Tag Archives: edinburgh

Sir Chris Hoy retires from cycling

A Knight to remember: British cycling's Olympic golden boy Hoy rides off into the sunset after stellar career

: February – Wins sprint and keirin at London World Cup, an event which doubles as the Olympic test event. April – Wins keirin world title in Melbourne. Claims bronze in the sprint after being beaten by Kenny in the semi-final. August 2 – Wins fifth Olympic gold medal in London 2012 men's team sprint bringing him level on golds with Sir Steve Redgrave. August 7 – Wins the men's keirin at London 2012, his second gold of the Games and his sixth Olympic gold medal in total making him Britain's most successful Olympian.

2013: April 15 – Calls a media conference for April 18 in Edinburgh, where he is announces his retirement from competitive cycling.

'The desire to race in Glasgow was there, but when I started training again my body wasn't responding,' said Hoy. 'London took an incredible toll. I squeezed out every drop, really emptied the tank' – and in doing so, he won two gold medals, taking his tally to a record six Olympic golds, one more than Sir Steve Redgrave.

'I didn't want to turn up in Glasgow and not be successful,' Hoy continued. 'I didn't want to spend a year-and-a-half putting Sarra (his wife) and everything else to one side. And I don't want to be there to get a tracksuit and wave to the crowd — I wouldn't enjoy that.'

Although Hoy says there was no epiphany, if he had to pick one moment when his thoughts settled on retirement, it came – paradoxically enough – on a bike ride.

It was last month, towards the end of an eight-week holiday with Sarra, as they toured Asia and Australia.

'We were doing a road trip from Cairns to Adelaide,' says Hoy. 'The car had a roof rack with bikes, of course, and I was riding every day, first thing in the morning but also eating what I wanted and relaxing.

'As we got close to Adelaide, we stopped and I got the bike off and rode the last 100km. It was in the Barossa Valley, through the vineyards. Stunning. And I thought, “Yes, this is more like it.”

'I realised that I was associating the bike with pleasure, rather than the pain of training. It reminded me why I got into the sport in the first place.'

And it beat battering his body into
submission in a velodrome. As Hoy explains: 'People think that if you're
a good cyclist or tennis player or rugby player that you simply get out
of bed and do it.

'But you become good at it because of what you do day
after day, year after year. It's why I know I can't just turn up in
Glasgow and be competitive. Your body eventually says,: “Enough”.'

After London 2012 Hoy said he
desperately wanted to carry on to Glasgow, by which time he will be 38. But what
most didn't know at the time was that his build-up to his fourth
Olympics had been so difficult.

He was struck down with a back injury
just weeks before the Games, forcing him to return early from a
training camp in Germany. Then he mistakenly booked a flight home for
the wrong day, forcing a detour to Glasgow and a long journey for Sarra
to drive from their home in Cheshire to collect him.

Next morning, Hoy was called into the
Manchester Velodrome for a meeting with Dave Brailsford and Shane
Sutton.

'You're not riding the sprint,' Sutton told him. 'And the way
you're going, you're not riding the keirin, either.' Hoy was defending
Olympic champion in both events.

Flying the flag: Sir Chris Hoy of the leads out Great Britain at the 2012 Opening Ceremony

Flying the flag: Sir Chris Hoy of the leads out Great Britain at the 2012 Opening Ceremony

Gold star: Hoy shows off his medal after the Men's Keirin Track Cycling Final last year

Gold star: Hoy shows off his medal after the Men's Keirin Track Cycling Final last year

Pedal to the medal: Hoy during the keirin at the London Games

Pedal to the medal: Hoy during the keirin at the London Games

Victory parade: Hoy (right) and Sarah Storey are interviewed by Helen Skelton (left)

Victory parade: Hoy (right) and Sarah Storey are interviewed by Helen Skelton (left)

Sealed with a kiss: Hoy with his wife Sarra Kemp after winning a gold medal in the Velodrome last year

Sealed with a kiss: Hoy with his wife Sarra Kemp after winning a gold medal in the Velodrome last year

THE FUTURE FOR A KNIGHT RIDER

Sir Chris Hoy says he is looking forward to 'a bit of relaxation and living a more balanced life,' though he will also be working as an ambassador for Glasgow 2014 and Glasgow's Youth Olympics bid in 2018.

He is launching his own 'HOY' bike range at the end of May, and says he will step up his commitment to two main charities, Unicef and the Scottish Association for Mental Health.

Then there is motor racing. He competed in three races in Melbourne recently, finishing third in the series, and will take part in the Radical SR1 Cup, over four weekends from June.

'It's a hobby, not something I necessarily see myself doing to a great level. I love it. It reminds me of my early days racing BMX.'

In the end, making it to London at
all was an achievement. Acting as flag-bearer for Team GB at the Opening
Ceremony was an honour. And winning two gold medals, in the team sprint
and keirin, was a triumph.

'I enjoyed the post-Olympic period
far more than after Beijing,' says Hoy. 'It didn't come as such a shock.
But once I'd had my fill of eating, drinking, going to functions and
not exercising, I was desperate to get back into the routine of
training.

'In the autumn I was back in the gym
and on the track. I went to Perth for a training camp, then raced in
Rotterdam at New Year. But my body wasn't responding as I hoped it
would. It was nothing to panic about but I found when I pushed myself
harder I was nailed.

'I felt fit and healthy but I'm talking
about subtle differences and fractions of a second. Some days I'd wake
up feeling great but it was just little things; getting up in the
morning and really aching from a hard training session the day before.

'I didn't want to go to Glasgow and
not be capable of winning. I would enjoy seeing the event and the crowd
but I can do that better from the sidelines and I hope to have a role
as an ambassador or mentor. I'll certainly be there. But by not
competing it'll allow someone else to come into the team and I won't be
stealing the limelight. It won't be me plus team-mates.'

Hoy says he would like to mentor GB athletes at the Rio Olympics as well, 'If they'll have me.'

