Spiralling Costs of the London 2012 Olympic Games

February 4, 2012

Around about 7 years ago, London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics claimed that the overall cost would be close to £2.4Bn.  7 years on, we are told that this figure could spiral to a massive cost of £24Bn.  When this was announced, the question on most peoples’ minds was, ‘How on Earth could the original estimate have been so far from this potential figure?’  Furious members of the public have angrily labelled the Olympics as a ‘waste of the taxpayers’ money’, especially when considering how few people have managed to obtain tickets.  It certainly seems true that the cost of the London 2012 Olympics are not going to be what was promised to the public 7 years ago.  We have either been fed lies about the total cost, or the government and everybody else working on this project has made a gross misjudgement, which judging by the margin of error, seems very unlikely. 

So, how exactly has the total figure reached this estimated figure?  In 2007, the cost of the Olympic public sector funding package was estimated to have risen to £9.3Bn, a figure expected to increase again as the summer nears.  £1.3Bn of this figure will be spent on protecting the games from terrorist threats, around about half of the figure estimated for the overall cost in 2005.  But perhaps the biggest waste of the taxpayers’ money was the £335,000 spent on Richard Harris’s Olympic sculpture in Dorset, which frankly looks like a cluster of giant mushrooms.  It has been widely suggested that the cost of purchasing the land necessary for the games to go ahead was one of the main reasons that this figure spiralled out of control.  Nobody knows exactly how much this will cost with estimates ranging from about £3Bn to as little as around about £500 million.  

Included in this overall figure however, is the £6Bn spent on upgrading the transport systems around London, which is quite unfair considering that London’s public transport was long overdue a large investment.  Not including the cost of upgrading public transport, a spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport stated that the overall figure would not exceed £9.3Bn, still a ridiculous four times higher than originally estimated.  However, contrary to this opinion, the London 2012 chairman himself Lord Sebastian Coe said that it was ‘blindingly obvious’ that the overall cost would exceed £9.3Bn.  With the Chairman of the games and a spokesperson for a company playing a big role in the coordination of the games contradicting each other, it seems that nobody has any idea how far the costs of the Olympics have spiralled and continue to spiral out of control. 

With a terrible logo, bizarre mascots and costs having gone through the roof, the London 2012 Olympics are not looking promising.  With around about 6 months to go, people can only wildly guess at what the total cost of the Olympics will come to.  7 years on, many people are now looking back, ticketless and angry, wondering why they ever celebrated the right to host the Olympics in the first place.  If even the chairman of the 2012 games is clueless as to how much the games are going to cost the taxpayer, then the nation could be severely financially damaged if costs continue to spiral.  The original estimate of £2.4Bn seems unrealistic and it is amazing that this was not pointed out at the time.  With Lord Coe admitting to ‘financial concerns’ over the Olympics, then all the taxpayers can do now is pray.  Pray that the costs of the games do not continue to rise and that the country is not financially damaged by the 2012 Olympics. 


Snooker’s ”Gone to Pot”

February 4, 2012

Since the 1980’s, interest in and followers of snooker have been declining.  The sport was no longer able to attract large crowds and large numbers of viewers, and the sport was facing a crisis.  In 2010, snooker chairman, Barry Hearn stepped in and created a new format of the sport, which he labelled ‘Power Snooker’.  This ridiculous form of the sport involved just a single frame and a 20 second shot clock in order to prevent slower players, such as Peter Ebdon, from boring the crowds.  However, ‘Power Snooker’ has been heavily criticised by both players and fans who feel that it is now attracting crowds similar to those of Darts.  World Number 10, Mark Allen called for Barry Hearn to step down from his position and declared that snooker had ‘gone to pot’.  Despite gaining popularity among some fans for this, Allen was hit with a £250 fine.

