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Wembley set to be renamed in EE deal

Wembley could be RENAMED as FA consider shock 8m rights deal for the home of football

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

07:16 GMT, 18 January 2013

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UPDATED:

08:16 GMT, 18 January 2013

The Football Association are considering renaming Wembley Stadium in a controversial move that will outrage fans.

In a deal worth a reported 8million-a-year, the historic ground will be known as 'Wembley Stadium in association with EE' in a tie in with the mobile phone operator.

The FA agreed a similar deal for the FA Cup, which is officially known as the FA Cup Sponsored By Budweiser.

Rebrand: Wembley Stadium supported by EE looks set to be the new name of the famous London ground

Rebrand: Wembley Stadium supported by EE looks set to be the new name of the famous London ground

Wembley

According to the Daily Telegraph, the FA insisted that naming rights, in the way Arsenal's stadium is known as the Emirates, were not up for grabs and that 'Wembley' had to remain in place.

Wembley has a number of current commercial deals including a deal with Carlsberg as the 'Official Beer of Wembley Stadium'. EE was formed when Orange and T-Mobile merged in 2010.

The FA has been seeking a lead sponsor for the stadium since it was opened in 2007 and the original stadium, built in 1923, was known as the Empire Exhibition Stadium.

With a capacity of 90,000, Wembley is the second biggest stadium and Europe and cost 757million to build.

The stadium also hosts major rugby league games, including the Challenge Cup and International Rugby League. The stadium has also played host to the NFL.

Wallets and watches stolen from Chelsea training ground

EXCLUSIVE: Wallets and watches stolen from Blues HQ in Chelsea raid

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UPDATED:

22:15 GMT, 25 September 2012

Chelsea have called in police after six wallets, nine mobile phones and several watches were stolen from staff and players at the training ground in yet another amazing security breach at the club.

The thefts, which took place earlier this month, were discovered when the players returned to the changing room after training at their Cobham base in Surrey.

It is the latest serious incident at the training ground this year and has caused disruption and anger amongst the players affected.

Raid: Chelsea's training ground was the site of a theft

Raid: Chelsea's training ground was the site of a theft

Earlier this year a knife was discovered in the dressing room at the club’s academy. The club claimed it had been mislaid by a workman.

Chelsea fired academy starlet Jacob Mellis after he caused a full-scale evacuation of the training complex by letting off a smoke bomb.

On top of that, three of Chelsea’s staff damaged the European Cup while posing for unauthorised pictures with the trophy won in a thrilling final against Bayern Munich last May.

Absent: The theft took place while Chelsea were training

Absent: The theft took place while Chelsea were training

Players are now demanding to know how their possessions could have been taken during an hour-and-a-half training session.

Although Chelsea insist the thefts are not an inside job, police have yet to make an arrest after they were called in last week.

This is the first time police have been called to the training ground about alleged thefts, but there have been various disturbing reports involving players’ personal effects this year.

Joy of six: Chelsea cruised to victory over Wolves on Tuesday night

Joy of six: Chelsea cruised to victory over Wolves on Tuesday night

Players have frequently complained about cash going missing from their changing room but there has never been any proof of theft.

Chelsea are convinced the crimes have been committed by an opportunist thief walking into the training ground. Police are studying CCTV footage of the facility.

On Tuesday night, Chelsea said the thefts did not involve the first-team dressing room, but the identities of the victims have not been revealed.

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert makes profit as stars flout phone ban

Villa boss Lambert rings up profit as stars flout phone ban

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UPDATED:

10:24 GMT, 22 September 2012

Paul Lambert's hard-line approach at Aston Villa is reaping cash rewards after several players ignored his ban on mobile phones.

The Scot has clamped down on the use of personal computers and phones at his Bodymoor Heath training base.

But it seems that some members of Villa's first team have not taken the rule seriously.

Hit in the pocket: Carruthers was fined for making a phone call

Hit in the pocket: Carruthers was fined for making a phone call

Samir Carruthers, who scored against Liverpool on his debut at Anfield last season, used Twitter to reveal he had been hit in the pocket.

Brandishing a fistful of notes, the 19-year-old playmaker wrote: '500 fine for a phone call. #paul lambert has me on toast #wallet heavy until tomorrow.'

