Saturday, May 31, 2008

Streakers interrupt Italy's Euro training

Italy's Euro 2008 preparations have hit a streak of good fortune after a squad of bikini-clad almost-streakers invaded one of their training sessions.

The scantily clad beauties broke the world champions' security cordon as Roberto Donadoni put his squad through their paces ahead of the European Champions in Switzerland and Austria.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Grant enlists Diana lawyer to fight Chelsea

The fallout from Avram Grant’s controversial sacking by Chelsea took an intriguing twist yesterday when it emerged that the Israeli has appointed Anthony Julius, one of the country’s most high-profile solicitors and best known for representing Diana, Princess of Wales, in her divorce from the Prince of Wales, to negotiate his severance terms.

Grant is understood to have been unhappy with the payoff offered by Peter Kenyon, the Chelsea chief executive, after two days of talks over the weekend, as it contrasted unfavourably with the £12 million José Mourinho received in the wake of his dismissal last September.

He has brought in Julius to help secure him a better deal.

QPR increase prices by as much as 36%

The cost of QPR's most expensive adult season ticket has rocketed from £513 to £699, while the cheapest seat has shot up from £405 to £450.

The change of pricing policy follows this year's takeover by Flavio Briatore and fellow Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone, and the subsequent investment by Indian steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal.

It has outraged many fans and some are pondering their football-supporting futures in W12.

Among them is salesman Mark Todd, 40, who has seen the season-ticket bill for himself and his young sons Lewis, eight, and Oliver, five, increase from £530 this season to £1,599.

But a QPR spokesman denied there had been a backlash from fans.

He said: "Looking ahead to next season, it is the club's aim to achieve promotion to the Premier League, and as such, we have to generate further income to assist us in our pursuit of that goal.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

New balls are source of concern for Lehmann

Arsenal's German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann has admitted he is struggling to adjust to the new ball that will be used at Euro 2008.

The 38-year-old's performance in Tuesday's friendly with Belarus was criticised as Germany let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2.

Lehmann, who has scarcely featured for his club this season, conceded twice in the last 30 minutes to again raise questions over his suitability for the number one spot in Austria and Switzerland.

And Lehmann revealed he was finding the movement of the new ball difficult to cope with.

He said: "The ball is very difficult for me. I only trained with it for the first time a week ago. It is once again different to the ones before it.

"I had a situation in the first half where I wanted to hold on to the ball - and then it started to move around.

"I hope in the coming days, when also my freshness will come back, that I then have a bit of time for a lot of shot training in order to get more familiar with the ball."

Abramovich's approval rating plummets

A poll has revealed that Roman Abramovich's approval rating is at its lowest ebb since he arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2003.

The figures are published in the wake of a turbulent season which saw the Blues fail to win a trophy and sack two managers.

After investing £500million transforming Chelsea into a European heavyweight, Abramovich has enjoyed hero status among Chelsea fans but the first signs of cracks in the relationship are now starting to emerge.

Chelsea supporters were asked to rate the performance of the key men Abramovich has tasked with running the club over the last 12 months.

Only five per cent thought Abramovich’s board had done a “very good” job which is a startling statistic when compared to 43 per cent in the same poll two years ago.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Gavin Peacock departs for religious journey

The end of Euro 2008 will mark the beginning of a new life for Gavin Peacock.

The BBC pundit and former Chelsea and Newcastle United midfield player is moving to Canada to study religion in preparation for a career in the church.

After finishing work at the tournament in Austria and Switzerland next month, the 40-year-old will emigrate with his wife and two children to Calgary in July to begin a three-year Masters course in Divinity at Ambrose Seminary, a leading theological college.

Peacock will become a pastor, vicar or minister, depending on which denomination he chooses to follow.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Iraq suspended from internationals

Iraq faces a year in the soccer wilderness after FIFA suspended it from all international competitions on Monday and issued an ultimatum to Baghdad.

The executive board of world soccer's governing body announced it had imposed the ban after the Iraq government dissolved its National Olympic Committee and national sport federations in breach of FIFA and Olympic regulations.

The board will recommend that the FIFA Congress, which meets in Sydney on Friday, suspends Iraq from all tournaments for 12 months, but left the door open for a reprieve if Baghdad reversed its decision by 1400 GMT on Thursday.

