Tag Archives: balance

Lewis Hamilton given five-place grid penalty for Bahrain Grand Prix after gearbox change

Hamilton blow as Mercedes star is hit with five-place grid penalty after gearbox change

By
Ian Parkes, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

10:06 GMT, 20 April 2013

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UPDATED:

11:12 GMT, 20 April 2013

Lewis Hamilton has been slapped with a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow's Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver was forced to change his gearbox after this morning's final practice session following a suspension failure on his in-lap.

As a consequence of changing the left-rear corner of the car, the team have also had to replace the gearbox, resulting in the grid penalty.

Blow: Lewis Hamilton hit with five-place grid penalty after gearbox change

Blow: Lewis Hamilton hit with five-place grid penalty after gearbox change

Blow: Lewis Hamilton has been hit with a five-place grid penalty

Although on pole position a week ago
in China, from where the 28-year-old finished third, balance issues have
affected Hamilton so far this weekend at the Bahrain International
Circuit.

Hamilton finished fifth quickest in final practice, just over two tenths of a second behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

Hamilton is the third driver to face a
penalty for tomorrow's race as Mark Webber was handed a three-place
drop after colliding with Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne in Shanghai.

Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez will also
drop five places following qualifying after he ran into the back of
Force India's Adrian Sutil in the same race.

Drama: The British driver suffered a suspension failure in this morning's practice session

Drama: The British driver suffered a suspension failure in this morning's practice session

Lewis Hamilton

Alonso, on the back of his
31st-career victory in China last Sunday, has been highly impressive
around the desert-based Bahrain International Circuit and was fastest this morning.

With a high police presence around
the track as local authorities are determined to keep anti-government
protesters at bay, Formula One is virtually oblivious to what goes on
away from it.

On the circuit, Alonso led a
tightly-bunched field, with the top six separated by just two tenths of a
second, and the front nine by half a second.

Alonso, last on pole in Germany last
year, set a lap of one minute 33.247secs which was almost a second
quicker than the leading time of yesterday posted by Lotus' Kimi
Raikkonen.

As in second practice, the Red Bull
drivers had to settle for second and third on the timesheet, on this
occasion with reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel ahead of Mark
Webber.

Vettel, who finished 0.101secs behind
Alonso and 0.032secs ahead of team-mate Webber, had looked poised to
snatch top spot from Alonso as he posted personal best times in the
first two sectors, only to be blocked by a Caterham.

Leading the way: Fernando Alonso was fastest in this morning's practice

Leading the way: Fernando Alonso was fastest in this morning's practice

Raikkonen was down in fourth,
0.199secs adrift, with Hamilton an improved fifth and 0.208secs down
after complaining of balance issues yesterday.

Behind the 28-year-old were Lotus'
Romain Grosjean, appearing more comfortable with the new chassis given
to him this weekend, followed by Force India pair Adrian Sutil and Paul
Di Resta.

Mercedes' Nico Hulkenberg was ninth quickest, 0.517secs off Alonso's pace, with Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg completing the top 10.

Out of sorts: Jenson Button was off the pace in 12th

Out of sorts: Jenson Button was off the pace in 12th

Felipe Massa inexplicably now finds
himself struggling for pace as the Brazilian, quickest in first
practice, was languishing in 11th at the end of FP3 and 0.702secs behind
team-mate Alonso.

As for McLaren, their struggles
continue with Jenson Button and Sergio Perez 12th and 13th, the latter a
full second behind Alonso.

Towards the rear, Marussia also face
issues as Max Chilton managed just seven laps due to the team having to
replace the KERS water pump.

Chilton, however, was not last as
that position belonged to Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez who concentrated on
a long run, completing 28 laps overall, but finishing 6.345secs down.

Manchester United"s incredible list sponsors helping them become $3billion super club

The making of the $3BILLION super club: How Manchester United's bank balance is being boosted by beer, wine and crisps… and that's just for starters!

. The amount these companies pay for association is secret so that the Premier League leaders can keep prices competitive.

Some deals, United want people to know about though, such as the enormous shirt sponsorship with Chevrolet, announced in August last year, which will come into effect from 2014.

Sign of the times: Sir Alex Ferguson attends a Chevrolet soiree in Shanghai last summer

Sign of the times: Sir Alex Ferguson attends a Chevrolet soiree in Shanghai last summer

At the start of that season it will be worth 44m a year, increasing by 2.1 per cent annually to 2021 – totalling an incredible 357m. These numbers do not make it into United’s current take home from sponsorship but the 12m Chevrolet has paid to have its logo on the Old Trafford dugout seats this season does.

As do United’s other big deals. Aon pay United 20m a year to sponsor the shirt currently, while DHL have since 2010 forked out 10m a year to feature on the team’s training kit. That seemed a remarkable agreement at the time, but United have bought out the postal firm’s remaining contract as they believe they can generate greater income elsewhere.

