Tag Archives: bookmakers

Roberto Di Matteo sacked by Chelsea as Abramovich targets Pep Guardiola

SACKED! Di Matteo pays price for Chelsea's disastrous run of results after being in charge for just six months

|

UPDATED:

19:03 GMT, 21 November 2012

How Sportsmail's Neil Ashton led the way on Di Matteo's Chelsea sacking

Monday morning… Abramovich prepared to wield axe if results don't improve

Tuesday night… Guardiola and Benitez in frame to replace Di Matteo

Roman Abramovich fired Roberto Di Matteo this morning after an 'unacceptable' run of results.

The Chelsea owner, furious with the club's disastrous Champions League campaign, sacked him this morning just hours after their 3-0 defeat at Juventus and training was cancelled for the day.

Di Matteo was informed of the decision during an emergency 4am meeting at the club's Cobham training base, just after the club had touched down back in England after the hour-and-a-half flight from Italy.

Chelsea executives met at an emergency meeting at Stamford Bridge at 9am this morning after telling Di Matteo that his reign was over just six months after he led them to glory in the European Cup.

Abramovich's No 1 target is former
Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, but the Blues owner needs to persuade him
to end his year-long sabbatical from football. If he fails in this bid, he will turn to Rafa Benitez to take the helm.

Scroll down for video

Game over: Di Matteo has been sacked, six months after landing the Champions League

Game over: Di Matteo has been sacked, six months after landing the Champions League

Taxi! Bookmakers Coral delivered this stunt outside Stamford Bridge after Di Matteo's exit

Taxi! Bookmakers Coral delivered this stunt outside Stamford Bridge after Di Matteo's exit

Chelsea statement on Di Matteo – in full

Chelsea Football Club has parted company this morning with Manager Roberto Di Matteo.

The team's recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the Board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season.

The club faces a difficult task ahead in qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League while competing in three other cup competitions. Our aim is to remain as competitive as possible and challenge strongly on all fronts.

The owner and the Board would like to thank Roberto for all he has done for the club since taking over in March. Roberto helped guide us to an historic Champions League victory and a seventh FA Cup. We will never forget the huge contribution he has made to this club's history and he will always be welcome at Stamford Bridge.

The club will be making an announcement shortly regarding a new first team manager.

Guardiola is spending time in Manhattan with his family after four years in charge at the Nou Camp and is the Russian's top target to take over.

However, sources close to the 41-year-old say it will take a 'phenomenal' offer for the manager to change his mind.

It is understood Guardiola's advisers are willing to begin negotiations with prospective employers ahead of next season.

Discreet enquires from Chelsea, City and Milan have already taken place, with all three clubs keen to steal a march on their rivals in the race to land the talented manager.

Benitez is understood to be willing to take the job until the end of the season. This is despite turning down a similar offer last season after Andre Villas-Boas was sacked.

The former Liverpool and Inter Milan boss is addressing a conference in Abu Dhabi today and is scheduled to fly back into London tomorrow.

Abramovich was furious that the team, who started the season with the chance to win seven trophies, are already in freefall.

Although he was prepared to overlook
the Community Shield defeat against Manchester City, he was furious with
the 4-1 defeat against Atletico Madrid in the Super Cup.

Down and out Chelsea were soundly beaten by Juventus in the Champions League last night

Down and out Chelsea were soundly beaten by Juventus in the Champions League last night

Down and out Chelsea were soundly beaten by Juventus in the Champions League last night

TODAY'S POLL

Were Chelsea right to sack Roberto Di Matteo

Yes

No

VOTE

Di Matteo

POLL RESULTS

Close

All polls
Click to view yesterday's poll results

DM.has(“rcp”, “poll”,
pollId: '1033333',
channelId: '3',
questionId: ''
);

Abramovich’s circle made it clear that
they had to play seven games to 'qualify' for the Community shield and
that it should be treated seriously.

Likewise the 4-1 defeat against Atletico
in Monaco came after they won the Champions League final against Bayern
Munich and they wanted to win it.

Chelsea need a miracle to qualify from
Group E of the Champions League and are in danger of becoming the first
holders in the history of the competition to go out in the group phase.

They are four points behind this
weekend’s opponents Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League and
cannot afford another defeat after last week’s 2-1 loss at West
Bromwich.

Who's next The search now begins for a new manager

Who's next Guardiola and Benitez are in the frame to take the helm at Stamford Bridge

Who's next Guardiola and Benitez are in the frame to take the helm at Stamford Bridge

Who's next Guardiola and Benitez are in the frame to take the helm at Stamford Bridge

Latest betting on next Chelsea boss

8/13 Rafa Benitez

6/4 Pep Guardiola

8/1 Harry Redknapp

8/1 Steve Clarke

10/1 Larent Blanc

14/1 Jose Mourinho

16/1 Guus Hiddink

16/1 Fabio Capello

20/1 Gianfranco Zola

20/1 John Terry

20/1 Avram Grant

A Chelsea spokesman said: ‘Chelsea Football Club has parted company this morning with manager Roberto Di Matteo.

‘The team's recent performances and
results have not been good enough and the owner and the Board felt that a
change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction
as we head into a vitally important part of the season.

'The club faces a difficult task ahead
in qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as
well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League
while competing in three other cup competitions. Our aim is to remain
as competitive as possible and challenge strongly on all fronts.

'The owner and the Board would like to
thank Roberto for all he has done for the club since taking over in
March. Roberto helped guide us to an historic Champions League victory
and a seventh FA Cup.

'We will never forget the huge contribution he has
made to this club's history and he will always be welcome at Stamford
Bridge.

'The club will be making an announcement shortly regarding a new first team manager.'

