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Brian McDermott sacked by Reading

McDermott SACKED by Reading with strugglers four points adrift of Premier League safety

John Drayton


17:32 GMT, 11 March 2013



17:50 GMT, 11 March 2013

Brian McDermott has been sacked as Reading fight to avoid relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

The Royals suffered a demoralising 2-1 home defeat against drop rivals Aston Villa on Saturday to push them deeper into trouble.

And McDermott has paid the price as they bid to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

Roberto Di Matteo and Paolo Di Canio are among the early frontrunners to take the post.

*Scroll down to watch highlights of McDermott's final match in charge

Sacked: McDermott guided Reading to the npower Championship title last season

Sacked: McDermott guided Reading to the npower Championship title last season

The bottom six of the Premier League

The bottom six of the Premier League

A statement from Reading read: 'Reading Football Club has announced today the departure of Manager Brian McDermott.

'Owner Anton Zingarevich wishes to place on record his thanks to Brian who had achieved great success with the club since taking over as Manager in December 2009.

'Brian gained promotion to the Barclays Premier League last year for only the second time in the club’s history thanks to a remarkable run at the end of last season. However, in our current situation, owner Anton Zingarevich felt that a change was necessary.

Struggling: Reading have lost five games in a row in all competitions

Struggling: Reading have lost five games in a row in all competitions

Ruthless: Zingarevich (left) showed no quarter in sacking McDermott

Ruthless: Zingarevich (left) showed no quarter in sacking McDermott

'The search for a successor will start immediately and it is hoped that a new Manager will be in place as soon as possible to lead the fight against potential relegation.'

Reading are four points from safety with nine matches remaining to secure their top-flight status.

McDermott took Reading up last season as champions but they have struggled to make an impact in the Premier League.

Russian owner Anton Zingarevich has
now acted to save their season – with the new manager set to start with
an away match against title favourites Manchester United on Saturday.

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Brian McDermott says Reading can upset Christmas trend and avoid relegation

McDermott backing rock-bottom Reading to beat history and avoid the drop



22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Brian McDermott is ignoring that old statistic about the fate awaiting the Premier League's bottom club at Christmas, and will instead focus on some altogether more positive facts and figures to kickstart Reading's bid for survival.

West Brom remain the only team in the Premier League era to stay up after being in Reading's current position, but McDermott has told his players to use their success in winning promotion against all the odds last season as a source of inspiration.

They were 16th in the Championship table in November, and trailed pacesetters Southampton and West Ham by huge margins before winning 15 of the last 17 games to finish top of the table.

We can do it: Brian McDermott says Reading can still survive

We can do it: Brian McDermott says Reading can still survive

Another Herculean effort is required in the second half of this season after Reading suffered a seventh successive defeat at Manchester City on Saturday. But McDermott remains optimistic they can do it again as he prepares to face Swansea at the Madejski Stadium on Boxing Day.

Asked about the gloomy Christmas statistic, he replied: 'West Brom have done it, so it is doable.

'My view on that is that if you're 20 points off the lead, which we were at one point last season, and then go and win it I'm not sure anyone has done that before.

'It's a decent stat. We were loads and loads of points behind West Ham and Southampton and still managed to win the league. So it shows what this team can do.

Foul Barry clambered over Nicky Shorey as he scored for City

Foul Barry clambered over Nicky Shorey as he scored for City

Record of Premier League's bottom club at Christmas

Record of Premier League's bottom club at Christmas

'Our players are winners. They were
champions last season in the Championship. The year before that they got
to the Playoff Final. The year before we were in a relegation spot and
won loads of games.

I've found with our players is that they are incredibly resilient. What
I've found about myself is that I'm incredibly resilient.' McDermott and
his players must pick themselves up after Gareth Barry broke their
hearts with a winner in the second minute of added time at the Etihad

Reading were furious that referee Mike Dean did not rule the goal out for a push on Nicky Shorey.

But once the anger subsided, McDermott was able to draw some positives from a fine performance against the Premier League champions.

'We're in a results business, ' he added. 'We're confident with 20 games to go that if we play like that we can get results.

'I've not had one in the last seven games but, results wise, my record in the last two-and-a-half years has been good.'

