Learn More About NYC Tee Times

Anyone who is familiar with the history of the Big Apple knows that it was a seaport and commerce center long before it was anything else. The geography of NYC has also played a large part in how the city developed. In short, unlike Los Angeles – which didn't even exist when New York was a bustling business center and port of entry – anything that came along later had to adapt itself to what was already there.

Case in point – nyc golf courses. Unlike Los Angeles, which has 144 of them, there are only 19 nyc golf courses located within the five boroughs – and 18 of them are owned and operated by the City, meaning that they are owned by the public.

This is actually a good thing, because it means consistent greens fees throughout the city, which are significantly lower than those charged at the private country clubs outside the metro area. The fees for tee times at 17 of the nyc golf courses are established by the NYC Parks Foundation, and are all the same.

The one exception is Moshulu Driving Range in the Bronx, which has slightly different fee structures – which are still quite low for NYC residents with an annual permit (only $ 6 per year for adults). This is a nine-hole regulation course, par 35, with 3,253 yards. Weekend greens fees are only two dollars more on the weekend, and include the use of a golf cart if available.

The one remaining private driving range within the city is Chelsea Piers. These are located on actual piers in Manhattan and are unusual in that they offer "Simulator Sessions" – a form of technology that was science fiction only a quarter century ago. Those who have seen the science fiction movie Outland that starred Sean Connery may remember Peter Boyle playing virtual golf on a similar device, that at the time was a Hollywood illusion. That technology is now real and available at Chelsea Piers, one of the most technologically advanced nyc golf courses.

En la tienda online de Camisetas de fútbol tenemos todas las camisetas de tus equipos y selecciones favoritas en tallas para adulto y niño. by Jonathon Blocker

4 Reasons to Make and Use the Versatile Oland Tool

Woodworking tool suppliers have risen to the challenge of the woodturner’s desire for more and better tools. Most woodturners are self taught with the result that beginners are not sure what tools to use and can become convinced that a new tool will greatly increase their woodturning ability. Quickly they realize that a great deal of money can be spent on tools and in fact many turners own tools with a value greater than that of their wood lathe itself. The Oland tool is a change from this position with its value and versatility.

There are 4 things to consider when thinking of adding this tool to your woodturning tool arsenal.

1. Typically the Oland tool is made in the home shop. This a member of the family of tools known an inserted tip tool. Quite simply, these are designed to be easy to make and maintain in the home shop. A shaft is drilled and tapped to hold a high speed steel cutting tip, the shaft is inserted into a handle turned by the woodturner, and the tip is placed in the shaft. Once sharpened it is ready to go for a fraction of the cost of most commercial tools.

2. Tools wear out with use and especially with sharpening. Every time a tool is used, a bit of steel is ground away. Woodturners tend to sharpen much more often than most other woodworkers and use grinders instead of honing stones. Grinders remove more steel than do stones and the tools wear away faster than regular chisels. The Oland tool uses a cutting tip that lasts well and is easily replaced for one or two dollars. Plus it is not necessary to get used to a tool that steadily becomes shorter and then learn to use a newly purchased tool of regular length. It is no great chore, but can be a bit off putting for some.

3. Woodturners use gouges for spindles and bowls. These gouges are of different shape, sharpening style, and generally length. In particular, beginners usually start off with spindles and spindle gouges almost always part of beginner woodturning sets of tools. Soon the beginner wants to try faceplate turning and usually bowls. The spindle gouges are not suited for bowls and bowl gouges often cost more than the whole beginner set. Oland tools may be used for either spindles or faceplate work and are ideally suited for bowl turning and at a cost of less than most single gouges let alone a set.

4. Tips for the Oland tool are easily replaced and may be ground in an infinite variety of shapes and angles. The most familiar is a side view of forty-five degrees and a top view of the tip slightly rounded. However it is simple to have tips with sharper angles for speciality cuts, the edges brought back for cuts similar to an Irish grind on a bowl gouge or less angle for scraping the inside of a hollow form. Individual, inexpensive cutting tips with various grinds are easily kept and quickly exchanged in a few seconds.

The Oland tool is a great addition to the woodturner’s tool arsenal. It is easy to make and simple to maintain as well as being a versatile cutting tool for both spindles and bowls. Woodturners can use it to make a great craft even more enjoyable.

Las Camisetas de fútbol de adidas se encuentran entre las preferidas de muchos equipos. Descubre por qué visitando nuestra colección en la web. by Darrell Feltmate

Forts of Malabar – St. Angelo’s Fort Or Kannur Kotta

MALABAR, AN INTRODUCTION:

Malabar lies along the southwest coast of the Indian peninsula and falls within the state of Kerala and. It lies between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. Its name is believed to an amalgamated derivation between the Malayalam word Mala meaning Hill and the Persian (or Arabic) words Barr (Kingdom/port/continent). The name Malabar also has connotations to mean the hill country, a name well suited to its physical characteristics. Malabar is also used by ecologists to refer to the tropical moist forests of southwestern India. It is one of the oldest inhabited areas of Asia and the ancestors of today’s population have inhabited the region for centuries. This region formed part of the ancient kingdom of the Cheras for centuries. It was absorbed as a part of the Great Hindu Empire, The Vijayanagara or the city of Victory in the 15th Century. The capital of the empire was located at Hampi. Under the combined onslaught of its rival Muslim armies, Vijayanagara fell after the battle of Talikota in 1565. The destruction of the kingdom resulted in the emergence of local, yet powerful rulers. Considering its historical importance and prosperous spice trade, the region was coveted by the local rulers as well as the colonialists. Earlier dominated by the Portuguese followed by the Dutch and subsequently the English, this was a region to die for! The region finally came under British rule in the 18th century, during and after the Anglo-Mysore Wars.

