Tag Archives: heroes

Superstars TV review – Mark Webster

Return of Superstars delivered what we wanted: sporting heroes outside their comfort zones

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UPDATED:

00:01 GMT, 31 December 2012

Ah, telly's golden years. When gangs of formation dancers you didn't know in DIY costumes waltzed their way around Come Dancing, before it went Strictly.

This was a good thing, of course. Because it meant there was absolutely no good reason to watch it. Then came the celebrity version, though, and a sudden, compelling desire to see Ramp's rumba, Audley's jive and, of course, the victorious Louis Smith's cha cha cha.

There was once a show, however, that Louis might have won without the need to slip into a skintight satin onesie. While still giving us the joy of what we really want – seeing our sporting heroes outside of their comfort zones.

Up a creek: Farah has many talents - kayaking is not one of them

Up a creek: Farah has many talents – kayaking is not one of them

More from Mark Webster…

With SPOTY, the BBC delivered a champagne moment to mark vintage year
17/12/12

Edge of the Box: Neville passes Manchester derby test with flying colours (red and blue) as pundit's old pals win
10/12/12

Edge of the Box: Beckham steals the show in farewell final… but did you expect anything else
02/12/12

Edge of the Box: Fasten your seatbelts for Jake off! Humphrey leaves a big hole in BBC F1 coverage
26/11/12

Edge of the Box: Bristow's arrows at Helen and co put darts legend in line for the chop
23/11/12

Edge of the Box: Bristow, Haye and Flanagan be warned: No one is safe in the jungle now – it's just like being manager of Chelsea
22/11/12

Edge of the Box: Finally, some sport! Joker Haye teaches celebrities how to box
20/11/12

Edge of the Box: Flanagan finally gets it right… now give her a night off
19/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Superstars was the light entertainment show for real men that once delivered that.

Inspirational theme tune, cool logo, a genuine desire to win and short shorts – REALLY short shorts. On Saturday, the 2012 version turned up on prime time BBC1.

Thus providing us with the opportunity to not only get all nostalgic about the fun old format, but also enjoy the sight of a group of our brand new Olympians back where they belong, in the spotlight.

Not that the opening shots of Gabby Logan wandering around a market in Bath exactly set the pulse racing for what was about to come. It struck me the show opener would have been the ideal opportunity to really remind people of what Superstars was all about.

We did eventually get to see Kevin Keegan famously come a cropper on his bike and former judoka Brian Jacks owning the gym. Yet these clips were fleeting. Surely a few more trips down memory lane would have sat well

And surely a chance was missed to have some old competitors on hand to set up the show, wax nostalgic and mix with the next generation

That aside, once the events did get under way and you saw Anthony Joshua genuinely delighted he'd triumphed in the opening event, the sprint, you knew that old spirit was back.

Because the thing is of course, we normally only get to see these people in their natural environments, in competition. That is the duck gliding gracefully across the water.

As I alluded to earlier, Superstars is the flippers flapping frantically below the surface. Just like the endless days of hard training each of these competitors endure in their professional lives are. All blood, sweat and tears, but also good friendly, competitive fun. And that is what we grew to love on Superstars.

Keen competitors: The stars were put their paces in a number of disciplines

Keen competitors: The stars were put their paces in a number of disciplines

Keen competitors: The stars were put their paces in a number of disciplines

Thankfully, that sense of camaraderie and competition was brought to life by Iwan Thomas, who as an experienced TV presenter and former athlete, knew just the right buttons to push as he interviewed the eight women and eight men going for the titles, throughout the show.

While a sense of gravitas was added on commentary by the always measured, authoritative tones of Paul Dickenson. If this man were a station announcer, he could make the delayed 11.20 from Hounslow sound like a Murder On The Orient Express.

Of course what this was really all about though was a great bunch of people warming the cockles of our hearts, which they all managed in abundance.

For me, there were plenty of highlights throughout the two days, and ninety TV minutes of competition. Watching the Brownlee brothers having their own little sibling battle was great fun.

Alistair couldn't have looked more delighted when brother Jonny flipped his kayak in the pool, and both impressed in a nip and tuck one, two in the 800 metres.

But, holy mackerel, they can’t throw!

Rebecca Adlington was on hand to coach them all in the swimming event, during which Jade Jones left the blocks just as her mentor might. However, a split second later, she entered the water like Tom Daley from the 10 metre board!

I bet she couldn’t do that twice.

Elsewhere, Christine Ohuruogu nearly had someone's eye out during the archery while Mo Farah managed a magnificent 'spider' – archer speak for a dead bullseye.

On you r bike: Classic action involving Kevin Keegan

On your bike: Classic action involving Kevin Keegan (above) with Jackie Stewart, Barry John, and Tony Jacklin (below)

On your bike: Classic action involving Kevin Keegan (above) with Jackie Stewart, Barry John, and Tony Jacklin (below)

However, what proved just as unequivocal a little later…Mo don’t row!

proved a more than worthy platform.

Sprint finish: Credit to those involved - they served up a rare treat

Sprint finish: Credit to those involved – they served up a rare treat

Aston Villa youngsters must respond bravely against Tottenham, says Paul Lambert

Villans to heroes! Lambert demands thrashed kids to show their heart against Spurs after Chelsea humiliation

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Paul Lambert has ordered an instant response from his wounded youngsters as the Aston Villa manager attempts to banish memories of a crushing defeat at Chelsea.

