Brendan Rodgers to bring backroom staff to Liverpool

Rodgers to bring Swansea backroom team to Anfield as Liverpool agree compensation deal

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UPDATED:

14:00 GMT, 31 May 2012

Brendan Rodgers will bring three key staff with him to Liverpool when he arrives at Anfield.

The Reds have agreed a compensation deal with Swansea close to 5million and are ready to unveiling their replacement for axed Kenny Dalglish.

And Rodgers will be followed to Merseyside by Colin Pascoe, Chris Davies and Glen Driscoll.

Main man: Brendan Rodgers will be installed as the new Liverpool manager

Main man: Brendan Rodgers will be installed as the new Liverpool manager

Available: Gylfi Sigurdsson could be tempted with a switch to Liverpool

Available: Gylfi Sigurdsson could be tempted with a switch to Liverpool

Pascoe is Rodgers' trusted No 2 and
first-team coach, while assistant performance analyst Davies and performance consultant Driscoll are also on the way.

Liverpool’s extensive search for a new manager is over after Rodgers agreed a three-year deal to take charge.

One of the first acts Rodgers could
perform is to sign Gylfi Sigurdsson, as the Iceland midfielder has not
had a medical at Swansea and his 6.8million move from Hoffenheim has
not been ratified.

Rodgers spoke with Anfield officials on Wednesday, including chairman Tom Werner, after Swansea accepted Liverpool’s official approach for the Northern Irishman late on Tuesday night.

He then headed to South Wales to tell Jenkins he would be ending his successful two-year stint at the Liberty Stadium.

Centre of attention: Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is now out of the running

Centre of attention: Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is now out of the running

In the spotlight: Roberto Martinez jetted back into Manchester after his holiday

Jenkins said in a statement: ‘Following on from discussions with Liverpool’s owners, Brendan has informed us that he would like to take up their offer to manage Liverpool.

At the moment we are in talks to agree compensation. We are trying to finalise that within the next 24 hours. Although we didn’t wish to lose an outstanding young manager, we didn’t wish to stand in his way.’

Assuming talks go well, Liverpool could install Rodgers just in time for the start of their 25m-a-year kit deal with American firm Warrior Sports, which begins on Friday.

Wigan’s Roberto Martinez, who has also been courted by Aston Villa, had initially been favourite to succeed Dalglish and his odds tumbled after he met Liverpool’s principal owner John W Henry in Miami seven days ago.

Replacement: Rodgers is set to take over from Dalglish at Anfield

Replacement: Rodgers is set to take over from Dalglish at Anfield

Since the start of the week, however,
the momentum has been firmly with Rodgers and it is understood that
dialogue with Martinez and his representatives broke down after the
Spaniard discovered he was not FSG’s first choice.

Rodgers, who was in New York last weekend to watch Wales play Mexico, initially withdrew from the first round of interviews when as many as a dozen names — including Pep Guardiola, Fabio Capello, Andre Villas-Boas and Frank de Boer — were pulled together following Dalglish’s sacking on May 16.

But despite that rejection, he remained firmly in FSG’s thoughts because of the impression he made last season, steering Swansea to 11th place thanks to results such as a 0-0 draw at Anfield and a 1-0 victory over Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium.

New arrival Rodgers could snatch Gylfi Sigurdsson from under Swansea's nose

New arrival Rodgers could snatch Gylfi Sigurdsson from under Swansea's nose

Henry and Werner have been determined to implement a new tiered structure at Liverpool, though Louis van Gaal’s hopes of landing the position of sporting director in the shake-up have dramatically receded.

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre met the Dutchman in Portugal last week but the former Bayern Munich, Ajax and Barcelona manager is believed to have made it clear that he also wanted to be considered for the role in charge of the first team. Van Gaal has been on Liverpool’s radar since Damien Comolli was sacked on April 14.

Dimitar Berbatov not joining Bayer Leverkusen

Berbatov left in limbo as Leverkusen rule out move for United forward

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UPDATED:

12:38 GMT, 31 May 2012

Limbo: Berbatov is no longer needed at Man United

Limbo: Berbatov is no longer needed at Man United

Dimitar Berbatov's future remains unclear after his former club Bayer Leverkusen – who were leading the chase for the Bulgarian's signature – pulled out of a move for the Manchester United striker.

