Tag Archives: channel

Tiger Woods should disqualify himself from Masters, says Sir Nick Faldo

You should disqualify yourself! Faldo says Woods will damage legacy if he plays on at Augusta

By
Nick Metcalfe

PUBLISHED:

14:31 GMT, 13 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:58 GMT, 13 April 2013

Sir Nick Faldo has hit out at Tiger Woods after the American superstar was given a two-shot penalty for a controversial drop at the Masters, saying he should disqualify himself from the tournament.

Woods hit his third shot against the flag stick on the 15th hole at Augusta, with the ball bouncing into the water. He then took a drop from what appeared to be the wrong place, two yards away from its original lie.

It was thought at one time that the world No 1 could have been disqualified, but he was given a reprieve on Saturday morning by rules officials.

However, three-time Masters winner Faldo told the Golf Channel that he should elect not to play the final two rounds, saying he 'should think about mark this will leave on his legacy'.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Drama: Woods reacts after his ball flies into the water (left) and then takes his drop (right)

Key moment: Woods seen here dropping the ball on the 15th after his third shot found the water

Key moment: Woods seen here dropping the ball on the 15th after his third shot found the water

MASTERS LIVE

Follow all the third round news from Augusta as it happens with Brian Lee

Faldo added: 'For me, this is dreadful. Absolutely, no intention to drop this as close as possible. Simply, a breach of rules.

'The rules of golf are black and white and Tiger broke them. He’s admitted he broke them. He should stand up and earn himself some brownie points and say to all his fellow professionals: ”I’ve broken the rules, I’m going home and I will see you next week.” He should consider the mark this will leave on his legacy.’

Woods will start the third round on one-under par, five off the lead held by Jason Day.

Golf's rules were changed a year ago, with players now not being disqualified for signing the wrong card.

New rules state that 'if the Committee is satisfied that the competitor could not reasonably have known or discovered the facts resulting in his breach of the Rules, it would be justified under Rule 33-7 in waiving the disqualification penalty prescribed by Rule 6-6d.'

Way back when: Woods receives the green jacket from Sir Nick Faldo in 1997

Way back when: Woods receives the green jacket from Sir Nick Faldo in 1997

MASTERS ESSENTIALS

Hole-by-hole guide to Augusta National
Third round tee times
All the latest news from Augusta

Former US Open champion Graeme
McDowell said on Twitter: '2 shot penalty for TW for wrong drop. New
rule applied for trial by tv. Instead of retrospective DQ, player
receives a penalty. Decent rule.'

The
leader after two rounds was Australia's Jason Day, on six-under. But
all the talk as the weekend began was once again about Woods.

Watch Tiger Woods' shot fly off the stick and into the water…

No evidence Rio Ferdinand was racially abused by England fans during World Cup qualifier in San Marino, say Football Association

FA finds no evidence that England fans racially abused Ferdinand brothers during San Marino qualifier

fixture in Moldova.

A football banning order means an individual must surrender their passport, excluding them from all travel abroad around England international fixtures.

'We've been asked to supply our
submission to Fifa by Tuesday, which we will do,' said FA Managing
Director of Club England Adrian Bevington.

'We have gone through all of the video evidence that our security team recorded on the evening of the game.

'I do want to make clear that while
the journalists who have reported this have done so in good faith, they
clearly have heard chanting of a particular nature, and we're not
disputing that, but we haven't been able to identify any of that from
the recorded evidence that we've gone through.'

Fare, who did not have their own
observers at the match, have collated the evidence on the basis of
'hearsay', according to the Football Supporters Federation.

Having been selected for an England squad for the first time since June 2011 for the Brazil 2014 qualifying double-header with San Marino and Montenegro, Ferdinand withdrew after telling Roy Hodgson he had to follow a pre-planned programme of treatment on his back trouble.

He then attracted ridicule by flying to Qatar to appear as a pundit for the match on the Al-Jazeera television channel.

It was widely reported the morning after the game that England fans had sung derogatory songs about Rio and his brother Anton, with the FA promising to investigate the claims.

Ferdinand said on Twitter at the time: 'You expect and accept banter from
fans on the terraces as it's part of what makes the game great, but
racism is not banter and from your own fans. WOW.

'Always a small minority who ruin it for others.'

