Tag Archives: empire

Jessica Ennis and Sir Dave Brailsford were among a number of British Olympians honoured by the Queen

Ennis, Rutherford, Adams and Rowsell lead the Olympic honours list while cycling boss Brailsford becomes a knight at the Palace

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Honoured: Jessica Ennis (second from left) Greg Rutherford (centre) and Nicola Adams (second from right) pose with Beefeaters after being honoured by the Queen for their heroics during London 2012

Honoured: Jessica Ennis (above, right) receives her CBE medal from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and poses before entering (below)

Honoured: Jessica Ennis (above, right) receives her CBE medal from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and poses before entering (below)

Jessica Ennis

Pride: Ennis shows off her newly awarded CBE

Pride: Ennis shows off her newly awarded CBE

Today’s ceremony will see honours go to a collection of athletes who became household names with their achievements as part of Team GB.

Greg Rutherford, 26, who landed a gold in the long jump, spoke of his excitement at being awarded the MBE. He said: 'I am very excited and very nervous as well.

Knighted: British Cycling performance director and head of Team Sky Sir David Brailsford (right) receives his knighthood from the Queen

Knighted: British Cycling performance director and head of Team Sky Sir David Brailsford (above, right) receives his knighthood from the Queen and stands with his family before entering the Palace (below)

Sir David Brailsford

'It’s not every day you get to do something like this and meet the Queen. The heart’s racing a bit.

'You dream of doing well at an Olympics, especially a home Olympics, and then the things that come along after that are just absolutely out of this world.

'I don’t think truly you can imagine these sorts of things happening and being awarded by the Queen. It really is just extraordinary.'

Sportsmail's own: Joanna Rowsell speaks with the Queen after becoming a Member of the British Empire

Sportsmail's own: Joanna Rowsell speaks with the Queen after becoming a Member of the British Empire

MBE: Sportsmail columnist Joanna Rowsell (right) speaks with the Queen after becoming a Member of the British Empire

Greg Rutherford

Nicola Adams

Collecting more medals Long jumper Greg Rutherford (left) and boxer Nicola Adams each picked up an MBE

Boxing gold medal winner Nicola Adams, 30, is also being awarded an MBE.

The flyweight, who outclassed China’s Ren Cancan to win, said: 'I’m over the moon, really excited.'

Wearing Kurt Geiger shoes and a black Phillip Lim jacket, she added: 'It isn’t every day you get to come to the palace and receive the MBE.

Sealed with a handshake: Double Olympic champion Jason Kenny collects his OBE

Sealed with a handshake: Double Olympic champion Jason Kenny collects his OBE

'I am over the moon and can’t believe I’m receiving this today.'

Double 2012 cycling champion Jason Kenny, 24, is to collected his OBE with team-mate and team pursuit gold medallist Joanna Rowsell, 24.

Ecstatic: Sir David shows his emotions while chatting to the Queen

Ecstatic: Sir David shows his emotions while chatting to the Queen

British Cycling performance director and principal of Team Sky, David Brailsford, will receive his knighthood.

Sir David led Britain to eight cycling gold medals for a second successive Olympics and Team Sky to an historic one-two in the Tour de France.

23 years own: Former England and Glamorgan cricketer Robert Croft was awarded an MBE

23 years own: Former England and Glamorgan cricketer Robert Croft was awarded an MBE

He receives his knighthood for services to cycling and the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

Cricketer Robert Croft, who retired during the summer, will pick up his MBE following a 23-year career with England and Glamorgan.

Louis Smith and Pat Rice receive MBEs

Medals of honour: Team GB heroes Smith, Baker and Hosking and Arsenal legend Pat Rice given gongs by the Queen

team were today honoured at Buckingham Palace by the Queen.

Gymnast Louis Smith, who scooped silver on the pommel horse and bronze in the men's team competition, described being awarded the MBE as 'the proudest moment of his life', but risked being turned away when he showed up having forgot his invitation.

