires by road is around 280 km or around 174 mi). And then 37 years later, in 1966, one year before the first division structure changed in 1967, another club from Santa Fe province (Colón, from the city of Santa Fe), was allowed to join the first division. But clubs from Córdoba – the second-largest city in Argentina – as well as clubs from all the rest of Argentina outside Buenos Aires province and Santa Fe province – were still excluded from the top flight. The following year – 1967 – the Metropolitano/Nacional league system was introduced, and clubs from the areas outside of Buenos Aires and Santa Fe provinces were finally allowed to compete for the chance to win promotion to the first division (see four paragraphs below for a brief synopsis of the 1st division formats in Argentina).

The Big Five – and how AFA rules effectively institutionalized the dominance of Greater Buenos Aires-based clubs…
From the start of the re-organization of Argentine football in 1931 all the way until 1966, only 5 clubs won the title – Boca Juniors, Independiente, Racing, River Plate, and San Lorenzo – aka the Big Five. This was partly the result of rules the Argentine Footbol Association instituted in 1931, when football became professional at the top level and when that governing body took control of football in the country. Here is an excerpt from the The Big Five of Argentine football at en.wikipedia.org…{excerpt}…”The term [the Big Five] was coined in the 1930 decade, with the establishment of the Argentine Football Association (AFA). The AFA arranged a system of proportional representation for the involved sport clubs: the vote of the clubs with either 15,000 members and at least 20 years playing the tournament and 2 or more championships would weight threefold, the vote of clubs with 20 years playing the tournament and 10,000 to 15,000 members or 1 championship would weight twofold, and the vote of the others would have the standard value. Boca, Independiente, Racing, River and San Lorenzo were the only five clubs who qualified for the threefold vote. The five teams would have a leading role in Argentine football since then, and during the first 36 years of the AFA (1931 to 1966) no team outside the five got the championship. The first one to do so was Estudiantes de la Plata, in 1967.”…{end of excerpt at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Five_of_Argentine_football). To this day the Big Five are among the most successful clubs in Argentina, with only Vélez Sarsfield having won more professional titles (titles won since 1931) than some of the Big 5 clubs (see Argentine pro tiles list on the map page at the top of this post, or see it here {at es.wikipedia.org/Primera División de Argentina/Resumen estadístico}).

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Photos of Big Five jerseys – River Plate, unattributed at futboleros.co. Boca Juniors, unattributed at footyheadlines.com/2014/05/nike-boca-juniors-14-15-home-kit-leaked. San Lorenzo, sportec.com.ar/shop/san-lorenzo-de-almagro-topper-2014-home-jersey. Independiente, tienda.clubaindependiente.com/camiseta-independiente-titular-2014-2015. Racing Club, futbol10shop.com/racing-club-home-jersey-2014.

You can see the Buenos Aires-centric nature of the Argentine top flight to this day
Greater Buenos Aires-based clubs almost always account for more than half of the first division teams to this day. In 2014 it was 60% (12 Greater BA-based clubs). [Note: and in 2015, it will be 53% (with 16 Greater BA-based clubs/see 10-13 paragraphs below).] Here is the breakdown-by-provinces of the most recent season of Primera División… In the (September-to-December) 2014-Transición season, only 4 of the 23 provinces of Argentina had first division representation. And 15 of the 20 clubs in the Primera División in the 2014-Transición were from Greater Buenos Aires/Buenos Aires province. A whopping 12 of the 20 clubs in the Primera División were from Greater Buenos Aires: 4 clubs from Buenos Aires Federal District (Boca Juniors, River Plate, San Lorenzo, Vélez Sarsfield), plus 8 more clubs from Greater Buenos Aires (Arsenal, Banfield, Independiente, Lanús, Quilmes, Racing, Tigre, and top-flight newcomers in 2014 Defensa y Justicia), with 3 more clubs from other parts of the rather large Buenos Aires Province [BA province is slightly larger than the US state of Arizona and is the largest province in Argentina], two of those being from the near-to-Buenos Aires city of La Plata (Estudiantes and Gimnasia LP), the other being the sole outlier in far south Buenos Aires province in Bahia Blanca (Club Olimpo, who will be playing in their 10th season of top flight football in 2015). The rest of the 2014-Transición field was comprised of the following 5 clubs… 3 clubs from Santa Fe province, with 2 from the city of Rosario (Newell’s Old Boys and Rosario Central), and 1 from the city of Rafaela (Atlético de Rafaela). 1 club from the city of Córdoba in Córdoba province (Belgrano). 1 club from the city of Mendoza in Mendoza province (Godoy Cruz).

