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The Footballers" Football Column – Alan Curbishley:

ALAN CURBISHLEY: The pressure of a relegation battle is huge… you're playing to keep the dinner lady and groundsman in jobs – as well as themselves

PUBLISHED:

07:19 GMT, 3 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:12 GMT, 3 April 2013

Alan Curbishley

Alan Curbishley is one of the most experienced managers in the Premier League – yet he has been out of work for more than four years. After 15 years and 729 games managing Charlton he decided to leave for a new challenge. That came in 2006 when he took over at a struggling West Ham. He kept the Hammers in the Premier League on the final day of the season against Manchester United at OId Trafford. In his debut Footballers' Football Column Curbishley writes about the pressures of a relegation battle and who he believes will go down this season. He also discusses his desire to return to the dug-out after his long absence. Before you read his column, make sure you watch his video.

Alan Curbishley: Footballers' Football column

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I feel for all the managers who are fighting relegation this season because I know how tough it is. There are so many different pressures being a Premier League manager and even more so when you are in a relegation battle.

The main pressure is the finances. You’re aware that if you get relegated you can lose up to 70 per cent of your income.

And if that’s the case you’ve got to start thinking about not just the players and the staff, but the ordinary people at the football club, the people who work in the restaurants and at the training ground. People whose livelihoods depend of the job and when there are cutbacks after relegation, they’re often the first people that take the hit.

Nigel Adkins

Harry Redknapp

Paul Lambert

Roberto Martinez

Tough times: Nigel Adkins, Harry Redknapp, Paul Lambert and Roberto Martinez are all feeling the pressure

So you’ve got the financial pressure, the pressure on yourself, because obviously you don’t want to be associated with relegation, and you know that it could be a long way back for the football club if that happens.

And then it’s the fans and the press and the media that seem to thrive on every bad moment. So there’s loads of different pressures going on, and I’ve not even mentioned the football, but you’ve got to be aware of all that and it takes its toll.

Every situation is different and it all depends how long you’ve been in that struggle for, if you’ve been in that all season it does take its toll and you do have to go game by game. You’re just hoping for that one match, that one thing that turns it around and starts giving people confidence.

Feeling down: Christopher Samba and Clint Hill look dejected after losing to Fulham

Feeling down: Christopher Samba and Clint Hill look dejected after losing to Fulham

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RICHARD LEE: I've barely trained all season to the point now that the lads at Brentford call an easy day a 'Rich Lee'
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GRAHAM WESTLEY: Being sacked by Preston was a relief… I was hamstrung, I knew the answers to problems but I wasn't allowed to solve them
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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

But then there are the other clubs who feel safe and suddenly drop into it the last few games and they’re not used to that pressure, they’re not used to playing under than intense scrutiny and you can’t cope with it.

Sometimes the club that stays up is the battle-hardened one, who has been in it most of the season and just manages to get out of it near the end before the trap-door closes and that’s it.

When you are down there you look for positives but in reality there’s nothing better than winning a game. I’ve often thought, ‘What comes first – confidence winning you matches, or winning matches giving you confidence’

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you get a win, as long as you’ve gone and got the three points on the Saturday, you know it can change the whole atmosphere around the club.

If you are down there then you have got to try different things to turn your fortunes around. Look back to last season, Wigan looked doomed.

But then Roberto Martinez switched his defence to three at the back and gave them a bit more stability, they won a couple of games 1-0 and suddenly the confidence was there, they went on a terrific run until the end of the season and stayed up.

Players react differently when they are in a relegation battle. Some players are affected by it, you know they are good players but they are struggle being in that position.

But then other players thrive on it and can handle it. When you’re in that battle you like to look around the dressing room and perhaps look at six or seven players, or even eight, and know what you’re going to get. Because unless that amount of players are performing you’re not going to win anything.

A relegation battle is tough for everyone and I certainly did not enjoy it. When I went into West Ham they were third from bottom, 14 points from 17 games, and so you know, even if you start taking a point a game, you’re going to be involved in it for the rest of the season. Anything better than that is European form.

I knew when I went into West Ham we had to get out of it quickly and we didn’t. Obviously we stayed in it and with 10 games to go we were doomed, but we got a bit of luck. We won a game at Blackburn where we scored a goal that never went over the line, and suddenly it changed.

We picked up the next result, the team selection was consistent, which it hadn’t been before I was at the club, and along with that came a bit of belief.

Has the luck run out Will Wigan be relegated this season after a number of years of narrow escapes

Has the luck run out Will Wigan be relegated this season after a number of years of narrow escapes

We won seven of our last nine games. Look at who we played – Arsenal, Everton, Bolton who were in a European position, Middlesbrough, who were just outside of European spots, and then the last game of the season at Manchester United.

What I remember about that game at Old Trafford is that nine of the players who played in that game were at the club before I arrived, so it got me thinking, and it’s what I thought all along, the players had the ability, so why were they in the position they were in

I had players in that run-in playing with so much confidence and doing things I couldn’t imagine they could’ve done weeks before. Consistent team selection helped, and results, and obviously the fans.

Often people talk about Tevez, but he hadn’t scored for 20 games before that. We kept five clean sheets, Robert Green was fantastic, Bobby Zamora scored two fantastic winning goals when we won 1-0 at Arsenal and 1-0 at Everton, but the fans played a massive part.

Alan Curbishley

Alan Curbishley

Contrasting emotions: Alan Curbishley shows the strains of West Ham's relegation battle and celebrates staying up on the final day of the season against Manchester United at Old Trafford

One of the games was Wigan away where I
think we took more fans than Wigan had there, it was just incredible, we
just responded and won 3-0 there and that was the first time, after
that game that I felt, ‘We’re going to do this’.

