Tag Archives: labour

LTA chief Roger Draper under attack for "outrageous" 640k salary

Fury at Draper's 640k as LTA chief comes under fire over 'outrageous' salary



22:00 GMT, 19 December 2012

The 640,000 salary package of Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper has been branded 'outrageous' by the chair of Parliament's All Party Tennis Group.

Labour's Baroness Billingham has attacked his pay, especially the decision to award a 201,000 bonus, revealed in Sports Agenda, when grassroots participation in the sport has actually fallen in the past four years.

Earlier this week Sport England effectively put the LTA on probation for a year over future funding awards, and described their plan to improve numbers playing the game as 'simply not strong enough'.

Net gains: Draper has come under fire after receiving 640,000 for one year

Net gains: Draper has come under fire after receiving 640,000 for one year

That prompted Baroness Billingham to say: 'This is the second straight year that they have criticised the LTA and in light of that it is outrageous that he is paid more than four times more than the Prime Minister. It's not right to get a large bonus in that situation.

'Think of all the children in primary schools who could be getting to know tennis if that sort of money was available. I stand by what I said in the Lord's, which is that the LTA are useless.'

Official participation figures are down from 487,500 to 441,500 since 2008 despite huge profits pumped in from Wimbledon.

Laura Robson

Andy Murray

Golden moment: Laura Robson and Andy Murray have enjoyed successful years

The LTA, who declined to respond to her specific comments, pointed out that many sports are struggling with recreational numbers and that in the past year tennis has seen an improvement in that area.

There has also been high-profile success through Andy Murray, Laura Robson, Heather Watson and Jonny Marray.

No 2: But Baker is ranked over 240 places below Murray

No 2: But Baker is ranked over 240 places below Murray

Yet British men's No 2 Jamie Baker is ranked 246 and the Baroness is not alone in wondering whether the LTA's annual 15.3 million staffing costs and 17 million spent on participation could have been better utilised.

So far the LTA's main board has taken a very benign view of their chief executive, who has been in charge since 2006. But that could change next year when a new independent chairman, David Gregson, takes up his post.

Ian Bell misses birth of baby son

Bell misses birth of baby son despite leaving India before end of first Test



00:33 GMT, 21 November 2012

Ian Bell’s hopes of rushing home to be present for the arrival of his first child were dashed when his wife Chantal gave birth to a boy without him.

Bell attracted criticism in some quarters for leaving Ahmedabad on Monday — with permission — before the end of England’s first-Test defeat by India after hearing that his wife had gone into labour.

But his decision to bring forward his flight after his active participation in the match had ended proved in vain as Joseph William Bell appeared early.

Missing out: Ian Bell did not make it back to England in time for the birth of his son

Missing out: Ian Bell did not make it back to England in time for the birth of his son

Bell, who had seemed distracted on tour and was out to an awful shot first ball in the first innings of the first Test, will now spend a few days at home with his wife and son before returning for the third Test in Kolkata.

Jonny Bairstow is expected to replace Bell in the team for Friday’s second Test.

Bebeto"s son gets first Brazil under 20 call-up

Bebeto's boy still rocks! Mattheus a step closer to emulating legend father with Brazil Under 20 call-up



10:54 GMT, 14 November 2012

It was an iconic moment in World Cup history, since replicated by goalscorers on park pitches the world over.

Bebeto had just fired Brazil two-up in their USA '94 quarter-final against Holland and celebrated with a carefully-choreographed cradle-rocking routine with teammates Romario and Mazinho in honour of his new-born son Mattheus.

Now, 18 years later and all grown up, that baby is a step closer to emulating the achievements of his legendary father after receiving his first Brazil Under 20 call-up.

Iconic moment: Mazinho, Bebeto and Romario rock the cradle in celebration after Bebeto's goal against Holland in the 1994 World Cup quarter-final

Iconic moment: Mazinho, Bebeto and Romario rock the cradle in celebration after Bebeto's goal against Holland in the 1994 World Cup quarter-final

Quick strides: Mattheus (right) has already played for his father's club Flamengo and is now being recognised at international level

Quick strides: Mattheus (right) has already played for his father's club Flamengo and is now being recognised at international level

Mattheus, by all accounts a prolific scorer, has worked his way through the youth ranks at Bebeto's old club Flamengo and now looks set for international recognition too.

