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28th June 2016

Richard Branson had an explosive evening on Twitter following England's elimination from the 2016 European Championship. Following the defeat, the British billionaire posted a number of tweets citing reasons for England's failure - most notably hurtling blame at big clubs in England for restricting game time for English talent. He attacked The FA for their failure to introduce a viable home-grown policy, with the Virgin entrepreneur claiming that the current home-grown rules actually do more harm than good, as the top clubs hoover up players just to meet the requirements. 

Branson also questioned why clubs like West Ham couldn’t do more for English players, with his idea being that they could adopt a “British only” policy, similar to that of Athletic Bilbao in Spain, who only sign players from the Basque-region. Incredibly, West Ham's Head of Recruitment, Tony Henry, was actually reported to have liked this tweet, although when fans on the platform noticed, he quickly un-liked it. David Gold, Chairman of West Ham, was quick to respond to Branson's tweet about West Ham, with the Ann Summers owner calling Branson’s proposal “ludicrous” and a “suicidal” move for any Premier League club given the level of competition, as well as the premium prices for English players. Gold told Branson he should “put his money where his mouth is”, which was met with no reply from the billionaire.

Edited by PaulHartman71

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May 31st 2017

 

Hampton & Richmond Borough FC file for bankruptcy 

 

In breaking news, Vanarama Conference South side, Hampton & Richmond FC, have filed for bankruptcy and could no longer exist as soon as next week. Administrators have been searching for a buyer to no avail, with local businessmen and supporter groups unable to cough up enough cash to save the London-based side. This could be good news for fans, staff and players of recently relegated Gosport Borough though, as if Hampton & Richmond were to surrender their place in the division, then Gosport would be saved and remain in the 6th tier after all. 

Hampton & Richmond were formed in 1921 as Hampton FC, before a 1999 re-brand which attempted to draw in fans from further afoot in the borough. Alan Dowson has been their manager since September of the 2014/15 season and told reporters that it would be "a real shame" if the club was to disappear, with rumours already that a local supporters group are planning to set up a Sevco-style re-brand of the side further down the English Football pyramid. 

 

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June 2nd 2017

 

Richard Branson emerges as shock possible buyer for Hampton & Richmond


Hampton & Richmond Borough FC have seemed have seemed destined for death in recent weeks, but if reports are true, it appears that Virgin billionaire, Richard Branson, may be interested in purchasing the club. It would be a shocking turn of events if he was to take control of the London-based club, with many pundits questioning why he wouldn't just use his vast resources to purchase a Premier League, or even a Championship side instead. 

The local fans have reacted with up-most enthusiasm on Twitter, with many wondering whether the mega-Tycoon will invest large sums into their small club. One Twitter user, Harry Cook, said "We're gonna be the new Chelsea! Happy f***ing days!!!" 

Richard Branson and his representatives have been unavailable for comment thus far.  

 

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31 minutes ago, PaulHartman71 said:

May 31st 2017

 

Hampton & Richmond Borough FC file for bankruptcy 

 

In breaking news, Vanarama Conference South side, Hampton & Richmond FC, have filed for bankruptcy and could no longer exist as soon as next week. Administrators have been searching for a buyer to no avail, with local businessmen and supporter groups unable to cough up enough cash to save the London-based side. This could be good news for fans, staff and players of recently relegated Gosport Borough though, as if Hampton & Richmond were to surrender their place in the division, then Gosport would be saved and remain in the 6th tier after all. 

Hampton & Richmond were formed in 1921 as Hampton FC, before a 1999 re-brand which attempted to draw in fans from further afoot in the borough. Alan Dowson has been their manager since September of the 2014/15 season and told reporters that it would be "a real shame" if the club was to disappear, with rumours already that a local supporters group are planning to set up a Sevco-style re-brand of the side further down the English Football pyramid. 

 

Damn you getting my hopes up for a Gosport Borough story ;)

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1 hour ago, PaulHartman71 said:

West Ham's Head of Recruitment, Tony Henry, was actually reported to have liked this tweet

Shocking :p

Sounds Interesting :D

Edited by theonets

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June 4th 2017

 

Richard Branson completes purchase of Hampton & Richmond Borough.

 

Virgin Group owner, Richard Branson, has today completed his hotly rumoured purchase of the 6th tier Vanarama Conference South outfit. In a statement published on his Twitter page, he says "Today, Virgin Group have finalized a deal to save Hampton & Richmond Borough FC from insolvency. All of their debts have been paid off and the intellectual property of the club will remain their own, as will their ground, Beveree Stadium. Graham Wood will remain as Chairman of Hampton & Richmond Borough FC, with all other playing and non-playing staff members keeping their jobs at Graham's disclosure and subject to their own agreement."

Branson's statement was met with utter joy and delight from fans, players and staff alike, with many taking to various social media platforms to thank him personally. In what has been a time of much uncertainty for all involved with the club, they will surely be very pleased at the sudden stability with a billionaire on board. 

Edited by PaulHartman71

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June 5th 2017

 

OUTRAGE AS RICHARD BRANSON SET TO RE-BRAND HAMPTON & RICHMOND BOROUGH FC!

 

In a shocking twist in Virgin Group's purchase of Hampton & Richmond Borough FC, it has emerged that plans are afoot to immediately rename the team, with Branson registering official trademarks for "Virgin Sports FC" and the "Virgin Sports Arena". This would imply that the club would change its name, with Beveree Stadium also being renamed - this is perhaps not as controversial, as many fans had speculated and accepted that the stadium would become sponsored by Virgin Group . But as the news of these trademarks being registered broke on Twitter hours ago, football journalists and news outlets immediately picked up the story, to much uproar and outrage from fans and pundits alike. Figures across the game spoke out against the move, with many dubbing the move "MK Dons mk II", with the AFC Wimbledon official twitter page even sharing a "Solidarity with Hampton & Richmond Borough FC" picture that had been doing the rounds on the site.

Virgin Group were quick to respond to these rumours, with a spokesperson claiming that the speculation that Hampton & Richmond Borough FC were no more was "utterly false". The Hampton & Richmond Borough official Twitter account even shared a viral post made by Gary Lineker with the #RIPHamptonAndRichmond, with the comment "We're not dead!"