Villa are at home to Tottenham on Boxing Day, three days after losing 8-0 at Stamford Bridge – the heaviest defeat in the club’s 138-year history.

‘They know my feelings on it,’ rapped Lambert. ‘You don’t need to be Einstein to tell them what went wrong. We told them they have a few days to get over it and then get going again.

Feeling Blue: Aston Villa were 'beaten up' by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge

Feeling Blue: Aston Villa were 'beaten up' by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge

I eight Christmas: Villa's thrashing was the biggest in their long history

I eight Christmas: Villa's thrashing was the biggest in their long history

‘They’ll come out of the traps against Spurs, I know. I expect a reaction. Whoever’s playing, we have to atone for that.

‘They’ve done it before. They were
beat heavy at Man City (5-0 in November) and then went on that little
run. You take the criticism and you bounce back.

'There’s no point feeling sorry for
yourself. There are too many people coming to watch on Boxing Day. So we
have to bounce back.’

It looks like the players who were
crushed by Chelsea will be given the chance to redeem themselves, but
only because Lambert has no choice.

Charles N’Zogbia and Darren Bent are out with knee injuries, and there is still no return for Gabby Agbonlahor.

And with Karim El Ahmadi having
joined Morocco ahead of his country’s Africa Cup of Nations campaign,
Lambert is short of options.

Must do better: Paul Lambert has demanded a reaction next time out

Must do better: Paul Lambert has demanded a reaction next time out

His first job is to ensure his young
players are not scarred by their experiences this season, which
culminated in the thrashing by Chelsea.

Villa have conceded 32 goals in 18
Premier League games and are just three points clear of the relegation
zone. Dion Dublin, on BBC’s Match of the Day 2, branded it ‘the worst
performance in the history of the club, ever’.

‘I’ve been absolutely tonked before, as player and manager,’ said Lambert. ‘You just try and win the next game.

‘It’s about how they react. That’s
the mark of good players and a good team. I don’t think it will affect
them long-term. It’s up to myself and my back-room staff to ensure it
doesn’t.

'I won’t have a problem doing that, because they’re really hurt. None of them will be feeling great. I know how to handle it.’

Sport villains of the year – featuring Roman Abramovich, Joey Barton and Lance Armstrong

Forget Sports Personality of the Year… here's the 12 contenders for Villain of 2012! Barton, Abramovich and Armstrong all feature on our alternative shortlist

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UPDATED:

15:59 GMT, 16 December 2012

TODAY'S POLL

Who is the sporting villain of 2012

VOTE

Roman Abramovich

POLL RESULTS

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After a golden year of British sport,
it's understandable that tonight's Sports Personality of the Year is
creating so much excitement.

But
it's worth casting our minds back to some of the less impressive
sporting moments of the year, where our sporting heroes have offered
moments of hilarity, humiliation and in some cases downright disgrace.

Cast your vote to crown the villain of the year 2012. The contenders are…

Kevin Pietersen

KP faced a whole lot of controversy after he admitted to sending ‘provocative’ texts to the South African squad about his captain and team-mate Andrew Strauss.

A South African by birth, Pietersen came under fire for an apparent lack of loyalty to the national squad, and further unsettled team-mates with his fascination with the Indian Premier League.

But after much apologising he began his re-integration into the squad during their series in India.

John Terry

The saga began after a clash between Chelsea and QPR in October 2011, where Terry was accused of using racist language to abuse Anton Ferdinand.

This year, the Chelsea captain, who was stripped of the England captaincy, was cleared of a racially aggravated public order offence by a court.

However, the FA went on to find him guilty of misconduct, and proceeded to fine him 220,000 on top of a four-match ban.

‘Improbable, implausible and contrived’ was how the FA’s disciplinary panel described Terry’s defence, and many felt that the punishment had been far too lenient.

John Terry is accused of a racial slur against Anton Ferdinand

John Terry has been handed a four-match ban in 2012 for using abusive language relating to race against Anton Ferdinand

Roman Abramovich

The Russian has sent Chelsea into turmoil this season, sacking Roberto di Matteo after a string of disappointing results.

They were unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League only six months after winning the trophy under Di Matteo.

Replacement Rafa Benitez has hardly had the warmest welcome and is likely to be on his way as well if Pep Guardiola agrees to take over next season.

So, it is fair to say there is little long-term vision, with Abramovich favouring an expensive and quick-fix solution over anything that requires a long-term investment.

But after saving them from near bankruptcy and using a billion pounds from his own pocket to finance the club, he can run the club how he likes – success or no success.

Roman Abramovich celebrates winning the Premiership with Chelsea

The Chelsea boss has gone through nine managers since taking on Chelsea, and recently sacked Roberto di Matteo

Trenton Oldfield

The
boat race may often be ridiculed by those without a double-barreled surname, but there was little sympathy for Oldfield, who sabotaged the race by swimming across the path of the oncoming boats in a protest
against elitism.

If
the act itself wasn’t enough to anger both the crews and supporters, the
smug grin plastered on the Australian’s face as he was led away by
police certainly did the trick.

Cambridge
went on to win the race, but after an Oxford oar was snapped following a
re-start and the Dark Blues bow Alexander Woods collapsed in the boat
at the finish line, there was a distinctly subdued air over the win.

The presentation ceremony was cancelled and there was little celebration from any of the crews. Oldfield was jailed for six months in October.