No nonsense: Lambert has taken a hard-line approach

No nonsense: Lambert has taken a hard-line approach

When quizzed, Lambert said: 'Yes, that's right, he's been fined. No, I didn't text him to inform him he was getting it. But those are the rules and I'm not going to bend them for anyone.'

Asked if other players had erred, he joked: 'Let's put it like this, I won't go short of bread. So if you guys want a lunch – or five – with me that will be fine.'

Lambert heads to Southampton this afternoon on the back of Villa's encouraging 2-0 win over Swansea.

Like under-pressure home boss Nigel Adkins, the Scot managed back-to-back promotions with Norwich. City did not manage a victory in their first four matches last season and Lambert has a warning for the St Mary's decision-makers.

'I think it has been proven that if you give good people time, they will get it right. But if you make a knee-jerk reaction, then you will be back at square one again,' he said.

'I know where he is at. I got my head down and worked through it and I'm sure Nigel will do the same.'

David Sullivan: We"re paying Andy Carroll"s wages because we are West Ham fans

Sullivan: We're paying Carroll's wages out of our own pockets… We want the best team because we are West Ham fans

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UPDATED:

22:17 GMT, 20 September 2012

The last owner of West Ham who also owned a bank took the football club to the brink of administration.

But when David Sullivan says he owns a bank, and it is a bank in one of the prime locations on the Monopoly board, what actually goes on inside, and beyond in the global banking world, is not his concern. ‘I own the building,’ says Sullivan. ‘It’s the Lloyd’s Bank on Oxford Street actually. I own a shoe shop on Oxford Street too. And a mobile phone shop.’

Once rated the 68th richest man in Britain with assets valued at more than 500million, he has an impressive property portfolio. He owns ‘a huge Sainsbury’s’ that pays him 3million a year in rent as well as a ‘couple of Marks & Spencers’. Just the buildings, you understand, which the retail giants rent from him. There is ‘a big chunk of central Bath around the Roman Baths’ that belongs to Sullivan. Not to mention 100 sex shops.

Property king: David Sullivan relaxes at his opulent home

Property king: David Sullivan relaxes at his opulent home

He made his money in the sex industry, starting out in mail order with a couple of carefully placed advertisements in the colour supplements of the more upmarket Sunday newspapers. ‘I sold a love-making manual called The XYZ of Love,’ he says. ‘Back in the early Seventies it was making me six grand a week, a lot of money in those days.’

It might not have been what his lecturers had in mind when they taught him economics at Queen Mary College in London, but Sullivan clearly has a knack of making money. He breaks from this interview to take a quick phone call at his desk in his sumptuous Essex home, earning 10,000 in 20 seconds during a conversation with his broker. ‘That won’t even pay a football agent but it’s still 10 grand I didn’t have a minute ago,’ he says with a twinkle in his eye.

It would enable him to buy some state-of-the-art home entertainment equipment. As well as Victorian racing trophies and some rather spooky waxwork figures, Sullivan’s home is littered with old TVs and video recorders. ‘I’m not very technical,’ he says. ‘I still can’t send a text message. I bought that telly because it was brilliant for Teletext. I used to love Teletext.’

What the butler saw: A waxwork is part of the furniture at chez Sullivan

What the butler saw: A waxwork is part of the furniture at chez Sullivan

He does seem to laugh an awful lot. He complains of being ‘absolutely knackered after the transfer window’ but he talks about his life, and about his passion for the football club he part-owns with his long-time friend and business partner David Gold, with infectious enthusiasm.

He also seems keen to stress that he is no longer in the sex industry. ‘The internet finished my old business,’ he says. ‘I’m in the property business now. The sex shops don’t make a penny. I keep them going to provide employment to the two or three hundred people who have worked for me. As long as they don’t have to come to me for money to subsidise the business I will keep them open.

‘I will always be seen as being in the sex business because that is where I started. If I had the time I’d update my Wikipedia page.’

Not, he insists, because he is in anyway ashamed or embarrassed about his past. ‘I started there so there’s no point in denying it,’ he says. ‘If I was a cigarette manufacturer or an arms manufacturer or a drug dealer, I might have a doubt about how I’ve spent my life. But, to be honest with you, I like to think I put a smile on people’s faces.