The youngster made his debut for the Rio club in February this year in a 0-0 draw with Olaria, as his proud father watched on from the stands.

Bebeto, 47, is now a politician, having been voted onto the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro as a Democratic Labour candidate at the 2010 elections.

Nice moves: And on the evidence of this celebration, he has great celebration routines like his dad

Nice moves: And on the evidence of this celebration, he has great celebration routines like his dad

Mattheus said at the time of his club debut: 'I talk to my father all the time, because he had a great career and is an ideal example for me to follow.

'He has helped give me peace of mind by telling me not worry about expectations and just to concentrate on doing my best.'

And with this latest milestone, it seems he's a step closer to meeting those expectations.

VIDEO: Bebeto's iconic cradle celebration

NHL games cancelled until end of November

All NHL games until end of November are cancelled as labour dispute continues

Sportsmail Reporter


22:42 GMT, 26 October 2012



22:48 GMT, 26 October 2012

The NHL have confirmed all games until the end of November have been cancelled because of the ongoing dispute with players.

The 2012/13 regular-season schedule up to November 13 has been scrapped because a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Players' Association and the league is still not in place.

Dispute: There has been no NHL action so far this season

Dispute: There has been no NHL action so far this season

The NHL said in a brief statement: 'The National Hockey League announced today the cancellation of the 2012-13 regular-season schedule through November 30 because of the absence of a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Players' Association and the NHL.'

In total 326 regular-season games, 26.5 per cent of the season, were scheduled to take place between October 11 and November 30, the league said.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly admitted the action was regrettable.

He said: The National Hockey League deeply regrets having to take this action.

'By presenting a proposal to the NHLPA that contemplated a fair division of revenues and was responsive to player concerns regarding the value of their contracts, we had hoped to be able to forge a long-term Collective Bargaining Agreement that would have preserved an 82-game Regular Season for our fans. Unfortunately, that did not occur.

We acknowledge and accept that there is joint responsibility in collective bargaining and, though we are profoundly disappointed that a new agreement has not been attained to this point, we remain committed to achieving an agreement that is fair for the players and the clubs – one that will be good for the game and our fans.'

London 2012 Olympics: Anthony Ogogo dedicates boxing victory to his mother

Ogogo beats Castillo and dedicates victory to seriously ill mother



20:43 GMT, 28 July 2012

Olympics 2012

British boxer Anthony Ogogo dedicated his victory on Saturday to his seriously ill mother Teresa – and said winning Olympic gold would be nothing compared to the battle she is going through.

The Lowestoft-born middleweight cruised past Junior Castilla of the Dominican Republic and then dashed to check on his mum, who is in a Norfolk hospital recovering from a brain haemorrhage.

Ogogo was also keen to find out if his eldest sister had given birth after going into labour earlier in the day.

Straight after seeing off Castilla 13-6 at the ExCel Arena, Ogogo said: 'My eldest sister Leanne went into labour today so I'll phone her and hopefully I have another little nephew or niece.

On the attack: Anthony Ogogo beats Junior Castillo Martinez

On the attack: Anthony Ogogo beats Junior Castillo Martinez

'Mum had a brain haemorrhage six weeks
ago, and she's still recovering and doing amazingly well. Hopefully
I've given her a boost and it will help in her recovery.'

He added: 'Winning the Olympics would
be nothing in comparison to what Mum's been going through. I'm really
proud of her. She's given me the strength to get in the ring and the
inspiration to do well.'

He now has to get past world No1
Ievgen Khytrov of Ukraine. 'It will be really hard. He's world champion.
But with that crowd and my coaches, the team I've got I feel I can rise
to the occasion: the better my opponent, the better I usually perform.

'The draw's not been kind to me, but I believe I can beat him. I wouldn't be here if I didn't.'