History of tournament formats in First Division football in Argentina, 1891-2015
1891; 1893-1966: round-robin-style tournament for national title, initially contested only by clubs from Buenos Aires/BA province; later Rosario clubs (in 1939) and Santa Fe clubs (in 1966) allowed.
[Amateur from 1891; 1893-1930; Professional from 1931-on. Only 5 clubs won titles from 1930-66 (River Plate, Boca Juniors, Independiente, Racing, San Lorenzo: the Big Five).]
[1931: First Division becomes professional.]
1967-85: national title awarded twice per season, with the Metropolitano contested only by clubs from old tournament / and with the Nacional open to all [Metropolitano season played first until 1980-81].
1985-1991: European-style tournament, with season running from August to May, clubs playing each other home & away, and one title awarded each May.
1991-2012: return to two single-round tournaments as in 1967-85, but now both tournaments open to all, with Apertura in August-December and with Clausura in January-May.
2012-14: a Super Final instituted [but for only two seasons, it turned out], contested between the 2 single-round winners; the 2 single-round tournaments renamed Inicial and Final, but with the Inicial & Final titles still counting as national titles, and with the Super Final title being a title of its own but not a national title [akin to the Community Shield title in England]; however, AFA never rescinded Vélez Sarsfield’s 2012-13 [Superfinal] title, so Vélez Sarsfield, bizarrely, basically got an extra national title, whereas the Superfinal winner for 2013-14, River Plate, were not allowed to count their Superfinal title as a national title (seriously).
2014-Transición: the August-December tournament has no teams relegated, as league transitions to an expanded tournament.
2015: First Division (Primera Division) expanded from 20 teams to 30 teams via mass-10-team-promotion of Second Division clubs; each team plays each other once, with the 30th game being a clásico (derby/historic rivalry) match; season to go from February 2015 to December 2015, with a halfway-break break in June.

2015: Argentina’s AFA institutes a 10-team expansion of the Primera División (going from 20 teams to 30 teams)…
-From the Turkish Press site, from 30 April 2014, by Charles Newbery, Argentina football league expansion seen as political (turkishpress.com).
-From Caught Offside.com, from 10 Nov. 2014, by Charles Price, Argentina’s 30-Team Primera Division Disaster (caughtoffside.com).
-From the Daily Mail, from 18 Nov. 2014 , by Reuters, Argentine FA set to go ahead with 30-team top flight (dailymail.co.uk/wires).

Five-and-a-half years ago, in mid-2009, the Argentine Primera División’s television rights were bought by the national government, and all games are now shown free on public TV on the country’s state TV network {see this article from July 2010 from the Soccer Politics blog, by Jeffrey Richey, Argentine Soccer Politics: Fútbol Para Todos, Continued}. This was done as a blatant attempt to grab votes. Since the 2009-10 season, Primera División games are broadcast free (and are streamed for free online/see link in next sentence), and the government uses the platform to curry favor with the populace (filling much of the advertising space with puff-piece-propaganda for the political party in charge). {Free streaming of Argentina Premiera División at futbolparatodos.com.ar}. The arrangement is wildly popular, but it hasn’t actually resulted in much more favorable opinions towards the party-in-charge (the Front for Victory party, a Peronist/center-left coalition headed by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner). Much of the football media in Argentina is dead set against them, especially the more right-wing media outlets, and most especially as with respect to Grupo Clarin, who lost the broadcasting rights and then sued the government (unsuccessfully), claiming the rights to broadcast the Primera División were basically stolen from them. As it says in the article by Jeffrey Richey in the link at the top of this paragraph, {excerpt}…”Certain sectors of the Argentine media have had a central role in rallying public opinion against the Kirchners. In the immediate wake of Fútbol Para Todos, political criticism of the Fernández administration in the various arms of Grupo Clarín media reached a crescendo from which it has yet to descend.”