He tweeted: 'Hahaha not the greatest start. @gabstone9 forgot our invites to Buckingham palace. Not quite as easy getting in as a school disco #oops

Member of the British Empire: Team GB gymnast Louis Smith is honoured by the Queen

Member of the British Empire: Team GB gymnast Louis Smith is honoured by the Queen

Sophie Hosking

Pat Rice

Rowing and football: Sophie Hosking and Pat Rice's respective contributions were also honoured

Dressed to impress: Louis Smith MBE with Arlene Phillips CBE at Buckingham Palace

Dressed to impress: Louis Smith MBE with Arlene Phillips CBE at Buckingham Palace

'Today is the day I become Louis Smith M.B.E ooooooo exciting times'

Natasha Baker, who was also honoured
for winning two gold medals in dressage at the Paralympics said the
occasion was 'absolutely incredible', but had earlier tweeted in a panic
over her fear of missing the ceremony.

Baker had been stuck in traffic on the M4 but eventually made it to Buckingham Palace on time. 'Stuck in traffic on M4 on my way to collect my #MBE . Any police around to give me an escort!' she tweeted.

Louis Smith

Britain's Natasha Baker

Olympians: Louis Smith and Natasha Baker were among Team GB's most impressive performers at the Games

'Tempted to get Jordan (scooter) out and drive to Buck Pal! Think she would be faster than this traffic! Don't think I'm going to get there!'

Sophie Hosking, winner of gold in lightweight women's double sculls, was presented with an MBE at the investiture ceremony.

Pat Rice

Rob McCracken

In their element: Pat Rice (centre) with the FA Cup won at Arsenal at his peak and boxing guru Rob McCracken

British Amateur Boxing Association performance director Rob McCracken, who overlooked a haul of five boxing medals at London 2012, also receives the MBE, as was former Arsenal assistant manager Pat Rice, who spent 44 years at the club, winning seven trophies as a coach.

Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson will be pulling out all the stops to beat Europe

I'll stop the rot, vows America's Ryder Cup captain Watson… and Tiger will be my No 1

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UPDATED:

00:06 GMT, 14 December 2012

It all ended in tears the last time an iconic figure made it as far as the 80th floor of the Empire State Building and roared out a warning.

Nearly 80 years on from the movie King Kong, Tom Watson will hope his message to Europe’s Ryder Cup team from the same New York landmark doesn’t end with him shot down in flames.

‘I hope that by appointing me as America’s Ryder Cup captain we’re telling the Europeans we are pulling out all the stops to beat you guys,’ he said. ‘We’re saying that winning is the most important thing and we want to do it in style. I always say that early in my career I learned to win by hating to lose — and it is about time we stopped losing.’

Bullish: New USA Ryder Cup captain was in bullish mood in his inaugural press conference saying his team would 'pull out all the stops to beat you guys'

Bullish: New USA Ryder Cup captain was in bullish mood in his inaugural press conference saying his team would 'pull out all the stops to beat you guys'

Skipper: Watson posed for photographers on the observation deck of the Empire State Building...

Skipper: Watson posed for photographers on the observation deck of the Empire State Building…

...but still had time to act the tourist and take a picture of his own

…but still had time to act the tourist and take a picture of his own

And with that proclamation ringing in the ears it was time to light the most famous building in Manhattan in the obligatory red, white and blue. As befits the grace of the man himself, there was nothing garish about Watson’s appearance, save for the slightly unnerving lack of grey hairs on the 63-year-old’s head.

Speaking of icons, the news of Watson’s appointment had hardly been made official than Tiger Woods was sending his congratulations and saying what an honour it would be to play for him at Gleneagles in 2014. Two years ago, he and Watson had a major falling-out after the latter had gone public with some scathing criticism of Tiger’s behaviour. Now Watson is keen to emphasise it is ‘all water under the bridge’. He added: ‘I hope he is on my team and if for some unforeseen reason he isn’t, he’s going to be my number one pick. He’s perhaps the best player in the history of the game and brings a stature to the team.’

Struggle: Tom Watson stated that Tiger Woods (above) will be the first name on his team, but the former World Number 1 has an appalling record in the tournament

Struggle: Tom Watson stated that Tiger Woods (above) will be the first name on his team, but the former World Number 1 has an appalling record in the tournament

Given Tiger’s appalling Ryder Cup record, for a moment I thought he said statue.