It costs Nike around 25.4m to supply United’s kit each season but talks will begin next month over a new deal which should dwarf that amount.

Betting firm Bwin pay 2.4m to have outlets at Old Trafford, among other things, Singha handover 2m to have around 20,000 bottles sold at the ground each game, and Thomas Cook give 1.3m to provide United player’s travel and offer packages to fans.

Chilly: But United's finances are warming up with their glut of sponsors

Chilly: But United's finances are warming up with their glut of sponsors

Meanwhile, Mister Potato is the official ‘snack’ partner and Smirnoff the official ‘responsible drinking’ partner. Also, the 14 separate sponsorships with telecom companies dotted around the globe show United’s interest in supplying exclusive video footage for mobiles. A pointer to this came last week, when the club bought out BSkyB’s 33 per cent share in MUTV so they have full control over distribution rights.

Fans may feel United’s name is cheapened by associating so many sponsors and we can only wonder what Sir Matt Busby would make of it all. But given the Glazer family takeover loaded the club with debt – 400m at last count in November – many financial experts now admire their relentless pursuit of commercial opportunities.

David Chattaway, valuation director at Brand Finance, which worked with United on a consultancy basis a few years ago, said there was plenty of mileage left in sponsorship deals and suggested Australia and USA would be the next markets targeted.

‘There’s talk about dilution, “How far can it go” I don’t think they’re there yet,’ he told Sportsmail. ‘Hong Kong staff take a proactive approach, targeting who has an interest in Manchester United, and calling them. It’s like they’ve got a huge matrix and they’re filling up the boxes.

Coffers: Sir Alex Ferguson will hope to be able to spend some of United's income

Coffers: Sir Alex Ferguson will hope to be able to spend some of United's income

‘These little deals show the commercial acumen at Manchester United. It’s become an industry joke – a “day a deal” – but this club is motoring ahead. Brands want to be associated with them. It wouldn’t surprise me if each quarter we saw three or four news deals.

‘There probably is a tipping point. When you’re clicking through five pages of sponsors on their website the brands may start to think this is too much.

‘Juventus are at the other end. They believe there is more value in fewer partnerships. But Real Madrid and Barcelona are chasing Manchester United at the moment thinking that’s where the
money is.

‘With financial fair play, these clubs need to balance their books, they need additional revenue to pay their bills. The commercial opportunity is probably the easiest to tap into.

‘You’d be naive trying to pull together
some rationale that United really want to have a soft drink partner in
China. No, I don’t think it is that. It’s purely a commercial
transaction.

VIDEO: Rooney and Co enjoy a glass of red wine…

‘Manchester United have a reputational issue, they wouldn’t want to associate with certain brands, like a Wonga, who could cause controversy. They are keen to go with big brands in these territories that they’re eyeing up for new fans, or continuing to get close to existing fans.’

Chattaway added: ‘If you look at the amount of partners they get through, it’s fair to say Manchester United aren’t building long-term relationships here. They are short, three-year windows. They take the money, manage the relationship, and are then not averse to bringing in a new partner.’

Deloitte released figures last week showing United made 117.6m in commercial revenue in 2011-12, making it a larger revenue stream than matchday receipts and broadcast money for the first time.

‘The deal they announced with Chevrolet is very, very impressive,’ Adam Bull, senior consultant at Deloitte Sports, told Sportsmail. ‘And they continue to make new deals in different countries around the world, with companies becoming regional sponsors of certain items. That’s going to help them grow their commercial revenues.

‘The strength of it is shown by the DHL deal they are now buying out because they think they can generate more. Pretty phenomenal for a training kit.’

UNITED'S SPONSORS (according to club website)

AON
Principal sponsor of Manchester United – 20m a year

DHL
Official logistics partner of Manchester United – 10m

NIKE
Official kit supplier of Manchester United – 25.4m

CHEVROLET
Official automotive partner of Manchester United – 12m

SINGHA
Official beer of Manchester United – 2m

THOMAS COOK
Official travel partner of Manchester United – 1.3m

BWIN
Official online gaming and betting partner of Manchester United – 2.4m

CASILLERO DEL DIABLO
Official wine partner of Manchester United – 2m

HUBLOT
Official timekeeper of Manchester United – 4m

The below are all worth approximately 1m – 2m…

SMIRNOFF
Official responsible drinking partner of Manchester United

TOSHIBA MEDICAL SYSTEMS
Official medical systems partner of Manchester United

STC
Official integrated telecommunications partner of Manchester United for Saudi Arabia

PCCW
Official integrated telecommunications partner of Manchester United in Hong Kong

TURKISH AIRLINES
Official airline partner

EPSON
Official office equipment partner of Manchester United

MISTER POTATO
Official savoury snack partner of Manchester United

YANMAR
Official global partner

TM
Official integrated telecommunications partner of Manchester United in Malaysia

GLOBACOM
Official integrated telecommunications partner of Manchester United for Nigeria, Ghana, Republic of Benin

VIVA KUWAIT
Official integrated telecommunications partner of Manchester United in Kuwait

MTN
Official integrated telecoms partner of Manchester United for South Africa / Zambia / Rwanda / Uganda / Swaziland / Botswana.

