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Coventry City deducted 10 points

Sky Blues falling down! Crisis club Coventry deducted 10 points by Football League

By
Paul Collins

PUBLISHED:

15:54 GMT, 28 March 2013

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UPDATED:

15:54 GMT, 28 March 2013

Coventry City have been deducted 10 points after entering administration.

The deduction leaves the Sky Blues in 15th place in League One.

A statement from the Football League read: 'The Football League can confirm that Coventry City Football Club have been deducted 10 points, in accordance with its rules and regulations.

Tough task: Steven Pressley (left) recently took over as Coventry manager

Tough task: Steven Pressley (left) recently took over as Coventry manager

'This Sporting Sanction has been implemented with immediate effect. Coventry City have seven days in which to appeal.

'The League has now begun discussions with the administrator aimed at achieving a sustainable future for the club within The Football League.'

Coventry had earlier reached a short-term agreement to play their three remaining home games this season at the Ricoh Arena.

Amid an ongoing row between the Sky Blues and Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), who manage the stadium and claim to be owed over 1.3million in unpaid rent stretching back 12 months, the npower League One outfit last week placed a non-operating subsidiary of the club into administration.

That subsidiary, Coventry City Football Club Limited, held the lease and licence for the Ricoh Arena, covering permission to play home matches at the stadium as well as the rental of the club shop and offices, which have already been emptied, with all staff having moved to their Ryton training ground.

Up against it: The Sky Blues have been deducted 10 points

Up against it: The Sky Blues have been deducted 10 points

It sparked speculation and uncertainty over where City would play their remaining home fixtures this term, starting with tomorrow’s visit of league leaders Doncaster.

But a statement released this morning read: “Coventry City Football Club Holdings Ltd are pleased that an agreement has been reached with ACL and the administrator that enables us to play our last three remaining home matches at the Ricoh Arena.

'We apologise profusely to our fans about the confusion surrounding these fixtures and are delighted that this has now been resolved.

'We can now look forward to playing current league leaders Doncaster on Friday 29th March in the hope of doing the double over them.

'Moving forward we hope that we can continue a constructive dialogue with ACL with the aim of securing a sustainable future for the club at the Ricoh Arena.'

The final line of Coventry's statement suggests the club's long-term future may still lie at the venue, which is jointly owned by the Alan Edward Higgs Charity and Coventry City Council.

The lengthy row centres around Coventry's refusal to pay an annual rental fee of 1.28m, the highest in both League One and the Championship by some considerable distance, while also bemoaning the fact they do not get access to 100 per cent of matchday revenue.

After negotiations collapsed, Coventry and hedge fund owners Sisu found themselves in the High Court in London last Friday battling against an application for administration submitted by ACL.

That initial hearing was adjourned, just hours after City placed their non-operating subsidiary into administration – although insisting it is business as usual as Coventry City Football Club (Holdings), which they claim holds the crucial 'golden shares' which provide membership to the Football League and FA, operates as normal.

ACL on Tuesday returned to the High Court and asked for their own application for an administration order to be dismissed.

They claim to have it on good authority from the Football League and the Football Association that Coventry's 'golden shares' do in fact still lie with Coventry City Football Club Ltd, which has already gone into administration, hence the withdrawal of their application.

All eyes are now on the Football League, who are yet to make an official verdict on the matter, with Coventry appearing to face the prospect of a 10-point deduction.

The Sky Blues are currently 10th in League One, five points off the play-offs, with a 10-point penalty certain to end their promotion hopes for this term.

Jack Butland may be forced out as Birmingham face administration

Butland may be forced out as to save Birmingham from administration

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UPDATED:

16:50 GMT, 28 December 2012

Capped: Butland has represented England and also played for Great Britain at the Olympics

Capped: Butland has represented England and also played for Great Britain at the Olympics

Jack Butland could be forced out of Birmingham in the January transfer window in order to save the club from administration.

The 19-year-old England goalkeeper is being chased by several teams, most notably Liverpool, who are understood to have already been in talks with the midlands outfit.

