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The Midlander puts on his red suit and hands out Christmas presents to clubs

All I want for Christmas is… The Midlander goes down the chimneys of eight clubs to spread some Christmas cheer

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UPDATED:

21:32 GMT, 13 December 2012

Just because it's the time of year and – quite frankly because I also really enjoy writing this type of piece – I'm handing out a few Christmas presents to our Midlands' teams.

It's meant to be light-hearted. It maybe a bit pointed, but if any offence is caused, I'm going to take the mickey out of myself too somewhere along the line….so what would we give to….

Paul Lambert

Paul Lambert

Gifts: Neil Moxley does his best Father Christmas impression and hands Villa manager Paul Lambert (left) a new creative midfielder and West Brom's Steve Clarke a dose of reality after a great start has become a blip

Carson Yeung (Birmingham City owner) I'm sure what Mr Yeung would value most this Yuletide is his liberty. Difficult to put a price on that, isn't it

What Birmingham City's supporters would value is clarity. It appears that the great sell-off continues to gather pace.

No-one is any the wiser as to how, why and when it will come to an end.

Until that situation is resolved, then Lee Clark is going to continue to have to make-do in the transfer market, I'm afraid, and frustrations will inevitably grow.

Funds: Nigel Clough (pictured) will be hoping that young starlet Will Hughes, who has attracted interest from Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool, brings much-needed funds

Funds: Nigel Clough (pictured) will be hoping that young starlet Will Hughes, who has attracted interest from Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool, brings much-needed funds

Nigel Clough (Derby County manager) After spending four seasons in charge of the Rams, the current manager's late father was mounting a First Division title tilt.

But then, Clough Snr operated in different times. I remain a fan of Clough Jnr – I think his squad is evolving – and the players he has signed have a desire to be successful.

It is a pity that won't be cut too much slack in the New Year. The word is that some funds will need to be generated.

I've not seen him yet – except on television – but if the rumours are right Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool are tracking Will Hughes, then he must be half-decent.

Therefore, I wish for Mr Clough a clean and healthy balance sheet that gives him an evens-chance of pushing Derby upwards.

Paul Lambert (Aston Villa manager) Having witnessed a car-crash of a performance in the first home fixture against Everton, I feared for Villa.

I fear no longer but I'd be happier still if they had a playmaker who could really make a difference in the final third of the field.

The Scot deserves credit for his policy. A few players have certainly done themselves no harm. I've always liked Ciaran Clark. Chris Herd is a battler and should have been given a chance to establish himself as a right-back under Alex McLeish.

More from Neil Moxley…

The Midlander: Darren's situation has Villa Bent out of shape
07/12/12

The Midlander: Cunning Clarke has West Brom punching above their weight
22/11/12

The Midlander: Football is a results business… but it's never that clear cut for Clark and Clough
15/11/12

The Midlander: Was O'Neill a good Villa boss Let's end this debate once and for all…
08/11/12

The Midlander: Coventry can begin to paint rosy future with morale-boosting Wembley run
19/10/12

The Midlander: Pearson deserves so much more as Leicester target the Premier League
12/10/12

The Midlander: Bent mystery at Villa making life under Lambert very interesting
04/10/12

The Midlander: Baggies crashed out, but at least they took the Capital One Cup seriously
27/09/12

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But the former Blues boss went out and bought Alan Hutton instead. Expensive mistake, that. Nathan Baker has been a revelation and, obviously, Christian Benteke has caught the eye.

I have to say I'm a huge Matthew Lowton fan. This boy goes about his business in a quiet, effective and understated fashion. Where Lambert is lacking is someone with a bit of guile to take games such as the one against Stoke City at the weekend and open up defences or fire one in from the edge of the box.

So, it's a number ten for Paul Lambert. And a Wembley appearance Another League Cup triumph Fingers crossed.

Nigel Pearson (Leicester City boss) The easiest present of the lot to source. No boardroom interference…please.

Leicester's boss can be a crotchety so-and-so on occasion but if the Foxes' hierarchy can leave him alone, I have a feeling he will end up delivering this season.

From what I've seen, Danny Drinkwater has come on leaps and bounds and by securing a defender of Wes Morgan's quality, Pearson was always going to reap rewards in the medium-term.

I've a sneaky feeling the Foxes will be adding – hurray – to our Midlands' contingent in the top-flight next season.

