Transfer Deadline Day: Monetary Madness

There is no other way to describe it. Just mental. Transfer Deadline Day is by a mile the greatest day of the footballing year. And you get two of them.

Forget FA Cup Final. Forget the Champions League. You ask every football fan around the country, and they get excited about Deadline Day. January is usually quieter – not today.

For the record, I’ve been advised to start writing more sports ‘report’ style articles and blog posts, in order to further my portfolio. Forget that today – it’s a live feed of the Deadline Day madness that we all know and love.

I’ve been following it since 7 o’clock this morning, and from 4 o’clock this afternoon, will be blogging. Pictures, links and lots of (hopefully) bold deals appearing on here. So, keep your eyes peeled for my opinionated, biased talk, that is effectively a Twitter feed. let’s go.

DEADLINE DAY. AND IT’S LIVE (ISH).

16:00 And we’re off. Sat at home, with Sky Sports News on, the BBC Sport page wide open, and all the right Twitter followers appearing on my feed. It’s a good day. So far, we’ve had plenty to talk about, but very little in terms of deals. The rumours of Fernando Torres from Liverpool to Chelsea for around £50m  look to be on, and off, and on, and off. And back on again. Andy Carroll should be on his way to replace him for upwards of £30m. Charlie Adam could also be going to Anfield from Blackpool. But let’s see.

16:13 COMPLETED DEAL: Been very quiet, but hopefully this is the start. Obafemi Martins completes a 6-month loan deal from Rubin Kazan to Birmingham City. Was a great player at Newcastle, but left after they were relegated. Hopefully he can replicate that form.

16:19 Suddenly, Tweets pour in that Charlie Adam is likely to be heading towards Man United. As a United fan myself, I see this as very, very poor business. Especially when Blackpool wanted upwards of £10m for him. But no-one doubts Sir Alex Ferguson. Ever.

16:29 SSN say unconfirmed reports of Liverpool and Newcastle agreeing £35m deal for Andy Carroll, with additional payments on top of. Piss poor English, but frankly, I couldn’t care less right now. That could be a defining moment today. 

16:36 That could start it off. Once the Carroll deal goes through, Torres will join Chelsea. Then Liverpool will finalise the Suarez deal, and bid for Charlie Adam. Unless the United rumours are true…

16:42 Well well well. Now turns out that Newcastle rejected that £30m+ bid. Leaving it late now, are Liverpool. That’s the second bid to be rejected.

16:45 COMPLETED DEAL: Tuncay has gone from Stoke to Wolfsburg. Well, there’s a big deal…. £4.5m involved for Stoke, and Pulis will go and splash that now.

16:55 It’s all gone a little quiet… So what shall I do? Let’s send the blog live. More updates and madness every half hour all the way up until the window closes. I don’t care how many hits I get today, it’s all about the fun. And the deals, obviously.

17:02 As you can tell, I have the world’s shortest attention span. Just to clarify, the only major deal involving an incoming player to a Premier League club is that of Obafemi Martins. Less than 6 hours to go…

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17:13 It’s a shame we only have speculation to work with at the minute. Confirmation of Newcastle rejecting the 2nd bid coming through. Apparently, according to sources, it’s not because of the amount, but because NUFC want a replacement lined up before accepting. Carroll himself is keen on the move. No-one else getting deja vu over the fact this is exactly the same situation as Torres?!

17:17 And after Tottenham’s crazy £120m bidding spree last night, of which all four were rejected, Sergio Aguero has committed himself to Atletico Madrid by signing a 2 and a half year contract extension. Well, at least someone’s happy.

17:18 BREAKING NEWS: Newcastle have just ‘reluctantly accepted’ a transfer request from Andy Carroll. Must mean deals are close.

17:25 MORE BREAKING NEWS: Liverpool confirm on their website that Newcastle have accepted ‘a club record offer’ for the services of Andy Carroll. Here comes the domino effect.

17:30 EVEN MORE BREAKING NEWS: We wait for ages, then three come along at once. SSN reports that Charlie Adam is in a car on his way to Liverpool to start thrashing out a deal. Utter, utter madness.

17:40 Here’s confirmation from Newcastle regarding both Carroll’s transfer request, and also the ‘British transfer record’ fee that has been accepted in the last 20 minutes. This is just crazy – why do clubs leave it so late?!

17:42 The Guardian have just reported that the Charlie Adam to Liverpool deal is worth £14m. That’s an astonishing figure. The Anfield Revolution will continue well into the night.

17:51 Rumours hitting that Tottenham have made an increased €35m bid for Giuseppe Rossi of Villarreal, despite Rossi signing a new contract until 2016 this month. United will take a share of that, too, as a former club with a clause in the deal. Watch this space.

17:57 And now further rumours that the David Luiz to Chelsea deal is BACK ON. It really is hotting up.

18:02 Hearing from sources around the country on Twitter that Andy Carroll has agreed personal terms. However, SSN report otherwise, and these terms have not been agreed. Make your mind up!

