Named only at the weekend as an official ambassador for London by mayor Ken Livingstone, Chelsea football club have wasted no time in offering assistance to China’s Olympic football team in the run up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Chelsea’s official site reports that Chief Executive Peter Kenyon is with a mayoral delegation in China as it tries to promote co-operation between London and Beijing, the hosts of the next two summer Olympiads. Major commercial centre Shanghai is also involved. Earlier this year Kenyon met with Asian Football’s governing body regarding their grass roots development programme. This latest move could see Chelsea’s new training facilities at Cobham play host to a training camp for China’s national side.
Another team waiting to visit plush new surroundings is Hillingdon Borough who are now on their way to play Nantwich Town in the FA Vase final at Birmingham City’s St Andrews ground on Saturday 6th May at 3pm. They were taken to extra time by Bury Town on Sunday, but as the visitors wilted from the relentless effort of pursuing their 87th minute equaliser to Hillingdon’s first half opener, left back Nick Rundell’s corner evaded everybody and crept into the net for the decisive goal. Hillingdon manager Steve Ringrose revealed to the FA’s website that Dennis Wise had been helping Borough with their set pieces. Wisey must have been pleased to see the lads making up their own routines.
Dennis is still turning out for Coventry aged 39 and so he gets a vote in the Professional Footballers’ Association end of season awards in which three Chelsea stars plus Thierry Henry have been nominated. London clubs also provide four of the Young Player candidates in Darren Bent (Charlton), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Anton Ferdinand (West Ham) and Aaron Lennon (Tottenham).
Meanwhile, we all hope to hear shortly who’s won the FA’s England Manager For The Next Few Years award. Charlton’s Alan Curbishley may finally be persuaded to leave The Valley if the golden envelope contains his name after watching his current charges lose Wednesday night’s FA Cup quarter final to Middlesbrough, leaving themselves free once again to end their season in the now traditional safe, but unexciting, way. He’s as highly thought of at Charlton as a manager could be, a club forward thinking enough to provide more than 5,000 of its fans heavily subsidised or free travel for Operation Riverside in hopes of inspiring the team, rewarding their fans and also, by the admission of board member and BBC chairman Michael Grade in The Guardian, avoiding an embarrassingly empty stadium for the television cameras. Nevertheless this latest frustrating end to a season might make him finally look for a new challenge elsewhere. Chief Executive Peter Varney has revealed the club have started to browse around for a replacement. Just in case, like.
Picture of a Chinese Barcelona fan club via goodoldroger's Flickr stream.