Michel Platini speaks at a conference at the National Stadium in Warsaw

Michel Platini has proposed that Euro 2020 be held at stadiums all over the continent

Michel Platini

The Frenchman is nothing if not ambitious. His proposal of a ‘Euros for Europe,’ with matches being played across the continent in different cities, is certainly novel.

But it has been criticised by fans who feel that it shows a complete disregard for their enjoyment, and an unfortunate focus on money and TV revenue.

The shambles that was the bidding process for Euro 2020, in which Platini expressed a preference for Turkey before their bid was deemed unviable, led to a lack of options for the UEFA president.

Host countries were thin on the
ground, with few being able to afford the new financial burden.

Cynical
observers have suggested that this cross-continent proposal might be
down to Platini’s hopes for the FIFA presidency in 2015.

It is another blow after his decision to extend the Euros from 16 to 24 teams from 2016 – diluting the standard of what is a brilliant tournament.

Frankie Dettori

The Italian was handed a six-month ban by French racing authorities this year after failing a drugs test.

The drug was taken during what Dettori called a ‘night of madness’ with his friends when the jockey’s career was at a low ebb.

He will return to the saddle in May, hoping to redeem himself on the racecourse, but the 42-year-old has expressed concern that his reputation will never recover.

Frankie Dettori was banned for six months by French authorities after taking drugs

The Italian jockey received a six-month ban for taking a drug, suspected to be cocaine, during a 'night of madness.'

Lance Armstrong

Has ever a hero fallen so hard as Lance Armstrong It is hard to recall anyone who has made such a leap from being respected to disgraced.

The cancer-surviving cyclist had all seven of his Tour de France titles stripped this year after the US Anti-Doping Agency accused him of running ‘the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.’

Armstrong, while maintaining his innocence, chose not to fight the report produced by the USADA.

But while the strides he made on the bike have now been called into question, the efforts he made to aid cancer research will remain perhaps his greatest achievement.

Although he has now stepped down as the head of Livestrong, the $500million that he helped raise remains.

David Haye and Dereck Chisora

A bit of trash talk is to be expected surrounding bouts in professional boxing, but David Haye and Dereck Chisora took it a step too far in a press conference back in February.

The conference was actually being held after a clash between Chisora and Vitali Klitschko in Munich.

But Haye managed to steal attention by goading the heavyweight from the back of the room, prompting Chisora to square up to the Brit.

Punches were thrown and although the pair should have known better than to enter into a brawl with the world’s press watching, the conference soon descended into chaos.

Haye did manage to redeem himself slightly when the two fought a grudge match in July and Chisora was resoundingly beaten.

Warning: This video contains strong language

Voula Papachristou

The Greek athlete is another to have learned the dangers of Twitter the hard way.

The
triple-jumper was ejected from the national team and sent home from the
Olympics after making a joke that many deemed offensive.

Her tweet read: ‘With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!’

Despite
apologising for the tasteless comment, which followed a number of
tweets expressing far-right political views, the Greek Olympic Committee
said her statements had been ‘contrary to the values and ideas of the
Olympic movement,’ and she was sent home.

Greek athlete Voula Papachristou during the women's triple jump in Athens

Greek athlete Voula Papachristou was expelled from the Greek national team at this year's Olympics after tweeting offensive comments

David Nalbandian

There have been few tennis players able to rival John McEnroe’s infamous on-court tantrums.

David Nalbandian did manage to surpass the American in terms of actual damage caused this year however.

In a moment of anger during his final match against Marin Cilic at Queens this summer, the Argentine lashed out at some advertising boards around the chair of a line judge.

Nalbandian underestimated his own strength unfortunately, and ended up being disqualified after the boards went flying into the linesman’s legs, leaving him with a deep cut.

The 30-year-old was fined 6,400 by the ATP for unsportsmanlike conduct, as well as losing his 36,500 prize money.

He offered a sincere apology following the incident, saying: ‘It is a mistake and I have to pay for that.’

Joey Barton

Perhaps not a villain, but more of a village idiot, Barton amused us once again in 2012 with some bizarre press conference antics.

It’s usually his Twitter account that gets people talking. Or violent conduct on the pitch. Or drunken brawls.

Anyway, this year hilarity was caused when Barton appeared in a press conference for Olympic Marseille, and curiously mimicked a French accent.

Earlier in the year there was less amusement when Barton received his second red card of the season for QPR and proceeded to attack Manchester City players, kneeing Sergio Aguero and attempting to head-butt Vincent Kompany.

Barton was typically contrite on Twitter afterwards, tweeting: ‘Still not my proudest moment but who gives a f***, we are safe……….and that is all that matters.’

Joey Barton attacked Manchester City players after receiving his second red card of the season

Joey Barton caused trouble as well as amusement in 2012, attacking Manchester City players after receiving a red card

Eight Olympic badminton players

This was a combined effort at bad behaviour during the Summer Games.

In an attempt to avoid facing harder opponents, four duos tried to make sure they didn’t finish top of their group by losing their last game in the group stage.

A Chinese pair, four players from South Korea and a duo from Indonesia were all dropped from the competition after their poor display of sportsmanship and suffered a severe reaction from a disappointed crowd.

Xavi talks about his love of Bruce Springsteen and Diego Maradona

It's top secret: Barcelona superstar Xavi talks dinner with De Niro and Diego

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 7 December 2012

Barcelona's midfield maestro Xavi tells Sportsmail's Alex Kay about his sporting heroes, his unwavering loyalty to his club and his love of Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen and Argentina legend Diego Maradona.