Hero to zero: Just months after landing the club an FA Cup and Champions League double, Di Matteo is out

Hero to zero: Just months after landing the club an FA Cup and Champions League double, Di Matteo is out

Hero to zero: Just months after landing the club an FA Cup and Champions League double, Di Matteo is out

Di Matteo's 'unacceptable' run of results

October 23: Shakhtar Donetsk 2 Chelsea 1 (Champions League)

October 28: Chelsea 2 Manchester United 3 (Premier League)

October 31: Chelsea 5 Manchester United 4 (Capital One Cup)

November 3: Swansea 1 Chelsea 1 (Premier League)

November 7: Chelsea 3 Shakhtar Donetsk 2 (Champions League)

November 11: Chelsea 1 Liverpool 1 (Premier League)

November 17: West Bromwich 2 Chelsea 1 (Premier League)

November 20: Juventus 3 Chelsea 0 (Champions League)

Eight managers, ten trophies, one billion pounds…

Claudio Ranieri (September 2000 to May 2004 – Abaramovich bought the club in June 2003)

Jose Mourinho (June 2004 – September 2007)

Avram Grant (September 2007 – May 2008)

Felipe Scolari (July 2008 – February 2009)

Guus Hiddink (February 2009 – May 2009)

Carlo Ancelotti (June 2009 – May 2011)

Andre Villas-Boas (June 2011 – March 2012)

Roberto Di Matteo (March 2012 – November 2012)

VIDEO: Di Matteo accepts full responsibility for the loss to Juventus after the match

DM.has('rcpv1980819961001','BCVideo');

… And fans react to di Matteo's departure…

DM.has('rcpv1981845955001','BCVideo');

Alex McCleish wants Joe Jordan to be next Scotland coach

McLeish backs 'fantastic' Jordan to pip Strachan to Scotland post after Levein departure

|

UPDATED:

15:38 GMT, 11 November 2012

Alex McLeish thinks Joe Jordan would be an excellent appointment as the next Scotland manager.

The Scottish Football Association is on the look-out for a new manager for the national side after sacking Craig Levein on Monday.

Bookmakers have installed Gordon Strachan as the favourite to succeed Levein, but there have been calls for Jordan to be considered for the position.

Not you: Alex McCleish would prefer Joe Jordan to Gordon Strachan (centre)

Not you: Alex McCleish would prefer Joe Jordan to Gordon Strachan (centre)

Jordan enjoyed a glittering playing career with AC Milan, Leeds and Manchester United, but he has not managed a team on a permanent basis since 1997 when he was in charge at Bristol City.

Jordan has spent most of his recent years as Harry Redknapp's number two at Portsmouth and Tottenham, but McLeish thinks the 60-year-old would have no problem making the step up to international management.

'Joe Jordan is a fantastic candidate,' McLeish told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme.

'He is tactically tremendous because of working with Harry all these years and with the different systems they have played.

'I don't think Joe would be caught short in terms of tactical nous at that level.'

McLeish, who also thinks former Celtic manager Strachan would do a good job if appointed, managed Scotland for 10 months with relative success before quitting to join Birmingham, who were then in the Barclays Premier League.

There was an initial clamour for the 53-year-old to take the job again after Levein's dismissal, but he insists he would prefer to take charge of a top-flight English side instead after his recent disappointing spells in charge of Birmingham and their neighbours Aston Villa.

Candidate: Jordan would do a 'fantastic' job, claims McCleish

Candidate: Jordan would do a 'fantastic' job, claims McCleish

'It's not that I wouldn't like the job. If I was offered the Scotland job… it's a very difficult job to turn down, but I feel I have unfinished business in England and I like the day-to-day stuff,” the former Rangers manager said.

McLeish believes Levein, who won just three of his 12 games in charge of the national side, should perhaps have got more out of what he regards as a decent team.

'I believe they should have done better,' McLeish said.

'I do think the current crop are a decent bunch. James Morrison started in the Premier League for West Brom and scored a great goal yesterday.

'Some of the guys haven't reached their level yet at international level.

'They haven't produced that extra couple of per cent that exists in every player on the planet.'

Everton v Liverpool preview – can David Moyes" side stay ahead?

The Mersey mission: Everton are on a high, but can they stay ahead of Liverpool

|

UPDATED:

08:37 GMT, 27 October 2012

The late Liverpool manager Bill
Shankly achieved many great things at Anfield, and was also responsible
for one of the most cutting put-downs of Everton.

‘In my time at Liverpool, we had the
two best teams on Merseyside,’ Shankly once said. ‘They were Liverpool
and Liverpool reserves.’

Head to head: Nikica Jelavic and Luis Suarez will square up at Goodison Park

Head to head: Nikica Jelavic and Luis Suarez will square up at Goodison Park

On a mission: Everton Manager David Moyes

On a mission: Everton Manager David Moyes

Derby debut: Liverpool manager Brendan

Derby debut: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

A great line indeed, but one that
Kopites would be reluctant to trot out to their rivals as they head
across Stanley Park on Sunday.

Right now, it is Everton that stand
tall on Merseyside. Having finished ahead of Liverpool last season for
only the second time since their last championship success in 1987,
Everton will lead their neighbours by nine points if they win.

Even the bookmakers have David Moyes’ team as narrow favourites but the question is this: Can this blue supremacy really last

It's match night at Anfield on
Thursday. At the main stand coffee bars, the young servers wear staff
T-shirts with slogans on the back.

‘Liverpool without European football is like a banquet without wine,’ reads one from Roy Evans.

‘It’s not about the long ball or the short ball, it’s about the right ball,’ is another from Bob Paisley.