Earlier, Irish bantamweight John Joe Nevin thrashed Dennis Ceylan of Denmark to reach the last 16.

The Open 2012: Luke Donald still awaits delivery date and it"s long overdue

Donald still awaits delivery date and it's long overdue



20:36 GMT, 21 July 2012

Luke Donald's caddie John
McLaren was back on the bag on Saturday after spending
Friday with his wife, who
gave birth to their first child
following a short labour.

If only Donald's first major
championship could be delivered as
smoothly. Instead, it continues to
prove a protracted and painful
affair, fraught with complications
and, worst of all, no obvious sign of
an arrival date. Saturday at The
Open came with Donald and
McLaren hopeful and expectant,
only to leave wondering if it will
ever be their turn.

On the bag: Donald lines up his putt with replacement caddie Gareth Lord

On the bag: Donald lines up his putt with replacement caddie Gareth Lord

Golf blog

The world No 1 began eight shots off the lead and thus in need of a mistake-free round in the mid-60s to give himself a chance on the final day. As ever, there was no shortage of support.

The crowd, yearning for a first English victory in England since Tony Jacklin strode majestically over these acres in 1969, soon offered up the first cry of 'Luuuke'.

Anyone who has been to a Bruce Springsteen concert will recognise the noise. Now we gathered hoping no one would pull the plug, Hyde Park-style.

It all started so
well. The third hole
was proving the
toughest of all
when Donald came
to it but he
improved the stats
with a perfect
drive, a solidly
struck iron, and a
putt from 18ft that
curved into the

Now he had a bit
of momentum.

In trouble: Donald thinned his chip into the long rough on 13

In trouble: Donald thinned his chip into the long rough on 13

At the next, the
spectators in the
packed grandstand
behind the green
were united in
letting out a cry of
'oooh' as the ball
burned the edge of
the hole. At the
fifth another good
birdie putt just
failed to drop. Donald was on the

How often in the majors does he
seem to follow one step forward
with another back

From a perfect spot in the middle
of the sixth fairway, Donald pushed
an iron shot into a horrible lie in
one of Lytham's most notorious

One thing you can't do in these
hazards is be too greedy. Instead of
playing for the front of the green,
he tried to be too adventurous and
paid the price. He caught the top of
the venomous wall in front of him
and the ball plopped back into the

What a way to see your chance slip
away when you're the best bunker
player in the modern game. Three
more shots to complete the hole and a double-bogey six meant the end of
England's big-name challenge for
another year.

First there was Justin Rose on
Thursday, then Lee Westwood on
Friday, now Donald has fallen as

Home favourite: Donald is searching for his first major

Home favourite: Donald is searching for his first major

How these players get over the
hurdle of expectation is something
exercising their thoughts night and

But the words of David Duval
carry particular resonance as
Donald contemplates a third
disappointing major championship
in a row, following a tied 37th finish
at the Masters and a missed cut at
the US Open.

'The longer it drags on without you
winning a major the harder it gets,
the more you get in your own head,
the more you press and think about
it,' said Duval – Open Champion at
Lytham in 2001.

'I don't think you can talk about it any other way, if you're making an
honest argument.'

That double-bogey six at the sixth
clearly knocked the stuffing out of

He could not even afford a small
blemish, let alone a big one. On the
greens he had no luck at all as a
number of putts lipped out. He
finished with a 71.

Even though the wind is supposed
to blow hard today and anything
could happen, it will not be

happening for Donald.
'I know I'm too far back but
there are positives to take from
the week,' he insisted. 'I've played
well enough from tee to green but
haven't had much luck on them.

After the disaster of the US Open
I feel like I'm back on the right

The Open 2012: Luke Donald fires 68 at Royal Lytham

Donald on a charge despite losing expectant-father caddie at 11th hour



15:29 GMT, 20 July 2012

World No 1 Luke Donald made light of losing his expectant-father caddie for the day to shoot a round of 68 and move to two under at The Open.