Berbatov was used sparingly by Sir Alex Ferguson last season, with Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck all ahead of him in the Old Trafford pecking order.

United would be willing to let the 31-year-old leave this summer but, although they are resigned to making a huge loss on the 30million they paid Tottenham for his services in 2008, they would still demand some return on their investment.

It is that demand for a fee that has led to Leverkusen pulling out of the race for Berbatov, who played for the club from 2001 to 2006.

'We are looking to find a striker, one that works well alongside Stefan Kiessling. However, the return of Berbatov is not an option for us,' said chief executive Wolfgang Halzhauer.

'We are still on good terms with him but he would only be an option if he was available on a free transfer.'

London 2012 Olympics: Aaron Cook has hope

Hope for taekwondo star Cook as BOA refuse to ratify exclusion from Team GB

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UPDATED:

14:22 GMT, 31 May 2012

The British Olympic Association have opened the door for Aaron Cook to compete at the Olympics after refusing to ratify British Taekwondo's exclusion of the European champion.

Cook was widely anticipated to secure nomination for the Under 80kgs category on a four-strong team, having retained his European title in Manchester at the start of May.

However, the 21-year-old, set to be ranked world No 1 ahead of the Games, was overlooked in favour of Lutalo Muhammad, who would have to drop down a weight division for the Olympics.

High hopes: Aaron Cook could yet earn a place with Team GB

High hopes: Aaron Cook could yet earn a place with Team GB

That prompted Cook to write to the BOA after an internal appeal to Sports Resolution Ltd returned the same outcome, and which saw the scheduled Team GB squad announcement postponed.

The BOA's Olympic Qualification Standards (OQS) panel on Thursday met with GB Taekwondo and have asked them to look again at the selection.

A statement read: 'The Panel also recognised the complexity and difficulty of the decisions the Selection Committee had before it, particularly with respect to two outstanding and highly qualified athletes in the Men's Under 80 kg weight category.

'On the basis of the process that was followed by Sport Taekwondo UK in arriving at its nomination for the Men's Under 80 kg weight category, it was the unanimous decision of the OQS Panel that it could not ratify the nomination.'

Titus Bramble cleared of sexual assault

Sunderland defender Bramble walks free after being cleared of sexual assault

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UPDATED:

14:18 GMT, 31 May 2012

Titus Bramble has been cleared of sexually assaulting two women.

The Sunderland defender was found not guilty by a jury at Teesside Crown Court following a four-day trial.

Bramble, 30, was accused of groping a woman in a nightclub in Yarm, Teesside, before sexually assaulting another in a taxi home.

In the clear: The 30-year-old leaves court on Thursday afternoon

In the clear: The 30-year-old leaves court on Thursday afternoon

Cleared: Bramble was found not guilty

Cleared: Bramble was found not guilty

Bramble told jurors that one of the complainants was 'touchy feelie and flirty' and kissed him 'passionately' as they shared a taxi from the Cross Keys nightclub.

The Sunderland defender said she kissed him and put her hand on his crotch during the journey.

He said: 'We were kissing. We kissed a couple of times passionately. She was touching me and putting my hand on her leg.'

But the complainant claimed he twice grabbed her hand and put it on his crotch and placed his hand between her legs, which made her 'scared'.

The taxi driver believed something was wrong and drove the pair to a police station where Bramble was arrested, the jurors were told.

Case for the defence: The Sunderland defender was found not guilty by a jury

Case for the defence: The Sunderland defender was found not guilty by a jury

Bramble's defence lawyer Ronnie Jaffa said the woman made the allegation to “save face” after she regretted kissing him.

The other woman, who was in the Cross Keys, said she felt someone grope her bottom and turned to see Bramble.

Bramble, of Wynyard near Middlesbrough, always denied it was him. She reported the incident after the other woman claimed she was assaulted in a taxi by the Sunderland star, which they caught in Yarm on the same night – September 28 last year.

