Tag Archives: endeavours

Jonny Marray and Freddie Nielsen lose in World Finals semi-final

No dream finale for Marray and Nielsen as Spanish duo reach London showpiece

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UPDATED:

22:55 GMT, 11 November 2012

A year which saw Jonny Marray propelled from obscure journeyman to household name came to an abrupt end on Sunday night, and almost certainly so did his partnership with Frederik Nielsen.

The Anglo-Danish pair were defeated 6-4, 6-3 by Spain’s Marc Granollers and Marc Lopez in the semi-final of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. So there will be no follow-up to the unlikely Wimbledon win that got them to the O2 Arena.

Given that Nielsen has ambitious plans to try to excel at singles, despite being ranked outside the top 300, it will be their last match for the foreseeable future. The 31-year-old from Sheffield is still scouting around for a new partner.

Over and out: Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen were beaten in the semi-final

Over and out: Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen were beaten in the semi-final

Having got to the last four of the season’s last two sizeable events — here and in Paris — Marray should not have too many problems finding somebody. He and Nielsen were the lowest seeds at this event, so to have made it to the last Sunday was a decent achievement.

Marray will end the year ranked inside the top 20 for doubles, and assuming he can line someone up within the world’s top 40, will gain direct entry into the big events next season. He should be able to leave the world of Challenger-level tennis behind. Marray and his partner will share 70,000 for their endeavours this week, meaning the Liverpool-born player will have cleared 200,000 in earnings for 2012 — a tidy sum for a doubles specialist.

Nielsen dropped his first service game and the victorious Spaniards now face India’s Rohan Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi in Sunday’s final.

Here we go: Spanish duo Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers celebrate their win

Here we go: Spanish duo Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers celebrate their win

Chris Hughton confirms interest in Javier Garrido and Mark Bunn

Hughton confirms Norwich are looking to seal signings of Garrido and Bunn

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UPDATED:

14:31 GMT, 16 August 2012

Target: Former Man City left-back Javier Garrido

Target: Former Man City left-back Garrido

Norwich manager Chris Hughton has confirmed the club are hopeful of signing defender Javier Garrido from Lazio and have been scouting Blackburn goalkeeper Mark Bunn.

Hughton took over from Paul Lambert when he headed for Aston Villa after three hugely successful seasons at Carrow Road, which culminated in a 12th-placed finish last term.

The former Birmingham boss has been quick to tie up new deals for goalkeeper John Ruddy, who made his England debut against Italy in Berne on Wednesday night, and striker Grant Holt, who handed in a transfer request at the end of last season.

Norwich have also brought in former Rangers defender Steven Whittaker, Jacob Butterfield, Michael Turner and Robert Snodgrass to bolster the squad for what is expected to be a testing Barclays Premier League campaign.

Hughton revealed those efforts will continue ahead of the transfer deadline.

Fantasy football 2012

'We have a responsibility to make sure we have as competitive a squad as possible,' said the Norwich manager, whose side head to Fulham for the opening day of the new Barclays Premier League season.

'Our endeavours are still there to strengthen the squad if we can, if it is right for the club, and that will continue through to the end of the month.'

Former Manchester City left-back Garrido, 27, is expected to shortly join up with the Canaries, probably on a season loan for the Spaniard.

'Speculation sometimes gets out, but yes there has been some contact between the clubs,' said Hughton.

Leading the way: Norwich skipper Grant Holt

Leading the way: Norwich skipper Grant Holt

'We always make sure when there is an announcement to be made, it will be done at the right time.

'There has, though, been some communication between the two clubs and he is a player we do like.

'When there is something concrete and official to be said, we will.'
Celtic's Honduran left-back Emilio Izaguirre has also been linked with Norwich, but his price tag of 5million could well be too high for the Canaries.

Hughton, though, confirmed Norwich had been looking at possible back-up for Ruddy, with youngsters Jed Steer and Declan Rudd the other keepers.

'There are enquires which have been made, but it is just enquiries,' said Hughton.

'We have made them for numerous players and have a scouting network watching a lot of players.'

Hughton added: 'Goalkeeper is an area I would like to bring in, because they are young lads and we will also look to maybe get one of them out on loan for some experience.'

