billsportsmaps.com

November 10, 2015

Wales national team – starting line-up (Best XI) from match which clinched their qualification for the 2016 Euros in France. (Wales starting squad from 10 October 2015, Bosnia 2-0 Wales [match-day which saw Wales automatically qualify for the 2016 UEFA Euros tournament].) 17 players + coach are profiled.

Filed under: Wales — admin @ 2:12 pm

Links…
-Squad chart.
-Article on Wales clinching… Joy in Bosnia defeat as Wales make history to qualify for Euro 2016 (by Stuart James at guardian.com on 10 Oct. 2015).
-Team (current squad info)…Wales national football team/Current squad (en.wikipedia.org).
-Team, with schedule, etc…WALES (soccerway.com).
-Country…Wales (en.wikipedia.org).
-The UEFA Euros tournament in France in June 2016…UEFA Euro 2016 (en.wikipedia.org).

    Wales national team: starting line-up (Best XI), from match which clinched their qualification
    (Chart of Wales starting squad from 10 October 2015, Bosnia 2-0 Wales: 17 players + coach are profiled.)
    [The Group B match-day which saw Wales automatically qualify for the 2016 UEFA Euros tournament in France].

By Bill Turianski on 10 November 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

Demographics of Wales
Size of Wales:
20,779 km-squared (or 8,022 square miles). Wales is about 86% of the size-by-area as the island of Cyprus (which would include the de-facto-state of Northern Cyprus), or about 92% of the size of the state of New Jersey in the USA. This is [about the equivalent of] the ~165th-largest country by area, placing them between Cyprus and Brunei (that is, if Wales were an independent nation, as opposed to what they are [a constituent state of the United Kingdom]).
{Sources: Wales;
List of countries and dependencies by area;
List of U.S. states and territories by area (en.wikipedia.org).}

Population of Wales:
Wales has a population of around 3.0 million {2011 census}. Wales is [about the equivalent of] the ~141st-most-populous country, placing them between Armenia and Lithuania (that is, if Wales were an independent nation, as opposed to what they are [a constituent state of the United Kingdom]).
{Sources: Wales;
List of countries and dependencies by population (en.wikipedia.org).}

Capital & largest city:
Cardiff, city population: about 346,000. Greater Cardiff metro-area population.: about 1.0 million {2011 census figures}.

Wales were in a qualifying group (Group B) with Belgium, Bosnia, Israel, Cyprus, and Andorra…
On 12 June 2015, in matchday 6 (of 10), before a full-capacity crowd of 33,000 at Cardiff City Stadium, Wales stunned the heavy favorites Belgium with a 1-0 win {see first photo in the illustration below}. That upset win came from an unusual goal scored by their talisman, Christian Bale, in the 25th minute, from a Wales corner-kick. The bizarre play saw no less than 4 consecutive headers (3 by Belgian players/ the last header an error by Belgian MF Radja Nainggolan as he tried to head the goal back to the Belgian goalkeeper). The finish was a skillful swiveled volley after a chest-trap, from short range, by Bale. The ball never touched the ground after the corner-kick and those 4 headers…until Bale intercepted that errant fourth header, and deftly slotted the ball, on the volley, straight through Belgian ‘keeper Thibault Courtois’ legs. Here is that ultimately crucial goal for Wales, via a 36-second youtube video, Wales v Belgium bale winning goal 12/6/15 (uploaded by gavin drobach at youtube.com).

The upset win that day in Cardiff was then sealed by the solid Wales defense (led by captain Ashley Williams), which held the potent Belgian offense scoreless – this despite the fact that Belgium had 61% of the possession that game. {See this article for a report on that match, Wales go clear as Bale strike defeats Belgium (uefa.com).} That result in June put the no-longer-hapless Wales in the driver’s seat for the second automatic clinching spot, which they sealed 4 months later (see next paragraph).

Fast-forward to 10th October 2015, before Group-matchday 9 (of 10), when Wales were scheduled to play Bosnia away (in Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina). At that point, Wales were 5 points ahead of Israel and 6 points ahead of Bosnia for the coveted second-spot. But 2 hours later, after a tough 2-0 defeat at the hands of a capable Bosnian side, the Welsh squad stood dejected on the pitch, with their heads down. Then suddenly, a huge cheer erupted from a corner of the Bilino Polje Stadium there in Zenica…because the 600-strong traveling Wales fans, to their joy, had just learned (via their hand-held devices) that another result had gone their way (Israel 1-2 Cyprus), and Wales had just mathematically clinched second place. So Wales were in, and the squad reacted accordingly {see second photo below}. For the first time in 58 years, Wales had qualified for a major tournament. So Wales will be joining England, and another home country – Northern Ireland – in France next June. And, as Gareth Bale says in the following article, this is just the beginning for Wales on the international stage.

From the Guardian, from 14 October 2015, by Stuart James, Gareth Bale: Wales qualification is ‘surreal, special – an incredible feeling’

Below: two photos from Wales’ successful 2016 Euros qualifying campaign…
wales_1-0_belgium_12-june-2015_2016-uefa-euros-q_christian-bale_b.gif
Photo credits above – photo of Bale celebrating v Belgium by Reuters via dailymail.co.uk/sport/football. Photo of Wales squad in Bosnia after learning they had clinched the 2016 Euros, tossing coach Chris Coleman in the air in celebration, photo by Reuters via mirror.co.uk/sport/football.




Wales’ coach & captain…
Coach of Wales…
Chris Coleman. Chris Coleman (footballer). Age 45. Born 10 June 1970, in Swansea, Wales.
CV: – As a player (DF) (1986-2002): Manchester City, Swansea City, Crystal Palace, Blackburn Rovers, Fulham. Retired as player in 2002.
-As manager/coach: Fulham (2003-07), Real Sociedad (2007-08), Coventry City (2008-10), Larissa [Greece] (2011-12).
-Hired as coach of Wales in January 2012. -2015: Secured qualification to a major tournament for Wales for the first time in 58 years. (Wales secured Q to the 2016 Euros on 10 Oct. 2015.)

Squad captain…
Ashley Williams. Ashley Williams (footballer).
Ashley Williams is a 31-year-old Central Defender who plays his club football for Welsh side Swansea City of the Premier League. (Williams also captains the Swansea squad.) While born in the West Midlands in Wolverhampton, Williams qualified to play for Wales via his maternal grandmother. As of 10 November 2015, he has 55 caps for Wales (and 1 goal).

(Please note: you can click on the illustration below to place it in an easier-to-read and enlargeable separate page.)

Below – Wales national team – starting line-up (Best XI) from match which clinched their qualification for the 2016 Euros in France
(Wales starting squad from 10 October 2015, Bosnia 2-0 Wales [match-day which saw Wales automatically qualify for the 2016 UEFA Euros tournament].)
(Plus 6 other player-options for the squad/ 17 Wales players profiled below…)
wales_national-team_2015-uefa-euros-q_2016-uefa-euros_chris-coleman_g-bale_s_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Blank map of United Kingdom, by Daniel Dalet at d-maps.com. Blank map of Wales by Demis.nl at Demis Web Map Server. Map caption (Cambrian Mountains) from welt-atlas.de/map_of_wales. Small illustration of Wales 2015 kits from en.wikipedia.org. Wales 2015 home jersey, photo unattributed at footyheadlines.com.
Chris Coleman talking tactics with Gareth Bale and David Edwards, photo by Stu Forster at gettyimages.com. Wales 2015 jersey, photo unattributed at footyheadlines.com.
Goalkeeper, Wayne Robert Hennessey, GK (Crystal Palace), photo unattributed at skysports.com.
Defenders, Chris Gunter, RB/LB/RMF (Reading), photo by Catherine Ivill at gettyimages.co.uk. Ashley Williams, CB (Swansea City), photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Ben Davies, LB (Tottenham Hotspur), photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
Midfielders/Wingers, Ashley ‘Jazz’ Richards, RB/LB/RMF (Fulham), photo by Stu Forster at gettyimages.com. Joe Allen, CMF/AMF/DMF (Liverpool), photo unattributed at thisisanfield.com. Joe Ledley, CMF/AMF/DMF (Crystal Palace), photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Neil Taylor, LB/LMF (Swansea City), photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
Forwards/Attacking Wingers, Aaron Ramsey, CMF/AMF/RW (Arsenal), photo unattributed at mirror.co.uk. Hal Robson-Kanu, LW/RW/FW (Reading), photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Gareth Bale, RW/LW/FW/ (Real Madrid), photo unattributed at skysports.com.
Other player-options, David Vaughan, MF/DMF/RMF (Nottingham Forest), photo by Laurence Griffiths at gettyimages.com. David Edwards, AMF/RM/CM (Wolves), photo by Catherine Ivill/AMA at gettyimages.com. Sam Vokes, FW (Burnley), photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Simon Church, FW/W (Milton Keynes), photo by Catherine Ivill/AMA at gettyimages.com. James Chester, CB/RB (West Bromwich Albion), photo by Matthew Ashton at gettyimages.co.uk. Jonathan Williams, AMF/R&LMF (Crystal Palace/ on loan to Nottingham Forest), photo from nottinghamforest.co.uk.
___
Thanks to all at the following links -
Wales national team (en.wikipedia.org).
Thanks to Demis of the Netherlands for the blank map of Wales, at Demis Web Map Server (demis.nl).
Thanks to Stuart James at Guardian/football for the two fine articles.
Special thanks to the very excellent site called transfermkt.com – for their unerring ability to describe most any footballers’ position(s). Transfermkt.com.

October 29, 2015

2015-16 FA Cup, First Round Proper: location-map with current average attendances./ Plus: illustrations and a few words about each of the four FA Cup first-timers (Barwell, Didcot Town, Salford City, Whitehawk).

Filed under: >2015-16 FA Cup — admin @ 8:56 pm

2015-16_fa-cup_1st-round_location-map_crowd-sizes_post_h_.gif
2015-16 FA Cup, First Round Proper: location-map with current average attendance




Links…
-Competition…FA Cup (en.wikipedia.org).
-First Round: fixtures/teams…FA Cup/First Round Proper (en.wikipedia.org).
-FA Cup at soccerway…FA Cup [Summary] (soccerway.com/national/england/fa-cup).
-BBC’s page on the FA Cup…FA Cup (bbc.com/sport/football/fa-cup).

By Bill Turianski on 29 October 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

    2015-16 FA Cup 1st Round Proper, featuring the 4 clubs in the FA Cup 1st Round for the first time ever
    (Barwell, Didcot Town, Salford City, Whitehawk)…

Barwell F.C.
The yellow-and-green-clad Barwell FC, nicknamed the Kirkby Roaders (after their 2.5-K-capacity ground), are located in south-western Leicestershire, in Barwell, which is about 2 km NE of Hinckley, and about 19 km or 12 miles SW of Leicester (by road). Barwell FC are a 7th Level side in the Northern Premier League, and currently sit 15th. This is a rather new club, being formed in 1992, from a merger between Hinckley FC and Barwell Athletic, both of whom had been in the 11th Level Leicestershire Senior League, and both of whom had never reached the FA Cup 1st Round. For 7 November 2015, in the 2015-16 FA Cup 1st Round, Barwell have drawn a home tie versus 5th-division side Welling United (of SE London).
barwell-fc_kirkby-road-ground_e_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Barwell 15/16 kits, illustration from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barwell_F.C. Panoramic photo of Kirkby Road ground by Tim at tims92.blogspot.com/panoramic-pictures. Photo of main stand unattributed at fortheloveoffootballblog.com.

Didcot Town F.C.
Didot Town FC, who wear red-and-white, are nicknamed the Railwaymen, and are from Didcot, which is located 16 km or 10 miles S of Oxford (by road) in Oxfordshire. Didcot Town are the lowest-placed and smallest-drawing club to qualify for the 2015-16 FA Cup 1st Round. Didcot are currently averaging 130 per game. {Source: nonleaguematters.co.uk/divisions [Southern Div 1 S & W].} Didcot are an 8th Level club in the Southern League Division One South and West, and currently sit 16th. Didcot have drawn a home tie in the First Round, on the Sunday (8th Nov. 2015), and will face League Two (4th Division) side Exeter City. The match will be televised. {See this from the Didcot Town site, Didcot v Exeter chosen for Live TV Game (didcottownfc.co.uk).}
didcot-town_draycott-engineering-loop-meadow-stadium_c_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Didcot town 15/16 kits, illustration from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didcot_Town_F.C. Main stand at Didcot’s ground, photo by David Bauckham at pyramidpassion.co.uk/didcot_town. Photo with cooling towers and training facility in background, photo by Hants at exeweb.com/2012/10/10/fa-cup-101213-didcot-town-v-maidenhead-united-match-report/. Photo of roofed terrace behind goal, in a downpour, photo by JJ Willow at flickr.com.

Salford City F.C.
Located within the city of Salford in west-central Greater Manchester, Salford City FC play in Kersal, Broughton, Salford about 4 km NW of Manchester city centre, and only about 3 km N of Old Trafford [home of Manchester Utd]). As it says in the Kersal page at en.wikipedia.org, “[Kersal's] immediate proximity to Manchester effectively makes it a suburb of that city, although it is politically and administratively separate.” Like Barwell (see two sections above), Salford City are also a 7th Level side in the Northern Premier League; Salford currently sit in the play-off places in 4th. Salford City wear red-and-white (but wore orange before 2014-15/see 3 sentences below for why they changed to MUFC-type kit). Salford City play at the 1.4-K-capacity Moor Lane in the Kersal area of Broughton, and are nicknamed the Ammies (a reference to the club’s 1963-to-1989 official name of Salford Amateurs FC). Salford City were a 9th Level club just 8 seasons ago, and have gained 2 promotions since then – first being when they won automatic promotion as 2nd-place-finishers in the 9th-level 2007-08 North West Counties Football League Division 1. Then in March 2014, in a 10%-share/each consortium with a majority investor [50%-owner, the Singapore businessman Peter Lim], a bunch of famous ex-players, who all made their names just down the road at Old Trafford, bought the club. Those 5 being Manchester United alumni Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, and Nicky Butt (aka the Class of ’92). {See this, Why the f*** did we buy a football club?’: Scholes, the Nevilles, Giggs and Butt reveal the highs and lows of the Salford City takeover in new BBC documentary, article by Mike Keegan at dailymail.co.uk/sport/football).} Then Salford City, in their first season under the new Red-Devil-alumni-owners, won the 2014-15 Northern Premier League Division One North, winning promotion to the 7th Level Northern Premier League. (Ryan Giggs has said the club has a 15-year goal of reaching for the upper reaches of the Football League.) For their FA Cup First Round debut, Salford City have drawn a home tie, versus 4th-division side Notts County, and it will be the first match in the 1st Round, on Friday evening the 6th of November, and of course it will be televised.
salford-city-fc_moss-road_r-giggs_g-neville_p-scholes_n-butt_k_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Salford City 15/16 kits, illustration from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salford_City_F.C. Photo of main stand by pitch-side-stories.com/salford-city. Photo of Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, and Nicky Butt at Salford City’s Moor Lane ground [March 2014], photo by salfordstar.com. Main stand at Salford’s Moor Lane, photo unattributed at thesportbusiness.co.uk.