With a Presidential election coming up in October 2015, and with the sitting government headed by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner facing abysmal poll numbers (like 20%-favorable poll numbers), the party-in-charge is again trying leverage political gain via first-division football. This time they hope to gain more support in the hinterlands by expanding the league 50 percent – from 20 teams to an unheard-of 30 teams.

There are many who feel that the 10-team expansion of the first division smacks of those in power in Argentina seeking cynical short-term gain at the expense of the long-term viability of the professional game in Argentina, where clubs have seen their ability to maintain high-caliber and stable squads eroded by the continued rise of club football in Europe. To put it another way, as soon as a young Argentine footballer of exceptional skill gets established, he is sold off to a money-laden European club. And watering down the talent-level with the inclusion of 10 second-division-caliber clubs will only further diminish the standard of play in the Argentine top flight. At the NonLeagueMatters.co.uk forum, commenter Edgeley says…{excerpt}…”The general view of most fans in Argentina is that the idea of a 30 club division is madness but it is happening and it looks like once it is established then it will not be easy to undo it in a hurry”…(from nonleaguematters.co.uk/forum/post=600625 [Argentine First Division expansion, ca. June 2014]).

In April of 2014, the long-serving head of the Argentina FA Julio Grondona had initiated the expansion plan…
Grondona’s power (amid all the allegations of corruption over the years) was such that few had the ability to effectively produce an opposition to the radical expansion. But once the 82-year-old Grondona passed away in July 2014, opposition to the the 10-team expansion began to coalesce. Of course the big clubs including the Big Five oppose it. But some of the less established first division clubs are set against it – if only because their share of broadcast revenue will be diminished once the pie is cut into 30 instead of 20.

The most logical aspect of the 30-team first division is the switch to a single August-to-May season (like with European leagues). (The Argentine Primera División had had a two-title/dual-tournament season-format from 1991-92 to 2013-14.)

The whole 10-team expansion plan had been constantly changing all through October, November, and December 2014, but it now looks like the plan is set. The season for 2015 will be a unique one-time setup and will go from February to December 2015, with a mid-June break. Two clubs will be relegated in December 2015 (with two clubs being promoted up from the 2nd division at the same time). For the 2015 season, each team will play each other team once (29 games), and a clásico (derby/historic rivalry) will account for the match-ups which will be the 30th game. For example, Boca Juniors will play River Plate for their 30th game. Some other 30th games are: Banfield v. Lanús, Estudiantes v. Gimnasia (LP), and Rosario Central v. Newell’s Old Boys. Those are all very real clásicos. But because so many of these clubs don’t have a convenient rival to play, there will be some pretty fictitious “clásicos” on display, like Arsenal v. Defensa y Justicia or Tigre v. Vélez Sarsfield. As pedrocoates says in the following article from 17th December 2014 at Golazo Argentina blog, “Where this gets complicated is that AFA have had to create a number of clásicos that in fact have little or no history – Vélez against Tigre is one such fabricated clásico. This issue highlights the stupidity of the new format given that all 30 teams will in fact have different fixtures and an away match at River or Racing is considerably more difficult than say, a visit to Crucero del Norte.” {excerpt from AFA release 2015 30-team Primera fixtures (golazoargentino.com)}.

From the AFA site, here is the fixtures list, Fixture de Primera División [2015] (afa.org.ar).

From the Buenos Aires Herald, from 13 November 2014, Top clubs, Argentine FA remain in conflict over structure of new 30-team top division (buenosairesherald.com).}

From the Buenos Aires Herald, from 28 November 2014, by Eric Weill/Sports World, ‘What is the AFA for?’ (buenosairesherald.com)