Fears continue over Salford"s future after club cancel friendly with Leigh

Fears continue over Salford's future after club cancel winter friendly with Leigh



16:29 GMT, 21 December 2012

Salford have called off their festive friendly against Leigh amid continuing uncertainty over the club's future.

The City Reds, who are due in court on January 7 to face a winding-up petition, say they are unable to raise a team for the friendly, which was due to take place at the Leigh Sports Village on Sunday, December 30.

Reds coach Phil Veivers, who has been able to make just one new signing so far for Super League XVIII, said: 'It's unfortunate but we had to make the right call.

Game over: The clash at the Leigh Sports Village Stadium has been called off

Game over: The clash at the Leigh Sports Village Stadium has been called off

'We have a few too many knocks and niggles this week and, as everybody knows we are a bit light on personnel at the moment anyway with the current situation.

'We felt it was better to give the boys an extended break over Christmas and prepare ourselves fully for the Swinton game on January 6.'

Salford's bank account remains frozen and recruitment hinges on new investment in the club taking place.

The club, who are faced with a tax bill in the region of 50,000, need to find around 600,000 in the next six weeks to pay off their debts.

Luca di Montezemolo: I"d want Sebastian Vettel not Lewis Hamilton to replace Fernando Alonso at Ferrari

Forget Hamilton, I'd want Vettel to replace Alonso at Ferrari, claims Di Montezemolo



18:40 GMT, 20 December 2012

Lewis Hamilton is lagging behind Sebastian Vettel on Ferrari's wishlist of a potential replacements for current team leader Fernando Alonso.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo revealed he is a greater admirer of Vettel's talents than those of Hamilton when asked who he would like to take over when Alonso decides to call it a day.

'If, tomorrow, Fernando would withdraw for any reason – let's say he moves to Hawaii with his girlfriend – then I would want Vettel,' said the Ferrari president to German magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

Moving on: Hamilton will race for Mercedes next season

Moving on: Hamilton will race for Mercedes next season

'He is young, he has his feet on the floor, and he has an indomitable will to win. Michael Schumacher made me aware of him years ago because he knew him from his karting years. I must say, Michael was right.'

Seemingly ruling our Hamilton's chances of driving for Ferrari, di Montezemolo claimed his decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes counts against him.

Asked why he preferred Vettel to Hamilton, di Montezemolo replied: 'Because he (Vettel) is younger, and because Ferrari would be Hamilton's third team. And if you've reached your third team, your career is already in its second half.'

Even hints by Vettel that Ferrari had used 'dirty tricks' to try and derail his pursuit of a third successive world title do not seem to have dented his chances of a move to Maranello.

Hat-trick: Vettel claimed his third world title this season

Hat-trick: Vettel claimed his third world title this season

'In the heat of battle you can always say something emotional,' said Di Montezemolo.

Given the increasingly fierce rivalry between Vettel and Alonso there seems little prospect of the pair sharing a garage at Ferrari until the Spaniard decides to call it a day.

And Di Montezemolo insisted he would be only too delighted if Alonso opts to see out the remaining three years of his contract with Ferrari.

He added: 'I'm incredibly happy with him. He is more than just a driver.'

Long-term contract: Alonso still has three years to run on his Ferrari deal

Long-term contract: Alonso still has three years to run on his Ferrari deal

With Hamilton having already admitted he is unlikely to be in the title frame next season as he strives to turn Mercedes into frontrunners, the drivers' championship has all the hallmarks of being another titanic battle between Vettel and Alonso.

However, Jenson Button will hopeful of forcing his way into the title picture if McLaren can find the required reliability to go with the speed advantage they enjoyed last season.

McLaren's 2013 challenger, the Mercedes-powered MP4-28, will break cover on January 31 at a launch ceremony in the UK.

Mark McGhee sacked as Bristol Rovers manager

McGhee sacked as Bristol Rovers manager after defeat at York



19:01 GMT, 15 December 2012

Mark McGhee has been sacked as Bristol Rovers manager after this afternoon's 4-1 defeat at York City.

The result leaves Rovers second bottom in League Two, having won just four of 22 matches so far. They have not won a match since November 10.