He added: 'Let's not jump to
conclusions and assume though as it might just have been banter. We'll
see after the investigation.'

The FA issued a statement confirming they had launched an investigation and would review video footage taken by their officials.

They also promised to ban any England fan found guilty of racist abuse and vowed to 'do all we can to eradicate racism from football'.

And the FA also issued a strong call for an end to the 'No Surrender' chants.

The statement read: 'We will not accept any racist chanting and we also call on those attending England matches at home and abroad to stop the “No Surrender” chanting during the singing of the national anthem, both before and during games.'

The prospect of Fifa sanctions was then raised after Fare flagged up to world football's
governing body the vile songs which suggested the pair be burned on a bonfire.

The chant in San Marino was: 'Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put Rio on the top, put Anton in the middle, then burn the f****** lot.'

Football Supporters’ Federation chief executive Kevin Miles, who was at the game, said: ‘Leaping to formal complaint on the basis of second-hand and hearsay information without engaging with supporters’ organisations who were present or the FA is not an approach designed to create the best possible outcome.

‘The Football Supporters’ Federation stand firmly against any manifestations of racism within football. On this occasion, I personally have not heard any of the anti-Rio Ferdinand sentiment being expressed in a way that could be construed as racist.

‘Anger about Rio Ferdinand’s absence from the squad and presence in Dubai in an Al Jazeera studio was strongly felt and clearly expressed. But I heard no racist content. If there were songs sung with racist undertones, then that is a matter for concern. But even then the response needs to be measured, proportionate and constructive.’

Kick It Out chairman Lord Ouseley today called at the time on the FA to take a stance on the 'vile' and 'abusive' chants by England fans aimed at the Ferdinands.

It has been suggested the song had racist overtones because Anton Ferdinand was the target of racist abuse from former England captain John Terry.

Abuse: England supporters chanted that Rio (above) and Anton Ferdinand (below left) should be 'burned'

Abuse: England supporters chanted that Rio (above) and Anton Ferdinand (below left) should be 'burned'

Anton Ferdinand (left)

Who are FARE

Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) is an international network of groups active in over 40 countries.

Their aim is to help support and coordinate efforts across borders and strengthen activity at national level.

According
to their mission statement: ‘We want to see the beautiful game played
without discrimination and used as a social tool to unite communities,
overcome exclusion and create social change.

'Our
focus is on tackling racism of all kinds, homophobia, and to empower
minorities and women to realise their personal and collective
potential.'

The general objectives of the FARE network are:

To
promote a commitment to fight discrimination at all levels of football
across Europe – in stadiums, on the pitch, in administration, in
coaching and sport education and through the mediaUse the appeal of football to tackle societal discriminationTo foster networking and exchange of good practice transnationallyTo
undertake activities to capacity build and empower marginalized and
discriminated groups, in particular young people, migrants, ethnic
minorities, members of the LGBT communities and women.

Where do they get their money from

Funding has come from the European Commission, UEFA and smaller bodies such as Stand Up Speak Up, a campaign launched by Thierry Henry and Nike to fight racism.

Did FARE have anyone at the match

No. They operate as a conduit for complaints of racism.

So why are they getting involved

Despite having no direct experience of the chanting, FARE claim they are duty bound to lodge a complaint after collating evidence sent to them and after studying media reports of the match.

And why do they think the chant was racist

That is far from clear. The bonfire song is sung at football stadiums across Britain without any suggestions of racism. Some suggest the inclusion of Anton Ferdinand as well as his brother Rio has turned the song into a racist attack. FARE have talked only of an ‘undercurrent of race’. Others point to connotations of the Ku Klux Klan.

What happens next

FIFA will assess the complaint next week. If the allegations are proved it is possible, but unlikely, that England could end up being forced to play their next match behind closed doors. Hungary and Bulgaria played in empty stadiums as a result of FIFA punishments.

Ouseley told BBC Radio 5 Live:
'Whether it's racist or not, it's certainly unacceptable. It's vile and
it shouldn't be part of sport. Something needs to be done about it.

'These
are the supporters of the England national team who are travelling
abroad and singing songs like that. What messages does it send out about
the type of people we are and who we represent

'The
Football Association should be taking a stance on this about the people
it wants supporting the England team, the image it wants to send
abroad.

