Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Real revisited

A few weeks ago Spain's business weekly Actualidad Economica ran a readers' contest on how Real Madrid could fix itself on the field having been so succesful off it.

With the help of my esteemed Spanish teacher my entry said roughly that they should copy Barca by selling off all the fat galacticos to cut the wage bill, hire a new manager and leave him alone and put all their effort into finding the best new young talent in the world.

So while Real has been collected its assortment of superstars, Barca has nurtured the brilliant young talent of Lionel Messi, who they brought over from Argentina at the age of 13 and looked after with TLC (he had a a hormonal deficiency in his bones which they foudn the best care for).

Worse still is the talent Real threw away. Eto'o spent three years there with barely a kick and Micahel Owen was neglected then resold becuase the £8 million profit spoke louder than what he could do on the pitch.

how many business papers does Spain need?

Spain has a new business daily, el economista, and very smart it looks to with good layout, charts, typography etc. But it's the 4th specialist business daily which to my mind is two or three too many. Britain, with a far bigger financial audience has just one, the FT. As in Britain, the serious general dailies also have good business sections.

el economista has also taken the strange decsion to publish Tuesday to Saturday. Much as I would have loved this in my daily days (working Sundays were a pain, not just because you worked half the weekend but also because there was no news) and I can see the logic. But if you need to buy a business daily every day you'll need to buy one on Monday. As most paper buying is habit, it will be hard to switch on Tuesday

Top line is vanity, lack of trophies is insanity

A week after a report revealed that Real Madrid had become the football club with the biggest turnover, the man who built it all, Florentino Perez, has quit as president.

Having spent $300 m to assemble a team (sorry, collection - they rarely play as a team) of fat, ageing, over the hill, galacticos that will now face a third trophyless year, the penny has finally dropped. This after a five-day period that saw defeats by a reserve Arsenal squad at home in the Champions League and Real Mallorca, 16th in the table and Spain's equivalent of Blackburn Rovers.

The headlines given to the 'richest club' report by all and sundry were insane. Name me one other industry where success is measured by turnover as opposed to profits, free cash flow, return on equity, dividend growth or market share.

'Top line is vanity, bottom line is sanity' is the old business adage and Real Madrid's bottom line is that it is out of the Spanish FA Cup, facing elimination from the Champions League and 10 points behind Barca in La liga.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Unspeakable (1)

Liverpudlians believe the whole world hates them. er, and they wonder why after this story in The Guardian:

The reputation of Liverpool fans took another pummelling last night when it was revealed that the ambulance taking Alan Smith to hospital had come under attack outside Anfield. Supporters surrounded the vehicle while throwing missiles and shouting "Munich scum" in reference to the plane crash that killed 23 people, including eight Manchester United players, in 1958.

Next time they are 3-0 down in the Champions League final I will be cheering for the other side to make it six.

Unspeakabale (2)

The racism that Barca striker Samuel Eto'o has to endure at some games is beyond words. Particularly at Zaragoza on saturday night where he almost walked off the pitch. And this is meant to be one of Europe's most civilised countries ....

Friday, February 24, 2006

It's Carnival today in Barcelona

Which means costumers for all the children at St Peters.

Ben, naturally, is making the most of it ...

Whack the whinging one!


great fun

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Marvellous Messi

There is much whinging in UK papers today. Only James Lawton in the Independent hits the nail on the head about the genius of Messi
He is ranked alongside Wayne Rooney as one of the great talents of the world game and certainly they both carry huge expectations to the World Cup. These hopes, however, do not exceed the kind of gifts that can be brought to the challenge.

Those of us lucky enough to see him play this season couldn't fail to agree.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Everything that was good about Barca's football was on display tonight when they came from behind to beat chelsea 2-1 at stamford bridge. the speed and vision overwhelmed chelsea who were hanging on like a pulevrised boxer by the end. chelsea's dull brand of football was put to the sword once and for all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Lander's Northern Tour

I've been on a small northern tour to interview financial advisers for New Model Adviser. First stop was Liverpool where the wonderful hospitality of Phil Melville of Argyle Financial Group extended to a visit to Anfield for a blood and thunder 200mph encounter between Liverpool and Arsenal which the home side scraped with a late winner. So different from watching Barca where the crowds are that much quieter and the game that much slower.