I look at the teams down there at the moment, and Wigan especially, is it finally their year They’ve survived so many times in the last games of the season. And I’ve just got a feeling this FA Cup run is going to cause them a problem; they’re a game behind the rest of the league at the moment, when they play their semi-final they’re possibly going to be two games behind.

If they get to the final they’re going to have to make up at least two or three games when there are only eight games left.

It’s going to take an emotional toll, we’ve seen it before with teams getting to a cup final and going down, I’m just wondering if it’s a bit too much for them. They’ve still got to win games. Having games in hand is nice, but you’ve got to win them.

When I look at the table I think Reading, QPR and Wigan are the three who are going to go down.

Staying up: Carlos Tevez celebrates scoring the goal that kept West Ham in the Premier League

Staying up: Carlos Tevez celebrates scoring the goal that kept West Ham in the Premier League

Playing his part: Bobby Zamora scored some key goals for West Ham in their survival bid

Playing his part: Bobby Zamora scored some key goals for West Ham in their survival bid

Stroke of luck: West Ham beat Blackburn with a goal from Zamora that never crossed the line

Stroke of luck: West Ham beat Blackburn with a goal from Zamora that never crossed the line

I think the timing for Reading to sack Brian McDermott was poor. December is traditionally the vulnerable time for managers as the chairman will think, ‘If I bring a new man in, he’s got to have a chance to bring some new faces in and change it around a little bit.’

But history has shown that no club in the bottom three who have changed their manager in March have managed to survive.

But when you consider whatever the compensation involved in letting McDermott go, the prize, if
they do manage to turn it around, is massive. You’re talking 60-70million, so I can see why they’ve done it.

But I think most people in football would look at it and think, ‘Perhaps if you’d have done it earlier then you might have had a better chance’.

Brian McDermott

Nigel Adkins

Poor timing: Curbishley says it was the wrong time for Reading to sack McDermott (left) and get Adkins

All managers in football, especially in the Premier League, who find themselves down the bottom, know that if they don’t pick up results soon they’re in trouble. I just think that this was so late in the day.

I have not worked in management since I left West Ham in 2008, but my exile has been self-inflicted. When I left West Ham I felt they were in the wrong and I was in the right, and it took its time to be sorted out and that was detrimental to me.

But I’ve had opportunities to come back in and maybe I’ve been a bit too picky. Perhaps the advice to managers that have been out of the game would be to get back in as quickly as possible, because you are easily forgotten.

Plenty of experience: Curbishley managed Charlton for more than 700 games between 1991 and 2006

Plenty of experience: Curbishley managed Charlton for more than 700 games between 1991 and 2006

Final bow: Sir Alex Ferguson is one of only a few managers to have taken charge of more Premier League games than Curbishley

Final bow: Sir Alex Ferguson is one of only a few managers to have taken charge of more Premier League games than Curbishley

I’m still the sixth most experienced Premier League manager and I haven’t worked for some time now. It goes Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Harry Redknapp, David Moyes, Sam Allardyce then myself, so I think I’ve still got a lot to offer.

But someone’s got to be attracted by my record, and, not take a gamble, but I only really want to come back in the Premier League and that is difficult. I’d like a Premier League job. Certainly if it was a Championship club it’s got to be one I think is going to go somewhere.

I’m quite happy doing what I’m doing at the moment, and there’s a lot less pressure. But if anyone wants to look at my record it stands up with the best of them, so we’ll have to see.

West Ham to wear shirts paying tribute to Bobby Moore for clash against Tottenham

West Ham to wear shirts paying tribute to Moore for clash against Tottenham

By
Dan Ripley

PUBLISHED:

17:56 GMT, 25 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:07 GMT, 25 February 2013

West Ham will unveil a special tribute to Bobby Moore on their shirts this evening for their Premier League match with Tottenham.

Last Sunday marked 20 years since the former England captain, who spent the majority of his career at Upton Park, passed away following a battle with cancer.

Tribute: West Ham players will wear a match shirt paying respect to the late Bobby Moore

Tribute: West Ham players will wear a match shirt paying respect to the late Bobby Moore

The Hammers, as well as the Football Association, marked the weekend with their respective tributes and now the West Ham players will wear a match strip with the words ‘Bobby Moore OBE, 20 YEARS GONE, NEVER FORGOTTEN’ stitched on the front.

West Ham stars have already been seen training in shirts paying tribute to Moore last week, and the meeting against London rivals Spurs will see the club pay further respects to the defender who played over 500 games for the Hammers and featured 108 times for England – lifting the World Cup in 1966.

There will be a minute’s applause before kick-off and a 100-page programme also on sale with 50p from each one sold going towards the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK.

Fans in the Bobby Moore stand will also be invited to take part in displaying a mosaic depicting his famous No 6 shirt before kick-off.

Raise awareness: West Ham's Andy Carroll trains in a Bobby Moore shirt

Raise awareness: West Ham's Andy Carroll trains in a Bobby Moore shirt

Club legend: Bobby Moore played over 500 games for West Ham

Club legend: Bobby Moore played over 500 games for West Ham

West Ham latest: Winston Reid agrees new two-year deal

Reid all about it! A good sign for West Ham as Toon target agrees new two-year deal

By
Simon Jones

PUBLISHED:

10:29 GMT, 15 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:51 GMT, 15 January 2013

EXCLUSIVE

Winston Reid has agreed a new two-year extension to his West Ham contract to see off interest from Barclays Premier League heavyweights, including Newcastle.