On
the eve of going public with his decision, Hoy said he had no doubts.
'I'm not in two minds. I'm content. I can walk away at the top level
without any lingering regrets. I would have loved to have a gold medal
from Glasgow, maybe a kilometre world record as well, but you've got to
realise when the time has come to stop.'

Winning personality: Chris Hoy with the 2008 2008 BBC Sports Personality Of The Year trophy

Winning personality: Chris Hoy with the 2008 2008 BBC Sports Personality Of The Year trophy

Oh what a Knight: Hoy with the Knighthood he received from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2008

Oh what a Knight: Hoy with the Knighthood he received from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2008

Asked what he would miss, Hoy said: 'The team, the banter, the routine. I like routine, turning up at the track and seeing the same guys, and being part of that team and being on a journey together.'

It is a journey that has seen cycling move from the margins to the mainstream, with Hoy arguably the central figure in this sporting revolution.

'When I think of how cycling was when I started and then think where it is now, it's been a hell of a ride,' he said.

And the things he won't miss 'The way you feel in the morning after certain sessions, gym sessions in particular, which leave you with residual soreness for several days,' he said.

'Waking up with that muscle soreness, knowing you've got to do it all again, I'll not miss that.

'But that's a very small price to pay for the highs you get from working hard,' Hoy added. 'People say it's a sacrifice, but it's not a sacrifice. You choose to do it, but it's going to be nice to put something else first for a change and get a bit of balance in my life.'

Hoy said he would continue cycling 'to keep myself fit and fight the beer belly'.

As for the future, Hoy has charity commitments, he is launching a range of bikes and becoming an adviser to the Scottish Rugby Union. He will also act as mentor to the Scottish team at Glasgow 2014, and said he would relish a similar role with Team GB at the Rio Olympics – 'if they'll have me'.

Triple crown: Chris Hoy celebrates winning his third gold medal of the 2008 Olympics in the men's sprint final

Triple crown: Chris Hoy celebrates winning his third gold medal of the 2008 Olympics in the men's sprint final

Golden boy (and girl): Triple gold medallist Chris Hoy (left) and double gGold medal-winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington arrive home from Beijing

Golden boy (and girl): Triple gold medallist Chris Hoy (left) and double gGold medal-winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington arrive home from Beijing

Modest to the last, he rejected the
label of 'Britain's greatest Olympian'
despite being the only one with six
gold medals – one more than his
own choice as No 1. 'It's subjective,
but I think Sir Steve Redgrave is the
greatest. To keep going for five consecutive
Games and be at the top, to
me that is a far greater achievement
than winning multiple medals at one
games.'

In the end, in equally typical Hoy
fashion, he said he had no doubts
about retirement. 'I'm not in two
minds. I'm content. I can walk away
at the top level without any lingering
regrets. I would have loved to have a
gold medal from Glasgow, but you've
got to realise when the time has come
to stop.'

BOA chairman Lord Coe paid tribute to
Hoy, saying: 'Throughout his remarkable career, Sir Chris Hoy has
exemplified the values that define an Olympic champion. His pursuit of
excellence has been tireless. His respect for opponents, and commitment
to clean competition, has been unwavering.

And his dignity in victory has set
an example that generations of Team GB athletes will strive to emulate.
Chris is an icon and he has earned a revered place among our nation's
greatest sporting heroes.

'His
gold medal triumphs this past summer in London are two of the defining
moments of the Games, and were a source of pride and inspiration for
millions throughout our country.

'We
are grateful that Chris has chosen to continue his association with the
British Olympic Association by serving as a Glasgow 2018 Champion in
its bid to host the Youth Olympic Games.

'As
he transitions now from his unparalleled competitive career and takes
on a series of new and different challenges, we wish Sir Chris the very
best for continued success, and we thank him for his commitment to Team
GB and the Olympic movement.'

LIFE AND TIMES OF SIR CHRIS HOY – IN HIS OWN WORDS

My three favourite memories

'I can't choose three, so can I have
four The first is 1999, the World Championships in Berlin, and our
first medal in the team sprint. I had this feeling of euphoria and
disbelief.

That the three of us [Craig MacLean and Jason Queally were
his teammates] could have a world championship silver medal, seemed
incredible. It was the first British sprint medal since the Reg Harris
era. There was a feeling that there may be possibilities beyond that,
but I remember thinking: if I do nothing else, I can always say I won a
world championship medal. It's weird to think that now.

'The second is winning the kilo at the
2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. My first individual title, and so
close to home. There were so many Scottish folk in the crowd, too. To
beat the Olympic champion [Queally] on home soil was special. I felt I
was stepping out of the shadow of Jason and Craig.

'The third is my gold medal in the kilo
at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. The moment that meant most, and which I
remember most vividly, was when I was waiting to step on to the top step
of the podium and I heard my name followed by “Olympic champion.”

'Then, finally, winning gold in the keirin at London 2012. What an amazing way to finish it off.'

My 3 toughest opponents

Jason Kenny

'Jason, my young British team-mate and
good friend, also became one of my toughest opponents. He never has any
fear. He is never affected by pressure, never intimidated. The way he
stepped into the team in Beijing was amazing.

'He took it in his stride
and never fussed about anything. His attitude always seems to be that he
has nothing to lose. And he is the same in any situation. He also has
an incredible turn of speed and acceleration.'

Arnaud Tournant, France

'He was the one I looked up to when I
started doing the kilo [in 2001]. He had an aura about him, and although
he seemed more human after Sydney, where Jason [Queally] beat him, he
was still the benchmark.

'I never managed to beat his world record but we
had some amazing battles. I beat him by a thousandth of a second in at
the world champs in Copenhagen [2002], then he was second to me at the
worlds in Melbourne and in Athens [both 2004]. He's a big, big
personality, a real showman. A really tough opponent, but off the bike
we became good friends.'