Chairman Nick Higgs said in a club statement: 'We had hoped that the appointment of Mark McGhee would give the club some stability and long term progress, but unfortunately that has not been the case.

Sacked: Mark McGhee and Bristol Rovers parted company after today's 4-1 defeat at York City

Sacked: Mark McGhee and Bristol Rovers parted company after today's 4-1 defeat at York City

'We have decided that we can no longer continue with the current situation and had to make the difficult decision to part company with Mark. We decided we had to act now before it was too late.'

The Scot, who had previously managed Leicester City, Wolves, Millwall, Brighton, Motherwell and Aberdeen, was appointed in January following the departure of Paul Buckle.

Just yesterday, McGhee spoke of his 'embarrassment' at the side's lowly position in League Two.

He told BBC Radio Bristol: 'I think all the other managers in this league would agree – you don't want to be in the bottom division of your league tier.

'On behalf of the fans, we should feel embarrassed to be in this league and to be in this position.'

El Hadji Diouf agrees 18-month contract at Leeds in deal that will see controversial forward top wage United bill

Diouf agrees 18-month contract at Leeds in deal that will see controversial forward top wage United bill



17:31 GMT, 14 December 2012

El Hadji-Diouf has signed an 18 month contract extension with Leeds United.

It is understood that the new deal will make Diouf one the club's highest earning players, as revealed by Sportsmail, representing a significant raise from his current cut-price contract of 5,000 per week.

Leeds will be relieved to have secured the new deal, as Diouf would have been able to leave the club for nothing in January with his contract set to expire in January.

Senegal striker Diouf, 31, who will line up against Ipswich at home tomorrow, joined Leeds in August and has impressed manager Neil Warnock, contributing five goals in his 24 appearances since signing for the Elland Road side.

Gone clubbing: Leeds United's Senegal striker El Hadji Diouf is now at his seventh British club having agreed an 18-month deal at Elland Road

Gone clubbing: Leeds United's Senegal striker El Hadji Diouf, here letting fly against Southampton in the Capitasl One Cup, is now at his seventh British club having agreed an 18-month deal at Elland Road

Boss Neil Warnock told leedsunited.com: 'We're
delighted he's agreed everything and hopefully he'll enjoy the next 18 months
with us.

'Obviously it's a massive boost for everyone to know
we're going to have him around and this is what we've wanted to do.

'He's a match-winning player, and there aren't many of
them around.

'He's a player who can change a game and I'm delighted
we've been able to keep him.

'He's also fitted in really well, and he's been great
with the lads.'

The 31-year-old has scored five goals in 24 appearances for
the Whites after joining in the summer.

Key man: El Hadji Diouf looks to have earned an extended stay at Leeds

Key man: El Hadji Diouf looks to have earned an extended stay at Leeds

The controversial forward, who has often found his name in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, will now remain at Leeds until June 2014.

Diouf’s relative success at Leeds has been surprising, given the nature of his relationship with Leeds boss Warnock.

Former QPR boss Warnock famously launched an attack on Diouf, branding the forward a ‘sewer rat’ during his time at Blackburn after claiming he abused Ranger’s Jamie Mackie as he lay on the pitch with a broken leg in an FA Cup clash in January 2011.

However, it now seems that the two have patched up their differences, with Diouf remaining at Leeds for the foreseeable future.

GB Taekwondo insist they remain keen to work with Aaron Cook

European taekwondo champion Cook to switch allegiance to Isle of Man after London 2012 snub



18:28 GMT, 7 December 2012

GB Taekwondo insist they remain keen
to work with Aaron Cook, despite the world No 1's intention to
switch his allegiance to the Isle of Man after being overlooked for the

The 21-year-old European champion was
ranked first by the World Taekwondo Federation in the under-80kg
category, but Lutalo Mohammad was instead selected by British Taekwondo
for the London 2012 squad, leading to a drawn-out process which was
eventually ratified by the British Olympic Association.

Jumping ship: Cook (right) was snubbed by Team GB at London 2012

Jumping ship: Cook (right) was snubbed by Team GB at London 2012

Mohammad went on to win the bronze medal, while Wales teenager Jade Jones claimed gold in the women's 57kg category and Liverpool's Martin Stamper reached the semi-finals.