Today’s Malabar region predominantly comprises of the districts of Kannur, Kozhikode, Kasaragode, Wayanad etc. In keeping with its military past, the region comprises of many forts. There are mainly five standing forts in and around the Region-the St. Angelo’s Fort, Thalassery Fort, the Bekal Fort, Chandragiri Fort and the Hosdurg Fort. This article is the first of the series and will explore the St. Angelo’s Fort or the Kannur Kotta (Kotta in Malayalam means Fort).

St. Angelo’s Fort (also known as Kannur Fort or Kannur Kota), is a fort facing the Arabian Sea, situated 3 km from the town of Kannur. Kannur located in the green & beautiful state of Kerala in India. It has always been a political nerve centre. This characteristic of the place is maintained even today-it is still the hotbed of local politics. Considering its association with the lucrative spice trade, it was also the playground of colonialists like the Portuguese, Dutch & English. As is well known, architecture can convey many perceptions including that of strength. The forts were predominantly meant to store spices and other items for trade, offer safety to colonial officers and also at times a prison for political detainees. The forts primarily conveyed to the local populace a sense of its occupant’s invincibility. Their importance is such that they are imprinted in the psyche of the inhabitants.

History

St. Angelo’s Fort was built in 1505 by Dom Francisco de Almeida, the first Portuguese Viceroy of India and is on the Arabian Sea about 3 km west from Kannur town in Northern Kerala. It is a massive triangular laterite fort and characterized by flanking bastions and has a moat to protect it from aggressions. It has a sea wall projecting from the fort separating the rough sea and inland water. From the fort one can have a breathtaking and fascinating view of the Dharmadom Island and a natural fishing bay called the Mappila Bay Harbour. The Dharmadom Island is a small one occupying 5 acres in total area and is situated about 100 meters from the mainland in the Arabian Sea and the Mappila Bay is a natural fishing bay that is being turned into a modern fishing harbour. The only Muslim Dynasty of Kerala-The Arakkal family ruled from nearby location. As a reminder of its past, the Arakkal Mosque and its erstwhile palace are located nearby.

A seashore fort, it appears to be etched against the blue skylines and is a beautiful sight especially in the early mornings and sunset. Needless to say it’s a photographer’s delight. Its Imposing walls have remained an Icon of Portuguese power on the Malabar Coast. Surprisingly, despite the typical Indian disdain for history and its remnants, this fort has been well maintained. One of the dominant characteristics of this fort is its large field guns pointing out menacingly from the bastions. This fort symbolizes dominance and power. It is one of the most frequented politico-commercial structures.

Adding to its mysterious aura is its chequered history. It changed hands many times over. On August 1509 Almeida refused to accept the appointment of Afonso de Albuquerque’s as the new Portuguese governor. Desperate to continue as the boss of what he considered «the gains of his hard work»; he went to war with Albuquerque in what is today known as the naval Battle of Diu. After defeating his fleet Almeida arrested Albuquerque and imprisoned him in this fortress. He obtained his freedom only after three months of confinement, after the arrival of a larger fleet from Portugal in October 1509. After the mutiny was suppressed, Albuquerque went on to be the governor.

In 1663, the fort was captured by the Dutch from the Portuguese. They sold it to Ali Raja (Belonging to the Arakkal Dynasty) of Kannur. After the ascend of the British in Kerala, they aspired to control the fort that had by this time become the locus of power in the Malabar Coast. In 1790, the British seized control of the fort. Understanding its strategic importance as well as its place in the minds of the local populace, they renovated & strengthened it and transformed it as their most important military station in Malabar. According to lore, the British connected the St. Angelo’s fort to the Thalassery Fort through a secret underground tunnel. There could be some truth in it. Thalassery fort was the first place from where the British started their «trade». Thalassery fort is also located at a distance from the St. Angelo’s fort and such a tunnel would have come in handy in case of an attack at either of these locations. As a reminder of its glorious past, the barracks, the magazine, and its cannons are still intact in the fort. A painting of this fort and the fishing harbour behind it can be seen in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

After India’s independence from the British in 1947, Kannur continued to be considered strategically important. The fort continued to be a symbol of military power and falls within the Kannur cantonment where the Indian Military has a significant presence. The spirits of the past still echoes within the walls of this fort and continues to enthrall its visitors. One of them is a policeman called Sathyan Edakkad. He has spent most of his life in and around the fort and is a walking encyclopedia for the fort and its legends. He went on to write and publish a book in Malayalam language «Vasco da Gamayum, Charitrathile Kaanapurangalum» (loosely translated as Vasco da Gama and the unseen pages of history). Visit it to believe it. But before you go, read a bit about Kannur’s turbulent history. Only then would one be able to understand its importance.