'I've already
contacted the chairman of the Football Association and said this has to
be looked at, investigated and dealt with. Do you want to be having an
army of fans who call themselves the England fans travelling abroad,
being abusive to their own players like that, or indeed other people

'FIFA will determine (whether it is racist) but clearly we can take a stance on that. We have policies

on anti-racism, homophobia and all other forms of unacceptable behaviour. Why are we so quiet about it'

FIFA said in a statement: 'We can
confirm that FIFA has been contacted by FARE regarding the FIFA World
Cup qualifier match between San Marino and England last Friday.

'FIFA will now analyse the content of the documents and next steps will be determined in due course.'

The ultimate sanction, if FIFA take action against England, is playing a World Cup qualifier behind closed doors.

FARE, headed by Piara Powar, did not have
observers at the game as it was not expected to be 'high risk', but were
supplied with information about the chants by people who were and they
have decided to act.

The organisation is a pan-European
network that aims to rid racism from football. They also reported racist
or xenophobic incidents at Croatia v Serbia and Poland v Ukraine,
matches where members were present.

The FA did not know
an official complaint had been made when Sportsmail enquired but they
are aware of the songs.

English fans also sang about the IRA and 'German
bombers' during the World Cup qualifier but FARE made it clear the
Ferdinand chanting was the reason FIFA had been notified.

A FARE spokeswoman said: 'It refers to the racist abuse Rio Ferdinand received, along with his brother Anton.

'We don't make the judgement. We send a
report to FIFA but in the end its their decision whether they open
proceedings or not. And whether they issue a fine or not.'

An
FA spokesman said: 'We have not been notified on this matter and until
we get a full report it would not be appropriate to say anything.'

Powar told Sportsmail:
‘It’s not really the sort of thing we are generally attuned to looking
at – fans abusing players of their own country who may not have been
picked.

'Nevertheless if it happens at a game, even if the focus of the abuse isn’t there it’s still happening.

‘One
of the things we want to underline straight off is that sometimes
racism doesn’t only take the form of monkey chants or bananas being
thrown. Sometimes there are things that are more subtle at play.

‘In the end we are not responsible for
making a decision on whether England fans are guilty of racism here but
we do have a duty to report things that are said to us because
individuals have reported them as racist or xenophobic within the
context.'

Pulled out: Man United defender Ferdinand was called up but withdrew from Roy Hodgson's squad

Pulled out: Man United defender Ferdinand was called up but withdrew from Roy Hodgson's squad

Discussions: Hodgson says that if he calls Rio up again he will need to speak to him about his fitness first

He added: ‘If someone says to us, “We think
this is a big issue”, and there doesn’t seem to be malicious intent from
their perspective then we are obliged to report it.

'We have people who look at this
stuff and they have a fairly clear idea of the standards required by
governing bodies.

'It’s then put to them and it’s their process. In this
case it’s FIFA’s process. They see whether the evidence hits the
standard to take forward a prosecution.

'FIFA, in the last couple of
incidents they’ve dealt with, have shown a stronger side. They banned
Hungary and Bulgaria from playing with fans last Friday. Forced them to
play behind closed doors.

'That’s quite rare to have a major tournament
qualifier behind closed doors. The last two incidents we reported FIFA showed a very strong hand.'

FARE feel the use of the ‘You know
what you are’ chant also has a racial element, given the history of the
chant in the Terry case.

Peter Herbert, chairman of the
Society for Black Lawyers, insists the bonfire chant does have racist
overtones, adding: ‘We’re uncovering a hard core of racist fans out
there and it doesn’t take very much to trigger their abuse.

‘Some England fans, in that sense,
would claim the Ku Klux Klan are not racist. I think anybody with any
sense and understanding of how racism operates will see that this is
clearly racially motivated and is directed at him. It would not have
been said if it had been a white footballer in the same situation.’

Cheltenham Festival 2013: Day one inspection at 10.30am due winter weather

Concern on day one at Cheltenham with early morning inspection set after parts of the course are left frozen by winter weather

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

07:04 GMT, 12 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:15 GMT, 12 March 2013

Cheltenham will hold an inspection at 10.30am today ahead of what is predicted to be the coldest-ever start to the Festival.

