Sotirios Kyrgiakos set for Sunderland loan

Kyrgiakos set for Premier League return as former Reds defender heads to Sunderland

Former Liverpool defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos is on his way to Sunderland to complete a loan move from Wolfsburg.

The 32-year-old Greece international, who played 49 games for the Anfield club, has been brought in by Martin O'Neill as centre-back cover for Wes Brown, Titus Bramble and Matt Kilgallon, who are all injured and out of Wednesday's clash with Norwich City.

Loan deal: Sotirios Kyrgiakosis set for a spell at Sunderland

Loan deal: Sotirios Kyrgiakosis set for a spell at Sunderland

O'Neill, who has already completed the loan signing of Wayne Bridge from Manchester City, wants experienced cover and has swooped for a player who has hardly played in Germany since his free transfer from Liverpool at the end of last season.

The centre-back, who also had a spell with Rangers, is expected for a medical and talks this afternoon.

Chelsea post 68m losses

Chelsea dream of being self-sufficient remains as distant as ever after 68m losses

Chelsea have announced staggering losses of 68million as the pressure mounts for clubs to comply with UEFA's financial fair play rules.

The Blues – who bought Fernando Torres and David Luiz for a combined 75m last January – have posted their results for the year ended June 30, 2011. The figure is down from the previous losses of 70.9m.

Chairman Bruce Buck added: 'The club is focused on complying with the requirements of UEFA's financial fair play regulations while maintaining its ability to challenge for major trophies.

Expensive: Fernando Torres cost a British record 50m in 2011

Expensive: Fernando Torres cost a British record 50m in 2011

'We would expect this to be reflected in our results for the current financial year.'

The news comes as another blow for the club, which once aimed to be self-sufficient by 2010, according to former chief executive Peter Kenyon.

Chelsea finish the January transfer window having spent 16m on Gary Cahill and Kevin de Bruyne.

Football finance experts believe the fair play rules have contributed to a dramatic slump in spending.

Alan Switzer, director of the sports business group at Deloitte, believes the financial rules – where clubs in European competition will only be allowed to spend what they earn – have played a part in the drop.

Latest arrival: Kevin de Bruyne has joined from Belgian side Genk

Latest arrival: Kevin de Bruyne has joined from Belgian side Genk

He said: 'Financial fair play has definitely had an impact. The 2011/12 season does now count towards the UEFA rules and that will be part of the consideration which clubs will be giving to any transfer.

'The likes of Chelsea and Manchester City have already been on record as saying they will take it into account in terms of their spending on transfers and wages.'

Chelsea also revealed record group turnover of 222.3m, up from 205.8m thanks to higher receipts from the Champions League and TV money.

Chief executive Ron Gourlay said: 'Achieving a record level of turnover is satisfying given the economic background against which we are operating.'

Six Nations 2012: Seven players missing for Wales opener

Injury crisis set to threaten Wales' Six Nations chances with seven key players out

Wales could launch their Six Nations campaign in Dublin next Sunday without almost half the team that destroyed Ireland's World Cup dream.

The countries' Six Nations opener comes four months after Wales claimed a comprehensive World Cup quarter-final win in Wellington.

While Ireland must find a way of coping without injured captain Brian O'Driscoll for the entire tournament, Wales might arrive at the Aviva Stadium minus seven influential players boasting 330 caps between them.

Cause for concern: Wales coach Warren Gatland will be missing a number of key players including Gethin Jenkins

Cause for concern: Wales coach Warren Gatland will be missing a number of key players including Gethin Jenkins

Prop Gethin Jenkins (knee), together with locks Luke Charteris (wrist) and Alun-Wyn Jones (toe) are confirmed non-starters, while Shane Williams' retirement from Test rugby leaves a considerable void on the left wing.

But adding to Wales boss Warren Gatland's fitness worries are centre Jamie Roberts, fly-half Rhys Priestland and flanker Dan Lydiate, with assistant coach Rob Howley describing the next 48 hours as 'critical'.

Roberts has not played since suffering a knee injury two days before Christmas, while Priestland hurt his knee during the Scarlets' Heineken Cup victory in Castres 10 days ago and Newport Gwent Dragons flanker Lydiate has been nursing an ankle problem.

The Wales squad has now returned from a week-long training camp in Poland, where Howley admitted Priestland and Lydiate had “very limited” participation.

Toe no: Alun Wyn Jones looks set to miss out

Toe no: Alun Wyn Jones looks set to miss out

Gatland has already put back his team announcement from tomorrow until midday on Friday, although Howley insists Wales are hopeful of their injured players recovering in time.