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Why On Earth Should I Moan – Still Nothing To Complain About in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

YEAH YEAH YEAH to coin a phrase – I know, I know, another appraisal of The Beatles film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

Nearly fifty four years old and the subject of countless critiques does the world really need one more? Well after watching it on television for the umpteenth time over Christmas I decided another set of observations could do no harm – after all what is wrong in celebrating eighty seven minutes of such joy one more time?

Having watched ‘A Hard Day’s Night,’ at least once every eighteen months for the roughly the past forty years I thought there was nothing new for me to see but like the brilliant rock album and great film (which it most certainly is) there is often something new to discover. Much of the back story I discovered in the two-set DVD edition that I received as a birthday present about five years ago and while ‘the making of,’ documentary of is both fascinating and informative it also served to shatter one of my lasting illusions of the film. Down the years when walking along the platform of Liverpool Lime Street station I always conjured the image of the Fab Four being chased down the same walkway in the opening scene, only to discover it was not shot there but at Marylebone Station and the train journey they take in the first twenty minutes of the film is not from Liverpool to London, but back and forth from Marylebone to Minehead – leaving me with mixed feelings whether it was information I really needed to be aware of.

But no matter how many times I see it (and on this latest viewing I did spot a couple of errors in continuity that had never come to my attention before) I am always enthralled by the sheer exuberance of how The Beatles perform as actors. To clarify ‘A Hard Day’s Night,’ completely breaks with the tradition laid down in the films made by the likes of Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard up to that point, as rather than play singing characters The Beatles are themselves which gives ‘A Hard Day’s Night,’ its documentary feel and in a story that sees them travelling to London for a television appearance also provides an insight into the lives they were living at the time. The film, cleverly directed by Richard Lester, depicts each member with a distinctly individual personality that from this point onward they would retain until virtually the day they split up – John (rebel), Paul (romantic), George (thinker), Ringo (jester) – but in 1964, before a dark side to ‘Beatlemania’ had developed, their camaraderie is joyful and a far, far cry from the tetchy, squabbling individuals they became when breaking up in front of cameras for ‘Let It Be,’ just five years later.

In early 1964, however, the hand of manager Brian Epstein is still on the tiller, evident in their clean shaven, collar and tie appearance – with hard drugs, political pronouncements and mysticism still someway off. The music too has yet to undergo the transformation that happened once Bob Dylan and psychedelics replaced Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran as the principal song writing influences of Lennon and McCartney – nevertheless the soundtrack of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ is still a marvel. ‘If I Fell,’ ‘Tell Me Why,’ and ‘And I Love Her,’ all have gorgeous melodies and straightaway as songwriters they are way ahead of the field, while in the latter song the stunning classical guitar arrangement shows The Beatles were quite capable of eclecticism in their own right.

One oddity of the film given it is their movie, is the name of the group is never mentioned – ‘The Beatles’ appears on Ringo’s drum kit and on the helicopter in the closing scene – but everywhere else the superb script, written by playwright Alun Owen, contains comical references to their fame and throws in several in-jokes for good measure, the most obvious being frequent remarks made to Paul’s grandfather, who is travelling with them, about him being ‘a clean old man.’ Played by Wilfrid Brambell, this is a reference to the character Brambell was currently making famous in the television comedy ‘Steptoe and Son’ where he is often labelled ‘a dirty old man.’ After spending time with The Beatles, Owen manages to give his script strong authenticity, picking up on expressions the group were using such as ‘grotty’ and ‘mocker’ that had never been used before. What did come as a surprise when recently watching the film was a scene on a backstage staircase where there road manager (played by Norman Rossington) says to John Lennon as a chorus line passes: ‘put those girls down Lennon or I’ll tell your Mother.’

It seems a strangely insensitive line particularly as Lennon had lost his Mother in a tragic car accident six years before and in view of the tortured songs he wrote about her (‘Mother’, My Mummy’s Dead,’) most notably on his breath taking solo album ‘Plastic Ono Band’ in 1970.

But let us not leave ‘A Hard Day’s Night,’ on a sombre note – it is much too upbeat and infectious for that.

If you have seen the film then see it again and dare yourself not to smile. If somehow you have never seen it what a treat awaits – a wonderful opportunity to witness many of the reasons people remain enthralled by The Beatles to this day.

Camisetas de fútbol , NBA y NFL baratas de la mejor calidad y de los mejores equipos y selecciones del mundo de Hombre,Mujer y Niños. by Neil Sambrook

Ian Callaghan – Liverpool FC Legend

Ian Callaghan was born in Liverpool in 1942, he supported Liverpool as a child and went on to play for Liverpool. During his eighteen years at the club, Ian Callaghan made a record 857 appearances for Liverpool, a record that still stands today and is unlikely ever to be broken.