The 2nd annual ‘Snooker Shootout’ took place in January, and it was very similar to last year’s.  In the first round, the crowds were able to watch lots of exciting games between big name players.  However, with Judd Trump, Jamie Cope and Jack Lisowski all losing in the first round, power snooker was not able to bring the excitement which it had promised.  Barry Hawkins ended the weekend as the winner of the tournament after a very dull final against Graeme Dott.  Another disappointing part of this year’s ‘Snooker Shootout’ was the absence of Ronnie O’Sullivan, the most popular current player.  Superb speed around the table from Malta’s Tony Drago was simply not enough to fill the void left by the absence of the three-time World Champion.

But perhaps the worst part of this tournament was the behaviour of the crowd.  It seemed that nobody realised that allowing the crowd to have alcoholic drinks whilst watching the snooker was not a very good idea.  It may have dawned on whoever allowed this to happen during the tournament as chants of ‘USA’ broke out for no apparent reason.  It appears that the crowd at this tournament do not match the spirit of the sport and would be better suited to going to watch a game of darts.  They displayed little interest in what was happening in front of them and spent most of the weekend singing and shouting at players.  If a player played a safety shot because they felt that it was the best option, choruses of ‘boos’ would break out from the crowd, which is quite frankly very disrespectful towards the players.

It is quite clear that this cannot continue.  Thankfully, power snooker is only played for one weekend every year.  What is concerning to many snooker fans is the prospect that this could be increased in the near future by Barry Hearn as it increases the popularity of the sport.  Very important decisions are now facing snooker’s chairman.  He can opt to increase the amount of power snooker played, probably increasing the popularity of the sport.  Alternatively, he can choose to restrict this vile form of the sport to just one weekend a year and keep the spirit of the game.

Stuart Attwell – Worst Referee Ever?

December 27, 2011

Once again, the ‘whistle-happy’ referee responsible for the infamous ‘ghost goal’ in a ‘Npower Championship’ game between Watford and Reading, has put in another poor performance.  Managers, players and football fans alike have all spoken out against him, yet this incompetent referee is continually appointed for Premier League games, despite his reputation for making poor decisions.  His decisions in the match today between Arsenal and Wolves were a disgrace to the Premier League, with good decisions coming few and far between.  But how surprised can we be? It has been suggested that Stuart Attwell continues to be given the benefit of the doubt due to his young age, but how long can this go on before football fans are granted their wish and Attwell is not allowed to officiate Premier League games until he gains some experience?

Last season, a disastrous performance from Mr Attwell in a game at Anfield between Liverpool and Sunderland led to him being suspended from refereeing the following weeks games.  Striker Danny Welbeck, who was on loan at the club at the time, suffered a malicious elbow from Steven Gerrard, which under normal circumstances would have led to a straight red card.  However Stuart Attwell only issued a yellow.  This incident came shortly after a very controversial goal from Dirk Kuyt.  These were just a few of a number of high-profile mistakes which led to this suspension for the 28-year-old referee.

Todays game at the Emirates Stadium saw Arsenal face a Wolves side sitting in 17th in the table.  A very controversial decision led to Nenad Milijas being given a straight red card.  Wolves manager Mick McCarthy expressed his shock at this absurd decision by saying ‘I can’t for the life of me see why he has been sent off,’.  This however was not the only poor decision of this match.  Stuart Attwell dismissed a strong penalty appeal after the ball struck Christophe Berra’s arm and then booked Arsenal’s Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen for dissent.  moments later, he then stopped play for what he considered as ‘handball’ by the Arsenal defender, much to the dismay of the majority of the Emirates Stadium.  The young English referee booked an outstanding Wayne Hennessey for time-wasting in injury time, when the Welsh keeper wasted roughly 50 seconds before taking a goal-kick.  However none of this extra time was added on and an end to an engrossing match was called prematurely.

So once again, Stuart Attwell has put in a poor performance and once again he will be criticised by managers and fans.  A pattern seems to be emerging here, one that can only be stopped by an intervention from a higher authority.  The best method of dealing with this problem would appear to be letting him referee games in a lower league until this incompetent referee gains some experience and is better able to deal with facing difficult decisions.  Maybe then he would be ready for the Premier League and would stop this pattern occurring.  Mick McCarthy has now joined a long list of managers, including Owen Coyle, Harry Redknapp, David Moyes and many more managers who have complained about the inexperienced referee’s decisions.  All we can do is hope that this time, somebody will realise that Attwell’s performances are not up to Premier League standard and that this is a problem which must be resolved.