The 30-team league will remain in place for two seasons – in 2015 (the aforementioned full 10-month/ 30-match season), with two teams relegated and two promoted up from the second division in December 2015. So there will still be 30 teams in the 1st division for the next tournament – in the first-half of 2016 (a temporary 5-month/14-match half-season with the 1st division split into 2 groups of 15), with three teams relegated and one team promoted following that half-season in 2016. Then, after a full year/quasi-Apertura-and-Clausura format starting in mid-2016 and ending in June 2017, four clubs will be relegated and two promoted. Thus the plan is not to actually end up with a 30-team league down the road, but whittle away the 30-team field via a staggered relegation/promotion schedule (again, with less teams promoted up being than being relegated down each calender year), until the first-division field is down to 24 clubs. Or maybe down to 22 clubs. Or maybe down to 20 clubs once again. That final first-division-quantity-of-teams is still yet to be determined, and there is a high probability that there will be still more changes to the format. (In fact, a faction is lobbying for there to be no relegation once again in 2015, so that there would be a 32-team league come 2016!)

Here, via the Argentine Primera División page at en.wikipedia.org, is the breakdown of the format for the next 5 seasons…

[2015] – From February to December 2015, the league will be contested between thirty teams. Two teams will be relegated to and two teams will be promoted from Primera B Nacional.
[2016] – In the first half of 2016, the league will be contested between thirty teams. Three teams will be relegated to and one team will be promoted from Primera B Nacional.
[2016-17] – From August 2016 to June 2017, the league will be contested between twenty-eight teams. Four teams will be relegated to and two teams will be promoted from Primera B Nacional.
[2017-18] – From August 2017 to June 2018, the league will be contested between twenty-six teams. Four teams will be relegated to and two teams will be promoted from Primera B Nacional.
[2018-19] – From August 2018 to June 2019, the league will be contested between twenty-four teams. Four teams will be relegated to and two teams will be promoted from Primera B Nacional.

As the Buenos Aires Herald notes in an editorial from 27 November 2014,…{excerpt}…” Did nobody dare to question Grondona’s judgement even if this form of honouring him is akin to erecting a statue with built-in demolition plans? Or is there a hidden political agenda with the idea of creating the illusion of a more federal soccer for the election year of 2015, even if it is impossible to maintain in the long term?”…{end of excerpt at Passion of multitudes (of clubs) at buenosairesherald.com)}

Locations of the 10 newly-promoted clubs (promoted in December 2014), and the colossal irony that most are actually NOT from the hinterlands…
A couple of these 10 newly-promoted clubs will be coming from the outer provinces, where few if any clubs are ever in the top flight in Argentina. But most of these 10 newly-promoted clubs are actually coming from the traditionally-allowed-in-the-1st-division areas of Buenos Aires province and Santa Fe province.

3 of the 10 newly-promoted clubs are from Buenos Aires Federal District…Nueva Chicago (now with 7 seasons played in the first division [counting 2015], previously in 2006-07), and two perennial first division clubs: Huracán (now with 73 seasons in the first division, previously in 2009-10); and Argentinos Juniors (now with 65 seasons in the first division, previously in 2013-14). Also one newly-promoted club is from Greater Buenos Aires, from just south of Banfield in the far southern suburbs – Temperley (now with 9 seasons in the first division, previously in 1986-87). Also, two clubs, one of whom is making their first division debut in 2015, are from outlying parts of Buenos Aires province – top-flight-newcomers Aldosivi (from Mar del Plata, which is on the Atlantic Ocean and located around 410 km or around 255 miles south-east of Buenos Aires by road); and Sarmiento, from Junín, which is located near the border of Santa Fe province around 267 km or around 166 miles west of Buenos Aires by road (Sarmiento were previously in the 1st division (Nacional) for a 2-season-spell in 1981 and 1982; this [2015] will be their 3rd season in the 1st division). Also, two newly-promoted clubs are both from the city of Santa Fe in Santa Fe province – one is an old first division standby – Colón (now with 36 seasons in the first division, previously in 2013-14); the other club being promoted up from Santa Fe is also with many years as a top flight team – Unión de Santa Fe (now with 30 seasons in the first division, previously in 2012-13).