It remains unclear what exactly will happen to the club, but the trademarks suddenly being registered surely only point to one thing. 

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June 6th 2017

 

Confusion reigns in Hampton & Richmond Borough FC

 

Fans, players and staff of the recently purchased football club remain uncertain about what is going on at their club. Virgin Group completed the alleged purchase of the club two days ago, but nobody is really sure what is happening. Trademarks have been registered for both "Virgin Sports FC" and the "Virgin Sports Arena", with talk also coming out that Branson has been building a new London-based stadium for the last 12 months under strict secrecy. Nobody is sure where this stadium is based just yet, but one would have to assume that it is in the nearby vicinity of the club he has just bought.  

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June 7th 2017

 

THE GREAT CROYDON CON! 

 

In shocking breaking news, it has emerged today that Hampton & Richmond Borough FC have been re-branded "Virgin Sports Croydon FC" and will relocate to the new purpose built 12,000 all-seater capacity stadium, the "Virgin Sports Arena", located in Purley, Croydon, which is just under 6 miles away from Crystal Palace's stadium, Selhurst Park. A statement issued by Virgin Group has explained that when they saved Hampton & Richmond Borough FC from going bankrupt, they made a deal with former chairman, Graham Wood, that the club would be allowed to continue to exist and keep its intellectual property, stadium and training ground, as well as its players and staff. Initially, it was assumed that this meant that Hampton & Richmond Borough FC would remain in the Vanarama Conference South, but this will not be the case, as Virgin Group goes onto explain in its statement, that "the entity formerly known as Hampton & Richmond Borough FC will henceforth be called Virgin Sports Croydon FC, or VS Croydon for short. Graham Wood has retained the rights to the intellectual property of Hampton & Richmond Borough FC, which includes all club history and silverware, as well as Beveree Stadium and all previous staff and players subject to Wood's discretion." 

 One prominent football journalist summed it up best in an article for The Telegraph: "Essentially, what Branson has done is purchased a place in the Conference South for his new team. The comparisons to MK Dons and Wimbledon are fair, but perhaps not completely accurate. Wimbledon FC was moved to Milton Keynes but under the assumption that the club itself was moving, with the intellectual property, players and staff of Wimbledon FC still belonging to the new side, Milton Keynes Dons FC, until it was eventually relinquished two years later to the former local council of Wimbledon. But what Branson has done is purchase the club, pay off all of their debts, instantly re-brand and rename the club... and then immediately relinquished all intellectual property, players, staff and even the stadium right back to Graham Wood. This means that Hampton & Richmond Borough FC are free to join a league in the English pyramid in time for the new season, but their place in the Conference South is now filled by the renamed side - Virgin Sports Croydon FC. 

Confused yet? Join the club! 

Football fans across the board have almost unanimously vilified Virgin and Branson, but Graham Wood has reasoned to the press that "this scenario is a far better scenario than the one where Hampton & Richmond went bankrupt and ceased to exist. We thank Sir Richard for clearing the debts of the club and allowing us to continue to exist, albeit at a lower point in the English pyramid. We have learned from our financial mistakes and hope with the backing of our loyal fans that we can return to the Conference South in the coming years." 

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June 8th 2017

 

"This is not about me" says Branson on Virgin Sports Croydon FC, as billionaire outlines 'core principles' for new team

 

Sir Richard Branson has insisted in a press release that his re-brand of the entity formerly known as Hampton & Richmond Borough FC, to Virgin Sports Croydon FC, is not a vanity project. He restated that it was always his intention to preserve the original club and he claims that he has done that in a fair and dignified manner, when questioned by reporters, he pointed to paying off all of their debts and allowing them to continually operate as a football club was proof to that. 

When asked what why he had named the club "Virgin Sports Croydon FC" if it wasn't a vanity project, or a tool to advertise Virgin, Branson stated that marketability was key and he wanted to get as many eyes as possible on the new club. "It is my intention to use Virgin Sports Croydon FC as a platform to enhance English football. I've been a long-term admirer of the way Athletic Bilbao operate in Spain, with the club's buying strategy purely being to bring in and through players from the Basque-region. To do so at such a high level so consistently is truly remarkable and is why I believe the same can be done in England, with a club purely using players born and bred on these shores. I have built a stadium that meets Premier League requirements and that is exactly where I intend this club to eventually reach, where it will one day stand toe-to-toe with the Manchester clubs, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal". 

It is thought that it is Branson's intention to bring in a manager in the coming days, with Peter Reid, Nick Barmby and Paul Ince all being touted around as possible names to take the job. Although it is unclear if any of them would be interested in working at such a low level, even if the possibility of promotion would be high in the first season with the resources available. 

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I remember you from such careers as The Hart Chronicles - Volume I: Paul Hart's Alphabet Career and Pau FC: How the Paupers of the Pyrénées became a European Pauwerhouse

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June 10th 2017

 

Image result for david james manager

 

David James has been unveiled as the first ever Head Coach of Virgin Sports Croydon FC. In a move that has surprised many, Sir Richard Branson has appointed the former England goalkeeper, with the 46 year old's only previous managerial experience being in charge of Kerala Blasters, of the Indian Super League. Peter Reid was initially the favorite, who himself has managed in the Indian Super League in recent years, but Branson said James' interview was the best and he was excited to give an upcoming young English talent the chance to see what he can do. 

The former FA Cup winners with Portsmouth will be will be joined as Assistant Manager by another Portsmouth Alumni, in former Arsenal and England captain, Tony Adams. Adams was of course most recently manager for La Liga side, Granada. Terry Butcher has taken on the role of Director, with former Leeds United manager, Neil Redfearn, becoming Head of Youth Development. They are also joined by other experienced former England internationals in the coaching set-up, with Branson also bringing in Ray Wilkins, David Platt and Ian Walker to work at the Conference South side. 

Some in the media have backed Branson's bold choices to lead his side up the divisions and into the Football League, but many have also called David James' appointment "uninspiring" and said that many of the appointments have been made on name value alone and are more or less "jobs for the boys". 