On the radar: Blackburn goalkeeper Mark Bunn

On the radar: Blackburn goalkeeper Mark Bunn

Hughton, 53, was axed as manager of Newcastle during his last spell as a top-flight manager in December 2010, despite the club sitting in mid-table following promotion.

However, he said: 'I have no point to prove, the challenge is one which we as a club will have in the Premier League.

'I am just really looking forward to those challenges.'

The Canaries will head into the season opener at Fulham this weekend on the back of some indifferent friendly results, which culminated in a 2-0 home defeat by Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday – drawing a blank for the third successive match.

Hughton said: 'There will be a group of people who look at the objective as making sure we retain Premier League status, but there will also be some who will expect just what they saw last season.

'Ultimately we are in a group of clubs who will be fighting to making sure the prime objective is status in this division, then see what happens.'

London 2012 Olympics: G4S admit to security blunder

The 50m security blunder! G4S admit to Olympic failing over staffing shortfall

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UPDATED:

22:22 GMT, 13 July 2012

G4S stands to lose up to 50 million as a result of the London Olympics security fiasco.

In a statement, the company said it 'deeply regrets' the problems which have meant 3,500 troops being drafted in at the 11th hour to make up a shortfall in security guards.

'G4S accepts its responsibility for the additional cost of the increased military deployment resulting from the shortfall in workforce delivery,' the statement said.

Shortfall: Two soldiers walk past the Olympic stadium in the Olympic Park

Shortfall: Two soldiers walk past the Olympic stadium in the Olympic Park

'The company is also incurring other significant costs as it endeavours to meet the contract challenges.

'Whilst it is not possible to gauge the precise financial impact, it is estimated that the company will incur a loss on the contract in the range of 35 million to 50 million, all of which will fall in the current financial year.'

G4S chief executive Nick Buckles expressed regret that the firm had been unable to meet its commitment to the London Olympic Organising Committee (Locog) to provide security guards.

'We are deeply disappointed that we have not been able to fully deliver against our contract with Locog and that it has been necessary to call upon the additional military personnel,' he said.

'In partnership with the military and Locog, we are working flat out around the clock to resolve the situation. We are determined that together we will deliver a successful and secure games.'

In its statement, G4S said it had run into difficulties in processing applicants in sufficient numbers through the necessary training, vetting and accreditation procedures in what it described as 'an extremely complex workforce supply contract' on an 'unprecedented scale'.

'As a result, we will be unable to deliver all of the necessary workforce numbers,' it said.

'We have worked very closely with Locog throughout the build up. At the point we felt that we could no longer assure the scale of the security workforce we had committed to, we advised them of the situation.'

Crisis: Trainee security staff arriving at the G4S recruitment centre

Crisis: Trainee security staff arriving at the G4S recruitment centre

Earlier, David Cameron said that firms who failed to deliver on their contracts to the games should have to bear the cost.

'I'm absolutely clear that if companies don't deliver on their contract then they should be pursued for that money,' the Prime Minister said.

G4S was initially contracted by organiser Locog in 2010 to provide 2,000 security staff for 86 million, but that figure has since risen to 10,400 personnel in a contract now worth 284 million.

Asked earlier this week whether there would be any financial penalties for G4S on its 284 million contract, Home Secretary Theresa May said the firm's deal was with Locog, but she understood that penalty clauses were included.

Mr Buckles has now been summoned to appear before the Commons Home Affairs Committee on Tuesday to explain to MPs what had gone wrong.

The chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge said they would also be summoning G4S, Locog, the Home Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to give evidence when Parliament returns in September.

She said it was imperative that there was 'total transparency' when public money was involved.

'What the National Audit Office has said to me is that it is unlikely that we will be able to clawback for the taxpayer money spent on overheads – that is where the big money has gone,” she told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

Security blunder: Military personnel walk from the Olympic Park

Security blunder: Military personnel walk from the Olympic Park

'What none of us know is how that contract was designed, whether there was a penalty clause in it. Clearly we have to pursue that point.

'Where public money is being used, hiding behind commercial confidentiality is simply not good enough.'

A total of 17,000 servicemen and women will now be involved in the Olympics, including 11,800 soldiers, 2,600 sailors and marines, and 2,600 airmen.

Some 11,000 of these will be involved in the security of more than 30 sporting venues and some 70 non-competition venues, including car parks and hotels, while others will carry out specialist support roles including air security, search teams, communications and logistics.