So that means that just 2 (or maybe 3) of the 10 newly-promoted clubs are actually from the hinterlands (the hinterlands being the areas that weren’t allowed to have clubs in the 1st division before 1967).
[Note: by saying "(or maybe 3)" in the sentence above, I am referring to Aldosivi of Mar del Plata, because it is kind of debatable if the authorities would have ever let in Aldosivi into the pre-1967 era first division, had they been slated for promotion. But they almost certainly would have let in Sarmiento, seeing as how Sarmiento's location in Junín is basically halfway from Buenos Aires to the allowed-in-the-1st-division city of Rosario.] The two newly-promoted clubs that are actually from the hinterlands are the following… San Martín (SJ) (now with 4 seasons in the first division, previously in 212-13), from the city of San Juan (metro-area population of around 453,000) in the arid San Juan province in the far west of the country near the border with Chile. And first-division-newcomers Crucero del Norte, who are a very new club (est. 1989), from Garupá, a suburb of Posadas (metro-area population of around 334,000), which is in the sub-tropical Misiones province in the far north-east of the country near the borders with Paraguay and Brazil.

That seems like a small yield for all the effort of the 10-team-promotion…whose aim was to put more clubs from the hinterlands into the top tier. And it is indicative of the reason the late Julio Grondona really wanted to expand the first division even more – to 38 teams…because allowing “just” 10 more teams into the top flight would probably end up promoting many clubs that were not from the hinterlands. And that is exactly what has happened.

The map page
The map page features a basic location-map-with-inset-map (inset-map for Greater Buenos Aires). The Argentina National Professional Titles list (1931 to 2014-Transicion) is at the upper-right-hand corner of the map page. At the right-hand-side of the map page I have also included a chart that shows three items for each of the 30 clubs: 1). national pro titles (and year of last title), 2). seasons in the 1st division, and 3). each club’s stadium capacity (sorry I could not include last season’s average attendance figures, but unfortunately for several reasons including corruption and tax-dodging, the reporting of attendance figures in Argentine football is a thing that simply does not exist). On the map and on the Greater Buenos Aires inset map, I have listed the estimated metropolitan-area (aka urban area) populations of each city which has 1st division representation in 2015. I have also listed the estimated populations of all barrios (neighborhoods) of Buenos Aires Federal District which have 1st division representation in 2015. Those populations are found in gray boxes adjacent to each club’s crest (sources can be found immediately below). I have also shown on the map the 8 largest cities in Argentina (all cities in the country with a metro-area population above 500,000). (The 8 largest cities in Argentina, in order of metro-area population, are: Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Rosario, Mendoza, Tucumán, La Plata, Mar del Plata, Salta.)

Sources for map and titles chart:
-Source for city metro populations from Anexo:Aglomerados urbanos de Argentina;
barrio populations found at Barrios and Communes of Buenos Aires; cities within Greater Buenos Aires, with populations found at each page via 2015 Argentine Primera División/Club information.
-Seasons played in Argentine top flight, by club: Primera División de Argentina/Equipos participantes (es.wikipedia.org); LIST OF ARGENTINIAN CLUBS AND DIVISIONAL MOVEMENTS (Professional Era 1931-2007/08) (rsssf.com).
-Titles (professional Argentine titles): http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primera_Divisi%C3%B3n_de_Argentina#Resumen_estad.C3.ADstico_2.
-Stadium capacities: 2014 Argentine Primera División; 2014–15 Primera B Nacional (en.wikipedia.org).
-Attendance figures (which I ended up not listing due to the high probability that they were not very accurate): very few (if any) media outlets report Argentina Primera División attendances. The following link (World Football.net) reports crowd estimates for Primera División only, worldfootball.net/attendance/arg-primera-division-2014-2015-torneo-inicial/1/.
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For blank maps of Argentina and of Greater Buenos Aires, thanks to NordNordWest at File:Argentina Greater Buenos Aires location map.svg; and at File:Argentina location map.svg (en.wikipedia.org).

Thanks to Sam Kelly and company at the Hand of Pod podcast (the only English-speaking podcast on Argentine football), for information and for updates on the 10-team 1st division expansion, https://handofpod.wordpress.com.

Thanks to the contributors at en. and es.wikipedia.org, Argentine Primera División; Primera B Nacional.

January 1, 2015

2014-15 FA Cup, Third Round Proper: location-map with current average attendances./ Plus a look back at the 1988 FA Cup Final (Wimbledon 1-0 Liverpool). /Plus, an illustrated article on the Blyth Spartans, the Non-League club that went the furthest in the FA Cup in the post-War era (in 1977-78).