In keeping with the startling nature of this extraordinary appointment, Watson revealed he was first approached 13 months ago. ‘It was a phone call that I had waited a really long time to receive,’ said the five-time Open champion, who was a winning captain at The Belfry in 1993.

‘I really wanted the challenge again. Here we are, just off Broadway and that’s appropriate because I look upon being captain as like a stage manager, getting everything ready so the actors, or in this case, the players, can go out and perform.’

Jose Maria Olazabal, Europe’s retiring Ryder Cup captain, said Watson was just the man to deal with some of the huge egos in the American team. As the fall-out from Medinah continues, others have pointed the finger at Olazabal’s counterpart, Davis Love. Trust Watson to cut through the bluster. What he will bring to the job is an enormous presence, and that shouldn’t be underestimated.

But let’s not forget that Love lost at Medinah by the narrowest of margins. Watson was quick to seize on the hope that he gets that elusive quality that deserted his predecessor. ‘What I need is a little bit of luck,’ he said.
It was fascinating listening to his brilliant analysis of that miracle in Chicago. How Ian Poulter’s five successive birdies on Saturday night brought a ‘cloud on to the horizon’; how Europe’s wonderful start on Sunday saw the cloud turn into a storm. ‘ US Ryder Cup player): ‘I
think he would be amazing. Such a remarkable player and person and he
demands respect just by the kind of player he has been. He’s like a
quiet lion. It would be an honour to play for him.’

BRANDT SNEDEKER (2012 US Ryder Cup player):
‘I am surprised but excited. Tom is a good friend of mine, one of the
best players to ever play the game who is instantly going to gain a lot
of respect and sway the homefield advantage for us in Scotland because
of his success over there.’

PAUL AZINGER (2008 US Ryder Cup captain): ‘Truthfully,
I am really surprised but I think it’s OK. There’s a philosophy of
picking contemporary players under the age of 50 that hasn’t really
worked. That would have been a great philosophy had we been winning, but
we haven’t, which makes Watson a good choice at this time.’

LANNY WADKINS (played under Watson in 1993):
‘Tom is just one of those guys who always believes. He doesn’t go out
there to have fun. He goes out there to kick butt and get the job done.
That’s really what the PGA of America, in my opinion, are thinking what
needs to happen.'

Rangers supporters "to accept" Ibrox renaming… but only if there"s a cash injection, says fans chief

Rangers supporters 'to accept' Ibrox renaming… but only if there's a cash injection, says fans' chief

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UPDATED:

01:08 GMT, 30 November 2012

A leading Rangers fans chief has claimed the renaming of Ibrox would be reluctantly accepted — if it meant a serious injection of cash into the club’s coffers.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is believed to be willing to pay Rangers for the right to rebrand Ibrox the Sports Direct Arena — to promote his sports retail empire.

Ashley, who is said to have already invested 1million in the Glasgow club, caused fury on Tyneside a year ago by renaming St James’ Park the Sports Direct Arena.

What's in a name: Mike Ashley is in talks over the naming rights of Ibrox

What's in a name: Mike Ashley is in talks over the naming rights of Ibrox

It has subsequently reverted to its original name, however, but as Sportsmail revealed, the English businessman has floated a similar idea to Rangers chief executive Charles Green.

A Rangers spokesman told Sportsmail: ‘Charles Green has always said he would consider proposals to the benefit of the club, including naming rights. But no decisions have been taken on any specific proposals.’

While Ashley’s suggestion is sure to rile some Ibrox traditionalists, John McMillan, general secretary of the Rangers Supporters Assembly, believes that given the club’s current predicament, pragmatism must come first.

‘In an ideal world I’d rather it was left as Ibrox. But we’ve also got to realise that there’s an obligation to maximise whatever income we can get,’ McMillan said.

‘I’m sure a lot of people would be upset and annoyed at it and, while I wouldn’t like to see it renamed myself, that’s just the way
the modern game is going.

What's in a name: Mike Ashley is in talks over the naming rights of Ibrox

Cash injection: Mike Ashley has already ploughed 1million into ailing Rangers

‘You’ve got to get as much money in as you can. I can sympathise with fans who would be upset, but I’d hope that if it does happen, it’s just the way things have to be.