The footballer, who has played for Ipswich, Newcastle and Wigan Athletic, consistently denied all charges.

London Welsh will appeal promotion ban

Champions London Welsh will appeal promotion ban after sealing title

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UPDATED:

14:50 GMT, 31 May 2012

London Welsh have confirmed they will appeal against the Rugby Football Union's decision to block their promotion to the Aviva Premiership.

The Exiles won the Championship title on Wednesday night, beating Cornish Pirates 66-41 over two legs, but the RFU decreed the club had failed to meet the minimum standards to be allowed into the Premiership.

London Welsh chairman Bleddyn Phillips said: 'We shall be lodging an appeal in the very near future and in parallel we are pursuing all other available opportunities to make sure we can take our rightful and deserved place in the Aviva Premiership.'

Champagne moment: London Welsh clinched the title on Wednesday night

Champagne moment: London Welsh clinched the title on Wednesday night

The final decision to appeal was taken after meeting of the London Welsh board today.

London Welsh were informed last
Wednesday, just hours before the first leg of the Championship final,
that they would not be eligable for promotion if they won the title.

The RFU board had ratified the
findings of an independent audit which confirmed London Welsh had failed
to meet with the Premiership's minimum standards.

The report highlighted primacy of
tenure of London Welsh's nominated home ground – the Kassam Stadium in
Oxford – as a key issue.

Phillips, a partner in the law firm Clifford Chance, described the RFU's decision as 'inequitable, unreasonable and unfair'.

London Welsh are frustrated that they have been denied a place in the Premiership when founder members London Irish, Saracens, Wasps and Sale have all used stadia without holding primacy of tenure.

The last team to be denied promotion were Rotherham in 2002. That situation prompted First Division Rugby – the forerunner to the Championship – to lodge a complaint with the Office Of Fair Trading against the RFU and Premiership Rugby.

The OFT ruled that clubs no longer had to be the main tenants at their home stadium but they must be able to stage matches at a venue on dates specified in advance by the Premiership.

London Welsh insist they have a legally binding agreement with the owners of the 12,500-capacity Kassam Stadium that would come into force if they are promoted.

The Exiles argue they can meet the fixture scheduling demands of the Premiership.

The London Welsh appeal will be heard by an independent panel put together by RFU disciplinary chief Bruce Reese-Russell.

Meanwhile, Newcastle wait to discover where they will be playing next season after they finished bottom fo the Premiership in a season which finished four weeks ago.

Euro 2012 sweepstake

Euro 2012 sweepstake: Your cut-out kit for the tournament

PUBLISHED:

14:40 GMT, 31 May 2012

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UPDATED:

14:44 GMT, 31 May 2012

Fancy getting involved in a sweepstake with your mates ahead of Euro 2012 Well, look no further…

Simply print off the kit from this page – or click here for a pdf version – and drop them into a hat ready to be selected.

Set a fixed price for each team (anything from 1 to as much as you can afford to lose…) and ask each person to pick one without looking. Then write down the person's name next to their team to avoid any arguments later on!

You can split the prize fund however you want – perhaps 75 per cent for the winning team and 25 per cent for the runner-up. Or you could also factor in a small prize for the team that is eliminated with the worst record.

Euro 2012 sweepstake

Euro 2012 sweepstake

Euro 2012: Gary Neville says England WAG culture not welcome

Wave goodbye to the WAGs! Neville promises to avoid repeat of Baden Baden debacle

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UPDATED:

14:53 GMT, 31 May 2012

England coach Gary Neville has vowed that there will never be any repeat of the WAGs debacle at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

As with this summer, six years ago, England opted to base themselves in an accessible location for a major tournament, the rather genteel spa resort of Baden Baden, close to the Black Forest.

However, England's presence was completely overshadowed by that of their glamorous wives and girlfriends, who became a magnet for photographers and a massive distraction.