Steve Clarke (West Brom head coach) I'd just like a dash of reality to be sprinkled all over Clarke's Christmas pud.

While everyone outside of the club appears to be getting carried away by a storming start to the season, it was always likely that the Baggies would suffer a slight blip somewhere along the way.

It seems that blip is now. The overall quality of Clarke's squad will see them finish well clear of trouble, but all this nonsense about Europe needs to be nipped in the bud early on.

The time to talk about that is April. The only other point is that Youssouf Mulumbu's form so far this season has been sensational. I do hope his presence is not missed during the African Cup of Nations.

Clarke won't get carried away, he's too experienced for that. But it will be interesting to see how he handles this, given that he's now number one in his own right.

Dispute: Coventry City need an end to the dispute over their stadium, the Ricoh Arena

Dispute: Coventry City need an end to the dispute over their stadium, the Ricoh Arena

Coventry City – the whole club – the board of directors, manager Mark Robins and his players and the long-suffering support – need an end to the situation with the stadium which, quite frankly, must be resolved to the benefit of the club.

I understand why the holding company was formed and the reasons for it. But it is a nonsense that the decision-makers at the Sky Blues do not have access to matchday revenues.

I have no axe to grind with ACL whatsoever. But I fear that before the end of the year this could all end horribly. I don't think ACL will offer the kind of rent reduction the club is seeking.

I'm not sure they can. They have a mortgage to pay themselves. So, it could get worse before it gets better. It's just such a sad situation.

But it's one the football club has to address, or else it will continue to chase its' tail, I'm afraid.

I just wish the fans some good cheer on the pitch. I have a feeling Mark Robins is going to get the Sky Blues going again.

Wolverhampton Wanderers – I could be glib, here. I could say, a tin of paint-remover for boss Stale Solbakken following that incident with his beamer the other week.

But I'm not going to. I wish him all the best as, from my admittedly limited dealings with him, he has been absolutely honest and truthful when fronting up Wolves' recent failings.

I loved his comment about fearing the sack. ('I was dead, why should that bother me') I also believe owner Steve Morgan is one of the game's good guys.

Despite the flak he continues to receive chief executive Jez Moxey most certainly is one of the good guys. Under his stewardship Wolves have always tried to act in a proper manner.

They may come up short on occasion – as they did with Mick McCarthy's sacking. But there were phone calls made to the press afterwards to dissect why the club had such a hard time of it.

They wanted to learn from their mistakes. Believe me, if only a few more were like that. I wish top six for Solbakken – and Morgan and Moxey too for that matter.

A signing or two in the New Year to add fresh impetus would be nice, too.

Fresh faces: Wolves manager Stale Solbakken (pictured) could do with some new signings to help their bid for an instant return to the Premier League

Fresh faces: Wolves manager Stale Solbakken (pictured) could do with some new signings to help their bid for an instant return to the Premier League

Nottingham Forest – see Leicester City. Leave Sean O'Driscoll alone. Let him manage the club. It will come right.

The financial bonanza that accompanies promotion to the Premier League distorts the thinking at some clubs.

And the word is that the Kuwaitis are getting frustrated – as the Thai owners at Leicester did last season.

Forest have improved markedly from last season when I thought they were going down.

But O'Driscoll – and Steve Cotterill – moved them away to safety. Let's just see where we are in February and if the manager wants to strengthen then, it might be an idea to let him.

As for yours truly, I need three things.

The first is a treadmill. After asking Mr Solbakken whether he was fit to do the job at Molineux following his heart scare, (and with the hindsight of what happened to Gerard Houllier, I thought it was a relevant topic) he challenged me to a race around the Molineux pitch. Ten times. Clearly I need to get fit.

Secondly, I'd like a pair of sunglasses. That way I could have hidden when, during an exchange involving Steve Clarke and a colleague who asked what Roy Hodgson had said after the Scot confirmed that the England coach had been in touch, I dropped myself in it.

I piped up: 'He just asked how his team was getting on.' I got a few laughs from the floor and none from Mr Clarke. I apologised and he was gracious. But that stare…

Lastly, I need a good book. My Albion-loving pal Chris Lepkowski has chartered West Brom's rise during the past decade in his tome: 'In pastures green.'

No-one has been closer to the events at the Hawthorns during the past ten years than Chris. And he's a good writer. So I'll settle for an afternoon reading that.