AIRTEL
Official telecommunications partner of Manchester United in India/Sri Lanka/Seychelles/Bangladesh.

ZONG
Official telecommunications partner of Manchester United in Pakistan

GLOBUL
Official telecommunications partner of Manchester United in Bulgaria

MAMEE
Official noodles partner of Manchester United for Asia, Oceania and Middle East

VIVA
Official integrated telecommunications partner of Manchester United in Bahrain

TURK TELEKOM
Official integrated telecommunications partner of Manchester United in Turkey

A.P. HONDA
Official motorcycle partner of Manchester United in Thailand

AIRTEL AFRICA
Official telecoms partner in Burkina Faso, Chad, DR Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Congo Brazzaville

BEELINE
Official telecommunications partner of Manchester United in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

BAKCELL
Official telecommunications and broadcast partner of Manchester United for Azerbaijan

KAGOME
Official soft drink partner of Manchester United for Japan

WAHAHA
Official soft drink partner of Manchester United for China

PT MULTISTRADA
Official tyre partner of Manchester United

KANSAI
Official paint partner of Manchester United

Arsene Wenger"s got the balance right! Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sees a bright future at Arsenal

Wenger's got the balance right! Oxlade-Chamberlain sees a bright future at Arsenal

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UPDATED:

15:50 GMT, 22 December 2012

Arsenal forward Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain believes the future is bright for the Gunners after their 1-0 win over Wigan at a rain-lashed DW Stadium in the Barclays Premier League.

Mikel Arteta scored the only goal from the penalty spot in the second half and Oxlade-Chamberlain, one of five players to sign new deals at Arsenal this week, believes manager Arsene Wenger has got the mix right.

On the attack: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain skips past Jean Beausejour

On the attack: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain skips past Jean Beausejour

'The players that we've got here now, there's some really exciting young players,' Oxlade-Chamberlain told Sky Sports 3 after being named man of the match.

'I think it's a good mix of youth and experience. The future does look bright for us.'

Oxlade-Chamberlain praised Wigan for their attacking approach despite being in the bottom three.

He said: 'They set up with a lot of men in midfield. In the first half it was hard to get to grips with their midfield at times.'

Winning strike: Mikel Arteta's penalty sealed the points for Arsenal

Winning strike: Mikel Arteta's penalty sealed the points for Arsenal

Arteta thought there were encouraging signs for Wigan despite the loss.

'I think they have been unlucky with the result because the way they play is quite “offensive”,' he said.

The Spaniard was also happy to be able to celebrate three wins in a row for Arsenal for the first time this season.

'It's a big win for us, that's three in a row now,' said the former Everton man. 'I am really happy with the points. It's been a tough game, the conditions were really difficult.'

Under pressure: Theo Walcott battles with James McCarthy

Under pressure: Theo Walcott battles with James McCarthy

Jonny Wilkinson might retire at the end of the season with eye on possible Lions swansong

Wilkinson could retire at the end of the season with eye on possible Lions swansong

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UPDATED:

17:00 GMT, 19 December 2012

Former England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson may retire from rugby at the end of the season after admitting he will decide on his future in February.

The 33-year-old retired from international rugby after last year's World Cup having won 91 caps for England and the British and Irish Lions.

He has helped Toulon to first place in France's Top 14 this season but his current contract expires at the end of the season and he has today confessed he will only continue playing if it benefits the French side.

Enlarge

Jonny Wilkinson

Back in form: Wilko is playing some of the best rugby of his career with the French leaders

'I'm capable of carrying on, but it's a delicate balance,' Wilkinson said in an interview with sports daily L'Equipe.

'The question isn't what I would like to do, but what is best for my team. After I've asked myself that question, then I'll think about myself.'

Wilkinson is confident Toulon can win the Heineken Cup this season.
'Can we do the double I say, yes,' Wilkinson said. 'I'm never satisfied, but I'm happy with how we've played. We're heading in the right direction.'

Wilkinson thinks star-studded Toulon, which is packed with proven test players such as flyhalf Frederic Michalak, 91-test veteran Matt Giteau of Australia and former South Africa lock Bakkies Botha, is one of the best he's played in.

Jonny Wilkinson playing for the GB and Irish Lions

Lionheart: Wilkinson could be given the chance to finish his career playing with the Lions in Australia

'Everyone knows their role,” Wilkinson said. 'The most important thing is the rapport between the players, and that's where we're lucky.'

Should Wilkinson decide to retire at the end of the season, his swansong could be with the Lions tour to Australia in June, if he's selected.