Theo Bos, Holland

'Theo is so classy, he had so much style
and flair, and he was almost unbeatable before 2008. When I beat him in
the quarter finals at the world championships that year it was a
turning point for me.

'Knocking him out in Olympic year, in front of a
home crowd [in Manchester], was massive for me. It was also the
beginning of the end for him. He stopped track racing and now rides on
the road.'

My three non-cycling sporting heroes

Gavin Hastings

'Rugby was my sport in my early teens
and Gavin Hastings, 'Big Gav', was my first sporting hero, before Graeme
Obree. Hastings went to the same school as me [George Watson's College
in Edinburgh. Hoy captained Edinburgh Schools at under-15 level]. He was
a great player and a great Scottish captain. Having since had the
honour of meeting him, he is a lovely guy, too.'

Roger Federer

Federer is one of the guys all sports
people aspire to be like. His longevity, his record, the way he handles
himself. He's not a guy who, if he gets beaten, disappears. He's a
classy player and a classy professional athlete.'

Michael Johnson

'The Usain Bolt of his era. I admired
his approach to training. Listening to him talk about his methodical
approach, and his mindset, it was something I could relate to. And he
was just awesome to watch.

'Even more than the 100 metres with Bolt, the gap
would open up, the race was his, and it was a race for second place. It's a
shame he wasn't in the same era as Bolt because it would have been
great to see them go head-to-head over 200m.

Sir Chris Hoy talks of his historic sixth Olympic gold win

DM.has('rcpv1775727057001','BC',
'renderConfig' :

'css' : “videoplayer-large”,
'autoplay' : false,
'muted' : false,
'title' : “Sir Chris Hoy talks of his historic sixth Olympic gold win”,
'videoId' : 7944,
'adsEnabled' : true,
'playerId' : “1989148206001”,
'playerKey' : “AQ~~,AAAAAFSL1bg~,CmS1EFtcMWELN_eSE9A7gpcGWF5XAVmI”,
'objId' : “rcpv1775727057001”,
'videoPlayer' : “1775727057001”,
'width' : 636,
'height' : 358,
'linkBaseURL' : “http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-2310554/Sir-Chris-Hoy-retires-cycling.html”

});

VIDEO: Watch Hoy win his sixth Olympic gold medal at London 2012

Racing Metro and Biarritz win dire Heineken Cup matches on Friday

Rain ruins the day: Racing Metro and Biarritz win dire Heineken Cup matches on Friday
Edinburgh 3-15 Racing MetroBiarritz 17-0 Connacht

|

UPDATED:

01:28 GMT, 15 December 2012

Racing Metro kept alive their bid for a spot in the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup with a hard-fought 15-3 win over Edinburgh in a dire affair at rain-swept Murrayfield.

Edinburgh's solitary penalty leaves them with a dismal tally of only 12 points in matches after four Pool One games.

The Parisians earned their win by virtue of their better haul from kicks at goal, with Gaetan Germain booting four penalties and Olly Barkley one, while Edinburgh's counter came from Piers Francis.

The same two sides had served up a 95-point thriller when they met in the same competition last season, with Edinburgh posting a win that was instrumental in their progress to the semi-finals.

Edinburgh's Stuart McInally (centre) is tackled by Racing Metro's Luc Ducalcon

Edinburgh's Stuart McInally (centre) is tackled by Racing Metro's Luc Ducalcon

This encounter could scarcely have been further removed, with neither team producing any running rugby of note, and both wasting numerous scoring opportunities with the boot.

With three minutes on the clock, Edinburgh were guilty of crossing as they attempted to run the ball out of defence, and Barkley steered the resultant kick between the sticks to open the scoring.

The visitors doubled their advantage three minutes later when Germain thumped over a long-range penalty following an offence at a scrum just inside the Edinburgh half.

The hosts had barely featured in an attacking sense and their first visit of note to Racing territory yielded a long-range penalty which proved to be just beyond the range of Francis, making his first start for the Scottish outfit.

Edinburgh's Piers Francis tackles Racing Metro's Jacques Cronje on a wet night

Edinburgh's Piers Francis tackles Racing Metro's Jacques Cronje on a wet night

The 22-year-old had an opportunity to make amends 10 minutes later from a far more favourable position after an offence at the breakdown, but he fluffed his effort.

The stand-off opened his account for Edinburgh at the third time of asking, clipping over a penalty from 25 metres after 27 minutes.

But he squandered an opportunity to square matters after 32 minutes when he was wide with another straightforward effort after a bustling run by Ross Ford had earned another penalty.

Barkley was evidently afflicted by the same malaise, missing a chance to extend his side's lead just before half-time.

Edinburgh's Netani Talei is tackled by Racing Metro's Karim Ghezal at a rainy Murrayfield

Edinburgh's Netani Talei is tackled by Racing Metro's Karim Ghezal at a rainy Murrayfield

Germain, too, was off target shortly after the restart when his attempt on goal rattled the woodwork. Francis responded with his fourth miss of the night.

The clock ticked past the 50-minute mark without there having been any threat to either try line.

Inevitably the next change to the scoreboard came with the boot. A late tackle by Edinburgh number eight Netani Talei on Barkley earned the Fiji international a yellow card and Germain banged over the ensuing penalty from halfway to stretch the lead to six points.

The scrappy nature of the contest continued. Edinburgh had another chance to claw back three points after Eddy Ben Arous offended, with the Racing prop earning 10 minutes in the sin bin for his troubles. Greig Tonks assumed the kicking responsibilities from the misfiring Francis, but the full-back fared no better.

In response, Germain fired over his third three-pointer of the night, and having found his range he landed another effort with 12 minutes left to play, leaving the Scots 12 points adrift and out of the game.

It was even wetter in France, though, where Biarritz beat Connacht 17-0

It was even wetter in France, though, where Biarritz beat Connacht 17-0

In Friday's other match, Connacht were unable to repeat their heroics of a week ago as Biarritz won 17-0 in horrendously wet conditions at the Parc des Sports Aguilera.