Overall, a 23,700-strong security force for the Games will include a mix of military, private security guards and at least 3,000 unpaid London 2012 volunteers.

Students applying for jobs with G4S last year were as young as 17 as they would still have reached the minimum age of 18 by the start of this month, messages on internet forum The Student Room showed.

One wrote last August: 'I passed the interview. No experience in security or anything and they signed me up for X-ray scanner.

'They claimed I would get a job if I passed the clearing phase, which takes up to 3 months … typical British efficiency hahaha.'

Another added: 'It's all a bit intimidating beforehand, but as soon as you get there all the interviewers are barely 25, really nice and sympathetic. I had no exp. either.'

Other posts suggested the interviews involved simple sight and smell tests, a document check and questions about when the applicant resolved a conflict and what actions were taken.

Rangers crisis: Smith casts doubt on rival Green after abandoning bid to buy new club

Former Rangers boss Smith casts doubt on rival Green after abandoning bid to buy new club

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UPDATED:

13:55 GMT, 19 June 2012

A consortium led by former Rangers manager Walter Smith have withdrawn their bid to buy the club from Charles Green.

Smith said an offer of 6million to
the Green consortium through Zeus Capital had been rejected, and
confirmed his group have now pulled out of attempts to own the newco
club in order to allow the new owners to proceed in their own way.

Out of the running: Former Rangers manager Walter Smith

Out of the running: Former Rangers manager Walter Smith

A statement from Smith read: 'Our offer has been rejected and they have made a counter-offer inviting us to join their consortium.

'However, the current business plan is
not in accord with our understanding of the present circumstances of the
Club and the way forward, but we would prefer to leave them to proceed
in their own way and we wish them good luck in their endeavours.'

The Smith-led consortium revealed a dramatic 11th hour bid for Rangers on Thursday, as failure to secure a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) consigned the club to liquidation.

Green and his investors subsequently
completed the purchase of the business and assets of Rangers as a newco
for 5.5million and were urged to consider a quick sale by the veteran
boss.

However, Smith – who
stressed their initial offer to administrators Duff and Phelps was made
before Green`s acquisition was completed – is now prepared to step aside
following 'verbal assurances' provided by the new regime.

A statement from the two-times Rangers
manager read: 'I would like to clarify the background to the offer of
6million for the assets of the club which I announced on Thursday 14th
June 2012.

New man: Charles Green

New man: Charles Green

'The offer was made to the administrators before the Charles Green consortium had concluded their transaction to acquire the assets at 5.5million from the administrators.

'We felt it necessary to have a fall-back position to secure the club's future.

'We have since made the same offer of 6million to the Green consortium through Zeus Capital.

'Our offer has been rejected and they have made a counter-offer inviting us to join their consortium.

'However, the current business plan is not in accord with our understanding of the present circumstances of the club and the way forward, but we would prefer to leave them to proceed in their own way and we wish them good luck in their endeavours.

'Members of our consortium had met with Charles Green and Zeus Capital prior to the CVA meeting and it had been agreed that we would be provided with significant information which would give us comfort as to the identity of the consortium members, their strategy and their funding capacity.

'This information had not been forthcoming by the date of our offer.

'We are therefore withdrawing completely from the process to enable Charles Green and his consortium to move forward.

'We very much hope the verbal assurances they provided to us – and the public statements made – are adhered to and that the club will therefore be financed and managed with appropriate governance and can go forward in a sustainable manner.

'We wish the new Rangers Football Club every good fortune.'

Green will discover on July 4 whether the company now known as The Rangers Football Club will be granted entry into the Scottish Premier League.

All 12 top-flight clubs will vote on the issue at a general meeting convened after the football body confirmed an application for registration of transfer of Rangers' SPL share had been received.

Next season's fixtures were released yesterday morning with the stricken Glasgow giants replaced with 'Club 12' until the situation is clarified.

The SPL also announced disciplinary charges will be brought against Rangers when the future of the club is clarified, and before the start of the new season, following an investigation into player payments outside of contract in relation to Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs).
end

Euro 2012: Holland"s failure – why were they so bad?

Dutch disaster: Just how did Holland fail so miserably at Euro 2012

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UPDATED:

15:20 GMT, 18 June 2012

Robin van Persie. Wesley Sneijder. Arjen Robben. Just a few of Holland's players – all of whom could stake their claim for a place in a world XI. It seems perplexing that such a talented collective could be dumped out of Euro 2012 with not a point to show for their endeavours.

