Around the English Premier League – Round 38

It was an incredible season finale, full of mixed emotions as City turned into the new Champion and fooled the Red Devils that believed for a second they had conquered the title.

On Sunday, May 13, the last ten fixtures were played simultaneously and as some were just looking for a couple of points more and maybe even try to finish in a higher position, others were having a life or death encounter; for the championship title and the third relegation spot were still undefined. QPR and Bolton were struggling to stay out of relegation, whereas the two clubs from Manchester were tied at the top of the standings with 86 points -both with chances to conquer the title; however the Sky Blues had an advantage of 8 goals on the Goals Difference. At Manchester were the Citizens hosting Queens Park Rangers, while the 2nd placed, United, went north to visit the Black Cats.

So, the only way that the Red Devils could take the lead was if City got defeated while they were winning at the Stadium of Light. Therefore when Sir Alex Ferguson and his men finished victorious -thanks to Wayne Rooney's 20th-minute-goal- and aware of the disadvantage their neighbors had in that moment, they were about to start celebrating. In fact, United carried for almost an hour the first position and with it the glory of the 20th title. However soon enough -enough to stop Fergie's embarrassment of celebrating ahead of time- you could see fans all over the crowd in the stadium on their cell phones with disappointment and surprised expressions on their faces what just had happened in Manchester.

The Sky Blues' opened the scoreboard during first half with Zabaleta's goal. But at the return from the interval QPR needed to take the lead, since Bolton was winning at Britannia Stadium, which was placing the southern club on the 18th position of the standings -in relegation zone. Therefore early in second half the Rangers struck back and placed two marks, which left them out of danger; but left City in an unsafe situation. Nevertheless it was the Citizens' fate to achieve the title for his supporters, and following a couple of changes on the light blue alignment they were able to take the lead with two unbelievable goals during the injury time; the first one at 90 + 2 by Edin Dzeko and the second was settled in less than two minutes by Sergio Aguero.

In the end it didn't matter to the Rangers that much that they were defeated because Bolton was tied by Stoke City at 77 ', when Adam Bogdan unfairly challenged Peter Crouch and through the penalty shot Jonathan Walters settled the 2-2. Resulting from that draw, which by the way was the only one from the 38th round, the Trotters have joined the Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton, to complete the relegated trio. Meanwhile, since Chelsea has qualified to the UEFA Champions League final and therefore has earned a ticket to the next season also, Tottenham has lost the chance to participate in the 2012-13 Champions, even though it finished in 4th place. This is because UEFA only allows four clubs from the Premier League in the Champions; even so the Spurs will go to the 2012-13 UEFA Europa League.

Regarding to the annual tributes from the Barclays Premier League, two of the new champions, a Gunner and the Magpies coach were honored. First, the award for 'Barclays Player of the Season' was presented to Vincent Kompany and for his 17 blank sheets Joe Hart received the Barclays Golden Glove. But the biggest award winner was the top scorer of the season (30 goals), Robin Van Persie, the Dutchman not only received the Barclays Golden Boot, but also the awards for PFA Players' Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year for his performance along Arsenal.

All the results from Round 38: Chelsea 2-1 Blackburn; Everton 3-1 Newcastle; Manchester City 3-2 QPR; Norwich 2-0 Aston Villa; Stoke City 2-2 Bolton; Sunderland 0-1 Manchester United; Swansea 1-0 Liverpool; Tottenham 2-0 Fulham; West Brom 2-3 Arsenal; Wigan 3-2 Wolves.

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A History of the Chelsea Flower Show

The origins of the Chelsea Flower Show is as rich and varied as the abundance of stunning horticulture on display in it's gardens. Before it became the world's number one venue for lovers of flowers and garden architecture, the exhibition was the centerpiece of The Royal Horticultural Society Great Spring Show. This was first held in the Spring of 1862, and the original site was located at Kensington. This was a popular event in the calender and as a result, ran for some twenty-six years until 1888.