Such words fit nicely into the
romance of a visit to Anfield. It’s a stadium built to invoke memories.
It still looks the same, the announcer’s voice is instantly recognisable
and he still plays the best half-time music.

Out on the field, though, the modern
Liverpool’s version of Europe is a visit from Anzhi Makhachkala in the
Europa League. There’s not much romance about that.

Young guns: Samed Yesil (left) and Jack Robinson in Liverpool training before Sunday's Merseyside derby

Young guns: Samed Yesil (left) and Jack Robinson in Liverpool training before Sunday's Merseyside derby

Fall guy: Joe Cole (middle) takes a tumble as Sebastian Coates (left) and Jon Flanagan look on

Fall guy: Joe Cole (middle) takes a tumble as Sebastian Coates (left) and Jon Flanagan look on

Under new manager Brendan Rodgers,
there are steady signs of improvement. Liverpool are beginning to keep
the ball better and are defending better. They spend the majority of the
night in the Anzhi half, win on the back of a super Stewart Downing
goal and head to Goodison after three successive clean sheets.

Rodgers knows, though, that his immediate horizons, in terms of tangible progress, are limited.

‘Everton finished ahead of us last
season,’ he told Sportsmail. ‘I have seen reports and read snippets
where they think they can finish in the top four this season.

‘They are obviously very confident. My situation is different. I’m trying to get this team as competitive as I can.

‘The status of this club over many
years meant that it was always at the top. So no opponent was different
to any other. But that level has dropped. The hard work is getting the
club to the top end of the division.

‘Coming in to this job, this club had
finished sixth, seventh and eighth. That’s the reality of where it’s
at, so my focus is only on improvement.’

Rodgers is a wonderfully realistic
man. After a difficult summer transfer window, he knows the current
squad is not good enough for the top four. So if Everton do indeed
remain there, the chances are Liverpool will be in their wake again.

That would certainly be hard to take
but, crucially, Liverpool’s supporters appear to have bought into
Rodgers’ vision of baby step progress. On Thursday his name is sung
before kick-off and again during the second half. His trust in young
players such as Jonjo Shelvey and Andre Wisdom is clearly endorsed by
what looks close to a full house.

On the ball: Joe Allen (right) tries to shake off the attentions of Samed Yesil

On the ball: Joe Allen (right) tries to shake off the attentions of Samed Yesil

Behind you! Allen tries to pinch the ball from Flanagan during training at Melwood on Friday

Behind you! Allen tries to pinch the ball from Flanagan during training at Melwood on Friday

‘Jonjo’s like Bambi on ice when he gets going,’ chuckles one fan. ‘But at least he gives everything.’

Of concern to Liverpool is the
current reliance on two more senior players, Steven Gerrard and Luis
Suarez. The relationship between the two is beginning to look as
fundamental as that between Gerrard and Fernando Torres when Liverpool
last came close to winning the title back in 2009.

For all his faults, Suarez remains a
terrific player and Rodgers has done well to rehabilitate him after the
tribulations of last season. If Liverpool are to prosper, the Uruguayan
and his captain simply must stay fit.

‘We are having more controlled
possession and that’s the important bit,’ said Rodgers. ‘Anzhi was a
difficult game and we did well.’

Sunday, he can be sure, will be more difficult.

Goodison Park is a great place to
watch a derby. It’s a great place to watch any football match. It’s also
a stadium that is acting like a noose round the neck of long-term
Everton progress. In the dug-out, manager Moyes’ guts will churn as he
seeks victory over the enemy. He feels it that badly.

Over time, though, no matter what
Moyes does, a more predictable order may return to Merseyside unless
they find a buyer for the club or leave dear old Goodison behind.

Match-day revenue per season is
17.4m at Goodison. At Anfield it’s 55m and that’s before work begins
to increase Liverpool’s stadium capacity to 60,000.

The gulf is clear. Commercially — at
home and abroad — Liverpool remain a very big club. Everton — a club
that boast only a dozen executive boxes — are somewhat smaller. Last
season Liverpool were shown live on Sky and ESPN 22 times. Everton
featured on nine occasions.

Against this background, Everton’s current supremacy is all the more remarkable.

Keepers' capers: Brad Jones (left) and Pepe Reina in action with the new fluorescent Premier League winter footballs

Keepers' capers: Brad Jones (left) and Pepe Reina in action with the new fluorescent Premier League winter footballs

Iron fists: Pepe Reina punches the ball away

Iron fists: Pepe Reina punches the ball away

Under Bill Kenwright’s ownership, the
club has pushed itself bravely in terms of finance. Everton pay good
wages — Marouane Fellaini earns 75,000 a week — and forthcoming
financial results will show total outlay in that area to be 60m, the
ninth-highest in the Premier League. Everton survive and prosper by
driving hard bargains when they buy players and selling one big name
every summer to keep the bank from the door.

Currently, it’s a model that is keeping them ahead of the Reds but still an inferiority complex remains among some supporters.

There is a perception that the authorities favour Liverpool.

The city council, for example,
recently granted planning permission and imposed compulsory purchase
orders so the redevelopment of Anfield could begin. Everton, meanwhile,
saw their attempt to build a new stadium in Kirkby thrown out by the
government in 2009.

Currently there are intentions to
look at a site on nearby Stanley Park. There was a meeting with the
council about it on Friday.

A buyer for the club would help.
Kenwright would sell for about 120m, but who would want to buy a club
with a stadium barely fit for modern purpose

In the Everton dressing room they are optimistic ahead of the derby.

A friend of one senior player says: ‘We think Liverpool are weak through the middle of defence.’

But Everton have fluffed their lines
against the enemy before, most notably when giving up a 1-0 lead in last
season’s FA Cup semi-final.