Reid, the Hammers' best player this season, was out of contract in the summer and that alerted top-flightt vultures.

But Sportsmail has learned West Ham have invoked a two-year extension clause in his deal and club sources will renegotiate further in the summer with the lure of a five-year deal.

Promising signs: New Zealand defender Winston Reid has agreed a new two-year deal with West Ham

Promising signs: New Zealand defender Winston Reid has agreed a new two-year deal with West Ham

So impressed have the east London club been with Reid, they want him to become an Upton Park stalwart.

'There was never any chance of us letting him go,' said a club insider. 'We want to build for the future and Winston has a key role to play going forward.'

New Zealand centre half Reid has become a popular figure at West Ham and is rated highly by manager Sam Allardyce, who has built his defensive strategy around him.

Reid, 24, moved to Denmark when he was 10 and received Danish citizenship but always wanted to play for his native New Zealand.

Fans' favourite: Winston Reid won the acclaim of Hammers supporters after his decisive goal against arch-rivals Millwall last season at Upton Park

Fans' favourite: Winston Reid won the acclaim of Hammers supporters after his decisive goal against arch-rivals Millwall last season at Upton Park

West Ham signed Reid from FC Midtjylland and he was a mainstay of their promotion season – and even scored an important goal against Millwall for which he is revered for by the fans.

He was rested for the third-round FA Cup draw with Manchester United but may return to the side for the replay with James Collins injured. It could see Reid up against Robin van Persie, the hottest striker in the Premier League.

West Ham sources believe this deal is a sign of their ambition as they look to build on the squad through the transfer window. The club are looking for a left back to join Reid in the back four.

Joe Cole latest: West Ham to beat QPR to Liverpool flop

He's coming home! Kop flop Cole set to chose West Ham over old boss Harry at QPR

By
Matt Fortune

PUBLISHED:

14:36 GMT, 2 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:06 GMT, 2 January 2013

West Ham are confident they can beat QPR to the permanent signing of Joe Cole from Liverpool, and want him back at Upton Park in time for the weekend FA Cup tie with Manchester United.

The midfielder has endured a torrid two and a half years since leaving Chelsea, and was farmed out on a season-long loan deal to Lille last season.

Cole's the goal: West Ham look set to beat QPR to the signing of Joe Cole

Cole's the goal: West Ham look set to beat QPR to the signing of Joe Cole

He returned with the hope of forcing himself into Brendan Rodgers' plans, but has once again fallen short of expectation.

Sources at Liverpool are hopeful a deal can be agreed for the severance from the 18 months left on Cole's 90,000-per-week deal. If West Ham want Cole to play this weekend, he must be registered by midday on Friday.

Last week, Harry Redknapp admitted his interest in luring the former England international to Loftus Road

Favourite: Cole broke through at West Ham as a teenager and is still popular

Favourite: Cole broke through at West Ham as a teenager and is still popular

Favourite: Cole broke through at West Ham as a teenager and is still popular

'I’ve got a lot of time for Joe as a
player and as a person,' said Redknapp, of the player who have him his
competitive debut in 1998. 'I’d like to bring Joe here if I can but the
deal would have to be right for the club.

'We couldn’t do a deal as it [Cole’s
wages] is at Liverpool. I’ll have to speak to Brendan Rodgers. We’ll
have a chat when the time’s right.'

But now the Hammers, Cole's first
club, have jumped ahead of their London rivals in the race for a player
with 56 international caps to his name.

The No 26 shirt, worn by Cole during his time in east London is currently vacant in Sam Allardyce's squad.

But what will Harry say: Cole get his chance under old boss Redknapp

But what will Harry say: Cole get his chance under old boss Redknapp

Demba Ba"s transfer could become a nightmare due to the middlemen

Why buying Ba can become a nightmare as middlemen threaten to hijack the deal

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 31 December 2012

As the transfer window opens on Tuesday, the deal to take Demba Ba from Newcastle United offers a cautionary tale for clubs preparing to risk all.

Newcastle, Chelsea and any other prospective buyers are having to deal with a relatively new phenomenon, fending off an assorted bunch of intermediaries, transfer fixers, friends and family members associated with the Senegal striker.

They all want a piece of the pie, cashing in on a player with 13 goals in the Barclays Premier League for Alan Pardew’s side this season.

Waving goodbye Newcastle's Demba Ba looks set to leave the club this month

Waving goodbye Newcastle's Demba Ba looks set to leave the club this month

Ba is big business and there is money to be made as the deal-makers chase 5million in commission — money the buying club would have to pay over the term of the player’s four-year deal — to seal the biggest move of his career.

The Newcastle striker has an official agent — Frenchman Alex Gontran — and he alone has the mandate to sell Ba to another club for a fixed fee of 7m.

Everybody else is simply trying to hijack the deal, causing hysteria by relentlessly putting calls in to Premier League clubs about his availability. Some of the sums are bewildering, but Newcastle accept that the transfer window attracts opportunists.

Ba is already due a 2m bonus if he leaves St James’ Park after he negotiated a separate clause in his contract when he arrived on a free transfer from West Ham in 2011. He moved after the Hammers were relegated, and he negotiated a deal worth 45,000 a week, including appearance fees.

Sort it out: Newcastle boss Alan Pardew wants the transfer sorted out professionally

Sort it out: Newcastle boss Alan Pardew wants the transfer sorted out professionally

Taking into account his demand for a four-year contract worth 90,000 a week at Chelsea, along with the transfer fee and commission, the total outlay for Ba’s new club could reach 28m. Big money, but the risks are even bigger.