Callaghan signed for Liverpool as an apprentice and made his first team debut during the 1960 season, when Liverpool were playing in the second division, he began to play regularly in the first team from 1961 season onwards. The 1962 season saw Liverpool win the second division championship and gain promotion back to the first division.

Nick-named 'Cally' Ian Callaghan became the backbone of the Liverpool team which embarked on a journey from second division mediocrity, to English and European football supremacy.

The 1963-64 season saw Liverpool win the first division league title and again in 1965-66, winning the FA Cup against Leeds United in 1965.

Ian Callaghan was known as a true gentleman, and he was only booked once during all his appearances for Liverpool. Initially employed as a 'winger' Callaghan was renowned for his pace, stamina and accurate passing, from which he created many goals for strike partnership Ian St John and Roger Hunt.

Later in his career Callaghan assumed a midfield role, after a career threatening injury during the 1970-71 season, from which he fought his way back into the team, and many say he played better in that role than he had done before.

Many believe that the 1973-74 was Callaghan's best at Liverpool, when he again helped them to win the FA Cup and he was awarded the football player of year award, and subsequently awarded an MBE for his services to football.

Callaghan's career at Liverpool was still far from over, at the age of 34 he helped Liverpool win the league title and UEFA Cup in 1976, and the following season win the league, and the European Cup for the first time in Liverpool's history.

Ian Callaghan was to play one more season for Liverpool, and the 1978 season saw Liverpool retain the European Cup. In the Autumn of 1978 Ian Callaghan finally left Liverpool, when he joined Swansea City, after an incredible 857 appearances and 69 goals. A true Liverpool legend.

Compra online la Camisetas de fútbol! En JD encontrarás las del FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, la selección de España y equipos internacionales. by Steve Goodwin

UEFA Champions League Group Stage

Summer is over. That only means one thing: the Champions League is back. This year’s joint favourites, Barcelona and Chelsea, have fast become bitter rivals in this competition. That rivalry is certain to intensify since they were drawn into the same group at this early stage of the tournament. The format is as follows: 32 teams contest the group stage, divided into eight groups of four. The group winners and runners-up advance to the knockout stages, the eight third-placed teams move into the UEFA Cup third round, and the eight fourth-placed teams are eliminated. Here is an overview of all the groups with predictions on who we expect to win each group.

Group A: Barcelona (-118), Chelsea (+125), Werder Bremen (15/1), Levski Sofia (250/1)

Maybe the Chelsea-Barcelona rivalry won’t be quite as intense at this early stage. Both teams will advance from this group and there is a good chance they will meet again at a later stage of this competition. Chelsea look noticeably shakier this year. Their previously impenetrable defence looks slightly more lax. That will bode ill for the Blues. But unlike the past few years, with two Premiership titles under their belt, this season Jose Mourinho’s explicit goal is to win the Champions League. Still, we have to side with Barcelona here. They are goal scoring machines and should demolish Bremen and Levski, and they are more than capable of scoring against Chelsea. At close to even money, they are worth backing to win this group.

Group B: Bayern Munich (+125), Inter Milan (+163), Sporting Lisbon (6/1), Spartak Moscow (40/1)

Inter is a big price here and are worth backing. They have added strength, quality and depth to their squad and after the Calciopoli scandal were belated awarded last year’s Scudetto in Serie A. Sporting Lisbon are no pushovers, but Inter can and should get past them. There is one slight worry though. Bayern Munich is the sort of team that can run up the score against weak opponents like Spartak Moscow. If Bayern and Inter are level on points, Bayern could well win this group on goal difference.

Group C: Liverpool (-161), PSV Eindhoven (+450), Bordeaux (5/1), Galatasaray (10/1)

Although they are odds-on, it’s hard to look past Liverpool in this group. They are a well-organized side and lifted the CL trophy two years ago. Manger Rafa Benitez is experienced at European competition and should navigate his team through this group with ease. PSV are a shadow of the team they were last season. There is a good chance they won’t finish in the top two of the Dutch league, let alone replicate their above average Champions League form of recent years. Bordeaux and Galatasaray are second-rate clubs in this competition.

Group D: Valencia (-125), Roma (+150), Shakhtar Donetsk (20/1), Olympiakos (29/1)

It’s hard to understand why Roma are underdogs in this group. They are favoured to win this year’s diluted Italian league. Their squad is a lot stronger this season both on paper and judging by their Serie A results so far. But the Romans face tough Spanish competition in this group. Valencia have a disciplined and experienced Champions League side. They are deadly on the counterattack and stifle the offence of their opponents. This looks like a coin flip between Roma and Valencia, so we’ll take the Italians at odds-against. Keep and eye on Olympiakos. They won’t win this group, but, like many Greek teams, they can be dangerous in their home games.

Group E: Lyon (-125), Real Madrid (+163), Steaua Bucharest (10/1), Dynamo Kiev (50/1)

The collapse of Juventus has benefited no team more than Real Madrid. The Spanish giants picked up a handful more Galacticos and one of the world’s top managers, Fabio Capello. They are serious contenders for both the La Liga and Champions League titles this year. But they will have to get past their nemesis in this tournament: Lyon. The French side are perennially underestimated by the bookmakers despite excelling in European competition. We’ll happily back them again to win this group and possibly the whole thing.