Until next week…

Nottingham Forest manager Sean O'Driscoll looks on

 Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson

Interference: Both Nottingham Forest manager Sean O'Driscoll (left) and Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson would benefit from a lack of interference by members of their respective boards

David Beckham: LA Galaxy hailed as best American soccer team ever

Thank you and goodbye: Emotional Beckham delivers fond farewell to LA Galaxy ahead of returning to Europe

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UPDATED:

11:06 GMT, 4 December 2012

David Beckham has thanked LA Galaxy supporters at their end-of-season celebration for their support during his time at the club.

Beckham has announced he is moving on after the club won a second MLS
Cup in a row, with Ireland striker Robbie Keane adding that he hopes to
make it a third triumph for the Galaxy in 2013.

Beckham has said he would like another chance to play in the Champions
League before retiring, and has been linked with French teams Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco.

Scroll down for video

See ya later: MLS superstar David Beckham was joined by team mates including Robbie Keane on Monday night at The Home Depot Center, in Carson, California

See ya later: MLS superstar David Beckham was joined by team mates including Robbie Keane on Monday night at The Home Depot Center, in Carson, California

The boys are back: Some of the LA Galaxy players sat lined up ready to take in their applause

The boys are back: Some of the LA Galaxy players sat lined up ready to take in their applause

Beckham gave LA Galaxy fans one last chance to say goodbye to him as he attended a MLS Cup Celebration.

The
37-year-old was at The Home Depot Center Tennis Stadium surrounded by
around 3,500 fans who turned up to honor their MLS Cup 2012 winning
side.

The father-of-four was hanging out with his team mates as the crowd made it clear that they wanted him to stay.

The affectionate supporters chanted 'one more year' at their sporting idol as he took to the stage to give a speech.

Beckham, who played his final game for the Galaxy on Saturday, looked like he was having a good time as he sat alongside fellow former Premiership star Robbie Keane.

Hanging out: The two former Premier League stars looked laid back as they took in some applause

Hanging out: The two former Premier League stars looked laid back as they took in some applause

Moment of truth: David stepped up to the podium to give a roaring speech to his LA fans

Moment of truth: David stepped up to the podium to give a roaring speech to his LA fans

Over and out: LA Galaxy supporters started chanting 'one more year' as he Becks took to the stage

Over and out: LA Galaxy supporters started chanting 'one more year' as he Becks took to the stage

Stepping up to the podium with the crowd whipped into a frenzy, Beckham couldn't hold back his trademark smile.

He said: 'I apologise and I'm sorry to disappoint, but this is my last year.'

After thanking everybody who had made his time in L.A a dream come true, including the coaching staff, he addressed the players.

Take it back: The world class footballer told the Galaxy that he would not be staying for another season

Take it back: The world class footballer told the Galaxy that he would not be staying for another season

Take the mic: David made sure he thanked his fellow Galaxy stars for making his time there so memorable

Take the mic: David made sure he thanked his fellow Galaxy stars for making his time there so memorable

Take the mic: David made sure he thanked his fellow Galaxy stars for making his time there so memorable

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Beckham said: 'Lastly, I'd like to thank the most important people to me over the last six years, the people that I see every day. Every one of these players are incredible people.'

Vice President Chris Klein made an exceptionally bold statement and said: 'This could be argued, I think you’re looking at, the greatest team in American soccer history.'

David and the Galaxy were due to take part in a post season tour but have now scrapped plans citing player fatigue as the reason.

Best buds: Robbie and David have both been ruled as too tired to embark on post season tour

Best buds: Robbie and David have both been ruled as too tired to embark on post season tour

Celebrate good times: Actor Gerard Butler joined Becks at the Lakers game on Sunday night in matching leather jackets

Celebrate good times: Actor Gerard Butler joined Becks at the Lakers game on Sunday night in matching leather jackets

Klein said: 'After careful consideration of multiple opportunities, we have decided to forgo any potential postseason tours.

'Our players and coaches have gone above and beyond for our club and we feel that capturing our second straight MLS Cup title is a fitting end to a historic year.'

We are the champions: Gerard and David posed with the MLS Cup on Saturday after the victory

We are the champions: Gerard and David posed with the MLS Cup on Saturday after the victory

Birmingham 3 Middlesbrough 2 – match report

Birmingham 3 Middlesbrough 2: King doubles up to seal comeback and end winless run

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UPDATED:

22:11 GMT, 30 November 2012

Birmingham twice fought back against high-flying Middlesbrough before Marlon King's well-taken finish claimed only a second home win in seven attempts at St Andrew's.