Man of the match Dimitri Yachvili kicked an early penalty and converted Iain Balshaw's 31st-minute try to give Biarritz the upper hand and a 10-0 interval lead in the Heineken Cup clash.

There then followed a stop-start second half during which Tiernan O'Halloran and Eoin McKeon caught the eye for the hard-working visitors.

Biarritz were meandering to victory and put the finishing touches to a good night when Damien Traille latched onto his own kick, taking advantage of a fortuitous bounce to put replacement centre Seremaia Burotu over in the final minute.

Yachvili converted superbly with the last kick of the match, the result of which sees Biarritz leapfrog over Connacht into second place with Harlequins looking like runaway winners of Pool Three.

The saturated pitch contained pools of water in certain areas but the ground staff cleared enough of it for the fixture to go ahead as scheduled.

Biarritz's French number eight Imanol Harinordoquy vies with Connacht's forwards

Biarritz's French number eight Imanol Harinordoquy vies with Connacht's forwards

Connacht were expecting a backlash from the French giants, who sacked coaches Jack Isaac and Serge Milhas in the aftermath of their shock 22-14 defeat in Galway.

Laurent Rodriguez and Mathieu Rourre were installed as an interim coaching tandem and they would have been pleased with Biarritz's start.
Their forwards rumbled into the Connacht 22, winning two early penalties, with Yachvili sticking a third-minute kick through the uprights.

As heavy rain continued, Connacht dug their heels in and defended manfully with young full-back Robbie Henshaw secure under the high ball and the mud-covered pack competing in stout fashion.

Biarritz had the first sight of the try line in the 12th minute, Takudzwa Ngwenya sliding towards the right corner after set-piece ball was swung wide. However, the United States international failed to get the ball down with the Connacht cover doing just enough.

It was a tough night for ball handling due to the wet and slippery conditions

It was a tough night for ball handling due to the wet and slippery conditions

Dan Parks, so influential with a 17-point haul seven days ago, went the aerial route in a bid to give the visitors some momentum. Biarritz were territorially dominant though and exerted more control via clever kicking from Traille, Balshaw and Yachvili.

They made a breakthrough on the half-hour mark as they went left from a midfield scrum, with Traille's half break making the initial incision and Jean-Pascal Barraque passing precisely for the supporting Balshaw to splash over in the corner.

Yachvili supplied an excellent conversion from wide out.

Late on in the first half, Eoin McKeon took out the France scrum-half off the ball, but Yachvili slid his resulting penalty effort to the left and wide.

Biarritz's second row Erik Lund (centre) takes on Connacht's fly-half Dan Parks (right)

Biarritz's second row Erik Lund (centre) takes on Connacht's fly-half Dan Parks (right)

A sin-binning for Biarritz hooker Benoit August, who got involved in some afters with Johnny O'Connor, presented Connacht with an opportunity to launch themselves forward.

However, Parks sent a subsequent penalty from a difficult position wide and some handling errors robbed Connacht of precious momentum in an evenly-fought third quarter.

An injury to Connacht centre Danie Poolman, who got an accidental knee to the head at a ruck, broke up play for a number of minutes as he was taken off on a stretcher.

Aled Brew ruined a good scoring chance for the home side with a sloppy pass, but they remained on the front foot despite losing replacement Thibault Dubarry to the sin bin.

Biarritz pressed from a Fabien Barcella surge into the westerners' 22 and a five-metre scrum. Connacht held out until Traille opened the way for Burotu to power past Paul O'Donohoe's last-ditch tackle in the left corner.

Hearts could be bought by Angelo Massone

I'll buy Hearts! Massone fronts new 4.5m bid for stricken club

|

UPDATED:

00:12 GMT, 16 November 2012

Former Livingston owner Angelo Massone has entered the race to save Hearts after lodging a 4.5million bid for the club.

A Rome-based lawyer, Massone is mediating on behalf of an Italian consortium which has tabled a formal offer to lawyers representing Tynecastle owner Vladimir Romanov.

Sportsmail has been told the group will be headed by a professor of economics, with an Edinburgh-born Italian-Scots business figure also ready to invest.

In the running: Angelo Massone wants to buy struggling Hearts

In the running: Angelo Massone wants to buy struggling Hearts

Massone’s brief and controversial reign at Livingston ended in acrimony in 2009.

In a quest to reassure Hearts fans, however, the 41-year-old insists the investment consortium will sign a percentage of shares over to them and would appoint supporter representatives to a board of directors.

Facing outstanding tax bills worth 2.2m and a 2m annual shortfall, Romanov has already rejected an offer by the Foundation of Hearts fans group, led by businessman Alex Mackie, to pay the smaller tax bill of 450,000 in return for control of the club.

Informal discussions suggest the bid by the Italian consortium — tabled on condition of Hearts being delivered debt and liability free — will also fall short of Romanov’s valuation.

Awaiting a formal response to the offer however, Massone offered to pool financial resources with Foundation of Hearts in order to end Romanov’s seven-year reign.

Massone told Sportsmail: ‘Together with the other investors, we have written to Mr Romanov’s lawyer with a formal offer.

Will he sell Vladimir Romanov

Will he sell Vladimir Romanov

‘We do not know how much Mr Romanov wants for the club. But I believe there is no one else in Scotland who can match the value of the offer we have made.

‘But I will only come back to Scottish football if I have the support and trust of a club’s supporters. That is vitally important to me.

‘I am willing and able to bring serious, wealthy, respected investors to Scottish football. We want to save Hearts and develop the club and make them a strong force once more.

‘But we also want the supporters to have democratic representation on the board and be the real owners of the club.

‘There is an opportunity at Hearts to turn them into a major challenger to Celtic. With Rangers in the Third Division, we can help with the budget and use our contacts to bring important international players to the club and develop the youths.

‘In terms of money and budget we can put a team on the park which can compete at the very highest level.’