The decision was then made to relocate the annual Great Spring Show to a more central location in the city, so as to entice even more visitors. The selected venue was the Temple Gardens, near the Enbankment and this was an instant hit with more exhibits being displayed than ever before. Not only was it capturing the imagination of the public, but also suppliers of plants, flowers and seed were drawn to it as a means of gaining further business.

The Great Spring Show ran until 1912, when a one-off Royal International Horticultural Exhibition was launched and a larger, more suitable site was needed. It was down to the eminent horticulturist, Sir Harry Veitch to locate the new venue. Eventually, and to some surprise, he chose the eleven acres of Chelsea Royal Hospital grounds to host the Exhibition. Such was the success of this elaborate event, that all concerned believed it to be the perfect venue for the Great Spring Show. And so, in the Spring of 1913, the Show was relocated again to the Chelsea site, which is where it has remained to this day.

It has been an incredibly hardy exhibition, with only the two World Wars having interrupted it's annual celebration of all things horticultural. The success of the Chelsea Flower Show has grown exponentially through the years and is now well known as being the top attraction in the horticulture calendar. It welcomes visitors from around the world to walk through the myriad of beautiful exhibits on display. It is a location very much close to the Royal Family's heart, and several of the family pay visits to a special preview of the exhibition.

The gardens themselves breathe fresh life and inspire new generations of gardeners and followers of horticulture, often creating new fashions and trends as each year passes and this will no doubt continue on into the future.

The Chelsea Flower Show has survived through all weathers, wars and riots to promote it's stunning attractions year on year and is surely the benchmark for all other horticulture shows. It's long history is indelibly woven into the fabric of what makes it such a successful and popular event.

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Does Soccer Superleague Hold The Key To One Europe?

If there is one common thread interwoven throughout all European cultures, it must be soccer, right? Perhaps in popular theory. But the conventional wisdom now hangs in the balance as the quest for the almighty buck – that is, the supreme euro – has eroded the very fabric of soccer (no offense to Pete Rozelle, but let's call it what it really is: football). As "European integration" becomes a buzz word for the 21st century, football will likely play an integral role in either facilitating or decelerating this cultural, political and economic merger of countries.

Football club owners have offered to help the cause by composing a framework for the future European SuperLeague, which would consist of the region's most elite franchises. Europe has already made a transformation in showcasing athleticism, whether its unbridled fans are willing, as investors assemble to protect their shares in perhaps the most anticipated "cash cow" in sports entertainment.

However, even top football officials have their doubts. FIFA president Sepp Blatter, arguably the most powerful man in football worldwide, has stated his strong opposition to a breakaway superleague.

Regardless, sports business experts insist that any successful venture in football integration would require the solidarity of ownership policies and fan participation. True, the former condition is already growing at an explosive pace. Corporate investors have estimated the economic feasibility of supporting ESL franchises in various cities across Europe. Plans have already been proposed to compete with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in forming the most marketable superleague. Media Partners International, a Milan-based consulting firm, has garnered over $ 1.2 billion investments from JP Morgan to sustain the ESL for the first three years. Judging from the success of professional sports in the United States, there is no telling of this league's untapped potential.

If any doubts of European football's growth still remain, then consider the burgeoning of players' salaries. Inter Milan recently acquired Italian striker Christian Vieri for an estimated $ 43 million, dwarfing the annual payroll of most professional franchises. And the issue of whether Vieri deserved more or less than, say, Michael Jordan (excluding approv) is irrelevant. For now, football club owners can afford these superstars because consumers are compliant to rising ticket prices.

However, ESL owners must not discount the relationship between European fans and their revered teams. Football, for countless decades in each country, has supplied a measurement of national identity. As Europeans, during the integration process, ponder the potential void of national traditions, football remains their sole source of patriotic autonomy.

If the ESL passes, then UEFA would be subject to drop one of its Cup competitions, likely the Cup Winners Cup. More importantly, UEFA stands to sacrifice two underlying principles which have sustained the organization's existence – a commitment to divide Cup proceeds in an equitable manner for all clubs, and to televise all games free of charge to European subscribers.