Boro captain Grant Leadbitter headed his first npower Championship goal of the season to put the visitors ahead before King, who had earlier hit the outside of a post, picked himself up to draw level from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time, an equaliser City scarcely deserved.

Scott McDonald capitalised on some shambolic defending from Pablo Ibanez to nudge Boro back in front just after the hour mark but, again, the home side drew level courtesy of substitute Wade Elliott's lob, which really should have been kept out by Jason Steele.

At the double: Marlon King scored a penalty and a super second

At the double: Marlon King scored a penalty and a super second

Match facts

Birmingham: Butland, Caddis, Ibanez, Davies, Robinson, Morrison (Elliott 46), Mullins, Spector, Hall (Burke 69), King, Zigic (Lovenkrands 75).

Subs Not Used: Doyle, Caldwell, Redmond, Diop.

Booked: Robinson.

Goals: King 45 pen, Elliott 66, King 81.

Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte, Hines, Bikey, Halliday, Ledesma (Smallwood 67), McEachran (Zemmama 83), Bailey, Leadbitter, Jutkiewicz (Miller 67), McDonald.

Subs Not Used: Leutwiler, Thomson, Emnes, Parnaby.

Booked: Halliday.

Goals: Leadbitter 14, McDonald 62.

Att: 15,322

Ref: Roger East (Wiltshire).

But there was nothing fortunate about King's matchwinning second, a sublime low finish across Steele in the 81st minute to claim three much-needed points for Lee Clark's side, ending a four-match winless run.

Lowly Birmingham's joy came on a night in which frustrated home fans had earlier unfurled a banner which read 'Clark out, Carson out', referring to Hong Kong-based owner Carson Yeung and the club's ongoing takeover talk.

Middlesbrough went into the clash knowing victory would take them joint top of the Championship and they will have felt hard done by as they slipped to a third defeat in four games.

Boro certainly went into the clash as the more impressive side this season but history was not on their side having won just one of their previous 15 visits to St Andrew's.

Blues were first to threaten courtesy of towering Serbian striker Nikola Zigic but his header from the free-kick of loanee Rob Hall, making his full debut, went narrowly wide.

The visitors' attractive passing style was certainly easy on the eye and it was they who broke the deadlock after 14 minutes.

The ball was recycled to Andy Halliday out on the left and, with unorthodox Blues right midfielder Jonathan Spector out of position, Leadbitter, back from suspension, nodded home from six yards.

Lukas Jutkiewicz should have made it 2-0 after 21 minutes but his header from Justin Hoyte's cross flew off target.

Tucked away: King puts away the spot kick

Tucked away: King puts away the spot kick

Birmingham came within inches of a leveller soon after when Steele's fingertips nudged King's low effort on to the outside of a post following a flowing counter.

Boro were playing the ball around well, with Leadbitter and Nicky Bailey pulling the strings, but Birmingham were certainly struggling to find any kind of rhythm.

Jack Butland twice saved from Emmanuel Ledesma before, out of nowhere and with half-time approaching, the hosts drew level.

King turned Andre Bikey, who tripped the striker in the penalty area, and King himself stepped up to convert.

On his way: Middlesbrough's Scott McDonald breaks through the Birmingham defence and goes on to score, celebrating below

On his way: Middlesbrough's Scott McDonald breaks through the Birmingham defence and goes on to score, celebrating below

Scott McDonald celebrates

England prodigy Butland twice came to Birmingham's rescue at the start of the second half, saving close range from Josh McEachran's cross and then clawing away McDonald's attempted lob.

But McDonald was to beat Butland just after the hour mark, capitalising on defensive hesitancy from Ibanez before firing home in a goalmouth scramble.

Boro keeper Steele saved well from Spector but was soon at fault for Birmingham's equaliser as he failed to keep out Elliott's 25-yard lob.

And it was left for King to have the final say, finishing superbly after Boro had given the ball away to sub Peter Lovenkrands in the middle of the park.