18:10 Now coming up two hours since the last incoming player. Oh, sorry, the ONLY incoming player to the Premier League so far.

18:11 Here we go. Guillem Balague has just confirmed that Liverpool have agreed a fee with Chelsea for Fernando Torres, and it looks like it’s £50m. Torres now on his way to London for a medical. Awaiting official confirmation, but he’s a great source for reliable information.

18:19 (POSSIBLE) BREAKING NEWS: Chelsea and Benfica have agreed a deal for David Luiz – £25m deal, with £20m up front. Great deal for Benfica if that goes through. Fergie was right – no value in this market the way it is.

18:22 SSN still reporting Man United have matched Liverpool’s offer for Charlie Adam. Can’t see it myself. Reports also saying Andy Carroll will be earning £80,000 a week at Anfield. The money in football is mental.

18:25 A bit of catch-up then. Confirmed that Charlie Adam is STILL at Blackpool, for now. Not in a car on his way to Liverpool. However, Andy Carroll has just arrived in Merseyside, and eyewitnesses say that Torres has just got on a helicopter for London. Obafemi Martins has joined Birmingham, Andy Reid joined Blackpool earlier from Sunderland, and a few minor deals involving Premier League clubs have taken place. But those are the major two confirmed deals, and three more that could, and should, happen tonight. Massive apologies to Andy Reid though, having said Martins was the only deal. Here’s a picture of the big man, to say sorry. I’ll get me coat…

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18:33 Tottenham continue to surprise us all. ‘Arry seems to be going a bit mad in his old age.The Rossi bid is all but confirmed, but Villarreal haven’t yet accepted or rejected. But, however, the Diego Forlan deal is still live, and going. Amazing.

18:35 FURTHER BREAKING NEWS: Chelsea and Liverpool have ‘agreed a fee’ for Fernando Torres, and the striker will now have a medical. Won’t be any less than £50m. Absolutely remarkable deal, if that goes through.

18:41 As it stands, if all the deals go through, £140m will be spent on Torres, Carroll, Luiz and Rossi alone. Not to mention the other teams bidding for the other players. Absolutely stunned.

18:57 A further update. Torres is on his way to London after fee agreed, according to the BBC. Andy Carroll has arrive at Melwood for his Liverpool medical, after fee agreed. Luiz on his way to Stamford Bridge to agree personal terms and have a medical, and Rossi is in ‘advanced negotiations’ for move to Spurs. We’ve also got some knob’eds on SSN burning a Torres shirt outside Anfield. That shirt cost you 40 quid. That man has just earned your club £50m…

19:01 What an amazing day. Just madness. And we’ve still got four hours to go. Anyway, apparently Rangers are in talks with Blackburn for El-Hadji Diouf on a short-term loan, according to The Guardian. The further away from England, the better. Scotland’s a start, anyway.

19:07 COMPLETED DEAL: Thank God for that. Ruben Rochina moves to Blackburn from Barcelona for a reported £1m. At last – a deal! The Spaniard goes straight into the match-day squad.

19:21 It’s all gone a bit quiet again. The lull before the storm? Let’s hope so.

19:24 COMPLETED DEAL: Here’s another one. Michael Bradley arrives at Aston Villa from Borussia Monchengladbach on loan for the rest of the season. Great deal for them – a US international who adds a different aspect to the team.

19:40 Here’s the official confirmation that Liverpool accept a bid from Chelsea for Fernando Torres.

19:42 COMPLETED DEAL: And another deal goes through. James Beattie passes his medical, and completes a loan move from Rangers to Blackpool for the rest of the season. Great player – got experience, still scores goals, and a great leader. Last point is key – Adam is captain currently, so maybe worth a punt now (take note Liverpool…)

19:52 Nearly there. Fernando Torres is about an hour off becoming a Chelsea player, and is currently finishing off the formalities, say sources. Top player, but you get the feeling he’s only leaving for money. Not a dig at Chelsea, but a big dig at Torres.

20:04 SSN now reports that Stephen Ireland is very close to agreeing his loan deal from Aston Villa to Newcastle. Also saying that the Carroll replacement could very well be Johan Elmander, from Bolton. However, this won’t go through until the Torres deal does. Then Carroll/Suarez deals will happen, and thus Newcastle have cash.

20:06 And there’s no stopping now. After stating that there is no way Stoke will be making any deals tonight, Eidur Gudjohnsen is now on his way to Fulham for a medical, regarding a loan deal. 20 minutes can make all the difference.

20:09 COMPLETED DEAL: All done and dusted for Stephen Ireland. Confirmation of loan deal from Villa to Newcastle.

20:17 BREAKING NEWS: Sources say that the Torres deal between Chelsea and Liverpool is the full £50m, up front. Incredible.

20:21 Rumours beginning to surface that Newcastle may also be interested in Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner, for around £17m. This is just getting crazy now.

20:24 BREAKING NEWS: Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge is in ‘advanced talks’ with Bolton over a loan deal till the end of the season. Clears a spot for Torres too.