Jamie Cope

December 23, 2011

As a snooker player coming through the junior ranks, Jamie Cope managed to win just under 50 tournaments before turning professional in 2001.  In 2005, he completed the world’s first verified 155 break, in a practice frame aged just 20 years old.  He then went on to get into the finals of the snooker ‘Grand Prix’ and the ‘China Open’, finishing as runner-up in both tournaments.  His fast and aggressive play round the table has led to him being given the nickname ”Shotgun” but since his last final, almost four years has passed and he is yet to break into the top 10 in the ‘World snooker players’ rankings’. 

Despite all of this, Jamie Cope managed to break into the top 16 rankings earlier this year when he was briefly ranked as the 13th best player in the world but has since fallen out of the top 16, meaning that he will have to play through qualification rounds to get into the upcoming masters tournament.  Questions will inevitably rise as to whether Jamie Cope does still have the potential to compete amongst the higher ranks.  By his age, Stephen Hendry had already won 4 World Championships and 5 Masters titles and Steve Davis had 2 World Championships to his name.

However, Jamie Cope has truly shown what he is capable of through maximum breaks.  He has managed to complete 3 maximum breaks, all in very impressive times due to his speed around the table.  He became the 3rd person to achieve a maximum break in the Grand Prix in Aberdeen and has since gone on to achieve maximum breaks against Neil Robertson, the 2010 World Champion and against two-time World Champion, Mark Williams.  The latter was completed in an exceptional time of around 8 and a half minutes.

Big question marks will remain over how much Jamie Cope is capable of achieving until he shows his ability in a major tournament.  Many fans feel that he came very close to doing this at the 2011 Masters when he lost to Ding Junhui in the semi-finals after some very impressive performances against 2005 World Champion, Shaun Murphy and Mark King.  If he manages to qualify, the 2012 Masters in January could be the perfect opportunity for Cope to prove that he has the ability to regain his top-16 ranking and to go on to win major tournaments for many years to come.

Tevez’s Temper Tantrums Cause Frustrated Fans

October 10, 2011

Carlos Tevez’s behaviour was completely and utterly unacceptable.  Whether or not what was said was in fact lost in translation, a player should not and cannot place a manager under increased pressure when his team are already facing a two goal deficit.  These actions are not fair on Roberto Mancini as he is now faced with the extremely challenging task of resolving an abstruse problem which will of course be at the front of his mind at present.  It is likely that these actions are as a result of Tevez’s ineptitude to settle in Manchester and his desire to move elsewhere which he previously expressed prior to the summer transfer window.

There is absolutely no possible argument for the Argentinean striker deserving his reported salary of £286,000 per week. This sort of behaviour is absolutely ridiculous and in any other job this would lead to a sacking.  However due to the amount of money that is invested in him, this is not possible.  Tevez has no other choice but to leave the club now as the Manchester City fans have lost all faith in the striker and will happily do so with a return to South America as his preferred destination.  But this is not possible until the January transfer window and until then, Tevez should be made to train with the reserve squad.

Paul Scholes’s actions many years ago were similar to those of Carlos Tevez.  Scholes refused to play in a team of weakened players against Arsenal and was subsequently fined one weeks wages and continued with his successful career at the club.  This result is almost certainly not going to happen for Carlos Tevez as there does not appear to be a good reason as to why he didn’t play.  The fans want him sacked and Tevez want to leave so this whole saga can therefore only be due to one thing: money.  It is definitely not something Manchester City are short of at the present time and they will therefore not struggle to find a good enough replacement for Carlos Tevez.  They may not even have to with Edin Dzeko’s return to form and the summer purchase of Sergio Aguero.  This spending power helps to give an indication of how little the problem of Tevez’s temper tantrum will be for the club in the long term.