Wilkinson was recently offered encouragement in his bid to be called up after one of Warren Gatland's three assistants Rob Howley confirmed that the fly half was being seriously considered for a place in the Lions squad that will tour in 2013.

Arsene Wenger backs club blocking Alisher Usmanov bid for Arsenal board place

Wenger backs board over Usmanov ban from Gunners' top table

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UPDATED:

23:45 GMT, 14 December 2012

Arsene Wenger has backed the club’s decision to block billionaire shareholder Alisher Usmanov’s attempts to win a place on the Arsenal board.

Usmanov has seen his plot to secure a place on Arsenal’s top table blocked by majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, so despite owning 29 per cent of the club, the Russian has no say in how Arsenal are run.

The bilionaire oligarch, who is worth more than Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, has been critical of the board’s running of the club.

Denied: Alisher Usmanov wants a place on the Arsenal board

Denied: Alisher Usmanov wants a place on the Arsenal board

Usmanov says he would seek to pay off the remaining debt from building the Emirates Stadium, with making large transfer funds available.

However, when asked about whether he would like some of Usmanov’s money to spend in the transfer market, Wenger replied: ‘I’ve always said the same, which is that we want to produce the money from our own resources.

‘Because we are in the Champions League, we can produce the money.’

Wenger’s comments show that he still backs the club’s self-sustaining financial model, despite the temptation of Usmanov’s bank balance.

Nevertheless, the Arsenal boss will go on a January spending spree as he looks to breathe fresh life into his faltering side.

Arsenal are facing up to an eighth consecutive season without a trophy, and growing numbers of supporters feel it is time for Wenger to walk away.

However, the Frenchman came out fighting at the club’s London Colney HQ yesterday, issuing a staunch defence of himself and his side.

Wenger has the total backing of Kroenke and has always insisted that he will not resign.

And when questioned about the level of criticism he has received this week, the Frenchman responded: ‘I am here for that, and [I get criticised] very well.

Support: Arsene Wenger backed the ban

Support: Arsene Wenger backed the ban

‘I am responsible for results. It is my job to take criticism, so I do it. I would prefer it if everyone says I am fantastic. I cannot say we were fantastic when we lost on penalties at Bradford.

‘Am I the right man to lead I have already answered this question. We are top professional people. What is important is what happens tomorrow, not what happened yesterday.’

Meanwhile, Arsenal will battle Manchester United for Stoke’s Asmir Begovic in January. Wenger has made a new keeper a top priority and Begovic is the prime target.

The Bosnia star, 25, has been scouted by spies as Arsenal work on an 8million bid.

But Wenger will be forced to battle it out with Sir Alex Ferguson. Sportsmail exclusively revealed United’s firm interest in Begovic last Saturday. Wenger wants competition for Wojciech Szczesny as No 1. Liverpool’s Pepe Reina and Swansea’s Michel Vorm are also on the shortlist.

Mark Hughes sacked by QPR as Harry Redknapp is made manager but for match at Manchester United

SACKED! QPR finally fire Hughes as Redknapp is handed reins (but not until after trip to United)

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UPDATED:

11:46 GMT, 23 November 2012

Mark Hughes has been sacked as manager of QPR – and Harry Redknapp has been appointed as his replacement.

Hughes's assistant manager Mark Bowen will take Rangers, winless and rock-bottom of the Barclays Premier League, to Old Trafford tomorrow with former Tottenham boss Redknapp in the stands.

Redknapp will take formal charge of the team on Sunday.

Fury: Fans turned on Hughes following the defeat to Southampton at home

Fury: Fans turned on Hughes following the defeat to Southampton at home, his final game before being sacked today

WITH HARRY THERE'S HOPE

QPR are the only team out of 92 league clubs yet to win a match this season.

But Harry has performed miracles before.

When he took over from Juande Ramos at Tottenham the team had only two points and his only brief was to stop them slipping them into the Championship.

He managed to finish in eighth place that very season, and took Tottenham to the Champions League two years later.

Hughes's position has been hanging in
the balance all week after defeat to Southampton at Loftus Road, a
match dubbed 'El Sackico'.

The
former Manchester United striker had been preparing his team for the
clash at Manchester United with the expectation that he would be on the
touchline.

However, owner Tony Fernandes finally snapped this morning, showing Hughes, who had replaced, Neil Warnock the door after 10 months.

A club statement this morning said the Rangers board were now looking to appoint a replacement as soon as possible, however Sportsmail is able to confirm that Redknapp is the new manager.

The club's statement read: 'Queens Park
Rangers Football Club has today (Friday) terminated the contract of
manager Mark Hughes with immediate effect.

'This decision has been taken after
careful consideration by the Board of Directors, following numerous
meetings over the last few days.