 

20:32 COMPLETED DEAL: Blackburn complete their second deal of the day, by signing Mauro Formica from Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, for a reported £3m. Great deal for the man dubbed the ‘new Gabriel Batistuta’.

20:41 Just awaiting all the confirmation now. Will be very surprised if we see any further big money deals other than Torres/Carroll/Suarez. Just over two hours to go.

20:43 COMPLETED DEAL: Right, the dominoes begin to topple. Liverpool confirm the signing of Luis Suarez from Ajax for 26.5m, and as expected, he will wear the No. 7 shirt. Leaves the No. 9 open for Carroll.

20:54 You know it’s bad when the telly changes from SSN to Glee. Onwards and upwards eh?

21:01 Now less than two hours to go, and it’s been a crazy, crazy Deadline Day. But it’s nowhere near over. Am here all the way to the deadline. Let’s go.

21:10 All eyes on Charlie Adam, and Blackpool now. Will he or won’t he? Liverpool still got concrete interest, but do United? This rumoured £14m bid is too good to turn down. But time’s running out for both Liverpool AND Blackpool to spend the cash.

21:12 COMPLETED DEAL: Daniel Sturridge joins Bolton from Chelsea on loan, as reported earlier. If Owen Coyle can pull off the same as what he did with Jack Wilshire, he’s just made a great acquisition.

21:19 Now hearing from sources that Blackpool will retain Charlie Adam, at least until the end of the season. But will Liverpool test their resolve?

21:26 And we continue to wait…. again. It only seems a matter of time, bearing in mind the majority of the deals are all wrapped up.

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21:31 Reports are saying Liverpool had two bids turned down for Charlie Adam today – one worth £8m, and a second worth £10m. Blackpool still holding out for that magical £14m deal. Wouldn’t be surprised if Liverpool went in over the next hour and a half.

21:35 BREAKING NEWS: So it turns out Spurs did make a bid. We learned earlier that Everton had rejected their bid for captain Phil Neville, and now it’s confirmed, in the region of £1m-£2m. Would have been a great move for Spurs though.

21:43 MORE BREAKING NEWS: We thought this might be a deal that will be pushed through. Ashley Young to Liverpool is apparently very close, say reliable sources. Only £3m away from Villa’s valuation.

21:45 Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck has just arrived at Stamford Bridge. Torres deal imminent.

21:55 The Chelsea deal to be wrapped by by 10:30 this evening, and all other deals to cascade from that. Could be very interesting if there’s a late shock.

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22:00 ONE HOUR TO GO: We’ve still got over £100m worth of deals to be finalised too. Strap yourselves in, this is going to be a very bumpy finish.

22:05 It’s the story of the Number 9’s. Fernando Torres – Chelsea’s new Number 9. Andy Carroll – Liverpool’s new Number 9. And Bendtner to become Newcastle’s new Number 9? Maybe…

22:12 BREAKING NEWS: Fernando Torres arrives at Stamford Bridge, and will sign live on Chelsea TV in the next 20 minutes.

22:17 Not long to go. SSN still bigging up every deal, as they have been since 9am. The BBC feed still going, having started at 6:55am. It’s incredible stuff. Love today.

22:25 Looks like Man City really were true to their word. They rejected bids for Shaun Wright-Phillips from Newcastle, Bolton, West Ham, Everton and Portsmouth.

22:26 BREAKING NEWS: Newcastle are back in for old-boy Charles N’Zogbia, from Wigan. That’s a massive deal if that goes through. Massive.

22:27 EVEN BIGGER BREAKING NEWS: Wigan have rejected £10m bid from Newcastle for N’Zogbia, and will reject any further offers. Good God. Need to get my breath back.

22:29 NOT QUITE AS BREAKING NEWS: Eidur Gudjohnsen has signed for Fulham from Stoke on loan, according to reports.

22:34 LESS THAN HALF AN HOUR TO GO: And we still wait for the three big ones….

22:36 BREAKING NEWS: Fernando Torres is, according to sources, signing his deal NOW.

22:45 15 MINUTES TO GO: Torres, Carroll, Gudjohnsen, Luiz to finalise.

22:46 COMPLETED DEAL: Eidur Gudjohnsen confirmed as a Fulham player, going on loan from Stoke City.

22:47 If Torres was signing for Real Madrid, or Barcelona, 80,000 people would be there to watch the unveiling of their new star. At Stamford Bridge? 23 fans… Let’s just hope thy’ve gone for a warm-up in a greasy spoon.

22:49 BREAKING NEWS: Andy Carroll has signed a 5 and a half year deal at Liverpool for £35m, according to SSN.

22:50 MORE BREAKING NEWS: Wigan reject £12m bid from Newcastle for Charles N’Zogbia. 10 minutes to go, and they all start trying to rush the deals through… They’ve had a month.

22:52 MASSIVE BREAKING NEWS: It just gets better. With 8 minutes to go, Tottenham, and ‘Arry, have made a late, late, late bid for Charlie Adam. Madness.

