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David Beckham teams up with Snoop Dogg for A Christmas Carol animated version

Becks teams up with rap star Snoop Dogg for animated version of A Christmas Carol

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UPDATED:

10:31 GMT, 28 November 2012

A digitised David Beckham has helped bring the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol into the 21st century to put the frighteners on hip-hop star pal Snoop Dogg.

Beckham plays the role of the ghost of Christmas present to help 'Ebenezer Snoop' recover his festive spirit in the star-studded adidas cartoon campaign.

Beckham, 37, tells the Gin and Juice rapper: 'I'm the ghost of holiday present. You sir have been a real ball. Things just aren't the same when you're not in the game.'

Scroll down for the video

Ghost of Christmas past: Beckham is sent to help 'Ebenezer Snoop' rediscover his festive spirit

Ghost of Christmas past: Beckham is sent to help 'Ebenezer Snoop' rediscover his festive spirit

Kicking back: David Beckham and Snoop Dogg

Also featuring in the dream sequence advert, sparked when Snoop Dogg takes a puff on a mysterious looking pipe, are US Open winner and Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray, British singing sensation Rita Ora and Chicago Bulls NBA basketball star Derrick Rose.

Snoop, 41, said of the ad campaign: 'You know you a boss when people wanna see you in animated form.'

On the move: Beckham is set to end his stay with LA Galaxy

On the move: Beckham is set to end his stay with LA Galaxy

Beckham recently announced his decision to quit MLS soccer side LA Galaxy to pursue one more challenge before he hangs up his boots.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid sensation has been inundated with a host of offers including French side Paris Saint Germain and several Australian A-League outfits.

Head boy: Snoop Dogg stars in the adidas advert alongside David Beckham

Head boy: Snoop Dogg stars in the adidas advert alongside David Beckham

New QPR boss Harry Redknapp has also spoken of his admiration for Beckham's professionalism and would jump at the chance of having the former England captain on board to help in the West London club's battle to beat the drop.

But Beckham could have the chance to spend even more time with his mate Snoop after the international music star claimed he is tempted to buy a slice of Celtic after being knocked out by the passion of their fans in their recent stunning home win over Barcelona in the Champions League.

End of the American Dream: Beckham has been linked with big-money moves to PSG and Australia

End of the American Dream: Beckham has been linked with big-money moves to PSG and Australia

Beckham turning out for Snoop Dogg in the famous green and white hoops at Parkhead Many Celtic fans would think they have more chance of signing Tiny Tim but it would certainly be some Christmas present.

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FA must make fuss of 150th birthday celebrations – Martin Samuel

Martin Samuel: Old codgers at the FA Yes, but they're the men who changed the world

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UPDATED:

06:43 GMT, 23 October 2012

In a drawer in an old office at Lancaster Gate was a book. It made its home almost casually, cared for by David Barber, historian for the Football Association. The book was ancient and not much to look at, but its influence on sport is almost beyond compare.

Melvyn Bragg named it among his 12 books that changed the world, alongside Darwin's Origin of Species, Shakespeare's First Folio, Newton's Principia Mathematica and Magna Carta.

The book is by Ebenezer Morley and is entitled The Rules of Association Football. It is now in a museum. It should be on a plinth in Trafalgar Square.

In black and white: The first England versus Scotland game and the inaugural rule book

In black and white: The first England versus Scotland game and the inaugural rule book

Type the word 'Ebenezer' into Google and, after the name itself, the following entries come up in order of popularity: Ebenezer Obey (Nigerian juju musician) Ebenezer Scrooge (Charles Dickens character) Ebeneezer Goode (novelty pop hit by The Shamen) Ebenezer Howard (founder of the Garden City movement) Ebenezer Chapel (holiday property in Derbyshire) Ebenezer Le Page (Guernsey fisherman from a 1981 novel) Ebenezer Gomme (furniture manufacture business, High Wycombe, established 1898) Ebenezer Elliott (poet, died 1849) Ebenezer Church (Bristol)

The man who codified the rules of the greatest game in the world does not even make the top 10.

This is why the commemoration of English football over the next 12 months or so should be vitally important to all those who love sport, history and the role played in both by this country.