‘I’ve made a lot of people happy. British people don’t like to talk about sex but Fifty Shades of Grey has proved what a huge market the sex market remains.’ Has he read the fastest-selling paperback in history ‘My girlfriend has and she’s told me every detail,’ he says. ‘But I read racing fiction. I collect old racing fiction, along with Victorian racing trophies. I’ve read all the books on those shelves and all those over there I’ve yet to read. I’m into fantasy, not reality.’

Football, he says, is an interest that transcends both; a mixture of fantasy and reality. ‘You face a daily reality,’ he says.

Sitting there in a Dolce & Gabbana ‘Muhammad Ali’ tracksuit, Sullivan takes a deep breath. Since joining forces with Gold in 2010 to take control of the club they have both supported since childhood, it has not been easy. When West Ham were relegated in May 2011, he likened it to Armageddon. ‘It was Armageddon because David and I had to put 35million quid in,’ he says, laughing again.

Passionate: Sullivan admits he could not shirk from saving West Ham

Passionate: Sullivan admits he could not shirk from saving West Ham

‘Because of the mess we inherited we have to service a 100m debt. There are commitments that have to be paid and we have to pay interest on the debt. But we also had to put the money in to put together a team that would get us promoted.

‘Armageddon might be an overstatement but it was very unpleasant to have to put that kind of money in just to get back to where we were. It particularly hurts because David and I didn’t earn 35 million quid last year. We certainly didn’t earn that much after tax. So we are spending capital. Spending our life savings. There is no point kidding ourselves.’

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Had it not been West Ham, Sullivan says
he and Gold would have avoided such a financial risk. The debts were
enormous. There were millions owed to Sheffield United in the wake of
the Carlos Tevez affair; all this when the assets amounted to so little
and there was no guarantee of securing the Olympic Stadium.

‘As a business venture it made no sense at all,’ he says. ‘Not the deal we did. The club was 120m in debt with very few assets. It was a mess. I knew, when the Icelandics were signing the players they were for the money they were paying, it made no financial sense. I sold them Matthew Upson from Birmingham. He came to me and said, “They’ve offered me four times the wages, please let me go”. I knew then that it wasn’t right.

‘But David and I are not in it for the money. We don’t want to go bust either. The aim is to make the club self-sufficient. But we want to put the best possible team on the pitch for the supporters of West Ham because we are supporters too.’

He agrees that people buy football clubs for different reasons. ‘Some of them make money,’ he says. ‘Blackpool made 30m last year. Swansea are making 15m a year, and they are doing a marvellous job because they have a fantastic team. If we ever get to a position where we are making money it will be ploughed back into the team. But we have to keep it alive in the meantime.

‘We are the guardians and custodians of the club for the supporters. We are just trustees really. And we are good custodians. In our 18 years at Birmingham the club was solvent the whole time. But we still owe money on Tevez. Because it’s a confidential agreement I can’t go into the figures but there is still a substantial amount to pay off. In fact we’ve just started litigation against the old solicitors because we think the club was wrongly advised. We are commencing High Court proceedings against them.

At ease: Sullivan relaxes outside his Essex mansion

At ease: Sullivan outside his Essex mansion

‘We also inherited players on enormous wages who weren’t worth the money.

Buys: West Ham

‘Just
before we arrived, the previous owners took an advance on the next two
years’ season-ticket money. So we got no season-ticket money in the
first two years. They’d taken part of the shirt sponsorship money quite a
few years up front, so all the normal sources of income weren’t there.
The cupboard was bare.

‘Every player was being paid on the drip. Sheffield United were being paid on the drip. Every possible loan had been taken out. The assets were the players being paid on fat contracts and a stadium — because of where it is — that is probably worth less than my supermarket.

Acquisition: Andy Carroll's wages are being paid by Sullivan and Gold

Acquisition: Andy Carroll's wages are being paid by Sullivan and Gold

‘Now we obviously want to move to the Olympic Stadium. For three years we’ve been trying to secure it. We believe we have the best bid. We will make football affordable to all because we will have the seats to do deals, and we will make the whole stadium economically viable. We will embrace the athletics legacy and make it a brilliant, multi-purpose facility.’