Perhaps the only appointment of a young, upcoming and "unknown" is the hiring of the Head of Recruitment and General Manager, Phil Hart. Not much is known about him, but it is believed he will lead all off-field matters, especially those relating to the club's philosophy of using entirely English players. It is believed that in the long run Sir Richard Branson intends to bring through and nurture top young talent through the club's own Academy, but the infrastructure and investment required for this to come to fruition will take many years of hard work. 

There are also rumours that Branson wants Virgin Sports Croydon FC to be a trailblazer in many other aspects, including the way it is marketed to fans both young and old. It is allegedly hoped that VS Croydon will become a team that the average English football fan with no favorite team will lean towards due to the all-English set-up, as well as potentially becoming a 2nd team to fans of other teams across the country. This could potentially go someway to assist in filling their 12,000 capacity ground, something that seems a daunting prospect for a brand new club starting out in the 6th tier. It is also thought that Branson, using his Virgin Media platform and resources, intends to live-stream every single VS Croydon match that doesn't break the 3pm blackout, with these matches being available to watch for free on Youtube from the internet or TV. 

Edited by PaulHartman71

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Glenn Hoddle: "VS Croydon role wasn't for me" 

 

Image result for glenn hoddle

 

Former England manager, Glenn Hoddle, has spoken candidly about his interview experience with Richard Branson and Virgin Sports Croydon FC. Hoddle said that whilst he was fully behind the idea of the club in principle, an agreement couldn't be made that would allow him to be part of the venture.

"I think what they've got planned over there is exciting, really exciting, but although I was offered a role as Head Coach, the set-up that I would've been working under was not for me. I've had a lot of experience with a similar project for my own Academy, as well as what we did at Jerez, but despite my experience in this field they want Phil Hart to fill that role and I have to respect that. Ultimately I would've wanted to either be at the helms of the recruitment or have had more control as the manager, but I think David James is a fine choice and they've got some other great football people involved too.  I think ultimately we had different ideas for the project too, I think long term they want to establish themselves as a Premier League outfit, which I don't think you can do if you run the club the way I would've liked to run it. But I have respect for the project and I wish them all the best". 

David James' appointment as head coach is still receiving mixed reviews, with some questioning why a manager with lower league experience wasn't chosen, or even Tony Adams, who will act as James' assistant. But Tony Adams has spoken to the press in support of the move in recent days. 

"I'm pleased to be working alongside David as he takes up the role in the upcoming season. I was skeptical about taking on a head coach role and initially turned down the offer, but I was then offered the chance to be assistant manager with an additional scouting role, which is something I'm very excited about and I hope I can bring in players, as well as offer advice to those already on board. With respect to the other clubs in the division, I think with the resources available at this level David and I should have no trouble in steering VS Croydon to the higher positions in the table this season, but we will see how it goes. We've got a lot of lads on trial and I'm telling you, there's some top players there. I'm looking forward to it."  

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Recruitment drive at VS Croydon

 

Virgin Sports Croydon have experienced one of the strangest transfer windows in English football history this summer, as they are perhaps the first side to start the window without a single contracted player. Following the club's decision to allow Hampton & Richmond to hold onto their player contracts following the bait and switch purchase, they were left with not a single player on the books. This lead to a busy few weeks for Phil Hart, Head of Recruitment, who alongside his data analysts, scouts and coaches were running trial sessions almost every day. 

It is believed that despite the vast resources available to the club, in their first few seasons they will rely entirely on scouting and signing the best homegrown talent that have slipped through the cracks and ended up on the unemployment line. The vast majority of the 19 players they have so far registered contracts with are young players that have been left club-less, with just 2 of the players being over the age of 22: Marcus Holness (28), a central defender that has played for various football league sides, although most recently spent last season in the Conference with Altrincham - and Will Hoskins (31), a striker who has plied his trade around the leagues, turning out for the likes of Rotherham, Watford, Brighton and most recently Exeter in League 2 last season. 

The full list of players picked up by VS Croydon, alongside their previous club, can be found below: 

Anas Abdo (Bolton), Jason Akiotu (Crystal Palace), Luke Booker (Sheffield Wednesday), Armani Daly (Tottenham), Jason Davis (Bognor Regis), Andrew Dawber (Crewe), Rich Dearle (Nottingham Forest), Chris Doyle (Morecambe), Jack Hartley (Accrington), Marcus Holness (Altrincham), Will Hoskins (Exeter), Jordan Jowers (Middlesbrough), Ivor Lawton (Coventry), Carl Templeton (Leicester), Cassian Thomas (Fulham), Luke Thomas (Nottingham Forest), Josh Walker (Fulham), James Wolfenden (Accrington) & Freddy Yao (Burnley). 

Hart's alleged plan is to use this squad as a base for head coach David James for the next few months. They will see how they perform by January and if necessary recruit a few more players if they look short of clinching promotion at the first time of asking, although the bookies already have them down as strong favorites for the title, with only Dartford to offer any kind of challenge for top spot. 

Edited by PaulHartman71

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Some decent signings there. Anas Abdo and Josh Walker were absolute beasts for me with Boston United, first teamer from Conference North right through to winning League Two.

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Virgin have "massive" plans for Virgin Sports Arena unveiling

 

Image result for mo farah and usain bolt

 

The first ever football match to take place at the new purpose built 12,000 all-seater stadium in Purley, Virgin Sports Arena, is VS Croydon's 2nd ever league game, a match against fellow Vanarama Conference South side Oxford City. Some in the press have mentioned that it would be pretty comical for a 12,000 capacity ground's first match to only draw 500-1000 people, but Virgin appear to be looking to kick of their new football team's start to life with a bang. On the club's official website, they are offering tickets as low as £1 to get as many people as they can in to watch the new team. 

Any permanent resident in the borough of Croydon will be able to pick up a ticket for just £1, as will any pre-existing Virgin Media customers, with U16s going free with an accompanying adult. This represents an incredible 90 percent discount, as the price of an average ticket throughout this season will be £10 for local residents (and Virgin Media customers) and £12 for everyone else. For the match against Oxford City, the prices for non-locals have been slashed too, with OAPs, Students and anybody that can provide an Armed Forces ID will be able to get in for just £2, with the average punter being asked to fork up just £2.50 a head. Virgin have also been present at local football summer schools in the area, attempting to get kids familiar with the branding and offering free tickets for children and 1 guardian for those interested. 