Although the covers were put down at the track over the weekend, officials report the track to be frozen in a few places this morning after a wind chill of -12C overnight.

Over 55,000 spectators are expected to
attend the first day of the meeting when nine horses, including three
previous winners – Binocular, Hurricane Fly and reigning champion Rock
On Ruby – will line up in the Champion Hurdle.

Bleak: Cheltenham will host an inspection after temperatures plummeted to -12C overnight

Bleak: Cheltenham will host an inspection after temperatures plummeted to -12C overnight

Essential Cheltenham reading

Your guide to the best bets on the opening day

Sam Turner's top tips

Everything you need to know in one place

Cheltenham Festival preview video

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said: 'We are frozen in places but it seems to be small areas. We can't really tell the extent of the frozen areas until we start to take the covers up.

'If the weather does what we expect it to and the temperature gets up to 3C by 12 noon, we should be kicking off as planned at 1.30pm.

'The wind chill dropped to -12C overnight and it was still -9C at 5am today.

'The is sun is out now and if we get an hour or two of sunshine on it, it should start to move.

'If we get some cloud cover, the rate at which that will happen will obviously slow.'

Frozen: As many as 55,000 spectators are expected to arrive for the opening day of the Festival

Frozen: As many as 55,000 spectators are expected to arrive for the opening day of the Festival

Claisse says he remains 'optimistic' about the meeting going ahead as planned.

He told Channel 4's The Morning Line: '90 per cent of the course is fine but obviously we can't clear it as fit to race until it's 100 per cent OK.

'(The problem areas) tend to be on some of the take-offs and landings and some of the wider ground. We have got fresh ground seven or eight yards on the inside, but you just have to be a bit careful of a horse that's going wide.

'It's on those areas that were worn a little bit in October, November and December, that's where the frost has got in under the covers.

'We will look at everything we can possibly do to ensure the meeting goes ahead. If we have to, we will go round any fences or hurdles.

Covered up: Cheltenham remain confident that racing will go ahead on the first day of the Festival

Covered up: Cheltenham remain confident that racing will go ahead on the first day of the Festival

'We are not running on the cross
country course until 4pm this afternoon and the afternoon temperature is
4C or 5C, so it may take a little bit longer to get fit when the sun
comes out, but should be OK by 4.

'I remain optimistic but you just
never quite know what is happening with this weather. Our experiences
last night were beyond anything we've seen before.'

The process of lifting the covers is
expected to be completed by 1.15pm with the traditional curtain raiser,
the William Hill Supreme Novices Hurdle, due off 15 minutes later.

FA Cup fourth round TV: Manchester United picked again

Man Utd will play 38th straight televised FA Cup tie if they beat West Ham to reach fourth round

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

15:24 GMT, 9 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:56 GMT, 9 January 2013

Manchester United will play their 38th consecutive televised FA Cup tie if they get past West Ham to reach the fourth round.

The winners of next Wednesday's replay at Old Trafford will host either Fulham or Blackpool live on ESPN on Saturday January 26 at 5.30pm.

It is one of five televised matches – two on ITV and three on ESPN – over the fourth round weekend.

Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City also feature but the two remaining non-League sides, Luton Town and Macclesfield Town, have been snubbed.

On the box: Manchester United, who forced a replay with West Ham thanks to Robin van Persie's late goal on Saturday, will be on the TV for the 38th consecutive FA Cup tie

On the box: Manchester United, who forced a replay with West Ham thanks to Robin van Persie's late goal on Saturday, will be on the TV for the 38th consecutive FA Cup tie

The Saturday will see ITV show Premier League champions City's visit to either Crystal Palace or Stoke City, with kick-off at 12.45pm.

There will be ESPN action from either Old Trafford or Upton Park on the Saturday evening depending on the outcome of the replay, which is to be broadcast by ITV next week.

On the Sunday three matches will be shown, starting with holders Chelsea's trip to either Brentford or Southend United at midday on ESPN.

Live coverage: ESPN viewers can see Demba Ba's Chelsea in action at either Brentford or Southend on the Sunday

Live coverage: ESPN viewers can see Demba Ba's Chelsea in action at either Brentford or Southend on the Sunday

The satellite channel will then show Leeds United or Birmingham City v Tottenham at 2pm, before ITV conclude the weekend's coverage with Oldham Athletic v Liverpool at 4pm.