It's the first time for over two decades that the Oranje have lost three games running. So how did it go so wrong How did Bert Van Marwijk's men fail to make it through to the quarter-finals

Dumped out: Arjen Robben and his colleagues depart without a point

Dumped out: Arjen Robben and his colleagues depart without a point

Heading home: Rafael van der Vaart looks down as he gets ready to fly away from Euro 2012

Heading home: Rafael van der Vaart looks down as he gets ready to fly away from Euro 2012

Misfiring megastars

Robin van Persie scored an incredible 43 goals in 54 appearances for club and country this season but with the exception of one moment of magic against Germany, looked like he'd never seen a goal before in his life. Several chances which he would have buried in an Arsenal shirt went begging, most notably against Denmark when Holland had over 30 shots but managed to find the target with a paltry five.

Arguably worse was Arjen Robben. The Bayern Munich winger has had an end to the 2011-12 season to forget. A terrible penalty against Chelsea in his side's Champions League final defeat followed by being booed by fans at a Bayern v Holland friendly match before Euro 2012. And after arriving at the tournament seemed intent on cutting inside from the right wing and lashing shot after shot over the bar and into the disappointed crowd.

Oops: Robin van Persie was off-colour

Oops: Robin van Persie was off-colour

Disastrous defending

The Dutch defence has long been the weakest part of their team and at Euro 2012 it was no different. Jetro Willems, at 18 years and 71 days old, became the youngest ever player at a European Championship when he played against Denmark, and sadly he looked it.

The PSV left-back stepped up to replace his club-mate Erik Pieters and although he was nothing worse than shaky against Denmark, endured a torrid time at the hands of Germany and Thomas Muller in particular.

Holland's other full back, Gregory van de Wiel, was almost as bad defensively. Several lapses in concentration gave chances to his opponents and Premier League clubs interested in him should re-assess whether they still want to splash the cash. Chelsea are one of the clubs linked – he would be a like-for-like replacement for the defensively inept Jose Bosingwa.

Raw: The inexperienced Jetro Willems did not aid a shaky back-line

Raw: The inexperienced Jetro Willems did not aid a shaky back-line

Dubious tactics

Starting with two holding midfielders against Denmark was a puzzling choice. Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel are destroyers – far happier at crushing opposition moves than building attacks themselves. Perhaps it seems a little churlish to criticise them given that they created so many chances against Denmark, but given the impact Rafael van der Vaart had when he started in the Portugal match, maybe not.

Picking both of them against Germany was not a bad decision given the ability Joachim Low's side have in the centre of the park, but they still underperformed. So the blame lies both with Van Marwijk and the two players.

Force: Nigel de Jong was selected in all three games

Force: Nigel de Jong was selected in all three games

Dressing room divisions

Holland and dressing room harmony rarely are mentioned in the same breath. And this tournament is no exception. It's not been as rocky as it was at Euro 1996 when Edgar Davids was sent home, but still no doubt counter-productive.

'Of course there were some internal issues but we will keep them indoors,' Robben told Voetbal International. 'The hunger in the team is there,' he added. 'But we failed together. And I mean the technical staff, the players, the whole team. This is the harsh reality of the sporting world. We must all, therefore, look in the mirror.'

Van der Vaart and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar complained about being left out of the starting XI against Denmark – admittedly with good reason given the failings of the Dutch – but even when they did start, against Portugal, they still could not muster a point.

Van Bommel, who was dropped, said the atmosphere was worse than when the side reached the 2010 World Cup final. 'I am captain and will always protect my players but the atmosphere was different than two years ago. Why that was I don't know, I can only speak for myself, not the other guys.'

Mutiny: Bert van Marwijk's players were not impressed with some decisions

Mutiny: Bert van Marwijk's players were not impressed with some decisions

The Group of Death

In the group of death, someone had to die. It was Holland. Beaten – perhaps fortuitously – by an organised Denmark in the first game, they then came up against the might Germany and were seen off by some stunning goals from Mario Gomez.

Finally, it was Portugal. If they had faced the Portugal which scraped through against Denmark and lost to Germany, they might have got the result they needed. But they played a Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo on top form.