Whitehawk F.C.
From Greater Brighton, in East Sussex, Whitehawk are located a couple kilometres east of the Brighton city centre. Whitehawk FC are nicknamed the Hawks. The club was established in 1945, as Whitehawk & Manor Farm Old Boys FC. Whitehawk wear red and white, but the shield on their crest is a darker brick-red. They play at the spartan yet sylvan Enclosed Ground, which has a capacity of 2,000, with a main covered stand which seats about 120. Whitehawk are in their second season in the 6th level, in the National League South (National League South [2015-16]). Whitehawk have a modestly small fan-base, and draw second-least in their league, at just 246 per game currently. But…Whitehawk are sitting fourth and are in the play-off places, so, were they to gain promotion, Whitehawk would (almost cetainly) be the smallest club in the top Non-League division [the 5th division]). Whitehawk have drawn a home tie for the FA Cup 1st Round, on the Saturday (7th Nov 2015), and it will be versus 5th-division side Lincoln City. I think this could be a winnable fixture for Whitehawk, especially if enough folks in Sussex decide to attend the match.
whitehawk-fc_the-enclosed-ground_b_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Whitehawk 15/16 kits, illustration from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitehawk_F.C. Aerial photo of the Enclosed Ground, unattributed at manygameshaveiseen.blogspot.com/2013/07/whitehawk-0-v-3-brighton-hove-albion. Photo of fans at the Enclosed Ground, watching a match in the rain, photo by StephenHarris at panoramio.com/photo/32272002.
___
Thanks to all at the links below…
-Blank map of UK historic counties, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:United Kingdom police areas map.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Blank relief map of Greater London, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:Greater London UK relief location map.jpg.
-Blank map of Greater Manchester, by Nilfanion (using Ordnance Survey data), at File:Greater Manchester UK relief location map.jpg.

-Current average attendance figures from Soccerway.com.
-Current average attendance for lower Non-League clubs (7th and 8th Levels), at non-league-matters.co.uk.

-And a big thanks to this brilliant blog which I never knew about…FA Cup Factfile, https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2015/10/26/fa-cup-201516-1st-round-preview/. I got the info on all the clubs-in-the-Cup-for-the-first-time from this blog.

October 19, 2015

Northern Ireland national team – starting line-up (Best XI) from match which clinched their qualification for the 2016 UEFA Euros in France. (Northern Ireland starting squad from 8 October 2015: Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece. Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, att: 11,700).

Filed under: Northern Ireland — admin @ 8:51 pm

Links…
-Article on Northern Ireland clinching…Northern Ireland reaching Euro 2016 feels like the glory days of 1982, (by Henry McDonald at theguardian.com/football on 8 Oct. 2015).
-Team…Northern Ireland national football team.
-Country…Northern Ireland (en.wikipedia.org).

    Northern Ireland national team – the Northern Ireland national team has qualified for the UEFA Euros [France, 2016] for the first time…and have now qualified for a major tournament for the first time in 30 years (previous: had qualified for the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain & had qualified for the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico)…

By Bill Turianski on 19 October 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.
Demographics of Northern Ireland
Size of Northern Ireland:
14,130 km-sq (or 5,456 K square miles). Northern Ireland is similar to the size of the state of Connecticut in the USA. And Northern Ireland is [about the equivalent of] the ~166th-largest country by area, placing them between Brunei and Trinidad & Tobago (that is, if Northern Ireland were an independent nation, as opposed to what they are [a constituent state of the United Kingdom]).
{Sources: Northern Ireland;
List of countries and dependencies by area;
List of U.S. states and territories by area.}

Population of Northern Ireland:
around 1.8 million {2015 estimate}. Northern Ireland is [about the equivalent of] the ~155th-most-populous country, placing them between Kosovo and Gabon (that is, if Northern Ireland were an independent nation, as opposed to what they are [a constituent state of the United Kingdom]). {Source: List of countries and dependencies by population.}

Capital & largest city:
Belfast, city population: about 333,000 {2015 estimate}. Greater Belfast metro-area population: about 579,000 {2001 estimate}.

Economic profile of Northern Ireland: see this chart, Profile of Northern Ireland (en.wikipedia.org).

Northern Ireland won Group F of the 2016 UEFA Euros qualifiers, beating out Romania, Hungary, Finland, Faroe Islands, and Greece…
Northern Ireland’s top-scorer in the qualifiers was Kyle Lafferty, who cannot even get onto the starting squad for his pro club, Norwich City (and he had been loaned out to Turkish 1st division minnows Çaykur Rizespor for the second-half of last season). But Lafferty sure was banging ‘em into the net for Northern Ireland all through the qualifiers. The 28-year-old Lafferty scored 7 goals in 9 matches in the 2016 UEFA Euros qualifiers (and led Group F in scoring). However, Lafferty had to sit out the crucial 9th match, after he amassed his 3rd yellow card in the 8th match (when Northern Ireland drew 1-1 with Hungary at Windsor Park in Belfast, on 7 September 2015). So in the 9th match, versus Greece at the temporarily-11.7-K-capacity Windsor Park, on the 8th of October, Josh Magennis filled in as the lone Striker (and scored; a brief match-report for the clinching 9th match can be found 3 paragraphs below, in the Steven Davis section).
northern-ireland_clinch_qualification_to2016-uefa-euros_3-1-over-greece_8-oct-2015_michael-oneill_c_.gif
Photo credit above – unattributed at espnfc.com.

Coach of Northern Ireland:
Michael O’Neill. Michael O’Neill.
Age 46, born 5 July 1969, in Portadown, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, UK.
CV – as a player (MF), from 1984 to 2004: Coleraine (N.I.), Newcastle Utd, Dundee Utd, Hibernian, Coventry City, Aberdeen, Reading, Wigan Athletic, St Johnstone, Portland Timbers (USA), Clydebank (Sco.), Glentoran (N.I.), Ayr Utd (Sco.). Retired as player in 2004. Pro clubs managed: Brechin City (Sco.) from 2006-08, Shamrock Rovers (Ire.) from 2009-11. Hired as the head coach of the Northern Ireland national team in December 2011. In October 2015, O’Neill’s Northern Ireland team secured qualification to a major tournament for the first time in 30 years by winning Group F of the 2016 UEFA Euros qualifiers.


Squad captain:
Steven Davis. Steven Davis.
Age 30, born 1 Jan. 1985, in Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Appearances for Northern Ireland national team: 78 app/ 7 goals.
Steven Davis had a very solid 2016 UEFA Euros group-stage qualifications, and at least one person in the blogosphere put Davis on the 2016 Euros qualifiers Best XI…{see this, European Qualifiers All-Star team (i.imgur.com via reddit.com/r/soccer, thread, here)}. Steven Davis plays club football for Southampton. Davis is a CMF who usually works in a defensive-midfielder capacity, whether it be for the Hampshire, England-based side, or for the Northern Ireland team.

Despite being essentially a defensive-midfielder, Steven Davis has the ability to come through and score in the clutch, as he did versus Greece, at Windsor Park on 8 October 2015, when Northern Ireland were without their top-scorer and talisman, Kyle Lafferty. In the match versus Greece, which secured Northern Ireland’s qualification for the 2016 Euros tournament, Steven Davis scored a brace, the first via a deft slotted pass from Blackburn MF Corry Evans to Leeds United MF/Winger Stuart Dallas, who then set Davis up for a close-range finish. The second goal for Northern Ireland came early in the 2nd half (49′), from substitute-Striker Josh Magennis (of Kilmarnock), on a looping header from a corner kick taken by Oliver Norwood (of Reading). Steven Davis then got his brace 9 minutes later (58′), also on a header-from-a-corner – this one taken by West Bromwich MF Chris Brunt (one of 2 Baggies in the starting squad that day). And then the unheralded-yet-capable Northern Irish defense held Greece up to the 86th minute, when Christos Aravidis made it 3-1. But that was too little too late for Greece – the 2004 European champions – who finished last in Group F, behind even the plucky Faroe Islands. And now, all that is left is for the Northern Ireland team to do is to book their flights to France for June 2016. Here’s hoping the 2016-Euros-Q-playoffs-bound Ireland national team finds a way to France, as well.

Below – the Northern Ireland squad that clinched qualification for the 2016 Euros
(8 October 2015/ Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece. Windsor Park, Belfast; attendance, 11,700.)
northern-ireland_national-team_2015-euros-q_2016-euros_u_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Blank map of United Kingdom, by Daniel Dalet at d-maps.com.
Blank map of Ireland [segment], by NordNordWest/Maximilian Dörrbecker, at File:Island of Ireland location map.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
Photo of Josh Mageniss and rest of NI squad rushing to congratulate coach O’Neill after clinching qualification to the 2016 Euros [on 8 Oct. 2015), photo unattributed at rte.ie.
2015 NI jersey, photo unattributed at footyheadlines.com.
2015 NI kit crest, from jdsports.co.uk.
Squad -
Goalkeeper,

Michael McGovern, GK (Hamilton Academical), photo by Gary Hutchison/SNS Group via dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football.
Defenders,
Paddy McNair, CB/RB/DM (Manchester United) photo by Getty Images via dailystar.co.uk/sport/football.
Gareth McAuley, CB/ MF (West Bromwich Albion) photo by gettyimages.co.uk.
Craig Cathcart, CB (Watford), photo by Kevin Affleck at wdsport.co.uk.
Chris Brunt, LM/AMF/LB (West Bromwich Albion), photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
Central MF/Holding Midfielder,
Steven Davis, CMF/AMF (Southampton), photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
Midfielders/Wingers…
Jamie Ward, LW/RW/FW (Nottingham Forest), photo by Jan Kruger at gettyimages.com.au.
Corry Evans, MF (Blackburn Rovers), photo by rovers.co.uk.
Oliver Norwood, AMF/DMF (Reading), photo by Martin Willetts at gettyimages.co.uk.
Stuart Dallas, AMF/LW, photo by Nigel Roddis at gettyimages.com.
Forward,
Josh Magennis, FW (Kilmarnock), photo by eveningtimes.co.uk/sport.
Other player-options (incl. regular starter at FW, Kyle Lafferty, who was suspended for the 8 Oct. 2015 match)…
Kyle Lafferty, FW/W (Norwich City), photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
Liam Boyce, FW (Ross County), photo by Ken Macpherson at thesundaytimes.co.uk/sport/football/Scottish_Football.
Niall McGinn, RW/LW/CF (Aberdeen), photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
Luke McCullough, CB/RB (Doncaster Rovers), photo from thestar.co.uk/sport/football/doncaster.

___
Thanks to all at the following links -
-Northern Ireland national team (en.wikipedia.org).
-Special thanks to the very excellent site called transfermkt.com – for their unerring ability to describe most any footballers position(s). Transfermkt.com rules.

October 10, 2015

France: 2015-16 Ligue 1 location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed./ Plus a few words on, and illustrations for, the 3 recently-promoted clubs in Ligue Un (Angers, Gazélec Ajaccio, Troyes). /Plus a look at the new municipal stadium built by the city of Bordeaux, for FC Girondins de Bordeaux & the 2016 Euros [to be hosted by France].

Filed under: Attendance Maps & Charts,France — admin @ 1:18 pm

france_ligue-1_2015-16_map_clubs-2014-15-attendance_clubs-1st-div-seasons_titles_post_e_.gif

France: 2015-16 Ligue Un location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed




Links…
-Teams, etc…2015–16 Ligue 1 (en.wikipedia.org).
-Ligue Un official site (in English)…ligue1.com.
-Table, fixtures, results, stats, etc…Summary – Ligue 1 – France(soccerway.com/national/france/ligue-1).

    France: 2015-16 Ligue Un location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed

By Bill Turianski on 10 October 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

    The 3 promoted clubs in the 2015-16 Ligue Un…Angers, Gazélec Ajaccio, Troyes…

Angers SCO, and their ground, Stade Jean-Bouin
angers_stade-jean-bouin_b_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Angers 15/16 jersey, photo unattributed at footballfashion.org. City of Angers city upon the Maine (fleuve), panoramic photo by tango7174 at File:Angers collage.jpg (en.wikipedia.org). Aerial view of stadium [view to the south], image from a screenshot of satellite view at bing.com/maps. Interior shot of stadium with nearly-full-capacity-crowd (from 22 May 2015), photo by Thierry Bonnet/Ville d’Angers at . Exterior view of stadium (looking in), at twilight, photo by M. Mouchoir at File:Stade Jean Bouin Angers 2.JPG (commons.wikimedia.org).

Angers (prounounced ‘Ahn-zhay’), is a city in western France and is the historic capital of Anjou. Angers has a city-population of around 147,000 {2009 figure}. Angers SCO wear black-and-white-stripes. They play in a 17.8-K-capacity stadium and have spent 24 seasons total (counting 2015-16) in the French 1st division. But Angers SCO had not been in Ligue 1 for over two decades. Angers had previously been in the top flight in 1993-94, when they finished last and went straight back down, drawing just 4.8 K per game. Granted, Ligue 1′s average attendance back then (10.0 K cumulative average for Ligue 1 in 1993-94) was less than half of what it is now, twenty-two years later (22.2 K cumulative average for Ligue 1 in 2014-15). That rather long spell without top flight football in the area has made it the case that Angers’ fanbase never really grew that much. Of course, it didn’t help that between 1994 and 2007 Angers had suffered 3 separate spells in the 3rd division. Once they got back into the second tier in May 2007, the side began drawing in the 6-K-to-8.6-K range in Ligue 2 (for the last 8 seasons). Currently, Angers are averaging a decent 12.4 K, and are playing rather well – they sit second on 18 points from 9 matches, after beating Marseille away then beating Bastia at home, before the international break started in the third week of October 2015. Angers might not be able to keep up that pace, but they are looking to be positioned well to avoid the drop.