Maestro: Xavi (centre) pulls the strings in Barcelona's midfield

Maestro: Xavi (centre) pulls the strings in Barcelona's midfield

Who is your sporting hero

I have said I think Paul Scholes is the best midfield player of the last 20 years. He is a great role model as well.

Of course, though, like most Barcelona central midfielders, my idol was Pep (Guardiola).

What would you be if you weren't a sportsman

Like so many of the players I started at La Masia at the age of 11. I can't ever imagine not playing for Barcelona, let alone not playing soccer for a career. I don't ever want to play anywhere else.

Hero: Xavi believes Paul Scholes is one of the best central midfielders in the past 20 years

Hero: Xavi believes Paul Scholes is one of the best central midfielders in the past 20 years

Career highlight

In terms of what the game means, how can you ever beat playing a World Cup final that you win You can't is the answer.

The best game I ever played in was when we beat Real Madrid 5-0. The feeling of total superiority was incredible. We just stood in the dressing room afterwards clapping ourselves. It was a surreal experience.

… and the worst moment

It was when we found out, as a team, about team-mate Eric Abidal's liver cancer. It put everything else into perspective. I remember thinking how strong he was and he was encouraging us as much as we were encouraging him.

In perspective: Xavi says being told about Eric Abidal's liver cancer was the worst moment of his career

In perspective: Xavi says being told about Eric Abidal's liver cancer was the worst moment of his career

If your house was burning down, what one possession would you save

Just the things that can't be replaced. There is no money in the world that can replace the jersey you were wearing when you lifted the World Cup.

What's your favourite song

Losing My Religion by REM. I love all of their stuff.

What's the programme you can't miss on TV

I don't actually watch many shows. I will either watch movies or football. I enjoy to watch games in the Premier League and will also watch movies a lot as well.

That is how I relax.

Last film you saw

The Lincoln Lawyer. It was really good.

If you could have dinner with three famous people, who would it be and why

People I admire in the things that I like. I would choose Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen, and Diego Maradona.

Born to run: Xavi idolises rock star Bruce Springsteen

Born to run: Xavi idolises rock star Bruce Springsteen

Can you cook

I am competent enough but I won't try anything tough. Probably just pasta, grilled chicken, and a little olive oil.

Your favourite holiday destination

Ibiza is a popular vacation place for a lot of the players in Spain. If you go in the summer there are some of the world's most famous movie and music stars so nobody cares about soccer players.

In a film of your life, who would you like to play you

I am not known for being a tall player so you would have to take that into account. Probably somebody like Matt Damon.

Tell us a secret…

We were playing at the Bernabeu when I was about 18 and things got a little heated between the players. Raul came up and gave me a cuff round the ear and said calm down. He is one of my great friends now – but what he was saying is: 'Know your place, kid, there is hierarchy.'

Best of enemies: Former Real Madrid star Raul clipped Xavi round the ear to put him in his place

Best of enemies: Former Real Madrid star Raul clipped Xavi round the ear to put him in his place

Martin Samuel: Premier League"s greedy owners the only winners

Greedy owners the only winners if you curb these players' wages

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UPDATED:

23:30 GMT, 18 November 2012

Nobody has ever bought a ticket to watch a bloke in a suit balance the books. Not that it wouldn’t be interesting.

Whoever managed to juggle Chelsea’s numbers so they bought the best part of a new team and still turned a 1.4million profit over the last financial year On paper, that must have been one hell of a show.

Same with the Arsenal board meeting in which chief executive Ivan Gazidis explained why he was worth a 24 per cent pay rise for selling Arsene Wenger’s captain at the end of every season. Now there is a world-class performer at the top of his game.

They're not here for you, Arsene: Ivan Gazidis and his equivalents across the land bring in the big bucks

They're not here for you, Arsene: Ivan Gazidis and his equivalents across the land bring in the big bucks

More from Martin Samuel…

Martin Samuel: Admit it KP, left-arm spin baffles you
18/11/12

Martin Samuel: Double centurion Pujara is the new great Wall of India
16/11/12

Martin Samuel: Mental agility was the real skill as Ibrahimovic stunned England
15/11/12

Cutting aid to India Glad I'm not you, Justine
15/11/12

Martin Samuel: Little Master can bow out on his own terms
15/11/12

Martin Samuel: Mark Hughes was once tipped to follow Sir Alex into the United hotseat but now he's in a fight he can't afford to lose
13/11/12

Martin Samuel: Remember, sport isn't a special case when we honour our heroes
11/11/12

It shouldn't be taxing to make fairness work
08/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Sadly, the fans don’t agree. Players. That’s what they like. How quaintly retro of them. They don’t get that football’s modern world is all about leveraging the brand and maximising revenue streams, economic reality and financial fair play.

A paying fan wouldn’t have written the newspaper headline that described Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy as a genius at the weekend. Gareth Bale against Inter Milan two seasons ago. That was genius.

So when the Premier League chairmen sat down last week to consider next season’s 5billion television windfall, they wanted to prioritise the people who really deserved it.

Them.

Not players. Good lord, not sweaty old players. Having built the self-styled greatest league in the world on the talent of men such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, the owners have decided enough is enough.

They fear players will recognise some correlation between increased TV revenue and the stars the people are tuning in to watch. How presumptuous.