On Friday, the Football Association will celebrate their 149th birthday. The one after is coming early: on January 1. Next year, 2013, is the FA's 150th anniversary. The official logo for the event and the briefest outline of the festivities will be announced, in a low-key manner, by chairman David Bernstein today. It is almost as if the organisation do not wish to make too much of a fuss. They should.

Rio Ferdinand

John Terry

All smiles: Chairman Bernstein will be forced to answer questions surrounding Rio Ferdinand and John Terry

Bernstein will no doubt spend much of the morning being asked about Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, racism and the stuttering World Cup campaign. He is as good as serving his notice in the position anyway and will stand down next year at 70, his application for an extension having been rejected by the FA council.

Old codgers, you might think. But these old codgers, in fact 150 years of old codgers, deserve to be celebrated: the FA are the keepers of football's flame and have been since 1863.

Ebenezer Cobb Morley was probably a codger by the end, too. He founded the Barnes and Mortlake Regatta, sat on Surrey County Council and was a Justice of the Peace.

Yet at the age of 32, as the captain of the Barnes Club, he wrote to Bell's Life, proposing a governing body for the sport he loved. From this the Football Association were formed.

Waving goodbye: Bernstein is soon to relinquish his role as chairman of the Football Association

Waving goodbye: Bernstein is soon to relinquish his role as chairman of the Football Association

Morley drafted the first Rules of the Game – the document previously in Barber's possession – at his home in Barnes. He became the FA's first secretary, their second president, played in the first official match – Barnes versus Richmond in 1863 – and the first representative game, London versus Sheffield in 1866.

And, in terms of popularity, on Google he's pegged behind a kiddie-techno song that includes the line, 'A great philosopher once wrote “naughty, naughty, very naughty”.'

The FA are much criticised, maligned and occasionally slandered, but deserve more than a tip of the hat as they approach their sesquicentenary.

There were 70,000 volunteers helping run the Olympic Games in London this summer and proud they were made to feel, too. Open bus parades at the end, smiles and salutes wherever they went.

Yet, each weekend, 400,000 volunteers make grass roots football matches happen all over this country and what is their reward Abuse, in some cases. Disrespect or anonymity in most others.

Charles William Alcock

Ebenezer Cobb Morley

History makers: Morley (left) devised the rules of football and Alcock created the FA Cup

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Rise too far up the county association's greasy pole and you're liable to be dismissed as a 'blazer', as if a lifetime spent putting the goals out and organising under 13 football in Gloucestershire makes you any less qualified than Lord Triesman. Qualify as a referee and spend each Sunday morning being cursed by all sides.

The FA keep all of these balls in the air, the game shuffling along. Football is the most popular participation sport in England, cricket is second and women's football now third. Disabled football is seventh.

The FA are not only there for the nasty things in life: racism charges, Joey Barton. There is an enormous amount of good being done, with no thank-you parade in sight.

The history of the FA is one of unsung heroes. For instance, Charles Alcock, who created the FA Cup and was one of the instigators behind international football, or Cuthbert Ottaway, England's first captain, who died at the age of 27, having achieved the unique distinction of being awarded a Blue at Oxford in five sports: football, cricket, racquets, athletics and real tennis.

As part of the 150th anniversary, at the time of a celebratory fixture against Scotland on August 14 next year, Ottaway's grave in Paddington Old Cemetery is to undergo restoration.

Type 'Cuthbert' into Google and he doesn't make the top 10, either. Maybe that is about to change. It deserves to.

There has been a movement in recent years to remove football's legacy from these islands and place it in China or Mesoamerica, as if pre-Medieval festivals bear any resemblance to a man at home in Barnes, settling down to codify a game with rules that would still be recognisable to any player today.

Morley got most of it right first time, too, in language the world could understand. Have you ever looked at Principia Mathematica

So next year, for once, we should be allowed to boast that football is coming home. We can explain why Athletic Bilbao are not called Atletico and why AC Milan are not AC Milano. We can tell the story of how Juventus got their black and white kit or the tale of the first official match in Spain, Recreativo de Huelva versus Sevilla on March 8, 1890, which featured 20 British players out of 22.

We spend so much time trying to avoid appearing arrogant that we as good as forget our own history: next year is a time to remember.