The average season ticket offered out for VS Croydon for locals and Virgin Media customers this season is fairly reasonable at £175 (£190 for non locals), as the bookies hottest tip to challenge VS Croydon for the title, Dartford FC, price their season tickets slightly higher at £200.

There are also rumours that Virgin are looking into the possibility of celebrity involvement in the pre-match with Oxford City, as despite pricing tickets as low as they have, it will be still be difficult to convince thousands of punters to turn up to a 7.45PM kick off on a Tuesday night for a Conference South match. Talks are allegedly in place for doors to be at 4.30PM with a "Virgin XI" to take on an "England XI" in a celebrity style match that would kick off at 5.15PM, with Virgin Media stars like Usain Bolt, David Tennant  and Mo Farah tipped to appear alongside the likes of Ryan Giggs, Peter Schmeichel and Robert Pires for the Virgin team, with Premier League legends such as Sol Campbell, Andy Cole and Robbie Fowler lined up for the England team, with rumoured celebrity involvement of John Boyega, Game of Thrones star Alfie Allen, Muse lead singer Matt Bellamy, as well as a possible pre-match performance from Croydon native, Stormzy.  

Edited by PaulHartman71

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6 minutes ago, PaulHartman71 said:

The average season ticket offered out for VS Croydon for locals and Virgin Media customers this season is fairly reasonable at £175 (£190 for non locals), as the bookies hottest tip to challenge VS Croydon for the title, Dartford FC, price their season tickets slightly higher at £200

Bloody expensive that! I only paid £250 for Championship football this year! ;)

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Over 10,000 turn up for VS Croydon's first ever home match!

 

Image result for stormzy stadium

 

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Virgin answered their critics and naysayers on Tuesday night, when they pulled in 10,687 people for their Vanarama Conference South match with Oxford City. VS Croydon more than doubled the record attendance for a Conference South league game, with Weymouth vs St Albans City puling in a crowd of 5,022 back in April of 2006. They were even just 399 people away from breaking the record attendance for a National League match, with Bristol Rovers vs Alfreton pulling in an incredible 11,085 in a Vanarama National League match in 2015. 

The evening kick started with local chart topping Grime artist, Stormzy, performing tracks such as "Shut Up" and "Big For Your Boots" from his UK #1 album, 'Gang Signs & Prayer', which was followed by a charity celebrity friendly, with 'Virgin XI' taking on 'England XI'. It finished Virgin 5-3 England, with Robbie Keane grabbing a hat-trick for Virgin, in a game that also saw Robert Pires and Usain Bolt grab a goal for the "home" side, with England seeing 2 goals for Robbie Fowler and a penalty converted by non other than David Beckham who was a late addition in Virgin's attempt to try and sell out the 12,000 capacity stadium. 

Some were critical of Virgin's decision to live stream the entire event for free on Youtube, with many believing that if they hadn't done this they may well have sold the other 1,300+ tickets to make it a sell out, but it is thought that Branson was pleased with the additional eyes on the club that came with the Youtube streaming. It came as no surprise that the most viewed part of the event was the Virgin vs England friendly, with thousands of viewers switching off before VS Croydon and Oxford City had even kicked off, with some even in the stadium itself leaving after the charity match finished. In-fact, as could be seen on the broadcast, the stadium was noticeably emptier by half-time despite VS Croydon leading Oxford City 4-2, with many punters choosing to beat the rush and traffic and get home earlier rather than stay until the end. 

It seems almost strange to talk about the match itself as it certainly seems to have taken a back-foot by both Virgin and the media itself, but VS Croydon put in very impressive performance with a 6-3 win, with Virgin bosses surely set to be very happy with a "dream" performance with all those eyes on them. They'd won their opening day trip to East Thurrock 5-0 already, with strikers Josh Walker and Will Hoskins in fine form, with a brace for the former and a hat-trick for the latter - and both men were up for it with the TV cameras on them Tuesday night, with Hoskins getting a 2nd consecutive hat-trick and Josh Walker getting a goal and a brace of assists. Luke Thomas and Jason Jowers also got on the scoresheet, with head coach David James said to be very happy with the attacking performance, although a bit disappointed defensively to concede 3 goals at home. 

 

Edited by PaulHartman71

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Great idea for a thread, loving that you've 'out-franchised' MK.

Obviously in real life the idea is terrible

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Pompey put VS Croydon's FA Cup run to an end!

 

Image result for portsmouth fans

 

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Just over 2,000 travelling Portsmouth fans saw their side beat Virgin Sports Croydon 2-0 on a cold Sunday 2pm November kick-off. The away fans actually out sold the home fans, with 2,114 of the 4,062 attendance coming up from Pompey, although the game was streamed live on Youtube as well as on BT Sport on the TV, with the game being chosen by the broadcaster, who then surprisingly agreed to allow rivals Virgin to stream the game on their own Youtube channel. 

A lot of neutral football league and non-league fans were very happy to see the largely unpopular VS Croydon go out, after putting together a somewhat impressive cup run which has seen them defeat Sittingbourne, Frome and Southport in recent weeks. VS Croydon do still remain top of the Vanarama Conference South though, with 16 wins, 1 draw and a single loss at Welling United, who are their nearest rivals in 2nd place, despite trailing by 10 points at the time of writing. 

VS Croydon were without star striker Will Hoskins for the match with Portsmouth, with the Conference South top scorer suffering a groin strain last week, he was a big miss as he has 21 goals in 20 matches so far this season in all competitions. David James congratulated the League 1 side who he once captained to win the FA Cup, by saying that the better team won on the day and that he wished them all the best for the rest of the season. James could yet see his side get a trip to Wembley this season, as they are one of the favorites for the non-league competition, the FA Trophy, which begins in a few weeks, with his side hosting Isthmian Division 1 South side, Sittingbourne. 