It would be like David Letterman thinking that what made the David Letterman Show special was David Letterman, and asking to be paid accordingly. Get real, Dave. Do you seriously think they’re watching it for you

Chairmen aren’t brave enough to explain this leap in logic to the players’ representatives. So what they will do is hide behind new rules.

We’d like to give you the money, they will say, but we can’t, you see. It’s the law. If it was up to us, well of course. There’s nothing we’d enjoy more than sharing our bounty with your client. But our hands are tied. We can’t even invest any of our own money these days. It’s just not allowed. Damn these rules. Damn these silly, silly rules. I don’t know why we voted for them.

Worth a pay rise Player of the year candidates Robin van Persie and Juan Mata wont get a cut of TV cash

Worth a pay rise Player of the year candidates Robin van Persie and Juan Mata wont get a cut of TV cash

Worth a pay rise Player of the year candidates Robin van Persie and Juan Mata won’t get a cut of TV cash

So who reaps the dividend Not you, that’s for certain. To date, there is no record of an owner saying he will use the double whammy of proposed spending restrictions and hugely increased revenue to suppress admission charges, cut prices in the club shop or end the tyranny of the new strip released every year. You still pay. They now don’t.

There are some very clever operators behind this, and a fair few dopes, too. The shrewd cookies are the elite clubs who have worked out that, far from benefiting all grades of the game, those at the top stand to profit greatly if spending is linked to income.

An existing club in the Champions League will have at least 30m more than a rival whose ambition it is to enter the top four.

It is no surprise that Manchester United and Arsenal are driving this proposal: the biggest grounds, the most consistent Champions League performers, they are as good as enshrining their right to have the most to spend.

The dopes would include those supporting the rule change at, for instance, West Ham or Tottenham. Why are clubs that are looking to grow limiting the ability to do so

We don’t want another Portsmouth or Leeds United, the mediocre minds insist. But why are the options competitive torpor or going skint Why can’t a club expand with optimism, ambition and calculated risk, without throwing the lot on red

At last week’s Premier League meeting, 16 of 20 clubs asked chief executive Richard Scudamore to press ahead with detailed proposals for financial restrictions. They can’t be trusted to simply show restraint; it has to be placed upon them by force.

Everyone's invited: As TV money tots up, still the stadiums are filled with expensive tickets

Everyone's invited: As TV money tots up, still the stadiums are filled with expensive tickets

'We are looking at financial fair play rules and introducing them for the good of everyone in the Premier League and for the good of the game,’ said Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins, who would obviously know what was best for the Premier League having been part of it for a mighty 18 months.

The real brains trust proposal comes from Sunderland owner Ellis Short, who wishes to limit annual increases to the wage bill, as a means of depressing salaries. So each club would only be able to increase wages by, say, five per cent each season.

Fine for Manchester United as five per cent of quite a lot is quite a lot more. And fine if you’ve already been throwing money up the wall like Chelsea, as you could continue to do so incrementally.

Yet what of the well-run club that had lived within their means, suddenly experienced a degree of success, and wanted to take a leap forward

Suppose West Bromwich Albion got into Europe and wished to invest in a bigger squad. They would be pegged at growth of five per cent. All Short is proposing is a way of saying ‘no’ to agents without getting into a heated argument.

The alternative is to grow a pair and pay only what you can afford, while respecting the right of all clubs to embrace ascent to the next level.

Resisting all this nonsense, bless them, are Fulham, Everton, West Brom and Manchester City, although Randy Lerner of Aston Villa has serious reservations, too, as do Chelsea, unless they can tailor the proposal to a way that leaves them unaffected.

Reaping rewards: West Brom's break-even model is perhaps the Premier League's most sensible

Reaping rewards: West Brom's break-even model is perhaps the Premier League's most sensible

City and Fulham rely on rich benefactors, while limits on owner investment would make Everton considerably less attractive to potential buyers. West Brom have a break-even model, and a damn good one, but chairman Jeremy Peace simply believes each club should run their business as they see fit. Like grown-ups.

‘It is not trying to restrict teams competing for players,’ said Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. No, it’s just trying to guarantee that, when they do, they’ve got less money than you.

‘We are trying to impose some parameters, so we don’t end up with a lot of clubs making annual and regular losses,’ added the man from the club who are 359.7m in debt, and based in the Cayman Islands.

So if fans aren’t due a rebate and the players don’t deserve a rise, who does

Step forward: Gazidis, Roman Abramovich, the Glazer family, Mike Ashley.

It’s Super Sunday, folks, live from the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers. That’s entertainment.

Overcrowding in the old Globe

Louis Burton, a French sailor competing in the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world yacht race, collided with a trawler 460 miles off the coast of Lisbon.

His accident came a day after compatriot Kito de Pavant was forced to retire after a trawler damaged his boat 80 miles from the Portuguese port of Cascais.

The Vendee Globe is a uniquely challenging event that makes incredible physical and mental demands of its competitors. Even so, not exactly Piccadilly Circus out there, is it

Purple pain

Memo to Stuart Lancaster and all at the RFU: if we can’t play like England’s rugby team, at least try to look like England’s rugby team.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT ITIt's the winning just by taking part

One of the important things in life is to know when you’ve won. The day AFC Wimbledon entered the Football League, having progressed through the pyramid system from their beginnings in the Combined Counties League, they won.