‘I don’t think you would start saying to your pals ‘I’m going up to the X Arena today’ — it would still be Ibrox to supporters in our hearts and heads.

‘What club in Scotland can afford to turn down what I presume would be substantial sums of money

‘If the manager was given money to invest in the team, supporters would be more understanding.

Rangers Ibrox stadium could be renamed Sports Direct Arena by Newcastle owner Mike Ashley

Iconic Ibrox to become Sports Direct Arena Newcastle owner Ashley wants second major stadium controversially renamed

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UPDATED:

09:29 GMT, 29 November 2012

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is understood to be in negotiations with Rangers for naming rights to the Glasgow club’s iconic Ibrox Stadium.

The proposed deal would lead to one of football’s most famous stadiums, which opened in 1899, being renamed the Sports Direct Arena to promote Ashley’s sports retail empire.

Rangers have been exploring image rights deals since the Charles Green-led consortium took over the troubled club last June, shortly before they were demoted to the Third Division.

What's in a name: Mike Ashley is in talks over the naming rights of Ibrox

What's in a name: Mike Ashley is in talks over the naming rights of Ibrox

What's in a name: Mike Ashley is in talks over the naming rights of Ibrox

However, any move to rename the stadium is certain to anger many Rangers fans, even given the club’s financial plight.

Indeed, many would never acknowledge Ibrox being called anything else.

Ashley caused fury on Tyneside a year ago by renaming Newcastle’s own historic St James’ Park as the Sports Direct Arena, to showcase the branding opportunities to potential naming rights partners.

But Newcastle reverted back to St James’ Park last month in a bid to appease growing supporter concern about another re-naming —to the Wonga Arena — after a new 32million shirt sponsorship deal was signed with the controversial short-term loan company who charge huge interest.

Now, despite that setback, the opportunity to have his company name on an even more world-renowned football venue greatly appeals to Ashley, who is expanding his Sports Direct business in Scotland.

OTHER STADIA WITH SPONSORS

Arsenal – The Emirates
The Gunners signed a 100m deal with Emirates Airline in October 2004 in a 15-year deal, which was extended last week until 2028.

Stoke City – The Britannia Stadium
The building society were instrumental in funding the 27,000-capacity stadium and signed a 1m, 10-year sponsorship deal in August 1997, later extended.

Bolton Wanderers – The Reebok Stadium
The stadium was named after long-time kit supplier and local company Reebok when it opened in 1997.

Sponsorship: Bolton's home has always been known as the Reebok

Sponsorship: Bolton's home has always been known as the Reebok


Dagenham and Redbridge – London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Stadium
English football's most bizarre sponsorship tie-up and unwieldy title, announced in July 2007.

Ireland – The Aviva Stadium
Built on the site of Lansdowne Road, this new 52,000 seater stadium was sponsored from its opening.

Spectacular: The Aviva Stadium in Dublin

Spectacular: The Aviva Stadium in Dublin

Imtech Arena – Hamburg
Previous incarnations have been the AOL and the HSH Nordbank Arena, but from July 2010 Hamburg's home has been sponsored by the biological sciences company.

Dick's Sporting Goods Park – Colorado Rapids
A good number of MLS teams play in branded stadia, but this has to be the most ridiculous.

Pizza Hut Park – FC Dallas
Reflecting the American's love of fast food is the home of Texan MLS franchise FC Dallas. Pizza Hut have their headquarters nearby.

Something to tell us

Former Brazil captain Zico announced
his resignation as coach of Iraq following a contract dispute, just
after he shared a conference panel with England manager Roy Hodgson at
the Soccerex conference in Rio, which discussed international football.

Exit: Zico has quit as manager of Iraq following a contract dispute

Exit: Zico has quit as manager of Iraq following a contract dispute

Trash room talking

The peace talks between Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and the 16 elite referees following the false Mark Clattenburg racism allegations took place in a meeting room in the budget Hampton by Hilton hotel wing of St George’s Park.

However, the officials each have luxury rooms in the alternative upmarket Hilton accommodation at SGP during their regular training camps. These have moved from Warwick University, where the referees had to double up in basic student rooms.