'The participation of Rhys and Dan was very limited (in Poland). They did two or three sessions, but it was limited skills,' Howley said.

'The next 48 hours are pretty critical. They have come in this morning a little bit sore after last week's endeavours, but we are hopeful.

'Jamie participated a little bit more in Poland, but we are still uncertain about him. He has not played for a long time, five or six weeks, and we will see how the next 48 hours go for him.

'We will see how the injured players come out of the sessions today and tomorrow.

The next 48 hours will be critical for three or four players.'

Key man: James Hook should come in for Wales

Key man: James Hook should come in for Wales

While James Hook and Ryan Jones would be respective favourites to replace Priestland and Lydiate, 21-year-old uncapped Ospreys centre Ashley Beck is making a strong case for inclusion should Roberts be sidelined.

'Ashley was very impressive in Poland,' Howley added. 'He has a great skill set and great ability.

'He has a knack of making line breaks for the Ospreys and putting players into space, and he did well in the two Heineken Cup games against Saracens last month, in attack and defence.

'If Jamie does not make it, we have quality players to come into the mix and we would look at combinations.

'I would have no qualms about playing Ashley because he has played well in the Heineken Cup, which is a measure of a player's quality.'

Despite Wales beating Ireland in last year's Six Nations – albeit aided by a controversial Mike Phillips try – and then eliminating them from World Cup contention, Howley expects a ferocious examination at the Aviva Stadium.

Big loss: Ireland will be without influential centre Brian O'Driscoll

Big loss: Ireland will be without influential centre Brian O'Driscoll

But he also believes the absence of O'Driscoll, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, will be 'a big miss' for their opponents.

'Ireland will be different from the World Cup,” he said.

'England turned up in Dublin (last March) to take the Grand Slam, and that is the Irish team we expect to show up on Sunday. They played with an intensity, and England were blown away 24-8.

'They will be tactically astute. Everyone knows how well Leinster, Munster and Ulster are playing, and they will feed off that confidence.

'They have world-class players, but I think they will miss Brian O'Driscoll. I was fortunate to play alongside him in 2001 for the Lions, and he influences play with or without the ball.

'He is a great defensive player, and having a senior player missing would be felt by any side.

'He is one of the great centres over the last decade. Look at the tries he has scored in the championship.

'It is like us with Shane Williams. Brian O'Driscoll is a big miss for Ireland, and we have to take advantage of that.'

Grant Holt Rangers bid rejected

Rangers search for Jelavic replacement goes on as Norwich reject Holt bid

Rangers have confirmed they have had a bid rejected by Norwich for striker Grant Holt.

Ibrox boss Ally McCoist made a move for the Canaries captain, with top goalscorer Nikica Jelavic set to complete his switch to Everton.

However, the Scottish champions have failed in their attempt to bring the 30-year-old to Ibrox.

More to follow…

Rebuffed: Norwich want to keep hold of their skipper

Rebuffed: Norwich want to keep hold of their skipper

Steve Kean urges Chris Samba to knuckle down

Kean urges Samba to knuckle down after transfer request fails to earn move

Blackburn manager Steve Kean believes Chris Samba can regain his focus and reproduce his best once the transfer window closes, starting with Wednesday's Barclays Premier League clash against Newcastle.

The Rovers captain handed in a transfer request earlier this month but Kean expects to fend off any last-minute bids for the wantaway defender.

'We were very strong with our statement earlier on,' Kean said.

'We want him to be part of the club, he signed a long-term deal and we want him to get back on it and get his head around the fact that he's going to be here.

Running out of time: Samba looks set to stay at Blackburn until at least the end of the season

Running out of time: Samba looks set to stay at Blackburn until at least the end of the season

'In the last window and windows
before that, as soon as it closed and he got his head around being here,
his performance levels were excellent.

'It's
never nice when someone makes a transfer request, but a contract is a
two-way thing. We never accepted the transfer request and we want him to
be a part of what we're trying to do here.

'I
know he's put in his request, I'll need to speak to him tomorrow once
the window is closed and say “We need to move forward now, we need to
get you back in the frame, we need to get you mentally prepared properly
and there are no physical problems”.

'We'll take that conversation forward tomorrow morning.'

Blackburn
received a boost on Monday when midfielder David Dunn signed a contract
extension until June next year and they have also signed Marcus Olsson,
twin brother of Rovers defender Martin, on a free transfer from Swedish
side Halmstad.

Two of a kind: Martin Olsson is joined at Blackburn by his brother Marcus

Two of a kind: Martin Olsson is joined at Blackburn by his brother Marcus

Kean believes Marcus Olsson will provide an attacking threat and will strengthen Blackburn's left side.