Thence to Newcastle via train, taking in some of England's most beautiful scenery in the lakes and Northumberland. Never been here before and it's something of a revelation - great light stone architecture, combining the best of Edinburgh's New Town with the towering bridge presence of Sydney. Great pubs as well - real narrow boozers with great beer of the type that really don't exist in london any more.

Bloody cold as well - not enough however to stop hordes of Geordies taking to the streets in t shirts and minis.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

mobile barcelona

Off to 3GSM yesterday to wonder at the sheer scale of it all in the massive exhibition halls of La Fira. Barcelona has put on its best face with beautiful clear sunny skies although reports from the airport of long taxiing from the distant runway to the terminal, even longer walks to the luggage carousels and yet longer taxi queues (there are of course thousands of taxis waiting when there is no demand for them...) probably were not the best first impressions for many new visitor.

What was very odd was the total lack of security. There was no body or bag scanning whatsoever and this on a day when the king, queen and Catlonian president were doing their official thing. There was much greater security when we went to the national art museum here

I got within 10 feet of all them when they visitedthe Vodafone pavilion and while there was no shortage of bodyguards, there was no cordon and one could have eaily taken them out.

The FT says 3GSM´s move from Cannes will save delegates €7 million or 22% of their spending last year on taxis, hotels and eating. The bandwagon is here for five years which means by my abacus they will spend around €120 million over that time.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

this is serious

barca lose again, 1-0 to valencia, and the lead is now down to 6 points. if i wanted to see my team self destruct i could have stayed in england ...

you know that 3GSM is in town when ...

... all your hear around town are american accents
... restaurants start catering to the americans by serving dinner from 8pm and can get a second serving in
... hotel rates are now £1,000 a night

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Sun and ski

After the beach last weekend it was time to hit the ski slope. Avec my two French copains, we set off from Barcelona at 8.30am and were kitted out, ticketed and on the chairlift at Masella by 11am. the weather was simply stunning and there was tons and tons of snow (far more than the Alps have got this year) for me to fall over in.

I even managed an ultra slow descent down a couple of red runs. A blissful lunch was taken on a terrace en plein soleil consisting of a very bad hamburger (the alps really do have better food) a beer and a cigar, all of which combined to make the post prandial descents rather eventful. All this and back home by 7pm.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

enrique morente

we went to see enrique morente, one of spain's leading flamenco singers, last night at a packed palau de la musica. it was one of the most powerful, emotional concerts I have ever seen - a controlled passion rising up from a semi strangled voice that seemed to combine all sorts of sephardic elements in it.

It was all a million miles from the the traditional tourist flamenco pap - he is seen here as the man who reinvented flamenco here and has worked with African, Cuban and punk musicians. He has also adapted poems by Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca and songs by Leonard Cohen.

He is on at Sadler's Wells in London next week. Not to be missed if you around.

Monday, February 06, 2006


No Eto'o, no Ronaldinho (and four others missing through injury) no football....

Barca were dire last night as they slumped 1-3 in the Camp Nou to a sprightly Athletico Madrid to end 14 league wins on the run.

'Desastre' said the man on the bus going home. Not sure it is - they still have a nine point lead. but they really need to wake up again. Real Madrid have won four on the run and Barca go to 2nd-placed Valencia next week.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Beach or ski

It was one of those magnificent days when you could have gone two hours north to ski or 30 minutes south to go to the beach. both were packed. we went to the beach at Castelldefels and picnicked among the sanddunes and very nice it was as well.

Friday, February 03, 2006

He's back!!!!!!!!!!!

Colonel Antonio Tejero that is - the man who tried to bring down the government in 1981 by invading parliament and shooting his pistol.

Great piece by Giles Tremlett in the Guardian about him fulminating (along with other soldiers) about Catalonia's new proposed autonomy.

Turns out the government is creasing itself laughing 1) because the chances of a new coup attempt are so minimal as to be zero and 2) because these lot associate themselves with the rather gormless conservative opposition, creating a skunk-like smell which puts off anyone of moderately centrist views....