Old Habits Die Hard For Wenger

July 3, 2011

The eagerly anticipated summer transfer window is upon us and Arsenal fans have previously been promised a ‘busy summer in the transfer market’ by the club’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis.  However this is not necessarily something for Arsenal fans to be excited about as the very same promise was made exactly this time last year by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. So far, the only summer signings for Arsenal have been youngster Karl Jenkinson from Charlton Athletic and Jon Toral is set to join from Barcelona’s youth system.  But Arsenal’s big stars have had enough of Wenger’s tactics and Fabregas, Nasri and Clichy are all set to leave the club. 

Arsene Wenger will hold crisis talks with Samir Nasri about his future when he returns to London.  With both Manchester clubs interested and Nasri yet to sign a new contract, things are not looking good if Fabregas completes his £37 million move to Barcelona.  Fabregas moving to Barcelona has been accepted by many Arsenal fans as an inevitability for the past two seasons and that the longer Arsenal could hold onto him, the better.  A large amount of Arsenal fans also declared that they would be happy for Fabregas to follow his ambitions at the Nou Camp, but only if Samir Nasri remained at the club.  This is no doubt due to his spectacular 2010-11 campaign which saw him score 10 goals in 30 league games whilst filling in the position of an absent Fabregas.

Another question that will arise is whether Kieran Gibbs is ready to fill the gaping hole which will be left in Arsenal’s defence if Gael Clichy moves to Manchester City.  Clichy only has one year left to run on his contract and many Arsenal fans will be sad to see him leave.  Arsene Wenger has told the press that ”We have started talks with Gael and want him to stay”.  With Arsenal’s defence already in need of strengthening, losing a player with the quality of Clichy could prove to be a disaster.  It would appear that if Fabregas leaves, then Robin van Persie will be promoted to captain but he is yet another player who has told the press that if Wenger does not replace the quality of the players that Arsenal lose this summer, then he will head for the door too.

Arsenal's New Captain?

However, all hope is not lost for Arsenal fans with Gervinho set to join Arsenal on a four-year-deal from LOSC Lille.  Gervinho  snubbed a move to Tottenham in order to pursue a move to Arsenal; something that will already make him popular with Arsenal fans.  There are also lots of rumours that Ricardo Alvarez of Velez in Argentina is set to secure a move to Arsenal.  Further transfer activity is expected by all Arsenal fans as if these are the only transfers, then Arsenal will not be challenging for the title next season, but merely a place in the Champion’s League. 

One to Watch – Marco Reus

June 1, 2011

Marco Reus has been an outstanding player for Borussia Monchengladbach this season and has rarely dissapointed out on the wing.  The German under-21 international has been crucial in his club’s successful fight to avoid relegation from the Bundesliga.  Many German clubs are already showing an interest in Reus with Borrusia Dortmund and Bayern Munich both keen on signing the 21-year-old, no doubt due to his superb form this season which has seen him score 10 goals in 32 league matches from the wing.  He has also contributed, not just to scoring goals but has claimed 9 assissts on top of this.  However, a move away from his financially struggling team could be on the cards with rumours that Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are all keeping an eye on the young star who has a buyout fee of £15 million in his contract.

Marco Reus had expressed his desire to stay at the club ahead of their relegation play off against Bochum, regardless of the result of that match.  He told German sports weekly ‘Sports Bild’ that ”I will stay in Gladbach in any case” and dismissed rumours of a transfer to Bayern Munich.  Reus has recently been given his second call up to the German national team but looks set to make his first appearence for them as he was forced to withdraw from Germany’s friendly with Malta last year.  He has been selected ahead of Bayern Leverkusen player Michael Ballack and will team up with hot prospect Mario Goetze who is reported to be a summer target for Arsenal.  Germany will play away to Austria on the 3rd of June and then away to Azerbaijan on the 7th.  Many clubs will be eager to see how Marco Reus will perform at the top level and if he plays like he has for Gladbach this season, then interest may intensify.