So who is paying for players like Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan ‘We are financing everything out of our own money,’ says Sullivan. ‘Had we not put money in this year we could not have bought a player. Because there is not sufficient money to pay the debt. I cannot give confidential details of contracts but for the period of time Andy will be with us it’s as expensive a player as we have ever signed.

‘But our manager thought he was the most important player we could sign this summer and that is why we pursued him. Unfortunately he got this hamstring injury. But that’s just bad luck.

‘Against Fulham he made an enormous impact. He was the most important player on the pitch. He lifted the whole team.

‘Kevin Nolan was a very bold and pleasing signing. We signed the captain of Newcastle when he had just scored 12 goals in the Premier League and convinced him to come to the Championship. It was expensive but he’s the most fantastic captain, the most wonderful influence in the dressing room. And he’s scored two goals in three games.

‘We wanted to make a statement to our supporters, that we weren’t going to run the club like an administrator. That’s why we’ve continued to bring in more top players like Diame, Diarra and Jarvis. Others, too.’

Legacy: Sullivan and co-owner David Gold (left) stand in front of the Olympic Stadium

Legacy: Sullivan and co-owner David Gold (left) stand in front of the Olympic Stadium

You do wonder why, having sold Birmingham City, he and Gold did not just buy themselves a box at Upton Park. ‘It’s not the same though,’ he says. ‘You want to influence things. You want to make things happen. I think the club might have gone bust had we not stepped in. It is our intention, over the next couple of years, to pay off the debt and then be owed the money by the club. But we will be friendly bankers. The club won’t have to pay any interest if they don’t want to. If and when the club have some money they might pay a bit off.

‘It means my kids will inherit less money because of West Ham and it will be the same for David Gold’s kids. But we’ve got very supportive families who also love the club. We’re all committed.

‘Now, if the king of Saudi Arabia wants
to buy West Ham we would happily step aside for the good of the club.
But we wouldn’t step aside for a mystery foreign buyer whose financial
resources we have no knowledge of.’

He has mixed feelings about certain foreign owners, his views influenced by the erosion of what he considers a boardroom tradition at matches. ‘There are good examples of foreign ownership,’ he says. ‘Man City and Chelsea are terrific. But if things go bad for a foreign owner it’s easy to walk away.

‘Roman Abramovich and Sheik Mansour are in it for the fun. It’s a hobby. Randy Lerner is here to make money. The Americans at Man United and Liverpool are here to make money. The Sunderland guy has a strategy to make money. But when it comes to the boardroom you rarely meet them. It’s sad. In the old days it was lovely. There would be banter but you’d also exchange ideas, share thoughts. But the new brigade, you don’t see.

‘It actually started with Sir John Hall at Newcastle. He’d pop his head around the door, say hello and then disappear. I thought it was rude. The worst is Aston Villa, because they put the visiting directors in a room with the corporate home fans. We got loads of abuse because we were the former owners of Birmingham. We were treated appallingly. I nearly did it to them in retaliation but I wasn’t prepared to stoop to their level.

‘At West Ham we’ve got the best boardroom in the Premier League. We give the visiting directors the best table, right in the middle. It’s the friendliest. It’s lovely.’

He also likes to think it is now in safe hands.

UEFA will not monitor banned Juve coach Antonio Conte during Chelsea clash

UEFA will not monitor banned Juve coach Conte during Chelsea clash

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UPDATED:

10:44 GMT, 18 September 2012

Banned: Juventus coach Antonio Conte

Banned: Juventus coach Antonio Conte

UEFA have admitted they will not try to stop banned Juventus coach Antonio Conte communicating with his coaching staff during Wednesday's Champions League clash with Chelsea.

Conte is currently serving a 10-month dugout ban for not reporting evidence of match-fixing during his spell in charge of Siena in 2010.

The ban extends to UEFA games, but officials admitted they will not be monitoring him during the game when he will be sitting in the stands.

It means he could use a mobile phone to talk to his bench and issue instructions to his players.

A UEFA official told the Daily Express: 'Conte is not allowed to have any contact with the players during the game or at half-time but he can be in the stands watching.

'There will be people watching the bench to check there is no communication. They will have eye contact with the bench.

'But there will not be anyone with him in the stands. He knows he is not allowed to communicate, so he will not do it.'

