Villa Park naming rights, two-tier Premier League and Bolton preview

Newcastle sold the naming rights to their stadium, the papers are talking as if Chelsea are going to too and they could get as much as £10mn a season. It's clear as day that it's a good way to raise funds and while we'd all like to do it 'the proper way' it's also clear as day that you need money to compete in this league and deep down, we all know it isn't going to happen the 'proper way'.

I write this, as I don't think I'm totally adverse to Villa Park getting called the Gillette Dome, Stella Artois Park or something else brand orientated, if it meant we got extra money to do with as we please. It will always be Villa Park to me, regardless.


What do you think? I fancy we might be able to get £5mn a season, as long as we put the name of the company across the front of the shirt too and if you can tie someone down to five years or so, then it's a nice bit of cash. Hell, we might even be able to get more and having that type of injection to buy our £30mn player, along with our usual suspects, it might actually be worth it.

Two-tier Premier League

Moving on, a proposal by Bolton Wanderers' chairman, Phil Gartside, for an expanded two-tier Premier League is going to get discussed again next week at a Premier League meeting. Basically each tier would have 18 teams and Celtic and Rangers would also be included.

This was first proposed last year but apparently there was no relegation into what would now be division three, but apparently, Gartside has revised his proposal to feature relegation, as long as the clubs coming up met a certain criteria in terms of financial stability.

Now, I still look at the league as one, two, three and four. This might make an extra one, so call it five and all I can see it doing, in the long run when the top tier of the league has teams like us, United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Everton, Celtic, Rangers and whoever else you want in and it has worked for a few years, then whoever has the TV rights will just want to concentrate on this league, meaning the teams like Birmingham City and whoever else you want in tier two of the new Premier League basically end up back where they belong.

I'm not entirely sure this is a good idea. I mean, if we let in Celtic and Rangers, which is really the only difference I am seeing with this league, then it only means two teams from our own country not playing top flight football just so we can have two teams from another country come in. What next; the best two teams from France, Italy, Germany and Spain?

Bolton Preview

I'm mixing this all in together today as I've got to leave the house soon and also because I don't want to spend too much time on the preview, mostly because I don't know what to write that hasn't been said, quite literally fifty times in the last year.

Bolton have a horrible home record and only a slightly better away one. They've only won once all season at home and twice away, but if they beat us they'll get three points which would mean they would be four points behind us and in 10th place instead of ten points behind us if we win. Just because they have only won once at home and twice away all season doesn't mean they should be considered an easy team, especially as most of our players are very very tired, eleven games in.

Bolton conceded eight goals against Chelsea last week and they were more than wounded, they were tied to a tree on Hampstead Heath. Eight goals isn't pretty or a nice feeling and Gary Megson will be looking for a response and he might very well get it.

Before the humiliation of Chelsea, they did beat Everton 3-2 at home and they'll look to the match for inspiration. If I were Martin O'Neill, I'd be telling my players to look at the Liverpool match for inspiration, because that is how we have to play under O'Neill to get a result, but unfortunately, we are not going to have the personnel. Or do we?

We don't have Petrov or Beye for this as they are both suspended. Milner and Heskey are doubts and while Martin O'Neill would maybe prefer to play Gardner instead of Reo-Coker, he is also struggling.

On the positive side, Cueller is available after serving his ban and with rumours mounting that O'Neill has had a falling out with stand in right back Luke Young, he might very well start.

My prediction for starting line up Friedel, Warnock, Dunne, Collins, Young, Reo-Coker, Sidwell, Delph, Webcam, Gabby and Carew. Now, that isn't such a bad side, but we will be hitting long and we have to very much rely on the fight and determination against a team that are trying to play the ball about these days, but are also known for their fight and determination and hitting it long.

I'm going to predict that this game has one of the least amount of passes all season, only maybe Blackburn will be worse and if I were a betting man, I'd say that would be the eleven O'Neill would send out, but if it were me, I'd pick Friedel, Young, Collins, Dunne, Warnock, Albrighton, Reo-Coker, Delph Sidwell, Young and Gabby.

It isn't that different in terms of players but it is in terms of how the team would play and it is also possible that O'Neill looks at playing that way too, I'm just not convinced O'Neill likes the modern game and I think he is trying to force something on us because in his heart it believes it will work.

Right, early post tomorrow with banter, links and team news as and when we get it, bit for now, I'm running late. I have to run.