Tag Archives: fortnight

Godsmejudge wins Scottish Grand National for Alan King

Godsmejudge delivers Scottish Grand National glory for King and Hutchinson

By
Jonathan Powell

PUBLISHED:

15:47 GMT, 20 April 2013

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UPDATED:

19:08 GMT, 20 April 2013

Scots-born trainer Alan King was overcome with emotion after his smart novice Godsmejudge gave him his first triumph in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr.

King, who was brought up near Glasgow, admitted: 'This means as much to me as any of the wins I've had. It is like coming home.'

National glory: Wayne Hutchinson celebrates Scottish Grand National glory with Godsmejudge

National glory: Wayne Hutchinson celebrates Scottish Grand National glory with Godsmejudge

But for another Scotsman, Ryan
Mania, and his mount Auroras Encore, this proved one National too many
after their shock success at Aintree a fortnight ago.

The pair were soon struggling towards the rear as they sought to emulate Red Rum's famous double in 1974.

Though they briefly made progress at
halfway, they were out of the race long before the end. Mania was
clearly thrilled to be riding again so soon after a heavy fall at Hexham
the day after the National that saw him airlifted to hospital by
helicopter.

Home alone: Godsmejudge clears the last

Home alone: Godsmejudge clears the last

Godsmejudge, a 12-1 shot, won with eye-catching ease after jumping to the front early on the final circuit.

Big Occasion threatened briefly
early in the straight, but was never going to catch the leader. Jubilant
jockey Wayne Hutchinson, gaining the biggest win of his career, said:
'For a little horse, Godsmejudge is like a rubber ball, so enthusiastic.
He's relentless with his jumping and galloping and soon got into a
great rhythm.

'Once we led, it seemed awfully quiet behind us.'

King spent many years as a hard-working assistant to legendary trainer David Nicholson.

He briefly took over the licence
from Nicholson before sending out a conveyor belt of winners from his
current base at Barbury Castle, Wiltshire.

This has been a testing season for
King, with several of his best horses out of action, but he is finishing
it with a flourish with the able assistance of the ever-reliable
Hutchinson.

Tim Bresnan back to bowling in a fortnight after elbow operation

Bresnan to get back in the swing of things in a fortnight after undergoing elbow operation

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

19:53 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

19:54 GMT, 3 April 2013

On the comeback trail: Tim Bresnan

On the comeback trail: Tim Bresnan

England bowler Tim Bresnan will return to action in a fortnight following an operation on his right elbow.

The 28-year-old, who was named in a 30-man England squad for the summer season, underwent an operation in February and missed the tour of New Zealand.

The Yorkshireman is set to play in the three-day friendly against Lancashire at Headingley, which starts a week on Tuesday.

Bresnan said: ‘It would be wise to go into a friendly first up. I’m hoping to be fully fit and take a full part in that game and all the other games after that.’

George Groves beats Baker Barakat with second round TKO in Germany

Groves continues winning record by easily overcoming Barakat with second round TKO

, George Groves has now matched that tally in the last fortnight following his second-round stoppage victory over Baker Barakat in Germany.

The 24-year-old super middleweight beat Dario German Balmaceda at Wembley Arena two weeks ago and made light work of his Syrian opponent on the undercard of Robert Stieglitz's world title rematch with Arthur Abraham in Magdeburg.

On the attack: George Groves (right) lands a jab on Baker Barakat

On the attack: George Groves (right) lands a jab on Baker Barakat

Groves will target the winner of that clash later in the year after starring as chief support to Carl Froch's mouthwatering rematch with Mikkel Kessler on May 25.

The Londoner, who has now won all 18 of his professional contests, was on top from the first bell, peppering Barakat to the head and body before a left uppercut had the 32-year-old wobbling.

The bell came to his rescue on that occasion but a knockdown in the second session, followed by a further flurry of blows, forced the referee to step in.

Stopping him now: The referee steps in to prevent any further punishment

Stopping him now: The referee steps in to prevent any further punishment

Groves, who recently left Frank Warren to join rival promoter Eddie Hearn, immediately looked forward to a world title challenge.

'It was a good fight,' he said. 'He wasn't at the level I'm used to but I put in a good performance and didn't make any mistakes.

'I'm the No 1 contender with the WBO and was supposed to fight Stieglitz last year but I had to pull out through injury.'

