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In focusing on captains, there’s far too much footage of pre-match huddles, from which viewers only learned that even the best teams in the world yell nothing more inspirational than “Do it for Croatia!” Thiago Silva appears the most likeable leader, scoffing at the idea of emotional intelligence making him weak, while

Cristiano Ronaldo managed to be even harder to like off the pitch than expected. That’s from an already low bar, as queasily reminded by excerpts from his interview with Piers Morgan. The preening smirk with which Ronaldo announces “Winning a World Cup would be fun” is replaced by a glower and muttered inanities after being dropped. It’s worth a Netflix subscription just for that.

Captains of the World features many other enjoyable small moments and insight into players’ personal lives, but in four-and-a-half hours, there’s strangely no room for “Why Qatar?”.

John Earls

Edinburgh City’s redeveloped Meadowbank Stadium

Players and supporters celebrate promotion in 2022

Citizen pain EDINBURGH CITY

Since their debut in the senior Scottish league at the start of the 2016-17 season, Edinburgh City’s position as the city’s third club – a more intimate matchday experience to either of the Scottish Premiership giants Hearts or Hibs – has seemed secure. As recently as 2022, in fact, they were making progress, when manager (and former Hearts and Hibs player) Alan Maybury steered the team to the dizzy heights of Scottish football’s third tier, via a play-off victory against Annan Athletic.

Yet those successful times already seem far away. A turbulent 2023 brought a change of ownership and name, and a not entirely successful return to City’s home ground after the redevelopment of the publicly run Meadowbank sports centre. Then an existential financial crisis engulfed the club at the end of the year.

On November 30 City failed to pay players on time, and the following month a winding-up order was issued by HMRC over unpaid taxes. While agreement to dismiss the order was reached in early January, the non-payment issue allowed several first-team players to exercise their right to walk away, including captain

Former captain Danny Handlingwas forced to walk away over unpaid wages

Danny Handling. “Absolutely gutted that my time at Edinburgh City has come to an end due to the unfortunate circumstances, six memorable years and I have loved every minute of it, from captaining the club to that special night in Annan!” he tweeted.

If there was an end-of-an-era feel to the men’s team, though, the effective disbandment (intended to be temporary) of Edinburgh City Women’s FC and the club’s development teams was

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an even greater blow. Local MSP Sarah Boyack expressed her disappointment: “I acknowledge the financial difficulties of the team but at a time when women’s football is finally getting the audience it deserves, to scrap the women’s team sends entirely the wrong message.”

More disappointment arrived in late January, when the SPFL docked the club six points for the failure to pay wages and not reporting this breach or the HMRC order to them. A precarious league position is now even worse; City prop up League One with just four points and only two league wins all season. They’re 12 points off old play-off foes Annan, and 20 from League One safety. How precisely this came about isn’t exactly clear, but there’s been a sense of instability around City for some months now.

The original Edinburgh City were founded in 1928 and folded in 1955, but its associated social club has continued trading under the same name ever since. The current, unconnected football club – founded as Postal United FC in 1966 and renamed Edinburgh City in 1986 – essentially has the name on loan, with an unpopular rebrand as FC Edinburgh at the end of the 2021-22 season reversed

SCENES FROM FOOTBALL HISTORY No 385

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