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FA seeks Argentina fixtures that could help England 2018 World Cup bid
Matt Scott - 3 years ago

England look set to mark the Football Association's 150th birthday celebrations in 2013 with a friendly match against Argentina.

The fixture is understood to be part of a planned double-header against the South Americans, with the first fixture taking place on 9 February 2011. That would nominally be the away leg of the two matches, but it is due to be played at a neutral venue in Europe. A similar arrangement five years ago saw England beat Argentina 3-2 in Geneva.

The deal, which is still the subject of discussion, has been on the table since April. An announcement about talks was made to the Argentinian press while the international chairman of the England 2018 World Cup bid, David Dein, led a delegation there, meeting the Argentinian football federation president, Julio Grondona. Argentina's opportunity to share in one of world football's most important commemorations has positive implications for England's bid. Grondona is a member of the 24-strong Fifa executive committee that will select the host nation for 2018.

Since launching its bid, England have played a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago, whose special adviser, Jack Warner, is an executive committee member. England will also play Thailand in June ? the Thai association's president, Worawi Makudi, is also a member of the committee.

Shared heritage might suggest that Argentina would be closest to Spain and Portugal's bid but should that fail, England will be well placed to pick up Grondona's support.

Uefa problem for CityDelegates at the European Clubs Association congress in Geneva today were given a talk about what Uefa's new financial fair-play rules mean. Hopefully Manchester City's chief executive, Garry Cook, below, was listening carefully. Ballooning wages and amortisation charges relating to eye-watering transfer fees could derail City's attempts to break even ? give or take ?15m (£12.5m) a year ? which from 2013 will be a prerequisite for playing in the governing body's competitions.

A proportion of City's revenues may also be disallowable. Under the new Uefa rules, sponsorship and commercial incomes from companies connected to a club's owner must be set at market rates.

Most of City's sponsors are related parties. The shirt sponsor, Etihad, is based in Sheikh Mansour's Abu Dhabi and 70% of Ferrostaal, an industrial-services company, is owned by Abu Dhabi.

The telecoms firm Etisalat has its headquarters in the United Arab Emirates. Aabar, a hydrocarbons firm, had as one of its founding investors the Abu Dhabi Investment Company, and Abu Dhabi Tourism is ... you get the picture.

So unless City's independent sponsors ? Umbro, Thomas Cook, Jaguar, Malmaison, Heineken and the local radio station Key103 ? are between them able to produce enough income to cover the club's inflating cost base, regualar European football may prove to be an unreachable promised land.

Boro head for North Korea

Middlesbrough Ladies are heading to Pyongyang, with the assistance of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. A club statement said: "This is a unique visit as it is rare indeed for overseas football teams to visit North Korea." The last English club to be represented in Kim Jong-il's homeland were Notts County whose then director of football, Sven-Goran Eriksson, arrived in October 2009 with one of the club's then directors, Nathan Willett. The trip was not un-controversial. As Eriksson told the Guardian in February, he made promises about helping out with North Korea's pre-World Cup training requirements, which he says Willett's actions led to being broken. Middlesbrough Ladies will hope Pyongyang has forgotten its last brush with English football.

Harris's board gameDaniel Harris, the 50-year-old medical-company owner who subscribed to West Ham United's recent £4m share issue, has been given a place on the club's board. Fans might be relieved to hear that Terry Brown ? the club's controversial former chairman, who with Harris invested in 3.8% of the club's shares through the recent equity placing ? has not.

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