Juve have lost only once under Conte, in the Coppa Italia final against Napoli. The Turin club are unbeaten in Serie A for 16 months.

Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho got round a similar touchline ban in 2005 in a Champions League last-16 tie against Barcelona by hiding in a skip to get into the dressing room.

In the quarter-finals against Bayern Munich, when Mourinho was still banned, his assistant, Rui Faria, wore a woolly hat in the dugout which raised suspicions that he was wearing an earpiece to communicate with his boss.

London 2012 Olympics: A message to the moaners… BELT UP! Des Kelly

A message to all the Olympic moaners… BELT UP!

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UPDATED:

22:21 GMT, 20 July 2012

It's a crisis. It's a complete disaster. It's not just a shambles out there, people; it's an Olympic omnishambles. The Games are six days away and nothing works, absolutely everything is broken and the only solution is to cancel the event and send all those arriving at Heathrow straight back home on the next available flight.

Why Because according to reports, any fool venturing into London will die of carbon monoxide poisoning as they sit in month-long traffic jams. Or drown in their body sweat on overcrowded Tube trains. Or sink into oblivion trying to negotiate the mud flats otherwise known as the Olympic Park.

The mobile phone networks will fail, the internet will collapse into a black hole in cyberspace, pickpockets will steal everything, including your kidneys, and the entire country will end up bankrupt. It's a nightmare – and all because of the 2012 Games. You have been warned!

Stop moaning! Great Britain has lined-up a stunning Games, it's time we started enjoying it

Stop moaning! Great Britain has lined-up a stunning Games, it's time we started enjoying it

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Welcome to the pre-opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, a spectacle staged under the Latin motto Nos faciem malignus fatum, which loosely translates as 'We're doomed'.

This is what Britain does before any major event. The country moans en masse. We predict the worst. We produce a Doomsday Book of impending disasters and then imagine extra problems just so we can moan a bit more. Read the papers, turn on the radio or try the television news and it's moan, moan, Olympics, moan. The outlook could not be gloomier if Huw Edwards were reading the weather forecast. Carping and whining is the order of the day. But can I just make one request of the Olympic complainers Shut up. That's right. Shut up. Cheer yourselves up or put a sock in it.

There are some aspects of the London Games that deserve scorn, such as the private security firm fiasco and the unresolved issue of what happens to the stadium after the Games. But the country has gone way beyond expressing reasonable doubts on specific issues.

People are now complaining for the sake of it, moaning on and on about every tiny aspect of daily life in London – and then blaming it all on the Olympics. The Games haven't started yet. There is a last-minute dash to make sure all the pieces are in place for the most complex, detailed and demanding party staged not just in sport, but anywhere.

A Royal wedding is a village fete by comparison. At a World Cup, everyone plays football. The Olympics is 36 different world championships being staged simultaneously. But because it hasn't started yet, and nature abhors a vacuum, the empty space has been filled with the sound of non-stop moaning.

Just look at some of the so-called 'calamities' that we are told 'threaten the Games'.

Final countdown: The venues are ready and the competitors are arriving in their droves

Final countdown: The venues are ready and the competitors are arriving in their droves

Transport crisis

A bus took a wrong turn this week. Yes, that's right. A driver with a faulty satellite navigation system went the wrong way while shuttling American athletes from Heathrow Airport to the Olympic Park. Somehow, this made it to the top of the news agenda and the front page of one newspaper.

Had the man behind the wheel driven his vehicle off the cliffs at Beachy Head in his confusion, I could have understood. Instead, he merely took the wrong exit road, stopped, looked at a map, found the correct route and completed his journey.

But when one athlete on board whined about this via Twitter the story took on a life of its own. Former world champion 400 metres hurdler Kerron Clement complained: 'Um, so we've been lost on the road for 4hrs. Not a good first impression London.'

Obviously, London only exists to impress Clement. But it transpired the journey took a little over two hours, not four. And the runner might not be the most reliable witness anyway, since a day later he announced: 'In Wales. I'm so loving this city…' Yes, welcome to the city of Wales, Kerron, in that great country of London.

So, one bus out of 100 or more took a wrong turn. One athlete out of around 10,500 from 204 nations landing in London during Britain's biggest peacetime transport operation complained. And this was enough for the moaners to say, 'See I told you so'!