Paolo Di Canio has resigned as Swindon manager after his position became "untenable"

Di Canio resigns as Swindon manager after his position became 'untenable'

By
Joe Ridge and Ralph Ellis

PUBLISHED:

19:28 GMT, 18 February 2013

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UPDATED:

22:13 GMT, 18 February 2013


Gone: Paulo Di Canio

Gone: Paulo Di Canio

Paolo Di Canio’s turbulent 18 months as manager of Swindon came to an end on Monday night when the fiery Italian walked out.

Di Canio, who won promotion in his first season, revealed he had resigned a week ago but gave the club’s prospective new owners seven days to get the green light from the Football League for their takeover.

When a 5pm deadline came and went last night with the deal — lined up to prevent the club going into administration — still uncertain, Di Canio decided it was time to go.

The 44-year-old had been threatening to walk out for more than a fortnight after star midfielder Matt Ritchie was sold to Bournemouth for 500,000 without his approval.

The statement said: 'In my previous press statement on 1st
February, I said that I was considering my future, as my position with
the club had become untenable, after I found out that Matt Ritchie had
been sold without my consent.

'As I had previously stated, there
have been a number of broken promises made by the club over the time
that I have been Manager of Swindon Town. Despite these problems, I have
delivered everything and more that was asked of me, by achieving
promotion last year as Champions and competing this season for promotion
to the Championship and being just 3 points from top place a year
earlier than expected.

'I did not resign immediately, nor
publicise my resignation after I had formally confirmed it, as I did not
want to jeopardise the negotiations for the sale of the club and I
wanted to listen to what the proposed new owners plans were.'

Hero: Swindon fans had done everything they could to keep Di Canio

Hero: Swindon fans had done everything they could to keep Di Canio

Di Canio won 44 of the 75 league games he was in charge at Swindon, and his resignation will spark interest from bigger clubs who are looking for a new manager.

The statement continued: 'Following discussions, my representatives put forward a proposal that
would secure my future at the club until at least the end of the season
and quite possibly beyond as well. This proposal actually reduced the
Clubs contractual liabilities to me in the interest of saving Swindon
Town FC. At a meeting last Friday the proposed new owners accepted and
said they were very happy with the new terms.

'I entered into a temporary arrangement with the proposed new owners
to continue in my role as Manager but all this was agreed subject to
Football League approval for the purchase of the Club being granted by
5:00pm on Monday 18th February.

Money: Off-field financial problems have begun to dog Swindon

Money: Off-field financial problems have begun to dog Swindon

'At the time of issuing this statement, I have had no further contact
from the proposed new owners and I have been told that unfortunately
Football League approval has not been granted yet and therefore my
temporary arrangement has ended and my resignation stands.

'This is all I wish to say for the time being other than to thank my
Technical Staff and the players for their fantastic professional
behaviour and attitude in achieving what they have done up to today,
also thanks to the Swindon Town supporters for the incredible support
they have shown me and the team throughout my time as Manager.

'I wish the best of luck to the supporters, the players and my Technical Staff for the future.'

Undermined: Di Canio felt the sale of Matt Richie was the last straw

Undermined: Di Canio felt the sale of Matt Richie was the last straw

Swindon currently sit sixth in League
One, just two points off the automatic promotion places — but Di Canio
wanted more backing to reach the Championship. Instead, he lost his top
player and his plans to recruit more were shelved.

Swindon’s owners put the club up for
sale in mid-January, revealing they had debts of around 13million and
warning they might have to go into administration.

That fear was eased when a consortium
agreed a deal to take over, but so far its leader, Oxford-based
businessman Jed McCrory, who bought Southern League club Banbury Town
six months ago, does not have Football League backing for his plans.

Di Canio’s position will be of
interest to West Ham, where he is the fans’ favourite to take over if
the club fail to agree a contract with Sam Allardyce when his deal runs
out in June.

Randy Lerner to hand Paul Lambert January cash boost in bid to revive Aston Villa

Lerner set to hand Lambert January cash boost in bid to revive free-falling Villa

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UPDATED:

12:50 GMT, 31 December 2012

Under pressure: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert

Under pressure: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner will provide further financial backing to manager Paul Lambert during the January transfer window to help stave off the threat of relegation.

Lerner splashed out almost 23million to help Lambert rebuild the squad during last summer, with the accent on bringing in up and coming young talent.