The Blues rejected a 6million bid from Southampton for Butland in the summer, but acting chairman Peter Pannu has admitted the cash-strapped club may not be able to resist such temptations next month as they bid to ease their increasing financial struggles.

'I can't say that we are in a very wonderful situation, I would be lying if I said that,' Pannu told the Birmingham Mail

'This is a very tricky question (player sales). What I can say is that – and I might be blasted for this by the fans – but no-one is for sale and everyone is available. As at any club.

'Give me a 15m offer for Jack Butland, can I say no

'I have rejected 6m from Southampton (in the summer) but I rejected it when our finances were okay.

'As the time is ticking, I might not be able to reject it if I get something similar.

'I do have a responsibility to keep the club running.

'My top priority now – and if I do offend anyone, I care not – is to make sure this clubs stays afloat.'

Butland is not the only player facing a possible exit, with a handful of other high earners troubling Birmingham's wage bill, most notably Nikola Zigic's 50,000-plus a week wages.

Pannu has been exploring the potential for bringing in new owners or finding investment in the club for some time.

Target: Liverpool have led the chase for the 19-year-old

Target: Liverpool have led the chase for the 19-year-old

The board of Birmingham International Holdings Limited (BIHL), City's parent company, announced late last month they were in talks with two parties from Hong Kong and one from the UK – Gianni Paladini's Italian-backed consortium.

They were at an advanced stage in discussions with one of the Hong Kong bidders – which has now fallen through.

Providing an update on the situation, Pannu said: 'It is no secret that there are two parties in Hong Kong that we have been dealing with.

'The fans also know that my preferred party, which was reported in the media, the Charles Chan and SMEG group, unfortunately did not transpire.

'But we still have another very big party we are dealing with in Hong Kong.'

Pannu also revealed he continues to be in discussions with Paladini's consortium and met a member of the bid for talks recently, although he is demanding greater clarity on those behind the offer and their plans.

Manchester City to build giant Blue Moon fans tribute

Blue Moon rising! City to build giant fans' tribute with 40,000 discs spelling out anthem

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UPDATED:

10:14 GMT, 20 December 2012

Manchester City have revealed plans to build an iconic landmark around the circumference of the Etihad Stadium.

It will be called the City Circle and is set to transform the roads around the stadium with thousands of supporter messages in the shape of personalised ‘Bluemoon discs’ which also spell out the lyrics of the fans’ favourite Club anthem, Blue Moon.

The new tribute will see all four versus of the terrace classic written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart recreated from approximately 40,000 circular disks and is set become the UK’s largest permanent fan tribute. Each letter will span more than two metres in height.

Be part of it: Manchester City want fans to contribute to the landmark around the Etihad Stadium

Be part of it: Manchester City want fans to contribute to the landmark around the Etihad Stadium

The disks, which feature the City crest and can be personalised with inscriptions, are available for supporters to pre-order through the club’s official website.

Fans can take their pick from a range of styles with prices starting from from 60 for the stainless steel version, coloured glass will cost 95, and a limited edition of hand-cast bronze discs will set you back 395.

City Circle stainless steel

city circle bronze

Circle of life: City fans can choose from a range of options including stainless steel (left) and bronze

City Circle is part of the Club’s on-going plans to enhance the Etihad Stadium and will not only ensure supporters have a permanent place in the club’s history, but also provides a lasting tribute to fans, players and individuals both past and present.

Operations Director for Manchester City Steve Sayer, said: 'Manchester City has always been a club built on its fans. They are part of our DNA and make up the very fabric of whom and what we are today.

Up close and personal: The discs will spell out the four verses of City's anthem Blue Moon

Up close and personal: The discs will spell out the four verses of City's anthem Blue Moon

'City Circle is our way of enabling supporters to get closer to the Club they love and actually become part of the foundations of the stadium, for many years to come.

'City Circle lets fans make their mark, be it birthday and memorial tributes, memories that have helped shape our history or messages that will hopefully inspire future generations of City fans to come.'