Early on the morning of the second day regular bagman John McLaren received a call from his wife telling him she had gone into labour with his first child.

Donald immediately sent McLaren on his way to London but had a ready-made replacement already in the house they are sharing as Gareth Lord had remained in Lytham after Robert Karlsson withdrew from the tournament on Wednesday.

On the bag: Donald lines up his putt with replacement caddie Gareth Lord

On the bag: Donald lines up his putt with replacement caddie Gareth Lord

Golf blog

The pair have worked together before, when the Englishman won the 2011 Children's Miracle Network Classic at Disney World in Florida, and they seamlessly re-established their partnership.

'Hopefully all is going well. About 6.30am he came in and I saw he was up a little early so thought it might be time,' said Donald.

'She was due on Wednesday so she was trying to hold on as long as possible.

In trouble: Donald thinned his chip into the long rough on 13

In trouble: Donald thinned his chip into the long rough on 13

'I've actually been sharing a house with John and Gareth, and when Robert pulled out he was available so it worked out well and obviously I've got some history with Lordy, having caddied for me at Disney, so it was an easy transition.

'We'll see how long (McLean is absent). We don't know how long these babies take but I told John to not rush.

'For me that was an important thing in my life to be around for that, especially your first one, and enjoy that experience.

'But I know what he's like. He's very passionate about his job, as well, and he'll get back here when he's ready.'

Home favourite: Donald is searching for his first major

Home favourite: Donald is searching for his first major

And Donald joked: 'I won't pay him for today, obviously, but, you know, he should be around for the birth.'

Despite being dominant in the rankings and on both the European and United States money lists Donald is still searching for his first major.

Having bogeyed the third to drop to one over the 34-year-old then carded four birdies in the next five holes as he turned in 31.

Further shots were dropped on 10 and 13, the latter when he thinned a wedge through the green into thick rough and had to take a penalty drop, but a birdie at the 15th took him back to two under.

Having missed the cut in his first five Opens Donald has now made six of the last seven and believes he is well positioned to make a move over the weekend.

'I'm certainly feeling more and more comfortable,' he said.

'It's nice to string a couple of solid rounds together in a major.

'Obviously where I am in my career I need to be contending and this was a good solid two rounds and I'm looking forward to the weekend.'

Martin Samuel: Jack Straw just blows with the wind on Blackburn Rovers

Hypocrite Straw just blows with the wind



00:44 GMT, 16 May 2012

Very wisely, the Premier League took one look at Jack Straw’s crowd-pleasing call for an investigation into Venky’s takeover of Blackburn Rovers, and ignored it.

As manager Steve Kean heads to India for another one of his interminable dances with fools, former home secretary Straw, Labour MP for Blackburn, has taken to the airwaves and the opinion pages following the club’s relegation, demanding an inquiry and calling into question the Premier League’s fit-and-proper-person test.

‘At last the back pages of our newspapers have woken up to what is really happening at Blackburn Rovers,’ began Straw’s piece in The Times, as if journalists had not been consistently critical of Blackburn’s new owners, almost from the moment of their arrival, with the sacking of manager Sam Allardyce and the unhealthy influence of Jerome Anderson’s SEM Group.

Poultry season: Indian chicken giant Venky's have been a disaster as Blackburn owners

Poultry season: Indian chicken giant Venky's have been a disaster at Blackburn

Writing in the Lancashire Telegraph, Straw added: ‘At the heart of the Premier League’s wilful neglect of its responsibilities is its so-called “fit-and-proper-person” test. The test is laughable and almost everyone in the business knows this.

‘I cannot believe that this Indian family poultry business had any idea of the financial and reputational risks they were taking on. Why were they not warned’

Like all politicians, Straw is fully alive to the self-aggrandising moment. He seeks to establish himself as the lone voice of reason with the voters —sorry, fans — while decrying the contribution of others.