 

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This is right up my street, love a rebrand. Will certainly be following along! Any kits or a badge at all? :) 

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I don't have any kits or a badge at the minute. Will perhaps look into doing some in the coming weeks, but if there are any budding design whiz kids out there who want to provide some that would be greatly appreciated :D 

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Love the story so far, but to throw a fly in the ointment, David James didn't captain us to win the FA cup.  Sol Campbell did :brock:

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8 minutes ago, Pompeyboyz said:

Love the story so far, but to throw a fly in the ointment, David James didn't captain us to win the FA cup.  Sol Campbell did :brock:

 

Ah I skim read his Wiki page and saw he captained in the final, but looks like that was the actually the 2009 one where Chelsea won. My bad :D 

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VS Croydon's record breaking first season in review, as Vanarama National League season comes to a close

 

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The bookies hotly tipped Virgin Sports Croydon to win the Conference South in their first season and they were not disappointed. They won the title with 4 games to spare, eventually finishing up on 106 points, 17 points ahead of nearest rivals, Weling United, who now go into the Playoffs with Gloucester, Dartford, Chelmsford, Bath and Truro. VS Croydon ended the season with the most amount of wins ever, 34, as well as the most amount of points ever. 

Will Hoskins ended as top scorer, with 30 goals in 39 league matches, with his strike partner, Josh Walker, finishing up with 21 goals and 17 assists from 36 games. He was tipped by his own team-mate, Jack Hartley, for the most assists gong, with the 20 year old winger ended the season with 18 assists and 4 goals in 33 appearances. When asked for his thoughts on the season, club captain, 22 year old central midfielder, Ivor Lawton, said "The lads have all done really well this season. I know that everyone expected us to win it, but we had a young squad, very few of us had a professional start to our name and we'd all been released by other clubs. I think to come out of that disappointment there's always pressure on you to rebuild your career and so there was even more pressure on us with the high expectations and ambition shown at the club, but a lot of us have thrived on that and we're over the moon to have won the league the way we have!". 

The league victory will have come as relief to head coach David James and his players, as questions were asked following their shock FA Trophy 2nd round exit to eventual Conference North winners, York City, who beat them 3-1 in York, with just 17 VS Croydon fans making the trip up North. The higher ups in the club had been hoping to at least reach the final of the competition, which would have given the team a trip to Wembley, but that will have to wait for some other day. 

 A bumper crowd of 1,294 turned up to watch the final day celebrations that followed a 3-0 victory over Truro, with goals from Will Hoskins and a late tap-in from substitute Aaron Kuhl, the former Reading prospect who was VS Croydon's only incoming pick-up in January. The turnout on the day represented almost double the average attendance VS Croydon received for much of the season, with the general match day ticket sales being around the 500-600 level. A huge drop-off from the opening home match turnout of over 10,000 - but it was never going to be easy to attract too many people to 6th tier English football matches, with the prospect of the 5th tier sure to attract some more ticket sales next season. 

A selection of statistic information about the squad can be found below, which of course omits Jason Davis and Armani Daly, who left in the latter months of the season on free transfers to Dover and Dulwich Hamlet respectively: 

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30th May 2018

 

Image result for ray wilkins sky sports

 

We get the reaction as Jose Mourinho's Manchester United side land back in the country following their huge win in the Champions League final against Jose's old Porto team, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic's brace winning it for them in a 2-0 victory. Mourinho had been under big pressure to pull off a victory, with his United side finishing some 11 points behind retaining champions Chelsea, with Spurs finishing in 2nd place just 5 points behind the winners. We also have an update on Massimiliano Allegri's rumoured switch from Italian champions, Juventus, to Manchester City, following a hugely disappointing season for Pep Guardiola's side as they ended up in 6th place, with Pep Guardiola leaving the Citizens following their 2-0 win at Wembley to secure the FA Cup a few weeks ago. We also have an exclusive interview with Troy Deeney, as we get the Watford striker's reaction to making the cut for England's squad in this summer's World Cup, but first we have an exclusive interview with Ray Wilkins on just really what is happening behind the scenes at Virgin Sports Croydon FC...

First of all Ray, how did you come to be involved in this project with Virgin? 

RW: Well I heard about what they had planned and I was very interested to see what they were going to do with it, I got in touch and I had meetings and I was excited to get involved and help give the club the best start we could. 

Did you have any reservations about how the club came to be, effectively buying Hampton & Richmond Borough's slot in the National League? 

RW: You know- You know I think a lot of that has been mis-reported and the club and Virgin have gotten a very unfair rap. I think what Virgin did for the fans and everyone involved with Hampton & Richmond was fantastic. VS Croydon could very easily have started at the 9th or the 10th tier without doing what they did, it adds a few years onto the project, but it would've been the same principle and been fine. But in that scenario, is anyone involved with Hampton & Richmond better off? Their club would've been finished and ceased to exist, I think Virgin and Sir Richard Branson acted very respectively and showed dignity to those people and the fans of the club, who still have a club and even their old ground. 

But do you understand why a lot of non-league and football league fans are critical of the club? A lot of fans have made comparisons to RB Leipzig in Germany, of course MK Dons as well, are Virgin Sports Croydon not a terrible example of "franchise football"? 

RW: No I don't think so. I don't agree with those comparisons at all. Of course Virgin have used their name to help brand the project, but when you examine what the club has been built to do, I don't think it's fair to call the club "Franchise FC" or whatever it is purists have labelled it. I like to consider myself quite old school and let me tell you, this club is anti-modern football. The people behind this club want the very best for the English game and are going to do everything they can to help improve it. We want to develop players and here's the great thing, of course the long term aim is to give regular game time to players that will play for the national team, but at the moment we're in the National League. This season we gave a huge platform and opportunity for 15-20 lads who have been chucked out by other clubs across the Football League. We gave them another chance, some of them have done wonderful things, a few of them didn't get as much game time as they wanted and signaled they wanted out, but we didn't just throw them out, we got them moves to another club that did want them. We let them go for nothing with no questions asked, because we work on a personal and very real level with these lads. And it's not just players, we want to develop coaches and managers here. Obviously at the minute it's mainly experienced pros working on the coaching side of things, but as we move up the leagues we will add to our collection and bring in some younger coaches, help train them up, maybe bring them through the ranks to manage the U23 side, or be an Assistant Manager or the Head Coach. Look at David James. He'd managed 1 or 2 seasons in India, but no real experience before that, but at VS Croydon he's got that platform to learn his trade on the job and hopefully lead us up the National and then the Football League too. That's fantastic experience for him. 