Over his decade at Goodison, Moyes has won just three of 20 league games against Liverpool but nobody can fault his ambition.

‘My job is to try (to finish above Liverpool) and I have to look to try to do that,’ he said yesterday.

‘It’s a big ask. Everton’s sole focus
shouldn’t be on finishing above Liverpool. We have to think about
finishing above Manchester United and City. That might sound crazy but
that’s what I’m thinking of.’

The Mersey mission: Everton are on a high, but can they stay ahead of Liverpool?

The Mersey mission: Everton are on a high, but can they stay ahead of Liverpool

|

UPDATED:

22:59 GMT, 26 October 2012

The late Liverpool manager Bill
Shankly achieved many great things at Anfield, and was also responsible
for one of the most cutting put-downs of Everton.

‘In my time at Liverpool, we had the
two best teams on Merseyside,’ Shankly once said. ‘They were Liverpool
and Liverpool reserves.’

On a mission: Everton Manager David Moyes

On a mission: Everton Manager David Moyes

Derby debut: Liverpool manager Brendan

Derby debut: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

A great line indeed, but one that
Kopites would be reluctant to trot out to their rivals as they head
across Stanley Park on Sunday.

Right now, it is Everton that stand
tall on Merseyside. Having finished ahead of Liverpool last season for
only the second time since their last championship success in 1987,
Everton will lead their neighbours by nine points if they win.

Even the bookmakers have David Moyes’ team as narrow favourites but the question is this: Can this blue supremacy really last

It's match night at Anfield on
Thursday. At the main stand coffee bars, the young servers wear staff
T-shirts with slogans on the back.

‘Liverpool without European football is like a banquet without wine,’ reads one from Roy Evans.

‘It’s not about the long ball or the short ball, it’s about the right ball,’ is another from Bob Paisley.

Such words fit nicely into the
romance of a visit to Anfield. It’s a stadium built to invoke memories.
It still looks the same, the announcer’s voice is instantly recognisable
and he still plays the best half-time music.

Out on the field, though, the modern
Liverpool’s version of Europe is a visit from Anzhi Makhachkala in the
Europa League. There’s not much romance about that.

Young guns: Samed Yesil (left) and Jack Robinson in Liverpool training before Sunday's Merseyside derby

Young guns: Samed Yesil (left) and Jack Robinson in Liverpool training before Sunday's Merseyside derby

Fall guy: Joe Cole (middle) takes a tumble as Sebastian Coates (left) and Jon Flanagan look on

Fall guy: Joe Cole (middle) takes a tumble as Sebastian Coates (left) and Jon Flanagan look on

Under new manager Brendan Rodgers,
there are steady signs of improvement. Liverpool are beginning to keep
the ball better and are defending better. They spend the majority of the
night in the Anzhi half, win on the back of a super Stewart Downing
goal and head to Goodison after three successive clean sheets.

Rodgers knows, though, that his immediate horizons, in terms of tangible progress, are limited.

‘Everton finished ahead of us last
season,’ he told Sportsmail. ‘I have seen reports and read snippets
where they think they can finish in the top four this season.

‘They are obviously very confident. My situation is different. I’m trying to get this team as competitive as I can.

‘The status of this club over many
years meant that it was always at the top. So no opponent was different
to any other. But that level has dropped. The hard work is getting the
club to the top end of the division.

‘Coming in to this job, this club had
finished sixth, seventh and eighth. That’s the reality of where it’s
at, so my focus is only on improvement.’

Rodgers is a wonderfully realistic
man. After a difficult summer transfer window, he knows the current
squad is not good enough for the top four. So if Everton do indeed
remain there, the chances are Liverpool will be in their wake again.

That would certainly be hard to take
but, crucially, Liverpool’s supporters appear to have bought into
Rodgers’ vision of baby step progress. On Thursday his name is sung
before kick-off and again during the second half. His trust in young
players such as Jonjo Shelvey and Andre Wisdom is clearly endorsed by
what looks close to a full house.

On the ball: Joe Allen (right) tries to shake off the attentions of Samed Yesil

On the ball: Joe Allen (right) tries to shake off the attentions of Samed Yesil

Behind you! Allen tries to pinch the ball from Flanagan during training at Melwood on Friday

Behind you! Allen tries to pinch the ball from Flanagan during training at Melwood on Friday

‘Jonjo’s like Bambi on ice when he gets going,’ chuckles one fan. ‘But at least he gives everything.’

Of concern to Liverpool is the
current reliance on two more senior players, Steven Gerrard and Luis
Suarez. The relationship between the two is beginning to look as
fundamental as that between Gerrard and Fernando Torres when Liverpool
last came close to winning the title back in 2009.

For all his faults, Suarez remains a
terrific player and Rodgers has done well to rehabilitate him after the
tribulations of last season. If Liverpool are to prosper, the Uruguayan
and his captain simply must stay fit.

‘We are having more controlled
possession and that’s the important bit,’ said Rodgers. ‘Anzhi was a
difficult game and we did well.’

Sunday, he can be sure, will be more difficult.

Goodison Park is a great place to
watch a derby. It’s a great place to watch any football match. It’s also
a stadium that is acting like a noose round the neck of long-term
Everton progress. In the dug-out, manager Moyes’ guts will churn as he
seeks victory over the enemy. He feels it that badly.

Over time, though, no matter what
Moyes does, a more predictable order may return to Merseyside unless
they find a buyer for the club or leave dear old Goodison behind.

Match-day revenue per season is
17.4m at Goodison. At Anfield it’s 55m and that’s before work begins
to increase Liverpool’s stadium capacity to 60,000.