Gazélec Ajaccio, and their ground, Stade Ange Casanova
gazelac-ajaccio_stade-ange-casonova_d.gif
Photo credits above – Jersey, photo unattributed at footyheadlines.com. Shot of Ajaccio old quarter and harbor, photo by Aude Balloide at aude.balloide-photo.com. Aerial shot of stadium, photo by Steafa at File:Ange-Casanova 2011.jpeg. Photo of primitive terrace behind one of the goals at the stadium, & shot of main stand, both photos unattributed at info-stades.fr/forum [thread: Ajaccio stadiums].

The city of Ajaccio has a population of around 65,000 {2010 figure}. Gazélec Ajaccio, who wear bright-brick-red/orange-&-dark-blue, are the second-biggest club in the Corsican capital (after current-2nd-tier club AJ Ajaccio), and are the third-biggest club on the island of Corsica. (The biggest Corsican club being, of course, current-1st-division club SC Bastia, who hail from Corsica’s second city, Bastia.) 2015-16 is Gazélec Ajaccio’s top flight debut. (Note: I could not find recent post-stadium-renovation photos of Gazélac’s Stade Ange Casanova, but now, wrt to the concrete-step-terraced-goal-stand [seen in the lower-right-hand-photo above]…that goal-stand now has a full set of hard-plastic seats bolted to the terrace-steps there. The whole stadium also got a stucco re-plastering and a new coat of white emulsion, and the tiny ground now has a 4.2-K-capacity.) In France, maybe 2 or 3 times a decade, a real minnow emerges from the lower leagues, often via back-to-back promotions (such as Gazélec Ajaccio just did, and such as Arles did in the 2008-to-2010-time-period). Then they go straight back down – such as Arles did in 2009-10, and such as Istres did in 2004-05. I hope this will not be the fate of Gazélec Ajaccio. But when you are talking about a club that had always drawn below 2.4 K for its entire lifetime (before top-flight-promotion), and a club who currently play in a stadium that only has a 4.2-K-capacity (for Ligue Un matches), well, you can see how the deck is stacked against them. And Gazélec Ajaccio are currently winless after 9 matches, and sit last in Ligue 1, on 3 points. {Update 7 weeks later, on 22 Nov. 2015: but then Gazélec Ajaccio won 4 in a row, beating Nice, Bordeaux, Reims away, and Bastia away in their derby. That fourth-straight win on 22 November, which moved Gazélec out of the relegation-zone to 16th place (and put Bastia into the drop-zone), featured an excellent 12-yard left-outside-foot flick/volley by Khalid Boutaib (see it here).}

Troyes (aka ESTAC), and their ground, Stade de l’Aube
troyes_aka-estac_stade-de-l-aube_c_.gif
Photo credits above – Shot of Troyes 2015-16 jersey, photo unattributed at footyheadlines.com. Aerial shot of stadium and surrounding countryside outside of Troyes, photo unattributed at info-stades.fr [thread: Troyes, Stade de l'Aube]. Old village street in Troyes, photo by openroads.com, at flickr.com. Exterior of stadium at night, photo by Troyes aka ESTAC at estac.fr/Stade-de-l-Aube-theatre-d-une-passion. Interor of stadium, photo from [the now-defunct site] france-stades.com via thefootballstadiums.com.

Troyes is a city of around 60,000 {2012 figure}, and is located in the Champagne region of northern France. Troyes is situated on the Seine, about 150 km (or 93 mi) ENE and upriver from Paris. The town of Troyes has existed since the Roman era, and the old town boasts many extant half-timbered houses from the 16th Century (see photo of a nice cobble-stoned street in the old town in Troyes, above). The Troyes pro football club wears light-royal-blue with gold and navy accents, and bears the official and profoundly unwieldy name of Espérance Sportive Troyes Aube Champagne (ESTAC). But no English-speaking fans or media outlets that I have ever come across calls the club “Ess-tock”. And I really wonder whether any French football fans call them anything other than “Twah”. But the club sure expects people to call them ESTAC (“Ess-tock”), because their crest has that acronym spelled-out in large letters, and the club’s official website’s address is estac.fr.

Troyes play in the 21.6-K-capacity Stade de l’Aube, which has been around for over 90 years, but, as you can see above, is pretty up-to-date. Troyes can draw around 11-to-14 K in the top flight, and around 8-to-10 K in the second tier. Currently (mid-October 2015), Troyes are drawing 11.7 K.

The football club of Troyes had went under twice in the 20th Century. The first incarnation – named AS Troyes Savinienne – existed from 1900 to 1967, and played 8 seasons in the first division, mostly in the 1950s, and once made it to the final of the Coupe de France (in 1956, losing to Sedan-Ardennes). Then the second incarnation of Troyes were formed in 1970 (3 years after the first version were wound up), but Troyes Mark-2 – named Troyes Aube Football (TAF) – didn’t last the decade and went bankrupt in 1979. Then Troyes had no club to speak of for 7 years, until this present-day/third incarnation was established, in 1986. It then took Troyes/ESTAC 13 years to make it from the amateur divisions into the top flight – their first season in French football was in 1986-87, and then they won promotion to Ligue 1 for the first time in May 1999. 2015-16 will be Troyes/ESTAC’s 8th season in the top flight, with their previous Ligue 1 appearance being in 2011-12 (and before that, Troyes had a 2-season spell in Ligue 1 from 2005-06-to-2006-07). In other words, Troyes is a yo-yo club, and, sure enough, they are right back in a relegation battle, sitting second-to-last after 9 matches, winless, on 4 points.

New stadium for FC Girondins de Bordeaux & for the 2016 Euros [to be hosted by France] – the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux
nouveau-stade-de-bordeaux_fc-girondins-bordeaux_may-2015_opening_f_.gif
Photo credits above -
Aerial photo of stadium in construction, photo unattributed at hotelgr.com. Interior of stadium on opening day with giant banner of Bordeaux supporter group les Ultramarines, photo by N. Tucat/AFP via rtl.fr/sport/football. Exterior view of stadium at evening, photo by/at sudouest.fr/2015/05/20/nouveau-stade-a-bordeaux-toutes-les-infos-pratiques-avant-le-premier-match-samedi. 2015-16 Bordeaux kits, photo [segment] by boutique.girondins.com. Bordeaux crest/Girondins banner from girondins.com/en/home-page.
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Thanks to all at the links below…
-Blank map of France, by Eric Gaba (aka Sting), at File:France location map-Regions and departements-2015.svg.

-Attendances and Ligue 1 stadium-capacities, from the excellent Ligue 1 official site, ligue1.com.

-Gazélac Ajaccio 2013-14 attendance [3rd division], from E-F-S site, european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm.
-2014-15 stadium capacities (for league matches) from ligue1.com; 2014-15 Ligue 1/Stadia and location (en.wikipedia.org).

September 28, 2015

Italy: 2015-16 Serie A location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed. / Plus a map showing the locations of the 3 Emilia-Romagna-based clubs (and their venues), now in Serie A (Sassuolo, Bologna, Carpi)./ Plus a few words on, and illustrations for, the 3 promoted clubs (Carpi, Frosinone, Bologna).

Filed under: Attendance Maps & Charts,Italy — admin @ 7:51 pm

italy_serie-a_2015-16_map_clubs-2014-15-attendance_clubs-1st-div-seasons_titles_post_c_.gif
Italy: 2015-16 Serie A location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed



Links…
-Teams, etc…2015–16 Serie A (en.wikipedia.org).
-English-speaking coverage of Italian football…Forza Italian football.com.
-Here is the archive-page of Serie A-focused Guardian.com/football writer Paolo Bandini, {archive page, Paolo Bandini (theguardian.com/profile/paolobandini).}
-Table, fixtures, results, stats, etc…Serie A/summary (soccerway.com).


By Bill Turianski on 28 September 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

    Italy: 2015-16 Serie A location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed

Template…
I am using the same template I have used with my recent maps of the 2015-16 1st divisions of England, Germany, and Spain. I still have France to do, and I plan on posting Ligue Un 2015-16 map-and-post on Saturday 10 October. Anyway, listed at the chart at the right-hand-side of the map page are the following 6 things…Average home attendance (league matches) the past 2 seasons, including 14/15 Percent-Capacity and Crowd-size change. League finish the last 2 seasons. Seasons-in-1st-division (and consecutive seasons noted). Italian titles (with last title listed). Coppa Italia titles (with last title listed). Major international titles (with last titles listed) [Anglo-Italian Cup? Sorry, never a major title.]
Features on map…
The map includes the listing of the 20 Regions of Italy (which is the first political division in Italy). The map also features the 6 largest cities in Italy (in order of largest-to-smaller, here are the most-current city population figures [as opposed to the (much-larger) metro-area-population-figures]…Rome/2.8 million, Milan/1.3 million, Naples/.98 million, Turin/.89 million, Palermo/.67 million, Genoa/.52 million). {Source: 2014 & 2015 figures at List of largest cities in the European Union by population within city limits (en.wikipedia.org).}
4 stadium-shares in the 2015-16 Serie A…
There are 4 stadium-shares in the 2015-16 Serie A (in Genoa, Milan, Rome, and Verona), and they are all noted on the map. The map also shows the two clubs in Emilia-Romagna who have been forced by the Italian football authorities to play in larger nearby stadiums. Those 2 clubs are third-year-top-flight club Sassuolo; and the white-and-red-clad Carpi, who are making their top flight debut in 2015-16. Both had been originally playing in very tiny 4-K-capacity stadiums.

Below, venue-locations and home-locations of Bologna, Sassuolo & Carpi…
sassuolo_carpi_bologna_2015-16-serie-a_locations_f_.gif
Image credit above – segment of Blank map of Italy by TUBS, at File:Italy provincial location map.svg.

For Sassuolo, playing about 15 miles (21 km) away, in the city of Reggio-Emilia, has worked out OK for the turtle-green-&-black-striped side. Sassuolo are not drawing bad at all for a club that pretty much sprang up out of nowhere three-or-four years ago. Sassuolo have been drawing between 12 to 13 K the past 2 seasons, and actually seem to be establishing themselves as a viable top tier club, with a 12th-place finish last season. And Sassuolo have started strong in 15/16, in 4th place after 6 matches.

Carpi are not playing in their stadium because it is pretty inadequate…
But it really remains to be seen if the back-to-back-promoted Carpi can weather such a venue-shift as well. Because there are other factors with respect to Carpi…namely, that many supporters did not want their Cinderella-club’s historic first-division debut season to be played down the road, at the five-times-larger stadium of hated local rivals, Modena. One of the larger supporter-groups of Carpi – a group named Guidati dal Lambrusco – have actually announced they will boycott home matches. {For more on that, see the following article. Here is Gentleman Ultra’s excellent August 2015 post, at Guardian.com/football, on Carpi’s Serie A debut season, Carpi: Serie A alternative club guide (by Richard Hall and Luca Hodges-Ramon at theguardian.com/football)}.}.

Below – Stadio Sandro Cabassi, home of Carpi FC when they play in the lower divisions; and Carpi’s home-venue for Serie A, Stadio Alberto Braglia in Modena
carpi_stadio-santa-cabassi_stadio-alberto-braglia_m_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Entrance to stadium, photo by Stefano Romagnoli at stadiumjourney.com. Rooftop-view of stadium, photo by Stefano Romagnoli at stadiumjourney.com. Interior photo of “stadium”, photo unattributed at footballtrip.com. Shot of Carpi squad with fans in background, photo from facebook.com/Carpi FC 1909. Larger photo of venue, photo by Antti’s Football Scarves blog (saturday3.com) via snipview.com. Modena stadium, photo unattributed at calcioland.forumfree.it [Serie B stadiums thread].

So one of the largest Carpi supporter-groups is boycotting their own home games. This does not bode well for Carpi. Their stadium, as you can see further above, is the 4.1-capacity Stadio Sandro Cabassi. Look at the rust on the gates of the main entrance, and look at the black mold-scum festering at the tops of the granite walls. You call that inviting? I call it scary. Look at those tiny isolated-and-fenced-off bleacher-stands there behind the goals, then look at the slanted concrete moat (is this police-state-type concrete moat/riot-wall actually necessary?), and then look at the barbed-wire-topped riot-fence ringing the pitch. What is this, a convict-holding-pen or a football stadium? That faction who is boycotting Carpi’s home matches because they now have to play home matches at the hated Modena, well, they should not be casting stones at someone else’s house, so to speak. Because their club’s home ground is pretty dire. And besides, Carpi is averaging 10.6 K right now, whereas they could only average 4.1 K in their own stadium (see this/from 22 Sept. 2015). Hey boycotting Carpi fans, where do you think the extra 6 K each game of ticket-revenue goes to, which your club is now getting (at Modena)? It goes straight to your club, you boycotters. This is not rocket science. Carpi is literally profiting from their move to Modena. But meanwhile, a fan-group of Carpi boycotts their home matches – out of misplaced spite. Where is the logic in that? Hey fan-group…your boycott might mean ‘we hate Modena’ to you, but it also NOW means ‘we don’t want our club to earn more ticket-revenue’. Well, those boycotters will probably be able to watch Carpi at their home ground in 2016-17. Because it is starting to look like Carpi are going straight back down to Serie B. Carpi sit last on 2 points after 6 matches. And they sacked their manager on Sunday 28 September after the 6th game – a 5-1 shellacking by Roma.

Frosinone – also with a Serie A debut in 2015-16, and their ground, Stadio Matusa…
frosinone_stadio-matusa_m_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – aerial shot of stadium, photo unattributed at football-trip.com. File:Panorama Frosinone edit.jpg, photo by Moongateclimber at commons.wikimedia.org.
Roofed main stand, photos from stadiumjourney.com/stadiums/stadio-comunale [Frosinone]. Aerial image of stadium , screenshot of bird’s-eye satellite view at bing.com/maps.

Frosinone are from the city of Frosinone, which is located 75 km (47 mi) SE of Rome. Frosinone is connected to the capital by the A1 motorway (both are in the region of Lazio). The town serves somewhat as a bedroom community for commuters who work in Rome. The city of Frosinone has a population of around 46,000 {2014 estimate}. Frosinone Calcio wear all-yellow with royal blue trim. Frosinone Calcio, like Carpi FC 1909, are making their first division debut in 2015-16. Also like Carpi, Frosinone have a small ground. But Frosinone is a club that is about twice as big as Carpi as measured by gates – Carpi drew 3.0 K last year, while Frosinone drew 5.2 K. And Frosinone’s ground is not nearly as small or decrepit as Carpi’s ground. And Frosinone’s ground – the 9.6-K-capacity Stadio Matusa – passed muster by FIGC, and the club will be hosting their 2015-16 Serie A home matches there.

Frosinone’s stadium looks pretty nice (no running track!), and the worst I can see is a bit of rust at the welding joints on their nicely archaic cantilever roof (see it above), which covers part of the main stand on the west side of the stadium (there is minimal roof-coverage at the ground, because there is not much rain there in that part of south-central Italy).