He is likely to fail a thorough club medical because of a chronic condition in his right knee and there is always a danger of complications in the future. Yet, this has never stopped him training at Newcastle and he, and the club, are proud of the fact he has never missed a day on the practice pitch with soreness or swelling.

The injury, which led to a move to Stoke falling through in January 2011, remains a big risk for Premier League suitors.

When his representatives met Chelsea, they failed to reach an agreement on the commission and salary for a player who appears determined to leave St James’ Park.

Newcastle’s managing director Derek Llambias is entitled to take issue with Chelsea for meeting Ba’s representatives on Sunday night but the club have no conclusive proof that the talks did take place.

Ready and waiting: Papiss Cisse is ready to take the centre forward role if Ba leaves

Ready and waiting: Papiss Cisse is ready to take the centre forward role if Ba leaves

Llambias has yet to receive an email from any club, which would trigger the 7m release clause in his contract, but it hasn’t stopped negotiations taking place outside Newcastle.

Around two months ago, Llambias opened talks over a new contract, but Ba made it clear that he wanted to explore other options in January. The club made a final offer and — with the window in mind — set a strict deadline.

If Ba refuses the improved terms on offer on Tyneside he will remain on 45,000 a week for the next 18 months unless his release clause is triggered.

Despite the current uncertainty, Ba has been a great piece of business for Newcastle, scoring 16 goals in the Premier League last season.

Llambias, a shrewd operator, will be heading to Europe later this week as Newcastle prepare to sign a replacement.

After owner Mike Ashley squandered fortunes in his first few years at the club, Llambias runs a tight ship and is at ease as Ba works his exit strategy.

Incoming: Mathieu Debuchy looks set to join Newcastle

Incoming: Mathieu Debuchy looks set to join Newcastle

Papiss Cisse, scorer of 13 in 14 Premier League games last season — including the BBC’s goal of the season at Chelsea — will be promoted to play in his place.

Newcastle, who are also exploring other options, themselves make a habit of getting the jump on their rivals by discovering release clauses in their targets’ contracts. Their scouting strategy is the envy of the Premier League and player recruitment is run by the renowned talent spotter, Graham Carr.

In the summer they offered Lille 8m for right back Mathieu Debuchy, but the French club were under no pressure to sell after Chelsea paid 32m for Eden Hazard.

Making the right call: Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias know every transfer has an element of risk

Making the right call: Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias know every transfer has an element of risk

Six months on they have finally landed their man for around 5.5m and France defender Debuchy will be at St James’ Park tomorrow to watch Newcastle play Everton.

It is a deal that has ultimately worked in the North East club’s favour, but Llambias knows every transfer is a gamble.

Modern players are told by their agents to run down their contracts until they reach the point of no return. Newcastle open talks with their top players two years before their contracts end, but they have not always benefited.

Left back Jose Enrique refused to renegotiate a long-term deal and eventually signed for Liverpool in 2011 for a vastly reduced fee based on the term left on his contract.

There is little risk, other than loss of form, if Ba refuses to renegotiate with Newcastle and is unable to reach an agreement with another club.

In the meantime, Ba’s middlemen will be chasing big money.

Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea fight over Premier League debt limit – Charles Sale

Big Four scrap over Premier League debt limit

|

UPDATED:

23:42 GMT, 19 December 2012

English football’s Big Four are split over the amount of debt clubs can pile up on the playing side, which is the central Premier League issue over financial fair play.

Arsenal and Manchester United, whom a number of PL teams believe are acting wholly out of self-interest, want the debt losses limited to 39million over three seasons — effectively ruling out another oligarch taking over a club and spending freely to challenge the established order.

However, Manchester City and Chelsea, who have benefited from lavish financial backing by their owners, do not want such restraints put on clubs, who will be debating FFP again in February.

Disagreement: David Gill (right) is representing Manchester United at the discussions and both his side and Arsenal disagree with Chelsea and Man City

Disagreement: David Gill (right) is representing Manchester United at the discussions and both his side and Arsenal disagree with Chelsea and Man City

More from Charles Sale…

Charles Sale: Strauss touted for ECB's top job after Test series victory
18/12/12

Charles Sale: Top flight divided on financial fair play ahead of summit
17/12/12

Charles Sale: Fight against the Hammers' Olympic stadium occupation will continue, says Hearn
15/12/12

Charles Sale: Net gain for Draper as LTA chief pockets 640k… four times more than the Prime Minister
13/12/12

Charles Sale: Arsenal follow United's lead by claiming packed stadium despite rows of empty seats at Emirates
12/12/12

Charles Sale: Leeds anxious as buyers GFH Capital fail to pay on time
12/12/12

Charles Sale: Portsmouth's court date with destiny could end in extinction
07/12/12

Charles Sale: Diamond League can add some sparkle to Stratford before the bulldozers move in
06/12/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

And Chelsea, who are broadly in favour of FFP regulations, nevertheless joined City, West Bromwich Albion, Fulham, Aston Villa and Swansea in opposing either one or both cash restraint proposals at this week’s club summit.

A new development at the PL meeting is Manchester United being represented by chief executive David Gill and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, the commercial overlord who reports straight to the Glazer family and now has just as much power as Gill at Old Trafford.

Lowe back in business

Former Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe has been tempted back into football by the potential of the Brazilian soccer schools set up by Simon Clifford, who briefly worked as a Saints coach.

Lowe, whose Saints academy alumni include Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, has taken a controlling investment in Clifford’s struggling business that includes Northern Premier League club Garforth Town.