22:54 COMPLETED DEAL: And the dominoes keep falling. Andy Carroll has signed his 5 and a half year deal at Liverpool, and will wear the Number 9 shirt. All confirmed on club website now.

22:56 4 MINUTES TO GO: One big deal done, two to go. Come on Chelsea. Let me go to bed.

22:58 BREAKING NEWS: Sky Sports say Torres and Luiz are Chelsea players. Not official as yet.

23:00 TRANSFER WINDOW SHUT: NO MORE DEALS CAN BE SIGNED. However, deals may have gone through, and are awaiting confirmation. Like Torres and Luiz, for example.

23:04 BREAKING NEWS: Tottenham did make a bid for Charlie Adam, but was rejected by Blackpool. Bid was larger than Liverpool’s, but still not enough.

23:10 COMPLETED DEAL: Not the ones we’re expecting. Conor Sammon joins Wigan from Kilmarnock, for between £500k-£1m. Great player, but maybe a little early to be joining a massive club.

23:12 COMPLETED DEAL: There’s another. Sergei Kornilenko joins Blackpool on loan from Zenit St Petersburg. Big striker that will work well with the retained Charlie Adam.

23:20 COMPLETED DEAL: At last. Liverpool confirm Fernando Torres is now a Chelsea player, for a reported £50m. Just David Luiz deal to be confirmed now.

23:21 COMPLETED DEAL: As mentioned earlier, El-Hadji Diouf is now a Rangers player, having signed on loan from Blackburn. That won’t go down well with Celtic, whose fans were spat at when Diouf was still with Liverpool.

23:24 BREAKING NEWS: Gabriel Obertan has handed in a transfer request and want to leave Manchester United. This news was announced at 11:01PM. What a fool.

23:26 BREAKING NEWS: And here’s Chelsea’s confirmation, alongside first Torres pictures with a blue shirt. What a mad day.

23:30 COMPLETED DEAL: And there we have it. Benfica release a statement to the Stock Exchange confirming David Luiz joins Chelsea for £21m plus Matic. Admittedly, it’s in Portuguese, so it could say absolutely anything…

Well, that’s that then. What a night. Apologies for the lack of photos in the last hour – nothings being released, and deals are coming through thick and fast. Exactly what we hoped – drama, late action, big money moves, and the inevitable Tottenham last-minute bid. Over £214m was spent this transfer window – half of that today. Newcastle could now be in trouble, with no big forward, but Blackpool have kept their star player, which could save them. Liverpool sign £55m worth of attacking prowess, so that almost guarantees Kenny Dalglish the permanent job. Today sums up what could happen at the end of this season. We do know one thing though.

Chelsea’s Fernando Torres, Liverpool’s Andy Carroll, and Blackpool’s Charlie Adam. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. Let’s just say I’m looking forward to Liverpool vs. Chelsea this weekend. G’night all.

Credit where credit’s due… All info from the great work of Sky Sports and the BBC Sport teams, likewise the photos.

A Blank Page, A Bright Mind

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I’ve been sat in front of this white screen with a blinking cursor for an hour now. Nothing to write, so why blog?

However, as I click the cross, I suddenly hear the radio. I’m absolutely captivated for 5 minutes, as Adele’s Live Lounge appearance is played back. In particular, a song called ‘Someone Like You’.

Now I adore Adele – her voice is one of the best to have come out of the UK for quite some time. She’s about to break America with it too. 2011 is going to be very exciting for her. But this song is just incredible – it’s lyrics are so profound and so true, and it’s no wonder that the minute I popped it into Google, hundreds of Tweets saying exactly the same came up. This is making waves.

But on my travels into the world of YouTube, I found another video. As many of you will have seen across social networking sites, Chris Medina featured on the new season of American Idol this week. I won’t ruin the story, but it is one of the most heart-wrenching, beautiful stories you will see on a programme like this for a very long time.

Sometimes, it’s things like these two videos that help put life back into perspective. It’s not all about the petty arguments we have, or the abusive emails we send, or even the fact we all make things worse than they seem.

You are alive. Healthy. And msot of all, loved. Enjoy what you have, instead of what you want.

Music Musings – Hurts

There aren’t many bands like Hurts. The duo are a cross between rock, pop, electronic and dance music, whilst keeping the BPM high and mixing it all together in a techno style. Confused? Me too.

The album ‘Happiness’, released last year, was stunning. By a living mile one of the best I heard in 2010. It’s not very often you hear an album, and know that every track on it could very well be a single.

They, so far, haven’t had the major recognition they truly deserve as a band. They’re not regularly at the top of the UK Chart, or always on the radio. But those in the know adore them. As do I – Hurts are going to be big this year.

They were huge last year, but I have a sneaky feeling they’ll be even bigger this year. Let’s wait and see.

In the meantime, you can follow Theo, one half of the band, on Twitter, or visit the band’s official website.

Or, just enjoy ‘Sunday’, the new single, which is below.

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The BBC Online Cuts: Where, When, Why?