Steve McClaren "Wally with the Brolly" defeat to Croatia, five year anniversary

Five years since humiliating 'Wally with the Brolly' defeat… the day England fans (and Steve McClaren) would like to forget

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UPDATED:

16:40 GMT, 21 November 2012

Five years ago today Steve McClaren was dubbed the 'Wally with the Brolly' when he sheltered from the rain at Wembley in England's miserable 3-2 defeat to Croatia that cost them qualification for Euro 2008 and his job.

But where is McClaren and the squad of players he picked that night now

Hands up if you were the Wally with the Brolly: McClaren's infamous attempt to stay dry

Hands up if you were the Wally with the Brolly: McClaren's infamous attempt to stay dry

Hands up if you were the Wally with the Brolly: McClaren's infamous attempt at staying dry

The manager…

Steve McClaren

A successful spell at Dutch side FC
Twente and two disastrous ones at Wolfsburg and Nottingham Forest
followed his sacking at England.

He is now back at FC Twente, who are
second in the Eredivisie.

The goalkeeper…

Scott Carson

McClaren was criticised for handing
Carson his debut that night – particularly as he was at fault for
Croatia's first goal when he palmed a fairly easy 30-yard strike into
the net.

He's only made three more appearances for his country since and moved to Bursaspor last year.

Howler: Carson let this shot squirm through his grasp and England were out of the European Championships

Howler: Carson let this shot squirm through his grasp and England were out of the European Championships

The defenders…

Wayne Bridge

Preferred to Ashely Cole that evening
but has spent the rest of his international career in the Chelsea
defender's shadow.

Retired from international football in 2009 after
allegations former captain John Terry had an affair with his former
girlfriend.

Micah Richards

The right-back became England's
youngest defender when McClaren handed him a debut and played regularly
for him.

But after the defeat to Croatia he only played once for Fabio
Capello and Roy Hodgson omitted him from his Euro 2012 squad and he
refused to be available on standby.

Sol Campbell

This was his last game for England.

He hoped to be selected by Capello for the 2010 World Cup but did not
even make the preliminary 30-man squad.

Joleon Lescott

McClaren gave Lescott his second
England start against Croatia and his career has blossomed since. He
missed out on the 2010 World Cup with injury but was a regular in
qualifying for Euro 2012 and is a regular in Man City's defence and for
England.

Outcast: After a bright start, Richards' England career has been on the wane

Outcast: After a bright start, Richards' England career has been on the wane

Outcast: After a bright start, Richards' England career has been on the wane

The midfielders…

Steven Gerrard

The award of his 100th cap in the
friendly against Sweden last week says it all.

Mercurial for club and
country in the past five years and since his professional career began.

Frank Lampard

Lampard has been a regular
goal-scorer for club and country in the past five years.

At 34 he faces
strong competition in midfield at Chelsea from an influx of amazing
young talent but has still hit three goals in four 2014 World Cup
qualifiers.

Joe Cole

Always with so much potential Cole
has flirted with the England squad but with a floundering career at
Chelsea and then Liverpool he moved on loan to Lille to revive it.

But
he has been disappointing on his return to Merseyside this season and is
miles away from the England set-up.

Gareth Barry

Still a regular for Man City the
midfielder was popular with McClaren and Capello and was picked in
Hodgson's Euro 2012 squad but missed out with injury.

He does not appear
to be in the current England manager's plans going forward and has not
been picked in an England squad since May.

Shaun Wright-Phillips

The winger was substituted at half-time for David Beckham and has been in-and-out of the international side since.

He hasn't found the form that earned him big-money moves to Chelsea and back to Man City and is part of rock-bottom QPR's winless campaign this season.

Floundering: Wright-Phillips is no longer part of the England set-up

Floundering: Wright-Phillips is no longer part of the England set-up

Floundering: Wright-Phillips is no longer part of the England set-up

The striker…

Peter Crouch

His last England appearance was in November 2010 and he has said since he does not hold much hope of featuring again. Now playing out the later stages of his career at Stoke.

Lofty ambitions: Crouch hasn't played for England for two years

Lofty ambitions: Crouch hasn't played for England for two years

The sub…

David James

The 42-year-old is easing down the leagues as he ends his career and is still playing in goal for League One Bournemouth.

He became the oldest player to make their World Cup debut at 39 in 2010 but will not be playing for his country again.

David Beckham

The substitute appearance that night
was his 99th cap and he responded to suggestions he may retire from
international football afterwards by winning 16 more.