If only the Premier League had been as insightful as Jack; if only the media had listened to his words of wisdom and caution. He saw through this from the start. Why did they not heed his warnings To which we ask: what warnings

Want to know what Straw wrote when Venky’s bought Blackburn Want to know how prescient he was or how high the stringent application of a fit-and-proper-person test was on his list of priorities

Unrest: Blackburn fans want Venky's out... but Jack Straw (below) welcomed them at first

Unrest: Rovers fans want Venky's out… but Jack Straw (below) welcomed them

Unrest: Blackburn fans want Venky's out... but Jack Straw welcomed them

This is an extract from his column in the Lancashire Telegraph, published October 28, 2010. ‘Venky’s growth from next to nothing is another story of the explosion of entrepreneurship which is turning India into a global power. Britain was the pioneer in world economic dominance. We exported far more goods than we imported, then used the surplus to invest abroad. India, among others, is now returning the compliment — and we should welcome it.

‘Top-flight soccer was once entirely local. But it’s now global too. If the Venky’s deal for Rovers passes the remaining hurdles, then it will be good news for the club and its loyal fans. And it may have the bonus of encouraging a trend, seeing many more folk of Asian heritage at Ewood Park.’ Although not the owners.

So, far from adopting a cynical or even ambivalent tone, Straw as good as got out the bunting. Now, in order to score cheap political points, he sheds his hands-across-the-ocean shtick, and feigns insight. The hypocrite.

‘The initial response to Venky’s venture has been mixed,’ wrote Jayadipta Gupta, a former columnist in the Indian Express, now executive editor of ESPN Cricinfo, India. ‘The media is cautious, welcoming the possible deal but raising an eyebrow at the 5million transfer budget Venky’s has proposed.

No help from politicians: Beleaguered Blackburn manager Steve Kean took Rovers down last season

No help from politicians: Beleaguered Blackburn manager Steve Kean

‘A more unambiguous response has come from Jack Straw, the former British foreign secretary, who knows a thing or two about the global game.’

Doesn’t he just He knows how it can make him look good, how it affords easy headlines and publicity, and how it moves so fast these days that it is easy to evade consistency of thought from one season to the next.

Mike Hancock, Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South, demanded a similar investigation into the demise of Portsmouth, forgetting that when they won the FA Cup in 2008 with money they didn’t have, he was so suspicious he tabled a parliamentary motion congratulating the club and calling for manager Harry Redknapp to be knighted…

So, one more time for Straw, and all those joining him on this populist charabanc: a fit-and-proper test is not an intelligence test. What is being proposed here — that Venky’s as good as set out their plans for approval before the Premier League — would make their chief executive Richard Scudamore the de facto owner of every club.

More from Martin Samuel…

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Martin Samuel: Craziest day ever! At 90 minutes, Man City's title dreams looked dead… but TWO goals in injury time snatch title from United

London 2012: Guess who'll be losers at these Olympics Us!


Martin Samuel: It's a shame for the fans, but don't stop crazy clubs from failing…

Martin Samuel: The joke is over. At last, City really can believe

Martin Samuel: Memo to Abramovich… halt the Stamford Bridge revolution

Hypocrites in defence That’s all Roy needs!

Martin Samuel: We sold our soul for medals, so don't be surprised if we've hired a cheat


All the league can do is ensure the buyers have the funds for the transaction and are not criminals, and the rest is down to them. Whether they then take the club to the skies, like Sheik Mansour and Manchester City, or into the shallows like Venky’s and Blackburn, is their business: literally.

Nobody gave Mike Ashley’s plans for Newcastle United a prayer at the start of the season, but Alan Pardew made them work, came fifth and was rightly crowned Manager of the Year by the League Managers’ Association.

Many thought Venky’s ideas at Blackburn were wrong from the start, but an owner has to be allowed to make his mistakes, providing he is not engaged in an illegal enterprise.

Take Cardiff City. The club are in desperate need of investment and a buyer has been found in Malaysia: but he wants to change the strip from blue to red.

Suppose the Football League had made him reveal this plan prior to purchase, refused to sanction it and the new owner had walked away. Cardiff’s fans would, rightly, be in uproar. Maybe they would be willing to trade blue for red and financial security.