The then-struggling Frosinone got their first point in Serie A in the 5th round on 23 Sept. 2015, with a 1-1 result against reigning champions Juventus in Turin. It was a last-minute 94th-minute goal (the goal was a dramatic header from a corner-kick, by actual Juve-supporter Leonardo Blanchard). Juventus might also be really struggling, but what a way for Frosinone to record their first point in the top flight. From reddit.com/r/soccer, thread: reddit.com/r/soccer/comments/blanchard_last_minute_goal_vs_juventus [23 Sept. 2015]/. From Guardian/football, Frosinone’s Leonardo Blanchard savours historic goal against Juventus (by Paolo Bandini on 24 Sept. 2015 at theguardian.com/football).

Then Frosinone beat fellow minnows Empoli 2-0 on Monday the 28th of September, to move out of the relegation zone. Go Frosinone! It is starting to look like a decent start for Frosinone, but, like Carpi, it will be an uphill battle for Frosinone to stay up.

Bologna are back in the top flight after winning the 2014-15 Serie B play-offs…
Bologna are one of the nine or ten biggest yo-yo clubs in Europe (“up there” with Hertha Berlin, FC Köln, FC Nürnberg, Sunderland, FC Kaiserslautern, RC Lens, Norwich City, Wolverhampton, and Sporting Gijón). Bologna has suffered two relegations in the last 10 years (in 2005-06 and in 2013-14), and otherwise have been perennial lower-table/relegation-battlers in the top tier (with 17th-place finishes in 2008-09 and in 2009-10, a 16th-place finish in 2010-11, and a 13th-place finish in 2012-13, one year before getting the drop in 2013-14 as 19th-place finisher). And wouldn’t you know it? After 6 games into the 2015-16 Serie A, Bologna is right back in a relegation-battle already, with 1 win and 5 losses, and sitting second-from-bottom in the table.

The Italian 2nd division play-off system – complicated but fair…
Last season, Bologna won the complicated-but-equitable Serie B play-offs. I say equitable because the Italian football authorities have sensibly figured out a way to have a play-off system which rewards final league placement…by giving the higher-placed club the tiebreaker in aggregate score. And 4th-place Bologna utilized that rule to beat Avellino 3-3 aggregate and then in the 2014-15 Serie B play-offs finals, Bologna beat Pescara 1-1 aggregate. Both times Bologna got the nod with a better 4th place finish than 8th-place Avellino and 7th-place Pescara. Hey England, this play-offs aggregate tiebreaker rule is a brilliant idea, which needs to be adopted in the Football League. Hats off to the Italian football authorities (FIGC) for the progressive tweak in the lower-divisions play-offs rules…a rule that benefits those promotion-candidates who finish higher. Which is only fair.

Bologna’s stadium has a stupid running track…
Bologna play at the 32-K-capacity Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, which (sigh) has a stupid running track. Oh Italy, when will you learn? Your stupid running-track-infested municipal stadiums are ruining your game. Get the memo, Italy. ALL football fans detest stadiums with running tracks. Italy, please, I beg of you. Build some new 1st-divison-worthy football stadiums without running tracks, already. If Bordeaux, France can do it, than I am pretty sure Bologna, Italy could too.

Why are there running tracks in most 1st division municipal stadiums in Brazil or Italy or other quasi-Third-World nations?
Seriously…WHY? Is it stupid urban planners there, or is it the fear of goons running onto the field there? Either way, it is ruining their product.
I mean come on, Italy. It’s embarrassing. Serie A regularly features some of the highest-calibre and watchable pro football anywhere on the planet…but it is so often being played in dumps of stadiums with (or formerly-with) those stupid running tracks. Stadiums that should have seen the wrecking ball years ago. All over the Italian peninsula. Currently 35% of all 2015-16 Serie A matches are being played in lame-ass venues afflicted with the accursed running tracks. Such as in Rome (2 teams). And such as in Naples. And such as in Verona (2 teams). And such as in Empoli. And such as in Bologna (see photo in illustration below). And the filled-in running-track stadiums in Serie A are pretty lame too (Palermo, Fiorentina, Torino, Atalanta [Bergamo]). At least, besides Juventus’ recently-new stadium (Juventus Stadium, opened Sept. 2011), there is one other recent ray-of-hope on the stadia front in Italy – and that of course is the massive re-build going on the past 2-and-a-half years up in far north-east Italy at Stadio Friuli, in Udine, home of Udinese Calcio…from Stadium DB site, from 13 Sept. 2015, update on the re-build at: Stadio Friuli (stadiumdb.com).

Bologna FC, and their home, Stadio Renato Dall’Ara…
http://billsportsmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/bologna_stadio-renato-dall-ara_d_.gif
Photo credits above – Aerial view of Bologna, photo by Bamshad Houshyani at flickr.com via happytellus.com. View of stadium from curva, photo unattributed at tumblr.com/search/stadio (scroll down at the bottom of that post for plenty of photos of the renovation at Stadio Friuli).
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Thanks to all at the links below…
-Blank map of Italy by TUBS, at File:Italy provincial location map.svg.
-Attendances from E-F-S site, european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm.
-2014-15 stadium capacities (for league matches) from 2014–15 Serie A (en.wikipedia.org); Serie A (it.wikipedia.org).

September 20, 2015

Iceland national team – starting line-up (Best XI) from match which clinched their qualification for the 2016 Euros in France. (Iceland starting squad from 6 September 2015, Iceland 0-0 Kazakhstan. Laugardalsvöllur, Reykjavik, Iceland, att: 9,767.)

Filed under: Iceland — admin @ 10:01 am

By Bill Turianski on 20 September 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

    Iceland – the smallest-ever nation to qualify for The Euros (15 Euros tournaments/66 years/since 1960)

Links…
-Squad chart…
iceland_national-team_best-XI_6-sept-2015_2016-euros_qualifying.
-Team…Iceland national team.
-Country…Iceland (en.wikipedia.org).
-The UEFA Euros tournament in France in June 2016… UEFA Euro 2016 (en.wikipedia.org).
-Article from Jan.2016…Iceland fans flood to apply for EURO tickets (uefa.com/news).

    Semi-pro 1st division football in Iceland…

Below, a roof-top view of central Reykjavic, plus photos of the grounds of the 2 highest-drawing Icelandic clubs KR and FH
iceland_reykjavic_aerial-view_kv-vollur_hf_kaplakriki_h_.gif
Photo credits above –
Rooftop-view of central Reykjavic at twilight in the summer, photo by Roman Gerasymenko at reykjavik.com/10-great-reasons-to-visit-reykjavik-this-summer. KR-vollur (KR-stadium), aerial photo of main-stadium part of KV-vollur sports complex, photo unattributed at sammarinn.co. Shot of main stand, photo by unnamed photographer at panoramio.com/photos/large/24949648.jpg. FH’s stadium, exterior and interior photos by groundhopping.se/, at groundhopping.se/Hafnarfjorur.htm.

In Iceland, the seasons of the first division are played from May to October…
Owing to the harsh winters in Iceland, the seasons of the first division are played from May to early October. The 1st division in Iceland is called the Úrvalsdeild {2015 Úrvalsdeild}. It has existed since 1912, and it is a 12-team semi-pro league. (Up to 2014, the league was 10 teams, with the 2-team league-expansion occurring in the 2015 season). Usually about 70%-or-more of the Úrvalsdeild is comprised of Greater Reykjavik-based clubs (9 of 12 teams in 2015 come from the Capital District). League average attendance is usually in the .9-K-to-1.3-K-per-game range, with a few clubs each year (~3 to 6 clubs) able to crack the one-thousand-per-game range. The two biggest Icelandic clubs can draw above two-thousand-per-game in good seasons (like a couple times a decade). Those 2 clubs are: the most-titled-club, with 26 Icelandic titles, KR Reykjavik; and the 6-time-title-winners, HF (or Hafnarfjörður). But 2.1 K per game in a good year is about as big as football clubs in Iceland get. Current [2014] champions are Sjarnan, who also are located in Greater Reykjavic/Capital District. Sjarnan won their first title last season, this on the heels of the squad’s recent viral Internet fame – crazy choreographed goal celebrations, such as these wacky hijinks, Stjarnan Iceland: All funny celebrations so far (youtube.com video uploaded by hellyooh/ with 2.2 million views and counting). By the way, Sjarnan drew 979 per game last season…in a 1,000-capacity stadium. Which means they played to virtual-sellout-crowds at 97.9 percent-capacity.




At the fantastic blog called Groundhopping.se [Sweden], there are several posts and tons of photos of Iceland 1st division matches/clubs/stadiums, here…groundhopping.se/Iceland.

The best Icelanders play abroad…
All, or virtually all, of the best Icelandic footballers play abroad, of course. And most seem very partial to the colder-weather leagues. The lions’ share of the current Iceland starting squad play pro football in prominent or even elite Northern European pro leagues. They play pro football in either the Scandinavian countries (in Sweden [2 starters], in Denmark [1 starter], and in Norway [1 starter]). Or in England [3 starters/2 of which play on Welsh sides]. Or in the Netherlands [1 starter]. Or in Switzerland [1 starter]. Or in southern Russia [1 starter].

One starter is playing in Brittany, and that is Iceland’s most prolific current scoring-threat, Kolbeinn Sigþórsson. Sigthórsson plays Striker for storied French club FC Nantes (and he formerly played for two Dutch clubs, Ajax and AZ Alkmaar). Sigthórsson, who is 25, has scored 17 goals in just 31 internationals – which is a very good goals-to-games ratio, indeed.

To round out the prominent squad members circa 2015 (ie, non-starters who have gotten some playing time recently), there are 2 young strikers (25 or 26 years-old), and there is one Ancient Mariner, all three of whom get the odd start, or come off the bench, for Iceland. One of the youngsters plays pro football in Greece, and the other youngster plays pro football in China (huh?). And speaking of the ersatz Chinese Super League, the all-time highest-scoring Iceland international, the 37-year-old Eiður Guðjohnsen, is currently playing in China for Shijiazhuang Ever Bright. Gudjohnsen has scored 25 goals in 80 appearances for Iceland. The well-traveled power-Forward’s CV includes 2 Premier League title-medals with Chelsea, 1 La Liga title-win and a UEFA Champions League title-win with Barcelona, and stops in Iceland, Netherlands, Greece, Monaco, Belgium, and the English second division (Bolton, last season). So, who can blame Gudjohnsen for cashing in at the China league, before hanging up his boots? (The Chinese Super League, where they throw crazy-cash at aging top-class football stars past their prime, for the supposed prestige.) Circa the mid-to-late-2000s, Eidur Gudjohnsen was for a long time the most prominent representative of Icelandic football and was for a long time the talismanic-striker for Iceland. Now, at the age of 37, he is still on the squad, and is still coming off the bench, and is still leading-by-example in the dressing room. And, well, that is just great to see.

In case you are wondering, currently (mid-September 2015), there are 2 players on the Iceland national team squad who play in the Iceland 1st division, though one is a 40-year-old back-up ‘keeper and the other a defensive sub (both play for the largest sports club in Iceland, Breidablik [Breiðablik UBK], who are based in the Reykjavik suburb of Kópavogur. {Note, a map of Iceland can be found in the squad-chart near the foot of this post.}

Iceland national team…
First of all, it is not as if Icelandic football suddenly came out nowhere. Because the Iceland national team was good enough, a couple years back, to make it as far as the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualification Second Round (play-offs) – where, in November 2013, Iceland fell at the last hurdle to Croatia, 0-2 aggregate. Now, two years later on, Iceland, with a population of around just 329,000 {2015 estimate}, has become the smallest-ever nation to qualify for one of the biggest football tournaments in the world, The Euros. This side from the tiny and far-northern Nordic island-nation of Iceland all but cemented their qualification by recently beating the Netherlands national team, in Amsterdam, North Holland. That happened on 3 September 2015, before 50,275 at Ajax’ Amsterdam Arena (capacity 53 K). Iceland, who had only a 38% possession rate versus the Dutch that game, won 0-1 on a 51st minute penalty kick by Gylfi Sigurðsson. By the way, three thousand Iceland supporters made the 1,250 mile air journey from Reykjavik to Amsterdam to attend that match in the Dutch capital. That meant that exactly 1 percent of the entire population of the nation of Iceland was there to cheer on their beloved team, whom they call Strákarnir okkar (Our boys).

After 8 of the 10 games for the qualifying Group A, the top scorer in the group is Iceland attacking-Midfielder/Winger Gylfi Sigurðsson (who plays professionally for Premier League club Swansea City AFC). Sigurdsson has notched 5 goals in 8 matches.

Iceland national team coach(es)…
Iceland has a dual-coach set-up.

The elder of the two joint-head-coaches is the 67-year-old Swede Lars Lagerbäck, who led Sweden to 2 FIFA World Cups (2002 & 2006) and 2 UEFA Euros (2004 & 2008) – then resigned after Sweden failed in the 2010 WC qualification. Lagerbäck then signed on as Iceland national team coach in 2011. At the same time in 2011, the Iceland football association (KSI) also appointed now-46-year-old Iceland-native Heimir Hallgrímsson as assistant coach of Iceland. Then in 2014, the two signed new contracts and became joint-managers (Lagerbäck plans to retire following the 2016 Euros).

Captain of Iceland squad…
Aron Gunnarsson, CMF/DM (who plays for Welsh club Cardiff City of the English second division). Aron Gunnarsson. Cardiff City Defensive-Midfielder Aron Gunnarsson is captain of the Iceland squad and is one of two Iceland starters born in the tiny northern Iceland port-town of Akureyri, which is located 246 km (153 mi) NE of capital-city Reykjavic {note: Akureyri’s location on the map is shown in the squad-chart illustration further below}. The other Akureyri-born Iceland starter is FC Basel Winger Birkir Bjarnaon. Both have scored twice in the 2016 Euros qualifiers, and both started in the historic match of Iceland v Kazakhstan, in Reykjavik, on 6 Sept. 2015. That match ended 0-0, before a sell-out-crowd of 9.7 K at the national team home ground, Laugardalsvöllur. That one point Iceland got from that draw clinched qualification for them, and they now are going to France next summer.

Akureyri, pop. 18,900: the second city of Iceland…
icelands-second-city_akureyri_b_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Mike Powell at Akureyri – Iceland’s Second City (iceland.for91days.com).