As some of you may have read in the news this morning, the BBC Online budget is being cut by 25% as part of the bigger cuts they are making to the whole of the corporation, to the tune of 20%. Not only that, but 360 jobs will be lost as well. As someone whose dreams and aspirations of becoming a BBC Sport journalist now hang in the balance, I just wanted to write my bit and see who reads it.

With the use of Facebook, Twitter, Google’s new Instant Search feature, and social media, the minute I hit ‘Publish’, my newly-created blog is hammered across 190 different countries, 7 different continents, and ends up on your screen. And it’s this social media that has, ultimately, led to many features being involved in the cull at the BBC.

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The budget cuts announced in October, affecting the whole country and taking £84b out of the funding available to public bodies, had to affect the BBC in some way at some point. Mark Thompson, the Director-General, chose to accept the suggestions of a 6-year license fee freeze, leaving a 16% gap in real-term funding over that period, and a £34m funding windfall. Which means these cuts were going to have to happen at some stage as it is.

So, the news this morning didn’t come as a huge shock, but what the cuts actually are did.

As it stands at this very moment, there’s around 400 different BBC-affiliated websites – from BBC Sport, BBC News, BBC Bitesize, all the way through to BBC History, BBC Jobs and BBC Religion & Ethics. Oh, and obviously the relevant TV and radio sites.

To cut the wheat from the chaff of all these cuts, the BBC will be removing around half of these websites. 180, to be precise. This includes BBC Blast, BBC RAW, BBC h2g2 and BBC Video Nation too. Video Nation is something I hold very close to my heart – it was my first contact with the BBC. I made a few videos for them, had to sign 25-page contracts – the lot. My ‘agent’, if you were, was Ian Stringer, who later appeared on the fourth series of the Apprentice. Little fact for you there.

Anyway, alongside these cuts will be the closure of BBC Switch and the 606 messageboards, which have a cult status amongst sports fans. There’s been a lot of backlash towards this already, but, as mentioned on other blogs and sites, the up-rise in Twitter, and Facebook (see how this all links?), have killed off these messageboards. The majority of discussion now links through Twitter – all live text commentaries and blogging services now have access to some form of Twitter links.

Even more cuts take place with major radio programming – 1Xtra, 5 Live Sports Extra, 6Music and Radio 7 will all now have automated content filling their sites. All this chopping and changing also means that there will be fewer individual news blogs, the vast majority of forums, messageboards and communities will be replaced by social media feeds, sport coverage will be cut back, as will entertainment news, and there’ll be no more non-news coverage for local sites. However, there’ll be an increase in culture and arts coverage… Cutting sport – what the Government are trying to increase in this country – for some more coverage on the West End. Now that seems a little strange.

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But what does this all actually mean for the sites we love and care about? Well, I can tell you a little more about the BBC Sport website, as Ben Gallop’s editorial blog brilliantly explained earlier.

There will be an increase in ‘fast, reliable and in-depth sports news, and more dynamic coverage of the biggest sporting events.’ Increasing these means a loss of other areas – 5 key areas, in fact. Obviously, the aforementioned 606 will be cut, as will the Sport Academy website and the sports news bulletin that features on the site. Also, there’ll be less minor sports coverage, and a re-focus on core coverage, rather than games, which were scrapped last summer.

These changes will start in the spring, and should be in place by the end of the summer. Sad, but a glimpse of what our country is currently suffering.

But that’s just BBC Sport. The overall goal, as explained on Erik Huggers’ blog earlier, is to ‘do fewer things, better‘. A brilliant tagline that explains everything so much better than anything anyone can write. The new strategy sets out 10 separate ‘products’ – different sections of the BBC that will be built upon and around each other. These include News, Sport, Weather, CBeebies, CBBC, Knowledge & Learning, Radio & Music, TV & iPlayer, the homepage, and the recently-updated Search feature. The graphics that feature below explain these changes a lot easier, and are a great resource to demonstrate what the BBC’s ultimate goal is.

These changes plug the £36m funding gap, and will take place before 2013/14. Over 26m people access the BBC website a week now – it’s the 45th most accessed website on the internet. These changes and cuts will affect every one of these users in some way, but fundamentally, the message the BBC is trying to convey throughout these cuts is that although it looks bad, it is for the best, and the BBC will remain as the most-trusted, highest-quality media outlet we all have come to love.

This blog has obviously taken a little while to write, with the masses of coding that has to be put in to get all the right links working. But, if you want some other great articles regarding the cuts, have a look at Jemima Kiss’ take on it all on the Guardian website, or just follow Lewis Wiltshire on Twitter – he is the Editor of the BBC Sport website, and always has the relevant articles to hand when it comes to great journalism from the BBC.

Nurse Jackie: Best Thing Since Sliced Bread?

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Last night, Nurse Jackie returned to our UK screens after just under a year away. I fell in love with the series when it first aired, and now Season 2 is here, and I adore it even more.

Edie Falco plays Jackie, a drug-addict of a nurse who does the better things in life for her patients, no matter how illegal they are. It’s so clever, and well worth a watch if you get the opportunity.