They overcame the idiocy of the Football Association commission that had branded their phoenix club not in the wider interests of football.

More importantly, they exposed the great lie at the heart of Peter Winkelman’s theft of the original Wimbledon. They proved that Milton Keynes could, after all, have earned its League club the legitimate way, with promotion through the many tiers of English football.

The right way: After Peter Winkelman stole their club, AFC Wimbledon rose from the ashes

The right way: After Peter Winkelman stole their club, AFC Wimbledon rose from the ashes

The right way: After Peter Winkelman stole their club, AFC Wimbledon rose from the ashes

Peter Winkelman

Winkelman did not have to steal Wimbledon and spirit it north as Milton Keynes Dons. With investment in Milton Keynes City of the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division, he could have grown his hometown club organically. He could have tried it the proper way, as AFC Wimbledon did.

And Wimbledon are still winning. When they play Milton Keynes Dons, as equals, in the FA Cup second round on December 2, that will be a small victory, too. As is the fact that every neutral fan in the country wants them to overturn big odds and win.

A decade ago, interest was scarce but now everyone seems to know the story of English football’s greatest injustice.

Wimbledon directors are not going into the boardroom at stadiummk, supporters have discussed taking food and printing an independent match programme to avoid giving the club they call Franchise FC money. Others will boycott the tie entirely.

All fine acts of protest. Wimbledon remain unshakeably atop the moral high ground. But they should know when they’ve won. Goodwill is easily surrendered if justified grievance becomes spiteful venom. Foul chants and abuse, collateral damage.

What the FA allowed to happen to their club should never be forgotten; but there are some good people at MK Dons now, too.

Dan Micciche, who runs the academy, is one of the most imaginative youth coaches in the country, and anyone below a certain age in the crowd will simply have grown up supporting the local team, not comprehending their horrible history. They were simply too young to appreciate the controversy surrounding Winkelman’s creation.

What is it boxing referees require A good, clean fight That is what the supporters of AFC Wimbledon must provide next month. Keep it dignified, keep it civilised.

They have considerably more to lose than a Cup tie, if they forget that this was their victory long ago, regardless of the result of a single match.

Not losing may not be enough for Rio, Roy

And very quietly, as we entered the winter hiatus, Montenegro took a two-point lead at the top of World Cup qualification Group H, as expected, by beating San Marino.

England are second on eight points. If Poland win their game in hand, they will have eight points, too.

/11/18/article-2234863-16079D7A000005DC-881_634x419.jpg” width=”634″ height=”419″ alt=”Exposed: England are in a fight to secure a place at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014″ class=”blkBorder” />

Exposed: England are in a fight to secure a place at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014

Put like that, trailing Montenegro, having won two games in four and even then only against San Marino and Moldova, doesn’t seem so hot.

Roy Hodgson is still unbeaten in competitive matches but this was always going to be his problem. Being good at not losing only gets a team and a manager so far and cannot be mistaken for winning.

England have gone out of World Cups unbeaten previously; technically, Hodgson was unbeaten at the 2012 European Championship, too.

Nobody is allowed to utter the name Harry Redknapp, because football’s confederation of bogus clever dicks are still pretending that England and Tottenham Hotspur are better off without him (and didn’t they look it on Saturday, when Emmanuel Adebayor got sent off and Andre Villas-Boas looked at his little book of brilliant tactical plans for 20 minutes as Arsenal scored three goals).

But the fact is that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s hat-trick was the least of England’s problems last week.

Second place could bring a play-off against the likes of Israel, Norway or Bulgaria but equally Portugal, Sweden, France or Belgium.

Meanwhile, the troublesome visit to Montenegrin capital Podgorica is two competitive games away. England improve under Hodgson in the second half of this season or their World Cup campaign ails, perhaps fatally.

Remembrance Day 2012: Premier League respects war heroes

The Premier League remembers: Clubs pay their respects to war heroes

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UPDATED:

16:05 GMT, 10 November 2012

Ahead of Remembrance Sunday, Premier League clubs across the country paid their respects to those who have served their country in war.

Players had poppies emblazoned on their strips while those at Stoke's home game against Queens Park Rangers warmed up in Appeal T-shirts.

A minute's silence was impeccably observed at all grounds.

Message: Arsenal players' shirts were emblazonded with poppies

Message: Arsenal players' shirts were emblazonded with poppies

A minute's silence is observed before kick off in an English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Fulham

Chelsea, like all 20 Premier League
clubs this weekend, will wear poppies on their shirts against Liverpool tomorrow, which will then
be auctioned off to raise money for the Royal British Legion.

Defender Gary Cahill admitted he might have to explain the significance of the
red flowers to some of his foreign team-mates, but was sincere as he discussed the importance of marking Remembrance Sunday after meeting
servicemen and women at Chelsea's training ground at Cobham.

In memory: A war tribute outside Everton's stadium before the match with Sunderland

In memory: A war tribute outside Everton's stadium before the match with Sunderland

'Some are based here for the next two or three years and some are going off, March until December,' he says.

'They
come back for Christmas. It's real life. It must be crazy. I can't
imagine what that would be like. They deserve a lot of respect.'