There had been encouraging signs up to a fortnight ago with Villa reaching the Capital One Cup semi-finals via a 4-1 success at Norwich and then winning 3-1 over Liverpool at Anfield.

That victory was achieved with a side having an average age of less than 24 and was the youngest ever fielded in the Premier League.

But Villa's lack of experience, due in part to a lengthy and growing injury list, has been highlighted over the festive period with 15 goals conceded without reply in three games.

Villa's Christmas collapse

Chelsea 8 Aston Villa 0 (Sun 23 Dec)

Aston Villa 0 Tottenham 4 (Wed 26 Dec)

Aston Villa 0 Wigan 3 (Sat 29 Dec)

Lerner and Lambert held talks about the approach to be taken next month before and after Saturday's 3-0 home defeat by Wigan left Villa only a point above the Barclays Premier League bottom three.

Lambert also has the option of trying to offload some of the players who had only played a bit-part role even before becoming injured to bolster funds.

The likes of record signing Darren Bent, Charles N'Zogbia, Shay Given, and Stephen Ireland have made only a handful of starts this season.

Villa have also missed the leadership qualities of skipper Stiliyan Petrov who continues to battle against acute leukaemia.

Ouch: Stephen Ireland and Chris Herd reflect on the 3-0 defeat against Wigan

Ouch: Stephen Ireland and Chris Herd reflect on the 3-0 defeat against Wigan

Lambert retains the backing of the Villa fans and the boos after the latest setback against the Latics were more in frustration at a poor performance rather than being aimed directly at the Scot.

There is also no suggestion that his own position is under review with Lerner recognising the long term nature of the rebuilding job needed at Villa.

Theo Walcott given deadline by Arsenal to sign new contract

Arsenal set two-week deadline for in-form Walcott to sign new deal to keep him at Emirates

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UPDATED:

22:50 GMT, 30 December 2012

Arsenal want Theo Walcott's long-term future secured within the next fortnight.

Club officials are working to set up a second round of formal contract discussions with the player and his representatives in the next 14 days.

Arsenal are increasingly optimistic a deal can be reached. Sportsmail understands the 23-year-old's preference is to stay.

Main man: Theo Walcott was in exceptional form against Newcastle

Main man: Theo Walcott was in exceptional form against Newcastle

But the original 75,000-per-week offer made on August 28 must be improved, while Walcott also wants assurances over his chances of playing as a centre forward on a regular basis.

The England star wants a package closer to 100,000 per week, but it is believed a deal of 85,000 or 90,000 would suit both parties.

Meanwhile, Arsenal will this week make their move to sign Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha.

The Gunners are set to increase their starting offer to beat Manchester United to the England player's signature.

Arsenal had originally planned to make an 8million opening bid for the 20-year-old starlet, who wants to leave Selhurst Park in January.

However, they are considering a more lucrative starting offer to ensure Zaha's arrival.

Deadline: Arsenal want Walcott's new deal sewn up within the next two weeks

Deadline: Arsenal want Walcott's new deal sewn up within the next two weeks

Icing on the cake: Walcott scores his third and Arsenal's seventh

Icing on the cake: Walcott scores his third and Arsenal's seventh

Nottingham Forest 4 Leeds 2: Billy Sharp scores twice

Nottingham Forest 4 Leeds 2: Sharp caps happy Christmas with brace in convincing victory

PUBLISHED:

14:14 GMT, 26 December 2012

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UPDATED:

14:37 GMT, 26 December 2012

Billy Sharp capped a fine fortnight by striking twice as Nottingham Forest turned on the style either side of half-time to send in-form Leeds spiralling to defeat at the City Ground.

The striker's wife had given birth to their son on December 14 after a period of heartache that began with the death of their first child, who was just two days old, last summer.

Forest, who had slipped to 11th place after taking only four points from their previous five matches, were the latest side to make a mockery of the form book in the npower Championship after Sharp converted a late first-half penalty to cancel out Paul Green's early opener for Leeds.

Sharp fired his second of the game soon after the restart and a three-goal blitz in nine minutes – Rodolph Austin scored a clumsy own goal and Dexter Blackstock headed home the fourth – stunned the visitors, who had celebrated the completion of last week's takeover by Dubai investment bank GFH Capital with victory over Middlesbrough on Saturday – Leeds' fifth win in their last six league games.