Aquatics Centre transformation underway

Aquatics Centre transformation going swimmingly as seating is removed

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UPDATED:

12:04 GMT, 18 December 2012

It was the arena where Ellie Simmonds sped her way to two golds and where Michael Phelps swam to his 22nd Olympic medal.

But now the Aquatics Centre is transforming, as construction workers start to dismantle the seating on either side of the pool.

Downsizing: The transformation of the Aquatics Centre has begun (and below)

Downsizing: The transformation of the Aquatics Centre has begun (and below)

During the games it had the capacity to hold 17,500 spectators, but now the two temporary wings on the structure are to be removed, leaving room for 2,500.

Designed by Zaha Hadid, a Pritzker Architecture prize winner, the centre was created in a way that would allow for the additional seating to be removed easily once it was no longer needed.

Diggers

Stripped bare

History: The building took three years to make and was designed by Zaha Hadid

The construction, which took three years to build, has moveable floors and can adjust depth to match ability in all three of its pools.

It will be run by Greenwich Leisure Limited and is anticipated to attract around 800,000 visitors from the local area per year.

Come on in: The new venue will be made 'welcoming'

Come on in: The new venue will be made 'welcoming'

The organisers have been determined to make the venue welcoming and family-friendly, adding a cafe and a creche for visitors.

They have also agreed to employ local workers, with over 250 jobs available once the centre opens in 2013.

The future of the Olympic stadium has yet to be decided.

Andy Flower quits as England one-day coach; Ashley Giles takes over

Flower steps down as England limited overs coach with Giles to take over

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UPDATED:

12:51 GMT, 28 November 2012

Ashley Giles has stepped up to become England’s limited overs coach in a shock move which sees Andy Flower remain in charge of just Test cricket.

The former England spinner, who has been both Warwickshire coach and England selector since retiring, had been expected to step in for Flower for just the Indian one-day series in January to give the Team Director a break.

But in a surprising and significant development Giles will now leave Edgbaston to take on the coach’s role for all 50-over and Twenty20 cricket and is clearly the heir apparent to Flower when he eventually calls it a day.

Stepping aside: Flower is to continue as Test head coach

Stepping aside: Flower is to continue as Test head coach

Flower said: 'I’m very excited by these changes and very much looking forward to working with Ashley Giles as we look to build on the success England cricket has had in the last few years.

'The changes in my role will provide me with new challenges and the time to allow me to focus on areas that are important if England cricket is to continually improve.

'These include developing strategies to give us an opportunity for sustaining success in all three formats of the game. The change in role will also allow me to thoroughly plan and prepare for each of our international series whilst spending the right amount of time at home with my young family.'

Giles, who appeared in 54 Tests and 62 one-day internationals for England, added: 'I am delighted to have been appointed England ODI and T20 Head Coach and to be given an opportunity to coach at international level.

Shock: The announcement was unexpected

Shock: The announcement was unexpected

'I have worked closely with Andy in recent years as a selector and am looking forward to continuing to work together and to build on the progress that has been made with the ODI and T20 sides in recent years.'

Flower has endured a difficult year,
with poor results and the drawn-out Kevin Pietersen saga dominating his
time, and concern had grown that the most successful coach in England’s
history may be hastened towards the exit door.

Yet the ECB vowed to do everything in
their power to keep Flower at the helm as long as possible and seemed
set to give him a break early next year.

Now that has been extended to all
limited overs cricket and Giles, who led Warwickshire to the county
championship title last summer, will start his new role as soon as
England’s thoughts turn to limited overs cricket in the new year.

The hope now is that the move
prolongs Flower’s involvement at the head of the England team for as
long as possible as he turns his thoughts to the back to back Ashes
series that will dominate next year.

Up for the cup: Giles lifts the County Championship earlier this year

Up for the cup: Giles lifts the County Championship earlier this year

Giles, meanwhile, will have the
immediate challenge of the Champions Trophy in England next summer which
gives England a realistic chance of their first global 50-over trophy.
He will then turn his attention to the 2015 World Cup.