Rad deal

Ronnie Radford’s iconic 1972 winning goal for Hereford against Newcastle is such an FA Cup staple that Conference sponsors Blue Square Bet are pledging to give the non-League club 500 for every fan who finds the top corner of the net in a recreation of the Radford strike taking place at Edgar Street tomorrow.

Stadium solution close

The future of the Olympic Stadium will become clearer on Wednesday when West Ham are expected to be finally named as preferred bidders following a legacy process branded a ‘farce’ by UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner.

There is optimism a solution can at last be reached in the financial wrangling over who pays what for transforming a 500million track-and-field arena into a multi-sports stadium that could cost a further 200m.

Up for grabs: West Ham set to be named preferred Olympic Stadium bidders

Up for grabs: West Ham set to be named preferred Olympic Stadium bidders

Negotiations now surround only the final 20m to 30m of the spend with the Government hopeful the London Legacy Development Corporation, plus West Ham and Newham Council, will contribute more — along with Whitehall — to make the numbers stack up.

More from Charles Sale…

Charles Sale: Pearce blamed for losing flying Chelsea winger Moses to Nigeria
27/11/12

We were wrong! But Chelsea still won't say sorry to Clattenburg over Mikel
27/11/12

Charles Sale: Jordan pondered Portsmouth deal but bowed to fan power
26/11/12

Charles Sale: Wimbledon set to avoid any MK Dons exposure in FA Cup clash
23/11/12

Charles Sale: Call this reintegration, KP After rejoining England, flash star leaves team-mates behind to upgrade at five-star hotel in India
22/11/12

Charles Sale: Games success helps the healing between FIFA and FA
21/11/12

Charles Sale: Richards causes ructions at the FA
21/11/12

Charles Sale: Premier League's TV deal bonanza continues as tender on course to reach 5bn after Indonesia and New Zealand sign up
20/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Woman's touch

Heather Rabbatts, the first woman and mixed-race member of the FA board, has emerged as a contender to succeed David Bernstein as FA chairman next May.

And Rabbatts’ chances are improved by the other FA independent director Roger Devlin ruling himself out by being on the nominations panel.

Football League chairman Greg Clarke is another being linked with the FA job as well as the Premier League chairmanship, although London 2012 vice-chairman Sir Keith Mills could have his pick of both positions.

Miami mover

Ricardo Teixeira, the disgraced former FIFA executive committee member for Brazil exposed for taking bribes from the body’s now defunct former marketing partners ISL, has retired to Miami.

FIFA insiders do not expect him to return to Brazil because he would face questioning on a variety of corruption issues involving millions of pounds. Teixeira’s successor on the FIFA ExCo, Marco Polo del Nero, has had his home raided by Brazilian Police investigating alleged links with a criminal organisation.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley plans to rename Ibrox: CHARLES SALE

Sports Direct Arena Mk II! Ashley in bid to rename Rangers' iconic Ibrox stadium

|

UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 28 November 2012

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is understood to be in negotiations with Rangers for naming rights to the Glasgow club’s iconic Ibrox Stadium.

The proposed deal would lead to one of football’s most famous stadiums, which opened in 1899, being renamed the Sports Direct Arena to promote Ashley’s sports retail empire.

Rangers have been exploring image rights deals since the Charles Green-led consortium took over the troubled club last June, shortly before they were demoted to the Third Division.

What's in a name: Mike Ashley is in talks over the naming rights of Ibrox

What's in a name: Mike Ashley is in talks over the naming rights of Ibrox

What's in a name: Mike Ashley is in talks over the naming rights of Ibrox

However, any move to rename the stadium is certain to anger many Rangers fans, even given the club’s financial plight.

Indeed, many would never acknowledge Ibrox being called anything else.

Ashley caused fury on Tyneside a year ago by renaming Newcastle’s own historic St James’ Park as the Sports Direct Arena, to showcase the branding opportunities to potential naming rights partners.

But Newcastle reverted back to St James’ Park last month in a bid to appease growing supporter concern about another re-naming —to the Wonga Arena — after a new 32million shirt sponsorship deal was signed with the controversial short-term loan company who charge huge interest.