Melvyn Bragg was right. Ebenezer Morley, Charles Alcock, Cuthbert Ottaway: these men changed the world. It is right that we know who they were.

Time running out for Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish – Martin Samuel

Why time is running out for Liverpool and Kenny to recapture past glory

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UPDATED:

22:53 GMT, 3 April 2012

'It was the season of Light,' wrote Charles Dickens. 'It was the season of Darkness.' Then again, he didn’t have a major strategic review to conduct. You could pull off a bit of duality in 1859.

Unfortunately, John Henry has a football club to run. He needs something a little more finite. And that is the problem with the season at Liverpool; it almost defies evaluation.

The best of times, the worst of times Glass half-full or half-empty Rafael Benitez won the Champions League and, technically, failed to qualify for it in 2005 — UEFA's rules changed to get Liverpool in — but even that contradiction could not compare to this.

Red or dead Kenny Dalglish (left)has had mixed fortunes since his return as Liverpool manager

Red or dead Kenny Dalglish (left)has had mixed fortunes since his return as Liverpool manager

Football will always have the capacity to bamboozle. Birmingham City won their first trophy since 1963 and were relegated the same year; Chelsea were one win and a decent penalty away from a Premier League-Champions League double, delivered neither and sacked the manager; Leeds United believed they were on the cusp of joining the European elite when the money ran out and the abyss opened; Portsmouth got their mitts on the FA Cup and it bankrupted them.

Yet, somehow, Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish have earned a unique place in football purgatory, because their contradiction centres on the perception of one man.

Grey was always going to be the nightmare under Dalglish. Black and white were easily addressed; it was the shade between that would throw up imponderables. What if Dalglish was not bad What if he was just OK What if Liverpool took two steps forward and two back What if the jury was out, and staying out, unable to make up its mind Who would be brave enough to remove King Kenny if he had not failed outright

If Dalglish proved to be a roaring success or a crashing flop, issues would be resolved and the way forward clear. Yet, somehow, he has contrived to be both. A trophy winner who is overseeing Liverpool’s worst League run since 1953; potentially Liverpool’s most successful manager in a single season since Gerard Houllier in 2001 and their worst in the Premier League since it began in 1992. And he is still the King, meaning nothing he does is viewed dispassionately.

Kings of Europe: Dalglish, a winner in 1984, needs his side to return to the top level before it is too late

Kings of Europe: Dalglish, a winner in
1984, needs his side to return to the top level before it is too late

Even if Henry and his Fenway Group brought the best team of statistical analysts in and went all Moneyball on Liverpool’s season, adding plus and minus points according to expenditure, divided by points won, multiplied by trophies contested, over goodwill generated, to the power of 35million down the chute for Andy Carroll, they would still have to factor in around 10 million additional credits for Dalglish just being Dalglish. This is not an exact science.

Nobody should diminish the worth of winning a domestic trophy, even the often derided Carling Cup. Dalglish could only contend for three prizes when the campaign began, and may yet land two. Do that, and it would be impossible to question the merit of his first full season in charge.

Yet, does Carling Cup glory alone override the most unsatisfying League campaign of the modern era; or is Liverpool’s dismal League form unfairly diminishing the glow from the first trophy won since 2006 Riddles, riddles. If Liverpool spend in excess of 110m to finish close to 40 points off Manchester United, how can the manager be anything but culpable What, even if he has taken his team to a Wembley final twice and won You see the complexity.

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Liverpool’s dilemma is that to live in the here and now demands praise for Dalglish the trophy-winner; but to consider the future demands that we question his buys, and his marshalling of a team who are struggling to make the top seven, let alone the top four. Henry, who said that anything less than a Champions League finish would be a disappointment, is now left to make sense of some pretty contradictory numbers.

While there is no question that the major strategic review will recommend removing Dalglish, the take on the manager long-term is vital. For the consequence of Liverpool’s inconsistent form and questionable acquisitions is not one lousy League position. Dalglish’s second coming is taking place at a critical time when UEFA’s financial fair play rules will change football’s outlook, perhaps permanently.

As it stands, Manchester United make 65m more from match-days each season than Liverpool, and when the club accounts are published later this month, the stalled progress of the plan to redevelop Anfield or find a suitable new home will be revealed.