Crisis What crisis London is undertaking a huge project, hosting 36 world championships at one time

Crisis What crisis London is undertaking a huge project, hosting 36 world championships at one time

Road crisis

London always has traffic jams. There was a stinker at the Blackwall Tunnel on Friday. There is always a jam at the Blackwall Tunnel, but the difference this time is that it was because of the Olympics and Mayor Boris Johnson.

And there'll be more jams during the three weeks of the 2012 Games. But so what Don't drive unless you have to. The public transport works. This week I timed how long it would take to get from the Houses of Parliament to the Olympic Park in east London. The Tube took 19 minutes to Stratford on the Jubilee Line.

On the way back, I jumped on the new Javelin train and I'd barely settled in my seat when we arrived at St Pancras seven minutes later. If that were Japan or France we'd be saying how brilliant it was. Here, we just grumble that it'll probably break down at some point.

When Sydney hosted the Games, more than a quarter of the city took annual leave, another quarter changed their working hours and more than a fifth worked from home. They enjoyed their Olympics. Try it too, London.

Go to the concerts, the festivals and in the parks and the different spectacles staged along the Thames. Put a prawn on the barbie. If you're in a flood zone, it'll probably swim right up to your door.

Best mode of transport The Stratford hub is served by road, rail... and water

Best mode of transport The Stratford hub is served by road, rail… and water

Olympic Lanes

No, you can't drive in them. Boo hoo. They are annoying, but they are a necessary evil. They've been at every Olympics and London is no different. Did you think staging the world's biggest sporting event would cause no disruption whatsoever

Or did you believe Usain Bolt really runs to the start line just like he does in that advert

Weather

It might rain. I believe there has been the odd spit and spot of the stuff lately. But if it does, try not to panic.

Wear a waterproof mac, or put on some wellies if you are heading to a field. But don't go on and on about it. We live in a country where it rains on occasion. Weather happens. And although the meteorological process is often considered page one news at the Daily Express, the rest of us can probably stay calm and carry on. The sun will come out for the Olympics anyway. Just so Londoners can then complain it's 'too hot'.

Blue sky approach: So what if it rains It rains quite a lot in London anyway

Blue sky approach: So what if it rains It rains quite a lot in London anyway

Opening Ceremony Fears

This will be the world's most-watched television event. One billion will tune in to Danny Boyle's curtain-raiser. But we hear the show has already been 'slashed' by 30 minutes. I know, it's unbelievable, isn't it What a disgrace.

A performance we have very little prior knowledge of is about to have some of those unknown scenes shortened to make sure it doesn't overrun. Now, we may never see what we didn't know we were going to see in the first place.

And I, for one, am furious. I'll have to make do with just the three hours and a finish time around midnight.

Insecurity

This certainly has, on the face of it, been a mess. Private security contractors G4S are short of around 1,500 temporary guards. If you're wondering why, it's because the recruits, mainly students and habitual part-timers, decided they could do without being paid the pittance on offer.

So our squaddies, who have no choice, are covering the deficit and sleeping on chairs shoved together on site. The Olympic Park is now filled with the incongruous sight of soldiers in full camouflage pulling on high-visibility vests. None of it is ideal. It's been bungled.

But, if anything, Olympic security is tighter with the military in place than it was when we relied on Colin, a student of international tourism management at the University of East London, to master the X-ray scanner.

Military precision: The armed forces have sprung into action after being let down by a private security firm

Military precision: The armed forces have sprung into action after being let down by a private security firm

Some have even moaned about the fact there are twice as many soldiers at the Olympics than in Afghanistan. Let's ask the 1st Battalion the Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment where they would rather be deployed On patrol in Helmand Province, dodging snipers and landmines, or keeping an eye on proceedings at the women's beach volleyball on Horse Guards Parade.

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Some mistakes have been made. For instance, the ground-to-air missiles stationed in east London seem superfluous. All the organisers had to do was ask the locals for help.

In the event of any security threat, residents in east London could have been alerted by text message and simply reached for their handguns and fired at any incoming object from their windows, as is traditional in many neighbourhoods. It would have saved a few bob.

So, if you can hear me above the deafening whine of moaning, shall we let the Games begin It is a wonderful spectacle and a chance to showcase some of the best of Britain to the world. Of course something will go wrong.