The 37-year-old has still not ruled
out playing for England again and after a five-year spell in America is
looking for one more club adventure in his career.

Jermain Defoe

Defoe is having one of the best seasons of his career already with 10 goals in 21 matches including two for England.

The 30-year-old is a key player at
Spurs but faces tough competition for a regular place in Hodgson's World
Cup 2014 qualifying campaign.

Wes Brown

Revived his England career under
McClaren and started Capello's first two matches in charge but did not
make the 2010 World Cup squad and then retired from international
football.

Plays for Sunderland but has not featured this season.

Still going strong: James is now playing for Bournemouth, aged 42

Still going strong: James is now playing for Bournemouth, aged 42

Still going strong: James is now playing for Bournemouth, aged 42

Ashley Cole

Went on the become one of the best
left-backs in the world for England and Chelsea and even at 31 does not
look like his career is waning for either.

Owen Hargreaves

Hasn't played for England since 2008
and with a career ruined by injuries the 31-year-old is without a club.
His last match was for Man City in January.

Darren Bent

Struggling at Aston Villa and, although he was close to a place in Hodgson's squad last summer, his club form means he is not being considered for England.

Gianni Paladini resumes Birmingham City takeover talks

Paladini resumes talks over potential Birmingham takeover

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UPDATED:

22:06 GMT, 27 October 2012

Gianni Paladini has resumed talks with Peter Pannu over his potential takeover at Birmingham City – and the Italian is hoping to work around ownership rules that would block his purchase.

The former chief executive of Queen's Park Rangers has re-opened negotiations following an aborted bid to purchase the Championship club last month.

In talks: Gianni Paladini looking to take over at Birmingham

In talks: Gianni Paladini looking to take over at Birmingham

Paladini is looking to broker a deal
with the St Andrew's club's Chinese owners, a difficult task as they
have set a hefty price.

The Italian is trying to secure the
Championship club for a total package of around 25m but of more
interest to Football League officials will be his involvement.

The authorities contacted
Nottingham Forest when it became apparent last summer that Paladini
might be linked to the purchase of the former European Cup winners from
the estate of late owner Nigel Doughty.

However, it appears that a third
party is fronting the latest offer in a deliberate attempt to put
distance between the former agent and his designs on the Championship
strugglers.

A source said: 'Paladini's move is deliberate and will test the new Football League rules to the full.'

Other interested parties are also
eager to strike a deal but are waiting until owner Carson Yeung's trial
for money-laundering has been completed.

The one unknown is the financial state of the club's parent company, Birmingham Inernational Holdings Ltd.

It remains in severe difficulties and any potential collapse could spark a fierce war for control.

Paladini is aware that he has
rivals and is keen to tie up a deal with Pannu, recently appointed as
chief executive of BIHL, before Yeung's trial or the surface of any
other problems with the holding company.

Darren Barker v Kerry Hope on Lee Purdy v Carson Jones December 8 undercard

London return for Barker against Hope on Purdy-Jones undercard in December

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UPDATED:

12:32 GMT, 22 October 2012

Darren Barker will hope to put an injury-plagued year behind him when he tackles Kerry Hope in a battle of the former European middleweight champions in London on December 8.

After undergoing hip surgery following his defeat to Sergio Martinez over 12 months ago, he tore tendons in his arm just weeks before his scheduled return against Simone Rotolo last month.

But Barker will finally feature at the Olympia on the same bill as Lee Purdy's clash with Carson Jones and British lightweight champion Gavin Rees' potential fight against forgotten man John Murray.

Christmas cracker: Darren Barker will fight Kerry Hope at London's Olympia on December 8

Christmas cracker: Darren Barker will fight Kerry Hope at London's Olympia on December 8

Welshman Hope won and lost the European title against Grzegorz Proska in four months earlier this year.

Rees, meanwhile, added the British strap to his European belt when he beat Derry Matthews in July while Murray has been in the wilderness since losing to an overweight Brandon Rios last December, which followed defeat to Kevin Mitchell.

Terms have been agreed for that fight but it is subject to confirmation.

Kell Brook stops Hector Saldivia inside three rounds

Brook puts on punch perfect display to stop Saldivia and set up world title fight

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UPDATED:

22:39 GMT, 20 October 2012

Kell Brook is one victory away from realising his world title ambitions after a three-round demolition of Hector Saldivia at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield.