Filed under: 2014-15 FA Cup,Eng. Non-League — admin @ 12:39 pm

2014-15_fa-cup_3rd-round_map_w-current-attendances_post_f_.gif
2014-15 FA Cup, Third Round: location-map with current average attendances



FA Cup fixtures, bbc.com/sport/football/fa-cup/fixtures.
BBC.co.uk/FA Cup.

Televised matches (all the matches live in the UK and in the USA & Canada)…
Friday 2 January 2015:
Cardiff City v Colchester United, 7:45 pm GT at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, South Wales, Wales, UK (live on BBC-Wales only).
Saturday 3 January 2015:
Tranmere Rovers v Swansea City, 3 pm GT [/10 am ET] at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea, South Wales, Wales, UK (live in USA & Canada only on Fox Sports 1 at 10 am ET).
West Bromwich v Gateshead, 3 pm GT [/10 am ET] at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich [Greater Birmingham], West Midlands (live in USA & Canada only on Fox Sports 2 at 10 am ET).
Sunday 4 January 2015:
Dover Athletic v Crystal Palace, 1 pm GT at the Crabble Athletic Ground in River [adjacent to Dover], Kent (live on BT Sport in the UK; and in USA & Canada on Fox Sports 1 at 8 am ET).
Manchester City v Sheffield Wednesday, 3 pm GT at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester (not broadcast in the UK; only in USA & Canada on Fox Sports 2 at 10 am ET).
Yeovil Town v Manchester United, 3:30 pm GT at Huish Park in Yeovil, Somerset (live on BT Sport in the UK; and in USA & Canada on Fox Sports 1 at 10:30 am ET).
Arsenal v Hull City, 5:30 pm GT at Emirates Stadium in Hollloway, Greater London N5 (live on the BBC in the UK; and in USA & Canada on Fox Sports 1 at 12:30 pm ET).
Monday 5 January 2015:
AFC Wimbledon v Liverpool, 8:55 pm GT at Kingsmeadow in Kingston-upon-Thames, Greater London KT1 (live on the BBC in the UK; and in USA & Canada on Fox Sports 1 at 2:45 ET).
Tuesday 6 January 2015:
Everton v West Ham United, 7:45 pm at Goodison Park in Walton, Liverpool L4 (live on BT Sport in the UK; and in USA & Canada on Fox Sports 1 at 2:30 pm ET).

For the first time in their twelve-year existence, AFC Wimbledon have qualified for the FA Cup 3rd Round…
And wouldn’t you know it, supporter-owned AFC Wimbledon, heir to Wimbledon FC (1889 to 2004), will host Liverpool, at their Kingsmeadow ground in southwest London. It will be a re-match of Wimbledon FC’s greatest win, the 1988 FA Cup Final, which saw First Division upstarts Wimbledon beat the-just-crowned-champions-of-England Liverpool, 1-0, at the old Wembley Stadium in front of 98,203. Northern Ireland international MF Lawrie Sanchez headed in the winner on a cross from MF Dennis Wise in the 37th minute. The match featured the first-ever penalty save in an FA Cup final – a full-stretch diving-save by the captain of Wimbledon, Dave Beasant – off of a John Aldridge penalty attempt in the 60th minute. Then Wimbledon held Liverpool scoreless for the final 30 minutes after that brilliant save, and Wimbledon FC of Plough Lane [aka the Crazy Gang], were the improbable FA Cup champions of 1988. It is generally viewed as one of the greatest FA Cup upsets ever {see this article from Jan. 2014, where it is ranked #3 … Are these the greatest FA Cup upsets ever? (thescore.ie)}.

{See this 6:38 youtube video, [goal at 2:10 / penalty call (blown call) at 3:10 / save at 3:55], 15/05/1988 Liverpool v Wimbledon [1988 FA Cup Final] (youtube.com)}.