Cardiff’s original colours were chocolate and amber quarters, and they once sported a thick yellow and white stripe in the blue, so who knows If red brought success maybe the fans would learn to love it. Either way, it is not the league’s call. In the end, Cardiff got their man, he floated the idea of change, the fans reacted negatively and he backed down.

There was always the hope Venky’s would see sense, too. Always the hope that they would set a different course from one that ended in relegation. The pain of the supporters is bad enough, however, without the opportunistic Straw pushing the right buttons to advance his own standing.

Welcome wagon, bandwagon, it is all one big ride for our political class.

Gary should be focusing on England

Gary Neville is a strong appointment by England manager Roy Hodgson.

Forget the talk of future England manager, we’ve seen plenty of them, young coaches being groomed for the ascension, from Bryan Robson to David Platt and lately Stuart Pearce. When the England manager leaves, the mood is invariably for regime change, not more of the same, and his staff go with him. Hodgson will have to be quite brilliant for Neville to be regarded as the man for the job in four years’ time.

Right here, right now, though, is a different matter. Neville knows the game, the international territory, is forthright and well respected. Undistracted by club duties, he definitely fits the bill.

For his media employers, however, his appointment is a disaster. Neville may think he can continue writing and talking without pulling his punches, but he can’t. He will soon find there are too many fragile egos around the England squad to have a senior coach out there, telling the truth.

England expects: Gary Neville (right) will have to change his media approach

England expects: Gary Neville (right) will have to change his media approach

On Sky, he will have to think before he speaks, in his newspaper column he will have to defend performances that would previously be analysed ruthlessly. Each word will be picked over for evidence of inconsistency.

In 2006, after England lost in Croatia, Steve McClaren’s assistant Terry Venables mounted a robust defence against the critics in his column in the News of the World. He mentioned that Stewart Downing was so intimidated by his hostile reception during the goalless draw with Macedonia that he was taken out of the firing line in Zagreb. McClaren had earlier said Downing was dropped due to poor form.

In essence, the two explanations were the same — Downing’s form had gone, because he felt under pressure — but this perceived disagreement was seized upon before the next match against Holland, where it dominated the news agenda.

Neville will learn to watch what he says — the last thing a newspaper wants from its columnist.

He is better off making a break because whatever loyalty he feels to his media employers, he will have to prioritise his England position. Indeed, the process has begun already. If it hadn’t, his newspaper or Sky would have broken the story about his new job.

Fair play to the London Games organisers

Canada wanted to own the podium at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, and did. They won a huge amount of medals.

The nation is more sensitive, however, when afforded ownership of some unfortunate by-products of this desire, such as the accidental death of Georgian luge slider Nodar Kumaritashvili, who crashed in practice on a course for which he was wholly unprepared.

Canada had given their own athletes months of training at Olympic facilities, while limiting the time allotted to rivals. Now it is proposed Team GB does the same.

Nobody has ever died from a Nike blow-out at the bend of a 400 metres circuit but, even so, do we never learn The Olympics is not meant to be about establishing a master race. We are not inviting the world to London to crush them like ants.

Barton poses problem for Hughes

How many games should Joey Barton miss next season Nine, at least, possibly 15.

It adds up like this. He gets three for the straight red-card offence against Carlos Tevez, plus one additional for it being his second sending-off of the season; the kick on Sergio Aguero, meanwhile, also constitutes a red card, so three matches, plus two additional for it equating to his third sending-off offence. If the Football Association then regard the contact with Vincent Kompany as a head-butt, that would make three red-card offences and an additional six matches, totalling 15 in all.

Either way, it leaves Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes with a dilemma because it will be very hard to shift a player who might not be available until October, or even December.

It appears he is stuck with Barton until the January transfer window at the earliest. He cannot captain the club, obviously, and considering his actions could have got Rangers relegated, can hardly be given first-team responsibility in a campaign which must amount to more than desperate survival.

Still, many British team leaders are upset at the attitude of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, when insisting on fairness.