Cook, who left the Manchester-based GB Taekwondo Academy training programme in the run-up to the Olympics, feels it is impossible for him to work again within the current Team GB set-up.

Manx athletes compete under the GB flag at the Olympics but, according to Cook, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) may introduce a route to future Games based on rankings rather than discretionary selection which saw him miss out this year.

Unforgiven: Cook is still furious at British Taekwondo

Unforgiven: Cook is still furious at British Taekwondo

GB Taekwondo performance director Gary
Hall has always insisted the governing body remain willing to build
bridges and have written to the 21-year-old, who fought at the Beijing
Olympics, to express their desire for positive talks.

A spokesman for GB Taekwondo said in a statement to Press Association
Sport: 'We have made efforts to re-engage with Aaron since the Games and
have made it clear that we remain keen to work with him going forward.

'We have not received official notification of Aaron's future intentions
including the potential for him to represent another nation, but it
seems apparent that Aaron is keen to pursue other options, away from
Great Britain.'

Coventry City ready to leave the Ricoh Arena amid rent row with stadium owners

Coventry ready to leave the Ricoh Arena after rent row



18:47 GMT, 6 December 2012

Coventry City is refusing to back down in its' rent row – saying the Sky Blues must be masters of their own destiny.

Tim Fisher, the club's chief executive, has re-affirmed his stance that
the League One side will not pay the current rate to stay at the Ricoh

Empty: Coventry City have 21 days to pay their 1.1million unpaid rent

Empty: Coventry City have 21 days to pay their 1.1million unpaid rent

The Sky Blues are in a stand-off with Arena Coventry Ltd, the company charged with managing the site, and who issued the club with a Statutory Demand on Thursday.

That formal request is aimed at putting pressure on the club, and owners SISU, to pay monies owed in back rent. If no compromise is reached a winding order could be issued with Coventry City forced into administration.

Coventry are hamstrung by an agreement, struck seven years ago, which does not take into account the club's League One status and the loss of revenue brought about by relegation earlier this year.

The club claims it is being asked to pay over the odds – around 1.28m per year – to their landlords and has asked for that to be reduced to the average for League One of around 170,000.

Ceased: The club stopped making payments to the Ricoh Arena bosses 10 months ago

Ceased: The club stopped making payments to the Ricoh Arena bosses 10 months ago

According to reports, ACL have agreed
to accept half of that figure in settlement – around 650,000 – but
Fisher says that figure remains unacceptable in the current climate.

'We were disappointed to be issued with the Statutory Demand but our position remains unchanged.' he said.

'We are a League One club and should pay League One rent. We also need access to matchday revenues at the stadium.

'SISU want to build a sustainable football club. But they also want the Sky Blues to be the masters of their own destiny.'

Jacky Isaacs, chief executive of
Arena Coventry Ltd, said that issuing the Statutory Demand was not 'a
course of action that we wanted to take.'

If no satisfactory resolution can be
found, the club could be put into administration, leading to a points
deduction and the possibility that a new venue should be found for the
club to fulfil their remaining fixtures.

'We want to avoid administration, absolutely, we do,' added Fisher.

'And we have a commitment to fulfil our fixtures – which we fully intend to honour.

'But if the gates at the Ricoh are locked, there may be no alternative but to find another venue.

'If turns out that we don't end up playing at the Ricoh Arena, so be it.'

Alastair Cook breaks record for most England Test hundreds against India in third Test in Kolkata

Cook is the GREATEST! Captain marvel breaks record for most England Test tons aged just 27 (…and the bad news for India is he's not done yet!)



12:00 GMT, 6 December 2012

Alastair Cook has become England's all-time leading Test century maker at the age of just 27 after reaching his 23rd hundred on the second day of the third Test against India in Kolkata today.

Cook overtook the previous record, jointly held alongside Wally Hammond, Geoff Boycott, Colin Cowdrey and current team-mate Kevin Pietersen, in his 86th match for his country.