'They've got the same style, which you can imagine being identical twins,' Kean said.

'(Marcus) plays higher but on the same side (as Martin) and that will prove difficult for any right back when he sees one going outside and one driving.

'He's a fantastic athlete and fit in easily in a practice match.'

Rovers host Newcastle at Ewood Park on Wednesday night having only lost once in their last five league games, and Kean is confident his side can get a result.

Kean to focus: Steve Kean knows the importance of a positive result against Newcastle

Kean to focus: Steve Kean knows the importance of a positive result against Newcastle

'We know Newcastle very well,' Kean said.

'We know they're a team who could miss a few players (with the Africa Cup of Nations), but we've only lost one game in the last five and we were unlucky we didn't get a draw in that Stoke game.

'We went to the tough away games – Anfield, Old Trafford and Everton, got points from that and managed to beat Fulham with 10 men.

'We're in a good vein of form and we're confident we can keep the run going.

'If we can get fresh faces and people that are excited about being here added to the ones we're getting back, that will give us a massive boost.'

Wimbledon chief defends prize money for top players

They earn it! Wimbledon chief Ritchie defends financial rewards given to top players

Outgoing Wimbledon chief executive Ian Ritchie has defended the prize money given to players at the grand slam tournaments.

Along with the length and make-up of the tennis schedule, the percentage of prize money given to players has been a major complaint among the leading male players in particular, with a strike even mooted.

They believe the figure, which is reported to be less than 15 per cent of total revenue, undervalues them compared to other sports, but Ritchie cited the increase in prize money at Wimbledon in recent years as evidence the players are being listened to.

In the money: Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open against Rafa Nadal

In the money: Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open against Rafa Nadal

He said: 'If there are things that need to be addressed, the team here will address them. The record here has been a good one. It's not as if we've been parsimonious. The rises have been well, well over inflation.

'Do I think the players should get appropriate compensation Of course I do. Hopefully we try here to show how important the players are. We try to look after them. They do appreciate that this is a tennis club.

'When I started in 2005, the champion earned 630,000 and last year the winner received 1.1million.'

Pastures new: Ian Ritchie is leaving SW19

Pastures new: Ian Ritchie is leaving SW19

Ritchie, meanwhile, confirmed he was approached about succeeding Adam Helfant as executive chairman and president of the ATP, a job that eventually went to Brad Drewett.

Ritchie, who will leave the All England Club next month to take over as chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, explained things did not get further than an informal approach, which he subsequently declined.

'I had a conversation with a couple of the players about it,' he said. 'I was flattered that they even thought that it was a possibility that I could do it.

'I have the highest regard for them and I'm always very conscious of the fact that I'm the bloke in the suit. My speed about the court does not rival theirs.

'So for the slightly overweight bloke in a suit to be asked, 'Will you think about it', I took that as extremely flattering, but it wasn't the right thing for me.'

Rubens Barrichello impresses on IndyCar test debut

Barrichello impresses on IndyCar test debut as Brazilian considers move

Rubens Barrichello is mulling over a move to IndyCar following a successful first day of testing.

The Brazilian was ditched by Williams earlier this month, bringing a 19-year stay in Formula One to an end for this season at least, and he is now looking elsewhere to further his motorsport career.

KV Racing, co-owned by 1996 IndyCar champion Jimmy Vasser, have offered the 39-year-old a test drive in the new Dallara chassis.

Testing times: Barrichello impressed countryman Tony Kanaan

Testing times: Barrichello impressed countryman Tony Kanaan

Barrichello completed 94 laps at the Sebring International Raceway in Florida, and it was not long before he was quickly on the pace of KV Racing's main driver Tony Kanaan.

A typically upbeat Barrichello said: 'I have still so much passion for speed and I'm quite young in my mind and I believe I'm getting better.

'Right now I'm truly happy and I like what I saw. I just need to see what comes up. I need to talk to my family and to Jimmy.'

Barrichello added: 'In the morning I was getting used to the car and not doing anything silly because obviously you don't want to put it in the wall.

'It's a different machine from what I'm used to, but it had a good feeling, so I had a very good and productive day behind the wheel.

Dropped: Barrichello failed to earn a new deal at Williams

Dropped: Barrichello failed to earn a new deal at Williams

'You could call me a rookie, even though I've had 33 years doing this job, but here I was an IndyCar rookie.'

Speaking to KV Racing Technology's official website, Kanaan said: 'The guy comes here for the first time and after 20 laps he's already running the same lap times as me.