The gulf is clear. Commercially — at
home and abroad — Liverpool remain a very big club. Everton — a club
that boast only a dozen executive boxes — are somewhat smaller. Last
season Liverpool were shown live on Sky and ESPN 22 times. Everton
featured on nine occasions.

Against this background, Everton’s current supremacy is all the more remarkable.

Keepers' capers: Brad Jones (left) and Pepe Reina in action with the new fluorescent Premier League winter footballs

Keepers' capers: Brad Jones (left) and Pepe Reina in action with the new fluorescent Premier League winter footballs

Iron fists: Pepe Reina punches the ball away

Iron fists: Pepe Reina punches the ball away

Under Bill Kenwright’s ownership, the
club has pushed itself bravely in terms of finance. Everton pay good
wages — Marouane Fellaini earns 75,000 a week — and forthcoming
financial results will show total outlay in that area to be 60m, the
ninth-highest in the Premier League. Everton survive and prosper by
driving hard bargains when they buy players and selling one big name
every summer to keep the bank from the door.

Currently, it’s a model that is keeping them ahead of the Reds but still an inferiority complex remains among some supporters.

There is a perception that the authorities favour Liverpool.

The city council, for example,
recently granted planning permission and imposed compulsory purchase
orders so the redevelopment of Anfield could begin. Everton, meanwhile,
saw their attempt to build a new stadium in Kirkby thrown out by the
government in 2009.

Currently there are intentions to
look at a site on nearby Stanley Park. There was a meeting with the
council about it on Friday.

A buyer for the club would help.
Kenwright would sell for about 120m, but who would want to buy a club
with a stadium barely fit for modern purpose

In the Everton dressing room they are optimistic ahead of the derby.

A friend of one senior player says: ‘We think Liverpool are weak through the middle of defence.’

But Everton have fluffed their lines
against the enemy before, most notably when giving up a 1-0 lead in last
season’s FA Cup semi-final.

Over his decade at Goodison, Moyes has won just three of 20 league games against Liverpool but nobody can fault his ambition.

‘My job is to try (to finish above Liverpool) and I have to look to try to do that,’ he said yesterday.

‘It’s a big ask. Everton’s sole focus
shouldn’t be on finishing above Liverpool. We have to think about
finishing above Manchester United and City. That might sound crazy but
that’s what I’m thinking of.’

Football League mascot race at Doncaster Racecourse

Mascot madness! Football's furry friends raise thousands for charity in League race

|

UPDATED:

14:33 GMT, 26 October 2012

It's turf usually reserved for horses, but spectators at Doncaster Racecourse on Friday also saw a fox, a dog, plenty of birds, a lion, an elephant and even a bear.

But thankfully this wasn't a new attempt to liven up horse racing through survival of the fittest.

They were furry creatures among 26 fan favourites taking part in the 2012 Football League Mascot Race, raising thousands for Prostate Cancer UK in the process.

Star Line-up: 26 Football League mascots took part in the annual race at Doncaster racecourse on Friday to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK

Star Line-up: 26 Football League mascots took part in the annual race at Doncaster racecourse on Friday to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK

Limbering up: The competitors go through a warm-up before the 100m race

Limbering up: The competitors go through a warm-up before the 100m race

Charge! The race begins, but Rotherham's Miller Bear (right) seems to be having footwear trouble

Charge! The race begins, but Rotherham's Miller Bear (right) seems to be having footwear trouble

The outlandish and over-sized mascots had to complete a 100m course, including making it over a number of fences, to claim bragging rights at every Football League ground.

Last year's winner, Notts County mascot Mr Magpie, was the bookmakers' favourite pre-race but he was blown away by York City's Yorkie the Lion – an 8-1 shot.

Grandstand finish: Chaddy Owl races away for third place, with Miller Bear and Coventry's Sky Blue Sam elephant not far behind

Grandstand finish: Chaddy Owl races away for third place, with Miller Bear and Coventry's Sky Blue Sam elephant not far behind

York City FC's Yorkie the Lion celebrates winning the Mascot Race

York City FC's Yorkie the Lion celebrates with a bottle of champagne after winning the Football League Mascot Race

Write caption here

The Final SP: 1st Yorkie the Lion, 2nd Billy Brewer, 3rd Chaddy Owl

The Final SP: 1st Yorkie the Lion, 2nd Billy Brewer, 3rd Chaddy Owl

Winners: The top three with Sukhi Dale from Prostate Cancer UK

Winners: The top three with Sukhi Dale from Prostate Cancer UK

Burton Albion's Billy Brewer came second with Oldham's Chaddy Owl third.

Yorkie, who has already been flush with success this year following York City's promotion back into the League after eight years, celebrated with a bottle of champagne – if he could get it through his thick mane.

Nigel Adkins says Southampton won"t change style of play

Adkins insists Saints will continue to play passing game despite Hammers defeat

|

UPDATED:

21:46 GMT, 21 October 2012

Nigel Adkins said Southampton will continue to play passing football despite admitting his side are getting ‘found out’ after another defeat which exposed a chronic inability to defend properly.

The Saints manager is coming under increasing pressure after a 4-1 defeat by West Ham made it 24 goals conceded in eight matches. His baffling decision to leave out top scorer Ricky Lambert was also called into question.

Keeping faith with his style: Nigel Adkins says Southampton will play passing football

Keeping faith with his style: Nigel Adkins says Southampton will play passing football

‘There’s a brand of football the club wants to play, but you’ve got to win,’ said Adkins, who is second-favourite with bookmakers to become this season’s first top-flight sacking. ‘We want to pass the football quickly and calmly. We’ve done that consistently over the last two seasons and scored a lot of goals.

At this level we’re getting found out and conceding far too many which, ultimately, is losing us games.’