Hotshot: Sharp's double proved the difference in Forest's victory

Hotshot: Sharp's double proved the difference in Forest's victory

Match facts

Nottingham Forest: Camp, Hutton, Ward, Collins, Halford, Cohen, Guedioura, Majewski, Reid, Sharp, Blackstock.
Subs: Darlow, Harding, Gillett, Moussi, McGugan, Cox, Lansbury.

Leeds: Kenny, /12/26/article-2253315-16A7EA1A000005DC-511_468x323.jpg” width=”468″ height=”323″ alt=”Mobbed: Sharp's Forest team-mates celebrate after he scored” class=”blkBorder” />

Mobbed: Sharp's Forest team-mates celebrate after he scored

Leeds striker Luciano Becchio's header
from Drury's cross was comfortably gathered by Camp, while at the other
end visiting goalkeeper Paddy Kenny pulled off a fine save in the 28th
minute to keep out Forest defender Elliott Ward's goalbound header.

Forest deservedly equalised in the
44th minute. Referee Lee Probert did not hesitate in pointing to the
spot following Lees' challenge on Sharp and the Forest striker picked
himself up to send Kenny the wrong way with the subsequent penalty for
his eighth goal of the season.

Forest, suitably perked, looked the
more dangerous side after the break and stole into a two-goal lead
within 12 minutes of the restart.

Spot on: Sharp's penalty brought Forest level

Spot on: Sharp's penalty brought Forest level

Blackstock headed a long clearance
brilliantly into the path of Sharp, who coolly rounded goalkeeper Kenny
and rammed home his second goal in the 54th minute and three minutes
later an out-of-touch Austin swung a clumsy leg at Forest defender
Ward's cut back and lashed the ball into the roof of his own net.

Worse was to come for Leeds. Forest
midfielder Andy Reid ghosted passed right-back Sam /12/26/article-2253315-16A7E9C8000005DC-370_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Agony: Leeds players saw Forest overtake them in the Championship table with victory” class=”blkBorder” />

Agony: Leeds players saw Forest overtake them in the Championship table with victory

Ecstacy: Forest are well-placed to challenge for promotion in the New Year

Ecstacy: Forest are well-placed to challenge for promotion in the New Year

Manchester United v Real Madrid: Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho relationship

From that celebration at Old Trafford to sharing cups of tea… how Mourinho and Ferguson swapped fury for friendship

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UPDATED:

13:35 GMT, 20 December 2012

It started with flamboyance for one and pure fury for the other when Jose Mourinho danced down the Old Trafford touchline as his Porto side knocked Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United out of the Champions League in 2004.

Mourinho's exuberant reaction to Costinha's last-second winner opened England's eyes to a self-styled Special One – a debonair, sophisticated and astute manager who was surely destined to challenged United's Premier League hegemony.

But from Ferguson's ire that night blossomed an unlikely friendship and mutual admiration between two of the finest tacticians and motivators the game has ever seen.

Taking off: Jose Mourinho celebrates Porto's win over Manchester United at Old Trafford

Taking off: Jose Mourinho celebrates Porto's win over Manchester United at Old Trafford

Jose Mourinho v Sir Alex Ferguson

P 14 W 6 D 6 L 2

Just a fortnight ago, the pair shared tea at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester as Mourinho's Real Madrid passed through town to play City in the Champions League.

And only yesterday, Ferguson admitted for the first time that the Portuguese could be his heir at Old Trafford when he finally steps down.

But that friendship is likely to be tested in the new year as the last 16 of the Champions League again pits them against one another.

The two matches will be wonderful occasions, reigniting a classic rivalry between two famous clubs, with the meeting of Mourinho and Ferguson one of many sub-plots.

It started in 2004, when Mourinho's all-conquering Porto side stole a 2-1 first leg advantage over United in a round of 16, first leg tie.

How times change: Mourinho and Ferguson went on to establish a firm friendship

How times change: Mourinho and Ferguson went on to establish a firm friendship

Ferguson confronted his opposite number after Roy Keane was dismissed for apparently stamping on goalkeeper Vitor Baia late in the game and, according to Mourinho, refused to shake his hand.

Afterwards, Mourinho poured scorn on Ferguson's complaints, saying patronisingly: 'I understand why he is a bit emotional.

'You would be sad if your team gets as clearly dominated by opponents who have been built on 10 per cent of the budget.