The following article has a whole bunch of great photos and a good write-up. From the Iceland For 91 Days blog, from 17 Oct. 2013, by Mike Powell, Akureyri – Iceland’s Second City.
Akureyri is only a few miles from the Arctic Circle (about 100 km or 60 mi S of the Arctic Circle). Akureyri is further north than Fairbanks, Alaska, and it has a population of only around 18.9 K. Yet this small and stunningly beautiful fishing village is actually the fourth largest municipality in Iceland, and second-largest urban area in the country. Akureyi has an ice-free port, year-round, thanks to the unusual geothermic conditions there in Iceland. Iceland sits atop the constantly-and-incrementally widening Mid-Atlantic Ridge – thus geothermic activities such as heat vents, geysers, lava floes, and volcanoes are common there. From the Wikipedia page linked to in the sentence above, “Although the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is mostly an underwater feature, portions of it have enough elevation to extend above sea level. The section of the ridge that includes the island of Iceland is also known as the Reykjanes Ridge. The ridge has an average spreading rate of about 2.5 cm per year.” At the following link, you can see two photos of geologic features that the Ridge has produced in Iceland, as well as a map of Iceland which shows the Ridge there and the active volconos (the red triangles), en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-Atlantic_Ridge#Notable_features.

In fact, Icelanders by-and-large do not have to pay much at all for energy and for heat in their home residences, thanks to geothermal power plants in Iceland. From the Wikipedia page Geothermal power in Iceland,…”Five major geothermal power plants exist in Iceland, which produce approximately 26.2% (2010) of the nation’s energy. In addition, geothermal heating meets the heating and hot water requirements of approximately 87% of all buildings in Iceland. Apart from geothermal energy, 73.8% of the nation’s electricity is generated by hydro power.”. That and much more (such as the facts that Iceland is…”where people buy the most books; where life expectancy for men is the highest in the world, and not far behind for women; [and] it’s the only country in NATO with no armed forces (they were banned 700 years ago)”)…all that is touched upon in the following long but excellent article from TheGuardian.com, from May 2008, written by John Carlin, No wonder Iceland has the happiest people on earth (theguardian.com/world).

    Iceland national team – starting line-up (Best XI) from match which clinched their qualification for the 2016 Euros…

Note: you can click on the image below to place it in a separate page (for easier viewing).

(Iceland starting squad from 6 September 2015, Iceland 0-0 Kazakhstan. Laugardalsvöllur, Reykjavik, Iceland, attendance: 9,767.)
iceland_national-team_best-XI_6-sept-2015_2016-euros_qualifying_lagerback-and-hallgrimsson_v_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Coaches’ photo, by Laurie Dieffembacq at gettyimages.com.
Iceland-on-globe map, by Ninrouter at File:Iceland (orthographic projection).svg.
Iceland topographic blank map, by NordNordWest/ derivative work: Виктор В, at File:Iceland relief map.jpg (commons.wikimedia.org). [Segment of] Iceland map (for the Arctic Circle dotted-line), by Burmesedays at File:Iceland Regions map.png (commons.wikimedia.org).
Squad -
GK,

Hannes Þór Halldórsson (NEC [Netherlands]), photo by Getty Images via visir.is.
Defenders,
RB, Birkir Már Sævarsson (Hammarby [Sweden]), photo by ggfoto.nu. CB, Kári Árnason (Malmö FF), photo by Jean Catuffe at gettyimages.com. CB, Ragnar Sigurðsson (FK Krasnodar [Russia]), photo by Eurofootball via gettyimages.ca. LB, Ari Freyr Skúlason (OB [Denmark]), photo by Lars Ronbog at gettyimages.com.
Midfielders/Wingers,
RW, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Charlton Athletic [England, 2nd division]), photo unattributed at twitter.com/dfarmer0602. CMF, Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City [Welsh club playing in England, 2nd division]), photo by Huw Evans photo agency via bbc.com/sport. AMF, Gylfi Sigurðsson (Swansea City [Welsh club playing in England's Premier League ), photo by /photos/Gylfi+Sigurdsson/Swansea+City+v+Manchester+City+Premier+League/ACMKzg5lozM">zimbio.com. LW, Birkir Bjarnason (FC Basel [Switzerland]), photo by Simon Hofmann at gettyimages.de.
Forwards,
CF, Kolbeinn Sigþórsson (FC Nantes [France]), photo by Jean-Sebastien Evrard at gettyimages.com. CF, Jón Daði Böðvarsson (Viking [Norway]), photo by NTP Scanpix via dagbladet.no.
Other player-options on 2015 Iceland national team,
CF, Eiður Guðjohnsen (Shijiazhuang Ever Bright [China]), photo from zhibocang.com/news.
CF, Viðar Örn Kjartansson (Jiangsu Guoxin-Sainty [China]), photo [image] from a screenshot of a video at youtube.com [uploaded by Василий Мантулин].
CF, Alfreð Finnbogason (Olympiacos [Greece]), photo by Olympiakos FC via Twitter feed of Alfred Finbogason, twitter.com/@a_finnbogason [tweet for 9 Aug. 2015].
-Squad celebrating after beating the Czechs in Reykjavic in June 2015, photo by Getty Images via uefa.com at Iceland down Czech Republic to top Group A 9article from 12 June 2015].
___
Thanks to all at the links below…
-UEFA Euro 2016.
-Úrvalsdeild
-Iceland (en.wikipedia.org).
-Photos of Reykjavic stadia, groundhopping.se. Groundhopping.se is on the blogroll here.
-Attendances, european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm.

September 7, 2015

Spain: 2015-16 La Liga location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed./ Plus, the 3 clubs promoted to La Liga for 2015-16 (Betis, Sporting Gijón, and Las Palmas)./ Plus an update on Eibar (relegated as 18th-place-finisher in 2014-15, but re-instated into La Liga for 2015-16 following Elche’s expulsion for tax delinquency).

Filed under: Attendance Maps & Charts,Spain — admin @ 8:45 pm

spain_la-liga_2015-16_map_clubs-2014-15-attendance_clubs-1st-div-seasons_titles_post_h_.gif
Spain: 2015-16 La Liga location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed




Links…
-Teams, etc…2015–16 La Liga (en.wikipedia.org).
-Fixtures, results, table, stats…Primera División (soccerway.com/national/spain/primera-division).
-Here is a great blog which I have had on my blogroll here since 2007…Spanish Football & Sports blog (spanishfootballsports.blogspot.com).
-Football Espana site…football-espana.net.

By Bill Turianski on 7 September 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

On the map page…
The map page features the same template as my recent Germany and England top flight map-&-posts. Cities listed on the map comprise the 5 largest cities (metro-areas) in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Bilbao…all Spanish cities with a metro-area population over .9 million) {source: List of metropolitan areas in Spain (en.wikipedia.org).

    The 3 clubs Promoted from the 2014-15 La Segunda to La Liga for 2015-16:
    Betis, Sporting Gijón, and Las Palmas/
    (+ 18th-place Eibar, who were re-instated following Elche’s expulsion from La Liga for tax delinquency)

2014-15 Segunda División champions…
Betis. Real Betis Balompié S.A.D., est. 1907.
Seville, Andalusia, Spain.
Ground: Estadio Benito Villamarín. Capacity 52,500 seated (capacity lowered from actual-seated-capacity of 56,500). Opened 1929; last renovated 1997-2000.
Seasons that Betis have spent in La Liga [the Spanish 1st division]: 50 seasons [counting 2015-16]. Previous spell in Spanish 1st division: a 3-season spell, from 2010-11 to 2013-14.
Major titles: 1 Spanish title (1934-35). (Zero Copa del Rey titles.)
Estadio Benito Villamarín…
betis_estadio-benito-villamarin_d_.gif
Photo credits above -
Exterior shot: by Gregory Zeier at File:Stade Manuel Ruiz de Lopera Séville.JPG (commons.wikimedia.org).
Aerial shot, unattributed at skyscrapercity.com/thread-[SEVILLA - Estadio Benito Villamarín (56,500) ].

Squad info, etc…-2015-16 season preview: Betis.
The bright-green-&-white clad Betis have had three spells in the second division in the last 15 years {en.wikipedia.org/Real_Betis/team statistics}. Betis are probably one of the 5 or 6 biggest yo-yo clubs in all of Europe (“up there” with Hertha Berlin, FC Köln, FC Nürnberg, Sunderland, FC Kaiserslautern, RC Lens, Norwich City, Wolverhampton, Sporting Gijón, and Bologna). Betis is a club which can draw between 34-and-37 K in decent seasons (such as in 2011-12 and 2012-13), and can actually draw as high as 30 K when they are stuck in the 2nd division (like they did in 2014-15, en route to the Segunda División title).

When Betis are in the top flight, it seems that they are constantly battling for their first division life. It just seems that way, though, because Betis can actually pull off a great season now and then, such as in 2012-13 when they finished 7th and then qualified for the 13/14 UEFA Europa League; and especially such as in 2004-05, when they finished 4th and then qualified for the 05/06 UEFA Champions League Group Stage (that made Betis the first Andalusian team to play in the rarefied air of the Champions League Group Stage).

The biggest impediment to Betis’ success in the last two decades has been their felonious and monstrously corrupt former owner Manuel Ruiz de Lopera – who entered the scene in 1992, helped get Betis’ much-too-large stadium re-built in 2000, grandiosely got the stadium named after him…then in 2006 was sentenced to a two-and-a-half year prison term for embezzlement of over €30 million. At the Betis fansite BlogBetis.com, at their article The History of Betis, it is recounted how…{excerpt}…”In 2006 he [Manuel Ruiz de Lopera] was found guilty of ‘financial irregularities’ by Spain’s Inland Revenue between 1996 and 1997. From his tenure at Betis, he is alleged to have taken €36 million from the club – roughly half the amount of debt he left the club in. He basically contracted out Betis’ employees and services to his own personal companies and properties, for a vastly inflated fee.”

Although Betis can and do outdraw local rivals Sevilla in some seasons (such as in 2011-12 & 2012-13), they still suffer from a deficit of attention due to the presence of FC Sevilla there in the capital of Andalusia. So you might say that the second biggest problem Betis has had in the modern era is that the club suffers from the ‘Sheffield syndrome’, which is my term for a city which would probably be better off if just one medium-large club, as opposed to two medium-large clubs, existed there. Maybe I am wrong and Seville is a city big enough and football-focused enough to swing two quasi-contender-top-tier clubs, but I think that Spanish football would be a more competitive affair in the present-day Real/Barca duopoly if only one title-contender had ever emerged from Seville (which is Spain’s fourth-biggest city, with a metro-population of around 1.2 million/ see this, List of metropolitan areas in Spain). Like it is with respect to Spain’s 3rd-largest city, Valencia, a city which does have 2 top-flight clubs, but of the two, only Valencia CF is big enough to compete for trophies, while Levante is simply happy to avoid the drop on the few occasions in which they have been in La Liga.


2014-15 Segunda División runner-up…
Sporting Gijón. Real Sporting de Gijón, S.A.D., est. 1907.
Gijón, Asturias, Spain.
Ground: El Molinón. Capacity: 30,000. Opened 1908; last renovated 1997 and 2008.
Seasons that Gijón have spent in La Liga [the Spanish 1st division]: 41 seasons [counting 2015-16]. Previous spell in Spanish 1st division: a 4-season spell, from 2007-08 to 2011-12.
Major titles: none.
El Molinón…
sporting-gijon_el-molinon_d_.gif
Photo credits above –
Aerial shot: unattributed at ea1fft.es.tl/SPORTING-DE-GIJON.
Interior shot: by Sporting Gijón at realsporting.com.

Squad info, etc…-2015-16 season preview: Sporting Gijon.
Gijón wear Atletico-Madrid-style colors (red-and-white striped jerseys and bright-royal-blue pants). As alluded to in the section above, Sporting Gijón are probably one of the 9 or 10 biggest yo-yo clubs in Europe…while not as high-drawing as Betis, Gijón can draw 21 K in the top tier and around 17-19 K in the second division. They, like Betis, have won 3 promotions in the era of the 2000s. Gijón’s best finish was in 1978-79, when they were runner-up, finishing 4 points behind Real Madrid. Situated in the north of Spain on the Bay of Biscay, about equidistant from Bilbao on the east and La Coruna on the west, Gijón is in the Autonomous Community of Asturias. The metropolitan area of Oviedo–Gijón–Avilés is the 7th-largest metro-area in Spain, with about 840,000 population {2007 estimate}. (Oviedo, the capital of Asturias, is about 8 miles south of Gijón).

Sporting Gijón boasts a fine stadium, the venerable 30-K-capacity El Molinón. This is a proper Spanish-style stadium with seats right up against the pitch, and with the corners filled in, yet with four distinct and staggered-sized stands, some of which are at a viewer-friendly high-pitched-angle. (It sort of looks like a smaller St James’ Park [Newcastle], without all the erector-set-cantilver bracing.) As it says in the stadium’s Wikipedia page, “El Molinón is the oldest professional football field in Spain. It has been in use since at least 1908, and is located on the site of an old watermill, hence the stadium’s name, the Asturian word for “big mill”…”


2014-15 Segunda División play-offs finals winner…
Las Palmas. Unión Deportiva Las Palmas S.A.D., est. 1949.
Las Palmas, Gran Canaria Island, Canary Islands, Spain.
Ground: Estadio Gran Canaria. Capacity: 32,150. Opened: 2003.
Seasons that Las Palmas have spent in La Liga [the Spanish 1st division]: 32 seasons [counting 2015-16]. Previous spell in Spanish 1st division: a 2-season spell, from 2000-2002.
Major titles: none.
Estadio Gran Canaria…
las-palmas_estadio-gran-canaria_e_.gif
Photo credit above – by: Quique Curbello at laprovincia.es/deportes/2014/11/07/luz-verde-iniciar-obras-graderio.

Squad info, etc…-2015-16 season preview: Las Palmas.
There are two clubs from the Canary Islands which have had top flight experience: the dark-blue clad Tenerife (from the Island of Tenerife) and the royal blue-and-yellow clad Las Palmas (from the Island of Gran Canaria). It is hard to say which of the two are a bigger club, because their crowd sizes vary so much from season-to-season, depending on how well the clubs are doing (the clubs draw within a wide ~9-K-to-19-K-range in 2nd division; although Tenerife were stuck in the 3rd division for a season recently, and last season Tenerife only drew 9.6 K). Tenerife have spent 13 seasons in La Liga (last in 2009-10, when they drew 18.0 K); Las Palmas now will have spent 32 seasons in La Liga (previously in 2001-02, when they drew 16.4 K). I would have to give the nod to Las Palmas as being the biggest club from the Canary Islands. I think Las Palmas will be drawing around 20 K in 2015-16 – as long as they can remain outside the relegation-zone, or at least be showing a solid chance of avoiding the drop (which might be too big an ask).