'His knowledge and experience helped confirm some ideas we had for this test, so it was very productive having Rubens around.'

With the season opener in St Petersburg on March 25 looming, it would appear Vasser is keen to keep hold of Barrichello as he said: 'We are all pleased with the test.

'This was Rubens' first time in an IndyCar and I think he enjoyed himself. Certainly, we had a lot of fun working with him.

'Most importantly, if he is going to have this kind of effect on Tony we are going to have to figure out a way to keep him around.'

Harry Redknapp trial: Milan Mandaric claims $295,000 payments were "not major"

Mandaric claims $295,000 payments to Redknapp were 'not major'

The chairman accused of sending bungs
to Harry Redknapp told a court on Tuesday that the payments were 'not a
major factor in my life'.

Milan Mandaric said the pair were friends again after their 'divorce' when Redknapp joined Portsmouth's rivals Southampton.

Harry Redknapp arrives at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday

Big deal: Harry Redknapp had a 4.2m contract with Portsmouth

He also said Redknapp's 4.2million contract was the maximum the manager could receive over three years.

Mandaric said 'I was a busy man, I was travelling' when letters were sent between lawyers about the money in Redknapp's Monaco account.

'I didn't put it as my No 1 priority, basically,' he told Southwark Crown Court.

He also said Rob Beasley, a News of the World sports reporter, had tried to 'debalance me' in asking him questions about the account.

Mandaric's lawyer sent a letter to Redknapp's solicitor asking for the money to be returned, the court heard.

The former Portsmouth chairman said: 'It was not that I needed this to come back immediately. Eventually I would get the money back.'

Back in favour: Mandaric and Redknapp are friends again

Back in favour: Mandaric and Redknapp are friends again

He added 'it was more important that we were going in the right direction' at Portsmouth and as friends.

'I really was not in favour of this letter, it was between Harry and me,' Mandaric said.

'I didn't press with him. To me it was most important that we get back on the track … this was not a major factor in my life.'

Mandaric added: 'As of today we are the same friends as we were before 2004.'

Lord Macdonald QC questioned Mandaric about reports that Redknapp was earning 4.2 million-a-year.

Mandaric said the reports were incorrect, adding: 'That would be the full value of his contract over three years.'

Both Redknapp, 64, of Poole, Dorset, and Mandaric, 73, from Oadby, Leicestershire, deny two counts of cheating the public revenue when Redknapp was manager of Portsmouth Football Club.

Muttiah Muralitharan sign for Gloucestershire

He's back! Spin king Murali signs t20 at Gloucestershire to return to cricket

Gloucestershire have re-signed Sri Lanka spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan for this year's Friends Life t20 competition.

Muralitharan, 39, played for the Gladiators in last season's competition and took 12 wickets at an average of 31.

He claimed a world record 800 Test wickets and 1,347 in all international cricket in his near 20-year Sri Lanka career.

Return to action: Murali will play t20 this season

Return to action: Murali will play t20 this season

He said: 'I thoroughly enjoyed my first FL t20 season with Gloucestershire and I am looking forward to returning to the club.'

The county's director of cricket, John Bracewell, added: 'As a side we are delighted that Murali is returning. I know our players gained a great deal from having him in and around our dressing room last year.

'His enthusiasm and love for the game, combined with his exceptional skills, are something that will draw any crowd.'

Carlos Tevez appeals 1.2m Manchester City fine

Tevez takes fight over 1.2m City fine to Premier League

Carlos Tevez has appealed to the Premier League against the six-week fine imposed by Manchester City for his ongoing absence.

City imposed the fine after finding
Tevez guilty of gross misconduct on December 22. Tevez subsequently
appealed against the punishment but that was thrown out on January 7
after a hearing involving two City directors, Marty Edelman and Mohamed
al-Mazrouei.

High price: Tevez's dispute with Manchester City has cost him over 9m in wages and bonuses

High price: Tevez's dispute with Manchester City has cost him over 9m in wages and bonuses

However, as with the disciplinary action brought against him after his non-appearance in Munich last September, Tevez had the option of taking the matter to the Premier League

Back in September, the 27-year-old succeeded in having a fine reduced from six weeks' wages to two, a saving of approximately 800,000.

In this instance, City feel their case is watertight given the punishment related to Tevez's presence in Argentina, where he has remained since November 7.

With it appearing increasingly likely Tevez will still be a City player after the end of the transfer deadline, his assimilation back into Roberto Mancini's squad does not look like being straightforward.

The Premier League will now be forced to schedule a hearing date, although it could be the end of next month before that takes place.