Championship Chatter with Derek Davis

THE Bald Eagle has landed at Oxford. Jim Smith finally took over as a manager of the League Two strugglers after helping in a successful buy-out of the club.

By Derek Davis

THE Bald Eagle has landed at Oxford. Jim Smith finally took over as a manager of the League Two strugglers after helping in a successful buy-out of the club.

Smith was keen to take Jim Magilton with him and that might still happen in the future, but for now the garrulous Irishman is staying to test the sound-proofing in the Portman Road dressing rooms.

In a somewhat messy takeover, Smith is also on the board of directors involved in buying out Kiroz Kassam, who has sold his shares for about £2m, giving the new owner and chairman Nick Merry 85% of the club.


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Merry is a former Oxford United youth team player who used to clean Magilton's boots, but has made a fortune in investments and is now looking to sort out the club's messy financial situation.

On the pitch Smith could announce today that he is bringing in Scott Gemmill and that much-travelled striker Steve Claridge to help out on the playing and coaching side.

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I WONDER how much will actually change under the new deal between the European Commission and the Premier League which means no single broadcaster can screen all of their games.

At the moment BskyB monopolise coverage by showing 130 live games a year, with the BBC getting the scraps for Match of the Day.

The new agreement, which comes into effect from 2007, means the games have to be broken into six packages with no single broadcaster getting more than five.

What is the betting Sky keep five and palm the less attractive package off on another broadcaster? And that prices won't get any better and there will be an increase in pay-for-view matches?

Somehow, I doubt the supporters/viewers will be any better off, nor, I suspect, will the clubs lower down the pyramid.

QUITE often in this world you reap what you sow and in the case of Hearts, they seem determined to have a failed crop.

Yes, Vladimir Romanov has invested heavily in his seeds and has seen a certain amount of blossoming, but the Lithuanian decided to sack his grower just when it looked like they were on for a record season and now he has dumped on the man he brought in to replace him.

So let us look at what has happened here.

George Burley - sacked when Hearts were top and flying.

Graham Rix - now sacked with Hearts in second and still in with a chance of Champions' League football.

It seems to me the Edinburgh club could see their fortunes drop and if they were to lose out to Rangers then who would offer any sympathy?

POOR old Neil Warnock is in hot water with the FA again after sticking his fingers up at Nigel Worthington and others on the Norwich bench after Sheffield United's defeat at Carrow Road.

But if, as is alleged, Worthington didn't shake the opposition manager's hand then how “proper” is their conduct?

AND the Golds keep coming, never mind the Silvers and Bronzes for our brilliant English competitors in Australia.

I felt for Martyn Barnard this morning when some sloppy officialdom dented his chances of snatching Gold in the high jump and he had to settle for Silver instead.

So much for the super-efficient, friendly Games. As host nation you would expect Australia to win a few medals as they have, but they can also take Gold in bias according to the Melbourne papers when even locals have complained about the coverage.

Mind you, the Games are more competitive and entertaining than the cricket. Let's face it, the Indians could not have done more to help England win the Third Test after putting them in to bat, when even non-cricket buffs knew it was suicidal, and when they had a relative easy target to reach gave away their wickets cheaply. Seven for 25 - come on.

Yes, England had some injury and personal problems to deal with - but what team doesn't. The series ended all even, but in reality it was like a Championship side drawing 1-1 with Crewe in a pre-season friendly.

WELL done to Heather Shelcott, from Hollesley, who is the winner of two tickets to watch Town's game with Hull City on Saturday.

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