The biggest obstacle that Canary Islands-based clubs face is the sheer isolation of the Canaries from mainland Spain. Las Palmas, Gran Canaria is 1,750 km (1,090 mi) from Madrid ! You can imagine how hard it would be for Canary Islands-based clubs to lure good Spanish mainlanders to play for them…for all intents and purposes, the Canary Islands in this respect could be seen as Spain’s tropical Siberia. An example of what this means vis-a-vis rosters for Canary-Islands-based-teams is that in their successful 14/15 promotion-campaign, no less than 90% of the Las Palmas squad were Canary-Islands-born. Anyway, after a wrenching Segunda División 13/14 play-offs finals loss (to Córdoba), Las Palmas shrugged off that set-back and made the play-offs again in 2014-15, as 4th place finishers. Then in the Segunda División 14/15 play-offs, Las Palmas defeated Valladolid in the semis, and then defeated Zaragoza in the finals, thanks to a dramatic and acrobatic 86th-minute goal by then-Boca Juniors loanee Sergio Araujo. That match was played at Estadio Gran Canaria, with 28 K in attendance. Araujo (age 23) has now signed with Las Palmas.

Las Palmas were last in La Liga 13 seasons ago, during a 2-season top flight spell that ended in 2002. Back then, Las Palmas were drawing between 16.4-and-17.2 K as a top flight club. They have a new stadium now. Talk about bad timing, though…Las Palmas were relegated down to the 2nd division the year before the 32,000-capacity Estadio Gran Canaria was opened (in 2003). Talk about bad planning, too, because the folks who run these things out there in the Canary Islands did not get the memo that says that ALL football fans detest stadiums with stupid, useless, and atmosphere-destroying running tracks. So, another decent stadium in the Latin lands ruined by an idiotic running track (sigh). In the photo above, just look at that soul-destroying and yawning +60-foot gap between the stands behind the goal there [in the foreground], and the pitch. Sheesh, you’d need binoculars from the first row.


And finally…
Re-instated (as 18th-place finishers), into La Liga for 2015-16, following Elche’s expulsion for violating 1st division financial criteria…
SD Eibar. Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, S.A.D., est. 1940.
Eibar, Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Spain.
Ground: Ipurua. Capacity: 6,237 for La Liga matches (as of Sept. 2015). Opened: 1947; last renovation – currently ongoing (2014-2015-onward to ~2018).
Seasons that Eibar have spent in La Liga [the Spanish 1st division]: 2 seasons [counting 2015-16].

[Note, Eibar is pronounced "A-bar".]

Squad info, etc…-2015-16 season preview: Eibar (football-espana.net).
Basque Country side SD Eibar were shock-promotion-winners in 2014 (when they drew 3.0 K in the 2nd division in their tiny, then-5.2-K-capacity stadium). Eibar became the smallest-ever club to play in La Liga. They started the 2014-15 La Liga season very strong (and were in 7th place in early December 2014), but they then went through a horrible run that saw them winless in 7 and then into the relegation places by March 2015. They rallied, but it wasn’t enough. But if Eibar played in England, Germany, Italy, or France (or most any other place in Europe), they would have automatically stayed up last season – because all those leagues sensibly use Goal Difference as the first tie-breaker for league table placement, and Eibar had a better goal difference than the other two clubs they were even on points with. But Spain uses the ant-democratic Head-to-Head as first tiebreaker. How elitist. Spain is saying that when teams are dead-locked on points total at the end of the season, the league as a whole is secondary – the issue of settling who finishes above whom is only an issue between the two clubs who are tied. Or the three clubs who are tied. Etc. (Try following that at home.)

Which is what happened on the final day of the 2014-15 La Liga season, when Deportivo La Coruña, Granada, and Eibar were all deadlocked at 35 points…and one of those three had to end up in 18th place, and thus be relegated. And the Head-to-Head records were: Deportivo with 7 pts, Granada with 6 pts, Eibar with 2 pts. So Eibar were relegated back to La Segunda on 15 May 2015.

Then three weeks later, on 5 June 2015, Eibar got a reprieve. Another La Liga club – Elche, of Valencia province – ended up running afoul of financial rules (tax delinquency), so the 13th-place-finishing Elche were relegated instead. In the Spanish top flight, tax debt is not necessarily a punishable offense, but the failure of a club to provide a re-payment-plan with a time-table, well, that is a punishable offense, and tax-delinquent Elche was punished with automatic relegation to the 2nd division. {See this article, by Tim Stoddard at FourFourTwo.com for more on that, Did Elche get their just deserts with demotion?.}

This made room for the highest-placed relegated club, and that was SD Eibar, the plucky little club from the small town of Eibar in the looming foothills of the Pyrenees (population 28,000). So Eibar remains in the top flight, and just in time for SD Eibar to start off their 75th Anniversary season in grand style…Celtic, the Scottish giants, accepted an invitation to play a friendly at Ipurua in July of 2015 {see third article linked to in the next paragraph, and see Eibar’s Scottsh connection in the last photo and caption in the illustration further below}. Then in late August, Eibar went out and started the 2015-16 La Liga season by beating Granada away (by a 1-3 score), and then they beat Basque giants Athletic [Bilbao] 2-0, at Ipurua, in front of 5,500.

Here are a couple nice, illustrated articles on Eibar’s little gem of a stadium, Ipurua (current capacity 6,237 seated), plus a recent article on Eibar’s Scottish connection…
-From Footballallnews.com, 2014-2015 La Liga Stadium Tour: Eibar – Ipurua
-From The Basque Pass.com, from 29 June 2015, by Euan McTear, THE LONG READ: Breaking Down Eibar’s Stadium Expansion.
-From The Herald (Scotland), from 17 July 2015, also by Eaun McTear, Bagpipes in the Basque: Why Celtic are playing Eibar this weekend (heraldscotland.com/sport).

Eibar’s expansion plan for Ipurua…
Construction scheduled from 2014-to-2018/ adding about 4,800 more seats to make Ipurua a 9-K-capacity ground…
By January 2018, SD Eibar plan to meet new Segunda Division minimum stadium seated-capacity requirements of 9,000-seated. If Eibar are still in the 1st division at that point (2018-19), the club hopes that the Spanish football authorities will allow them a waiver for the 1st division minimum stadium seated-capacity of 15,000-seated. As it is, there is scant room for further expansion of the ground because of how narrow the mountain-valley is, in which the town of Eibar is situated in. Large public housing occupies the land immediately behind the North Stand, and a highway is right up against the South Stand. Behind the West Stand (a goal stand) is the team’s training pitch, and behind the East Stand (another goal stand), there is more large public housing. {See aerial/bird’s-eye satellite view of Ipurua from Bing.com satellite-view, here (zoom using + sign at top-right, for bird’s-eye-effect); or see it in the illustration below.} There really is nowhere to forther expand Ipurua, unless public housing is torn down, or unless Eibar tears up their practice pitch. That is why I think Eibar will get the minimum-capacity waiver if it ever comes to that juncture. Besides, a 15-K-stadium for a town of only 28,000 is just plain crazy.

Ipurua…
eibar_ipurua_2014-15-north-stand-expansion_p.gif"
Photo credits above –
Ipurua exterior shot (NE corner of the stadium, near old North Stand entrance) & interior shot (SW view towards the hills, SW of town): unattributed at footballallnews.com [stadium tour of Ipurua].
Aerial shot: bing.com/maps
Half-way built new North Stand: shot by Chris Murphy / CNN at ‘Miracle’ club Eibar a blueprint for soccer’s future? (cnn.com).
2015 Ipurua stadium expansion, photo: unattributed at estadiosdeespana.com/posts/eibar-ipurua.
Photo from Ipurua East Stand of the Eskozia la Brava fan group, shot by Ramón Beitia at blogseitb.com/eibar; eitb.eus/es/blogs.
Photo of Eskozia La Brava mural outside wall of East Stand, by Gorka Aranzabal at panoramio.com.
___
Thanks to all at the links below…
-Blank map of Spain, by NordNordWest, at File:Spain location map.svg (en.wikipedia.org).
-Blank map of Spain incl. Canary Islands [segment], by HansenBCN, at File:EspañaLoc.svg.
-Blank map of Spain incl. Canary Islands, by Miguillen, at File:España-Canarias-loc.svg.
-Attendances from E-F-S site, european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm.
-2014-15 stadium capacities (for league matches) from 2014-15 La Liga (en.wikipedia.org).
-Titles and seasons-in-1st-division data from La Liga (en.wikipedia.org).
-Thanks to the contributors at 2015–16 La Liga (en.wikipedia.org).
-Thanks to Football-Espana.net, for the nice team previews; Football-Espana.net can be found at the blogroll here.
-Thanks to Euan McTear at The Basque Pass.com for the 2 excellent articles; The Basque Pass.com can be found at the blogroll here.

August 29, 2015

USA/Canada soccer attendance map for 2014 – MLS, NASL (II), USL-Pro: all pro soccer teams in the USA & Canada in 2014 (43 teams)/ With an editorial on the mendacity of Major League Soccer.

2014_soccer-attendance-map_mls_nasl_usl-pro_all-pro-teams-in_usa_canada_post_f_.gif
USA/Canada soccer attendance map for 2014 – MLS, NASL (II), USL-Pro: all pro soccer teams in USA & Canada in 2014 (43 teams)



    USA/Canada soccer attendance map for 2014 – MLS, NASL (II), USL-Pro: all professional soccer teams in the USA & Canada in 2014 (41 teams within the three pro leagues)./ With an editorial on the mendacity of Major League Soccer

By Bill Turianski on 29 August 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

Sources of attendance figures:
MLS, businessofsoccer.com/2014/10/29/2014-mls-attendance-review-a-look-ahead-to-2015 (businessofsoccer.com).
NASL and USL-Pro, 2014 Lower Division Attendances (dohertysoccer.com).

2014 North American pro soccer leagues’ cumulative attendance figures…
The 1st division: 2014 MLS, league average attendance (19 teams): 19,148.
The “2nd division”: 2014 NASL (II), league average attendance (10 teams): 5,501.
The “3rd division”: 2014 USL-Pro, league average attendance (14 teams): 3,114.

Highest-drawing team in USA & Canada…
Seattle Sounders (III): 43,734 per game (at 65.2 percent-capacity in the 67,000-capacity Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington state). Seattle’s crowds were biggest in MLS by a very considerable margin of more than 21 thousand (!) (the second-best attendance in MLS in 2014 was Toronto FC, at 22,068 per game).

Teams which played to 100-percent-capacity…
Sporting Kansas City.
Toronto FC.
Portland Timbers (IV).
Real Salt Lake.
Sacramento Republic [a brand-new USL-Pro team).
...

Elements of the map page
The map includes...
1). all 19 teams from the 2014 MLS (one of which, Chivas USA, is now defunct);
2). all 10 teams from the 2014 Spring & Fall seasons of the NASL (II); and
3). all 14 teams from the 2014 USL-Pro (two of which, Charlotte Eagles and Dayton Dutch Lions, have opted to turn amateur and join the USL-PDL, a development league that is the de-facto 4th division in USA and Canada).

On the map, team logos and team-colors-circles are sized to reflect attendance - the larger the logo-and-circle, the higher the attendance. I tried to have the circles on the map be composed of the colors each teams wore in 2014 (as opposed to simply the colors in each teams' logo).

On the map I also put in the locations of the two new expansion franchises of MLS for 2015 - New York City FC and Orlando City SC (II). [Orlando SC (II) replaces Orlando SC (I) of NASL (II), who dissolved to make way for the new franchise in MLS, under basically the same ownership (that is how "promotion" often works in the first division of American and Canadian association football, which is otherwise a closed shop)].

The chart at the far right-hand-side of the map page shows the following for each team on the map…2014 average attendance, stadium seating capacity, percent-capacity (which is average attendance divided by stadium capacity), year of establishment [first year the team played], total seasons played [to 2014], MLS Cup titles with last title listed (for the MLS teams only, of course), US Open titles with last title listed (for the USA-based teams only).

    Major League Soccer is a cartel that refuses to abide by rules of free trade and will keep the USA (and Canada) as soccer backwaters

Germany-born Jermaine Jones had a great World Cup for the US Men’s National Team in June 2014. The now-33-year-old Jones had had a successful career in the top flight in Germany (with Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen, and Schalke), in England (with then 1st-division-side Blackburn Rovers), and in Turkey (with Istanbul giants Beşiktaş). A few weeks after the 2014 World Cup, Jones expressed his desire to return to America (where he grew up), and to play professionally in the USA. The transfer of Jermaine Jones from the Turkish Süper Lig to Major League Soccer was handled this way… 1). As reported by the Washington Post, Jones wanted to play for the Chicago Fire, because that is where some of his roots are. 2). Major League Soccer said he could only play for either Chicago or New England. 3). A “blind draw” saw him chosen to play for New England. By the way, Sunil Gulati, president of the US Soccer Federation (which runs the USMNT), at that point in time (late summer of 2014) served as the president of Kraft Soccer Properties, tying him closely in a financial sense to the New England Revolution’s “owner”/operator, Robert Kraft. The New England Revolution are a team which draws somewhat poorly (15th out of 19 teams in 2014, at 16.6 K-per-game/ which is lame) and are in a bad stadium situation (playing to about 50,000 empty seats each home game at the NFL’s New England Patriots’ stadium, which is 20 miles outside of Boston).

So…let’s review…someone who is head of the US Soccer Federation (Gulati), but also worked then for some guy (Kraft), helped to send the best US player in the 2014 World Cup to that guy’s team – a team with no titles and a lame stadium situation. A team that needed some propping up. How rigged. How anti-competitive. How fixed. Why could Jones, a free agent, only play for two teams? And isn’t it such a coincidence that Jones ends up on the New England Revolution, a team run by Kraft, a man who employed the head of the US Soccer Federation in the capacity of the President of Kraft Soccer Properties? That goes beyond conflict of interest – this maneuvering goes way beyond that, into the realm of unethical behavior. What rule book did that come out of? This is what Deadspin writer Barry Petchesky had to say about that… {excerpt}…”It’s a function of MLS’s “single-entity” structure: the clubs aren’t independently owned, but are operated by league stakeholders. You’ve basically got a single corporate overlord deciding where in-demand players go, without the players themselves getting to choose. It’s absolutely absurd that this is how America’s top-flight league handles the acquiring of a top talent…” {end of excerpt at the deadspin.com article MLS Used A Blind Draw To Decide Where Jermaine Jones Will Play, from July 25 2014).

From World Soccer Talk.com, from Aug. 26 2014, by Robert Hay, MLS Again Creates New Rule to Appease Owners.