The Real Madrid winger almost
single-handedly put Holland to the sword, notching both goals and
hitting the post as many times again. He ran the game and terrorised
Holland's weak defence. Van der Vaart's wonderful opener seemed as if it
would bring Holland back into contention for quarter-final
qualification, but Ronaldo put paid to that.

Next The fall-out. And if Holland's history is anything to go by, it will be both long and painful.

Torturer-in-chief: Cristiano Ronaldo shredded Holland

Torturer-in-chief: Cristiano Ronaldo shredded Holland

John Higgins says he"s not been trying hard enough

EXCLUSIVE: I've not been trying hard enough, admits struggling world champ Higgins

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UPDATED:

13:01 GMT, 19 April 2012

It’s not often you meet a world champion who is low on confidence. But John Higgins, who won the Betfred.com World Snooker Championship in May 2011, has endured a torrid year.

Failing to win a single event on snooker’s busy calendar is not something you expect of a four-time winner of the sport’s greatest prize, but you do expect them to put an appropriate amount of effort into their endeavours – something Higgins is willing but not proud to admit he has not done.

When asked about his year, he was open and honest.

‘It’s been poor, it’s been very poor,’ he said. ‘It’s not been what I would have expected or hoped for. I’ve not been putting the correct amount of effort back into the game, which you need to. To be a top level sportsman you need to put a lot of time and effort in, and I’ve not been doing that.

Frank assessment: Higgins was critical of his form in the last year

Frank assessment: Higgins was critical of his form in the last year

‘You need to practice five or six days a week. I’ve been lucky if it’s even been one or two. That goes to show you where the problem lies.’

Higgins' most recent failure was at the China Open, which saw him eliminated in the second-round by Peter Ebdon. His conqueror eventually went on to win the tournament, but that proved scant consolation for the Scot, whose admission he was not especially disappointed with his exit highlighted his general malaise.

‘I’m not too disappointed with my performance there because it just joined a list of the other disappointments I’ve had this year,’ Higgins drolly explained.

When Higgins won last year’s World Championship, it looked like being a springboard for further success after some distressing events in his life.

Frame-fixing allegations were a source of trouble for the player after an undercover operation by the now-defunct News of the World, and although the charges were dropped, Higgins was still slapped with a 75,000 fine and banned for six months for bringing the game into disrepute.

Worse still, Higgins’ father and mentor, John Snr, died two months before the tournament began after losing his battle with cancer, prompting the Wizard of Wishaw to shed tears after his victory.

Testing times: Higgins lost his father last year

Testing times: Higgins lost his father last year

Was this the reason Higgins found it difficult to put in the right application away from events ‘Possibly, yeah,’ he said. ‘You can only be human when things like that happen. Obviously it’s tough. It’s always tough when you lose someone close to you.

‘It’s hard to try and get used to that but everyone in life has to go through that, you just have to do it the best you can.’

Although Higgins has never been a crowd favourite, it seems possible that the reaction towards the unsavoury allegations could be affecting his game. In the semi-final of the 2011 tournament he was heckled by an accusatory spectator.

But Higgins refused to give the idea any credence. ‘It was a one-off,’ he said. ‘The crowds have been good ever since.’

The crowds and atmosphere at Sheffield’s Crucible Higgins ranks as the best in snooker.

‘You can’t get any better than playing in the crucible, in that gladiatorial arena,’ he said. ‘There’s been years I’ve been there and really, really struggled, and lost quite heavily.

Wizard of Wishaw: Higgins is going for his fifth world title

Wizard of Wishaw: Higgins is going for his fifth world title

‘It’s a very unforgiving arena. You play well and it can be great, but you can have the worst moments of your career there.

In 1998, 2007, 2008 and 2011 Higgins enjoyed some of the great times there. Will 2012 be the next ‘I’ve been putting in seven days a week,’ he said. ‘But it could be too little, too late. It’s only been for three weeks I’ve been putting the practise in, so we’ll need to wait and see.

‘But the World Championship is a funny tournament. You can go down there without any confidence behind you but if you win a match you can pick it up from there.’

And it seems Higgins is excited about the direction the sport of snooker is heading in, under dynamic chief Barry Hearn. He said: ‘He’s had a great effect. It’s been the most important thing that we’ve had in snooker for the last 10 to 20 years.