9:40, Saturday nights, BBC Two. Just watch and enjoy.

London 2013: The Morning After 2012?

As we all know, after a good night out, the morning after is always the worst part of the party. The fun is all over and the headaches begin. Which is exactly what the whole of London could be facing come 13th August 2012.

The 2012 Olympics are beginning to pose a few problems that seemed easy to fix when we bid back in 2005. Back then, the whole country was behind the bid, knowing full well it was cheap, going to bring a lot of publicity and business to the whole of the UK, and going to be the biggest event Britain has ever seen.

Since then though, the budget has nearly quadrupled, from just under £2b to over £9b. No-one could foresee the credit crunch back in 2005, but the jump has had a huge impact on the British public’s perception of the Games. We’ve even seen venue re-designs after the IOC ticked them all off.

However, I’m still massively pro-2012. I’ll do whatever it takes to be involved in some way with the Games, and make sure that I can be a part of the world’s biggest event. I’m unbelievably excited, and cannot wait for it all to be happening on my doorstep.

But the big battle facing LOCOG at this current moment in time is this – who takes over the Olympic Stadium in 2013, when the ticker tape settles and we’ve got a lot of clearing up to do?

The two major bids that seem to be the front-runners are West Ham, and Tottenham. Spurs have even put their own stadium build on hold to see whether they can get the Olympic one.

There’s plenty of reasons for and against. And I mean plenty. There’s lists and lists if you Google either of their bids. West Ham have pulled LiveNation, the concert company on board, and also Essex Cricket Club, in order to ensure a multi-sport, multi-venue arena. Spurs got AEG on their side, who turned the Millennium Dome, the UK’s last white elephant, into the O2 Arena, and created one of the highest-grossing music venues in the world.

But Spurs want to move the whole stadium to Crystal Palace, and rebuild it all there. Then they want to build their own plans on the site. It would also mean moving the whole club from North to East London. Seems a little crazy if you ask me. Especially when Crystal Palace FC themselves want to develop the Crystal Palace site for a new stadium and athletics complex.

Still with me? Or too many Crystal Palaces? Too many choices? Yeah, me too.

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West Ham’s seems the best and most viable option. They will keep the athletics track, one of the promises made when we bid in the first place to the IOC. That’s absolutely key, really, to the whole process. If you can tick off the track, you’ve got yourself a deal. It’s primarily an athletics-based event, so keeping the athletics track needs to be involved. Even Lamine Diack, head of the IAAF, the world athletics body, says that if the track isn’t kept, Britain loses ‘all credibility in sport’. Fair point.

But with LiveNation involved, it opens so many other doors. Essex CC can play Twenty20 in the summer, and with the NFL interested in setting up a permanent London franchise, it gives them an option to alternate with Wembley for the International Series. You include the concerts, and the revenue for the stadium is huge.

There’s a £35m pot there, from LOCOG in order to rejuvenate the stadium after the Games, and keep it in regular use. By the sounds of things, Spurs want to use that to transfer the current stadium to Crystal Palace, but West Ham want to invest it in the Olympic Park. It’s all a very intricate, detailed, difficult situation, but from the very few details leaked to the press, it’s an easy one for me.

The one thing we don’t want is more white elephants just sat in the centre of London. The first decision is made on 28th January, when one bid is recommended to be selected. But it’s all getting very tense, and too close to call.

We may not have the money to throw at the Games like Beijing did in 2008, but we can certainly make sure that the legacy of London 2012 will be with our country forever more. And that involves an athletics track.

For those of you who enjoyed this, have a read of Gordon Farquhar’s blog on the BBC Sport site – great read. Also, get in touch on the ol’ Twitter – I’m @Adam9309. Cheers all.

The Promised Land

There are so many historical moments I have witnessed thanks to 24-hour news. 9/11. The 7/7 Tube bombings. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony. The 12-hour millennium celebrations in 2000. But there’s two I hold close to my heart – more than anything else.

As many of you have been, I was born into a football-mad family, and have, because of this, been brought up with 3PM on Saturdays being a sacred time for any football fan. With Dad’s Dad’s Dad supporting United, Dad’s Dad supporting United, and Dad supporting United, it was only a matter of time till I also became a Manchester United fan.

3 minutes, in fact. Dad had come back from the Man Utd vs. Crystal Palace game when Mum was about to go into hospital to have us, when we won the league for the first time in years. So, as I pop out, I’m in a United hat. Simple.

And I’ve lived through the glory years. I’ve been on the planet when United have won 11 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 3 League Cups, 8 Community Shields, an Intercontinental Cup, a FIFA Club World Cup, have completed four cup Doubles and won The Treble. And did I mention we’ve won the Champions League twice?

Ah yes, the Champions League wins. Remember these?!

Back in 1999, I was just 6 by the time we were on for an unprecedented Treble. It was the season I attended my first United game too – at the age of 5, I went to see Everton get thrashed 4-1 at OT on 31st October ’98. But it was May 26th 1999 that is the greatest day in MUFC history. Fact.