A suspension would destroy Iraq's dream of competing at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Beckham launches 70-yarder

David Beckham will join up with the England squad today after scoring from fully 70 yards during LA Galaxy's 3-1 victory over Kansas City.

With the Kansas goalkeeper having marauded forward in search of a late equaliser, Beckham launched a shot from his own half to confirm victory for Galaxy.

The goal was reminiscent of the one Beckham scored for Manchester United at Wimbledon in September 1996 - the strike that catapulted him into the limelight.

The former England captain's club-mate Landon Donovan was also flying out to London to join the US squad - England's opponents on Wednesday.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Anelka blames miss on lack of warm-up

Nicolas Anelka added to Chelsea's woes last night when he made public his frustration at not being given a pivotal role in the team and claimed he had not been allowed to warm up properly before going on as a substitute at the Luzhniki Stadium.

"At no point did I think I was going to come on," he added.

"I was on the bench and suddenly I am asked to play, not even a minute after I was sent out to warm up. I don't know if that has ever happened in a Champions League final, that a player has gone on to the pitch without having warmed up.

"I was then asked to take one of the first five kicks but I said: 'That is out of the question; I have come on as a right-back.' So I had to go in seventh, but Van der Sar pushed away my shot. All the better for him; that is the game."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Not destined for greatness

Bristol City's Dele Adebola knew from an early age that he was not destined for greatness.

The striker played in the same Liverpool schoolboys team as Robbie Fowler.

"When it was training nights, Robbie was getting picked up by Kenny Dalglish in his Mercedes, I was being told 'that's what time it starts, you can get the bus'."

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Doncaster suspend ticket sales

Doncaster have suspended the sale of tickets at their Keepmoat Stadium offices for Sunday's League One play-off final.

Fans of opponents Leeds and ticket touts have gathered at the ground in the hope of landing tickets for the Wembley showpiece after missing out on the Elland Road club's allocation.

A Doncaster statement read: 'It is with great regret that Doncaster Rovers must announce the suspension of sales of tickets at the Keepmoat Stadium ticket office.

'This is a measure that has been forced into place, due to the high amount of Leeds United supporters and ticket touts who have now started grouping outside the perimeter of the Keepmoat Stadium following the Leeds United allocation at Wembley being sold out completely.

'Despite this, e-mail, telephone and fax orders will still be taken; although every application form will be checked alongside our database and thoroughly vetted before tickets are issued.

'Doncaster Rovers apologises for any inconvenience that this may cause.'

The Football League are expected to release a statement later today.

Trinidad stadium row threatens England friendly

England's friendly international with Trinidad and Tobago on June 1 risks being cancelled due to a domestic row over rental terms for the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

The Caribbean nation's football federation (TTFF) and Ministry of Sports are in dispute over advertising issues, rental fees and other elements of an agreement the TTFF said was changed last week by the ministry, which owns the ground.

On Wednesday, Jack Warner, a TTFF 'special advisor' and FIFA vice-president, said unless the terms were changed or an injunction against the sports minister was successful the England match would be cancelled.

'If the minister does not answer and withdraw this agreement, we have authorised (our attorney) to file an injunction to restrain the minister for imposing these conditions. If the injunction fails, the match fails, I refund people their money and apologise to the world.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Doherty swaps music for football

Pete Doherty swapped his guitar for a pair of football boots at the weekend to play in a tournament to raise money for the Samaritans.

Speaking at the Soccer Six event at Millwall FC, the Babyshambles singer - recently released from prison - praised the charity's work with inmates.

His Babyshambles team were beaten 3-1 in the final by dance act Faithless.

Moscow pitch causes final concern

The state of the Luzhniki Stadium pitch is causing concern ahead of Wednesday's all-English Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Englishman Matt Frost, who oversaw the laying of a new grass surface at the Moscow venue just 15 days ago, admits he has fears ahead of the game.

"The pitch is acceptable but it is a big personal disappointment for me,"

"Things didn't go well from the start, the pitch has only been down 15 days."

The old synthetic pitch was ripped up after England's Euro 2008 qualifer against Russia in October and a new grass one laid in readiness for the final.

But experts decided it was too bumpy, prompting stadium authorities to lay another at a cost of £160,000 and using turf from Slovakia.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Streaker gets Playboy spread

Tiffany May reached mid-level internet notoriety thanks to her patriotic half-streak during the USA v. Honduras qualifying match last March.