Remembering: Stoke and Queens Park Rangers players observe a minutes silence

Remembering: Stoke and Queens Park Rangers players observe a minutes silence

Stoke City's Peter Crouch wears a Poppy Appeal t-shirt

Referee Martin Atkinson (centre) wearing a Poppy Appeal t-shirt

Matching: Peter Crough (left) and referee Martin Atkinson wore Poppy Appeal t-shirts at Stoke

Heads bowed: Reading players wore poppies on their shirts against Norwich

Heads bowed: Reading players wore poppies on their shirts against Norwich

Pub chain launches tribute to Sports Personality contenders

Pub chain 'steaks' a claim for the most bizarre tribute to our British sporting heroes

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UPDATED:

12:10 GMT, 9 October 2012

After such a 'rare' year of British sporting success, the 'steaks' are higher than ever for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award.

And one pub chain are saying 'well done' to the likes of Andy Murray, Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis on their inspirational achievements by branding their faces on slabs of meat.

In the run-up to the December awards ceremony, Flaming Grill are launching a cook-a-likes range where you can literally eat the face of our sporting heroes.

Cook-a-likes! Pub chain Flaming Grill have branded their steaks with the faces of British sporting heroes

Cook-a-likes! Pub chain Flaming Grill have branded their steaks with the faces of British sporting heroes

The pub company worked in collaboration with food artist Prudence Staite to come up with the themed menu, which includes Bradley Grillins, Rory McIl'rump' and Sir-loin Chris Hoy.

Olympic and US Open champion Andy Moo-ray, heptathlon golden girl Jess-steak-a Ennis and double winner Flaming Mo Farah complete the line-up.

The faces will appear on the pub's rump, sirloin, T-Bone and Rib-Eye steaks, as well as the Lamb Rump and Tuna Steak.

Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis

Andy Murray with the US Open trophy

'Rare' year of success: Jessica Ennis and Andy Murray are two of the
British sporting heroes to have their faces branded on the steaks

December's Sports Personality is set to be the most hotly contested ever following a year of unprecedented British sporting success.

Tour de France and Olympic time trial winner Wiggins remains the favourite with the bookmakers, but is being pushed hard by Murray, Farah and Ennis in the betting markets.

Paralympic heroes David Weir, Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds could also feature in the shortlist, as well as Ryder Cup golfer Ian Poulter and sailor Ben Ainslie.

Andrew Strauss misses simple putt at St Andrews

Fore! Strauss was always better at hitting fours as he misses simple putt at St Andrews

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UPDATED:

18:54 GMT, 4 October 2012

Just found out that KP is back in the England set-up, Straussy No, this was the moment that recently-retired England captain Andrew Strauss missed the simplest of putts while playing in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship pro-am at St Andrews.

While Kevin Pietersen begins the process of re-integration into the England set-up, his former skipper as enjoying his round on the Old Course. But this miss had Strauss hanging his head in shame.

I can't watch! Strauss hides his his head in shame after missing this putt

I can't watch! Strauss hides his his head in shame after missing this putt

Elsewhere, South African Branden Grace equalled the European Tour record with a round of 60 at Kingsbarns in the first round.

Already with three European Tour titles to his name this season, the 24-year-old knocked two strokes off Lee Westwood's course record thanks to an eagle and 10 birdies – five of them in a row to finish with.

Fourteen players have now shot 60 on the circuit – Darren Clarke has done it twice – and like so many of the others Grace came off saying: 'It could have been a 59'.

All smiles: Strauss was enjoying his round at the Alfred Dunhill pro-am

All smiles: Strauss was enjoying his round at the Alfred Dunhill pro-am

All smiles: Strauss was enjoying his round at the Alfred Dunhill pro-am

The Pretoria golfer leads Victor Dubuisson by two, the Frenchman's 62 at St Andrews today also being a course record, while many of the big guns were left trailing in his wake after they battled with the far tougher Carnoustie.

The three Ryder Cup heroes in the field – Paul Lawrie, Martin Kaymer and Peter Hanson – returned 75, 70 and 72 respectively, with Lawrie commenting on his return to the course where he won the 1999 Open: 'I was a little bit tired obviously, but the first 12 holes were my worst ball-striking of the year.'

Kiss and make up: KP is back in the fold after being kicked out of the England team

Kiss and make up: KP is back in the fold after being kicked out of the England team

Amateur Boxing Association in talks with AIBA to set up World Series of Boxing London franchise

Olympic heroes could delay pro plans after World Series of Boxing talks

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UPDATED:

12:16 GMT, 24 September 2012

The British Amateur Boxing Association has confirmed it is in talks with world governing body AIBA to set up a London-based franchise in the World Series of Boxing.

The global team event kicks off its third season in November and a prospective London team was provisionally included in Sunday's draw, where it was placed in a six-strong Group B.

BABA chairman Derek Mapp said: 'We have always been supportive of the ideals that underpin WSB. We recognise its potential to deliver alternative career options for young boxers and are keen to pursue this opportunity.'

Career opportunities: Boxers like Anthony Joshua (right) could have new routes

Career opportunities: Boxers like Anthony Joshua (right) could have new routes

The move could provide Great Britain's Olympic medal winners with a financial alternative to turning professional, with all WSB boxers, whilst becoming centrally contracted to the organisation, receiving individual offers.

Six Irish boxers have already been drafted for next season's competition, while Olympic silver medallists John Joe Nevin and Ken Egan have previously competed for teams in Paris and Miami respectively.

No British boxers have entered the draft stage yet, and there is no guarantee that they would fight for a prospective London team, as all franchises are run as strictly international entities.

