Here are your Stoke City morning headlines for Wednesday April 22
FORMER STOKE BOSS HAS HIS SAY
Former Stoke City manager Lou Macari has had his say on the problems facing lower division clubs as they consider how to finish the season.
Some clubs are reportedly concerned they can’t afford to play out the season behind closed doors even if the EFL’s plans to finish the campaign this summer get the go ahead.
Lou said: “I would like to see more money coming from the Premier League clubs to support sides in Leagues One and Two. These are special circumstances and clubs at the top get millions just for whichever place they finish. Some of that would make a huge difference lower down.
“I do wonder if the connections between some of the top flight clubs and those in the lower divisions are as strong as they were. Over the years, the top clubs have all bought players from the lower divisions, but that’s become less the case as more signings have come from abroad for example.
“So, maybe some Premier clubs don’t feel they are as dependent on these lower division clubs as they used to be. “
MICHAEL O’NEILL FACING DECISION
Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland Euro 2020 play-off is now likely to be played in October – to leave the Stoke City manager a decision to be made about his dual role.
O’Neill was given permission by Stoke to see Northern Ireland’s qualification campaign through to its finish in March when he returned to club management in November.
But that qualifier against Bosnia was moved back to June when football shut down – and, at a Uefa meeting is now expected to be pushed back to October. A qualifying final, with the winner taking on either Republic of Ireland or Slovakia, is likely to take place in November.
The Uefa Nations League is also pencilled into the diary as planned for September.
STOKE CITY DEFENDER’S ESCAPADES RECALLED IN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
One of the more repeated questions over the past few weeks has been for recommendations on how to fill the footballing void.
And we’re lucky with Stoke City in that we have more than a fair share of top class biographies and autobiographies to keep us going for a long time in lockdown.
Peter Crouch’s excellent books are autobiographical but don’t particularly resemble many others – and it’s no coincidence that they have been flying at the top of the bestsellers charts.
He comes equipped with stories from clubs up and down the country, as well as England on the international scene, but he was at Stoke for longer than anywhere else.
And in all that time, he rarely came across many characters like Philipp Wollscheid, the enigmatic defender unlucky enough to be tasked with filling Robert Huth’s boots by Mark Hughes.
Wollscheid took things seriously.
Crouch explained in I, Robot how that included Friday morning set piece training when the reserve players whose role is to act as the opposition are expected not to put in any more effort than a mannequin.
And when that unwritten rule is not followed, ‘all hell breaks loose’.
OLDER THAN STOKE?
Crystal Palace have launched a shock claim to be crowned the oldest professional football club in the world in a move that will have Stoke City, Nottingham Forest and Notts County on alert.
Stoke, founded in 1863, are currently the oldest club in the Football League, although they are only holding the candle until Notts County – relegated from League Two last spring but founded in 1862 and still a professional club – can fight their way out of the National League.
Some Nottingham Forest fans have also tried to temporarily claim the crown. Their club was formed in 1865 but argue there is a lack of evidence for Stoke running before 1868.
There are even older clubs in non-league, led by Sheffield FC, who can trace their roots back to 1857.