Group F: Manchester United (-275), Benfica (+650), Celtic (13/1), FC Copenhagen (50/1)

Man Utd couldn’t have asked for a more favourable draw. But luck is what they’ll need to get any further than this stage. At this short price, it’s not worth betting on the Red Devils to win the group. Copenhagen are a dangerous team, having knocked Ajax out of this competition. They are a huge price to win the group and are worth a small punt. Benfica are solid as ever in Portugal and experienced in the Champions League. They should claim second spot.

Group G: Arsenal (-161), Hamburg (9/1), Porto (9/1), CSKA Moscow (10/1)

Arsenal were the surprise team of the Champions League last year, going all the way to the final and defying expectations with each match. This year, they seem to be overestimated. The Gunners have not yet settled into their new Emirates Stadium. The squad look noticeably uncomfortable and will take more time to jell. In light of the above, it’s worth looking at the others. CSKA are a huge price at 10/1 and the 2005 UEFA Cup champions must be backed to win this group. Russia is an intimidating place for visiting teams and the Muscovites are more than capable of claiming results from their travels.

Group H: AC Milan (-333), Lille (6/1), AEK Athens (25/1), Anderlecht (33/1)

Milan should cruise through this group with relative ease. They are capable of dismantling virtually any team in the world and opponents like Lille, AEK and Anderlecht are hardly dangerous challengers. Lille are solid in France and might hold Milan to a draw in their home leg. As usual, Greek side AEK will be tough at home too, but they are hopeless on their travels. Anderlecht don’t deserve to be in this competition. Even at this short price, take Milan.

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No Win No Fee Manchester

Manchester is the capital of the county of Lancashire and is the largest city in the North West England. It is located 200 miles northwest of London and 30 miles from Liverpool. It has three premier league football teams, Manchester United and Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers. One of its major sports stadiums the Old Trafford is home to Manchester United which is the most famous football club in the world. The other major sports stadium is home to Lancashire County Cricket Club. The 2002 Commonwealth Games, were hosted in Manchester which boosted tourism and visitors

Greater Manchester boasts over 50 museums and galleries and has the largest concentration of theatres in the UK outside London. It contains the UK’s largest university which has over 30,000 students. The attraction to Manchester for students began in the 80’s when many bands from Manchester were making headlines. Bands such as The Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, The Smiths and Oasis all made their mark on Manchester around this time and this gave Manchester University the highest population of Students in the UK.

Business is also thriving in Manchester. Slater Heelis Collier Littler Solicitors «SHCL» based in Sale, Urmston and Heaton Moor, South Manchester are a professional group of solicitors dealing in all aspects of legal matters. Personal Injury compensation claims are on the increase and SHCL now offer free impartial advice to anyone who has been involved in an accident.

If you have been out and about in Manchester and had an accident that was not your fault you could be entitled to some damages. Every person that has an accident and suffered as a result has the legal and civil right to sue for compensation. If you would be interested in some advice on claiming Personal Injury Compensation damages then Accident Consult is here to help you. Accident Consult is made up of highly skilled solicitors and lawyers with an excellent success rate. We can guarantee that you keep 100% of the compensation awarded without any hidden costs. Accident Consult is backed by a qualified team of solicitors. Are main aim is to offer the very best advice to people who have suffered or been injured in an accident and are wishing to seek advice on claiming compensation. We have experience in dealing with all types of compensation claims and have a very high success rate.

ENVÍO y DEVOLUCIÓN GRATIS – Gran colección de Camisetas de fútbol oficiales – Descubre camisetas de equipos y selecciones europeas en camisetasfutboles.es. by Carolyn Clayton

Which World Football League Is The Best Of The Best

Serie A, La Liga and the Premiership all voice strong claims to be the finest football league in the world today. However, which of these has the most genuine claim. The recognition of being the best is an honor that dictates not just bragging rights, but also the ability to draw the finest players and sponsorship contracts to secure the mantle yet further. There are countless factors to consider; the players the leagues have now, the trophies won by their clubs, the quality of football played and the stature of their various sides. Does that tactical catenaccio of the Italians outweigh the physical pressure of the Premiership? Would the top-heavy flair of La Liga continually overcome the strength of an English midfield? How do the Mediterranean cousins compare?

In comparing these various brands of ‘the beautiful game’ we must consider the many factors that make them great individually. The history, the present and the future are all crucial in contrasting these various brands of and eventually building a perception of whether one does stand above the others.

Players

The first and often the most favored way of fans comparing championships, who has the best players? The natural assumption following this is that Spain hold the upper hand in this argument; especially given that both World (Ronaldinho) and European (Fabio Cannavaro) Players of Year play in La Liga. Also Spain can boast many other great talents; Madrid have van Nistelrooy, Raul, Robinho and Beckham, Barca can boast Ronaldinho, Deco, Messi, Eto’o and Zambrotta. Other clubs have similarly immense performers, David Villa and Joaquin Sanchez at Valencia, Riquelme at Villarreal to name but a few.