The popular member of the 2005
Ashes-winning side has clearly been identified as the best English coach
around and jumps ahead of Flower’s assistant Richard Halsall, who
filled in when Flower was ill during the last Ashes tour and for a
one-day international assignment in Ireland last year.

Halsall, who began as specialist
fielding coach, is expected to return to the world of teaching when his
time with England ends and it was unclear today where he fits in with
the new arrangement.

Giles has attracted some criticism
for having the dual role of county coach and England selector but now he
will throw in his lot completely with England. He will still answer to
Flower but clearly, unless something goes drastically wrong, he is now
destined to succeed him. That process started today.

Leeds takeover completed on December 21, Ken Bates confirms

Merry Christmas! Leeds takeover will be completed by festive season as Bates confirms sale

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UPDATED:

12:07 GMT, 21 November 2012

Leeds owner Ken Bates has announced Bahrain-based investment bank GFH Capital will complete a 100 per cent takeover of the club on December 21.

Bates, 80, who took control of the club just short of eight years ago, confirmed the first part of the takeover had been completed and he will stay on as chairman until the end of the season to help the new owners during a transitional period.

'We have now completed all the negotiations and investigations with GFH and we’ve now completed the first part of the purchase and that happened at 10.30pm last night,' Bates told Yorkshire Radio.

On his way: Ken Bates has confirmed he has sold Leeds United to Bahrain-based investment bank GFH Capital

On his way: Ken Bates has confirmed he has sold Leeds United to Bahrain-based investment bank GFH Capital

'Put briefly, they’re taking over 100 per cent of the club, as I say the first part was completed at 10.30pm last night and it will be totally completed on December 21.

'Meanwhile there’s a transitional period in which they get to know more about the club.'

Bates also confirmed that he will be taking on a new role as club president at the end of the season, while one GFH representative, David Haigh, would be joining the club’s board immediately, with three more new directors in place before Christmas.

Looking ahead: Leeds manager Neil Warnock will soon have new bosses at Elland Road

Looking ahead: Leeds manager Neil Warnock will soon have new bosses at Elland Road

Football League blog

David Haigh, Deputy CEO, GFH Capital Limited said: 'After a long process of negotiations, spanning Leeds, London, Monaco, Dubai and Bahrain, it gives us great pride today, to have completed the deal for Leeds United.

'A brief but important transitional period now begins in terms of the changeover of ownership: we have today injected further funds into the club and now we look to the future and start the exciting journey to take Leeds United FC back into a prime position in English football once again.

'From a Leeds family myself and a supporter of The Whites since childhood, I know that football is at the very heart of the people of Leeds and the wider community.

'We want to thank all the fans in UK and around the world for their patience and support while the negotiations have been taking place. Lets now march on together, taking the club back to the Premier League as soon as possible.'

Bates added: “Quite simply they (GFH)
will be providing additional working capital for the club and they are
also providing funds to strengthen the team.

'Infact there's already been a small injection this morning as far as working capital is concerned.

High hopes: Leeds' new owners want to club to secure a return to the Premier League

High hopes: Leeds' new owners want to club to secure a return to the Premier League

'Nothing has changed, I will continue as chairman until the end of the season when I look forward to handing over to my successor and become president and sitting back perhaps, taking a bit more time off and enjoying what has been eight years of very hard work.

'That's what (my wife) Susannah and I chose when we came in, so that's what we've got on with.

'Neil Warnock will continue as manager, obviously with more support than the present owners have been able to give and we look forward to a smooth transition.

'I can say although the negotiations have taken a very long time, the benefit of that is that, unlike some overseas owners, who have gone in blind like a bull in a china shop and made a complete mess of the club after taking over, this six-month courtship if you like, for want of a better phrase, has given them (GFH) enough opportunities to see how Leeds United works.

'What the advantages and disdavantages are, the strengths and weaknesses, what needs to be done and what needs to be supported.

