Saturday Ticker: Bradford City could refuse Europa League spot, Casillas’ recovery ahead of schedule, and more

BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

On the eve of one of the most important matches in club history, Bradford City co-chairman Mark Lawn told reporters that he does not expect the Bantams to compete in next year’s Europa League.

Lawn told The Sun that Bradford City would turn down the offer of playing continental competition if financial concerns were too great for the League Two outfit. The Bantams would earn a Europa League spot with a win over Swansea in Sunday’s Capital One Cup final.

“I’m not going to pay to play in Europe,” Lawn said. “When we beat Villa (in the semifinal), I was told, ‘You don’t really want to get into Europe — it costs you money in the early rounds.’ I said, ‘Well, that’ll be fun because if it costs us money, we won’t be there.’

“I won’t put us in fiscal danger to play in Europe…it’s all very well saying there are financial rewards once you get to the group stage. But we’re a fourth division club — realistically, we’re not going to get there.”

The co-chairman then dismissed the chances of his club winning tomorrow’s clash with the Swans.

“Realistically, it’s not going to be a problem because I don’t think we’re going to win against Swansea.”

If Bradford City pulls off one more upset tomorrow and later turns down the Europa League, a Premier League club may take their spot.

Here are more stories from this Soccer Saturday:

CASILLAS COULD BE BACK SOONER THAN EXPECTED

Real Madrid captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who has been out of action since January with a thumb injury, could be in line for a return to the pitch by the end of March, according to reports.

The initial diagnosis of the injury on the Spain international anticipated that Casillas could return no earlier than mid-April, but Casillas has made progress in his bid to get back between the pipes at the Santiago Bernabeu.

In his place, new signing Diego Lopez has been starting for Real Madrid, while reserve goalkeeper Antonio Adan, who has hardly played this season, is reportedly looking for a new club to play for.

BECKHAM TO MAKE PSG DEBUT ON SUNDAY

David Beckham is likely to make his Paris Saint-Germain debut on Sunday, when his club takes on arch-rivals Marseille.

Beckham, who hasn’t played a competitive since December 1 when the Los Angeles Galaxy won the MLS Cup, could face countryman Joey Barton in the match, who plays for Marseille on-loan from Queens Park Rangers.

The 37-year-old midfield icon has been recently training at France’s Clairefontaine center to return to full fitness, following his signing for the club on January 31.

MANCINI TALKS FUTURE AT MANCHESTER CITY

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says that he would leave the club if he went two or three years without winning a trophy.

In the buildup to Sunday’s match with Chelsea, Mancini told reporters that he would walk away from his lengthy contract with Manchester City if he did not help the club win titles.

“I think it is important for every club to have stability,” Mancini said. “If you change the manager every one or two years, it’s difficult. But if I didn’t win for two or three years, I would say to the club: ‘I don’t want to stay’.”

Mancini also said that he does not see himself staying at the club for a long period of time, regardless of trophies.

“I don’t think I can stay here 10 years, it’s impossible for me,” Mancini said. “But I think that in four or five years, to try to win the Premier League and Champions League, I think this is possible.”

Mancini’s comments come after increased speculation that Manchester City may let him go if the club does not win a trophy this season. The Citizens are 15 points behind Manchester United in the Premier League race but are among the final ten in the running for the FA Cup.

QUICK KICKS

Liverpool does not feel that Luis Suarez will be punished by UEFA for an alleged stamping incident with Zenit defender Tomas Hubocan in Thursday’s Europa League match. (REPORT)

English FA ambassador Paul Elliott, who has been a trustee for the anti-racism “Kick It Out” campaign since 1996, has resigned from the association after reports claimed that he used a racial slur in an e-mail to a business colleague. (REPORT)

Brazilian legend Ronaldo will do the honorary kickoff in Paris Saint-Germain’s match against Marseille on Sunday, which is expected to be David Beckham’s debut. (REPORT)

AS Roma’s American owners are considering selling a minority stake in the club to Jordanian investor Sheikh Adnan, who has lived in Italy for 25 years. (REPORT)

Arjen Robben will return to Bayern Munich’s starting XI in Jupp Heynckes’ 1000th match as a manager. (REPORT)

Montpellier midfielder Younes Belhanda believes his team have “gone soft” on the competition, leading to their lower standing this season. (REPORT)

Copa Libertadores champions Corinthians have been banned from home matches in the competition for the next two months, following the death of a 14-year-old boy in the visitors section. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Thoughts on Bradford City’s possible Europa League predicament? What do you make of Mancini’s comments? Think Suarez should be punished for Thursday’s incident?

Share your comments below.

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24 Responses to Saturday Ticker: Bradford City could refuse Europa League spot, Casillas’ recovery ahead of schedule, and more

  1. Gnarls says:

    I understand Bradford’s co-chairman having reservations about Europa League as a 4th div side, but his “being realistic” must be a huge buzzkill for Bradford players and fans. At least wait until they lose to make those statements. “…I don’t think we’re going to win against Swansea.” What kind of chairman says that, really?