Now, despite that setback, the opportunity to have his company name on an even more world-renowned football venue greatly appeals to Ashley, who is expanding his Sports Direct business in Scotland.

Something to tell us

Former Brazil captain Zico announced
his resignation as coach of Iraq following a contract dispute, just
after he shared a conference panel with England manager Roy Hodgson at
the Soccerex conference in Rio, which discussed international football.

Exit: Zico has quit as manager of Iraq following a contract dispute

Exit: Zico has quit as manager of Iraq following a contract dispute

Trash room talking

The peace talks between Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and the 16 elite referees following the false Mark Clattenburg racism allegations took place in a meeting room in the budget Hampton by Hilton hotel wing of St George’s Park.

However, the officials each have luxury rooms in the alternative upmarket Hilton accommodation at SGP during their regular training camps. These have moved from Warwick University, where the referees had to double up in basic student rooms.

Rad deal

Ronnie Radford’s iconic 1972 winning goal for Hereford against Newcastle is such an FA Cup staple that Conference sponsors Blue Square Bet are pledging to give the non-League club 500 for every fan who finds the top corner of the net in a recreation of the Radford strike taking place at Edgar Street tomorrow.

Stadium solution close

The future of the Olympic Stadium will become clearer on Wednesday when West Ham are expected to be finally named as preferred bidders following a legacy process branded a ‘farce’ by UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner.

There is optimism a solution can at last be reached in the financial wrangling over who pays what for transforming a 500million track-and-field arena into a multi-sports stadium that could cost a further 200m.

Up for grabs: West Ham set to be named preferred Olympic Stadium bidders

Up for grabs: West Ham set to be named preferred Olympic Stadium bidders

Negotiations now surround only the final 20m to 30m of the spend with the Government hopeful the London Legacy Development Corporation, plus West Ham and Newham Council, will contribute more — along with Whitehall — to make the numbers stack up.

More from Charles Sale…

Charles Sale: Pearce blamed for losing flying Chelsea winger Moses to Nigeria
27/11/12

We were wrong! But Chelsea still won't say sorry to Clattenburg over Mikel
27/11/12

Charles Sale: Jordan pondered Portsmouth deal but bowed to fan power
26/11/12

Charles Sale: Wimbledon set to avoid any MK Dons exposure in FA Cup clash
23/11/12

Charles Sale: Call this reintegration, KP After rejoining England, flash star leaves team-mates behind to upgrade at five-star hotel in India
22/11/12

Charles Sale: Games success helps the healing between FIFA and FA
21/11/12

Charles Sale: Richards causes ructions at the FA
21/11/12

Charles Sale: Premier League's TV deal bonanza continues as tender on course to reach 5bn after Indonesia and New Zealand sign up
20/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Woman's touch

Heather Rabbatts, the first woman and mixed-race member of the FA board, has emerged as a contender to succeed David Bernstein as FA chairman next May.

And Rabbatts’ chances are improved by the other FA independent director Roger Devlin ruling himself out by being on the nominations panel.

Football League chairman Greg Clarke is another being linked with the FA job as well as the Premier League chairmanship, although London 2012 vice-chairman Sir Keith Mills could have his pick of both positions.

Miami mover

Ricardo Teixeira, the disgraced former FIFA executive committee member for Brazil exposed for taking bribes from the body’s now defunct former marketing partners ISL, has retired to Miami.

FIFA insiders do not expect him to return to Brazil because he would face questioning on a variety of corruption issues involving millions of pounds. Teixeira’s successor on the FIFA ExCo, Marco Polo del Nero, has had his home raided by Brazilian Police investigating alleged links with a criminal organisation.

AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi sentenced to four years in prison

Serie A rocked as Milan owner – and ex-Italian PM – Berlusconi handed four-year jail term

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UPDATED:

15:08 GMT, 26 October 2012

AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to four years in prison after being found guilty of tax fraud.

The former Italian prime minister is now likely to appeal, with all cases in the country having to pass two levels of that before the verdicts are final.

Friday's conviction is the media mogul's first – other criminal probes and trials ended in acquittal or were thrown out when the statute of limitations expired.