Too soon Amir Khan went pro early

Too soon Amir Khan went pro early

But such a move could produce some relatively lucrative deals for medallists, in particular super-heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, who is yet to declare his plans beyond the end of his existing GB contract in March.

Great Britain have been wary of committing their fighters to the competition in the past, citing schedule concerns in the build-up to London 2012, and the financial implications of launching a franchise.

But officials are aware a WSB team could both convince some top stars to stay amateur and boost hopes of a bigger contingent of qualifiers for Rio 2016, with more qualifying places made available to WSB-contracted boxers.

Ricky Burns ready for Kevin Mitchell fight in Glasgow

Quiet man Ricky not reluctant to talk of treble ahead of Mitchell showdown

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UPDATED:

23:48 GMT, 18 September 2012

He has watched the glorious home-comings of this summer’s sporting heroes with a mixture of admiration and, truth be told, horror.

A double world champion who has spent his two-year reign actively avoiding public shows of adulation, Ricky Burns would rather face a barrage of body shots with his arms tied behind his back than board an open-top bus for a victory parade.

His natural shyness should never be mistaken for a lack of ambition, of course. Having moved up last year to add the WBO lightweight title to the WBO super-featherweight crown he had clinched on a frenzied night in September 2010, Burns cannot discount another giant leap — and a chance to become the first Scot to win world belts in three different weight divisions.

Focused: Ricky Burns can't wait to get in the ring against Kevin Mitchell

Focused: Ricky Burns can't wait to get in the ring against Kevin Mitchell

For now, he is focused entirely on Saturday’s hugely testing defence against Kevin Mitchell, in front of an anticipated 10,000 fans at the SECC; the vast majority will be there to hail Coatbridge’s most feted sporting son.

Ask this most retiring of global greats about enjoying the kind of organised hoopla arranged for the likes of Sir Chris Hoy and Andy Murray in recent days, though, Burns looks positively mortified.

‘I am the total opposite — everybody knows I like to keep myself to myself,’ he said. ‘The training and the fighting is what I do, the fighting is the bit I enjoy.

‘After that, I like to return to normal. Would I like all that (the parades) Not at all.

‘It’s just not a big thing that appeals to me. Boxing is all I’ve ever wanted to do but, apart from the fighting, I’ve always said the publicity, all the attention I get, isn’t something I’m fussed about.’

Champ: Burns is a two-weight world champion and could be tempted by a third

Champ: Burns is a two-weight world champion and could be tempted by a third

The hype will only increase should he beat Mitchell in what could be one
of the fights of the year, with Burns conceding he might yet move on in
search of fresh challenges. Addressing the possibility of a unique
Scottish treble on the world stage, he said: ‘Now I’ve moved up to
lightweight, I can see I’m physically bigger.

‘We have spoken about it (moving up). Maybe I’ll get another year or two at this weight, a few more fights at lightweight.

‘But, if the big opportunity came at light welterweight, never say never. The bigger I get, the harder my punches are.

‘When I’m sparring, a couple of the guys are welterweights — a lot
heavier than me. But the size difference isn’t that much. If a big
fight came up at light welterweight, I’d be more than happy to take it.'

Eyes on the prize: Burns defends his title for the second time in Glasgow on Saturday

Eyes on the prize: Burns defends his title for the second time in Glasgow on Saturday

Wherever his career takes him, Burns is guaranteed to take thousands of fans with him. In a sport where a big mouth is often as important as a big right hand when it comes to selling tickets, his low-key approach to self- publicity has not done too much box-office damage.

Aware that Saturday’s bout is heading for a sell-out, he insists talk of the crowd becoming the equivalent of football’s 12th man for a home fighter is a little over the top, saying: ‘It’s only me in that ring — I’m the one taking the punches.

‘I try to block out the crowd, although I am grateful for the support I get — so I want to say a big thanks to everybody. Hopefully, I’ll do the business for them.

‘You tend to notice the crowd before and after the fight. Once that bell goes, it’s just a big blur. But it’s good to walk out in front of your own crowd, aye.

‘The crowd come into it in the later rounds, though. You can always hear certain things, even if most of it is just a blur.

Tough job: Burns is expecting a difficult 12 rounds against Mitchell in Glasgow

Tough job: Burns is expecting a difficult 12 rounds against Mitchell in Glasgow

‘If you look at it that way, it can put added pressure on you, make you feel as if you’re out there to look good. I always say, I need to win.

‘This is going to be a tough, tough fight. Kevin is a big puncher, a good fighter.

‘Since he lost to Michael Katsidis, he’s come back to beat John Murray and Felix Lora. I think his training has gone well, so the fans are in for a good fight.

‘Throughout the 12-week training camp, all I’ve been thinking about is this fight. When it’s been hard in sparring, I’ve been thinking: “Well, what am I going to do on the night”.

Battle of Britain: Burns and Kevin Mitchell are heading towards an explosive showdown

Battle of Britain: Burns and Kevin Mitchell are heading towards an explosive showdown

‘I’ve spent a lot of time in the ring thinking about the different scenarios that could happen.

‘This is the worst time, three days before the weigh-in, but I’ve still got a smile on my face just now.
‘Once the weigh-in is over, you can concentrate on the good bit.’

If that ‘good bit’ goes right on the night, Burns will be afforded a raucous reception to rival the loudest roars of this Olympic summer.

Just don’t expect to see him waving his belt from the top of a bus, float or specially chartered charabanc any time soon.