England's captain notched his third ton in as many Tests on the tour – and he is also the first batsman to score five centuries in his first five Tests as captain in Test cricket.

Leading from the front: Alastair Cook hit his 23rd Test century on Thursday

Leading from the front: Alastair Cook hit his 23rd Test century on Thursday

Lawrence Booth: Wisden editor on why Captain Cook's remarkable runscoring will go on and on…

Statistics can mislead, but in Alastair Cook’s case they tell a story that brooks no argument.

When he drove Ishant Sharma through the covers for three in third over after tea, he became the youngest player to score 7,000 Test runs – younger even than Sachin Tendulkar, the man most usually associated with these dizzyling landmarks.

Tendulkar was 28 years and 193 days to Cook’s 27 years and 347 days, although he needed only 136 innings to Cook’s 151. But we’re splitting hairs.

The point is this: by the time Cook retires, we’ll look back at the 7,000-runs business and wonder what all the fuss was about.

We’ll also shrug at the fact that this was the day he went past Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey, Geoff Boycott and Kevin Pietersen to register his 23rd Test hundred.

And, by the time the series has run its course at Nagpur, we may feel underwhelmed by his fifth century in his first five Tests as captain – a unique achievement.

His innings today summed up his career: rock-solid concentration, but with the capacity to learn. He may not have played a more unexpected shot in his life than the shimmy towards Ravi Ashwin which resulted in the straightest of sixes, right elbow high as if in defiance of his penchant for the leg side.

Since the only quiet year of his career in 2008, when he averaged 36 and failed to score a Test hundred, Cook has adapted his game bit by bit while only occasionally forgetting that his first task was to score runs.

He learned, in 2010, that too much technical tinkering wasn’t good for the soul, saving his Test career with a century at The Oval against Pakistan, then applying the lesson during a relentless Ashes.

He learned, in 2011, that he could play one-day cricket, striking at 90 when many thought him one-dimensional.

And he has relearned, in 2012, that he can bat in Asia – a truism that was evident on his debut at Nagpur more than six years ago, but was in danger of being forgotten during the traumas of the UAE and Galle.

Cook turns 28 on Christmas Day. The worry for bowlers everywhere is that there are more lessons to come.

Cook is also the youngest batsman in history to 7,000 runs, beating even the great Sachin Tendulkar, a milestone he passed with his 88th on the second afternoon of the third Test as he and Nick Compton consolidated England's advantage over India.

/12/06/article-2243859-0C7438CD00000578-50_306x499.jpg” width=”306″ height=”499″ alt=”Cook notched a ton at Lord's last June” class=”blkBorder” />

Cook's ton at Lord's last June

104 v India, Nagpur, 2006

105 v Pakistan, Lord's, 2006

127 v Pakistan, Old Trafford, 2006

116 v Australia, WACA, 2006

105 v West Indies, Lord's, 2007

106 v West Indies, Old Trafford, 2007

118 v Sri Lanka, Galle, 2007

139* v West Indies, Bridgetown, 2009

160 v West Indies, Chester-le-Street, 2009

118 v South Africa, Durban, 2009

173 v Bangladesh, Chittagong, 2010

109* v Bangladesh, Dhaka, 2010

110 v Pakistan, The Oval, 2010

235* v Australia, The Gabba, 2010

148 v Australia, Adelaide, 2010

189 v Australia SCG, 2011

133 v Sri Lanka, Cardiff, 2011

106 v Sri Lanka, Lord's, 2011

294 v India, Edgbaston, 2011

115 v South Africa, The Oval, 2012

176 v India, Ahmedabad, 2012

122 v India, Mumbai, 2012

136* v India, Kolkata, 2012

Cook is congratulated by Paul Collingwood during the fifth Ashes Test at the SCG last January

Cook is congratulated by Paul Collingwood during the fifth Ashes Test at the SCG last January

Cook's ton against Pakistan at the Oval in August 2010 saved his career

Cook hit a century against South Africa in December 2009 in Durban

Cook's ton against Pakistan at the Oval in August 2010 possibly saved his England career (left) and it's all smiles after hitting a century at Durban in December 2009 in the drawn series against South Africa (right)

Cook was first made captain during the tour to Bangladesh, where he hit two hundreds