‘He’s breathed a new life into the sport. It was going nowhere a few years ago, now it is full steam ahead.’

It seems Higgins is finding inspiration within himself as well, as he pledged to get back on track in the new snooker year ahead – starting with the World Championships.

Pledge: Higgins is looking to get his career back on track

Pledge: Higgins is looking to get his career back on track

‘I love the game of snooker. I love competing,’ he insisted. ‘There’s a fear there also you don’t want to fall too far down the rankings. A fear that drives you on to stay at the top level for as long as you can.’

This fear is compounded by young challengers looking to make their mark on the world stage – Higgins won the 2011 final against rising star Judd Trump.

‘Last year he brought something different to the Championship and the atmosphere he brought with him was great,’ explained Higgins. ‘He’s young, good looking, and he loved going on his twitter during the breaks. He’s been great for snooker and he will be great for snooker in the coming years.’

But the veteran does not see eye to eye with Trump on everything. The youngster said he would be in favour of a shot clock being introduced into some of snooker’s classic tournaments, but Higgins is not enamoured with the idea.

Defending champion: Higgins will look to repeat last year's performance

Defending champion: Higgins will look to repeat last year's performance

‘I don’t think so,’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t be against a maximum time to play a shot but when you put a shot clock on for 15 to 20 seconds to play a shot, that’s too far.

‘I would be lost. I don’t really enjoy the shot clock. I’m not a slow player, but I don’t think the idea of people telling you when to hit a shot should come into it. It’s like saying to Tiger Woods you’ve got 10 seconds to run up there and hit the golf ball down the middle of the fairway. It should not happen.'

But with new players like Trump springing up the sport is thriving. Hearn has made many changes and introduced plenty of new events. With renewed vigour and determination, Higgins is looking forwards.

He said: ‘Things happen in life for a reason. You should not have regrets at all in life. Live for tomorrow, don’t think about the past.’

It will be a lot easier for Higgins to forget his last year if it ends with his fifth World Championship triumph.

Wasps takeover collapses as Aviva Premiership club appeal for new investors

Wasps face administration threat after Adams Park takeover talks collapse

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UPDATED:

14:59 GMT, 10 April 2012

Wasps are in grave danger of going into administration unless they can attract new investment by the end of the Aviva Premiership season, following the collapse of takeover talks.

The club have been looking for a new owner since last July, when Wycombe District Council withdraw its support for the construction of a new stadium.

Wasps were close to completing a takeover deal last week but that arrangement has fallen through, leaving the club in a precarious financial position.

Collapse: Takeover talks for Wasps have broken down

Collapse: Takeover talks for Wasps have broken down

It is understood Wasps have enough
funding to see them through the next month, which would allow them to
complete the Premiership season, but the club need urgent investment to
remain in business beyond May.

Luke Benedict

Wasps have returned with their
begging bowl to three parties who had previously expressed an interest
in the club while issuing an urgent appeal for potential new investors
to step forward.

A club statement said: 'The board is
disappointed to confirm that negotiations, which had been leading
towards an imminent takeover of the club, have stalled.

'The board, having taken independent
advice, is able to confirm that London Wasps Holdings Limited remains
nevertheless a going concern.

'However, the board acknowledges the urgency of the current situation surrounding the club.

'There are ongoing active discussions
with other potential investors but the club is seeking, using all best
endeavours, further expressions of interest.'

Threat: The prospect of administration hangs over Wasps if they don't find new investors

Threat: The prospect of administration hangs over Wasps if they don't find new investors

It is understood the collapse of the takeover bid was due to funding issues with the potential investor.

It emerged last week that Wasps'
current owner Steve Hayes had been arrested and bailed as part of
Scotland Yard's computer-hacking investigation.

Wasps have been battling against
relegation all season and, with three matches remaining, they have still
not mathematically secured their Premiership status.

Selling up: Wasps owner Steve Hayes

Selling up: Wasps owner Steve Hayes

The club have fallen a long way since
2008, when Lawrence Dallaglio lifted their fifth English league title
to go with the European crowns they won in 2004 and 2007.

Dallaglio retired and was followed
out of the door by England internationals James Haskell, Tom Palmer,
Riki Flutey, Paul Sackey and Danny Cipriani.

Palmer and Haskell are due to return
next season and Wasps chairman Mark Rigby is desperate to convince new
investors there is a bright future for the club.