Note: the following bullet-points below were adapted from this article by Alex White, Major League Soccer: Deciphering the Single Entity (from otfsoccer.com from Feb. 9 2014).
Single-entity ownership in MLS means…
• All MLS players are employed by the league itself, not the soccer teams (franchises). MLS players do not work for the team that they play for – they work for the league itself.
• The league retains all intellectual property and negotiating rights, but employs “operators” to manage the franchises; these operators are misleadingly called “owners”, rather than what they really are: cronies in like Flynn.
• Individual franchises control player personnel within the organization (including trades to other MLS franchises), but are under a salary cap (currently at around $3.10 million).
• There is no collective bargaining and judges have upheld this (citing MLB’s and the NFL’s exemptions from certain labor laws).
• The minimum salary is set at an extremely low $36,500; this forces many MLS players to seek a second job to stay financially afloat.
• Ticket revenue goes to the league, with a percentage given back to the “owner/operators” (cronies). Therefore, bad-drawing franchises are rewarded, and good-drawing franchises are unfairly punished. Teams do not get to keep all the ticket revenue they earned, so where is the incentive to improve their product and attract larger crowds?
• “Owner”/operators (cronies) sit on MLS’s board and committees and collectively make league-wide decisions.

This is a major league? Major Leagues don’t consist of teams with all the players on all the different teams in the whole league getting their paychecks from a SINGLE SOURCE. That is by definition NOT A COMPETITION. Major League Soccer, with its single entity ownership format, is a closed-shop cartel (a monopoly) that refuses to follow the tenets of a competitive pro sports league, let alone follow the rules of capitalism (via restraint of trade by quasi-monopolization of the labor-pool of skilled workers [yes, they Union-bust]).

MLS is run by some rich and connected suits who have fixed the league. Fixed it so they don’t really have to compete with the rest of the world with respect to finding the highest caliber of player. Fixed it so teams that can’t draw well stay afloat when they deserve to go under – by pooling all ticket revenue. Fixed it so the cronies who pretend they are owners never have to compete with other pro and semi-pro teams for a place in the top division – like the rest of the world does (except in Australia). MLS is a retirement home for European club stars. MLS has restrained the labor trade so much that salaries are so low that many first team players must have other jobs (like semi-pro players in the 6th division in England have to do to make ends meet). MLS will always be second-rate because they have cornered a market without having to play by the rules of capitalism…thanks to the cronies who pretend to be owners who get away without having to compete with the rest of the association football world.

Call me a Euro-snob if you must. What I really am is someone who enjoys following competitive sports leagues. Which is something that MLS will never be under its single entity ownership format. Apologists for MLS say the single-entity-ownership and no promotion/relegation-format was and still is the only way pro soccer on a major-league-level could survive in the still-soccer-indifferent USA (and Canada)…by keeping salaries down and manufacturing competition, and making sure the “owners” teams never have to compete for a spot in the top flight like the rest of the world does (except in Australia). Outside of a few “franchise players”, many players are making near the minimum wage of $36.5 K a year. Nobody ever has to really scrape and battle because half of the teams make the playoffs and no one ever gets relegated and you can even be so bad and disliked that you can only be drawing 6 or 7 thousand a game and you will be safe for years (like Chivas USA was). The players are not under contract to the teams they play for, but to MLS itself. Think about that. And if you think that MLS produces an acceptable level of player-skill in its on-field product, then how come an MLS team has not won a CONCACAF Champions League title in 14 years? {See last paragraph further below for more on that.}

MLS teams have no incentive to try to draw larger crowds – because MLS teams must pool all ticket-revenue (and get 1/20th of their hard-earned ticket revenue back)…
Meanwhile, according to MLS rules, a successfully-drawing MLS franchise (Seattle Sounders) must share their ticket-revenue with the rest of the franchises. There is no reward for drawing well in MLS – you send all your gate receipts to the league and you only get back a share. So the ability to draw good crowds is not rewarded, and thus incompetent teams catch a break (proof of that can be seen in the abysmally-drawing Chivas USA, who in a regular league format [with individually-owned franchises], would have folded several years ago, not just in 2014). The Seattle Sounders (III) are drawing twice what pretty much the rest of the teams are drawing (at 43.7 K per game; second-best draw in 2014 was Toronto, at 22.0 K). In a level-playing-field league, where every team gets to keep what it earned from the ticket-paying public, you should be starting to see the Sounders (est. 2009) beginning to turn that awesome drawing-power into being successful enough to start racking up the titles (you know, like how all the big clubs in Europe do, where drawing power equals financial clout, which equals the ability to hire a better class of players). The Sounders have only won the Supporters Shield once, in 2014 (the Supporters Shield “title” is for best regular season record, which is meaningless, because, you know, there are playoffs in MLS).

And if the fear of relegation killing off relegated franchises is such a big issue, then I submit to the anti promotion/relegation ideologue this salient point…if your team can’t survive a year or two having to play in the second division, where – horrors – you must play against teams from places like Greater Raleigh, NC or Rochester, NY, then do you really think your team deserves to exist as a quasi-major league team? Because your team is being propped up by a closed-shop oligarchy that exists nowhere else and goes against the 125-year-old established protocols of professional association football and the multiple-centuries-old tenets of a free-trade society. And who says the second division has to be continental? Make it two leagues in the 2nd division – with the eastern-most teams in one 2nd-division league and the western-most teams in the other 2nd-division league (like they do in the third tier in Spain and in the fourth tier in Germany and in the sixth tier in England). And have a promotion playoff like they do in England, Spain, and Italy ( among many other countries with similar set-ups).

Proposed MLS/2nd division Promotion/Relegation system…
Proposed changes to 2nd and 3rd divisions in USA/Canada… the 2nd division in USA/Canada would be comprised of all NASL teams + all USL-Pro teams, combined into a geographically split ~36-to-40-team-sized two-league-second-tier {ie, 18-to-20 teams in a Western 2nd Division and 18-to-20 teams in an Eastern 2nd Division}).

Proposed changes to MLS… no change to MLS league structure except…A). The last-place finishers in each of the two MLS Conferences would get sent to face off in the MLS Relegation Match (with game to be played at the site of the team with the better head-to-head record in MLS that season). B) Winner of the MLS Relegation Match stays up, and the loser is automatically relegated out of MLS and into the 2nd division for the following season. C). The second division would send its 2 champions to the MLS Promotion Playoffs. D). The 2 second-division champions would face off in a two-legged match-up for the 2nd division title. E) Winner of the MLS Promotion Playoffs would be automatically promoted and would gain the right to play in MLS the following season.

Cost-cutting measures to mitigate the penalty of relegation…By splitting the 2nd division in USA/Canada into two separate league on the same Level, travel costs would be significantly reduced. Each new season, the second division would be sorted so that the Western-second-division-league (a separate league in itself, much like the 2 league/6th Level in England) has all the western-most teams in it; and the Eastern-second-division-league has all the eastern-most teams in it. Finally, many-millions-dollars-large parachute payments would be paid out to the team relegated out of Major League Soccer (just like they do in England, with regards to just-relegated Premier League clubs).

Here is an article from January 16 2014, by Billy Hailsey at Deadspin, which points out the inherent stacked-deck that non-MLS pro soccer teams face in the US, How U.S. Soccer Ensures The Fort Lauderdale Strikers Never Get A Chance. In the article, Hailsey points out this…{excerpt}…”The likelihood of the Strikers making much noise outside the orphaned second-tier league that is NASL is small, and will be smaller still if a group of owners headlined by David Beckham successfully bring an MLS team to Miami. This is the real shame of America’s lack of promotion and relegation. That system allows ambitious owners to buy up lower division clubs for not too much money, invest in them in ways they believe will bring sporting success, and potentially, reach the pinnacle of the pyramid. It allows for innovation, like the Strikers’ plans for international fame or the New York Cosmos’ announced strategy of bringing in good players from abroad but mainly focusing on finding and developing the best youth talent. But without the possibility of promotion, there’s a ceiling on the return on these clubs’ investments, and in turn the number of clubs with the ability to improve the game as a whole. In the other direction, the lack of relegation protects MLS franchises like the Red Bulls—whose new owners are dropping costs like Ronaldo needs to drop pounds—or the (possibly) pending Miami team from any real risks of competition. The status quo benefits the bulk of MLS owners happy with low costs, low risks, and an appreciating asset, but hamstrings nearly everyone else.”…{end of excerpt}.

-MLS is shutting itself out of smaller-city markets by refusing to adapt promotion/relegation like the rest of the association football world…
-MLS gives franchises to cities that don’t support soccer very well (like with Orlando & soon with Atlanta & Miami), and ignores cities that have done so and drawn over 10 K (like Rochester, Sacramento, & Indianapolis)…
And meanwhile, two American pro soccer teams in the minor leagues just shot up out of nowhere in 2014 and drew 10.4 thousand and 11.2 thousand per game respectively, both in inadequate stadiums. Those two teams are the Indy Eleven and the Sacramento Republic. But will they get a shot at being a major league team? Doubtful, because both are not from the sort of glamorous locales that Garber and Company favor. And meanwhile a 5-year-old franchise from a glamorous part of the country (Orlando City), that never drew above 8 thousand per game (in a giant and modern stadium), is getting a place in the MLS. Did Orlando City earn it? They certainly didn’t earn it by gate figures. And meanwhile, Miami, that uber-galmorous city full of probably the worst sports fans in the Western Hemisphere… a city that failed spectacularly at pro soccer – twice – will soon get another shot at a place in MLS (the Miami David-Beckhams). Because in MLS, it’s not what your team does on the field and at the turnstile that counts…its where your zip code is and its who you know that counts. MLS: the opposite of a meritocracy.

[Note: UK population data in the following four paragraphs is from the following, List of urban areas in the United Kingdom (en.wikipedia.org).]
If you are a soccer fan in a city in the USA or Canada that has a pro soccer team…but will never be granted an MLS franchise (such as my home town of Rochester, NY), what actual reason do you have to follow Major League Soccer? Because to the Rochester, NY soccer fan, MLS is just a walled-off city of elites. A walled-off city of elites which mid-sized-city-rabble (like us Rochester, NY-based soccer fans) are never allowed to partake in. Because we come from a city that is not big enough or glamorous enough to make the cut. Hey MLS, have you ever heard of Blackburn, Lancashire? Well, not only was this city (currently the 56th-largest city in United Kingdom) of around only 105,000 inhabitants in Northwest England allowed to play in the English First Division, the local club there were a founding member of the Football League in 1888, and Blackburn Rovers FC have won three national titles, the last of which was won relatively recently in 1994-95. Now, granted, Blackburn are currently stuck in the second division, but you know what? A mere three years before Blackburn Rovers shocked the newly-minted Premier League in 1994-95 and won the title, they were (circa the late 1980s and early 1990s) a second-division team. But they got promoted back to the top flight, got even better, and three seasons after being a second division club the Blackburn Rovers won the national title. A town of less than 125,000 people was the home of the champions. In the modern age, the Blackburn Rovers could only ever exist as a first-division-team because of promotion/relegation. It would be like Binghamton or Utica, New York having a team in the first division. Does this hurt soccer (association football) in England? Not in the slightest. It only makes it stronger. Do association football clubs go out of business in England because they have been recently relegated? Not in the first or second or third or fourth division. Maybe in the fifth or sixth division (like Halifax or Aldershot or Newport County). And anyway, virtually every 5th-or-6th-divison football club in England that has ever went belly-up has been replaced, by its supporters, with a Phoenix-club (like Halifax and Aldershot and Newport County), which has begun a climb back up the leagues ladder.

And here is another thing that MLS-with-no-promotion/relegation apologists need to consider…you say a national second division in a country as big as the USA would irreparably hurt relegated teams because of the huge travel costs? Well how come my hometown team the Rochester Rhinos has managed to stay afloat since their formation in 1996, despite having to play away games these last 20 years in every time zone in the Continental USA and Canada? We are talking about having to fulfill a fixtures list that has included trips to places as far-flung as Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Yet the not-so-well-drawing Rochester Rhinos are still chugging along.

Rochester, NY, with the Rochester Rhinos, was pulling 11 K, as a second-division soccer team (in 1999 and 2000 and 2001), in an inadequate 12.5 K minor league baseball ballpark back when MLS league-average was only about 3.5 K higher…and MLS said “fuck off, Rochester, you can’t be in our cartel because Rochester is not glamorous and we would be embarrassed if your uncool city would ever be associated with us”. That is what happened. Don’t bother trying to obfuscate that fact, MLS apologists. Rochester was drawing higher than any other city without an MLS team, back in 2000, and MLS said Rochester could go fuck themselves, whether they (we) built a new soccer-specific stadium (which we did), or not.

And here is a little history lesson for you ill-informed MLS apologists…In the late 1970s, the Rochester Lancers of the old NASL drew better than NASL teams back then from (the much-larger cities of) Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, and Atlanta. (The Rochester Lancers drew 7-to-8.6 K per game circa 1978 and 1979/ for a look at crowd-sizes in the old NASL, see my NASL 1979 attendance map, here.)

The Rochester Rhinos were drawing over 11.4 K per game in a minor league baseball stadium in the late 1990s up to 2000 (and became the only non-MLS team to ever win the US Open Cup in 1999) (Rochester Rhinos’ attendances, here.) But the Rhinos can’t even draw over 6 K these days – mainly because around 10 or 12 years ago, so many Rochester, NY-based soccer fans (like me) realized that the Rochester Rhinos would never be allowed to play in Major League Soccer (as long as Garber and his cronies run the show), and thus lost interest in attending games for a team that is literally not allowed to advance. But regardless, the Rochester Rhinos these days only draw 5.8 K per game, and yet they can still afford to travel the length and breadth of the US and Canada to fulfill their schedule requirements. So I am quite sure a theoretically-relegated MLS team could afford to slum it in Rochester, NY in order to fulfill their theoretical-second-division schedule-requirements.

Currently (2015), a huge city like Leeds, West Yorkshire (which is the fourth largest city in the United Kingdom) does not have a team in the 20-team English first division. But meanwhile, tiny Swansea, Wales (which only has a population of around 300,000 in its metro-area, and is about the 27th-largest city in the UK) does currently have a first division team. The 20-percent-supporter-owned entity that is Swansea City AFC is there, in 2015, in the top flight of the most successful association football league in the world (the Premier League) because of real community support and because of hard work and dedication. And that in a nutshell is the simple and powerful beauty of the promotion/relegation system. Not only are the most-competent rewarded (like in the rest of the business world), and not only are the Davids given the chance to compete with the Goliaths, but the Davids can actually beat the Goliaths (such as the fact that Swansea City swept Manchester United and Arsenal last season [2014-15], and such as the fact that Swansea won the League Cup title in 2013 and played in Europe in 2013-14).