Harry Redknapp photographed in Mayfair

Mark Bowen

The boss men: Redknapp (left) will take charge on Sunday, while Bowen
(right) will be in charge of the QPR team for the trip to Manchester
United tomorrow

On the brink: Mark Hughes took QPR training this week before being axed this morning

On the brink: Mark Hughes took QPR training this week before being axed this morning

Cracked: Tony Fernandes wanted to keep hold of Hughes, but finally snapped

Cracked: Tony Fernandes wanted to keep hold of Hughes, but finally snapped

'The Board of Directors wish to thank Mark for his commitment, hard work and dedication in his ten months in charge.

'Mark
has shown integrity and professionalism throughout his time here, but
ultimately the circumstances we find ourselves in have left the Board of
Directors with very little choice but to make a change.

'The Board will now be working actively to put a new managerial structure in place as soon as possible.

'Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki will take charge of the R's trip to Manchester United in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday afternoon. 'The club will be making a further announcement in due course.'

Former QPR winger Richard Langley told
BBC Radio 5live: 'The frustration has been brewing and the main thing is
they've got such a talented squad at the moment and the results haven't
been coming so you can understand the frustrations at the club. They
haven't been playing as a team.'

Hughes has been walking a tightrope since QPR lost at Arsenal on October 27. Fernandes was set to sack him then but had a change of heart and has tried to support him.

They have not won all season but have an easier run of fixtures coming – and Redknapp will be licking his lips at that prospect.

The former Southampton and Portsmouth manager, who was snubbed by England after Fabio Capello left his post, will eagerly look forward to a new year clash with Tottenham, his most recent club.

More to follow….

DATES FOR HARRY'S DIARY…

New man: Redknapp, snubbed by England, will watch his new charges from the stands at Old Trafford

Harry Redknapp will face his old club Tottenham for the
first time as QPR manager on Monday, January 14 at 8pm.

Happy New Year, Harry.

BEFORE THAT…

Man Utd (away) tomorrow

Sunderland (away) Tuesday

Aston Villa (home) Sat, Dec 1

Wigan (away) Sat, Dec 8

Fulham (home) Sat, Dec 15

Newcastle (away) Sat, Dec 22

Laura Robson: I won Junior Wimbledon at 14 and everyone assumed I"d be beating Serena the very next day

I won Junior Wimbledon at 14 and everyone assumed I'd be beating Serena the very next day

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UPDATED:

21:20 GMT, 17 November 2012

Laura Robson passed her driving test a year ago but she has been behind the wheel just once since then and, while she has won almost 200,000 in prize money this year alone, she does not own a car and makes do with a monthly allowance from her father.

At 18, she remains steadfastly grounded despite her rise towards the upper echelons of the game, an ascent accelerated by her success in becoming Britain's first woman tennis player to make the final of a WTA event in 22 years.

Laughing all the way to the bank: But Laura Robson is still paid only a monthly allowance by her father

Laughing all the way to the bank: But Laura Robson is still paid only a monthly
allowance by her father

But if her transition from Junior
Wimbledon champion at 14 to her current status just outside the world's
top 50 players has been slow and at times painful, Robson is quick to
point out just how big a leap she has had to make in those four years.

'I think everyone assumes that, if you win Junior Wimbledon, you can beat Serena Williams the next day,' said Robson last week.

'That's just not realistic. 'It's a
really tough transition from junior tennis to professional tennis and I
think it takes a strong person to do it. There are not a lot of juniors
that have come through to the top in the last few years.'

To underscore Robson's point,
Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, the teenager from Thailand she beat in the 2008
Junior Wimbledon final, struggled to make a meagre pay cheque in a
small event in India a week ago and, while Robson stands at No 53 in the
world, Lertcheewakarn is ranked at 207.

While Robson's childhood friends were
starting university courses this autumn, probably fearful of the day
when they must repay their student loans, she has been cementing her
place in the tennis public's consciousness – and boosting her bank
balance.

Not that she has access to the money.

'Absolutely, not!' said Robson. 'My dad's not stupid – the money is completely off limits.'

Off limits: Robson's father looks after her finances

Off limits: Robson's father looks after her finances

Her father, Andrew, an executive with Shell, manages his daughter's growing fortune.

'At the end of the season, he was nice enough to give me a bonus,' she said.

Her cash windfall was spent almost immediately on a shopping expedition.

In all, Robson has won nearly
350,000 in a carefully-nurtured career that took flight from the day
she won Junior Wimbledon in 2008.

Photographs of her cuddling the
trophy were published on the front page of almost every newspaper the
next morning and her triumph made the news bulletins on every TV
channel.

But the other side of success was
spelled out to her recently during a visit to the financial advisor her
father has brought in to watch over her burgeoning bank account.

'When we had a meeting at the bank
the other day, I was told that 30 per cent of footballers end up
bankrupt,' Robson explained.

Looking to the future: Robson is savvy with her money

Looking to the future: Robson is savvy with her money

'I think my dad is being very
cautious; not that I would ever go crazy. You just have to be aware that
it's a short career and do as much as you can to save for as long as
possible.