There'll be a glitch here and there, hopefully nothing more. Some idiot will undoubtedly try to disrupt an event, people will have to queue to get home, something will break – that stuff happens. I'll be among the first to report any genuine botches as they happen at the Games, too. But I'm not going in with a miserable scowl.

Refueling: There's plenty on offer at the Olympic site - including quiet a large McDonalds

Refueling: There's plenty on offer at the Olympic site – including quiet a large McDonalds

This is an enormous festival, a sporting and cultural event that will live in history for ever. If you believe everything is a complete waste of time, money and energy, then it's your right to say so. But you've pretty much done that, I'd say. So can you shut your face now and let the rest of us enjoy the bash

The truth is, Britain loves a grumble. But most moan and gripe right up to the point when the actual event begins – and then wave their Union flags like crazy in celebration. So come on. It's time. Let's enjoy ourselves.

Manchester United to start pre-season in South Africa v AmaZulu FC and Ajax Cape Town

Man United to kick off pre-season tour in South Africa on Mandela Day

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UPDATED:

12:39 GMT, 13 June 2012

Manchester United have confirmed they will start their pre-season tour with two matches in South Africa next month.

The Red Devils will take on AmaZulu FC in Durban on July 18 and Ajax Cape Town in Cape Town three days later.

Always popular in that part of the world, it will be United's first visit since 2008 and will be sponsored by MTN, the club's mobile telecommunications partner in Southern Africa.

Must try harder: United missed out on the Premier League title last term

Must try harder: United missed out on the Premier League title last term

The opening match will be particularly poignant as it will take place at the 54,000-capacity Moses Mabhida Stadium, venue for Spain's World Cup semi-final win over Germany, on Mandela Day.

'The training camp and matches in South Africa will be an important part of our preparations for the 2012/13 season and an excellent chance to renew our acquaintance with our loyal and enthusiastic fans in South Africa,' said Red Devils chief executive David Gill.

'Everyone has fond memories of the visits there in 2006 and 2008 and, of course, of the exceptional organisation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.'

Ben Foden calls for focus from England

Foden calls for focus as England prepare for first tour since World Cup farce

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 23 May 2012

Rallying call: Foden is set to feature against the Barbarians on Sunday

Rallying call: Foden is set to feature against the Barbarians on Sunday

England full back Ben Foden has urged team-mates to behave themselves on the forthcoming tour of South Africa.

Foden, who is set to play in the non-cap game against the Barbarians on Sunday at Twickenham, issued his warning after photographs of his own stag party emerged on social media.

He said: ‘You have to be very careful, especially now with the internet and the new mobile phones which can take photos and videos without you even noticing.

‘A picture speaks a thousand words and some things can be taken massively out of context.

‘You have to be careful in what you are doing, especially on tour. As we saw in New Zealand, things can get out of control very quickly.’

England will face a Barbarians team including Mike Tindall, the Gloucester centre in the middle of the controversy at the World Cup last year. Tindall’s contract has finished at Gloucester and he has yet to decide if he will play elsewhere next season.

‘It will be a good way to say goodbye to Tinds and, hopefully, we will stuff them,’ Foden added.

BARBARIANS (v England, Sunday, 2.30pm):

Muliaina (NZ); Sackey (England), Laulala (NZ), Tindall (England), Balshaw (England); Donald (NZ), R Lawson (Scotland); Tialata (NZ), Smit (SA, capt), Afoa (NZ); Chisholm (Australia), Van Zyl (SA); Joubert (SA), Beattie (Scotland), Qera (Fiji).

England face drugs crackdown at Euro 2012

England face drugs crackdown as UEFA adopt zero-tolerance policy for Euro 2012

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UPDATED:

10:09 GMT, 23 May 2012

England and the 15 other competing nations at Euro 2012 have been warned that UEFA are planning a drugs crackdown.

For the first time, Roy Hodgson's men will be tested before the tournament starts in Poland and Ukraine.

Drugs raid: UEFA hit the Dutch training camp in Switzerland

Crackdown: UEFA hit the Dutch training camp in Switzerland

Also four players from every team could be asked to give samples after each match – compared to two previously, reports The Sun.

UEFA will adopt a zero-tolerance policy against anyone who is found guilty of a drugs-related offence.