The ESL would consist of Europe's top 32 (mostly large market) teams competing in a comprehensive tournament to determine the European football champion. If the league is supervised by UEFA, it will comprise of little commercial influence – in which case, some officials suggest that a league without proper promotion or relegation will lose people's interest in less than three years. But the traditionalists insist that UEFA's policies, although diplomatic in nature, serve to protect the institution of football from an onslaught of manipulation by massive corporations.

Even if the ESL and its large market teams are successful in growing the sport of football to unprecedented financial and social levels, there will undoubtedly be significant ramifications to the remaining franchises. Once again, the argument of revenue disparity between small and large market teams will assume center stage. Instead of George Steinbrenner clashing with Bud Selig, it will be two others bickering – without regard to the fans, any sport's key ingredient.

The decision of what ownership structure to emulate remains undetermined. The real challenge, at this point, is securing the support of the regional community. It is clear that the combined prowess of European cultures, not the individual national interests, will ultimately ensure the success of supranational football. Owners cannot and will not force an unnatural medium of sports entertainment to their consumers. Most business leaders in the European Union have recognized that integration comes at a cost – a lesson that football club owners are about to discover.

Despite the European Commission's diplomatic efforts to balance competition with equal protection, the fussbudgets will continue to question the motives of not only owners but also everyone else involved.

The fruition of ESL may or may not advance European integration, but the fight to protect one of Europe's most treasured assets – football – will surely accomplish the task.

[Originally Printed: Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal, 7/24/99]

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Scenario of Indian Sports Arena

Sports are essential part of a healthy daily routine. Sports do not only exercise the body muscles, but also deliver freshness and keep active. India has a great sporting history as there are many sports like Kabaddi, Wrestling, and Swimming etc., which are the important elements of Indian culture. Basically sports are of two types – indoor and outdoor. Indoor sports include the games like Billiards, Chess, etc whether the outdoor games have Cricket, Football, and Wrestling etc. In ancient time the people of India had many interesting sports for their entertainment and refreshment, especially outdoor sports. In fact, some sports have their origin in the roots of Indian culture like Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, and boat racing etc.

In present Indian sports scenario, Cricket is the most prominent sport in which India has an excellent track record. Football is another popular game in some parts of India, but Cricket has more popularity among the Indians. There are some world level sporting events in India, but most of them are devoted to Cricket. Also there are events for other games like Hockey Premier League. India has hosted many international sporting events as Hockey World Cup, Asian Games, and Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship in the past.

Apart from Cricket, Indians have delivered some excellent knocks in International sports. Indians have won many medals in Commonwealth and Asian games. In fact, Indians are the world champions in the games like Chess, Billiards etc. They were also the world Hockey champions for many times in the past. In tennis and shuttling there are some brilliant talents in India. Currently Delhi is going to host its first Commonwealth games in 2010. Indian Premier League is a well known sporting event in India, which is among the most successful domestic events in international level.

Many sporting authorities are working towards the wellness of the sports in India. Sporting bodies get aids from the government of India for developing the infrastructure and nurturing the growing talent. India has some world level stadiums like Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Major Dhyanchand stadiums etc. which have standard facilities world sports persons. These bodies are supposed to arrange the basic requirements for their concerned sports. Some legendary sports persons from India made a great impact on world stage. Major Dyanchand from hockey, Sachin Tendulkar from cricket, Pulela Gopichand from shuttling, Abhinav Bindra from shooting, Geet Sethi and Pankaj Advani from Billiards, V Anand from chess are among some of the sports persons who left a grand impact in international sports arena.

As India has some world level athletes and sports persons, they are very few as compared to other countries and population of India. Sporting authorities should concentrate on developing new talent from the roots. More sporting events should be organized to promote the sports in low levels. Sports persons have to move towards big cities for better facilities, since in there is the lack of basic requirements in towns. Still Indians have to prove their capabilities in Olympics, the greatest sporting event in international scenario. Indians have won very few personal medals in Olympics. Lack of basic requirements, fundamental facilities and promotional sporting events in root level are the main reasons behind the failure of Indian athletes in the big events like Olympics.

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