Lowe, who was set to take charge at Nottingham Forest and bring in Glenn Hoddle as manager before the death of owner Nigel Doughty last year, has always had great faith in the coaching vision of Clifford, once dismissed as a ‘ball juggler’ by Harry Redknapp.

Carra on BT wishlist

Jamie Carragher, whose Liverpool contract expires at the end of the season, is understood to be a target for BT Sport, who want a Premier League pundit with dressing-room knowledge.

Former Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg has been in for talks with BT, despite Match of the Day 2 host Colin Murray having to apologise after the Swede told viewers in September that his former team-mate Lauren would ‘kick the s***’ out of anyone who fouled him.

Meanwhile, BT have given the production contract for their 38 Premier League games to Sunset + Vine, for whom the deal is considerable compensation after losing out to IMG Media for the Channel 4 racing contract.

Wanted man: Jamie Carragher could provide BT with dressing room knowledge

Wanted man: Jamie Carragher could provide BT with dressing room knowledge

FA still waiting for Rio base

The Rio Games takes place two years after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil but the British Olympic Association are ahead of the FA in securing a training base.

The FA are still waiting for the allocation of paired training grounds and hotels. But the Minas Tennis Club, a multi-sports facility in Belo Horizonte – a 45 minute flight from Rio – announced on their website last night they will be signing a Memoradum of Understanding with the BOA today to be the Team GB preparation camp. Australia and Sweden had also been in talks with the venue.

Draper peer pressure

The growing furore over Lawn Tennis Association chief Roger Draper’s astonishing 640,000-a-year earnings will intensify with him being paid more than any other British sports governing body chief, including FA general secretary Alex Horne.

Labour peer Baroness Billingham, chair of the All Party Tennis Group who described the payment package as ‘unthinkable’, wants Draper to explain why he deserves the money, especially with Sport England having just withheld three years of funding from an underperforming LTA.

The showdown will likely come at Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson’s next scheduled meeting with the LTA, who made no comment.

Big bucks: Roger Draper picks up a hefty salary from the LTA

Big bucks: Roger Draper picks up a hefty salary from the LTA

Wall set to sign

Ambitious Jonathan Wall, temporary controller of BBC Radio 5 Live after the departure of Adrian van Klaveren, is expected to be appointed on a permanent basis.

Van Klaveren has been sidelined after his botched temporary executive role in the Newsnight report that made false allegations about Lord McAlpine. Van Klaveren wrote in an email to staff that he found it ‘especially hard to take’ being moved on for events that were nothing to do with his leadership of 5 Live Sport.

Premier League chairman divided over financial fair play regulations – Charles Sale

Charles Sale: Top flight divided on financial fair play ahead of summit

|

UPDATED:

23:21 GMT, 17 December 2012

There is considerable lobbying going on between the 20 Premier League clubs ahead of Tuesday’s chairmen’s summit over financial fair play (FFP), an issue that has split the elite division.

The PL executive, who need agreement from 14 clubs for rule changes, have put forward two proposals: a long-term broad acceptance of UEFA’s FFP break-even policy, and a shorter-term salary cap that will see clubs allowed only to increase wages by a gross 4million a year.

Supporters of the short-term plan are led by Sunderland’s Ellis Short — the first of the American owners to become so engaged in club business — and West Ham’s David Gold, who want a resolution passed before the January transfer window.

At speed: West Ham chief David Gold wants the situation resolved swiftly

At speed: West Ham chief David Gold wants the situation resolved swiftly

More from Charles Sale…

Charles Sale: Fight against the Hammers' Olympic stadium occupation will continue, says Hearn
15/12/12

Charles Sale: Net gain for Draper as LTA chief pockets 640k… four times more than the Prime Minister
13/12/12

Charles Sale: Arsenal follow United's lead by claiming packed stadium despite rows of empty seats at Emirates
12/12/12

Charles Sale: Leeds anxious as buyers GFH Capital fail to pay on time
12/12/12

Charles Sale: Portsmouth's court date with destiny could end in extinction
07/12/12

Charles Sale: Diamond League can add some sparkle to Stratford before the bulldozers move in
06/12/12

Charles Sale: Hearn is ready to throw in the towel over West Ham's Olympic Stadium move
05/12/12

Charles Sale: Channel 4 races to unload World Athletics Championships on the BBC
30/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Manchester United’s David Gill, Tottenham’s Daniel Levy and Arsenal’s Ivan Gazidis head those in favour of the long-term solution along UEFA lines.

Meanwhile, the four clubs most opposed to any FFP restrictions — Manchester City, West Bromwich, Fulham and Aston Villa — are under pressure to change their view that no interference works best.

Finance snub for live football

The BBC are understood to have spent well over 1m on their Sports Personality of the Year night at London’s ExCeL. Yet despite their lack of live football, the Beeb felt it too expensive to send a commentator to Japan for the Club World Cup final the same day.

Guy Mowbray, who was at the Stoke-Everton game the day before, did the commentary of Chelsea’s defeat by Corinthians in Yokohama from the television, which does not say much for the Beeb’s commitment to the national sport.

The BBC say they gained the rights for the tournament at short notice and sending a commentary team was not deemed worth it, especially with the focus on SPOTY.

Becks will wait until new year

David Beckham — whose appearance at Sports Personality to announce that Lord Coe had won the lifetime achievement award was a surprise even to the recipient — is not expected to make a decision on his playing future until after Christmas. But wherever he plays, his family will be based in London.

Meanwhile, British cycling overlord David Brailsford, tipped for a knighthood in the New Year honours, is expected to join Beckham, Andy Murray and Lewis Hamilton in Simon Fuller’s XIX sports management stable with Sir Clive Woodward when the tie-up between XIX and Brailsford and Woodward’s agent Tim Buttimore is finalised.