Cook was first made captain during the tour to Bangladesh in 2010, where he hit two hundreds

Cook scored his maiden century on his Test match debut in Nagpur in March 2006

Cook celebrates his century against Pakistan at Lords in July 2006

It all began when Cook scored his maiden century on his Test match debut in Nagpur in March 2006 (left)
and the young opening batsman celebrates another early ton against Pakistan at Lords in July 2006 (right)

England's top 10 centurions

Alastair Cook
23 centuries in 86 matches

Wally Hammond
22 in 85

Kevin Pietersen
22 in 90*

Geoffrey Boycott
22 in 108

Colin Cowdrey
22 in 114

Andrew Strauss
21 in 100

Ken Barrington
20 in 82

Graham Gooch
20 in 118

Len Hutton
19 in 79

Michael Vaughan
18 in 82

*yet to bat in 91st Test

All-time top 10 centurions

Sachin Tendulkar (India)
51 tons in 192* matches

Jacques Kallis (South Africa)
44 in 158*

Ricky Ponting (Australia)
41 in 168

Rahul Dravid (India)
36 in 164

Sunil Gavaskar (India)
34 in 125

Brian Lara (West Indies)
34 in 131

Steve Waugh (Australia)
32 in 168

Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka)
31 in 135*

Matthew Hayden (Australia)
30 in 103

Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)
30 in 113*

*denotes still active

7,000 not out! Cook's record-breaking career by numbers

60 & 104 not out – Cook's scores on his Test debut, against India in March 2006.

294 – His highest Test score, against India in August 2011.

23 – Cook became the first England batsman to make 23 Test centuries when he reached three figures against India in Kolkata on Thursday.

27 years, 347 days – His age as he became the youngest batsman to reach 7,000 Test runs.

86 – The number of Tests Cook took to reach those two landmarks.

50.34 – Cook's Test average at the end of today's play.

Five – Cook has now made centuries in his first five Tests as England captain, including two Tests against Bangladesh as a stand-in in 2010.

29 – The number of Test half-centuries he has made, giving him a superb conversion rate of 44 per cent from fifties to hundreds.

26 – However, he went 26 innings without reaching three figures between March 2008 and February 2009.

766 – His cumulative runs in the 2010-11 Ashes series.

3,536 and nine – his tally of runs and centuries before his 25th birthday, both comfortable England records.

214 – his score for Essex against the touring Australians in 2005 which helped bring him to England's attention.

Nick Harris: 5.5bn TV pays to screen Premier League

5.5bn: The staggering sum TV companies around the world will pay to screen the Premier League


22:01 GMT, 24 November 2012



22:01 GMT, 24 November 2012

One of the world's poorest countries,
Burma, where workers earn an average of just 819 a year, has splashed
out 25million to buy the rights to show Premier League football on

With Burma's current TV contract
worth a mere 200,000 over three years, the new deal represents an
astonishing 12,400 per cent hike in rights fees.

The deal, involving a pay-TV company
called Sky Net, is just one example of the extraordinarily successful
way the Premier League have sold their worldwide broadcasting rights for

Star of Africa: Manchester City's Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure

Star of Africa: Manchester City's Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure

In the last round of overseas rights sales, for 2010-13, the League earned 1.437bn from all foreign broadcasters combined.

But overseas deals for 2013-16 will
surge past 2bn in value, which, when added to domestic deals for live
rights (3bn from Sky and BT), Match of the Day highlights (178m from
the BBC) and near-live rights and internet rights (still to be sold),
means the League will earn a mouthwatering 5.5bn from broadcasting
during that three-season period.

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Nick Harris: Players union pledges help for gay footballers


That money, less the League's running costs, will be shared out among the 20 clubs who make up the top tier of English football.

And when the new deals kick in next
season, even the club who end up bottom of the Premier League in 2014
will receive a 60m payout from the TV money, while the champions will
pocket 100m.

The Premier League's success in selling their product around the world has already put them on top of football's global earners, and this new deal will widen the gap on their closest rivals.

While the Premier League currently pulls in 479m a year from overseas broadcasting, La Liga in Spain get 132m, Italy's Serie A 74m and Germany's Bundesliga just 50m.

