Mark McBurney Column Vol 2
Which brings me onto the BBC.
Bearing in mind the fact that England didn't qualify, which will in turn impact on the nation's morale and the economy, why oh why do they deem in necessary to have the very man responsible for that on their 'expert' panel??!? Good move Auntie.
It's been somewhat of a surprising tournament so far. Easily the most impressive teams have been the Dutch and the Spanish, two sides who, history suggests, are not the most successful in this competition. The dutch especially have looked like a side capable of brushing aside anybody in their path, with comprehensive demolition jobs successfully completed on the two World Cup finalists two years ago, 3-0 against Italy and 4-1 against France.
I digress, back to Bristol Rovers. I'm not sure we've sent Paul Molesworth over on a scouting mission...!
Some light relief since I last wrote was the unveiling of the signing of the much-coveted Jeff Hughes from Crystal Palace. Hopefully Hughes can bring his decent record in previous seasons with him, having reached the play-offs in each of his last three seasons!
A lot of people wonder now what the future holds for Bristol Rovers. Whilst I'm not sure that we will suffer the same fate that has befallen Luton Town, Rotherham, Leeds United, Bournemouth and Port Vale in recent seasons, losing upwards of £100,000 per season is simply not sustainable. We were incredibly fortunate to have made in excess of £1m from the cup run last season that, now we are not moving, will presumably go to offset this season's trading losses.
All of which makes you wonder just what we don't know about the finances of Bristol Rovers that, whilst still continuing to lose money on a regular basis, has allowed us to spend nigh on half a million pounds on transfers over the past few seasons (£200k on Rickie Lambert, £100k on Andy Williams, £50k on Steve Phillips, £50k on David Pipe and now £100k on Jeff Hughes).
The old adage 'speculate to accumulate' rings around in my head when I read these figures again, however we don't need to be reminded what happened when a combination of the board and Ian Holloway speculated back in 2001 (whilst losing Bobby Zamora for the sake of a reported £250 per week let's not forget).
Perhaps the club are banking on the extra revenue coming from the cost of disabled parking next season?
The flip side of not moving home just yet could be that we kick on next season with out new signings and try and crack the top 6, something that didn't look impossible when we were on form last season.
The chances of that however are slim, bearing in mind the dreadful run of form that we endured after exiting the FA cup. We looked a completely different side to the one that had beaten Fulham and Southampton, indeed one that probably would have struggled against Southport.
Thanks to Leeds United making a mess of the play off final against Doncaster (oh how I laughed...), there will be some truly massive clubs in this league next season. Along with Leeds, we'll also face Leicester City, who as little as 5 years ago were a regular Premiership side.
Once again, proof if proof were needed that no club is too big to suffer the drop, with Southampton also coming perilously close to joining us.
Let's not forget that we will also face some stern opposition in the two teams that have joined from the league below. As well as having a fair chunk of money behind them, both Peterborough and MK Dons have some very good footballers in their ranks, who will relish the extra challenge of League One next season. Not forgetting the phoenix-from-the-flames that is Hereford United of course.
We won't have to wait too long to find out who we'll be playing, with the 2008-09 fixtures being announced on Monday 16th June. How ironic if our first game pitted us away to Cheltenham...
As ever, the summer months are proving far too long without football (even if it is only mid-June!), and I'm eagerly anticipating the start of the new football season already - which for me will start on August 5th and the friendly against my home town club, Salisbury City.
Not that I think there is an awful lot to look forward to however. I believe that if we can finish somewhere between 12th and 16th, we will have done well next season, with anything else being a bonus.
Enjoy your summer. See you in August!