Italy can boast a similarly impressive list of galacticos, however, possibly due to the more pedestrian nature of Serie A the players have a tendency to be of a slightly more advanced age. Internazionale (or Inter) boast the most impressive roster; Crespo, Ibrahimovic, Veron, Stankovic, Figo and Samuel all ply there trade for the Nerazzurri. Their city rivals Milan also have a cornucopia of stars; despite losing their talisman Andriy Shevchenko to Chelsea in the summer, they have one world beater in Riccy Kaka’. Also players as renowned as Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta and Alberto Gilardino front a cast that contains talent enough to challenge for any trophy. Also worth mentioning is that the Milan rear-guard still contains the legendary Paulo Maldini as captain. With the shadow of Calciopoli hanging over the Italian top flight, what should be mentioned is the exodus from Serie A that occurred over the summer saw many of their finest individuals leave the division.

Zambrotta and Thuram left Juventus for Barcelona, likewise Fabio Cannavaro and Emerson joined their Bianconieri coach Fabio Capello in Madrid, and former Serie A favourites like Alessandro del Piero, Gigi Buffon, Pavel Nedved and David Trezeguet have all decided to stay loyal to the old lady and ply their trade in Serie B for a season. As mentioned, Shevchenko also left the Rossoneri for Chelsea.

Whilst discussing Chelsea we must clearly outline that they are the major player in European football today. The premise that currently exists in football is that, when it comes to the transfer market, the Premiership champions are the team that all others must follow. Due to the seemingly unlimited funds stumped up by their Russian oligarch owner, Roman Abramovich, Chelsea have amassed a team of stars to match any other club in the world. With Terry and Lampard already present prior to the Russian benefactor’s input, players like Arjen Robben, Didier Drogba, Joe Cole and, as discussed, Shevchenko. The Premiership can also boast some of the world’s finest players in Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas at Arsenal; Rooney, Rio and Ronaldo at Manchester United and Liverpool’s talismanic skipper Steven Gerrard.

The important thing to outline when comparing the undoubtedly huge talents on show in these various leagues is that although we are examining them from the perspective of now, the future is also a vital factor. As we discussed Serie A does tend to boast more seasoned galacticos whereas the Premiership can argue that, in Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Cesc Fabregas, they have some of the most promising talent. Spanish football could also argue that their spread is encompasses youth, with youngsters such as Sergio Aguero and Fernando ‘el Nino’ Torres at Atletico, Lionel Messi at Barca and one name to watch in Matias Fernandez, a Chilean playmaker due to join Villarreal in January.

Marketing

Football in the Twenty First Century is far more than the game it was in previous decades. It is now a business, and one of the world’s biggest at that. Transfer prices are now such that it appears any ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’ is worth £15 million. Player’s wages have also experienced astronomical rises. This is to the extent that £3 million per year is not considered to be a completely outrageous wage for a top international player. With the costs to clubs continually rising, somebody is required to fulfill these extravagant fiscal demands.

Sponsorship, television rights and marketing revenue are now utilized by top clubs that are now selling a ‘brand’ rather than a sport. From product association to shirts emblazoned with trade names, the marketing aspect of major clubs and leagues is paramount to the strength therein.

Annually an accountancy firm called Deloitte release details of top European club’s financial incomes over the previous season. Essentially a ‘rich-list’ of sides, comparing their viability and market strength in today’s football world. The most recent edition of this list is from the 2005 season and the zenith of the list is almost totally dominated by our ‘big three leagues’.

The 2005 rankings dictate that the world’s market leader in football terms is now Real Madrid. The previous years had been dominated by the Manchester United marketing machine; however the Castilian club took the mantle from their English rivals. Much of this change in fortunes has been put down to the ‘David Beckham factor’.

Former England skipper David Beckham is as famous for his private life as he is for his football. Married to a ‘Spice-Girl’, the midfielder looks more like a pop star than a footballer, sporting numerous tattoos, continually outrageous hair styles and a multiplicity of product endorsement contracts. Described as being the ‘most photographed sportsman ever’, Beckham is worth his weight in Euros to his club side. The fact that Manchester United, who previously topped the rich-list, were dethroned by Beckham’s new club Real Madrid is regarded as proof of the man’s value from a marketing perspective. However, it is worth mentioning that Madrid’s on-field performances have declined while their finances improved, and a more recent list may also hint at Beckham’s own on-pitch decline as a force in world football.

The top ten teams in the list are, with the exception of Bavarian giants Bayern Munich, all from Spain, Italy or England. The majority is dominated by the Premiership as we see Manchester United (2nd), Chelsea (5th), Liverpool (8th) and Arsenal (10th), this is followed by three Serie A clubs in Milan (3rd), Juventus (4th) and Inter (9th) and Spain’s La Liga only has two top ten entries, despite Real topping the list being followed by rivals Barcelona in 6th. In viewing these figures, we must firstly emphasise that they are not as up to date as we would like, also should a more recent list be compiled we would surely see the effect of Calciopoli on the Italian sides.