Jobs for the boys: Gary Neville has vowed to help avoid a repeat of the WAG culture that blighted England's World Cup campaign in 2006

Jobs for the boys: Gary Neville has vowed to help avoid a repeat of the WAG culture that blighted England's World Cup campaign in 2006

Jobs for the boys: Gary Neville has vowed to help avoid a repeat of the WAG culture that blighted England's World Cup campaign in 2006

Poland's second city Krakow may not hold the same appeal and, a combination of the logistical difficulties of getting to matches taking place in Ukraine – a two-hour flight away – and the potential for racism has led some families to make a decision to stay away altogether.

Whether the lure of Brazil in 2014 raises the WAGs issue once more is open to debate.

Neville, part of that England squad in Germany which bowed out to Portugal in a quarter-final penalty shoot-out, is confident those chaotic scenes are a thing of the past.

'That won't happen again,' he said. 'The FA learned from the experience in 2006. The England team did. The England players did. That wasn't ideal for anybody.

'It was symptomatic of the times. Between 2002 and 2007 everyone got carried away with everything in life.

'It is a different world now and those mistakes won't happen again under any manager or any regime. The platform won't be given.

WAGs on tour: England players' partners provided a daily sideshow to the World Cup

WAGs on tour: England players' partners provided a daily sideshow to the World Cup

'We are managing it this time in a completely different way. We are here to play football. We are here to work.'

England's response to Baden Baden was to shut their players away in the relative isolation of Rustenburg in South Africa. That did not work either, with many players complaining of boredom.

So, when they leave England on June 6, they will do so for the centre of a city with approximately 750,000 inhabitants.

Yet, according to Neville, this is the only way to replicate the normal day-to-day experiences of the England squad, and get the best out of them.

'Players would not pen themselves into a countryside location between a Saturday and Tuesday game for their clubs,' he said. 'That is the big message, to have players doing what they would normally do.

'You can never replicate the home environment but in terms of being free to go for a coffee or to the shops – we should embrace it, even though it has never been done before.'

Out and about: Players were given plenty of freedom to mingle with their other half around the town of Baden Baden, near where the team hotel was based

Out and about: Players were given plenty of freedom to mingle with their other half around the town of Baden Baden, near where the team hotel was based

Out and about: Players were given plenty of freedom to mingle with their other half around the town of Baden Baden, near where the team hotel was based

Though he went to five major tournaments as a player during an 85-cap England career he regards as 'a waste of time' in the sense of never winning anything, this will be Neville's first as a coach.

It represents a giant leap of faith from manager Roy Hodgson, who knows the 37-year-old has no relevant coaching experience.

Hodgson was attracted to Neville though because of his astute observations in his role as a TV pundit on Sky.

Yet, during that time, the former Manchester United full-back has made many forceful comments about most of the 23-man squad he is now trying to get the most from.

'I don't think the players are too fragile,' said Neville. 'Yes, at some point I will have highlighted a mistake from every player in this squad, or praised them. But football players are very honest.

All ends in tears: England again fell at the quarter-final stage at Germany 2006

All ends in tears: England again fell at the quarter-final stage at Germany 2006

'If someone makes a mistake in a big game millions around the world will have seen it, plus their own coaches, own fans, family, themselves.

'The last thing they will be worried about is me sat in a little glass box saying something. A lot more questions were being asked about me and my role at Sky 12 months ago.

'I had been at United for 20 years and I was still an ambassador. How was I ever going to talk openly and honestly about Manchester United's players and their opponents

'I would like to think I have proved I am impartial and can speak openly. As long as you are fair and honest across the board I don't think anyone has a problem, although the real proof will come next season.

'That is when I have to prove I can handle both of these roles. But I am not worried about it at all.'

Manchester United announce Shanghai Shenhua friendly

Giggs jets into China as United announce pre-season friendly with Shanghai Shenhua

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UPDATED:

14:54 GMT, 31 May 2012

Manchester United have confirmed a friendly against Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai Shenhua on July 25.

The game against the side that already have Nicolas Anelka in their squad and are trying to sign Didier Drogba, will be part of two matches United play in China during their pre-season programme.

The fixture was announced on Thursday as part of the five-year partnership with US car giant Chevrolet.