Hearts averted a winding-up order by agreeing a payment plan with HMRC earlier this week. In tandem with Supporters Direct chief Paul Goodwin, Foundation of Hearts are continuing talks with Romanov’s representative Sergejus Fedotovas with a view to agreeing a fan-ownership scheme. Via a new website, the group have appealed to fans across the globe to pledge cash support.

Massone insists he is also keen to win
the trust of supporters after an ill-fated Livingston experience by
handing fans groups a 10 per cent stake in the club, with a view to
handing it over to them in the fullness of time.

Tough times: John McGlynn is prepared for an exodus

Tough times: John McGlynn is prepared for an exodus
‘If we are not successful with our bid, then I am willing to help Hearts supporters to own the club instead.

‘If Foundation of Hearts or Supporters Direct need financial help in terms of money to realise the dream of the fans owning the club, then I will speak seriously with them.’

Sportsmail understands that, despite reports, former Rangers bidder Brian Kennedy has no plans to move for the club.

Meantime, Hearts boss John McGlynn says he is bracing himself for a major January exodus of players whose contracts end in the summer — including Andy Webster, Marius Zaliukas and Andy Driver — as the club plans to further slash its wage bill to avoid going bust.

Hearts given tax bill extension by HMRC

Hearts given brief respite by HMRC allowing tax bill payment extension

|

UPDATED:

20:39 GMT, 13 November 2012

Hearts have been given more time to pay their outstanding tax bill by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, lifting the immediate threat placed on them.

The Edinburgh club tonight said in a statement that they had been granted until December 3 to settle their debts, with their owed amount of 449,692,04 being split over two payments.

The club have also provided HMRC with assurances that future payments would be made in a 'timeous manner'.

Safe for now: The immediate threat to Hearts has been quelled after the club were granted an extension

Safe for now: The immediate threat to Hearts has been quelled after the club were granted an extension

Hearts were last Wednesday served with a winding-up petition and given eight days in which to pay what they owed, putting their future in severe danger.

Hearts revealed the decision was also made possible after a number of senior first-team squad members offered to defer their November salaries, due on Friday, to a later date.

Director Sergejus Fedotovas said: 'We are pleased that we have been granted this extension as it acknowledges the strenuous efforts that are going on to ensure this club continues to contribute to employment, society, community and football in Scotland.

'We have a lot of hard work ahead of us in order to fully rectify our financial position but with further backing and ongoing fundraising by supporters we know that we have a very positive opportunity to create a strong club for the future.'

Thanks: Players agreed to defer their November salaries until a later date

Thanks: Players agreed to defer their November salaries until a later date

The case is just one of many financial issues at Tynecastle and a 1.75million tax case was revealed when a 1.79m share issue was recently launched.

Fedotovas praised the response of supporters to the scheme, which could ultimately lead to supporter ownership, and implored the backing to continue.

The news has come on a day when it was revealed Hearts majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov rebuffed an offer for the club from a group established long before the current perilous position was highlighted.

Keri-anne Payne turns back on Stockport for Scotland

Two-time world champion Payne turns back on Stockport for Scotland

|

UPDATED:

11:58 GMT, 26 October 2012

Flying the flag: Payne is joining her new husband in Scotland

Flying the flag: Payne is joining her new husband in Scotland

Double world open-water champion Keri-anne Payne has announced she has left Stockport ITC for Edinburgh.

Payne, who was edged out of the medals into fourth in the 10-kilometres race in the Serpentine at the 2012 Olympics four years after claiming silver in Beijing, is joining her new husband – London 400 metres freestyle finalist David Carry – who has taken on a job in Scotland following his retirement from the sport.

Payne, who joined Stockport Metro from Rochdale Aquabears after moving from South Africa, is as yet undecided as to whether she will train with Warrender Baths or the University of Edinburgh.

She said: 'The time is right for a change. It's the start of a new Olympic training cycle and the start of a new stage in our lives as a married couple so it is the right decision.

'That said, it was a hard decision to make, I've trained at Stockport Metro for over nine years and the club has done a huge amount for me throughout my career. The facilities, the swimmers and especially the coaches Sean (Kelly) and Lars (Humer) have been fantastic. I have definitely made some friends for life.'

Missing out: Payne was edged out of the medals into fourth

Missing out: Payne was edged out of the medals into fourth at the London Games

Missing out: Payne was edged out of the medals into fourth

Hearts hit with transfer embargo by SPL

Hearts hit with transfer embargo by SPL after not guaranteeing wage payments

|

UPDATED:

19:15 GMT, 24 October 2012

Scottish Premier League chief executive Neil Doncaster has revealed Hearts have not provided assurances that they will pay wages on time in future.

However, he refused to speculate on whether the Edinburgh club could be hit with a points deduction if guilty of a third breach.

Doncaster was speaking after Hearts were placed under a transfer embargo until December 23 by the SPL over their failure to pay wages on time this month.

Punished: Neil Doncaster said Hearts had not guaranteed they would pay wages on time

Punished: Neil Doncaster said Hearts had not guaranteed they would pay wages on time

The decision was taken following a meeting of an SPL board sub-committee after the Jambos admitted to late payments for coaching staff and players for a second consecutive month.

Hearts claim all outstanding wages from October have now been paid but have been hit with a ban on signing any players for 60 days.

Doncaster told Sky Sports News: 'We didn't receive any guarantees that there wouldn't be a repeat.

'Ultimately we can only judge any breach of the rules as and when it arises – look at the circumstances, hear what the club has to say, and then form a view.

'We considered a whole range of different possibilities.

'We felt a sporting penalty was required because of the sporting advantage that had been obtained by Hearts by not having to pay players and coaches on time, and the appropriate sporting penalty we believed was a player registration embargo for 60 days.'

The hearing – after six players and manager John McGlynn were paid a week late – was the second in three days into the wage delays at Hearts.

Paid late: Manager John McGlynn and his players received their wages after they were due

Paid late: Manager John McGlynn and his players received their wages after they were due

The club were 'reprimanded and warned' by an SPL board sub-committee on Monday after paying some players and McGlynn late in September, while an automatic transfer embargo was continued.