The 26-year-old dominated his Argentinian opponent in the final eliminator for the IBF welterweight belt for which he will likely challenge in the early part of next year.

Brook had Saldivia on the canvas in the first round and although he recovered, he was unable to do so again when floored in the third.

Domination: Kell Brook takes the fight to Hector Saldivia

Domination: Kell Brook takes the fight to Hector Saldivia

Showing his class: Brook goes to work on Saldivia

Showing his class: Brook goes to work on Saldivia

Saldivia, fighting outside of his homeland for just the fourth time in 44 outings, had put together a run of eight consecutive wins since being stopped by Said Ouali in another eliminator in 2010.

But it was Brook, who just over a year ago was fighting at Hillsbrorough Leisure Centre, who delighted the 7,000-strong boisterous home crowd with a punch-perfect display.

Down you go: Brook knocks down Saldivia

Down you go: Brook knocks down Saldivia

The self-styled 'Special One' almost came unstuck in his last bout with Carson Jones at the same venue in July but vowed to put that performance to bed after overhauling his training regime.

And after a tentative start to the opening round, Brook delivered on his promise almost immediately when a crushing right hand upper cut floored Saldivia. The 28-year-old was on quickly on his feet and managed to see out the remainder of the session.

On the floor: Brook finishes Saldivia with a knock down

On the floor: Brook finishes Saldivia with a knock down

Out for the count: Brook looks on as referee Howard Foster counts out Saldivia

Out for the count: Brook looks on as referee Howard Foster counts out Saldivia

A renowned hard hitter himself, Saldivia looked to catch the judges' attention in the second stanza by unleashing a flurry of blows but he struggled with the pace of Brook who had his opponent pinned to the ropes as he sought out the early finish.

And the home favourite enjoyed just that after just 28 seconds of the next round when a powerful left jab left Saldivia writhing around on the canvas, clearly in no fit state to continue when the referee stepped in.

Brook will now set his sights on the winner of Randall Bailey's title defence against Devon Alexander later on Saturday night.

Celebration time: Brook celebrates his victory with his trainer

Celebration time: Brook celebrates his victory with his trainer

No 1 contender: Brook celebrates with promotor Eddie Hearn

No 1 contender: Brook celebrates with promotor Eddie Hearn

Brighton 1 Ipswich 1

Brighton 1 Ipswich 1: Seagulls knocked off perch despite Buckley's late leveller

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UPDATED:

21:04 GMT, 2 October 2012

Will Buckley climbed off the bench to grab a point for Brighton and deny Ipswich a much-needed victory.

But the Seagulls still slipped off the top of the npower Championship while Town avoided tumbling to the bottom.

Daryl Murphy fired the lowly Tractor Boys into the lead in the first half, but they were denied a first win in eight games, and some breathing space for under-pressure boss Paul Jewell, when Buckley struck from close range with 10 minutes to go.

Level: Will Buckley rescues a point for Brighton at home to Ipswich

Level: Will Buckley rescues a point for Brighton at home to Ipswich

Match facts

Brighton: Kuszczak, Calderon, Greer, El-Abd, Bridge, Hammond (Dicker 63), Bridcutt, Orlandi (David Lopez 76), Barnes, Dobbie, LuaLua (Buckley 62).

Subs Not Used: Ankergren, Dunk, Harley, Painter.

Booked: Hammond, Bridcutt, El-Abd.

Goal: Buckley 80.

Ipswich: Loach, Edwards, Chambers, Higginbotham, Cresswell, Drury, N'Daw, Martin, Emmanuel-Thomas (Carson 84), Chopra (Scotland 64),
Murphy.

Subs Not Used: Lee-Barrett, Luongo, Ellington, Smith, Ainsley.

Goal: Murphy 27.

Att: 24,736

Ref: Fred Graham (Essex)

Latest Championship results, fixtures and table

Brighton could have gone ahead after just 30 seconds when some neat play from Ashley Barnes and Stephen Dobbie teed up Kazenga LuaLua but the former Newcastle winger scuffed his shot wide.

Barnes then played in Dobbie, still looking for his first goal since joining from Swansea, but his low shot was saved by Scott Loach.

Ipswich were looking dangerous as well, though, and Tomasz Kuszczak kept out a drive from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas before Murphy headed a Carlos Edwards cross wide.

