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The Roker Ramble: This rocky road of tax avoidance, the Carabao cup & how to fix the game

Thailand takes on the League Cup, Jose and Ronaldo take on the Spanish tax authorities, and why penalty shoot-outs aren't fair on the players. And enough already - where did the summer break go?

RC Deportivo La Coruna v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Immeasurable wealth and fame - I can take it or leave it, but for those who succumb, who give in to the temptation of global adulation and riches beyond their dreams, it can be a rocky road. Ask Ronaldo (‘Ron’) - I mean what has the guy got to do?

First off, he blesses them with his presence, secondly, he lets them name things after him, he then only goes and wins them the Champions League – again! And what do they do – they charge him with not paying his taxes. About £13 million, so not a huge amount depending on how wild your dreams are, but enough to give Ron the hump.

Ron’s angry. Ron said he didn’t do it:

I didn’t do it.

Except in Spanish:

Soy inocente de todos estos cargos falsos y juro por la Santa Iglesia y la palabra de Dios que voy a probar mi inocencia y hasta que yo no voy a jugar para este equipo de nuevo.

(Google Translate is something else isn’t it?)

And Ron is going to do one (d’do run run Ron, d’do run Ron) - all the way into the arms of Jose at Manchester United. Ron and Jose go way back and they want to bring back the old days, get the band back together - they both love Manchester United, they’re both full of passion and energy and now they’ve both been charged with tax fraud by the Spanish Government. Today, Spanish prosecutors filed a claim against Jose saying he owes €3.3 million in back taxes from his time at Real Madrid.

What is it with that country... doesn’t anyone pay their taxes? They should be careful, they’ll get some dodgy types moving out there to take advantage if they’re not careful.

Real Madrid v Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final
"Ow ref, what's the crack like?"
Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

And Real’s problems don’t stop there - Luka Modric could face up to five years in chokey for suspected perjury in a criminal trial about his financial deals. Like I said, it can be a rocky road.

Does the European criminal justice system deliberately wait until the close season before pursuing itinerant global footballing superstars? If so, they’ve got an increasingly small window – it was only a couple of weeks ago that we had the Europa and Champions League Finals, and yet this season's tournaments start next week – how crazy is that?

And taking into account the Confederation Cup going on in Moscow and the Under 21 European Championships, does anyone else not feel like they’ve had a break? I mean last season was a real ball-ache, I need time to recover, to find my mojo again, but then the fixtures for next - sorry - this season came out yesterday, and it’s all a bit much really. If we don’t win the first ten games at a canter this season I’m really going to have to consider my position because there’s only so much that alcohol can do.

Carabao what?!

And what is the Carabao Cup? I’ve never heard of it – is it a punishment for being relegated? Well, after ploughing through references to the hot steamy client of Thailand, apparently there was a singer called Carabao who ‘is to Thailand what Springsteen is to America and Marley is to Jamaica.’ I could see the immediate football connection.

But Carabao had desires and gave in to the temptation of global adulation and riches beyond his dreams, and we know where that can lead....

That’s why they created Carabao as an everyday companion for the people of Thailand. Songs gave them hope. Carabao gives them energy.

I’m still not getting the football thing... but:

We are ready to take on the world with our philosophy that says everyone can overcome their dailiy (sic) challenges and reach their goals with the fighting spirit of the Carabao inside them.

OK, so they’re flogging a Thai energy drink. I get it now, but I really wish it was still called the League Cup.

The legend of the Carabao runs through everything we do and everything we believe in.

Pity about the draw for the first round then, where Charlton were shown to be playing twice, away to Exeter City and also at home to Cheltenham Town who in fact take on Oxford United. AFC Wimbledon - who actually play Brentford - were shown to play Swindon who are due to play Norwich, and Forest Green Rovers had to clarify on their Twitter feed that they would face MK Dons and not Wolves as advertised.

Add to that the broadcast from Bangkok from the Carabao Facebook page stalled and had sound issues and it seems like a tournament we can be proud of. For the record, we’ve been drawn against Bury and that’s a good thing, because that’s never gone wrong before.

Elsewhere, yet another quango has come up with a raft of ideas to make football more attractive (renaming the Carabao Cup back to the League Cup and getting rid of Stoke City would probably do it for me). The International Football Association Board (Ifab) (You fab too!) think there’s too much time wasting in the game so are suggesting two thirty minutes halves with the clock stopped when the ball goes out of play.

Which is fine, but if the clock stops when the ball is out of play, then the half is still going to take forty-five minutes, you’re just not counting the time that’s being wasted. Unless you penalise teams for wasting time, then surely nothing is going to change?

But on the whole, there are some good ideas – only the captain being allowed to talk to the referee is being trialed at the Confederation Cup and most people can’t see why it can’t be rolled out immediately. Apart from Chelsea, obviously.

Mexico Training Session & Press Conference - FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017
Mexico training ahead of the Confederations Cup in Russia.
Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Other ideas up for discussion is that of a player being allowed to pass to themselves at a free-kick, corner and goal-kick (not too sure of the advantages of that myself), a stadium clock which stops and starts along with the referee’s watch and allowing a goal kick to be taken even if the ball is moving.

Others include referees blowing for half-time or full-time only when the ball goes out of play, and players being banned from encroaching in the penalty box even if the penalty is saved.

However, one I’m not sure of is what they’re calling ABBA. No, it's not what you think. Instead, a change to the order of kicks in a penalty shootout. So, instead of taking turns, Team A would take the first kick, then Team B take the next two (hence ‘ABBA’ – clever eh?), then A take the two after that.

But then I got confused on how many kicks were being taken. If it’s the traditional five, then it should accurately be called ABBAABBAAB - which sounds like someone's father in the Old Testament or a bad Genesis album - but why bother with the change at all?


The ‘first’ kicker kicks from the penalty mark has a built-in advantage primarily because there is greater mental pressure on the second kicker (in each round) who often faces instant elimination if they miss their kick (especially once the first four kicks for each team have been completed).

This is only true if the first guy scores and the second guy misses. If the first guy misses and the second one scores then the pressure is on the first guy (BAABBAABBA) which is an early track by The Beach Boys and the whole issue is basically a fridge too far.

There are far simpler things to fix that’ll make the game more interesting and entertaining than worrying about the pressure these little darlings are under – it is, after all, a rocky road.

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