May has parlayed her spirited underwear dash into a Playboy pictorial, where she will bravely ditch the rest of her clothes and, unlike her last attempt, not be placed under arrest.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Bellamy plans academy in Africa

West Ham and Wales striker Craig Bellamy plans to build a football academy in Sierra Leone to try to help develop the country's young talent.

Bellamy visited the war-torn country last year and was so impressed by the local playing talent that he vowed to help them improve facilities.

He has now set up the Craig Bellamy Foundation, which will start to build an academy in the capital Freetown.

"Because of the war, children haven't had any opportunity," he said. "They haven't been thrown a football, they've been thrown a gun.

"Now we can give them a chance that their fathers or grandfather's never had. That's the buzz for me.

Bellamy has reportedly invested nearly US$1.28m of his own money into the foundation and the academy is set to include 14 new leagues and 68 new boys' teams and employ 141 managers and coaches.

While improving the country's football is Bellamy's primary motivation, he also hopes the foundation will lead to more youngsters receiving health awareness education.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Fulham's win down to a hamper

Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed put his side's remarkable 2-0 win over Birmingham down to the promise of an extra-special hamper.

"I promised them a hamper full of caviar and Viagra and I think it must have worked." said the Harrods boss.

PSG banned for abusive banner

Paris St Germain have been banned from defending the League Cup next season after some of their fans unfolded an abusive banner during this season's League Cup final, the French League (LFP) said on Wednesday.

PSG, already in the Ligue 1 relegation zone, could have been punished with a points deduction. Instead, they remain on 38 points and 18th in the 20-team top flight.

The banner was briefly unfolded after the interval of the final on March 29, which PSG won 2-1 against northern club Racing Lens.

It referred to a film about the life of the Ch'tis, a nickname for the people of northern France, which is breaking box offices records in France.

It read: "Paedophiles, unemployed, inbred: welcome chez les Ch'tis."

The French League said the banner was insulting but not racist.

FA to look into 'unusual betting' on Bury win

The Football Association 'will look very closely' at Accrington's 2-0 defeat by Bury yesterday after some bookmakers stopped taking bets on the match having seen 'an unusual amount of money' being placed.

Both William Hill and Coral closed their book on the League Two game while betting exchange Betfair reported action far exceeding fixtures of a similar profile.

Graham Sharpe of William Hill said: 'We were seeing substantial money for just one result, Bury to win. We shortened the price four times and we were still seeing people wanting to bet.

'That was the point at which we decided to close the book. I can't ever recall us taking this action on an English league game.'

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Police officer shoots herself outside stadium

An Italian police officer shot herself in the head in an apparent suicide attempt Saturday outside a stadium where a soccer match was being played.

The 42-year-old woman was on duty outside the stadium in Treviso, in northeastern Italy, when she shot herself.

She was hospitalized and is in critical condition.

Police found no suicide note and nothing in the woman's record had raised alarm, but witness accounts and CCTV cameras appeared to confirm a suicide attempt.

Another police officer suffered minor injuries as she fell down trying to stop the woman.

The second-division Treviso-Grosseto match was suspended after 20 minutes, the Grosseto club said in a statement posted on its Web site.

Rams clinch unwanted record

Derby are now officially the worst team in Premier League history after they blew an early lead to suffer their 28th defeat of the season in a 3-1 loss at Blackburn.

The Rams' latest reversal leaves them stranded on 11 points with just one game to go and means they cannot now overhaul Sunderland's previous record low total of 15 points from two years ago.

Ashley wins £1.3m on one spin of the wheel

The billionaire owner of Newcastle United has won £1.3million on the single spin of a roulette wheel.

High-rolling Mike Ashley collected the windfall after betting a total of £480,000 on his lucky number, black 17.

The maverick retail tycoon placed bets on every combination that included 17 – such as the wheel stopping on black, odd and a number between 1 and 18 – in a complex bet known as a "complete".

As the chips piled up before the spin, fellow punters in the luxurious 50 London casino in St James Street, Mayfair, where 45-year-old Mr Ashley is a regular, gathered around the table.

Divorcee Mr Ashley watched impassively as the roulette wheel turned.

As the ball dropped into slot 17, the expectant crowd broke out into loud applause.

Mr Ashley calmly looked up at the croupier and said: "That'll do me, thanks very much," and walked off with his winnings.

He had spent just 15 minutes at the table.

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