You talk about rising up into the Football League. How do you feel about fans of lower league sides expressing their frustration and anger at the prospect of say, their side who have been a professional team for 100 years, representing an entire community or town, being out of the Football League at the expense of VS Croydon? 

RW: Look I understand where those fans are coming from, but I think those clubs would need to look closer to home than blaming this club for getting relegated. At the end of the day VS Croydon plans on becoming a club that represents and plays a vital role in the community in Croydon, of course Crystal Palace is nearby and a lot of locals follow them as they're the closest side, but I think there was of course a gap in the market and that's why Virgin chose Croydon as a base. 

Was the decision to base in London not just another example of London-bias in this country? How do you feel about fans across England, especially up North, who see this as another example of London-bias in this country? There are areas elsewhere, say for example, Northumberland, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Surrey and even Cornwall, which are much bigger areas with no Football League club for miles on end. Are there not enough London clubs? Surely Croydon, with Crystal Palace on its doorstep, was close enough? 

RW: Look I think that Virgin did a lot of research in to what they thought would be best for the club going forward, both in terms of interest in the local community, as well as being able to get planning permission for a ground, with things like recruitment of young talent and attracting players to play for the club as well coming into play. I'm sure some of those areas were indeed looked at, but ultimately they thought that the best possible choice for the future of the club and the players and coaches it wants to help develop, was London. 

You've touched there on the subject of recruitment of young talent. You've brought through a batch of players through your Youth Academy at the club this year, are these lads likely to make it into the VS Croydon first team? Is bringing through young players directly through the club something that will be a big part of how the club operates going forward? 

RW: Yes, yes it will. And in response to the young lads we've had through so far. Look, we've got some wonderful lads, a lot of them local, who we've got in and 1 or 2 look like good players. The main problem they're going to have is that, yes, many of them I'm sure in 5 years time will be more than good enough to ply their trade in the National League, but in 5 years time when they're 21, we're aiming to be in the Premier League. Now that's a huge step-up from even what we're doing at the minute on the pitch, so I think the next few years will be a very transitional period, we will see players come and go as we hopefully rise up the leagues, so I think yes there's of course every chance some of these lads will make it here, I hope they do, but it's going to be a hell of a competitive environment, but maybe they will thrive on that. 

We'll leave it at that today Ray, thank you for joining us and for your time. 

 

 

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8th July 2018

 

"No Cojones! Spain smash England 4-1 in World Cup Quarter Final!

 

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Fans across the country were calling for Gareth Southgate's head last night as England were unceremoniously dumped out of the World Cup by Spain, who made short work of Southgate's men, with the 2010 World Cup winners already 3-0 up at half-time. Questions have been asked about some of Southgate's more controversial choices, with many wondering why Burnley's Tom Heaton was chosen as #1 Goalkeeper instead of Everton's Jack Butland. It would be harsh to scapegoat Heaton for the loss to Spain though, as he was in decent form and even saved a late penalty which would've given Diego Costa a hat-trick. 

Troy Deeney's inclusion was a hot topic from the moment the squad was first announced, as despite 18 Premier League goals last season, some questioned why Jamie Vardy missed out at Deeney's expense, with the Watford forward failing to impress in the minutes that he did end up playing. Much has been made to of the 4-2-1-2-1 formation that Southgate opted to use, with some saying he should've gone with 3 at the back instead. 

The FA appear to be willing to back Gareth Southgate though, as it is believed the higher ups saw the performance at the tournament, which did see 4 wins from 4 against Holland, Egypt, Jamaica and Switzerland before the loss to Spain, as an acceptable performance, with their view being that Spain are just a far better side at this moment in time. That hasn't stopped fans and pundits alike giving their thoughts on what could've been done differently, or what the FA's strategy should be going forward. 

 

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Paul Merson: "England are a gazillion miles away from a major tournament win"

 

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It's been a few days since we saw Spain narrowly pip Germany to the World Cup this year. Some might say "well at least we lost to the team who won it", but I think that's a load of rubbish. I'd much rather be able to say "at least we gave our lads their best chance of winning", but let's be honest, we'd as good as lost it before we even got there. Now I know some might say, Paul, you're over-reacting, we won all 4 of our first 4 games with ease! But come on. We had one of the easiest groups you've ever seen at a World Cup. Holland, who might be a big name, but they've been so poor in the last few years that they didn't even qualify for the last Euros and everyone qualified for that! Egypt who alright have Mo Salah, but how many of the rest of their squad have you honestly heard of? Jamaica have one of the weakest squads I've ever seen at a major tournament. Then Switzerland in the Round of 16, a few decent players in here but if no serious team is scared of them. 

Some of the squad choices were unbelievable. You've got Jonjo Shelvey and Danny Drinkwater in the side, but Jack Wilshere's sitting on a beach somewhere? Nothing against Trent Alexander-Arnold, but how is he getting in over Kyle Walker? Man City didn't do that well in the league, but Kyle Walker is still the best right back we've got. Troy Deeney making the team over the likes of Jamie Vardy, Theo Walcott and Jermain Defoe? Not for me. I can't understand how Tom Heaton was chosen in goal instead of Jack Butland or Joe Hart, it doesn't make sense to me at all. The formation too. Why were we playing 2 defensive midfielders? You can't line up against Spain with Jordan Henderson and Phil Jones sitting in a 3 with Dele Ali, you don't get the best out of any of those 3 lads in that scenario. 

I don't know what needs to change. There's some top players in there. Harry Kane is banging them in for Spurs, you've got Sterling who is very good at City, even Jesse Lingard has looked impressive for United at times and was probably our best player apart from Kane at the tournament. I like Dele Ali, but if we're not using these lads right, then they've got no chance. A lot of people are saying we need to copy Germany's methods or we need to copy Spain, I don't agree with that. We need English players like those lads playing week in, week out in the Premier League. I know a lot of people are very critical of what Virgin are doing with their Croydon team, but if they were in the Premier League, I don't know, maybe they would help. I hope they can. Something needs to change. 

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32 minutes ago, PaulHartman71 said:

Paul Merson: "England are a gazillion miles away from a major tournament win"

 

Image result for paul merson sky

He is so wrong and obviously hasn't seen my FMC15 save, they have won the World Cup 6 times in that (well 5 or 6 depending which save):lol:

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Anyway interesting save, I like this type of games so I will be following this. :thup:

Edited by Maw74

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26th August 2018

 

Calamity for VS Croydon?! 