Suited and booted: Giggs at the formal announcement of the new Chevrolet deal

Suited and booted: Giggs at the formal announcement of the new Chevrolet deal

Life of Ryan: Giggs jetted into Shanghai for the announcement

Life of Ryan: Giggs jetted into Shanghai for the occasion

United veteran Ryan Giggs jetted into Shanghai for the announcement of the commercial tie-up.

The Old Trafford side have a strong market presence as a
club in the Far East, with research conducted on behalf of the club
showing they have twice as many supporters in the region as Barcelona,
their nearest rivals.

The Memorial Tournament: Live leaderboard

The Memorial Tournament leaderboard: Keep up to date with the latest scores

The PGA Tour is at Muirfield Village this week for The Memorial Tournament.

Steve Stricker took the title last year and you can keep track of all the latest scores right here.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIVE LEADERBOARD

Honour: Steve Stricker (left) receives the trophy from Jack Nicklaus

Honour: Steve Stricker (left) receives the trophy from Jack Nicklaus

Mervyn Westfield loses appeal against match-fixing

Shamed Westfield and agent Majeed lose appeals against match-fixing

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UPDATED:

11:21 GMT, 31 May 2012

Former Essex player Mervyn Westfield – the first county cricketer in England to be prosecuted for spot-fixing – and agent Mazhar Majeed have lost their Court of Appeal challenges against match-fixing convictions.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge and two other judges in London, who had been urged to overturn their convictions, rejected their appeals.

Dismissing the challenges, Lord Judge stressed that for the health and survival of cricket as a truly competitive sport corruption 'must be eradicated'.

Verdict: Westfield and Majeed have lost their Court of Appeal challenges

Verdict: Westfield and Majeed have lost their Court of Appeal challenges

Both appeals were heard together on May 24 as they raised the same point of law.

The men pleaded guilty following pre-trial argument and rulings, but their conviction challenges centred on the correct interpretation of gambling and betting legislation.

Majeed was sentenced in November to two years and eight months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to make corrupt payments.

Westfield, now 24, from Chelmsford, Essex, was sentenced to four months in prison at the Old Bailey in February and has since been released.

He pleaded guilty to one count of accepting or obtaining a corrupt payment to bowl in a way that would allow the scoring of runs.

He was accused of being paid 6,000 to bowl so that a specific number of runs would be chalked up in the first over of a match between Durham and Essex in September 2009.

As well as the jail sentence, Westfield was the subject of a confiscation order for 6,000. In the case involving Majeed, three Pakistan cricketers also received custodial sentences at London's Southwark Crown Court over a scandal that rocked world sport.

Ex-Test captain Salman Butt was jailed for two-and–half years for his role as the 'orchestrator' of a plot to bowl deliberate no-balls in the 2010 Lord's Test against England.

Mohammad Asif, the former world No 2 Test bowler, was sentenced to 12 months.

Mohammad Amir, who had been tipped to become one of the all-time great fast bowlers, was sentenced to six months.

All three players are serving five-year bans from cricket imposed by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Amir and Butt failed in an attempt to have their sentences reduced at the Court of Appeal in November.

Lord Judge said: 'These otherwise unconnected appeals against conviction arise in the same notorious context, “spot fixing” in cricket matches.

'For cricket betting is not new. It has, however, become multi-faceted.

'Nowadays it is possible to place bets not only on the final outcome of a match, but on particular passages of play, such as how many runs will be scored or wickets taken in an over, or indeed on individual events during the course of an over or passage of play.

'Cricket is widely televised, not only in the country where the match is being played, but throughout the cricket-playing world, and indeed further afield.

'The prizes for successful gambling can be very great, and the scope for corruption is therefore considerable.

'For the health, indeed the survival, of the game as a truly competitive sport, it must be eradicated.'

Following rulings by the trial judges on issues of law relating to the offences alleged against them, both appellants pleaded guilty.

The appellants, he said, contended that the rulings were wrong – if they had won their appeals, the judges would have then ordered retrials.

Lord Judge ruled: 'The respective offences of conspiracy against Majeed and cheating against Westfield were properly prosecuted.'

The rulings on the law by the judges in the two trials 'were right and these appeals against conviction are dismissed'.