Wimbledon FC (1889-2004), improbable FA Cup winners of 1988…
wimbledon-fc_1988-fa-cup-winners_dave-beasant_lawrie-sanchez_dennis-wise_vinnie-jones_bobby-gould_john-fashanu_plough-lane_c_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Lawrie Sanchez heading in the winner, photo by Getty Images via mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/vinnie-jones-remembers-crazy-gang. Lawrie Sanchez celebrating the goal, photo unattributed at liverpoolkits.com/liverpool1988fa-cup. Dave Beasant making the first-ever goalkeepersper-save in an FA Cup Final, photo by David Cannon/Allsport via Guardian.com/football. Wimbledon manager Bobby Gould jumping into the arms of Vinnie Jones in celebration of the upset win, photo unattributed at i4.coventrytelegraph.net. Dennis Wise clowning with the trophy lid, with Dave Beasant in the background, photo by Foto Sports International via dailystar.co.uk/sport/football/413742/Chelsea-legend-Dennis-Wise-Football-crazy-days. John Fashanu on image from T-shirt at punkfootball.com/John-Fashanu-1988-AFC-Wimbledon-Navy-T-Shirt. Crazy Gang still celebrating while getting the team photo in after the win, photo unattributed at port.bt.com/sportfootball/football/where-are-they-now-wimbledons-fa-cup-final-winning-team.
Plough Lane, photo unattributed at ebay.co.uk/itm/Wimbledon-FC-Inside-Plough-Lane-Football-Stadium-Photo-Memorabilia. “Not in the greater interests…” [infamous quote from FA report which consigned Wimbledon FC to to the dustbin of history by allowing ownership to move the club to Milton Keynes], image from a banner at afcwimbledon-mad.co.uk. Wimbledon FC’s boarded up HQ in South London, photo by Getty Images via telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/AFC-Wimbledon-ready-to-go-back-to-Plough-Lane.

Blyth Spartans, the lowest-placed (and lowest-drawing) club still alive in the 2014-15 FA Cup..
From Blyth, Northumberland (population ~35,000 {2001 figure}), Blyth Spartans play in the 7th-level Northern Premier League Premier Division and are the lowest-placed club still in the competition. In the Second Round, on Friday 5th December, at Victoria Park in Hartlepool, County Durham, Blyth Spartans took a scalp of a team three divisions above them when they beat League Two/4th-division side Hartlepool United 1-2 to advance to the FA Cup Third Round. The winner was scored by 21-year-old striker/newstand clerk Jarret Rivers in extra time. 1,100 Blyth supporters traveled the 66 km (41 mi) down the coast to Hartlepool to root their club on {see this, Hartlepool United 1-2 Blyth Spartans (bbc.co.uk/fa cup)}. At that point in time, the league-placement difference between Blyth Spartans and Hartlepool was 65 places and 3 levels.

Blyth is located 21 km (13 mi) north of Newcastle in England’s northern-most historic county, Northumberland. Blyth Spartans are the northern-most club in the England football leagues system (of clubs within levels 1 through 8 within the English football pyramid). [Although Berwick Rangers from Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumbria are located further north...but they play in the Scottish football leagues system (in the Scottish 4th division).]

Blyth Spartans wear green-and-white vertically-striped jerseys. They play at Croft Park, which has a capacity of 4,435 with 556 seated (see illustration below). The ground’s Main Stand (aka the Port of Blyth Stand), looms over the rest of the terraced ground in all its brick-walled and bright-green-metal-roofed glory. Blyth Spartans are managed by Tom Wade, who is 56 years old and supported the club in his childhood. Wade is back for his third spell with the club in a coaching capacity (previously as caretaker-manager and as an assistant coach), and also has coaching experience with Gateshead, Newcastle Blue Star and Harrogate Town.

Blyth Spartans had their highest league placement in 2006-07, at 7th place in the 6th-level Conference North. This was during a 6-season spell in the Conference North, which they had won promotion to after winning the NPL PD in 2005-06 (as well as the league cup that season). Since relegation in 2012, they have remained in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. They currently sit 16th with several games in hand, and are averaging 450 per game, which is an improvement of 90 per game over their average crowd size last season.