But there is no place in the schedules for the two non-League survivors – Luton Town, who travel to Premier League Norwich City, or Macclesfield Town, who will welcome either Wigan Athletic or Bournemouth.

All 10 clubs featured will receive 135,850 from the FA's broadcast fund, while those sides who progress to the fifth round also get 90,000.

THE LIVE FOURTH ROUND MATCHES

Saturday January 26 (kick-off times stated)

12.45pm – Stoke City or Crystal Palace v Manchester City ITV1

5.30pm – Manchester United or West Ham v Fulham or Blackpool ESPN

Sunday January 27

12pm – Brentford or Southend United v Chelsea ESPN

2pm – Birmingham City or Leeds United v Tottenham Hotspur ESPN

4pm – Oldham Athletic v Liverpool ITV1

A new start for racing as Clare Balding is the new face of Channel 4

Channel 4 count on Clare class to clear the first hurdle with racing coverage

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 31 December 2012

A New Year and a new era for Channel 4 racing begin on Tuesday with a whimper and without the two most recognisable names and faces in the sport.

Frankie Dettori, who as a Flat jockey would in any case be on holiday at this time of the year, is banned for six months for a drug offence while John McCririck has been swept away by a broom wielded with perhaps hasty gusto by the incoming production company.

Love him or loathe him, ‘Big Mac’ boasts a profile few in horse racing can match.

Channel hopping: Clare Balding will front the racing on Channel 4

Channel hopping: Clare Balding will front the racing on Channel 4

The whimper for the relaunch of the sole remaining terrestrial coverage was guaranteed when Cheltenham postponed their New Year’s Day meeting on Monday due to waterlogged ground. Poor Clare Balding, and there has been no other occasion to think that this annus mirabilis.

Denied a proper ‘goodbye’ from her BBC racing role by the weather last week, she will be restricted to a Channel 4 ‘hello’ from Nicky Henderson’s stables in Lambourn and not from a race meeting.

Perhaps not the greatest omen. This is more a case of going through the top of the first fence rather than hitting the ground running.

La Balding will be fine. Better than that. She will be her usual excellent self, as less prejudiced observers recognised long before her unmitigated triumph at the Olympic Games.

Large than life: John McCririck will no longer be part of the Channel 4 racing team

Large than life: John McCririck will no longer be part of the Channel 4 racing team

A real pro, she thrives on good old-fashioned hard work, journalistic rigour and unbridled enthusiasm.

A small quibble. A little less of the breathless whispering, please.

Hushed tones have never been McCririck’s style and there was never any chance of this largest of larger-than-life characters going quietly.

‘It is clearly a case of age discrimination,’ the 72-year-old told Sportsmail. ‘It is illegal what they (Channel 4) have done. But what can you do I never missed a day’s work and I don’t think I was ever late. My ability is unimpaired. I am very sad.’

McCririck remains particularly aggrieved about both the manner of his dismissal and what he regards as some implied criticism. ‘Thirty years, no consultation and I am rung 30 minutes before a press release is distributed.

Missing face: Frankie Dettori will not be on Channel 4 as he is serving a six month ban

Missing face: Frankie Dettori will not be on Channel 4 as he is serving a six month ban

‘And they talk about looking for a more journalistic approach to the context. I won two British Press Awards and I was a former Campaigning Journalist of the Year. This was a deliberate attempt to humiliate and demean me. It is very hurtful.’

McCririck may come across as something of a dinosaur but he has never been frightened to get dirty at the coal face, asking the difficult questions, confronting the controversial issues and holding to account those deserving of close scrutiny.

Part of the team: Emma Spencer will be part of the Channel 4 team

Part of the team: Emma Spencer will be part of the Channel 4 team

He formed an odd but expert betting partnership with Tanya Stevenson, who will continue in her role. The problem for new producers IMG Sports Media is that they are following a hard act in Highflyer, who in 28 years won several prestigious television awards while establishing a deserved reputation for excellence.

This was never more evident than in last Saturday’s final programme from the old regime when three times racing writer of the year Alastair Down, John Francome and McCririck, the three main casualties of change, demonstrated sheer class with the most dignified of farewells.