Waiting: David Beckham will wait until next year before deciding his future

Waiting: David Beckham will wait until next year before deciding his future

The big freeze

Sport England froze 10.3million on Monday, three years’ worth of Lawn Tennis Association grass-roots funding, with chief executive Jennie Price saying damningly: ‘Tennis has not performed well in terms of participation. Their plan simply wasn’t strong enough to justify the four-year investment.’

Yet the LTA have awarded a 640,000 package to chief executive Roger Draper for 2012, including a 201,000 bonus. An LTA spokesperson said: ‘This is not an appropriate comparison.’

Channel 4’s Rio rights

Sports Personality elevated the Paralympics to unprecedented heights. But that will not be enough for the BBC to reclaim TV rights for Rio 2016.

The International Paralympic Committee have opted to stay with Channel 4, with an announcement due soon. US network NBC, whose coverage of London’s Paralympics was minimal, are showing more interest for Brazil.

Turn over: Paralympians like David Weir will be on Channel 4 in Rio

Turn over: Paralympians like David Weir will be on Channel 4 in Rio

One love for Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins, Sports Personality winner in a stellar year with the charisma to join the band on stage at the SPOTY after-party, could have his pick of sponsors. But he prefers to have only his beloved Fred Perry Mod clothing deal, with all other endorsements worked through his Team Sky contract.

Youngsters living the high life

The FA spent 100m on their acclaimed national centre at St George’s Park that includes two hotels. But bizarrely, no dormitory accommodation, more suited to the junior sides, was factored into the planning, meaning youngsters must be given the run of the plush hotel rooms. The short-term plan when junior tournaments are taking place at SGP is to use dormitories at nearby public school Repton.

Steve Clarke defends his West Ham performance

Credit crunch struck a Hammer blow when I was at West Ham, says Clarke

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 14 December 2012

Steve Clarke has defended his record working alongside Gianfranco Zola at West Ham, claiming the credit crunch was responsible for the Hammers' narrow relegation escape.

West Brom's boss will welcome Sam Allardyce to the Hawthorns on Sunday, the first time he has faced his former club as a manager in his own right.

Clarke left the East End club shortly after David Sullivan and David Gold assumed control. His first season working alongside Zola saw the Hammers finish in ninth. He remains adamant that circumstances beyond his control were responsible for the subsequent fall.

Flying high: Steve Clarke is performing well at West Brom

Flying high: Steve Clarke is performing well at West Brom

'The new owners came in, assessed what they had to do,' he said. 'And they did exactly that.

'If you look at it, we weren't making progress. The first season we finished in the top ten, the second, we didn't.

'There were extenuating circumstances for that. When Gianfranco and I went into the job it was on the promise that we would always have money to spend in the transfer window and we could try and push into the top six.

'Within a fortnight of arriving at the club, the world was hit by the credit crunch and the Icelandic owner, Bjorgolfer Gudmundsson, lost his bank.

'The circumstances changed completely. After that, there was a gradual erosion of the squad and it was an achievement just to keep West Ham in the Premier League that year.

'But the job was good for me personally because I'd come out of Chelsea where success was part and parcel of the season.

'Then I went to a club where it was more difficult, you had to find different ways to motivate players.

'You had to find different ways to get results on a Saturday, which is what we were judged upon.'

Fortune's always hiding: Clarke with Gianfranco Zola during their spell at West Ham

Fortune's always hiding: Clarke with Gianfranco Zola during their spell at West Ham

Clarke welcomes Sam Allardyce to the Black Country, saying that there is more to the Hammers than just route one football.

'I think what's been said is unfair,' he added. 'They try to be positive, try to put balls in the box and try to score gals. You can become stereotyped. I think that's the case with Sam.

'They play good football – when they are allowed to. If it needs to be a scrap, they can have that, too.

'Whatever type of game it is, they will be ready for it. But I can assure them that we will too.'

Jonjo Shelvey says Liverpool can keep improving after West Ham win

Shelvey sure Liverpool will keep improving after West Ham win as Allardyce rues misfortune

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UPDATED:

19:29 GMT, 9 December 2012

Liverpool's Jonjo Shelvey is confident the team will continue to improve following their 3-2 win over West Ham at Upton Park on Sunday afternoon.

Glen Johnson had given the visitors the lead after 11 minutes before Mark Noble converted from the spot following a handball by Joe Allen after 36 minutes.

The Hammers went into the interval ahead thanks to a headed own goal from Steven Gerrard before the second half turnaround.

First West Ham old boy Cole levelled in the 76th minute, before number nine for the day in Luis Suarez's absence, Shelvey pressured James Collins into putting the ball into his own net three minutes later.

On the up! Jonjo Shelvey says Liverpool will continue to get better after a 3-2 win over West Ham at Upton Park

On the up! Jonjo Shelvey says Liverpool will continue to get better after a 3-2 win over West Ham at Upton Park

'I'm going to claim it (the goal), but the main thing is we got three points and it is important we kick on,' Shelvey told Sky Sports One.

'I played it (number nine) against Young Boys. I'm not a stranger to that role.

'We got a new manager (in the summer) with a different way of playing.

'It is very exciting to be in it and the longer the season goes on the stronger we will become.'

Winning moment: Shelvey's shot looped in off West Ham defender James Collins to give Liverpool a 3-2 victory

Winning moment: Shelvey's shot looped in off West Ham defender James Collins to give Liverpool a 3-2 victory

A win for West Ham would have taken Sam Allardyce's side up to sixth in the table and following up last week's 3-1 win over Chelsea many had the east Londoners as favourites.