And in the 27th minute it was the visitors who took a shock lead when another deep Edwards deep cross to the far post again found Murphy, who this time stooped to plant his header past Kuszczak.

Brighton almost pulled one back before the interval but Wayne Bridge's shot was deflected narrowly wide.

Yet just after the break Ipswich were agonisingly close to doubling their advantage, again through Murphy.

Michael Chopra's cross fizzed across the Brighton goal and Murphy's shot was kept out by the legs of the diving Kuszczak.

But the Seagulls bossed the majority of the second half and Dobbie's deflected shot looped over, LuaLua was denied by Loach and a smart turn and shot from Barnes flew inches wide.

Boss Gus Poyet threw on Buckley and Gary Dicker just after the hour mark, and the substitution paid dividends 18 minutes later.

They finally drew level after Inigo Calderon's persistence down the right was rewarded when his cross-shot ricocheted to Buckley, who was in the right place to tap the ball in from a yard out.

Ipswich had a chance to go back into the lead moments later when Jason Scotland curled the ball towards goal and although Kuszczak fumbled the shot, Brighton cleared the danger.

Brighton went for the win during five minutes of stoppage time, with Buckley the driving force, but his curling cross was just too far in front of Barnes as the hosts had to settle for a point.

Police clash with fans during NFL season opener

Cop that! Police clash with rival fans during NFL season opener

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UPDATED:

10:31 GMT, 11 September 2012

Police clashed with American football fans as violence marred the start of the NFL season.

Several fans were arrested after fighting broke out during the San Diego Chargers' 22-14 victory over AFC West divisional rivals the Oakland Raiders on Monday.

Trouble: Police move in as fans fight during the second half of the NFL game

Trouble: Police move in as fans fight during the second half of the NFL game

Philip Rivers avoided the turnovers that plagued his 2011 season and helped the San Diego Chargers open the new campaign with a victory over AFC West divisional rivals on Monday.

Rivers led the Chargers on drives that produced five field goals from Nate Kaeding and finished a steady day with one touchdown throw, and more importantly, no interceptions.

Rivers threw 20 interceptions last season during a disappointing 8-8 campaign for San Diego.

The Raiders too, were hoping for a new beginning as they entered the 2012 season with a new coach and general manager.

Hand off: Sheriff officers grapple with a female fan

Hand off: Sheriff officers grapple with a female fan

Alameda County Sheriff officers contain a football fan

However, they found themselves 10-6 behind at half-time before Kaeding kicked four successive field goals to leave the home team with a mountain to climb.

Carson Palmer, who joined Oakland in the middle of last season, threw for 297 yards but could only muster a consolation touchdown in the final minute.

In Baltimore, Joe Flacco passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns, while Ray Rice rumbled into the end zone twice as the Ravens ditched their traditional bruising, methodical attack in favour of a no-huddle offense that blew away the Bengals.

Mayhem: Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden takes on Chargers' defence

Mayhem: Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden takes on Chargers' defence

Cincinnati, coming off a surprising season where they reached the playoffs with then-rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, stayed in touch at 17-13 halfway through the third quarter before Baltimore broke loose.

Flacco tossed a touchdown, Ed Reed returned an interception 34 yards for a score and the Ravens ended the game with 27 unanswered points to cap an impressive victory – especially for their quarterback.

'We know what we've got in this guy, he's won a lot of football games,' Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

'Joe Flacco is a great football player.'

Flavio Briatore in Birmingham City bid

Former QPR chief Briatore preparing Birmingham City bid

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UPDATED:

08:20 GMT, 11 September 2012

Flavio Briatore is set for a dramatic return to English football as the co-owner of Birmingham City.

The former Queens Park Rangers chief, along with long-time friend Gianni Paladini, is considering a move to buy the npower Championship outfit.

Birmingham owner Carson Yeung is seeking new investment and according to the Daily Mirror, Briatore, 62 is weighing up a bid.

Weighing up a bid: Briatore could buy Birmingham City

Weighing up a bid: Briatore could buy Birmingham City

Yeung paid a staggering 80million for ownership of City in 2009, but less than two years later he was arrested in his native Hong Kong in connection with money-laundering and is now facing charges.

Briatore, the former Benetton and Renault F1 chief, ended his tenure at Loftus Road last year after Tony Fernandes bought the west London club.

But the Italian wants a return to football, with Birmingham among his targets.