The willingness of broadcasters in Burma and elsewhere to spend increasingly large sums to buy the Premier League rights reflects the confidence of companies such as Sky Net, who are unrelated to domestic rights holder BSkyB, that they can find enough customers to subscribe to pay-TV channels carrying Premier League action.

While Burma has been ruled by a military junta since 1962, when Ipswich Town were League champions under Alf Ramsey's managership, the country, now also known as Myanmar, is undergoing a slow and painful transition towards democracy.

Official data from the World Bank places Burma at 164th out of 185 nations in their wealth table, with almost all the poorer nations being in Africa.

But Sky Net believe the economy is becoming sufficiently liberal and that there are now enough wealthy football fans there that they will easily recoup their investment of around 8m per year in a country with a population of 60m, roughly the same as that of Britain.

Who pays what: TV

Burma may represent the biggest percentage hike in rights values but there are numerous examples of other markets booming this time.

In Thailand, a company called Cable Thai Holdings have done a 202m deal for 2013-16, a 432 per cent increase on the 38m paid for 2010- 13. Rights values have also leapt, among other places, in India (up 225 per cent from 28m to 91m), Vietnam (up 249 per cent from 6.3m to 22m) and Indonesia, doubling from 25m to 50m.

Other Asia markets, notable Singapore and Hong Kong, were already hugely lucrative and worth between 150m and 200m for the three years to 2013.

New deals have retained the value if not increased it in those places, while Japan and Korea have seen increased deals but not on the scale of some neighbours.

Uniquely in China, the Premier League have sold the rights on a six-year basis from 2013, not a three-year deal.

This is to allow for long-term development of a key market that has been traditionally hard to crack.

On the other side of the world, in the United States, rights values have soared as NBC thrashed rival bidders to win the 2013-16 rights for 157m, or almost four times the amount paid by Fox for 2010-13.

Across the Americas and Central America combined, the League will earn around 240m from 2013, or four times the 60m currently.

The last set of deals to be done are in Europe, where only Scandinavian rights have been sold, for 162m, up from 111m last time.

Much of the rest of Europe is expected to show flat or small growth. But the total pot will still be enormous.

Olympic stars missing from BBC shortlist

After last year's controversy over the absence of women on the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, the arguments this year are raging over the big names missing when the 12-strong list is announced on the One Show on Monday.

Golden girl: Laura Trott missing from list

Golden girl: Laura Trott missing from list

Nobody from the country's three main sports will feature after a poor year for Britain's footballers, cricketers and rugby players.

But in the afterglow of London 2012, the final dozen will inevitably be dominated by Olympic and Paralympic heroes.

Even so, a glut of cycling contenders means one or more of Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Laura Trott and Sarah Storey will not make the 12, and there has been much debate over the appropriate mix of Olympic and Paralympic contenders.

If Paralympic stars Jonnie Peacock, David Weir and Ellie Simmonds are all included, others, such as Ben Ainslie, Kat Grainger, Alastair Brownlee, Greg Rutherford or Nicola Adams, must make way.

The 12-person selection panel, headed by BBC Director of Sport Barbara Slater, have ensured a decent mix of genders and sports but the only four 'absolute banker' names on the shortlist are hot favourite Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah, Andy Murray and Jess Ennis.

Murray will not attend the show on December 16 but the BBC will have a live feed to his winter training base in Miami.

Golfers Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy may not make the 12 as they will inevitably be honoured in the Team of the Year award for Europe's Ryder Cup win.

Flying high: Sir Alex Ferguson flew back with supporters

Flying high: Sir Alex Ferguson flew back with supporters

Sir Alex has the common touch

Proof that Sir Alex Ferguson has not lost his common touch came when he flew home from Turkey in midweek on a fans' charter, and took to the public address to thank supporters for travelling to the 1-0 defeat at Galatasaray.

Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton hitched a ride back on Tuesday night, rather than return on Manchester United's plane on Wednesday, to make sure they were back for the funeral of former Old Trafford winger Kenny Morgans, a survivor of the Munich air crash, who died last weekend in South Wales at the age of 73.