 

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There was a hell of a lot of hype and anticipation around VS Croydon at this point last season. Their historic debut home match drew in a crowd of over 10,000, with a whole host of celebrities and former Premier League players in attendance. A great season in the Vanarama Conference South followed, as the new team won the league with a record points total and 4 games to spare, with an FA Cup run too that saw League 1 side Portsmouth come to visit. The bookies were quick to make VS Croydon favorites to make the Football League this year and make it 2 back-to-back promotions, but with just 3 points from a possible 12 so far in the Vanarama Conference, is it all about to go pear shaped for the billionaire backed team? 

David James' side have dropped points in all 4 of their opening matches, a stark contrast with last season where they only dropped points in 8 games all season. Should Phil Hart, the Head of Recruitment, perhaps take some responsibility? Some expected there to be a large scale clear out and mass in-comings this summer in Croydon, but a modest 9 players were signed to join the original squad: 

Harry Flowers (Burnley), Cy Goddard (Tottenham), Jake Kenyon (Manchester United), Keanu Marsh-Brown (Forest Green), Connor O'Grady (Sheffield Wednesday), Tom Pett (Stevenage), Harry Smith (Swindon), Dayle Southwell (Wycombe) & Luke Wilkinson (Stevenage).

Some called Hart a hypocrite and a "sell out" for bringing in Cy Goddard and Connor O'Grady, with the former making noises about being more inclined to represent Japan than England, with O'Grady considering himself more Irish than English. But Hart nullified these claims by stating that neither player had been capped at any level for either country, with both of them being born and bred on English shores. "We live in a multicultural country and city. I will not discriminate against bringing in English talent just because they aren't exclusively English, both Goddard and O'Grady are fine players who will bring a lot to this club. Yes our ultimate goal is to bring about success to the English national team, but there is nothing wrong with helping lads who have lived here for most of their life. Not everyone can play for England and there's nothing wrong with bringing through players who ultimately choose to ply their trade on the international scene for countries of their parents or grandparents." 

Hart clearly backed a few of the players already in the squad and those that he brought in during the summer, but so far they are not performing to the standard required to gain promotion to the Football League. There are those in the media who believe that Hart is well liked by the Virgin hierarchy and Branson himself, so if results do not continue, it could well be David James who bares the brunt of the blame - and perhaps deservedly so, as with the resources and some of the players available to him, he probably should be doing a bit better. However, VS Croydon have insisted that talk of David James being under pressure at this stage of the season are "nonsense" and that they have full faith in him to turn things around in the coming weeks. 

 

Edited by PaulHartman71

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19th December 2018

 

Walsall win out as late penalty sinks VS Croydon in 2nd Round Replay

 

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David James and his VS Croydon side will feel very hard done by tonight, as after putting in a hell of a performance they conceded a late penalty which sunk them out of the Cup, in a replay that Walsall had only secured with 2 late goals in Croydon the week before. A crowd of just over 2,000 turned out in the London tie, which saw Virgin Sports 2-0 up at half-time against the League 1 outfit, with what looked like a real giant killing, but Erhun Oztumer and Daniel Vann's goals dragged it to another match. Walsall barely got a bigger gate, with 2,861 (277 away fans) turning up to see the middling League 2 side eventually put VS Croydon out. This cup run represents a turn around in fortune for the franchise team, as after failing to win any of their first 4 games, they've since risen up the league to 3rd place, with just runaway leaders Leyton Orient and 2nd place Salford City ahead of them as we go into Christmas.

Many within the game are wondering whether Phil Hart will look to get in a few more players in January to try and boost his side's chances of winning the title and the automatic promotion that would come with it, rather than running the risk of duking it out in the Playoffs. There have been rumours in the press that former England international and one time Premier League winner, Kieran Richardson, has been training with the club and could well sign a deal with them in the coming days. Despite now being 34, having his best days behind him and being without a club for 6 months, this would still represent a real coup for the National League side, as Richardson spent last year in the Championship, albeit on the fringes, but still in the squad as Nigel Pearson's Brentford side narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League. His experience and leadership qualities would surely assist them in their bid to become a Football League team next season. 

Edited by PaulHartman71

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6th January 2019

 

Former Premier League aces join non-league Virgin Sports Croydon!

 

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In a double move that is being season as a desperate attempt to try and bring automatic promotion via becoming champions, VS Croydon have signed Kieran Richardson and Gabby Agbonlahor, both free agents who have been without a club since the summer. Richardson has been on trial at the club for 3 weeks now, so his signing did not come as a big surprise, but Agbonlahor, who made 11 appearances for Aston Villa in the Championship last season, scoring just 1, has come as a big surprise and is a relatively out of the blue development. Both Richardson and Agbonlahor have been capped for England in the past and they both bring a wealth of Premier League experience too, with over 500 Premier League matches between them. They join a VS Croydon side sitting in 4th place, with 11 points being the difference between them and top of the table Salford City, who are hotly followed by Leyton Orient. 

Some are questioning the transfers as another case of "jobs for the boys" at VS Croydon, who some believe seem to care more about big names than actual talent. It is believed that Assistant Manager, Tony Adams, could have played a part in convincing Phil Hart and/or David James to bring them in, as he apparently wanted to bring in Kieran Richardson to La Liga when he was managing Granada. It isn't certain who it was exactly that has brought these players in, as whilst Head of Recruitment, Phil Hart, tends to be in control, it would be slightly out of character for him to bring in two aging players, as he'd often favoured young inexperienced players with potential. Perhaps Hart has theorised that to do well at this level in the National League you do need some experienced and physical characters in the team and in the dressing room, with Agbonlahor and Richardson both definitely sure to bring those qualities to the table. 

These two signings, on the rumoured wages that they are on, almost certainly put VS Croydon as the biggest wage spenders in the league this season, which puts more pressure on Head Coach, David James, to secure the promotion that Virgin are expecting. They have shown faith in James since hiring him at the start of this project, but if he should fail even with the addition of Richardson and Agbonlahor to his already decent looking squad, he may well find himself without a job come the end of the season. 