Style

The extent to which a league entertains depends vastly upon how you like your football. The three brands all vary in their traits greatly and taste is a vital factor within this, after all, one man’s pineapple is another man’s poison. Main differences in these leagues are inherent of the style of football played in each respective country. Although on the surface this may seem obvious, but when we consider the extent to which domestic football has become incredibly multicultural, it is positive that these leagues maintain their own identity despite this.

The brand of football played in the leagues differs greatly. As mentioned earlier, the Italian game is one based around technique, control of possession and patience. The cattenaccio of today’s Italian game is not as negative as that of sides during the mid-twentieth century, wherein five defenders would be used to enforce a stringent man marking system with a ‘libero’ slotting in behind as a ball-playing sweeper. Unfortunately the system in its original state is now outdated, given that both the zonal marking system has almost uniformly become the status quo of the modern game and that sweepers are now very scarcely employed. However, the football played in Serie A today is one that echoes this system.

Calcio is often regarded by those in Northern Europe as being dull, but those closer to the Mediterranean as being a purists game that encapsulates a higher standard of football than any other. Football in Italy has been likened to a game of chess, with a more systematic approach than that of other countries. Defenders are often as gifted in possession as any other position, a trait not found elsewhere in football. The style football played uses lots of short passes designed to open pockets of space, rather than longer balls targeting taller forwards. The game requires a very high level of technical ability, with the art of controlling and passing paramount.

Detractors of the Italian game often point its lack of pace and time-consuming attacking play as its flaws. Goals are notoriously hard to come by, a fact further embellished by examining Luca Toni’s impressive thirty-one goal season last year, the first player to score over thirty goals in Serie A for forty eight years. As such many prefer the hustle and bustle of leagues like the Premiership.

The Premiership is a very fast and furious division; emphasis on strength, pace and drive. This is not withstanding the fact that a very high standard of football can be seen in England’s top flight, however by and large the game is dictated in a very physically demanding manner. English football was much maligned in the eighties and nineties for a predominance of ‘long ball’ football. The theory being that long, direct passes into forward areas would create chances for purposefully employed big, physical strikers. This style was often considered to not be graceful and was lambasted by critics. Despite the fact that the English league has developed since, similarly to the catenaccio roots of Serie A, this style still exists to some extent today; even league champions Chelsea have been criticised for employing such a style. Despite not being as higher level of technical level, the Premiership is often billed as being ‘the most exciting league in the world’ due to its non-stop action-packed intensity.

In contrast La Liga has a style of its own entirely. Borrowing much from a South American ethic of flair football, the Spanish league is famed for its fast, flowing attacking brand of play. Spain’s Primera Division has won many admirers over recent years, firstly thanks to the Zidane inspired galacticos of Madrid and more recently the exploits of Ronaldinho Gaucho for Barcelona. The emphasis in Spain, more than any other in Europe, is on attacking play. Formations are based around ball playing midfielders and skilful wingers. This does produce a very open brand of football; however this does often expose defensive frailties. With the occasional exception (Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol) Spanish defenders are not generally as strong as their counterparts in farther reaches of the game. This combined with the ability of attackers does make La Liga very enticing from a spectator point of view.

Not withstanding the stereotypes that we have examined, there are clear exceptions to every rule, and this instance no different. Despite being usually solid and defence-orientated, Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan have been praised for their attacking football in Serie A. Also, and potentially the finest example of this, there is Arsenal. Arsene Wenger’s men continually produce some of the most free flowing football in world football today. However, for obvious reasons, the North London outfit could be reasoned to be the exception to the rule as they have a side almost totally dominated by foreign players. To the extent that, since the departures of Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole, it is unlikely that an Englishman will, should the Gunners be at full strength, feature at all.

Competitiveness

What makes a league exciting is often based around not only the vastness of the occasion or the protagonists involved, but the closeness of the competitors. In all leagues, as with walks of life, there are historically bigger sides with larger financial acumen, but where there is no competition, there is no spectacle.

The Premiership has been dominated by the wealth of Chelsea over the past two seasons, not withstanding the fact that it takes more than just money to dominate a league (although it helps) and it is a credit to both players and coaching staff that they have taken the past two successive titles with consummate ease. This season, however is painting a different picture. The wily old Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is now producing the results that his talented array of stars are capable of, and at this point in time stand a commendable eight points clear of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.

Beyond the top two, we see something that has been apparent for some time in the Premiership. The gap between the top teams and the chasing pack could be justifiably described as chasm-like. Previously there was a top four that added Liverpool and Arsenal to the current table-topping rivals, but unfortunately for the neutral this gap has extended to these clubs as well. However, this does create what can be seen as almost a ‘second league’ in which clubs behind Manchester United and Chelsea vie for the remaining to places in Europe’s prestigious Champions League.

This chasing pack includes both Liverpool and Arsenal, followed in strength of squad by Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur but effectively any other side that can put together a good run of results can infiltrate the group, as was the case with last season’s surprise package of Wigan Athletic, who almost secured a UEFA Cup berth despite being touted as relegation favorites before the season began.