I’d been put to bed after watching the first half of the game – half 8 was a late night back then! But Mum came and got me up at the end of the game, and I watched us lift the trophy. That day has never, ever left me, and never will. It is a special day in every United fan’s heart, and we all remember something from it.

I remember the victory parade days after. The replays of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer putting the ball in the net and winning us the match deep into stoppage time. I remember Mum holding the phone against the telly so Uncle Nick could weep as he watched in the States. And I still get goosebumps and tingles when I watch the game back. I’ve heard stories of fans who physically cry when they watch the game again. It was a magical, magical evening in Barcelona.

So let’s relive it. Here’s the goals, celebrations and the joy of English football.

But, we can’t go through ’99, without mentioning 2008! I was 15 this time around, and remember the whole season. A special season for United fans, as it was 50 years after the Munich Air Disaster which wiped out a golden generation of the team. How proud Sir Matt Busby will have been if he’d have seen this season.

It was, potentially, the greatest season in English football of all-time, based on performances. How many other occasions will we see the world’s greatest player, Cristiano Ronaldo, score 31 domestic goals, and 42 in all competitions? How many other times will we see three English teams in the semi-finals of the Champions League?

How many other times will we see John Terry show his true colours?

120 minutes of tense, open, equal football between United and Chelsea, and that led to penalties. I had completely gone by this point – every nail was bitten, every hair was standing up, and everything in my stomach was turning round so fast you could wash your clothes in it and they’d still come out clean.

Goal. Goal. Goal. Goal. Boom.

Ronaldo misses, and realises instantly he’s just lost United the European Cup. HE trudges back to the touchline, and sits, solemnly, waiting for the cheers, or the boos.

Goal. Goal. Goal. Nani to keep us in it. Goal.

John Terry to win it. Slips, scoops, over the bar. Mr Chelsea himself unveils himself as a closet Red, and we’re back in there.

And it’s sudden death – Anderson scores. Kalou scores. And on the night Ryan Giggs makes himself the all-time appearances record holder, with 759 games to his name, he steps up and plants it coolly into the net. All down to Anelka, and Van Der Sar makes himself a United hero, and saves it.

United are Champions of Europe for the third time, and my night begins. What a night. What a brilliant night. I’m not afraid to say I cried that night – it meant so much to every United fan, and after 3 hours of torture, it was everything we could have dreamed of.

Here’s the whole penalty shoot-out for United fans to reminisce, and Chelsea fans to think what might’ve been.

Football. Bloody hell.

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You Can’t Buy Success In This League

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Today, Sunderland Association Football Club were given a cheque for £18,000,000. That’s gonna be followed up with a few more, equalling another £6,000,000. That’s a total of £24m. Or £24,000,000.

You see, Aston Villa signed Darren Bent earlier this afternoon after 36 hours of negotiating. Bearing in mind Sunderland signed him for £10m, that’s a great bit of business. But is there too much money in football?

Look at some of the other deals that have taken place or been rumoured today. We’ve had the £3m deal taking Steven Pienaar from Everton to Tottenham, so that Everton didn’t lose the player for free in the summer. Ryan Babel is on his way from Liverpool to Hoffenheim for a reported £7m, which will help fund a deal for Stewart Downing to move from Villa to Liverpool for around the same as they paid initially – £12m.

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That’s on top of the deals we’ve already seen this January. Jean II Makoun has moved from Lyon to Villa for around £6m, and Edin Dzeko has moved from Wolfsburg to Man City for a staggering £27m, plus add-ons. So far, up to this point, £63,325,000 has been spent by Premier League clubs alone. And we’re only halfway through this window.

But what about those bad investments? Clubs try to cover them up by bringing in better players, but the fans know that it was a lot of money wasted. This window alone, we’ve seen David Bentley, who only two years ago was the story of a £15m transfer deal taking him to Spurs from Blackburn, join Birmingham on loan in the hope of reviving his career. Wayne Bridge joined Man City two years ago for a rumoured £10m, but has gone on loan to West Ham because the constant investment in the team has left him without even a squad place. Another City reject, Roque Santa Cruz, who joined for £18m only 18 months ago from Blackburn, has rejoined his former club after a torrid time at Eastlands.

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And there’s still plenty more to come too. We’ve already seen Birmingham pull out of a £6m deal to take Robbie Keane from Spurs, and there’s growing speculation that Liverpool, Spurs or Man United are readying a £20m bid for Ajax’s Luis Suarez. Bolton may eventually bid for City’s Shaun Wright-Phillips, and despite the constant denials from Harry Redknapp, rumours of Spurs bidding upwards of £15m for Newcastle’s Andy Carroll are still spinning around in the big wide world.

We have seen this season that money and investment can take you places. Man City are currently sat 2nd in the Premier League, and Chelsea won the championship in 2005, 2006 and 2010. But this investment is nearly half a billion pounds. Surely football is not a business where that is feasible?