Rowing and flatwater canoeing had organised exclusive access to the facilities at Eton Dorney; LOCOG removed it; UK Athletics asked for dedicated access to the Olympic track every Thursday, LOCOG changed that to six afternoons shared with other athletes; the British Olympic Association wanted a specific home team dressing room at every venue: request denied.

‘All these little nooks and crannies of home advantage haven’t existed,’ says Dave Brailsford, performance director of British Cycling. ‘This is now the Fair Play Games.’

As opposed to what For there is another name for the little nooks and crannies, another term for owning the podium, or limiting access, certainly to the point where it becomes dangerous, as happened in Vancouver. It’s called cheating.

Athletes do not see it that way, because highly competitive people rationalise unsporting behaviour to water down its motivations. So when British Cycling requested that no foreign competitors be allowed access to the velodrome until it was necessary — LOCOG ignored them and held an international test event in February — they did not perceive what they were seeking as unjust, merely clever.

As long as it does not contravene regulations, all is fair in love and war. And that’s the nub of it. Sport isn’t war.

It’s a demonstration of ability and skill, not some patriotic flexing of muscle. Do it fairly, or don’t bother. This is the Olympic Games, not Moscow’s May Day parade.

Time's up for Carlos and Mario

The board meeting to discuss the immediate future at Manchester City was held the day after the title was won, and before the open-top bus parade. If the fate of Carlos Tevez had not already been sealed it probably has now.

Enjoy it while it lasts: Carlos Tevez (right) will surely get the boot from City

Enjoy it while it lasts: Carlos Tevez (right) will surely get the boot from City

City’s last public celebration was partly overshadowed by the absence of Mario Balotelli, this one slightly soured when Tevez held up a placard with the message ‘RIP Fergie’. It was given to him by a fan, and was a reference to Sir Alex Ferguson’s comment that City would not overtake Manchester United ‘in my lifetime’, then there are language-barrier issues, it was only a joke and, well, you know, the usual.

The problem City will be addressing is why always them And the inescapable conclusion is that, to progress with necessary stability, they need to make Tevez and Balotelli an issue for another club now.

RVP could spoil Arsene's summer holiday

Arsene Wenger is predicting, as always, a very quiet summer at Arsenal. Having already secured German striker Lukas Podolski, he says economic recession plus the Premier League restriction on squad numbers and the return of Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby means there will be little transfer activity.

Wenger had a similarly quiet summer last year, one recalls, followed by a very noisy early autumn when he ran around like a man with his trousers on fire bidding for every player in sight because Arsenal were in crisis and had conceded eight goals to Manchester United.

Hot property: Europe's top clubs will be chasing Robin van Persie this summer

Hot property: Europe's top clubs will be chasing Robin van Persie this summer

Robin van Persie has the capacity to disturb the peace this year, too. He wasn’t speaking like a man minded to stay after Sunday’s win over West Bromwich Albion, and Arsenal cannot afford to waste another close season with speculation.

The club are preparing a substantial wage offer and Wenger needs to know his captain’s intentions early, because if he loses Van Persie late, in the manner of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, he will prove impossible to replace adequately.

There is a difference between a nice bit of quiet and the gentle noise of tumbleweed blowing through.

Andy Murray struggles through Dubai opener against Michael Berrer

Rusty Murray misses Lendl as Brit struggles through Dubai opener against Berrer

Andy Murray left coach Ivan Lendl in Florida this week and for much of Tuesday it looked like he wished he was back there with him.

In what was his first match for a month, the world No 4 was forced to labour hard against Germany’s Michael Berrer in the opening round of the Dubai Championships but eventually won through 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 against a player ranked a humble 116.

Right back at you: Andy Murray returns to Michael Berrer on his way to beating the German

Right back at you: Andy Murray returns to Michael Berrer on his way to beating the German

Having travelled through nine time
zones to resume his 2012 campaign after narrowly being outpointed by
Novak Djokovic in Australia there was, inevitably, a degree of ring rust
but this still got alarmingly close for comfort.

The heat and residual jet-lag did not
help and Murray said afterwards: ‘I felt a bit sick at the start. It
was a bit up and down but I just didn’t feel great out there.’