In the second leg at Old Trafford, with United leading on away goals through Paul Scholes, Costinha struck late to send United crashing out.

Mourinho, the tension of the occasion bubbling away inside him, sprinted down the Old Trafford touchline to celebrate with his players and the travelling supporters. Ferguson didn't look amused by the young upstart.

Less so when the Portuguese went on to prove that win wasn't a fluke by taking Porto all the way, becoming the most courted manager in Europe.

Embrace: Ferguson and Mourinho were re-united when Inter Milan travelled to Old Trafford

Embrace: Ferguson and Mourinho were re-united when Inter Milan travelled to Old Trafford

And even less so when Mourinho turned up at nouveau riche Chelsea in 2004, proclaiming: 'Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one.'

Ferguson later reflected: ‘I remember his first press conference [at Chelsea] and I thought, “Christ, he’s a cocky b*****, him”. He was telling the players, “Look, I’m the special one, we don’t lose games”.
'Bloody hell, coming to England, he is only a young man and saying he is the special one! But it told all the players to have the belief they were going to win the league.’

As Chelsea changed the landscape of English football, winning successive Premier League titles and recording a number of victories over United to hammer home their superiority, the two managers, oddly, grew closer.

They found a range of shared interests, such as fine wine, but predominantly a mutual passion for winning football matches.

Mourinho wasn't a quiet or placid character during his time in England, picking fights and arguments with the likes of Arsene Wenger, Rafael Benitez and even United's Cristiano Ronaldo (who had 'no education' apparently) – but never with Ferguson.

Still got it: Mourinho was back to his old tricks as Real Madrid beat Manchester City in the Champions League

Still got it: Mourinho was back to his old tricks as Real Madrid beat Manchester City in the Champions League

In fact, his air was almost deferential, regarding Ferguson as 'The Boss' and absorbing Ferguson's managerial nuances while in his company.

When United and Chelsea were neck-and-neck in the title race, Mourinho simply wouldn't engage in Ferguson's mind games.

On the touchline, even on the occasions when Chelsea would outplay United 3-0, there was a warmth in the handshakes and embraces, plus a very cordial relationship behind the scenes.

Things fizzled out in the on-field battle when Mourinho was ushered out of Stamford Bridge in the autumn of 2007, but they remained in touch.

He'd had the final say by beating United in the FA Cup final, but the Premier League trophy was securely back under lock and key in Manchester.

Ferguson was sad to see him go: 'Jose leaving is a disappointment for the game. I think he was terrific for football and, of course, for Chelsea.

Partners: Mourinho will be aided by former Old Trafford favourite Cristiano Ronaldo against United

Partners: Mourinho will be aided by former Old Trafford favourite Cristiano Ronaldo against United

'I enjoyed the competition with him and I think he brought something fresh and new to our game. I just don't know what I'm going to do with my wine now!'

There has been one skirmish since, in 2009, when United comfortably knocked Jose's Inter Milan out of the Champions League en route to the final.

It was like friends reunited, fuelling speculation, that refuses to die down even now, that Mourinho cultivated his friendship with Ferguson with an eye on being his successor.

He makes no secret of wanting to return to the Premier League at some point and Ferguson seems to approve.

'He can manage anywhere, absolutely,' the Scot said recently. 'I'm not going to put any forecasts on what is going to happen at this club. I won't last forever, but Jose can manage anywhere, there is no question about that.'

With 21 trophies in his decade in the dugout, Mourinho certainly looks the right fit to carry on Ferguson's dynasty.

But that can wait. For now, there are more pressing matters to attend to – two great European nights early next year.

Mourinho's complete record against Ferguson

Competition
Round
Date
Team
Opponent
For
Against
Result
Venue
Champions League
Round of 16
25/02/2004
Porto
Man Utd
2
1
W
H
Champions LeagueRound of 16
09/03/2004Porto
Man Utd1
1
D
A
Premier League
1
15/08/2004Chelsea
Man Utd1
0
W
H
League Cup
Semi-final
12/01/2005ChelseaMan Utd0
0
D
H
League Cup
Semi-final
26/01/2005ChelseaMan Utd2
1
W
A
Premier League33
10/05/2005ChelseaMan Utd3
1
W
A
Premier League12
06/11/2005ChelseaMan Utd0
1
L
A
Premier League37
29/04/2006ChelseaMan Utd3
0
W
H
Premier League14
26/11/2006ChelseaMan Utd1
1
D
A
Premier League34
09/05/2007ChelseaMan Utd0
0
D
H
FA Cup
Final
19/05/2007ChelseaMan Utd1
0
W
N
Community Shield
Final
05/08/2007ChelseaMan Utd1
1
D
N
Champions LeagueRound of 16
24/02/2009Inter Milan
Man Utd0
0
D
H
Champions League
Round of 16
11/03/2009Inter MilanMan Utd0
2
L
A