It is no wonder Manchester United are in £1.2b worth of debt, and in danger of not existing come 2017. The Glazers have come in, given the club a lot of debt, put their own business careers at risk, but kept investing in the club. Silly money is leaving the club, but not coming back in. UEFA have taken steps to ensure that any club who spends more than their turnover is banned from European competition. This is vital for the future of football as we know it.

Yes, we all want to see the best players in the world in the Premier League, and in particular, wearing our club’s colours. But do we want to see them here, knowing that the extra £10 a ticket is to fill the hole that that player left in the club’s loans and their overdraft?

Money usually leads to success in business terminology. And the constant investment in our country’s teams has led to us becoming world-beaters in terms of club competition. But the money involved in some of these deals, and the implications it could have on the clubs is just pure stupidity.

All links and lovely pictures taken very kindly from the BBC Sport and Sky Sports sites.

Jobs Swaps Jobs? Eh…?

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From 13:37 this afternoon, all the way till 15:07, I was sat in a bright room, scribbling and analysing plays and transcripts in utter silence. For I was in an AS English retake, hoping to better my U from last year. Not that difficult, surely?!

Anyway, I digress. I got home to have a quick flick through the old Twitter, and found that Steve Jobs is to take medical leave to ‘focus on his health’. Not what I was expecting to find on a Monday afternoon.

Jobs is a legend, not just of the technology world, but of the 21st century. This is the man who is the mastermind behind Apple – the iPod you own, the iPhone you call on, the iPad you tap away at, the recent iMacs and MacBooks you read this on – all his thinking. His health has been the feature of headlines before – back in 2008 he took a step back from the media and the company to recover from a liver transplant, to aid his recovery from pancreatic cancer.

It is definitely sad news – it clearly means something else is up. He’d never walk away with the upcoming iPad 2.0 launch. We’re gonna miss that black turtle-neck jumper, the jeans and the trainers we see as he launches another product.

So, Steve, if something is up, everyone in the Mac community, and all those who have ever used your products and are in awe of what you do, we wish you a really, really speedy recovery. Bring on the next Steve Jobs Keynote.

Picture taken from the very lovely BBC News page.

Do You Care?

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I sat down tonight to write something, but couldn’t think of anything to write. Nothing – my mind was just blank.

Until it hit me.

Last night, we were out and stayed the night in Harpenden. It was late, but we started watching ‘A Single Man‘, the film directed by Tom Ford, with Colin Firth, that was up for a lot of awards last year. I’d seen it before, and really enjoyed it, but everyone else thought it was a bit odd.

For those of you who don’t know what it’s about, it’s the love story of a gay man and how he handles the death of his long-term boyfriend. Bearing in mind it is set in 1962, there were no gay slurs, which in some ways, shocked me. The whole film shows homosexuality in such a good light, and it was warming.

But this is where my lightbulb turned itself on above my head. What can I write about?!

Last October, I was touched enough by an organisation in the States called The Trevor Project to write a blog all about the wonderful work they do. They campaign for LGBT rights – or equality for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals, and campaigning to stop the homophobic bullying.

‘A Single Man’ is only the second film I’ve seen that shows gay people in a good light – that they’re not filthy, dirty or wrong to society. That’s not the attitude the majority of the world’s population take, but it is the one the media portrays.

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The Trevor Project have the backing of major celebrities – both straight and gay – and this is why it’s really taken off the last year or so. With the abolition of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the States, President Obama showed that there was hope.

Along the way, we’ve all used language that we only mean in a humorous way, in a way that allows for people to express themselves and for others to take the mick. It’s how the world works – I take the piss out of you, so you have the right to take the piss out of me. As long as it’s not personal, or hurtful, I couldn’t care less! But words like ‘gay’, ‘poof’, ‘dyke’ – they’re very sensitive words. Everyone uses them now in this society in a derogatory manner, which is helping bring the youth of today up in a world filled with homosexual hatred. You see people sue and take action when someone uses the N-word, so why not any of these? Yes, use them if you are taking the mick, and you know what you’re saying around whom, but don’t mean them.

Its something I feel very strongly about – I agree to equal rights to all. Black, white, rich, poor, gay, straight, male or female – we’re all human beings, at the end of the day. If we weren’t all unique, what’s the point in the world?

We all know that the only way forward is to give everyone the rights they deserve. I dunno, maybe 2011 is the year this is all put into action, but the world needs to change to accept those most in need.

We raise money for the third-world countries in Africa and Asia, because we care. We help countries around the world in need, because we care. We give to charity, because we care. We protest for things we think are right, because we care. We want a better world, because we care.

We want equal rights for all, because we care. We want to live in a society where we can walk down the street with a group of friends – one Muslim, one gay, one poor and on benefits, and we want to be able to smile, and know that no matter who we are, or what we look like, or what the colour of our skin, or our race, or our religion is, we can make a difference.

So here is your opportunity to make a difference. I’m not telling you to go to a protest, or to join a Facebook group, but I’m asking you to do one very simple thing.

Care. Because if you don’t help make the difference now, the world will remain open to some, but not all.