'So you can look for a more Manchester United-type transition than we've seen at Blackburn, Portsmouth and other less fortunate clubs.'

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce denies copying "rough-house" tactics of Tony Pulis

I'm not the same as Pulis: West Ham boss Allardyce denies copying 'rough-house' tactics

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UPDATED:

19:24 GMT, 17 November 2012

Sam Allardyce has refuted suggestions that he employs the same tactics as West Ham manager that his Stoke counterpart Tony Pulis is renowned for.

Pulis takes his Stoke side to Upton Park on Monday night with the Hammers flying high in the Barclays Premier League.

Demanding: West Ham boss Sam Allardyce

Demanding: West Ham boss Sam Allardyce

It was discussed when Allardyce first took over at West Ham 17 months ago that his perceived long-ball style would not suit the club's supporters.

But after guiding West Ham back to the top flight at the first time of asking Allardyce has been commended for the attacking nature of his side's performances at the start of this season.

Pulis has always had to deal with claims his side play an unenviable brand of football and asked if he felt Monday's fixture was a meeting of two similar approaches to the game Allardyce said: 'They are not the same.

'Mine are not the same as Tony's. I'm an individual. Nobody copies Sam Allardyce. I don't copy anybody else.'

Allardyce commended Pulis on his achievement of keeping Stoke in the Premier League with limited resources, something he has done at clubs for more than a decade.

'We have the same philosophy in terms of we both want to defend well and make sure our team is organised and understand what's needed to be done in terms of game-plan,' he said.

Determined: Tony Pulis' side have a rugged reputation

Determined: Tony Pulis' side have a rugged reputation

'We both also have to maximise our resources to make sure that the club is successful. When you look at what Tony has done, Stoke fill their ground every week and have been doing so for years now.'

Both sides can boast decent defensive records so far this season with only 21 goals conceded between them.

Allardyce reckons the quality of defending in the league has worsened in recent years and bemoans the impact that can have on a manager.

He said: 'From a professional point of view, I think the defending in the Premier League is not as good as it used to be and I think that's why there have been more goals scored.

'I think that side of the game has diminished rather than improved over the last few years. From an entertainment point of view, that's a fantastic situation because more goals are being scored than ever before.

'As a manager and as a professional it's not my cup of tea to tell the players to not bother too much when they haven't got the ball and not worry about defending too much because we'll score more than the opposition.'

Allardyce, a tough-tackling defender back in his own playing days, believes the rules have altered and are now too protective of attacking players.

'The rule changes in the game, and FIFA and UEFA in terms of trying to stamp out what is a serious foul tackle, have now gone even beyond that,' he said.

Heartbeat: West Ham's Kevin Nolan

Heartbeat: West Ham's Kevin Nolan

'A really good tackle is now a booking – unfortunately, they can't distinguish what is a good tackle and isn't any more.

'That's a great shame because this country loves commitment and loves to see a good tackle as it loves to see a good pass, as it loves to see a good goal.

'And committed defending is what people like in this country and throughout the world, not 'tippy-tappy', not pinching and nicking.'

A number of injuries to key attacking players means Allardyce will have to tinker with a winning formula when they entertain Stoke.

Both Yossi Benayoun and Matt Jarvis were substituted in last weekend's win at Newcastle and are both doubtful for Monday night.

Fellow forward Ricardo Vaz Te remains sidelined until the new year with a dislocated shoulder although Matthew Taylor is back training with the squad following a thigh problem.

With Jack Collison also a long-term absentee Allardyce identified the number of players on the treatment table as a potential issue in the coming weeks.

'The lads are just trying to make sure we continue where we left off against Newcastle and try to beat Stoke City on Monday and continue to load up the points as quick as we possibly can,' he said.

'The confidence is good and I think the only problem we've got at the moment is injuries. I think overcoming these injuries and continuing to get results is going to be our biggest problem.'

Stoke, who have 12 points from their 11 games to date, are unbeaten in the Premier League on their own turf this season and last lost a home top-flight fixture in February.