Down, in particular, was at his lyrical and poetic best in talking about jump racing being ‘the very stuff of life’, ‘nourishment for the soul’ and a ‘magnetic pull stronger than the very poles’ against a pictorial background of wonderful memories from a high-quality back catalogue.

‘If the devil could cast his nets (he would catch) some wonderful people involved in making these programmes behind the scenes,’ Down said.

Line up: Channel 4 have taken over all racing coverage from the BBC

Line up: Channel 4 have taken over all racing coverage from the BBC

‘Haway the lads,’ the Newcastle United-supporting McCririck concluded as Stevenson moved to embrace the whiskered one.

It is doubtful whether his encouragement was intended for the lads, and lasses, who from today represent the terrestrial custodians of the Sport of Kings.

The public will be watching and so will racing.

Cheltenham"s New Year"s Day fixture abandoned

Balding's parade is rained on as Cheltenham's New Year's Day fixture is abandoned

|

UPDATED:

13:29 GMT, 31 December 2012

Host: Balding is part of Channel 4 racing's new-look team

Host: Balding is part of Channel 4 racing's new-look team

Cheltenham’s New Year’s Day fixture at Prestbury Park has been abandoned due to a waterlogged track.

Clare Balding had been due to make her Channel 4 Racing debut from Cheltenham but the abandonment means the former BBC presenter will be broadcasting from a stable in Berkshire.

The only live action will be from Musselburgh and Channel 4 will send Balding and Mick Fitzgerald to visit trainer Nicky Henderson at Seven Barrows, Lambourn, home of Gold Cup contenders Bobs Worth and Long Run.

Channel 4 Racing executive producer Carl Hicks said: 'We have arranged for Clare and Mick to visit Seven Barrows.

'Nicky Henderson has so many high-profile horses to run before the Festival, there is plenty to see and talk about.'

Not at the races: Cheltenham's New Year's Day meeting was called off on Monday morning

Not at the races: Cheltenham's New Year's Day meeting was called off on Monday morning

Wet: Further rain is forecast at the racetrack

Wet: Further rain is forecast at the racetrack

Course officials originally scheduled an inspection for 3pm on Monday but the meeting was abandoned long before that.

Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse told At The Races: 'Sadly we've had to take the decision earlier than we thought to abandon the meeting.

'We've had more rainfall and there's quite a lot more rain forecast between now and 2pm. The course is waterlogged in too many places.'

Leyton Orient first match called off as weather wreaks havoc with sport

More frustration for Orient as they're first to fall foul off the wet weather across England

|

UPDATED:

19:07 GMT, 25 December 2012

Leyton Orient led the way with the first weather postponement of the Boxing Day fixture programme as the forecast of more heavy rain threatened further disruption.

The League One side called off their home clash with Swindon at lunchtime on Christmas Day after downpours in London overnight.

Raining on our parade: The sports calendar has been affected by the weather

Raining on our parade: The sports calendar has been affected by the weather

It has been a frustrating week for Orient boss Russell Slade, who took his team to Notts County last weekend only to have the game controversially called off, even though both managers and the players felt the pitch was playable.

That match was one of 13 League fixtures which fell foul of heavy rain and clubs will be hoping there is no repeat at a time of the year which is traditionally lucrative in terms of attracting fans.

There was also a major casualty in racing, with Thursday's Welsh Grand National at Chepstow succumbing after six inches of rain fell in the area.

The race, which was due to be the BBC’s farewell, has been re-arranged for January 5 and will be screened by Channel 4.

Marcus Townend: Broadcast challenge for new kings Channel 4

Marcus Townend: Channel 4 face one helluva broadcast challenge in replacing the BBC

|

UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

How ironic that the final BBC racing broadcast at abandoned Chepstow will not even manage to make it out of the starting stalls.

Leaving the sport with not even a whimper seems appropriate for an organisation whose divorce from racing has been coming for a long time.

The faces in front of camera soldiered on but the BBC television executives above them steadily lost interest, their mood not helped by the period when they were paying for their dwindling rights and Channel 4 was being handed cheques by the sport to keep its cameras rolling.

Changing of the guard: Clare Balding will be the new face of Channel 4 racing

Changing of the guard: Clare Balding will be the new face of Channel 4 racing

The landscape was transformed when bookmakers were allowed to start advertising on television and suddenly a live broadcast from Sandown became much more than merely an expensive, work-intensive option to another repeat of The Sound of Music.