'London Wasps has a long and
successful history, and is one of the best known brands in the game, and
the board is convinced that the right backer exists,' Rigby said.

'With a great squad in place and the
excellent (director of rugby) Dai Young at the helm, we believe we are
set to make a strong impact next season.

'Time is however short and we urgently need a new investor or consortium to back this belief.'

Brundles to link up at Le Mans as father and son team go for glory with Greaves Motorsport

Brundles to link up at Le Mans as father and son team go for glory with Greaves Motorsport

Teaching your kids to drive must surely rank as one of the most stressful endeavours a parent can undertake. Wisely, in the clan Brundle that task was left to a family friend.

But away from the Highway Code, three point turns and parallel parking, dad Martin had already passed on plenty of driving tips to son Alex. Genetics took care of a large part of that.

Brundle Snr will get the chance to check first hand just how much Alex has inherited when he takes a break from the Formula One commentary booth to partner his offspring at the gruelling Le Mans 24 hour in June.

Fatherly advice: Brundle

Fatherly advice: Brundle

The Brundles will share the driving duties at the wheel of a Nissan-powered Greaves Motorsport LMP2 prototype with Spaniard Lucas Ordonez. And Martin, a winner of the oldest sportscar endurance event in the world with Jaguar in 1990, is itching to pass on the benefit of his experience to his young co-drivers.

‘I have done a lot of long distance racing,’ says Martin. ‘I was world sportscar champion, I won Daytona, and I won Le Mans. I think I won 18 long distance races. I can help these two guys with playing the long game.’

Such fatherly advice, of course, extends to Alex’s entire motorsport career. This season he will combine his Nissan duties with racing in GP3, two rungs below the promised land of Formula One.

Martin is customarily frank when discussing the perils of allowing your son to partake in what remains a highly dangerous sporting pursuit, acknowledging it is his wife Liz who will have the most to fret about come Le Mans.

‘Ron Haslam’s wife came up with an amazing quote which I thought was harsh but then I realised how good it was,’ recalls Martin of the veteran British motorbike racer.

‘She said you can replace your husband but you can’t replace your son. I think it will be harder for Liz. But the cars are safe and the track is a lot safer now.’

As for attempting to persuade Alex not to follow in his footsteps, Martin acknowledges attempting to do so would have been both futile and hypocritical.

‘What could I say to Alex “Look what it has done for me son, don’t go anywhere near that!” Formula One has been very kind to me with a couple of careers as has motorsport in general.

‘He has grown up in the paddock of F1 and international motorsport. I can’t be that surprised that he wanted to do it.’

Alex, in voice remarkably similar to that which is familiar to millions of Formula One fans, if a semi-tone higher, chips in.

‘I
have always been the driving force behind my motorsport to this point.
It is something that I love to do and I don’t remember there being a
massive decision point, it just seemed obvious. I had the inclination
and the opportunity and I took it.

‘At
the end of the day one of the beauties of motorsport is that you are in
there alone. No matter how much support you have got in the pit lane
and around you, you are the guy, the guy alone, in the car making the
decisions.’

Vital experience: Brundle participates in the 1998 endurance race

Vital experience: Brundle participates in the 1998 endurance race

Even so, there are no shortages of debriefs with dad, especially on the subject of maintaining a healthy sense of realism over just how difficult it will be for Alex to make it all the way to Formula One.

As Alex points out: ‘We have spoken about his at length and about where we are going to go next. It is a no brainer to understand some other areas of motorsport and get some experience in them so that you have got somewhere to go. If you have made a success of any form of motorsport then you are a professional guy doing a good job.’

At much the same stage of his career as Alex is enjoying now, Martin was sparring with none other than Ayrton Senna in Formula Three.

This season Bruno Senna, Ayrton’s nephew, will be behind the wheel of a Williams. And although Martin acknowledges the difficulties Alex will face to make it to the pinnacle of motorsport, there is noticeable twinkle in his eye when asked about the prospect of commentating on his son in the not too distant future.

‘It would be great wouldn’t it’ admits Martin. ‘How exciting would that be, to have Brundle and Senna again in F1. I might retire then because he could pay me all the money back!'