Upbeat: Stoke manager Tony Pulis

Upbeat: Stoke manager Tony Pulis

Their away form – which shows no league victory since January – is a different story, though, and something they are looking to improve with Monday's trip to West Ham. Pulis feels his side have actually played well on the road this term and is somewhat baffled as to why results have not gone their way – but is convinced they soon will.

'The disappointing thing is that if you look at the performances this season away from home, we have probably been better than we have at home,' Pulis said.

'For some reason we just can't turn it into victories. There was the late penalty for Reading (in a 1-1 draw) and the Wigan game (a 2-2 draw) where the goalkeeper (Ali Al Habsi) makes that outstanding save from the deflected shot (Charlie Adam's free-kick) with a few minutes to go.

'We played better at Manchester United this year (in a 4-2 defeat) than we have done previously, and we got a great point at Liverpool (drawing 0-0), deservedly so.

'We have played well – we just haven't turned it into wins.

'If you are asking me the reason why, I just can't work it out.

'We've certainly created lots of opportunities to win games of football, but we just haven't got over the line.

'But it will happen – I am absolutely convinced it will turn.

'As long as the players keep believing and working as hard as they have been, then we will be fine.'

Home Office confirms Football-related arrests down 24 per cent

Football arrests at an all time low as Home Office confirms 24 per cent drop last season

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UPDATED:

15:05 GMT, 15 November 2012

The number of arrests from football matches involving teams from England and Wales has dropped by nearly a quarter, the Home Office has announced.

Arrests at international and domestic games in 2011-12 dropped by 24 per cent to 2,363, 726 fewer than in the previous year.

It means that football-related arrests are 'at an all-time low', policing and criminal justice minister Damian Green said.

Safe: There were record low arrests at football last season (stock image)

Safe: There were record low arrests at football last season (stock image)

There was no police presence at 53 per cent of all matches last season, in which officers did not have to make an arrest at 74 per cent of matches.

An average of less than one – or 0.72 – arrests were made per match, according to the Home Office figures that were gathered for the first time by the Office for National Statistics.

Tough banning orders have been used since 2000 to tackle football violence and disorder, which once scarred the sport and saw hooliganism termed “the English disease”.

Banning orders, which are time-limited, dropped to 2,750 from 3,173. There were 500 new banning orders imposed during last season.

Euro madness: Ugly scenes marred some of the games at Euro 2012

Euro madness: Ugly scenes marred some of the games at Euro 2012

Mr Green said: 'That football-related arrests are at an all-time low is testament to our hugely successful model of football policing.

'Where hooliganism was once described as “the English disease”, we now set an example for others to follow.

'No English supporters have been arrested for football-related offences at the last two major international tournaments, and domestically more than half of all matches had no police presence last season – freeing up officers to be on the beat in their communities.

'Despite this progress, football disorder has not been eradicated and remains a lingering threat. That is why we continue to work closely with European partners for international matches and use tough banning orders against those who step out of line.'

Tim Howard and Everton strip off for calendar

Everton's new strip is one for the ladies as Toffees get their kit off in charity calendar

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UPDATED:

12:03 GMT, 7 November 2012

Move over Calendar Girls… here are Goodison Park’s Calendar Boys as you have never seen them before.

Everton has always been a club eager to try innovative things to raise money for charity, such as when they launched a limited edition pink kit to raise awareness for breast cancer, and they have done it again in time for Christmas.

David Moyes’ squad have shed their clothes and inhibitions to pose for a calendar titled ’12 shades of Blue’ to raise money for the club’s official charity, Everton in the Community, which is in its 25th year.

Model behaviour: Tim Howard

Abs-olutely: The Everton calendar

One for the ladies: Everton's charity calendar, with Tim Howard and Phil Neville (right) should go down a storm

Tim Howard, Phil Neville, Kevin
Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini are among those players who have been
captured in varying states of undress – football equipment, rather than
flowers and cupcakes, preserve their modesty – for a calendar, which is
aimed at Everton’s female fans.