Channel 4’s interest surged. Make no mistake, they have not signed a four-year deal for the terrestrial racing rights simply because they are in love with the sport.
It would be easy to drift away on sentimental memories but the truth is that the new

Channel 4 racing coverage has the potential to innovate and excite.

When cricket took the same journey from BBC to Channel 4, the station impressed with its refreshing new approach.

No show: Chepstow races which was due to the the last meet shown on the BBC has been postponed due to the weather

No show: Chepstow races which was due to the the last meet shown on the BBC has been postponed due to the weather

A re-jigged team of pundits line up under the leadership of the BBC’s transferred Clare Balding —not a bad signing given her current standing in the post-Olympics world of sports broadcasting. The new squad could have been more radical but it will be the attitude and tone set by their masters that is all important and early mission statements look promising.

Channel 4 looks enthused by their new venture and that, in contrast to the BBC’s attitude, has the capacity to shine through on screen.
Of course, adverts for the first time during the Grand National or at Royal Ascot will grate but longer programmes and less races will make the shows feel less like a mad dash through betting opportunities.

The BBC has a huge archive of racing memories — Red Rum at the 1977 Sports Personality of the Year show; Bing Crosby appearing on Grandstand on the day in the 1970s when the chaser Uncle Bing won and Frankie Dettori’s magnificent seven at Ascot in 1996.

But the baton has been passed on and it might not be a bad thing. A challenge has been set Channel 4. We will see in the coming weeks and months how well it does.

Black Caviar named Australia"s sportswoman of the year ahead of Olympic gold-medallist Sally Pearson

Golden girl Pearson falls at the first and is beaten to national Aussie gong… by a horse!

|

UPDATED:

13:48 GMT, 23 December 2012

Olympic gold-medallist Sally Pearson had to settle for the runner-up place in an Australian Sportswoman of the Year contest – after she was pipped at the post by a horse.

Racehorse Black Caviar is undefeated in 22 races, a record not matched in 100 years, and was handed the honour by two journalists at Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

Pearson has suffered shock losses before, but generally when pitted against her own species.

Top of the pile: Black Caviar was named Australia's Sportswoman of the year

Top of the pile: Black Caviar was named Australia's Sportswoman of the year

She fell at the first hurdle and lost to Kellie Wells in the last race before London 2012 and came back to top the table in the 100m, but quite how anyone could recover from being overlooked in favour of a horse is unclear.

Pearson will no doubt draw consolation from knowing one other horse made it into the shortlist of four female athletes.

Other prominent female athletes who were snubbed include members of Australia’s only Olympic gold medal in the pool, Cate Campbell, Alicia Coutts, Brittany Elmslie and Melanie Schlange, along with gold-medallist cyclist Anna Meares.

Flying the flag: Sally Pearson won the Women's 100m final at the Olympics but it was not enough to win her national prize

Flying the flag: Sally Pearson won the Women's 100m final at the Olympics but it was not enough to win her national prize

Sports writers Phil Rothfield and Darren Hadland maintain the accolade was part of a light-hearted feature, but prompted a wave of angered reaction.

Channel Seven AFL commentator Tom Harley tweeted it was: 'plain offensive to all the inspirational sportswomen of Australia' while News Limited colleague, Mark Robinson, slammed the ‘award’, saying it was 'utterly embarrassing'.

Fewer complaints were heard for men’s category. Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke was named Sportsman of the Year for his four double centuries this year.

Chelsea – how they lost their way after Champions League triumph

How Champions League holders Chelsea lost their grip… and what lies in wait

|

UPDATED:

22:49 GMT, 6 December 2012

It was about this time last year when Ashley Cole was embroiled in a rumpus in the tunnel after Chelsea had beaten Manchester City.

Among other things, the 31-year-old is said to have yelled: ‘Thursday Night, Channel 5’, in the general direction of Roberto Mancini and his players as they trudged back to the dressing rooms after defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Football has moved on. It is no longer on Channel 5, but the Europa League remains something of an insult to clubs with the unashamed ambition of Chelsea and City.