Asked if a third instance of late payment of wages could result in a points deduction or suspended points deduction, Doncaster added: 'I don't think it's appropriate to speculate on what we might do in the future.

'What we have to do is judge each situation absolutely on its merits, and that's what we will do.

'Should there be any club in the future which fails to pay players or coaching staff on time then we will be looking very carefully at what the appropriate sanction should be at that point.'

An SPL statement confirmed: 'A sub-committee of the Scottish Premier League Board today considered a charge against Heart of Midlothian Football Club under SPL Rule A6.21, which concerned the club's failure to pay coaching staff and players on time in October.

'The club satisfied the sub-committee that all outstanding wages from October had now been paid and, accordingly, the player registration embargo, which arose from that failure, has now been lifted.

Blocked: Rudi Skacel will not be able to join as a free agent until after the embargo

Blocked: Rudi Skacel will not be able to join as a free agent until after the embargo

'The charge under SPL Rule A6.21 was admitted by the club. The decision of the sub-committee was to make Heart of Midlothian Football Club immediately subject to a further player registration embargo of 60 days.

'The club will be embargoed from registering any professional players up to, and including, 23 December 2012.'

The punishment effectively prevents Hearts from signing any free agents during the 60-day period, ruling out the prospect of a Gorgie return for Rudi Skacel for now.

Skacel has been training with his former club but would have to wait until the festive period before he would be able to sign for the Jambos again.

However, Hearts have opted to accept the punishment, confirming they had no plans to challenge the SPL sanctions.

A club spokesperson said: 'We are satisfied that this matter has now been resolved and accept the sanction imposed by the sub-committee.'

Tour de France could start in Britain in 2014

Tour de France could return to Britain in 2014 with Edinburgh start

|

UPDATED:

21:23 GMT, 24 October 2012

The Tour de France is poised to return to Britain as soon as 2014, with a bid to bring the race to British roads believed to be close to winning the approval of organisers ASO.

Brian Cookson, the British Cycling president, who was in Paris for Wednesday’s presentation of the 2013 route, said that he was optimistic the Tour would come to Britain soon, with '2015 the most likely but 2014 possible.'

Its last visit was in 2007, when two days of racing in London and Kent were witnessed by over 2 million people.

Success story: London was praised when it hosted the Tour de France

Success story: London was praised when it hosted the Tour de France

The latest project is far more ambitious, with a Grand Dpart in Edinburgh followed by up to four road stages taking the peloton south, through England and Wales, and ending up as close to the south coast — and France — as possible.

The proposal will see Yorkshire, which has been in competition with Scotland to host the Grand Dpart, included as part of a British bid that would take the Tour within an hour’s drive of 30 million people.

'The Scottish-led bid is in the advanced planning stages, and it is a very positive and well thought of bid,' said Cookson.

'The funding is more or less in place and it is likely to happen. ASO have said they are likely to make up their minds in the next few weeks. Although they haven’t given us an exact time scale yet, we believe the Tour de France will be coming back to Britain very soon indeed; 2015 is the most likely but 2014 is possible.'

Cookson expressed disappointment at the lack of dialogue with the competing Yorkshire bid.

Capital calling: Edinburgh could host the Grand Depart in the future

Capital calling: Edinburgh could host the Grand Depart in the future

'We have not been involved, simply becasue they didn’t ask us,' he said. 'You would normally expct there to be a more meaningful dialogue with a possible host city or area than we have had with Yorkshire. We have asked.'

He admitted that the London start in 2007 — 'widely acknowledged as the best ever,' said Cookson — made the Tour director, Christian Prudhomme, determined to return.

'“We saw at the Olympics this year what kind of response the Great British public can produce,' said Cookson. 'There is not the slightest doubt that Great Britian will put on a really good show and that ASO want to get back here when the time is right. It will be sooner rather than later.

'Although there a re a few more ducks to be put in a row the Scottish-based bid could be more than three stages because it is obviously further from Scotland down to the south coast. I have to be a bit cagey about it as this juncture but the idea is that the route will go within an hour’s drive of 30 million people on mainland Britain.'

Olympic and Paralympic heroes honoured by Queen at Buckingham Palace

A right royal celebration! Olympic and Paralympic heroes honoured at Buckingham Palace

|

UPDATED:

23:11 GMT, 23 October 2012

David Cameron hailed Great Britain's incredible summer of sport as the Queen hosted a glittering Buckingham Palace event for Olympic and Paralympic heroes.

Sportsmen and women who won gold for the nation during the summer's extravaganza of sport were invited to the palace to mark their achievements.

The Prime Minister joined the athletes and senior figures like Lord Coe who helped make the Games a success at the palace, where the Queen celebrated their efforts with the Duke of Edinburgh, Duchess of Cambridge and other members of the Royal Family.

Pleased to meet you: The Queen greet London 2012 hero David Weir

Pleased to meet you: The Queen greet London 2012 hero David Weir

Mr Cameron said: 'I think people will look back and just think, 'what an incredible summer' – success after success, medal after medal and the whole country putting on its very best face for the world.

'What matters now is that we maximise the momentum and the legacy following the Olympics and Paralympics.

'We had a cabinet meeting about that and Seb Coe was there, and we were talking about the physical legacy of East London, the important economic benefits we want, there's the sporting legacy carried through to Rio and school sport, there's also the legacy in terms of attitude to disabilities, which I think is a real chance of a step change in our country.'

Team GB began the summer's medal rush by winning 65 in total, including 29 golds, an achievement that was hailed as the athletes' 'greatest ever' performance by Andy Hunt, their chef de mission for London 2012.

Amongst the stars who delighted the home crowds and the world with podium-topping performances were heptathlete Jessica Ennis, cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and sailor Ben Ainslie and double gold-winning runner Mo Farah. The Paralympics saw Great Britain secure 120 medals, including 34 golds.