There will be more important
assignments this year but it was nonetheless a significant win, given
what has gone before during this period in the previous two seasons.

Bowing out: Berrer lost in three sets to British No 1 Murray

Bowing out: Berrer lost in three sets to British No 1 Murray

Murray’s form swallow-dived following
his appearances in the Melbourne final and he wants to avoid a repeat
of that, especially because the coming weeks give him a chance to beef
up his ranking with zero points to defend from 12 months ago.

The 24-year-old Scot can set himself
for an assault on his main rivals if he does well in Dubai and at the
two opening Masters series events in Indian Wells and Miami, and will
look to improve today as he faces Switzerland’s Marco Chiudinelli, who
upset Nikolay Davydenko.

Lendl, who is playing a veteran’s
event in Florida before reuniting with his client, will have been
pleased that he eked out a break at 4-4 in the deciding set.

First-class service: Murray sends one down in Dubai

First-class service: Murray sends one down in Dubai

He finally managed to serve it out
without the kind of fuss that had seen him miss numerous opportunities
to make this the straightforward progression that many expected.

Murray had got a break for 3-2 in the
second and all looked routine, but he was broken back immediately and
unwound badly, displaying the kind of negative body language that Lendl
looked to have knocked out of him in Melbourne.

Reverting to his old habit of hanging
back too far in the court, he failed to consolidate early breaks in the
decider and briefly looked in serious trouble before nicking the win.

Murray could rightly claim that it
was the result which ultimately counted — and he now has one more win
than he managed in the whole of February and March last year.

Moving target: Murray covers the court well to get the ball heading back towards Berrer

Moving target: Murray covers the court well to get the ball heading back towards Berrer

QPR players head to Portugal after Blackburn defeat

Sun, sea and serious hard work for QPR flops after Hughes reads riot act

QPR leave for a four-day break in Portugal on Tuesday but it will be no holiday after Mark Hughes administered the first dressing-down of his reign at Loftus Road.

Hughes admitted he was ‘astounded’ by his team’s first-half performance at Blackburn as they went three goals behind. Although Rangers recovered with two late strikes from substitute Jamie Mackie, it was not enough to save Hughes from a third defeat in five Premier League games in charge.

Mackie’s second goal kept QPR above Blackburn and out of the bottom three on goal difference, and they now have a two-week break before facing their manager’s old club Fulham at home a week on Saturday.

Too little, too late: Jamie Mackie's two goals were not enough for QPR

Too little, too late: Jamie Mackie's two goals were not enough for QPR

Hughes will use it to give the Loftus Road pitch a rest and his players a change of scenery that he hopes will lead to a change of fortunes after making his feelings clear to them at Ewood Park on Saturday.

‘I’m still astounded by the first half, to be honest,’ he said. ‘We won’t labour the point because they were told in no uncertain terms about that.

‘It’s probably the first time they’ve seen that side of me but they’ll see it again if we have the same problem. We understood straightaway that that wasn’t acceptable and I don’t anticipate that we’ll see that level of performance again.

‘We’re going to Portugal to get some work done because we’re struggling at our training ground at the moment. It’s frozen so we’ve been training at the stadium and we need to give that a break.’

Plenty to ponder: Mark Hughes raged at his QPR side after their horror show

Plenty to ponder: Mark Hughes raged at his QPR side after their horror show

However, Hughes admits the trip will also give him a chance to assess the mentality of his new charges and rebuild their fragile confidence after their first-half performance at Blackburn.

He added: ‘It will give us the opportunity to have a couple of sessions a day and have a real understanding of what type of personalities they are and how they react to certain situations.

‘I’ve learned a lot about the group, both in the performance in the first half and in the second half as well. We conceded two goals from two shots and they were really poor from our point of view.

‘Given the circumstances we’re in, the confidence ebbed away somewhat and we can’t afford to have that. We’re in a position where, even if things go against us, we’ve still got to dig in and do the right things. In the first half we felt too sorry for ourselves.’

Blackburn v QPR