Spain can also look to the domination of one club over the past two seasons as being the main debating topic. Barcelona’s back-to-back titles have not, however, received anything like the treatment that Chelsea’s similar achievements have. Whilst the ‘boo-boys’ have been out in force ‘pooh-poohing’ the wealth, attitude and style (or lack thereof) the Premiership’s title holders, Barcelona’s success has been lauded as a ‘victory for style over adversity’. From many purists’ perspectives, the brand of flowing football that Barca exhibit is very pleasing on the eye and the fact that Los Cules are considered footballing royalty, rather than the nouveau riche of Mourinho’s men, could be a factor.

The Primera Liga at present still see’s the Catalonian giants on top, a mini-renaissance from their bitter rivals Real Madrid has been temporarily halted as the surprise package of Sevilla look to ‘upset the apple cart’. Traditional bridesmaids Valencia appear to have moved back to a position more akin to an usher as Atletico Madrid and Zaragoza enjoy good form. Unlike the Premiership, La Liga does not usually purvey the gulf between the top sides and their competitors. Such is the nature of Spanish football, that although unexpected, the top teams are more often beaten by their less illustrious competitors.

In the Italian top flight, again the competitiveness is affected by the match fixing scandal. From the season’s opening, it seemed that it would be a two horse race. In previous seasons this has been the case, with Juventus battling Milan for lo scudetto. However, with Milan docked points and Juventus having to cope with life in Serie B, it has left Roma and Inter to battle for the title. Inter, the perennial underachievers of calico, have amassed one of the world’s strongest squads and as such currently stand a clear distance ahead of their rivals. Nine consecutive wins for the nerazzurri (an Italian record) sees Mancini’s men looking down the barrel of their first actual title (they were handed the 2006 title by default of being the highest placed side guilty of no wrongdoing in the Calciopoli scandal) in over ten years.

In Conclusion

Upon first attempting to tackle this question, I can honestly state that I did not conceive quite what I was undertaking. All three leagues are packed with all things that make football the worlds biggest, and in my opinion best, sport. Rather than scrutinized with a cynical eye, we should really be embracing these bastions of passion, flair and ability, rejoicing in the pleasure that millions of fans get from these three small collections of twenty teams. However, I set out on a journey, a journey that took longer than anticipated, but a journey all the same to root out which I believed to be the best.

If that assessment leaves all of the leagues attributes equal then the next separates. Money and marketing are bigger in the Premier League than in any other non-American sport and the financial credence there eclipses anything that Spain or Italy can boast. However, the argument in this instance must remain, how important (bragging rights aside) is the money? Which leads us to question, is money not potentially the ultimate undoing of these leagues? Using Italy as a prime example, the great football broadcaster James Richardson cites this as the reason for Serie A’s downturn in fortunes; he believes that money that was spent around the turn of the century was effectively ‘promised’ funds for projected future television rights that sadly never materialized. However, in the Premiership, the money just keeps rolling in.

Finally we draw to the final issue of competitiveness and with Calciopoli forcing Serie A to dismount its jockey leaving a two horse race. In this issue I am setting my stall out early and backing the Premiership. With no disrespect to Real Madrid, but I cannot see Barcelona being usurped this season. From watching football for many years now, you learn to know when a resurgence is threatening, and Madrid’s is not that. Manchester United however is the English top flight, for the first time in a while, looks as though it will draw to a truly nail-biting conclusion.

Overall, as I have mentioned throughout, it is with regret that I concede that Italy, given all of their difficulties, cannot compete. This upsets me, as it was Serie A where I gained much of my development as a football supporter, spending years enjoying the delights of the Mediterranean game, watching exotically monikered players with equally glamorous abilities. It is true that the average Italian top flight footballer is of higher fundamental ability than his English counterpart, but the stigma of scandal is too apparent in the current Serie A climate for them to be considered. It is my hope that we see a renaissance in Italian football and that over the coming decade we see a nation rejuvenated and again rivaling their Spanish and English counterparts.

So it comes to the final two, and in truth it could not be tighter. However, it is the Premiership which I believe to be the best. It is by the width of a flee’s reproductive organs, but the Premiership has the lot. It has, in my opinion, the most exciting crop of young players, the most competitive title chase and the best supporters. It has the biggest worldwide audiences and is (marginally) the strongest nation in the worldwide transfer market. This is not to detract from La Liga, a league of endless attacking improvisation, flair and adventure, a league that has history, has impossibly gifted players, has Ronaldinho, but its flaws are too clear. The hapless defending is one such example of this and too bigger issue to be ignored.

For me, the Premiership has only recently secured the mantle it has sought since its creation. For the Baggios, van Bastens, Papins, Maldinis, Batistutas and friends in Nineties Serie A to the Zizous, Figos, Rivaldos, Ronaldos, Rauls et al of Noughties La Liga, there has always been something to separate English Football from the top of the tree, however now it is clear that the FA Premier League is THE major force in world football today and given the money and following dedicated to retaining that mantle, I foresee that this will be the case for years to come.

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