'I am not overly interested in what I
am worth because I don't get to spend it anyway. But I am becoming more
involved. Dad wanted to wait until I was 18 or interested in what to do
with what I earn. I have become interested, so I'll keep going to
meetings and learn from them.'

Despite the temptations to spend her
earnings, she does not possess any credit cards, has just one debit
card in her bag – and no inclination to move out of the family home in
Wimbledon.

'I like my mum's cooking too much to want to leave for a few years yet,' she said.

Her father may be planning for her
financial welfare but it is her mother, Kathy, a former professional
basketball player in Australia, where Laura spent the first 18 months of
her life, who has been visibly most supportive on the circuit.

Proud moment: Robson and Andy Murray display their Mixed Doubles Olympic silver medals

Proud moment: Robson and Andy Murray display their Mixed Doubles Olympic silver medals

Today, Robson and her mother will
leave for a warm weather training camp at Chris Evert's tennis academy
in Boca Raton, Florida.

They will fly out – economy class –
with her Croatian support team of coach Zeljko Krajan, fitness trainer
Dejan Bojanovic and hitting partner Mislav Hizak, who are all on her
payroll. Robson met Krajan at the Olympics at Wimbledon this summer,
where she won a silver medal with Andy Murray in the mixed doubles.

In Florida, Robson will build on her
team's hard, uncompromising boot camp, which has just wound down at the
National Tennis Centre at Roehampton.

But she will return in time for her
first Christmas at home for five years – and the opportunity to get the
better of older brother Nicholas during festive family board games.

'If I play any game against my brother, it gets quite ruthless,' said Robson.

'I used to cheat at Monopoly all the time.'

Spurs MUST finish above Arsenal – Andre Villas-Boas

Spurs MUST finish above Arsenal… and what better way to tip the balance of power than by storming the Emirates, roars AVB

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UPDATED:

18:53 GMT, 15 November 2012

Andre Villas-Boas has no doubt that his Tottenham team can end 18 years of hurt by finishing above Arsenal this season.

Tottenham travel to Arsenal on Saturday for one of the most eagerly-anticipated fixtures in the domestic calendar – the north London derby.

Spurs have not finished above their bitter rivals in the Barclays Premier League since Gerry Francis was in charge of the club in the 1994-95 season.

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Derby day: Andre Villas-Boas' Tottenham travel to Arsenal on Saturday

Derby day: Andre Villas-Boas' Tottenham travel to Arsenal on Saturday

Since that year Arsenal have won seven major trophies and reached a Champions League final while Tottenham have struggled to keep pace with their rivals.

The last two years have seen Spurs mount something of a comeback, however.

Last season under Harry Redknapp the club held a 10-point advantage over Arsenal at the end of February until a spring collapse allowed Arsene Wenger's men to clinch third spot.

But with Arsenal currently struggling in the league, and Villas-Boas exuding confidence, the Portuguese sees no reason why this cannot be the year where the balance of power in north London finally shifts.

'We have to (finish above Arsenal),' Villas-Boas told a press conference. 'It is possible to bridge the gap. We are looking at trying to shorten the gap and not letting it grow.

'To play for fourth spot is difficult bearing in mind the competition you have to overcome. It's possible to bridge it.

'Arsenal have won trophies in recent times and they have qualified for the Champions League more often. That is where we want to be in the future. We're getting nearer.'

Villas-Boas got his first taste of a London derby last season when his Chelsea team faced QPR and Fulham.

But the narrow gap between the two teams in terms of their league position – Spurs are one point and one position above Arsenal, who are in eighth – and the quality of their respective squads makes this a much more meaningful fixture.

Last season Spurs and Arsenal served up one of the most memorable north London derbies in history when the Gunners fell 2-0 behind at the Emirates Stadium before staging a remarkable comeback that saw them emerge with a 5-2 victory.

Villas-Boas has been left in no doubt as to the importance of the fixture.

'I have been getting it for the last two weeks, people have been speaking about it quite often – the staff, the fans and the chairman,' the 35-year-old said.

'This is a game where passion is very high, it's a game that represents more than three points because of the history of north London derbies.

'The chairman keeps on mentioning it. I think it's normal. You really have to embrace it because it's part of the greater culture of the English game. You can't wear red at this training ground.'

Some have suggested that Tottenham will have no better chance of beating their arch rivals given the Gunners' poor start to the season.

Poor start: Arsenal have looked a shadow of their former selves this season

Poor start: Arsenal have looked a shadow of their former selves this season

Wenger's men conceded five against Reading, lost to Norwich and scraped a draw against Fulham last week, leaving them 11 points off the top of the table.

Villas-Boas does not subscribe to the theory that Arsenal are in free fall under Wenger, however.

'Their position (in the league) is completely irrelevant,' he said. 'Last season they had a poor start and managed to clinch third spot by picking up points. You drop three points, you are condemned.
“This is the nature of the Premier League.'