The last accounts stated a figure close to 50m had already been unsuccessfully invested, and much would have to be written off. A naming rights deal is now being sought — sacrilege to some loyalists — although the continued absence of Champions League exposure will depress the price.
As much as Dalglish insists on doubting the intelligence of critics, Liverpool’s problems are not solved by one Carling Cup win. What needs to be established is a means of returning Liverpool to the elite, before Michel Platini’s rules banish them to a relative wilderness.

Financial Fair Play demands that each club lives within its means. So if Manchester United accrue 65m more than Liverpool on match days they have 65m more to spend on players; plus extra from the Champions League and better commercial contracts as a bigger, more successful club.

Soon Liverpool, confined by terraced houses and Thursday night European football, will no longer be able to break the transfer record for a British footballer like Carroll, without incurring the wrath of UEFA. There will be no further recklessness, no way of recovering ground through significant owner investment in the transfer market.

Nor does Henry sound intent on bucking the system. Whatever the previous investment in Dalglish may indicate, the owner values self-sufficiency.

'Tom Werner and I attended the
European Club Association meetings,' he said recently. 'There are a
number of critical issues such as Financial Fair Play and the economic
problems of clubs large and small that need to be addressed. Just as the
countries of Europe need a sound financial landscape, so does
football.'

Off target: The form of 35m striker Andy Carroll remains a cause for concern

Off target: The form of 35m striker Andy Carroll remains a cause for concern

All very admirable as a business philosophy, but unless Liverpool can elbow their way through the clamouring mob, they will be as good as locked outside when the FFP door closes. Dalglish could then win a decade of Carling Cups, back to back, and it might not be enough. This season has to be a springboard for a return to the top four next season; yet how easy will that be

Sir Alex Ferguson had one round of Europa League football with Manchester United before he started moaning about its impact on their Premier League form. Unless Liverpool win the FA Cup, their first Europa League match is a third qualifying round, first leg, on August 2 and, provided they get through, the last group game is on December 6. Dalglish has five months, minimum, of Thursday night football in Europe, probably more if Liverpool are successful.

'You play on Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday and it is going to take its toll,' he said last month, blaming domestic cup fatigue after losing at home to Wigan Athletic. Try Thursday, Sunday, Wednesday — a scenario familiar to any Europa League manager — with flights thrown in, for half the season at least.

Indeed, it is hard to see too many of this season's problems being tackled with ease. Doubts will remain over Carroll, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, and it is fanciful to think there will not be an opportunistic attempt to poach Luis Suarez in the summer, with Roma and Paris Saint-Germain already lurking.

Prized possession: But Liverpool will not be able to hold off Luis Suarez's suitors without Champions League football

Prized possession: But Liverpool will not be able to keep Luis Suarez without Champions League football

Most worryingly, Liverpool have won five
of 15 home League games in this campaign, and Anfield’s reputation for
fearsome, intimidating noise is increasingly misplaced. For the big
matches, yes. When Manchester United visit, or the opponents are one of
the clubs the fans regard as parvenus — Manchester City or Chelsea — the
energy is there. As it once was even for the likes of Wigan or Norwich
City, because invariably Liverpool were challenging for a title or a
Champions League place, and the game had edge.

Yet, if Liverpool are just making up the mid-table numbers, and the opposition is uninspiring, the mood is subdued. Against Wigan, a conversation between Dirk Kuyt and a linesman was audible in the stands, as were the cries of Jamie Carragher, organising his defence. Without a flying start next season, it is hard to imagine that will change.

Indeed, will anything alter at Anfield as a result of the strategy review Unlikely, for now. Damien Comolli, director of football, is more vulnerable than Dalglish, possessing none of his local cachet, but having been Henry’s first appointment he will surely be able to plead for more time.

Yet, this is in short supply for Liverpool. UEFA’s clock is counting down to the moment when a provincial club with a mid-capacity stadium and a cautious owner will find all manner of regulations hampering its development. Liverpool need to move quickly; above all they need to know whether Dalglish is the right man to orchestrate that leap forward.

'It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,' wrote Dickens. It is different for Henry. Sooner or later, he has to make his mind up.