Transformation: Chelsea went from Champions League winners through to being knocked out in the first round (below)

Transformation: Chelsea went from Champions League winners through to being knocked out in the first round (below)

Legacy: Drogba still the legend at Stamford Bridge while Fernando Torres struggles

It is an enduring embarrassment, a forfeit for failure and, in Chelsea’s case, a reminder that the European champions slumped at the first hurdle of their defence.

A further reminder of their triumph against Bayern Munich came as Didier Drogba hosted a dinner in London on Thursday in honour of his former team-mates’ Champions League victory in May.

Drogba presented old colleagues and backroom staff with commemorative rings, understood to have cost him around 800,000.

Fernando Torres was not there — it is thought he was attending his two-year-old son Leo’s birthday party — but his demeanour at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday would suggest he will have no great desire to appear in the Europa League either.

Chelsea’s appearance in that competition will be a source of amusement for rival fans and, if Cole is anything to go by, rival players, too. And it is a logistical hindrance.

Mancini will not miss the competition, especially when he considers Sunday, February 24, when Chelsea are due at the Etihad Stadium, three days after the second leg of their first Europa League tie.

Rafa Benitez will fret about freshness and fatigue and the impact this might have on the Barclays Premier League but Roman Abramovich expects to win every competition they enter. He will not be impressed if his team crash out quickly as Manchester City and United did.

Reminder: Didier Drogba's party on Thursday night saw the Champions League winners commemorated with rings

Reminder: Didier Drogba's party on Thursday night saw the Champions League winners commemorated with rings

If they are able to lift the Europa League trophy, in Amsterdam in May, Chelsea will be in possession of both European cups for 10 days before the Champions League final. Such springtime fancies feel far off, however, in what is developing into a long and complex campaign, even by their own standards.

On Friday they head north for Saturday's game at Sunderland, a fixture the Premier League refused to reschedule. Then they fly directly to Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup.

They will return a week on Monday, two days before they tackle Leeds in a Capital One Cup quarter-final at Elland Road. When the Europa League resumes in February, it will be their eighth different competition of the season.

‘I’ve never been involved in so many games,’ said defender Gary Cahill.

‘It’s crazy really the amount of games you’re playing in the space of a month. The recovery time and everything else that goes with it is tough, I’m not going to lie.’

Somewhere amid this whirlwind, Benitez will attempt to make small adjustments and build upon the 6-1 win against Nordsjaelland, his first victory as Chelsea’s interim manager, albeit a rather hollow one since it was not enough to stay in the Champions League.

Gift: The rings Drogba gave out cost around 800k in total according to early reports

Gift: The rings Drogba gave out cost around 800k in total according to early reports

‘It’s hard for anyone to come in with the amount of games you’ve got,’ Cahill added. ‘Literally, you’ve got two days before the next game to put across your ideas and show the players what you are asking from them.

'One of those days is normally a recovery day. So it’s hard. If you had a Saturday-to-Saturday you might be able to spend time on the training ground and get plenty of ideas across.

‘But in the last four games we’ve become more organised and over time we’ll get the ideas and things will go OK.’

The Nordsjaelland romp ended a winless run of six for Chelsea but they have not won in the Premier League since they came from behind to beat Tottenham on October 20.

Winning at Sunderland suddenly seems vital if they are to be in sight of the Premier League summit when they return to the competition at home to Aston Villa, two days before Christmas.

Tough: Gary Cahill says playing so many games is testing the squad

Tough: Gary Cahill says playing so many games is testing the squad

The doomsday scenario is for the miserable league form to continue amid all other distractions and to finish, as they did last season, outside the top four.

Surely this is the key pitfall for Benitez to avoid, regardless of trinkets like the Club World Cup. Abramovich’s team-building programme will hinge upon an instant return to the Champions League.

Roberto Di Matteo confessed that Eden Hazard and Oscar would have moved elsewhere had Chelsea not won in Munich to give them the chance to defend their title at the expense of Tottenham, who finished fourth. It will be the same again this summer.

‘We can’t afford to give up many more points in the Premier League,’ said Cahill.

‘I don’t know what’s gone wrong. The players have been asking that question themselves and we don’t know really. Where do you point the finger

‘It’s the same group of players who started the season beating teams and scoring goals and keeping clean sheets.

‘There’s no reason why we can’t get back to that. We’ve been waiting for that win.’