    • Andy says:

      +1. Just wait a few weeks even if that’s the decision, and if they lose, it would never have to be said anyway.

    • Charlie The Unicorn says:

      The first round of Europa League qualifiers are full of amateur and semi-pro sides who have no problem playing there without financial losses. I don’t understand why it should be a problem for Bradford?

      • Igor says:

        Which amateur and semipro sides?

        • Jabez says:

          Slight exaggeration by the unicorn, but teams from the Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, Malta, are hardly in a different financial situation than Bradford City.

          I’m pretty sure you could get a supporters group that would look to raise money for the cost of flights, and accomadations for the team for a couple rounds of action.

          • The Imperative Voice says:

            Or a sponsor???????

          • Wendell Gee says:

            I don’t think you really see clubs from the Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, or Malta in the Europa League Group stages. In the qualifying rounds sure, but not the group stage.

            • Well Gee Wendell Gee says:

              Isn’t that the point. Group stages you make money, but you lose money in the qualifying stages (or maybe you don’t as indicated by the presence of minnows in those games).

              • francis says:

                Birmingham City played in the Europa last season despite gettng relegated from the EPL. dunno if they made money or not , but by all accounts the fans enjoyed the unique experience of European competition

  2. Pete says:

    Maybe he’s trying to use reverse psychology?

  3. A says:

    My my, I wonder how all of those semi-pro squads manage things in the early Europe qualifiers… ownership should really look into replacing a few of their board members if that is the mentality they feel comfortable speaking in public about.

  4. tryst says:

    4th division English team is still more or less on the level of the teams they might face. Such as the champion of the Finnish, Estonian, Luxembourg leagurs. I sure hope they win. Would be very profitable for the club.

  5. The Imperative Voice says:

    I’m not sure he knows what he’s talking about. The league cup winners come in third round qualifying and there weren’t many of those who were bad last year. Bilbao, Hannover, Inter, OM, etc. Seriously telling me they wouldn’t be a home draw?

    Plus, if they win the tournament they get 100,000 pounds (x1.6 for USD), 50,000 pounds for runnerup. Plus I’m sure there is some sort of sponsorship deal to be had like that team that brought in McBride and others and got Bud sponsorship for their FA Cup run. But if your owner sounds like this big a mercenary jerk you might scare off the sponsors. Who says this pre-game?

    I think it’s like PTSD. Pro/rel fans tend to sweep under the rug what happens when teams fall back down, Bradford had an EPL cup of coffee around the millenium and actually has played in Europe before, at that time. But they were overreaching and have been in and out of administration since.

    • Harry says:

      if it weren’t for pro/rel there wouldn’t be a Bradford City. There wouldn’t be a Championship league or League 1.

      So, i’m not sure why you’ve brought up pro/rel.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        There wouldn’t be lower divisions without pro-rel? Isn’t our whole structure disproof of that?

        I brought up pro-rel because one reason Bradford may be leery is shell shock from roughly 1999/2000 when they climbed up to the EPL and actually played in Europe (this wouldn’t be the first time), but then they dropped back out of the EPL and went into financial freefall. They’ve been in and out of administration, ie, bankruptcy. Ironically, they may feel better business wise being unambitious.

        I think their historical experience with being at the top rungs and then falling back down may help explain their rather odd reaction to the implications of the cup final.

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          I think 5-0 likely makes it all academic though.

        • Harry says:

          No. Actually, our structure proves my point. Lower division clubs that play their games on high school fields. If we had pro/rel we’d have a much stronger 2nd and 3rd division by now. In fact, if pro/rel were announced tomorrow you would see investment start to pour into NASL.

          Without pro/rel the English clubs below the EPL would lose their value and they would lose their support. I’ve lived in England and fans of League 2 sides root for promotion. They want to get to League 1, then they want to get to the Championship.

          Bradford played in the Intertoto Cup which was basically a summer friendly tournament. Bradford has never made it into a real European club competition.

          Bradford has a population of less than 300k. And they have a stadium that holds 25k. They may be too ambitious of a club and that is what has gotten them in trouble financially. But thats what the football league system is all about. Smaller clubs trying to get a bite of that Premier League apple. For a club like Bradford just to make it into the EPL would be huge financially for their city. That’s why some clubs go for it and some clubs don’t. The downside is when you go for it you put yourself in more financial danger.

  6. May You Be Peaceful and Win says:

    I think if the Dalai Lama wanted them to play in Europe next year they would oblige.
    link to shambhalasun.com

  7. RK says:

    Stupid for them to be able to qualify with a Cup win.

  8. baropbop says:

    Is the bradford game on tv?

  9. Gerald says:

    Birmingham still received a “parachute” payment from getting relegated. In order the potentially get into the group stage of Europa League they would probably have to invest in players to do so which will cost money. However the Chairman should waited until after they won to say anything