Bad day at the office: Southampton were comprehensively beaten by West Ham

Bad day at the office: Southampton were comprehensively beaten by West Ham

Adkins declined to explain why Lambert, who has four goals from six starts, was dropped, but said: ‘Rickie Lambert has been phenomenal and outstanding for Southampton. I love the bones on him. I have to make a decision that I believe is right at the time. Everyone would pick a different team and different formation.’

In contrast West Ham, who went up via the play-offs, have enjoyed a great start — one which Sam Allardyce labels his best as a manager.

He agreed Adkins is feeling the heat.

Allardyce said: ‘You cannot keep not winning — you have to win at some stage, no matter what.

‘He has some real good players, I think, but they are not firing like they did last year in front of goal.

‘It is that much harder in the Premier League.’

Mark Hughes won"t be sacked, says QPR chairman Tony Fernandes

We won't panic and sack Hughes, insists Fernandes despite QPR's poor start

|

UPDATED:

07:52 GMT, 2 October 2012

QPR chairman Tony Fernandes has backed manager Mark Hughes to 'sort it out' following their dismal start to the season.

The
West Londoners languish bottom of
the Premier League with just two points from six games after Monday's 2-1 home defeat by West Ham.

Under pressure: QPR boss Mark Hughes (right)

Under pressure: QPR boss Mark Hughes (right)

Off the mark: Matt Jarvis (7) heads West Ham into an early lead

Hammer blow: Matt Jarvis heads West Ham into the lead

It's not the return expected by QPR on their big investment in 11 players during the summer after avoiding
relegation on the final day last season.

But Fernandes refused to press the panic after their latest setback and blamed the club's injury crisis for their poor showing.

He tweeted: 'Bad game but I expected it. Need all injured players
back. After West Brom. And get everyone to match fitness. Patientce (sic). Keep calm.

'Mark will sort it out. Look at his record. We would have won if we didn't go
down to 10. I am relxaed (sic) and confident. Let's get all our players back and in
form and fit and then let's see. Think of spurs.

Relaxed: Chairman Tony Fernandes

Relaxed: Chairman Tony Fernandes

Double trouble: Vaz Te

Te party: Vaz Te scored West Ham's winner

'Keep calm. 6 games does not make a season. I have learnt
from many wise chairman

'We have 5 injuries in the back. That's the problem. You fans
have to realise. It will come. So much quality.

'Don't worry. I'm calm and want to build stability which is what most fans want.
There are many out there who are clueless.'

Hughes is now the bookmakers'
favourite to become the first top-flight manager to leave his post this
season, with former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp a short-odds potential
replacement.

Asked if he was confident he would be
given time to see the job through, Hughes said: 'I would think so. We
have had a big investment and we're looking to improve this year and we
will.

'It is very, very
early days but until we get positive results on the board then obviously
everything is up for debate and a focus begins to come on the club as a
whole.

'We just need to start winning football matches. If we do that, it goes away.'

The situation looks much brighter for
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce, whose side moved up to seventh with the
victory that came courtesy of Matt Jarvis and Ricardo Vaz Te goals, both
coming in the first half. Adel Taarabt pulled an exquisite goal back
for QPR before Samba Diakite was dismissed for the home side with 15
minutes remaining.

'We've achieved our first Barclays Premier League away win, which is no mean feat for a newly-promoted team,' Allardyce said.

'I think the outstanding qualities we showed today both in our ability
to take the game to the opposition away from home and our ability to
score goals was fantastic to see.

'As the underdogs, having just been promoted, to come to QPR and take
the game to them and dominate that first half was great for me to see.

'If I had to say anything, I was a little bit disappointed we didn't get more than two.

Tony Fernandes tweets

'I was concerned ultimately when they scored their goal we were going to
pay the price for that, but in the end we didn't of course.

'We knew somewhere down the line the game would change with the
substitutes, but we didn't expect [Adel] Taarabt to score a wonderful
goal.

'It was a great, great goal and obviously put their tails up but our
resilience came in. Our defensive qualities came to the forefront as we
have shown for most of the season.

'We eventually saw the game out and I am little disappointed we didn't
finish them off, but absolutely delighted we won the game and deservedly
so.'

Ryder Cup 2012: Tiger Woods blasted by bookies

Woods admits Molinari tie felt worthless as bookies blast former world No 1 for conceding putt and costing them MILLIONS

|

UPDATED:

12:59 GMT, 1 October 2012

Tiger Woods claimed neither he nor the United States team were interested in salvaging a tie from the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah as bookies were left raging at the 14-time major champion.

Woods conceded a putt to gift Francesco Molinari a half in the final singles match just moments after Martin Kaymer had made sure the Europeans would keep hold of the trophy.

The match ended 14-13 to Jose Maria Olazabal's team but a 14-14 draw, which would have been enough for Team Europe as holders, was the result the bookies were banking on.

All over: Tiger Woods congratulates Francesco Molinari after giving him a half

All over: Tiger Woods congratulates Francesco Molinari after giving him a half

Betting firms faced a combined multi-million payout in what was their most expensive ever Ryder Cup.

The unlikely comeback cost Ladbrokes 650,000 and Coral 400,000, while other bookmakers also reported heavy losses.

Two punters even bet 500,000 on Europe to win as the odds fell.

Cough up: Bookies were the big losers after Woods gave Molinari hiss putt

Cough up: Bookies were the big losers after Woods gave Molinari hiss putt

A Ladbrokes spokesman told MailOnline: ‘No-one bets on a tie. It cost us just over 650,000 last night on Tiger’s miss. Tiger is not a bookie’s friend this morning.

‘At 8:20pm, Europe were 33/1 to win and USA were 1/50. It was a nightmare result. The USA were heavily backed pre-tournament. We were so close. It was our most expensive one ever.’