Guilty: Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to four Years in jail for tax fraud

Guilty: Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to four Years in jail for tax fraud

The 76-year-old media mogul was not in the courtroom for the verdict on the case stemming from dealings in his Mediaset business empire.

Berlusconi bought the club in 1986, saving it from bankruptcy and investing huge amounts in, first, the appointment of Arrigo Sacchi as manager, and then signing Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard.

Under his stewardship, Milan have won eight Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, five Supercoppa Italiana, five Champions League trophies, five Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and one FIFA club World Cup.

MORE WOE FOR ITALIAN FOOTBALL AT NAPOLI

Napoli face the prospect of heavy sanctions after the Italian football federation (FIGC) confirmed it is investigating allegations of match-fixing at the Serie A club.

Former goalkeeper Matteo Gianello, now a free agent, has been accused of attempting to fix the outcome of Napoli's Serie A match at Sampdoria in 2010, with defenders Gianluca Grava and Paolo Cannavaro standing accused of failing to report the incident having been approached.

A statement on the federation's official website read: 'The FIGC can confirm that, following an investigation by the public prosecutor of Naples, the federal prosecutor will open disciplinary proceedings in relation to the Sampdoria-Napoli match of May 16, 2010.

Implicated: Paolo Cannavaro is one of two current Napoli players mentioned

Implicated: Paolo Cannavaro is one of two current Napoli players mentioned

'Matteo Gianello, Napoli's former player, and Silvio Giusti, Napoli's former coach, are accused of violating Article 7 (sections 1, 2 and 5) of the sporting code of justice.

'Between them, they are accused of attempting to alter the outcome of the match to secure a victory for Sampdoria in exchange for money.

'(They are) also accused of having approached colleagues Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava, from whom they received a refusal.

'But Cannavaro and Grava stand accused of violating Article 7 (section 7), in failing to disclose the approach to the federal prosecutor.'

Napoli have also been deferred as the club involved at the time, and could face a points deduction.

Manchester United desperate to win title back – Gary Neville

United will be desperate to show that Fergie's empire is not crumbling, says Neville

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UPDATED:

10:10 GMT, 6 July 2012

Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville expects the club to start next season firing on all cylinders after a disappointing 2011-12 campaign.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side were pipped to the Premier League title by rivals Manchester City, while they were knocked out in the group stage of the Champions League.

Off the pace: United were trophyless last season

Off the pace: United were trophyless last season

But rather then being despondent, Neville thinks the disappointment of last season will spur Ferguson's squad on in the quest for silverware.

Neville told the club's official website: 'You can bet they would have had a frustrating summer, after not winning any trophies last season.

'The beauty of football is that you start afresh each year with a clean slate. United now have an opportunity to put things right.

'The challenge this season is always the same: it’s to win the Premier League, do well in the cups and do well in the Champions League. That challenge never changes.

Red Nev: Neville was part of England manager Roy Hodgson's coaching set-up at Euro 2012

Red Nev: Neville was part of England manager Roy Hodgson's coaching set-up at Euro 2012

'But, obviously, when you don’t win anything you have an added incentive because people start to question the team and wonder if the empire is crumbling.

'The manager and the players have had to cope with all that before, so this challenge is something they’ll all be looking forward to.'

United players who were not involved at Euro 2012 reported back for training this week, and they will fly out to Durban on July 16 for the start of the club's world tour.

Euro 2012: Mario Balotelli in race storm over newspaper cartoon

Balotelli fury at King Kong cartoon slur in Italian newspaper

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 26 June 2012

Unfunny: Mario Balotelli was personified as King Kong in the offensive Gazzetta cartoon

Unfunny: Mario Balotelli was personified as King Kong in the offensive Gazzetta cartoon

Mario Balotelli has found himself at the centre of a new race row, this time sparked by a deeply offensive cartoon depicting him as King Kong in a leading Italian newspaper.

On the morning of Italy’s European Championship encounter with England, Gazzetta dello Sport published a drawing of a giant Balotelli atop Big Ben swatting away footballs in the same way King Kong did aircrafts atop New York’s Empire State Building in the film.

The Balotelli camp was understood to be outraged by the cartoon and Gazzetta have issued an apology.

