It's legalised cheating

Our next home game is against QPR, a club that seven years ago this week went into administration. With losses of more than £550,000-a-month at the time, the move was the only option for the Hoops after spending beyond their means.

Our next home game is against QPR, a club that seven years ago this week went into administration.

With losses of more than £550,000-a-month at the time, the move was the only option for the Hoops after spending beyond their means.

They gambled. They lost.

But this is football, and few industries reward financial mismanagement as well as that of the beautiful game in England.

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Neil Doncaster would rightly point to Leeds as an example of the perils of spending beyond natural means, but there are dozens of clubs who have spent bundles of cash in a bid to buy success before landing in the financial mire - only to find another mug (egotist) to come along and do the same thing.

Chelsea were on the verge of imploding before the Russian came along. Portsmouth, Derby, Ipswich, Crystal Palace, Leicester and Coventry can all tell similar stories.

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Sadly - in many cases - football has rewarded the most irresponsible.

Last week QPR signed a record £20m deal with kit makers Lotto. With billionaire boardroom backing they are fully expected to be fighting for a place in the Premiership next season.

The 19th best-supported club (average attendance 12,900) in the Championship will be a force to be reckoned with.

And that, in a nutshell, is where football has gone t*ts up.

The Man can understand there is a certain logic to someone coming into a club like Sunderland and bank-rolling their promotion.

It's still annoying, but with 45,000 people at the Stadium of Light last week you can sort of accept it.

But QPR? It will be difficult to stomach.

Perhaps the best modern comparison, aside from Wigan, would be QPR's near-neighbours Fulham, who co-incidentally will be relegated to the Championship this summer.

They barged their way through this division (and the one below it) with a cheque-book, before washing themselves in the self-perpetuating riches of the Premiership.

Scores of decent clubs who got better crowds than Fulham, and who had to count every penny, simply had to stand aside as the conspiracy theorist decided he wanted a plaything.

So much for our dreams and ambitions; money talks.

It's this reversal of football's natural order which The Man finds so hard to take.

We back our club to the hilt, fill our ground, all things would have bought us an advantage in days gone past - but now only serve to keep us in this division, at best.

It is very likely that QPR will get promoted. They will follow Fulham's pattern.

Eventually their owners will grow tired of pouring money into a club that not that many people give two hoots about, and they'll come back down - with huge debts.

Maybe then it will be Brentford's turn to buy success for West London.

The rest of us? Well, we just have to step aside and let them get on with it - to hell with what's fair. It is legalised cheating.

THIS week Sir Alex Ferguson repeated his claim that Ronaldo should receive better protection from referees.

Suitably, the Man U boss chose April the 1st to say: "Our games see a tackle every 30 seconds so there is more risk of injury.

"But the English game will change now. It has to after the incident involving the Arsenal player."

He added that talented players such as Ronaldo needed to be looked after by officials, amid the rough and tumble of the Premiership.

Ronaldo's season has been so blighted by the hatchet men of English football that he had only managed a paltry 36 goals ahead of this weekend…

If referees had protected his skills properly who knows what glory he could have brought to Man U? As it stands they will just have to settle for the Premiership title and the Champions League…

The Man knows Fergie is just playing his usual game, but his continual manipulation and intimidation of referees is becoming tiresome.

I mean, for heaven's sake, what on earth are opposition sides supposed to do when they see Ronaldo hurtling towards them? Offer him a grease down and a shiatsu?

It is a universal - and unchangeable - rule in football that talented players will always get a bit of treatment. The good ones, such as Ronaldo, have to deal with that. And 36 goals suggests he can.

Please just deal with it Mr Ferguson, the odds are already stacked heavily in your favour - there's no need to tip the balance even further.

THE **** have admitted defeat in their battle hold on to territories in Northern Suffolk.

After coming under mounting attack from Norwich Freedom Fighters (NFF), the **** have been forced to surrender their foothold in Bury St Edmunds.

Andrew Goulborn, the ****'s sales and marketing director, said this week they would be shutting down their club shop in the town.

He said: "It is a decision that we have taken reluctantly, but is the result of a thorough review of our whole retail operation.

"Increasingly we have found that our presence in Bury is not economically viable with customer numbers down and operating costs increasing year on year.”

The Man passes on his heart felt congratulations to the Yellow Resistance for continuing to force the enemy into an embarrassing retreat.

Military sources suggest the NFF could liberate Stowmarket as early as July.

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