London 2012 Olympics ticket farce exposed

Just ONE ticket made available to paying public as Team GB stars win silver during Olympics

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UPDATED:

17:37 GMT, 19 December 2012

The full extent of the ticketing farce at the London Olympics has been exposed by the publication of a full review of the ticketing programme.

The dense 976-page document highlights the gross number of tickets available to the 'Olympic family' compared to the relatively few available to the paying public for the most popular events and sessions.

Extraordinarily, there was a sailing finals day on August 9 – the day Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell won silver in the men's 470 – where 851 tickets went to sponsors and only one single ticket was available to the public.

Farce: Despite demand for tickets there were empty seats at the Olympic Games

Farce: Despite demand for tickets there were empty seats at the Olympic Games

Furthermore, for Danny Boyle's iconic opening ceremony – one of the most in-demand tickets of the fortnight – only 44 per cent of the tickets were available to the public while 66 per cent went to the Olympic family.

On the day in the velodrome when Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Phillip Hindes won the men's sprint final, only 43 per cent of tickets were available to the public.

During Novak Djokovic's opening Olympic match on Centre Court at Wimbledon, 97 per cent of the available seats on court were given to the Olympic family.

Empty seats were one of the few negatives of a successful Olympics, with atmospheres at too many venues dented by swathes of empty seats allocated by the IOC but not taken up by sponsors.

New balls: Ninety-seven per cent of seats during Djokovic's match were given to the Olympic family

New balls: Ninety-seven per cent of seats during Djokovic's match were given to the Olympic family

In total 10.99 million tickets were sold out of a total 11.3 million tickets available. 8.21 million of these tickets were Olympic Games tickets and 2.78 million were Paralympic tickets.

A total of 659 million was raised for LOCOG's operating budget to stage the Games. 319,000 tickets (263,000 Olympic and 55,000 Paralympic) were unsold, the majority of these being early rounds for Olympic Football.

76.3 per cent of all Olympic and 91 per cent of all Paralympic tickets were sold through the UK application process against a target of 75 per cent. This amounted to an unprecedented 8.8 million tickets sold.

Manchester City and Spurs face battle to sign Fernando Llorente in January

City and Spurs face battle to sign Llorente in January as club insist striker will not be sold

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UPDATED:

20:46 GMT, 18 December 2012

Athletic Bilbao president Josu Urrutia has reiterated the Primera Division club have no intention of selling wantaway star striker Fernando Llorente during the January transfer window.

The Spain international's future is uncertain after announcing this summer he would not be signing a new contract with Athletic once his current one runs out at the end of the season.

A host of clubs across Europe, including Manchester City and Tottenham, are interested in the 27-year-old but Athletic intend to make any interested parties wait until next summer to get their man.

Hot property: Fernando Llorente is wanted by a host of clubs across Europe

Hot property: Fernando Llorente is wanted by a host of clubs across Europe

Wants out: Llorente is hoping to quit Bilbao

Wants out: Llorente is hoping to quit Bilbao

Athletic are hoping Llorente can still have an impact on the field before he leaves as Marcelo Bielsa's side attempt to recover from a poor start to the season.

Urrutia told reporters today: 'I've a feeling these decisions will not please everyone, but I think they are the most beneficial for Athletic.

'We've taken our decision and at the moment we're sticking to it. He's an important player, he's shown that, and the team is more competitive with him. We hope that he continues to score important goals from now until the end of the season.'

Llorente was the joint-leading Spanish goalscorer in La Liga last season with 17 goals but has only played a bit-part role this term following his decision to leave the Basque outfit.

Athletic won just two of their opening nine Primera Division matches and were knocked out of the Europa League – a competition they finished runners-up in last season – at the group stage.

However, they have climbed up to 12th in the standings following back-to-back wins over Celta Vigo and Real Mallorca in the last fortnight.