WITH our EFL Championship commencing once more this week, a number of significant stories have caught my eye over the past seven days…


The elongated transfer saga involving James Ward-Prowse is rumbling on whereby Southampton turned down a reported opening bid of £25 million for their 28 year old captain from West Ham United.

Saints director of football Jason Wilcox said: “We rejected the offer. We don’t need to sell but if the right bid comes along for James then we will consider it.” 

I believe Southampton are holding out for £40-50 million. Ward-Prowse scored 11 times in all competitions last season.


Birmingham City have paid tribute to the memory of former star striker Trevor Francis who has died at the age of 69.

A minute’s applause was held before the kick-off at Saturday’s away pre-season friendly versus Peterborough United. Players on both sides wore black armbands as a mark of respect. 

Meanwhile shirts, scarves and flowers are being placed in a designated area outside the St. Andrew’s home of Birmingham City. Supporters also shared heartfelt thoughts in a book of remembrance located within the Library of Birmingham in Centenary Square.

Furthermore, the influential ‘Blues Collective’ fans’ group wrote on Twitter: “The Greatest player ever seen not just at Blues but in football in general. REST IN PEACE TREVOR. Rename the Main Stand, The Trevor Francis Stand.”

Club chairman Tom Wagner said: “Trevor Francis was obviously a really special person, a world class footballer and a legend here at Birmingham City. Our job now is to ensure his legacy lives on so he is very much with us every step of the way.”


Championship games will be subject to stricter timekeeping during the upcoming 2023/24 season to ensure spectators witness a full 90 minutes of action. 

Match officials will be instructed to meticulously consider delays for goal celebrations, red/yellow cards and substitutions as well as injuries. In addition, a multi-ball system will be used to swiftly resume matters after the ball leaves the pitch. 

An EFL statement read: “As the game collectively looks to enhance the amount of time the ball is in play in the forthcoming campaign, the exact time lost when certain game events occur will now be added. In previous seasons the policy was to add on a nominal period of time for certain game events.”


On Thursday, sporting stars across the world of rugby and football attended a Golf Day to support ex-Welsh international Jason Bowen who is diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

Now aged 50, Bowen had an 18 year professional career spanning Swansea City, Birmingham City, Reading, Cardiff City and Newport County winning two caps for Wales. 

Bowen said: “I first knew something was wrong when I started having a lot of twitching in muscles going down my left side and my hand became a little bit weaker. I now struggle to do small things while getting dressed like doing up laces, buttons and belts.

"My wife has been superb from the beginning. She is constantly on the internet looking up various aspects of Motor Neurone Disease and pushing me all the way.

“I am fully aware my situation might become more difficult further down the line. But I will definitely meet those challenges head-on and give them the very best shot I can.”


The worst pre-season friendly result for any Championship team saw Queens Park Rangers succumb 5-0 away to League One outfit Oxford United over the weekend.

R’s boss Gareth Ainsworth didn’t hold back afterwards. He said: “It simply wasn’t a good enough performance for me or for the supporters. We lost our way in being totally outfought and outrun by Oxford United to be convincingly beaten. That is completely unacceptable so I apologise to the fans.

“Everyone knows QPR are up against it although I am glad we have had a kick up the backside like this. We need to make sure it is reversed when we start our Championship fixtures versus Watford on Saturday. I will make sure the boys are firing on all cylinders at Vicarage Road.”


Tony is an experienced football broadcaster who has worked for Clubcall, Capital Gold, IRN Sport, talkSPORT Radio and Sky TV. 

His devotion to Queens Park Rangers saw him reach 50 years without missing a home game in April 2023.

Tony is also a Non-League football expert having visited more than 2,500 different football grounds in his matchday groundhopping.

You can follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo.