OBVIOUSLY, football has not restarted but football clubs and players have still been in the news for various reasons.

I suppose coming from the north-east I can start with one owner, who isn’t so popular at the moment, billionaire Mike Ashley.

He owns a large group of shops that sells fitness equipment.

At first, he thought that would enable him to stay open and help people get fit but that didn’t work, of course, and he was told to shut up shop.

But the real disappointment for his passionate supporters was that his club sent out requests asking for payment for next season’s season tickets, warning them they could lose their ticket if they didn’t pay now.
On the good side, though, Newcastle are sending out parcels full of pies to help the NHS.

Apart from that, every other club in the news has been there for good reasons.

I want to start with Saints and their fantastic contribution which will see them hand out 12,000 free meals over the next 12 weeks to the city’s most vulnerable.

That really is a fantastic effort.

The two big Manchester clubs have both contributed a large sum of money to help the NHS.

But, recently, three clubs caught my eye because, apart from Saints, I have always had a bit of a liking for them.

I have admired Brighton’s owners, the Bloom family, for some time, as they are local business people who have always run the club so well and make everyone welcome.

One of the impressive things to me is how they have stood by managers over the years, longer than the average club does.

They came out with the announcement that they will give 1,000 free tickets to the NHS.

This was followed up by our other neighbours, Bournemouth, who I have often said are amazing because the capacity at the Vitality Stadium is only 11,500, bearing in mind the big sides can get 70,000 fans in.

Their chairman, Jeff Mostyn, who is based in Southampton, always makes people welcome and, along with the rest of his board, has run the club so well and supported Eddie Howe.

The atmosphere on a matchday off the field is one which makes everyone feel welcome.

The third club I want to mention is Grimsby Town.

Naturally, I would be interested because that was the last club I was at before Saints.

They are doing a similar thing in so far as donating 50 tickets to every game next season to the NHS.

Saints, I believe, are also putting out important fitness videos to help keep people active and to make sure supporters still feel a part of the club.

This comes after the Daily Echo reported that the club is determined to improve facilities at the training ground and also at St Mary’s Stadium.

This reminds us how much respect is given to their followers and I’m sure they will be doing more until this virus vanishes.


WHEN it comes to money, as we said last week, a lot of the lower clubs are in danger of going out of business.

But it was interesting to see that Birmingham City, a Championship side, have brought in a new rule that means any players on over £6,000 per week should lose 50 per cent for the next four months, but this would eventually be repaid over time.

However, they have a problem because not only did the players reject the idea, they were supported by the PFA.

Speaking about the PFA, it surprised me they did something like that because I seem to remember reading once that they had around £50million in the bank.

I know they help players privately and knowing Gordon Taylor, the boss there for many years, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t joining in to help clubs as well as players.

The money, of course, that made everyone take notice was from Spaniard Pep Guardiola.

It was announced that the Manchester City manager was donating €1million [£905,000] to the Spanish version of the NHS to help them buy vital medical equipment.


LOTS of charities have been suffering and my Golf Day, which was due to take place in June, has now been postponed.

The Golf Day has been running for over 15 years in aid of Autism Hampshire.

But I think many other charities will be suffering.

For instance, Soccer Aid for UNICEF has also been called off, bearing in mind they made just over £7million last year.

But sport is only one part of our lives and whilst lots of people are involved, there are much bigger issues at stake because of this terrible virus.

When you see countries like Australia and America being swamped by it, it makes you realise how big and terrible it all is.

The other positive thing is when it all comes to an end, which is hopefully very soon, there will be a good atmosphere which in some areas wasn’t always there before.


IT is also good to read about players and ex-players giving up accommodation.

Gary Neville, who is based in the Manchester area, has opened the doors of his hotels up for NHS workers to stay in free of charge.

Wilfried Zaha, who often comes in for a tough time, has also given up his 74 flats across London to help out with the pandemic.

When I saw Zaha doing that, it reminded me of what I used to tell my younger players at what now is called an academy.

I reminded them that football is a short career and they need to get themselves a car and then buy a house.

But once they’ve bought that house, I’d encourage them to get a bigger one and to keep on buying them.

My lasting memory is of one of my players who clearly listened on that day. He not only got through the first team at Southampton but then also moved on to one of the bigger clubs in London.

He called me for a nice chat and I asked him if he is still in the business of buying houses at auction and he said, ‘Oh yes, I’ve got 120!’.

I couldn’t believe it.

A couple of years later I had another call from him to say he was in the area and whether we could meet for a coffee.

He told me he was now down to 20 but said they were good ones.

I also found out he had brought his parents down from the London area he used to live in and bought them a house, as well as buying his sister accommodation.

Well done to the present players and clubs for showing so much to the public.
Yes, they are in a different world and yes, they do get more money than the average man, but when it comes to an emergency, they are prepared to help. 

Here’s to the end of the virus and for the season to start again.