Heroes' welcome: Rowers Andrew Triggs-Hodge, Pete Reed, Alex Gregory and Tom James in royal company

Heroes' welcome: Rowers Andrew Triggs-Hodge, Pete Reed, Alex Gregory and Tom James in royal company

Gold standard: Anthony Ogogo greets Her Majesty during the event at Buckingham Palace

Gold standard: Anthony Ogogo greets Her Majesty during the event at Buckingham Palace

Memorable performances included wheelchair athlete David Weir winning four golds, swimmer Ellie Simmonds powering home to two victories in the pool while sprinter Jonnie Peacock lit up the stadium with his blistering win in the T44 100 metres.

Sarah Storey cemented her place in the history books by winning four golds on her bike, taking her to 11 titles overall in a Paralympic career as both a swimmer and cyclist.

She described the evening as 'just incredible', adding: 'It is just such an honour and we are all very privileged to be part of such an amazing team. To have the Queen throw a reception in our honour makes everything that has happened even more amazing.

'The British public has been so supportive over the Paralympics and it has captured everybody's imagination.'

A number of household names like Hoy, Farah and Ennis were missing due to other commitments but one well-known face was available in Zara Phillips, who won a team silver in the Olympic equestrian competition.

Guests sipped champagne, wine and apple juice but towards the end of the evening many politely declined a drink as they have already begun training in earnest.

All smiles: The Duchess of Cambridge was also in attendance and was seen chatting to Prime Minister David Cameron

All smiles: The Duchess of Cambridge was also in attendance and was seen chatting to Prime Minister David Cameron

All smiles: The Duchess of Cambridge was also in attendance and was seen chatting to The Prime Minister

A line-up of Olympic and Paralympic athletes who have all won three or more golds met the royal party, who included the Duke of York and daughter Princess Beatrice, the Princess Royal, President of the British Olympic Association, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

They included three-time Olympic cycling champion Jason Kenny, who won two golds at London 2012, swimmer Simmonds, who now has a total of four Paralympic titles, plus cyclist Storey and wheelchair racer David Weir, who each won four golds.

Proudly wearing her three golds from London 2012, Para-equestrian rider Sophie Christiansen, who is now a five-time Paralympic champion, said she was very excited to see the Queen.

Christiansen said: 'She asked me whether I enjoyed the Games, which obviously were phenomenal.

'I just want to do it all again because now I know what it takes to win three gold medals. Perhaps I could ask the Queen if she will lend me a horse (for the Rio 2016 Paralympics).

'My current horse is called Rio and he is still in training, but he is 15 now. He would be too old for the next Games.'

Para-equestrian rider Lee Pearson, who won his tenth Paralympic gold medal at the Games along with a silver and bronze, met Kate who picked up his gold medal, won in the mixed team championship.

Exchanging memories: The Princess Royal - a medal winner herself - meets cyclist Laura Trott

Exchanging memories: The Princess Royal – a medal winner herself – meets cyclist Laura Trott

Centre of attention: The Earl of Wessex talks to athletes

Centre of attention: The Earl of Wessex talks to athletes

The Duchess revealed she has developed a passion for horses and is learning to ride. The horseman joked: 'Kate said she's learning to ride so I offered to give her some lessons.

'She held my medals and said how heavy they were, and asked if me if I'd been riding all my life.'

The Duchess moved on to meet Team GB's women's hockey players, who became a firm favourite of the royal.

Kate was a keen hockey player as a student and she enjoyed watched the national team win their Bronze medal in a game against New Zealand.

The royal stood amongst the group of 12 women and the party looked like old friends as they chatted away together.

Emily Maguire, from Glasgow, said afterwards: 'The Duchess just said how much she enjoyed watching our games. She's lovely, she's just so easy to talk to and because she herself played hockey she has a real connection to the sport.'

Medal of honour: Nicola Adams and Hannah Cockcroft share their memories with the Queen

Medal of honour: Nicola Adams and Hannah Cockcroft share their memories with the Queen

Royal

Newport County are on their way back and have the Football League in their sights

Out with the old, in with the Newport: Welsh club on the rise and set for Football League return

|

UPDATED:

21:13 GMT, 14 October 2012

April Fool’s Day 1989. An auctioneer in Cardiff announces the next lot with a sense of gallows humour. ‘Very fitting for this occasion actually,’ he says. ‘A large quantity of black armbands.’

They belonged to Newport County FC. So did the first-team kit, lawn mower, multi-gym and a miniature Viking ship presented to the South Wales club by Norwegian team SK Haugar. It all had to go.

The set of black armbands fetched 1. The goalkeeper’s jersey went for 19 and the No 10, usually worn by star striker Tommy Tynan, for 50. In total, Newport’s assets raised 12,000.

Top of the table: Jefferson Louis battles with Ryan Jackson

Top of the table: Jefferson Louis battles with Ryan Jackson

‘Hardly enough to pay the auctioneer, never mind the administrator,’ recalls David Hando. ‘That auction convinced people with any vestige of hope that we weren’t going to be saved. But we didn’t accept it was the end.’

Hando is a 75-year-old retired deputy headmaster and Newport’s president. For 10 years he also served as chairman of the club that rose from the ashes of Newport County’s demise.

One of the first things Newport AFC did that summer was to buy back the County name from the administrators for 8,000.

It would be another decade before they were safe to use it again, such was the weight of debt hanging over the old club. But they were desperate to stop former chairman Jerry Sherman from re-launching Newport elsewhere.

Man in charge: Newport manager and former Spurs defender Justin Edinburgh gives orders from the touchline

Man in charge: Newport manager and former Spurs defender Justin Edinburgh gives orders from the touchline

The American’s vision for the club had already done enough damage. His last known address is Oregon State Penitentiary, where he was sentenced to serve seven years in 2007 for fraud. If Sherman was somewhat less than open about his business interests, there is no secret as to how much Newport’s current chairman is worth.