In the 2014-15 FA 3rd Round, on Saturday 3rd January, Blyth Spartans will face 2nd division side Birmingham City. Prior to winning 3 of their last 5 league matches, Birmingham City (currently in 14th place), had been struggling yet again in the Football League Championship, so that suggests that another giant-killing is not out of the question.

Blyth Spartans qualify for the FA Cup 3rd Round once again…
Blyth Spartans have now qualified for the FA Cup 3rd Round for the fourth time in their history (in 1971-72, in 1977-78, in 2008-09, and now in 2014-15/ see this en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blyth_Spartans_FA_Cup_exploits). Of course Blyth Spartans’ greatest moment was 37 years ago. On 6th February 1978, they qualified for the FA Cup Fifth Round, after a massive 4th Round upset – beating then-2nd-division-side Stoke City 2-3 before 18,765 at the old Victoria Park in Stoke-on-Trent. Blyth Spartans then went on to face 3rd-division-side Wrexham in the 5th Round, taking them to a replay before bowing out (note: Wrexham won the Third Division that season [1977-78]). Wrexham advanced to the Quarterfinals instead of Blyth, but only just, because Wrexham had forced a replay by scoring late in the match on a controversial retaken corner kick (re-taken twice), which the ref ruled on, due to a downed corner-flag on the initial corner kick (as you can see in the video at the link below). The replay was played on 27 February 1978 at St James’ Park in Newcastle before 42,167 (with over 10,000 locked outside the ground). But Blyth Spatans fell to Wrexham 1-2.

Here is a 5:44 youtube video with match highlights and interviews, about the Blyth Spartans 1978 FA Cup Run (5:44 video uploaded by GriefTourist at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70j23pg6S5g). [This video is from a broadcast from the 2008-09 FA Cup 3rd Round circa first week of January 2009.]

There have been 7 Non-League teams to make it to the 5th Round of the FA Cup since 1945-46 {see this, List of non-league clubs in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup since 1945}, but only one of those sides forced a replay – Blyth Spartans. So, regardless of that cruel twist of fate with respect to that pesky corner flag, Blyth Spartans are to this day the only Non-League club in the post-War era to have made it to the FA Cup Quarterfinals draw. Had that corner flag not fallen over twice in the half-frozen mud in North Wales (and had the ref not been such a stickler), Blyth Spartans would have hosted Arsenal in March of 1978, in the FA Cup Quarterfinals.

Here is an article on Blyth Spartans’ 1977-78 Cup run, from the When Saturday Comes site, by Ken Sproat from April 2005, Blyth Spartans 1977-78 (wsc.co.uk/the-archive).

Here is an another article on Blyth Spartans’ 1977-78 Cup run, from the Blyth Spirit blog, The Goal That Made History – Classic Matches – Stoke City FA Cup 1977/1978 Stoke City 2 Blyth Spartans 3 (blythspirit.wordpress.com).

Below,
Croft Park, home of Blyth Spartans, w/ a sidebar on the 1977-78 Blyth Spartans: the Non-League team that went the furthest in the FA Cup (post-War era)…

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Photo credits above -
Panoramic photo of part of Croft Park featuring Main Stand (Port of Blyth Stand), photo by tigerroar.co.uk/blythspartans.
Main Stand (Port of Blyth Stand), photo by chroniclelive.co.uk/all-about/blyth-spartans-afc.
Terry Johnson celebrating with traveling Blyth fans after scoring v Wrexham in the 1977-78 FA Cup 4R at the Racecorse Ground in Wrexham, image from a screenshot from Blyth Spartans 1977 78 FA Cup Run Remembered (video uploaded by Brian Grey at youtube.com).
1978 FA Cup %th Round replay programme, photo unattributed from chroniclelive.co.uk.
Blyth Spartans supporters with banners at Croft Park terraces, photo unattributed at therealfacup.co.uk/2011/02/27/blame-it-on-a-corner-flag.
Jarret Rivers after scoring v Hartlepool in 2014-15 FA Cup 2R at Victoria Park, photo by Jason Cairnduff at chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/football.

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Thanks to these sites for attendance figures -
Levels 1 through 6 at soccerway.com.
Level 7 (Blyth Spartans) at nonleaguematters.co.uk.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, 2014–15 FA Cup.

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