Spurs' chances of victory took a hit today when Villas-Boas confirmed Mousa Dembele will miss Saturday's game with the niggling hip problem that has sidelined him for the last seven games.

There was more encouraging news, however, regarding Aaron Lennon, who suffered a hamstring injury in last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.

'Lennon had a scan yesterday and his hamstring is fine,' Villas-Boas said.

The Portuguese does have doubts over Kyle Walker and Jermain Defoe, who also suffered hamstring injuries against City.

'We will have to wait and see (if they recover),' he added. 'They have trained separately this week.'

VIDEO: Villas-Boas Press conference ahead of the Arsenal game

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Craig Levein sweats on Scotland future as Joe Jordan eyes return to the dugout

Open to offers: As Levein sweats, Jordan eyes return to the dugout

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UPDATED:

00:52 GMT, 2 November 2012

Return: Jordan

Return: Jordan

Joe Jordan spoke of his burning desire to return to the dugout as a manager — as Craig Levein’s job remained hanging in the balance.

Levein’s future as Scotland manager was still shrouded in mystery yesterday after members of the SFA Board met to discuss his position following the national team’s dismal start to the World Cup qualifying campaign.

Jordan, along with Gordon Strachan, Walter Smith and Alex McLeish, has been mooted as a possible successor if a line is drawn under Levein’s three-year reign.

But, while Jordan steadfastly refused to be drawn on his interest in the post should Levein be sacked, he admitted to being open-minded about where the next chapter of his footballing life lies and said he ‘wouldn’t close any door’.

Currently out of work after leaving his coaching role with Tottenham in the summer, Jordan hasn’t managed a team since a caretaker spell at Portsmouth four years ago.

Despite spending much of the past decade as part of Harry Redknapp’s backroom teams at Portsmouth and White Hart Lane, the 60-year-old has retained an ambition to be his own man at some stage.

‘In respect of my future, I’d like to think I wouldn’t just be pigeon- holed,’ he said.

‘If I’m fortunate enough to get opportunities, I’d look at what they are irrespective if that’s being a manager that makes the final decision or someone that’s part of a coaching team. I wouldn’t close any door.

‘I have been an assistant and I have been part of a coaching group for a number of years but I wouldn’t like to be labelled just like that. I would just like to get back involved in football.’

Legend: Jordan netted for Scotland in three World Cup finals

Legend: Jordan netted for Scotland in three World Cup finals

The man who famously scored in three World Cup finals started his managerial career at Bristol City before spells with Hearts and Stoke.

But, having subsequently been part of the set-ups that won the FA Cup with Pompey and took Spurs into the Champions League, Jordan believes he is now better equipped to handle all that management could throw at him.

Asked if he felt he’d make a better manager nowadays, he replied: ‘Without any shadow of a doubt, yes. Definitely, no question, because you learn an awful lot when things don’t go particularly well, also.

‘I have worked at the lower levels, with teams where the expectation has been realistic, and with Spurs, where the expectation is high, and at Portsmouth, where the expectation was just: “Please survive, stay in the division”.’

Jordan believes Levein should be backed all the way by the nation.

‘For as long as he’s manager, we should get behind him,’ he said.

On a knife edge: Levein is fighting for his future

On a knife edge: Levein is fighting for his future

Mark Clattenburg latest: Chelsea race case in jeopardy as John Mikel Obi faces disrepute charge

Chelsea race case against Clattenburg in jeopardy with Mikel facing disrepute charge

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UPDATED:

00:50 GMT, 31 October 2012

Chelsea's race case against Mark
Clattenburg is in danger of collapsing after it emerged that the club
have employed independent lawyers to investigate the claims of their
players.

The club are expected to conclude
their internal investigation into allegations that the referee racially
abused John Mikel Obi and called Juan Mata a ‘Spanish t***’.

The external lawyers will then
provide Chelsea with legal opinion as to whether their case will be
successful. Despite issues over the available evidence, Chelsea remained
robust.

In the spotlight: John Obi Mikel leaves Chelsea training on Tuesday as the row hangs over the club

In the spotlight: John Obi Mikel leaves Chelsea training on Tuesday as the row hangs over the club

Clattenburg, who has been taken off
the Premier League match list this weekend, has protested his innocence
since his controversial handling of Chelsea’s 3-2 defeat by Manchester
United on Sunday.

Rio tweets with interest..

Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand

Manchester
United defender Rio Ferdinand (right), who has been outspoken on racism in
football, tweeted on Tuesday morning: 'Will be interesting to see how
this alleged 'race' or 'insulting' language episode pans out, our game
is under the microscope like never before.'Mikel was among the Chelsea players back
at training on Tuesday morning ahead of the rematch with United in the
Capital One Cup on Wednesday.

Now it has emerged that Chelsea are
fearful of the backlash if the players have misheard or misjudged
Clattenburg’s conversations during the stormy clash against United.