‘It wasn’t our cartoonist’s best product. In these times we need a bit more moderation, caution and good taste. But we have always fought against racism and condemned booing against Balotelli as unacceptable,’ said the Milan-based newspaper.

A spokesman for the anti-racism organisation Kick It Out said: ‘Mario is such an important person in Italian football.

'Aspiring players in Italy who want to follow in his footsteps could wonder what support they will have when they get to his level when they see cartoons like that.

‘It is not the first time we have seen this sort of depiction of Mario and we think the media have a responsibility. How do they think they can portray him like that’

Journalists in Italy were horrified. Luigi Garlando said: ‘It is an unfortunate cartoon. It is hard to defend the right of satire against censorship in this case and I would never have allowed it in my newspaper.’

Time to focus: Balotelli and Italy will take on Germany in the Euro 2012 semi-final

Time to focus: Balotelli and Italy will take on Germany in the Euro 2012 semi-final

Balotelli, now preparing for Thursday’s semi-final against Germany in Warsaw, said before Euro 2012 that he would walk off the pitch if he was racially abused.

On Tuesday UEFA also opened disciplinary proceedings against the Spanish football federation and the Russian football union for alleged racist behaviour and chanting by fans.

European football’s governing body fined the Croatian football federation €30,000 after supporters threw fireworks and displayed ‘inappropriate and racist banners’ during a match against Spain. It was Croatia’s second racism-related sanction of the tournament.

In Krakow the focus for the Italians remained on trying to do to Germany what they did to England on Sunday night in Kiev.

Andrea Pirlo, the architect of England’s destruction, appeared before the media and had few words of encouragement for Roy Hodgson’s beaten quarter-finalists.

Charged: Meanwhile, UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against Spanish Russian FA's over the behaviour of their fans

Charged: Meanwhile, UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against Spanish Russian FA's over the behaviour of their fans

‘Our approach to the game against Germany will be the same as against England,’ he said. ‘This is because it is the only way we can play. We have to take advantage of our quality, our technique. But, unlike England, Germany can create many threats to our defence.

‘England played a very prudent and careful way. They were sitting back all match, like Chelsea did in the Champions League final. They tried to keep that same shape. For them, going to the penalty shootout was already a good result.’

Pirlo said his stunning chip penalty was a key moment in the game because it was a huge psychological blow to England.

‘I didn’t celebrate the penalty because at that point there was nothing to celebrate,’ he said. ‘But it was really relevant to the match and our win. This changed the course of the match.

'For me, Joe Hart seemed to be very confident in himself and it seemed to be a psychological blow. I needed to do something to beat him. Penalties are a very personal thing.

‘When you have to shoot a penalty you have to be confident in yourself.’

Euro 2012: Russia appeal UEFA sanction

Russia appeal to UEFA over fine and suspended points penalty for crowd trouble

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UPDATED:

19:11 GMT, 19 June 2012

The Football Union of Russia have appealed against UEFA's punishment for the behaviour of their fans at Euro 2012.

Russia were hit with a suspended six-point deduction for their Euro 2016 campaign, as well as a €120,000(96,000) fine.

However, UEFA have now confirmed the RFS have appealed against the verdict.

Trouble: While Russia struggled on the pitch, their fans caused trouble off it

Trouble: While Russia struggled on the pitch, their fans caused trouble off it

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UEFA took action for 'the violent, offensive and unsafe conduct' of Russia's supporters during their opening Group A match against the Czech Republic on June 8.

UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings 24 hours after Russia's 4-1 win in Wroclaw.

Violence erupted at the game when a handful of stewards were attacked by a large group of fans in a walkway in the 40,000-capacity Municipal Stadium.

Reports claimed four members of stadium staff were taken to hospital and released later that evening.

Footage released online the following morning showed one steward left in a heap on the ground after being set upon by several assailants, while another was kicked in the head while trying to evade a lone attacker.

Supporters in the stands also set off and threw fireworks, as well as displaying a nationalist 'Russian Empire' flag, something which has been associated with the far right.

The sanctions were a huge embarrassment for Russia, who are increasing pressure to deal with fan problems, having been named hosts for the 2018 World Cup.