The limited edition print, which is the first to be produced by a Barclays Premier League club, is available from November 22.

It costs 10 and all proceeds go
towards Everton in the Community’s ambition of generating 1million for
underprivileged and vulnerable people on Merseyside.

Big player: Neville Southall would probably admit Everton keepers were not always as ripped as Tim Howard

Big player: Neville Southall would probably admit Everton keepers were not always as ripped as Tim Howard

‘Shooting the calendar was lots of
fun and myself and the other boys were happy to help out,’ said United
States goalkeeper Howard.

'It’s a great feeling to do something
to help other people and I hope sales of the calendar raise a good
amount for the charity.’

The hashtag #12shadesofblue was
trending on Twitter and many orders have been placed without people
having seen the risque shots.

The photo of Howard gives an idea of what can be expected, while Neville's bare midriff is on the front cover.

To buy
your copy of 12 Shades of Blue, visit Everton One, Everton Two or
evertondirect.com.To guarantee your copy of 12 Shades of Blue before 22
November, pre-order at evertonfc.com/12shades.ton

Craig Levein departure won"t deter me from plans, says Mark Wotte

The end game! Wotte insists he'll finish job, even without Levein

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UPDATED:

23:46 GMT, 18 October 2012

Mark Wotte insisted on Thursday night that he plans to see his overhaul of Scottish football come to fruition — regardless of whether Craig Levein remains as national manager or not.

Levein’s position is under intense scrutiny after Tuesday’s defeat in Belgium left Scotland bottom of Group A with just two points from four games.

The Fifer was part of the interview process that saw Wotte appointed the SFA’s first performance director over a year ago.

Determined: Mark Wotte plans to see his overhaul of Scottish football come to fruition

Determined: Mark Wotte plans to see his overhaul of Scottish football come to fruition

The former Utrecht boss believes the clamour to see Levein fired after
almost three years in the post makes no allowance for the limited
resources at the manager's disposal.

But, although Wotte would like to see Levein given more time to prove
himself, he was quick to stress that his plans for the Scottish game will not be side-tracked if there’s a change at the top.

‘I love working with Craig, he has been a very good supporter of the strategy,’ said the Dutchman.

‘I don’t think there’s any merit in changing the national-team manager.

‘It’s not about changing managers all the time, you have to look at the situation and ask why we are where we are and how do you change it.

‘I’m 16 months in the job and everyone at the SFA is behind the project.
‘I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks but I hope we can continue what we’ve been doing.

Under pressure: Scotland manager Craig Levein

Under pressure: Scotland manager Craig Levein

‘My project is ring-fenced. So I will keep on doing this, no matter what the position of Craig Levein is. But I hope he’s still involved because he’s been an instigator of it.’

While Wotte can readily understand the abject disappointment felt at seeing our World Cup dream effectively killed before the qualifiers have reached the half-way mark, he believes that has to be tempered with a realisation of our resources compared with other nations.

‘It’s obvious that the results are really disappointing,’ he continued. ‘I know that not allowing the goal for 2-0 against Wales is a key moment and affects the game. At 2-0, we don’t lose that game, but that’s only one game.

'The fans have a right to be impatient because they only want to see the national team winning games.

Bad night at the office: Gary Caldwell looks disappointed as Scotland slip to defeat in Belgium

Bad night at the office: Gary Caldwell looks disappointed as Scotland slip to defeat in Belgium

‘But expectation and desire is something else — we expect a lot from the national team and I don’t think it’s always fair to expect that we will walk through to Rio.’

As for Levein stating that Scotland were capable of winning every game before the ball started rolling against Serbia, Wotte said: ‘That’s a normal statement of a manager going into a campaign.

‘If you have a (Phil) Bardsley and everyone fit then, on their day, Scotland can be very good.

‘I think Craig made a great statement — you also need to encourage your players. ‘Everything is possible in football. But it’s not easy to become No 1 or No 2 in a group containing Belgium, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia and Wales.’