A Sky Bet spokesman told Sporting Life: ‘While it was impossible not to get caught up in such a fantastic victory, Woods's miss resulted in us taking a really heavy beating.

No roar: Tiger Woods was left to rue a wasteful day by Team USA

No roar: Tiger Woods was left to rue a wasteful day by Team USA

‘(But) our decision to pay out on both (Martin) Kaymer and Molinari securing the winning points will have made the night even more special for those who kept the faith.’

A Coral spokesman told MailOnline: ‘It was the biggest betting Ryder Cup we've ever had. We took 1million. During the first two days confidence was a bit shot. People didn't really back Europe then.

‘We were staring at the ideal result when Woods was at the final hole. Had it been a tie we would have kept everything we'd taken because no-one backs a draw. But it was a 400,000 hit.’

Woods' half was his only return of a miserable four days for the former world No 1.

He said: 'It was already over. We came here as a team – this is a team event. And the cup was already been retained by Europe, so it was already over.

Yanks but no thanks: Woods halved with Molinari

Yanks but no thanks: Woods halved with Molinari

'You come here as a team and you win or
lose as a team, and it's pointless to even finish. So 18 was just, hey,
get this over with. Congratulations to the European team. They played
fantastic and they deserve the cup.'

That incident rounded off a dismal three days for Woods in which he failed to win a single match.

The 36-year-old 14-time major winner lost three times in partnership with Steve Stricker on Friday and Saturday and was even stood down for a match for the first time in his career.

Captain Davis Love faced further questions over his decision to rest Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, after the pair enjoyed three wins together, for the Saturday afternoon fourballs.

But over the course of the three days, Love felt he had done everything he could to secure victory – after all, his side had led 10-6 heading into the singles.

Love said: 'I wouldn't have done anything different, they played great. They did everything we asked them to do, and I can honestly say that I've been a part of a lot of teams and I've never seen a team of golfers like this, and I'm proud of them.

Just champion: Team Europe produced a stunning final-day comeback

Just champion: Team Europe produced a stunning final-day comeback

'It was certainly a difficult loss. I think any Ryder Cup loss is difficult. There are some guys on this team that have lost before and it's never fun any way it happens. This was certainly not what we expected.

'They got beat by some holed putts, chip-ins, some incredible shots, and some matches got flipped at the end on long putts and great saves by the other team.

'I have to congratulate Europe on the way they played, they played great.'

London 2012 Olympics: Sir Roger Bannister hype created by bookies – Charles Sale

Charles Sale: Did bookies hype run on Bannister ceremony involvement

|

UPDATED:

22:58 GMT, 29 July 2012


Wrong calls: Sir Roger Bannister holding the Olympic Flame

Wrong calls: Sir Roger Bannister holding the Olympic Flame

One of the mysteries of the opening ceremony is why bookmakers William Hill closed their book on the lighting of the cauldron because of bets for Sir Roger Bannister.

It is understood that Bannister, the first sub-four-minute miler, was never considered for the role as his great athletic achievements didn’t include Olympic success.

Yet William Hill have twice earned widespread publicity for themselves by hyping Bannister’s chances of being the last flame-bearer — the second time on the eve of the ceremony when they claimed the amount of support for the 83-year-old had seen his odds cut from 16-1 to evens, making the market no longer viable.

Rival bookmakers have alleged that William Hill hugely exaggerate their betting activity to gain publicity — one such incident being their boast that they expected a 1billion turnover during Grand National week.

But a William Hill spokesman said on Sunday: ‘We had 50,000 worth of bets on the lighting of the Cauldron, which we have refunded. The bets weren’t big — no more than 100 — and 98 per cent were for Bannister. We assumed someone was in the know, but it wasn’t the case.’

Hunt and Moynihan tangle

More from Charles Sale…

Charles Sale: Wimbledon still a burger-free zone after winning war with McDonald's
27/07/12

Charles Sale: Trouble in Coventry as Ricoh Arena staff lock up equipment in Olympics row
27/07/12

Charles Sale: Olympic torch fans craved a Brucie bonus… but they got me!
26/07/12

Charles Sale: Nice seat LOCOG, shame about the restricted view…
25/07/12

Charles Sale: Silverstone jaunt is not the ticket
24/07/12

Charles Sale: Canadian chosen as controversial Olympic Stadium voice
23/07/12

Charles Sale: Has Ernie another steal on his mind
22/07/12

Charles Sale: Southgate's cold feet over top job at the FA
20/07/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

London 2012 organisers are adamant that they have worked out what to do to fill the empty seats without any need for the Government investigation indicated by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to which British Olympic chairman Lord Moynihan made reference on Sunday.

Moynihan, who has a spiky relationship with Hunt, was also quick to make fun of him following the blooper when the end of the bell he was ringing fell off, narrowly missing a passer-by.

Moynihan said tongue-in-cheek that Jeremy should now ring a bell to attract missing spectators into venues. A Government spokesperson said Hunt had meant LOCOG would hold the ticket inquiry but was misinterpreted because he had said ‘We’.

Sponsors, for once, are not to blame for the no-shows, but LOCOG’s threat to name and shame if their tickets are not used is complicated by the contracts which are understood to state that London 2012 do nothing to bring their backers into disrepute.

Put the keyboard down

The incessant tweets, which would have contributed to the jamming of the cycling airways, being posted by BOA chief executive Andy Hunt are genuine enough, although it can’t be long before a rogue account starts parodying them.