Another fine mess, Michel

To the surprise of nobody in year one maths or beyond, the 24-team format devised by UEFA for the 2016 European Championship is proving problematic.

Another of Michel Platini’s idiot ruses — perhaps he is in a situation similar to the film Speed, where unless he comes up with a really bad idea every day, Geneva explodes — the issue is that UEFA also require a round of 16 after the group stage, meaning it will actually be harder to get knocked out than to qualify.

Is that why you won't listen to us, Michel UEFA President Platini (centre)

Is that why you won't listen to us, Michel UEFA President Platini (centre)

When 24 teams go into 16 the result is invariably a sterile final series of matches between teams who know a draw will do.

‘The question is how you can arrange it so that results can’t be organised and you don’t know in advance what you need,’ said UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino.

Eight groups of three, with only the last placed team going out. Whatever the result of the first two games, the last fixture will still be live. Looks ridiculous on paper but, seriously, nothing else works. Although, when has that ever bothered UEFA

Toon should enjoy it while it lasts

There was much fun to be had at the expense of former Newcastle United defender Jose Enrique during Sunday’s game with Liverpool. ‘The club are allowing the major players to go,’ he said, last July. ‘Newcastle will never again fight to be among the top six with this policy.’ Soon after, he departed.

As you can imagine, when Newcastle beat Enrique’s new team to consolidate sixth place — they have the same points as Chelsea in fifth, while Liverpool languish in eighth, 11 points shy — the laughter was long and loud.

Watching Enrique going in goal after Pepe Reina was dismissed only added to the hilarity.
The irony is that he wasn’t altogether wrong.

Embarrassed Liverpool defender Jose Enrique (centre) had to take over in goal against his former club

Embarrassed Liverpool defender Jose Enrique (centre) had to take over in goal against his former club

Newcastle are not where they are because they sold good players; their revival has happened despite Mike Ashley’s cutbacks.

Newcastle owe a huge debt to the management skills of Alan Pardew and the astute recommendations of his chief scout Graham Carr who, together, identified and inspired the talent that has avoided calamity.

Anyone who thinks this plan can thrive indefinitely, however, is delusional. Without exceptional managerial acumen, all selling clubs pay the price eventually.

Seeing Red

More power to Manchester United fanzine Red Issue, who are threatening to sue over the 1,600 copies impounded by police prior to the match with Liverpool on February 11. The cover featured a joke about the Luis Suarez controversy, with an imitation Ku Klux Klan mask. Police over-reacted and stupidly seized the material claiming incitement to racial hatred.

Red Issue wants compensation for loss of earnings. Good luck to them. We need more gags, and fewer daft coppers.

FA shouldn’t lounge around

Get a move on: David Bernstein

Get a move on: David Bernstein

Football Association officials have already visited Brazil to scope the best training venues and hotels prior to the 2014 World Cup. We don’t know who the manager or captain will be at a tournament that starts in two months, but David Bernstein and the board have already got their towels on the sun loungers for one that is more than two years away.

Meanwhile, part one in a series entitled Things An England Manager Could Have Been Doing Had The Football Association Got Its Finger Out And Bothered To Appoint One, which will be running each week until somebody at the FA gets round to doing his job.

To begin, an example of the minutiae that need the manager’s attention because it’s not just about putting Joe Hart in goal. Deciding whether and when the team should visit nearby Auschwitz, from their Polish training base in Krakow.

Believe me, I’ve been. ‘Are we going to Auschwitz’ is not the sort of question a distracted coach needs to be answering on the hoof in a frantic fortnight of initiation. Visitors leave mentally wiped out, and in no mood to care about football for several days. The trip, if it is undertaken at all, must be meticulously planned and discussed.

Still, never mind.

Lesson from across the pond

Terry Edwards, the former Amateur Boxing Association coach, who steered Great Britain to their best Olympics in more than 50 years in 2008, was lined up to take over the United States team in London. Then the coaches of the USABA got to hear about it.

Despite the United States winning just one Olympic gold this century, the prospect of a foreigner coming in to run their team caused such fury that Edwards got the message and withdrew.

Those old boys actually wanted an American to represent America at the Olympics. How quaint.