Chelsea will proceed with the case
against the referee only if they are satisfied the claims made by the
players after the game will stand up to the FA’s burden of proof.

It means they will
need to satisfy an FA commission ‘on the balance of probability’, but
they also have to negotiate the complexities of the Metropolitan
Police’s investigation into the affair.

If the case breaks down, it will
reflect badly on Chelsea, who made their claims of inappropriate
language against Clattenburg in a strongly worded statement on Sunday,
two hours after the final whistle.

All smiles: Mikel was back with his team-mates in training amid the race row

All smiles: Mikel was back with his team-mates in training amid the race row

Eyes on the ball: Juan Mata (centre) and John Terry (right) during training on Tuesday morning

Eyes on the ball: Juan Mata (centre) and John Terry (right) during training on Tuesday morning

GRAHAM POLL WRITES…

GRAHAM POLL, EX-REFEREE AND DAILY MAIL COLUMNIST.

Lee Mason enjoyed his 41st birthday on Monday but his thoughts will have been dominated by his appointment to referee Wednesday's Capital One Cup game between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Click here to read more…

Earlier it emerged that the club and
Mikel could be charged with misconduct by the FA after the midfielder
had to be restrained from manhandling the referee in his dressing room
following the clash.

Clattenburg did not mention the
behaviour in the ‘extraordinary incident’ report he filed on Sunday, but
he now has to make a detailed statement to the FA. Clattenburg’s
assistants, Michael McDonough and Simon Long, and fourth official Mike
Jones have filed reports in which they say they did not hear the Durham
official say anything inappropriate.

All four were in the referee’s room when Mikel burst in with Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay and manager Roberto Di Matteo.

Mikel’s aggressive manner, along with
the behaviour of other Chelsea officials, raises the possibility of FA
action against the club.

Focus: Juan Mata drives into Chelsea's Cobham HQ ahead of Wednesday's clash with United

Focus: Juan Mata drives into Chelsea's Cobham HQ ahead of Wednesday's clash with United

At the wheel: Fernando Torres was also among the players training on Tuesday morning

At the wheel: Fernando Torres was also among the players training on Tuesday morning

Both Mikel and Mata claim they have a
witness to Clattenburg’s comments, and PFA chief executive Gordon
Taylor, who has assessed both complaints, told Sportsmail the
pair have his ‘100 per cent support’.

However, it has emerged that the
allegations about the referee’s comments were made only after a debate
in the Chelsea dressing room. Mikel and Ramires were discussing the
alleged use of racist language and were then quizzed by senior Chelsea
players about what they had heard before the matter was taken further.

Sunday’s controversy is also the
subject of a police investigation and Clattenburg will be interviewed by
them as well as the FA, who are conducting a separate inquiry into his
handling of the clash.

The PFA had a delegate at the game
and he has discussed the matter with Taylor, who said: ‘The main thing
is that the police investigation will not affect the process at the FA.

‘We are supportive of the players and
they have our 100 per cent backing. I find it difficult to believe that
Chelsea’s players would make something like this up. At the same time I
find it hard to conclude that a referee could say something of this
nature.’

Clattenburg found an unlikely ally in
Leeds manager Neil Warnock, who said he was disgusted with Chelsea for
‘trying to kill’ the official.

Warnock, preparing for Leeds’ Capital
One Cup win over Southampton last night, was critical of the
accusations against Clattenburg, who enraged Chelsea by sending off
Fernando Torres for diving when replays showed he had been fouled.


Trouble: John Obi Mikel stormed into Mark Clattenburg's room

Trouble: John Obi Mikel stormed into Mark Clattenburg's room

Centre of the storm: Referee Mark Clattenburg and Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel

Centre of the storm: Referee Mark Clattenburg and Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel

Shocked: Juan Mata is unhappy with Clattenburg's alleged insult

Shocked: Juan Mata is unhappy with Clattenburg's alleged insult

Warnock said: ‘You know my
relationship with referees but I have to say I am disgusted with what’s
gone on. I’m on Clattenburg’s side. We ask referees to man-manage and
that’s what he does. I’m sure he might have said a few things but are
you telling me if Chelsea had won that game that there would have been
one iota of a complaint

‘I hope if it is proved wrong, that
the players, whatever they alleged Mark to have said, get done as well. I
think he made a mistake but they are trying to kill him and I don’t
agree with that.’

In a further development, police
chiefs upgraded security at Stamford Bridge for the Capital One Cup tie
against United as tension between the teams threatens to escalate.

In the spotlight: Mark Clattenburg leaves his home near Newcastle on Monday

In the spotlight: Mark Clattenburg leaves his home near Newcastle on Monday

Grabbing a lift: Clattenburg jumped into a car with fellow ref Michael Oliver

Grabbing a lift: Clattenburg jumped into a car with fellow ref Michael Oliver

VIDEO: Clattenburg and Mikel have words on the pitch…

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