However Allardyce was pragmatic about the defeat believing his side were just unlucky to come out as losers.

'We were never in control of the game completely especially against a side like Liverpool, we were not going to dominate for the whole game,' he said.

'We gave everything we could. We can't continue to play and dominate teams we play, when we did today we got ourselves in the lead.

Pragmatic: Sam Allardyce praised his team's work rate but cursed their luck after the defeat

Pragmatic: Sam Allardyce praised his team's work rate but cursed their luck after the defeat

'We just got promoted, we are in a good run of form and there are expectations from fans '

The Hammers lost influential midfielder Mohamed Diame to a hamstring injury with 17 minutes left, with his exit seemingly a catalyst for the visitor's revival.

'The loss of Diame didn't help,' Allardyce added. 'We lost forward momentum but we defended well and overall the goals conceded were a bit unfortunate.

'There was a wonder goal from Johnson and Cole took his well. Unfortunately for us 'Ginger' (James Collins) scored an own goal.'

Setback: Mohamed Diame will be out for 12 weeks with a hamstring injury

Setback: Mohamed Diame will be out for 12 weeks with a hamstring injury

West Ham want to introduce safe standing at Olympic Stadium

West Ham will consider safe standing areas in their Olympic Stadium plans

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UPDATED:

22:33 GMT, 7 December 2012

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West Ham co-owner David Gold has told fans he is ready to explore the possibility of incorporating a 'safe standing' area at the Olympic Stadium.

The Hammers were this week chosen as the preferred bidder for the site in Stratford which hosted the Games in such spectacular style through the summer.

To a question posed by Twitter user @Jamie_Seagrave, asking if safe standing could be used, Gold responded: 'I do hope so.'

Hammer time: West Ham will look into ideas to have safe standing should they take over the Olympic Stadium

Hammer time: West Ham will look into ideas to have safe standing should they take over the Olympic Stadium, like German clubs have incorporated in the Bundesliga (below)

German clubs, like Bourissa Dortmund (pictured), have safe standing areas

German clubs, like Bourissa Dortmund (pictured), have safe standing areas

SECTION 11 OF THE FOOTBALL SPECTATORS ACT 1989

'The
Secretary of State may, by order, direct the licensing authority to include in
any licence to admit spectators to any specified premises a condition imposing
requirements as respects the seating of spectators at designated football
matches at the premises; and it shall be the duty of the authority to comply
with the direction.'

A 19-strong London Legacy Development
Corporation board led by London mayor Boris Johnson unanimously agreed
to make West Ham their first-rank bidder – hopefully signalling at least
the beginning of the end of a still interminable legacy process.

But
there is still plenty of hard talking to go on before West Ham move in,
which is still not likely be until the 2016-17 season, if indeed it
happens.

The Premier
League and successive governments have until now also opposed any
changes regarding standing areas to the Football Spectators Act 1989,
brought in after the Hillsborough disaster which cost the lives of 96
Liverpool supporters in the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday’s
stadium

How it used to be: Aston Villa were keen to explore plans for a return to safe standing

How it used to be: Aston Villa were keen to explore plans for a return to safe standing

Big Sam: West Ham must not create 'white elephant'

Sam Allardyce has
warned it would be a ‘disaster’ if West Ham move to the Olympic Stadium but do
not have the team to fill it with supporters.

The 58-year-old said: ‘You cannot
build a white elephant. The white elephant would be a great stadium and
no team. Disaster. We have to manage our finances carefully because of
the overriding debt of the football club. What David Sullivan and David
Gold do is top it up with their own wealth. But somewhere down the line
they want to create a situation where that does not have to happen.

‘The long term future of the football
club is not only a new stadium but a new training facility. Years of
good financial management is needed as well as success on the field.’

Allardyce is well aware of the impact
a brand new stadium can have on a football club. He used the Reebok
Stadium, finished in 1997, to build a solid Premier League club at
Bolton when he took over in 1999 and spent eight years there.

And Allardyce is keen to build a new
history for the club at the stadium. He added: ‘There’s always a lot of
disruption when a club decides to move from what is a huge history. West
Ham’s huge history is always going to be upsetting for some of the very
loyal supporters we have. [It’s a chance] for me to try to build a new
history.

‘You never forget what’s happened before. It’s instilled in the football
club. But you want to build a new history for the young fans who come
to support West Ham, they want to have something to remember when they
get older. They can’t really remember when it happened way back in the
Bobby Moore days when the club was at its heights.

‘We’ve got to try to create a new history, well if you can do that in a
new stadium you’ll never forget the history but you take that with you
and try to build a better one.’

Once safety is secured in the Premier League this season, Allardyce will
sit down to discuss a new contract so he can be a part of building that
history.

Sam Cunningham

In October this
year Aston Villa became the first Premier League club to publicly back a
new campaign for trials of standing areas for fans in top-flight and
Championship matches.

The
campaign has been launched by the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF)
and with Birmingham MP Roger Godsiff, Aston Villa and Peterborough have
both given their support to calls for the Government to allow
'small-scale trials of safe standing areas'.

Peter
Daykin, Safe Standing Coordinator at the FSF, said: 'For two decades
since the Taylor Report, the overwhelming majority of football
supporters have favoured a choice of standing and sitting at football,
and fans continue to stand throughout all levels of the game today, even
in the Premier League and Championship where it is against ground
regulations and facilities are designed for sitting.