Les Scadding, who joined the board at the start of this season, landed 45.5million on the EuroMillions lottery three years ago when he was an unemployed lorry driver.

The club are at pains to point out that Scadding, a lifelong fan, is not their Jack Walker but it’s fair to say Newport are essentially debt free and in a far better place than they were 23 years ago — top of the Blue Square Bet Premier, in fact.

Less than a decade after Tynan and a strike partner by the name of John Aldridge had fired Newport to Welsh Cup glory and the quarter-finals of the 1981 European Cup-Winners’ Cup, the club’s 68-year stay in the Football League was over in 1988.

Good times: Newport County chairman Les Scadding celebrates during the match against Macclesfield

Good times: Newport County chairman Les Scadding celebrates during the match against Macclesfield

They went out of business the following February, evicted from their Somerton Park home.

There followed a prolonged battle with the FA of Wales and local council that saw Newport playing in exile 85 miles away in the English town of Moreton- in-Marsh — ‘our magical mystery tour of the Cotswolds’, as Hando puts it — and going to the High Court on three occasions before getting back on an even keel.

Their rise back up through the non-League ranks has been slow but the Football League is in sight again with Justin Edinburgh’s team four points clear at the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier after 15 games.

Club stalwart: Newport County's president David Hando

Club stalwart: Newport County's president David Hando

During his first 12 months in charge, the 42-year-old former Tottenham defender has not only saved Newport from relegation but also taken them to Wembley for the first time in the FA Trophy final.

He has overhauled the playing staff as well as the playing style this season, helped by a move from modest Spytty Park to the better facilities at Rodney Parade, where the football club share with Newport Gwent Dragons and Newport RUFC.

Edinburgh’s side are unbeaten there so far. He says: ‘Taking Newport to Wembley was a proud day but if we get this club back in the Football League, it would be the pinnacle of my career so far as a player or manager.’

That’s a feeling shared by Lenny Pidgeley, the former Chelsea goalkeeper who picked up Premier League and Carling Cup medals at Stamford Bridge as third-choice to Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini.

Pidgeley, 28, was looking for a club after leaving Exeter City when Newport came calling at the start of the season.

‘I was living in a bit of a fantasy world at Chelsea,’ says Pidgeley. ‘It seems more amazing to me now than it did at the time. But if we go up I’d put it up there with those achievements.’

Going ahead: Newport's Tony James scores the opening goal

Going ahead: Newport's Tony James scores the opening goal

Pidgeley was on form at Macclesfield Town on Saturday but could not prevent Matthew Barnes-Homer cancelling out a first-half effort from Tony James as Newport drew 1-1.

Edinburgh and his players had the benefit of an overnight stay, once again given access to Stoke’s training ground on Friday. Newport-born Tony Pulis has not forgotten his roots.

Later this month, 600 people will gather at Celtic Manor to celebrate the club’s centenary and toast a bright future.

It’s not just the old schoolmaster in Hando that insists on people referring to it correctly as Newport County AFC.

'If there hadn’t been an AFC there wouldn’t be a County,’ he says. ‘It’s important to realise we did start again.'

Edinburgh reject Saracens offer to play Heineken Cup game in South Africa

Edinburgh reject Saracens offer to play Heineken Cup game in South Africa

|

UPDATED:

10:51 GMT, 11 October 2012

Edinburgh have rejected an approach by Saracens to play a Heineken Cup pool game between the teams in South Africa.

Edinburgh Rugby managing director Craig Docherty said the proposal was not 'commercially compelling'.

Saracens tackle Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Saturday in the opening Pool One fixture of this season's tournament.

No go: Edinburgh have rejected an offer from Saracens to play their Heineken Cup clash in South Africa

No go: Edinburgh have rejected an offer from Saracens to play their Heineken Cup clash in South Africa

But the Aviva Premiership club were keen to play the return fixture – scheduled for January 20 – in Cape Town.

Saracens have already taken one 'home' Heineken Cup fixture abroad this season, opting to tackle French club Racing Metro at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on Saturday week.

Moves to play a Heineken game against Biarritz in Cape Town, meanwhile, did not come to fruition last term.

Edinburgh reached last season's Heineken semi-finals, beating four-time tournament winners Toulouse on the way in a thrilling quarter-final at Murrayfield that attracted a crowd close to 40,000.

Docherty said: 'As a club, our commitment is to our fans and other key stakeholders, such as sponsors, and fundamentally our goal is to qualify from what is a very challenging Heineken Cup pool.

'Following Edinburgh Rugby to South Africa is simply not an option for the vast majority whose support was so crucial to our journey to last season's semi-final.

Away day: Saracens will host French club Racing Metro at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels

Away day: Saracens will host French club Racing Metro at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels

Luke Benedict

'I am sure they will be desperate to support us in what could be a critical pool game.

'The case made by Saracens was not commercially compelling and, from a performance perspective, would have had a detrimental effect on our preparation for – and recovery from – this match.

'Edinburgh Rugby are open to new and innovative ideas, but the prospect of playing our final pool game in the southern hemisphere was simply not an option that we could seriously consider from a number of different perspectives.

'We consulted with tournament organisers ERC (European Rugby Cup) and Scottish Rugby throughout this process, and both are happy with our decision.'

Saracens' official fixture list currently has the Edinburgh game down to be played at Vicarage Road in Watford.

It would be Saracens' last game there before moving to a new home – Allianz Park in Hendon.

Chris Foy's World of Rugby

Tait's style is a welcome change from big hitters

For Leicester, it must be like having an exciting new signing – a dangerous attacking talent, young and English. For Mathew Tait, it surely feels like the start of a whole new career.

This legacy could make kids losers
Where there's a Bill there's a way to sort out TV row
Toulon say Non to letting Jenkins fly with the Lions
London Welsh have grounds to be upset over promotion sham
Law changes show IRB are going with the flow

To hell and back: Mathew Tait has been out injured for almost a year