Nathan Cleverly meets Sam Warburton and Mark Hudson before Welsh sport"s biggest weekend

Welsh sport's biggest weekend ever Cleverly meets Warburton and Hudson as trio aim for greatness

Boxer Nathan Cleverly met up with Wales' rugby captain Sam Warburton and Cardiff City skipper Mark Hudson before one of the biggest weekends in Welsh sporting history.

Cleverly makes the third defence of his WBO World Light-Heavyweight title against American Tommy Karpency at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena, while Cardiff face Liverpool in the Carling Cup final, and Wales meet England in the Six Nations at Twickenham on Sunday.

Hensol Park's Vale Hotel hosted media events for all three clashes on Friday, with Warburton and Hudson stopping by Cleverly's press conference.

Welsh hopes: Sam Warburton (left) with Nathan Cleverly (centre) and Mark Hudson (right)

Welsh hopes: Sam Warburton (left) with Nathan Cleverly (centre) and Mark Hudson (right)

Warburton said: 'We are all hoping for a successful weekend in Welsh sport and it is great to have so much silverware at stake in terms of Nathan’s title fight, Cardiff City’s trophy bid and our own pursuit of the Triple Crown against England on Saturday.

'Everyone in the Wales squad would like to wish both Nathan and the Bluebirds the best of luck for the weekend and lets hope the entire nation, whatever the sport, will have reason to celebrate by Monday morning.'

Together: The trio are supporting each other in their separate endeavours

Together: The trio are supporting each other in their separate endeavours

Hudson added: 'Nathan’s a great fighter and I’m sure he’ll defend his title on Saturday so he can make it to our match on Sunday.

'Also good luck to Sam and the lads in their big match.'

Cleverly said: 'It’s a huge huge weekend for Welsh sport and I’m glad that I’m part of it.

Clash: Tommy Karpency (left) is challenging Cleverly for his belt

Clash: Tommy Karpency (left) is challenging Cleverly for his belt

'I’ll be relaxing in the afternoon watching Sam and the boys in the hotel on TV before my big fight and hopefully they’ll do the business.

'I’ve got my title defence against Karpency which is a must win for me, no two-ways about it.

'Then I aim to be at the match the next day watching Mark and my mate Darcy Blake take Cardiff City to win the Carling Cup against Liverpool.”

See Cleverly v Karpency live and exclusive on BoxNation, Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546 from 8pm. Join at www.boxnation.tv

Demba Ba: We had to beat Manchester United

We had to beat United after Liverpool display, claims goal-hero Ba

Demba Ba believes Newcastle responded in perfect fashion to their defeat by Liverpool as they inflicted a 3-0 defeat on Manchester United in the Barclays Premier League.

Ba collected his 15th goal of the season when he opened the scoring with Yohan Cabaye getting the second before a Phil Jones own goal rounded off the evening.

In black and white: Ba gave the hosts the lead after 33 minutes

In black and white: Ba gave the hosts the lead after 33 minutes

On target: The Newcastle striker netted his 15th League goal of the campaign

On target: The Newcastle striker netted his 15th League goal of the campaign

Ba told Sky Sports 1: 'We just went on the pitch, after what we did against Liverpool it was not good. 'Today we had to get the three points.'

He added: 'I don't really look at the opposition when I play – I just say if I give everything 100% I am going to be on a good day.'

Team-mate Shola Ameobi echoed his team-mate's sentiments, saying: 'It's the start of the new year, start as we mean to go on.

'We didn't really show up against Liverpool so that was a great opportunity for us.

Good job, well done: Ba received a standing ovation after being substituted

Good job, well done: Ba received a standing ovation after being substituted

'We got a fantastic win. 'We saw what Blackburn did to them a few days ago and we thought that could be something we could work on – get the ball in behind them and squeeze them up the pitch.'

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew believed his side had got just rewards for their endeavours.

He told Sky Sports 1: 'We won because we controlled the game in terms of what we wanted to do, we wouldn't let them play.

'Physically and aerially today we had an advantage. 'It was a great victory for us – we beat the champions 3-0 and we probably deserved that scoreline.

'You've got to have brave players who are going to push on – we had some outstanding performances individually.'

Ba will now be heading off to the African Nations Cup but the Magpies boss is confident other players can step forward.

He said: 'You see the guys who came off the bench contributed. '(Leon) Best in particular stepped up to the plate when we lost (Andy) Carroll.

'We knew it was going to happen and we accept that – it was a great new year for us.'