Slow down: Andy Hunt has been using Twitter incessantly

Slow down: Andy Hunt has been using Twitter incessantly

A Hunt special from the Opening Ceremony
read: ‘This is madtastic! Totally surreal with wall to wall screaming
and hollering for @TeamGB.’ Before the men’s road race: ‘Wow! You can
feel the tension down here at the Mall. [email protected]’ And after Lizzie
Armitstead’s silver medal: ‘Girl Power! BRILLIANT.’

BOSCO advance

Russian sports manufacturers BOSCO, who have made their first move into the British market with an outlet in Stratford’s Westfield Centre, have made a statement also with their choice of Games HQ — in exclusive Carlton Terrace overlooking The Mall. Many Olympic powerbrokers have already been wined and dined there by the kit firm, whose garish colours are being worn by Russia, Ukraine and Spain and also decorate taxis and buses.

Beeb move up a gear

BBC Sport took their own measures to improve the desperate TV coverage of the men’s cycling road race, which contained little or no information on the distances and times between riders.

Improving: The BBC covered Lizzie Armitstead's race better than the previous day's

Improving: The BBC covered Lizzie Armitstead's race better than the previous day's

The Beeb moved their commentary duo of Hugh Porter and Chris Boardman from their position at the finish in The Mall into the International Broadcast Centre for the women’s race to give them more access to the detail and did their own timing on parts of the course.

The IOC blamed the poor quality of their Olympic Broadcast Service on the scale of Twitter traffic during Mark Cavendish’s race interfering with GPS tracking and yesterday urged spectators not to tweet when riders went past. However, confusingly, IOC spokesman Mark Adams added that the Olympic body remain in favour of promoting social media.

Euro 2012: Mario Balotelli leads golden boot race

Euro 2012 golden boot race: Balotelli leads the way but might have to share award

|

UPDATED:

11:54 GMT, 29 June 2012

Mario Balotelli’s two goals in Thursday’s semi-final have made him the bookmakers’ favourite to claim the Euro 2012 Golden Boot accolade.

But if Manchester City’s Italian striker fails to find the net against Spain on Sunday night, he may have to share the honour of the tournament’s top scorer with four others, including two with the name Mario.

Germany’s Gomez and Croatia’s Mandzukic have three goals to their name, as do Russia’s Alan Dzagoev and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

Joint top: Mario Balotelli has three goals

Joint top: Mario Balotelli has three goals

And in more bad news for Balotelli, three Spanish players are in position to pinch the Golden Boot from him – Xabi Alonso, Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres all have two goals.

The last time the Golden Boot was shared at a European Championships was in 2000, when Holland’s Patrick Kluivert and Yugoslavia’s Savo Milosevic both scored five.

You have to go back to 1994 to find a World Cup where no single player claimed the award.

Here, Sportsmail brings you a rundown of the tournament’s leading marksmen.

Joint 1st – three goals each

Mario Balotelli (Italy): As if he needed any introduction, Balotelli stormed onto the major tournament stage with two goals against Germany in the semi-final. His double – one a thumping header, the other an outstanding finish into the top corner – showed why manager Cesare Prandelli invested such faith in an unpredictable player. His first goal of the tournament, a volley against Ireland in the group stages, was just as good.

Smash: Balotelli rams in Italy's second goal against Germany

Smash: Balotelli rams in Italy's second goal against Germany

Alan Dzagoev (Russia): Dzagoev got his bid for the Golden Boot in early, with three strikes in Russia’s opening two games against the Czech Republic and Poland. But just as Europe started to take notice of the 22-year-old CSKA Moscow playmaker, Russia were unceremoniously bundled out by Greece. However, Dzagoev did enough to attract interest from leading clubs with two accomplished finishes in the 4-1 win over the Czechs and a poacher’s header against Poland.

Tailed off: Alan Dzagoev started well but Russia were eliminated

Tailed off: Alan Dzagoev started well but Russia were eliminated

Mario Gomez (Germany): The Bayern Munich striker guided Germany into the knockout stages with the winning goal against Portugal and two against Holland. Stung by criticism about his missed chances in the Champions League final against Chelsea, the 26-year-old responded with an excellent header against Portugal and a masterclass in finishing to beat the Dutch. But his tournament ended in acrimony – Gomez didn’t start against Greece in the quarter-final and was hauled off at half-time as they crashed out to Italy.

No way in: Mario Gomez (left) could not beat Gianluigi Buffon to add to his tally

No way in: Mario Gomez (left) could not beat Gianluigi Buffon to add to his tally

Mario Mandzukic (Croatia): Mario’s three goals in the group stages caught the eye of Bayern Munich, who moved swiftly to secure his signing from Wolfsburg. He took just three minutes to make an impression at Euro 2012, his header deceiving Ireland’s Shay Given, and followed up with another later in the 3-1 win. But Mandzukic saved his best moment for the draw with Italy – an immaculate touch and powerful finish from close range.

Firebrand: Mario Mandzukic was Croatia's star of the tournament

Firebrand: Mario Mandzukic was Croatia's star of the tournament

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal): After an indifferent start to the tournament, Portugal’s talisman came to life in the final group game, securing his team’s place in the quarter-finals with two goals. He was even more influential in the quarter-final with the Czech Republic, settling the game with a late header. But just as Ronaldo was seemingly at the peak of his powers, he misfired in the semi with Spain and was left helpless as Paolo Bento put him fifth in the penalty shoot-out. His chance to take a kick never arrived, as Spain secured victory.

Buried: Cristiano Ronaldo finds the net against the Czech Republic

Buried: Cristiano Ronaldo finds the net against the Czech Republic

Players tied on two goals: Xabi Alonso (Spain), Nicklas Bendtner (Denmark), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Vaclav Pilar (Czech Republic), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Denmark), Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine), Petr Jiracek (Czech Republic), Fernando Torres (Spain), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden) and Dimitris Salpigidis (Greece).