 

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20th May 2019

 

James takes the plaudits as VS Croydon secure 2nd successive promotion at Wembley

 

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VS Croydon confirmed their place in the Football League next season, with Josh Walker's late strike securing a 2-1 win against Salford. It had been a ropey end to the season for the David James and his team, as they only guaranteed their spot in the Playoffs on the final day of the season. They didn't have the easiest path to Wembley either, as they came from 2-1 down in extra-time to sink Aldershot away from home, before only scraping past Guiseley in a penalty shoot-out. The rumours were that James would be sacked if he failed to deliver promotion regardless of the the circumstances, so he'll surely be delighted that his side managed to achieve it in the end. 

Salford will perhaps feel aggrieved at failing to gain promotion themselves, as at some points during the season they were actually top of the table, so to ultimately end up missing out to VS Croydon will surely hurt the Class of 92 backed outfit. None of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Gary or Phil Neville could be reached for comment, but none of the players have spoke too highly of Branson's brainchild when acting as pundits on TV. 

Some within the media have tried to discredit VS Croydon's achievement of promotion, with some suggesting that in actual fact to not win the competition outright was an underachievement - and if they fail to invest over the summer, they'll stand no chance in League 2. Perhaps the biggest story coming out of the club is that Nigel Redfearn is set to leave his role as Head of Youth Development to join Championship Bolton in the same role - there is currently no news on who Virgin Sports may replace him with. 

Statistical information for VS Croydon's season can be found below: 

 

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Edited by PaulHartman71

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VS Croydon sign JUST FOUR players as they prepare for debut League 2 campaign 

 

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Bookies have tipped Virgin Sports Croydon to be challenging for relegation this season, with Head of Recruitment, Phil Hart making just 4 signings this summer, to a side that many consider very fortunate to have gotten promoted in the first place. Fraser Franks (Stevenage), Jacob Mellis (Bury), Terell Thomas (Wigan) and Sam Slocombe (Blackpool) are the only players to join the club, all free transfers following their releases in the summer. They join former Wigan, Cardiff and Norwich player, Leon Barnett, who at just 33 years old decided to retire in the summer to pursue a career in coaching - he begins this at VS Croydon, as he replaces outgoing Head of Youth Development, Neil Redfearn who has joined Bolton. 

Some believe that Richard Branson may have lost interest in the project and that's his reason for refusing to grant funds for further investment, although if the rumoured wages quoted in some newspapers are to be believed, VS Croydon will have one of, if not the highest wage bill in the entirety of League 2 this season. Kieran Richardson is believed to be on £5.5K pw, with Gabby Agbonlahor allegedly on £4.7K pw. There were rumours that former Man United youth prospect, Matt Willock was on trial over the summer, but it seems Phil Hart opted to stick with the likes of Cassian Thomas in midfield, showing faith to players that have helped guide from through their two back-to-back promotion campaigns. Or they could just be looking to save some money. We would certainly pay a penny for Head Coach, David James' thoughts on the window! 

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Any chance you could post a save game file?

I'd love to have go, I think it's a great idea. I just wouldn't have the time to go down the editing route myself. Cheers.

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VS Croydon upset the odds to qualify for League 2 Playoffs

 

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Despite being backed to go back down to the Conference this season after their lack of summer investment, the Virgin backed League 2 side have finished 7th in League 2, qualifying for the Playoffs in the process. This could lead to an incredible 3 promotions in 3 seasons, which would represent real progress from David James and his team. The strike force of Harry Smith and Dayle Southwell have done them well this season, with Cassian Thomas and Jacob Mellis in midfield also impressing. 

Virgin Sports' first venture into the League Cup saw a 3-1 loss at Cardiff, with their FA Cup hopes shattered by League 1's Gillingham in the 1st Round after taking them to a replay. They reached the 3rd round of EFL Trophy, but were eliminated by Luton Town of League 1. 

One big topic of debate this season has been the continued lack of interest by the locals in watching VS Croydon, as so far this season they've recorded the lowest average attendance out of anyone - just 1,898 people, although this number could well be boosted up to over 2,000 if they get a decent crowd for their home Semi Final leg in the Playoffs against Doncaster Rovers. 

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8 minutes ago, Finchbox said:

Any chance you could post a save game file?

I'd love to have go, I think it's a great idea. I just wouldn't have the time to go down the editing route myself. Cheers.

 

Yeah should be able to get one up at some point tonight :thup: 

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Cassian Thomas strike sends VS Croydon into League 1!

 

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There were jubilant scenes at Wembley today, as former Fulham youth prospect, Cassian Thomas, sent his side into the promise land, as Carlisle failed in their bid to reach the 3rd tier for the first time in 5 years. Thomas, 21, has been one of the real success stories of the Virgin Project in Croydon, as he was originally signed on a free transfer when they were still in the Conference South, he's established himself as a first team regular since then so it seems fitting that he was the one that got the goal to secure passage to League 1. 

This will open the question as to whether Richard Branson will now choose to invest a bit more money in the side, who thus far have only been permitted to make use of the free transfer market, which admittedly can be quite useful when you have the highest wage budget in the league. But League 1 is a different ball game and is a considerably harder league to get out of than League 2, with its 4 promotion spaces. Although we in the media were quick to write off VS Croydon from even getting promoted from League 2 this season, so perhaps they do know what they're doing at Virgin after all. 

One thing that is unsure is David James' future. He's lead the side from the 6th tier to the 3rd as Head Coach, which has helped shine a light on him, as it is being widely reported that recently relegated League 1 side, Southend United, are very interested in making him their new full-time manager after sacking Michael Flynn. Whilst this would be a step down for James who has just won promotion to League 1 with VS Croydon, some journalists believe he would still be interested in the Southend role due to the greater amount of influence and control he would wield at the club, since at VS Croydon he has very limited input on transfers.   

Statistical information on Virgin Sports Croydon's season in League 2 can be found below: 

 

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Congrats, man, League 1 :)

 

Guessing this is where the real issue will come in, lots of foreign talent floating around League 1 and the Championship, and good English talent isn't cheap. How're the finances? Assuming pretty good, since you're not buying anyone?

Edited by theonets

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