'Standing
was outlawed on grounds of safety, and yet successive governments have
agreed that standing is safe – it's hard not to when it is done
perfectly safely every week at rugby grounds, lower league football
grounds and in top football leagues all around the world.'

Last year the Hillsborough Family Support Group opposed any move to bring back standing areas.

HFSG
spokesman Margaret Aspinall said then: 'The Hillsborough Family Support
Group are totally against any form of standing whatsoever. We are
absolutely against it and always will be. Our football clubs should
remain all-seater stadiums.

'People
always say they have standing areas in Germany, but we don't play any
part over what happens in that country – we just believe there's no such
thing as safe standing in this country. We will not be encouraging the
government to change the law.'

Responding directly to the FSF campaign, a Premier League spokesman dismissed the idea.

He
said: 'Since the introduction of all-seater stadia the supporter
experience has improved significantly and we have seen more diverse
crowds attending Premier League matches including more women and
children.

'The police,
safety officers and licensing authorities remain clear on this issue and
have consistently informed us that crowd management has improved as a
result of all-seater stadia being in place in the top two divisions in
this country.

Tragedy: The Hillsborough Family Support Group are opposed to plans for safe standing - the 1989 stadium disaster saw all-seater stadia introduced to top-flight teams in England

Tragedy: The Hillsborough Family Support Group are opposed to plans for safe standing – the 1989 stadium disaster saw all-seater stadia introduced to top-flight teams in England

Open to ideas: Hammers co-owner David Gold responded to a fan's question on social networking site Twitter

Open to ideas: Hammers co-owner David Gold (L) responded to a fan's question on social networking site Twitter

'We will not be encouraging the Government to change the law.'

In 2011, prior to their relegation to
the fourth tier in Scotland, Rangers revealed they are 'willing to
explore the possibility' of a safe-standing section at Ibrox. Celtic and
Motherwell followed suit.

Scotland is not bound by the law which banned standing areas in top-flight football in England.

Artists impression of what the Olympic Stadium would look like should West Ham be handed the keysArtists impression of what the Olympic Stadium would look like should West Ham be handed the keys

Artists impression of what the Olympic Stadium would look like should West Ham be handed the keys

ADAM SHERGOLD: MY VISIT TO HAMBURG HAS CONVINCED ME THAT SAFE STANDING SHOULD BE INTRODUCED TO ENGLISH GROUNDS…

I've been a big advocate of Safe Standing for many years and
a recent trip to Germany confirmed my belief that it's the way forward here
too.

I went to watch the Bundesliga match between Hamburg and
Stuttgart at the Imtech Arena with three mates and there was no doubt in our
minds that in order to experience it properly, we would have to be standing.

In contrast to the top divisions in England, Safe Standing
areas are the norm in every Bundesliga stadium and have been for a number of
years.

Because UEFA regulations are different, all of them can be
quickly converted into all-seated sections with bolt-in seats for Champions
League and Europa League games.

Plenty of colour: Hamburg fans at the Imtech Arena get the atmosphere going prior to their Bundesliga match with Stuttgart with a display of flags, scarves and banners

Plenty of colour: Hamburg fans at the Imtech Arena get the atmosphere going prior to their Bundesliga match with Stuttgart with a display of flags, scarves and banners

Unlike the vast, dangerous terraces of yesteryear, the Safe
Standing areas are ticketed to control numbers and fans can stand behind
retractable barriers. At Hamburg, there were also tall fences separating
'blocks' to prevent everyone rushing to the middle.

Standing also means a cheaper ticket – I was pleasantly surprised
to pay 15 euros (12) for my ticket, a price which included Metro travel to and
from the ground.

It's a point frequently made but a budget airline ticket and
a match ticket to a place like Hamburg, booked enough in advance, work out only
fractionally more expensive than admission to a big game at Old Trafford or the
Emirates.

As for the matchday experience, I must say it was excellent
– let down only by Hamburg losing 1-0.

Great view: The safe standing section at Hamburg offered great views of the action and the entire ground

Great view: The safe standing section at Hamburg offered great views of the action and the entire ground

The section was full but didn't feel cramped and the view of
the pitch was excellent. Stewarding was friendly and low key, you could happily
move to another spot if you wanted and easily escape to the snack bar for
another delicious hot dog.

It's so relaxed out there that fans drank Holsten in plastic
glasses in sight of the pitch – something long forbidden here – and there were
even Stuttgart fans stood behind us watching with Hamburg-supporting friends
and family without a hint of antagonism.

Before kick-off, there was a wonderful choreographed display
of flags and banners as streamers and tickertape fluttered down from the upper
tier.

Low down to our right, one of the Ultras clung to the
netting to conduct hundreds in boisterous singing and bouncing to the
relentless beat of the drum.

Noisy: The Hamburg Ultras with the flags in the centre of the stand generated an excellent atmosphere throughout the game

Noisy: The Hamburg Ultras with the flags in the centre of the stand generated an excellent atmosphere throughout the game

The noise quickly spread throughout the rest of the stand
with everyone clapping along, twirling their blue and white scarves and belting
out their backing with heart and passion.

It was a superior atmosphere to anything I've experienced in
the Premier League and there's no question that was because fans who want to
sing were allowed to stand.

Its introduction in the Premier League should also be used
as an opportunity to reduce ticket prices (though I'm not holding my breath)
and win back some of those, particularly young, fans who fall out of love with
the game because they can't afford to watch it live.

My experience at Hamburg only strengthened a long-held
belief that Safe Standing should be pursued with vigour by the Premier League,
its clubs and politicians and I can’t wait to get out to a German game again
soon.