You MLS-apologists have been brainwashed by rich people and corporations. You MLS apologists keep on defending this corrupt anti-trust violating cartel, designed specifically to screw players over and keep their salaries artificially low for the benefit of entitled rich oligarchs. As the lawyer Elizabeth Cotignola says in the recently published article Major League Loophole: A look at MLS’s shaky single-entity status …{excerpt}…”As negotiations over the new collective bargaining agreement reach the tipping point in the month or so before the 2015 MLS season is scheduled to kick off, the league once again finds itself at a crossroads. According to a recent study conducted by the Daily Mail, the league’s average salary currently falls behind that of obscure leagues in China, Austria and Ukraine and even, in some cases, leagues that aren’t their nation’s top flight. Couple that with the league’s ludicrously convoluted rules regarding player movement and the arbitrary, less-than-transparent way they are enforced, and it is painfully obvious why Major League Soccer lags behind Europe’s “Big Four” leagues (or even the world’s top 20). In today’s globalized game, no one with options will opt to ply their trade in an arrangement that alarmingly resembles a legally sanctioned form of indentured servitude (for all but the select few that form the league’s elite, that is).”…{end of excerpt from http://www.soccerwire.com/news/pro/mls/major-league-loophole-a-look-at-mlss-shaky-single-entity-status/ by Elizabeth Cotignola from January 15, 2015}.

As commenter niton said at the MLS sub-reddit…”Single entity is one of those necessary evils that while serving a critical function for many years will eventually come to be a curse. You’ve essentially got a structure which prioritizes the league business over everything else. That’s great while the league needs protection due to the lack of fans, money and attention which also serve as natural checks to greed. But as the sport grows and MLS’ clout grows with it, it’s going to allow the league to do a whole lot of things that the fans don’t like and which aren’t in the best interest of US soccer as a whole but which make the owners tons and tons of money. We’re not there yet but I’m seeing the early warning signs. Monopolies hurt the consumer and for all the legal technicalities that can be argued around the label, we have one in MLS.”…{comment from the thread The real reason MLS owners won’t budge — single entity at reddit.com/r/MLS.}

MLS holds back the game in the USA and Canada…
Major League Soccer, where the Seattle Sounders organization has to give away the lion’s share of the gate revenue that THEY earned. Major League Soccer, which does not reward drawing power and protects incompetence by pooling ticket revenue. Major League Soccer, where every player on every team gets his paycheck from the same office in NYC. Major League Soccer, which conspires to keep salaries down for its peon-workers, and tells its stars where they will play. Major League Soccer, which uses the closed-shop-oligarchy as its business model, in direct violation of established tenets of a free-trade society. That’s not a major league – that’s an exhibition pretending to be a competitive league. That’s ridiculous. That’s corrupt. It is an example of a cartel. It is an example of restraint of trade. Major League Soccer, with its single-entity ownership system, will always make the US and Canada world football backwaters.

Proof that Major League Soccer literally sucks: none of their teams have won the CONCACAF Champions League in 14 years…
Just two CONCACAF Champions League titles have been won by a Major League Soccer team in all the 18 seasons that Major League Soccer has had teams compete for that title. MLS was formed in 1996, and first had teams compete in the CONCACAF CL in 1997…and, Major League Soccer teams’ only titles won in the most prestigious competition in soccer in North America were…the 1998 CONCACAF CL title won by the DC United; and the 2000 CONCACAF CL title won by the LA Galaxy. That is it. MLS is just 2 for 18 in CONCACAF CL titles, and has won no CONCACAF CL titles since 2000. Mexican teams usually win it these days, while a few Costa Rican teams have also won it recently. Hey MLS, all you have had to do is beat some Mexican and Costa Rican clubs to win that title, and you can only do that 11 percent of the time, and not even once in the last 14 years ! Pathetic.

___
Thanks to Brendan Doherty for tirelessly tabulating lower-division attendances (no one else [that I know of] does), at Doherty Soccer – Not just another American soccer blog.
Thanks to Scott Phillips at MLS, 2014 MLS Attendance Review & A Look Ahead to 2014.
Thanks to NuclearVacuum for the blank map of North America, File:BlankMap-North America-Subdivisions.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
Thanks to the contributors at en.wikipedia.org, Major League Soccer
; North American Soccer League [(II)];
USL-Pro.

August 21, 2015

Germany: 2015-16 Bundesliga location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed.

Filed under: Attendance Maps & Charts,Germany — admin @ 12:53 pm

bundesliga_2015-16_map_clubs-2014-15-attendance_clubs-1st-div-seasons_titles_post_i_.gif
Germany: 2015-16 Bundesliga location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed




Links…
-Teams, etc…2015–16 Bundesliga (en.wikipedia.org).
-English-speaking Bundesliga coverage: News, fixtures, results, table, etc…bundesligafanatic.com.
-Official site of the Bundesliga in English (offizielle webseite der Bundesliga)…bundesliga.com/en/.
-Table, fixtures, results, stats, etc…Bundesliga (soccerway.com/national/germany/bundesliga).

By Bill Turianski on 20 August 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.
For this map-&-chart, I have continued using the new template from my 2015-16 English football maps {such on my 15/16 Premier League post}. On the map, I have included the 6 largest cities in Germany (all cities above 600K in the city-population: Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart) {source: here}. Also included are the 9 largest metro-areas in Germany (all metro-areas above 3.0 million population) {source, see last sentence at the foot of this post}. German states and the 3 city-states (Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen) are listed on the map, as well. This season, as usual, the state of North Rhine Westphalia, home to the sprawling Rhine-Ruhr mega-city, has the most Bundesliga clubs – 5 (Dortmund, Schalke, Köln, Mönchengladbach, Leverkusen).

The two promoted sides are very small, with little or no previous Bundesliga experience. Darmstadt, who have now won back-to-back promotions, are located in southern Hesse state nearby to Frankfurt; the club had previously managed only two seasons in the Bundesliga (1978–79 and 1981–82). Darmstadt’s spartan stadium has a 17 K-capacity (reduced-capacity for safety reasons), and Darmstadt drew 14.1 K in 2014-15. Ingolstadt, from central Bavaria (about halfway between Munich and Nuremburg), are making their Bundesliga debut. Ingolstadt has a 15 K-capacity stadium, and drew 9.8 K last season.
___
Thanks to all at the links below…
-Blank map of Germany by NordNordWest, File:Germany location map.svg (en.wikipedia.org).
-Attendances from E-F-S site, european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm.
-2014-15 stadium capacities (for league matches) from Fußball-Bundesliga 2014/15 (de.wikipedia.org).
-Titles and seasons-in-1st-division data from Bundesliga (en.wikipedia.org).
-Metropolitan regions in Germany (en.wikipedia.org).

August 7, 2015

England: Premier League [1st division], 2015-16 location-map with: 14/15 attendances, all-time seasons in 1st division + major titles listed./ Plus, a few words about each of the 3 sides promoted for 15/16 (Bournemouth, Watford, Norwich City).

http://billsportsmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/2015-16_premier-league_post_d_.gif
England: Premier League [1st division], location-map with 14/15 attendances, all-time seasons in 1st division + major titles listed




Links…
-Teams, etc…2015–16 Premier League (en.wikipedia.org).
-News, fixtures, results, table, etc…Premier League page at BBC.
-My favorite site for articles on the Premier League, etc…The Guardian.com/football (theguardian.com/football).
-Table, fixtures, results, stats, etc…soccerway.com/national/england/premier-league.
-Kits…Barclays Premier League 2015 – 2016 [home, away & alternate kits] (historicalkits.co.uk).

    England: Premier League [the first division], location-map with 14/15 attendances, all-time seasons in 1st division + major titles listed…

By Bill Turianski on 7 August 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

Promoted from the League Championship for 2015-16…

-AFC Bournemouth (aka the Cherries) – This is the top-flight-debut-season for the cherry-red-&-black-striped Cherries, who hail from the south coast of England in Dorset. Bournemouth is about 40 km (or 25 mi) SW of Southampton. It might surprise you to know that Bournemouth is actually the 16th-largest city (metro area) in the United Kingdom {see this} [Bournemoth/Poole built up area has a population of around 466,000]. Bournemouth, with only an 11.7 K-capacity ground (Dean Court), and a ~10-K-sized fan base, are certainly one of the smallest-ever Premier League clubs (ie, since the formation of the Premier League in 1992-93/ other contenders would be Wimbledon FC, Oldham Athletic, Swindon Town, and Blackpool).
{Sources for last sentence: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Premier_League_clubs;
european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm}.

Bournemouth were almost liquidated in Feb. 2008, when the then-fourth-division club were stuck with around £4 million in debts…and after the automatic 17 points penalty they were handed, they narrowly avoided relegation out of the Football League the following season (in 2008-09). So…from the brink of banishment from the League in May 2009, to three promotions in the next six seasons incl. a Premier League debut in August 2015. Holy Cow.

Bournemouth are majority-owned (since 2011) by Russian petro-chemical-mini-oligarch Maxim Denim (cash-wise he’s probably one-twentieth, or less, as rich as Roman Abramovich [the Chelski owner]; Denim can also be compared to Abramovich in that both are discreet and publicity-shy in their ownership roles).

Bournemouth are managed by the up-and-coming 37-year-old, Eddie Howe, who played for Portsmouth and for Bournemoth as a DF, before the injuries mounted up. And so, as a 27-year-old, he retired from the pitch – which led to his decision to acquire his coaching badges. Howe was first hired as Bournemouth manager in January 2009, when he was only 32. Bournemouth under Howe won promotion to League One in 2009-10. A half-season later in Jan. 2011, he left to manage Burnley, to lukewarm effect over a 2.7 season-spell. And then in Oct. 2012, Howe simply resigned from his manager’s role at Burnley, and immediately returned to his manager’s role at Bournemouth. He then led the Cherries to promotion to the Championship that season (2012-13), and, two seasons later, he led the Cherries to promotion to the Premier League. Howe likes his squad to move the ball around on the ground and constantly press for scoring chances – and they scored a League Championship-best 98 goals last season. Bournemouth could be shaping up to be a real neutral’s favorite for 2015-16.

-Watford FC (aka the Hornets) – This [2015-16] will be the 9th season in the top flight for Watford (last in 2006-07). The club usually draws around 13-16 K when in the second division, and are situated just outside of, and north-west of, the official boundaries of Greater London, in Hertfordshire. But the town of Watford’s real connection to London is apparent in the fact that one of the London tube [subway] lines reaches Watford. Watford FC are nicknamed the Hornets, but their crest features a domestic breed of deer with huge antlers (a hart; which is a reference to the club’s home county of Herts). Watford’s kit is yellow jerseys and usually black pants (and their gear usually has some red trim). Watford FC is rock legend Elton John’s club – he is lifetime President (a role he shares with former Watford manager and England coach Graham Taylor), and which is a title he has earned, for sure, by bailing out the club more than once, via solid cash, or via the odd benefit rock concert at the club’s Vicarage Road ground (present capacity 21 K).

Watford are now one of the 3 homes of the Italian experiment…see this, How the Pozzo family have fueled Watford’s Premier League dreams (theguardian.com/football by Simon Burnton from 3 Aug. 2015). Not sure if I am rooting for their business model, which involves a cartel-style approach with respect to farming a giant in-house roster amongst their 3 top flight clubs (the Pozzos also own Udinese Calcio [a top flight Italian club] and Granada CF [a top flight Spanish club]). As a commenter said in the Guardian article linked to above, “hmm its at least dubious to ‘acquire’ players without any fee, who no other club has access to. sounds like a form of cheating to me. certainly don’t see how it benefits other clubs.” (< comment by ID9782772.) Another thing bothersome about how Watford currently does business is that they shed managers like crazy...since the Pozzos took over the club in the summer of 2012, seven different people have managed the club (that is an average of 2.3 managers per season). And they had FOUR managers last season. The current person in charge (for now) is the Spaniard Quique Flores.

-Norwich City FC (aka the Canaries) – (2015-16 will be Norwich City’s 25th season in the first division; their highest finish was third place in 1992-93.) It is always good to see the Canaries back in the Premier League…this time they bounced straight back after winning the 2014-15 Football League Championship Play-off Final at Wembley, in front of 85.6 K, besting Middlesbrough 2-0, with goals from MF Cam Jerome in the 12th minute, and from Winger Nathan Redmond 3 minutes later (15′). Both Jerome and Redmond return for Norwich this season. This is one serious yo-yo club: Norwich City have won three promotions to the Premier League in the last 12 years (since 2002-03), a time-period which also included a one-season stint in the third tier in 2009-10 (where their solid ~24-to-26-K crowd-size did not drop at all…the club averaged 24,671 per game at home when they were in the third division, which, believe it or not, was the 19th best in all Leagues in all of England and Wales that season / fair play Norwich City fans).

The club is from the city which is the smallest perennial top flight city in England – Greater Norwich only has a population of around 213,000, and is just the 36th-largest city (metro-area) in the UK. And, for the longest time, Norwich was the largest settlement in the UK which was not connected to a major roadway…hence the club was sometimes mildly patronized as a club supported by country yokels (not). But, as pointed out by commenter R Groom in the Comments section futher below, the city of Norwich finally does have a proper major roadway connection to London, etc. Anyway, they sure can pack ‘em in up there in East Anglia, as Norwich City constantly draws to +95-percent-capacity (at around 26 K-per-game in the 27-K-capacity Carrow Road). Love their kit, too, which is, of course, bright yellow-orange jerseys and brilliant turtle-green pants. Managed by Scotsman Alex Neil, who is just 34, and was hired by Norwich City in Jan. 2015, when Norwich sat 7th, 3 points off the play-offs. Neil’s previous stint was as player-manager with plucky Scottish top-flight-minnows Hamilton Academical, whom he led to promotion in 2013-14.
___

Thanks to all at the links below…
-Blank map of UK historic counties, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:United Kingdom police areas map.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Blank relief map of Greater London, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:Greater London UK relief location map.jpg.

-Attendances from E-F-S site, european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm.
-2014-15 stadium capacities (for league matches) from soccerway.com, us.soccerway.com/national/england/championship/20152016/regular-season/r31555/.

-League histories of clubs:
-England – First Level All-Time Tables 1888/89-2013/14.
-Footy-Mad sites’ League History pages, such as Swansea City-mad, here, swanseacity-mad.co.uk/league_history.

-Titles…
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_football_champions.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_FA_Cup_finals.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Football_League_Cup_finals.

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