Zero tolerance: England have been warned

Zero tolerance: England have been warned

Even the FA will not be given any notice when UEFA swoop on the England squad to prevent any leaks or tip-offs.

Holland's players were the first to experience the crackdown at a training camp in Switzerland this week.

The squad were training behind closed doors when UEFA swooped. They set up mobile laboratories and locked down the camp and up to 10 Dutch players were randomly selected to give blood and urine samples.

The players were warned that anyone who breached the strict rules would be thrown out of Euro 2012 and have no right of appeal.

All 16 countries competing in Poland and Ukraine have been informed by UEFA that they are determined to have a drugs-free tournament.

LMA Manager of the Year: Sportsmail"s shortlist

LMA Manager of the Year: Sportsmail's shortlist to be boss of the bosses

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 2 April 2012

Brendan Rodgers is the hot favourite to be named Manager of the Year by the members of the League Managers' Association.

They are asked to consider the manager from across all four divisions based on who has made best use of his resources.

But Swansea's upwardly mobile boss is not the only candidate to have enjoyed a successful season.

Matt Barlow looks at the claims of the leading contenders…

Contenders: Rodgers (left) shares a joke with David Moyes

Contenders: Rodgers (left) shares a joke with David Moyes

BRENDAN RODGERS (Age: 39)

His Swansea team are 11th in the Premier League with 39 points despite losing at Tottenham on Sunday. They have dazzled in the top flight with an attractive pass-and-move style and even out-passed Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium in January.

'I don't think you've seen a team come up and play the way we've done in the Premier League,' said defender Neil Taylor. 'People compared us to Blackpool at the start of the season and now they're comparing us to Barcelona. It's the way we've done it that's impressed.'

Swansea play with balance, rhythm, pace and width and have made smart, low-cost additions to the team which won promotion, notably Michel Vorm for 1.5million, and used the loan system well to recruit Steven Caulker and Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Total spent this season: 8.45m. Points: 39. Pounds per point: 216,667

'Swanselona': Rodgers' side have made many friends this season

'Swanselona': Rodgers' side have made many friends this season

PAUL LAMBERT (42)

Unlike Rodgers, who inherited a Swansea team with sights on the Premier League, Lambert took over with Norwich languishing in League One. He secured back-to-back promotions and appears to have topped that this year by securing top-flight survival.

Like Swansea, Norwich have 39 points but have scored more goals and have beaten the Swans home and away this season. However, they are lacking a catchy 'Swanselona' nickname and Lambert is sometimes guilty of shielding his own team's achievements behind a dour and reticent public manner.

He has a reputation for being organised, thoughtful and a keen motivator, with messages pinned to the walls of the training ground.

Lambert has resisted the temptation to chase big-name players, trusting those who won promotion and insisting upon a strict wage structure. He manages his players carefully, giving them time off and rotating his squad for each game.

Total spent this season: 12.25m. Points: 39. Pounds per point: 314,103

Mr Motivator: Norwich boss Paul Lambert

Mr Motivator: Norwich boss Paul Lambert

ALAN PARDEW (50)

Newcastle are neck and neck with Chelsea on 53 points (they got 46 last season) and could make a return to Europe in the Europa League.

'He's got to be a contender for Manager of the Year,' said winger Jonas Gutierrez. 'If you think about expectations before the season started, nobody expected Newcastle to be in the top six. Not even the fans. He's doing a great job.'

Pardew has succeeded in uniting a club riven with splits, restoring pride on Tyneside and winning over fans who identified him as another of the Cockney Mafia when he replaced the popular Chris Hughton in December 2010.

He has traded well. Demba Ba on a free, Yohan Cabaye for 4.3m and Papiss Cisse for 7.5m have all made an impact.

Total spent this season: 21.8m. Points: 53. Pounds per point: 411,321

Shrewd signings: Pardew has brought in the likes of Papiss Cisse (left)

Shrewd signings: Pardew has brought in the likes of Papiss Cisse (left)

DAVID MOYES (48)

What better way to celebrate your 10th anniversary at Goodison Park this season than with yet another budget-defying campaign which is showing signs of finishing at a gallop.

Everton have hit form since the turn of the year, helped by smart business in the January window when they signed Nikica Jelavic and Darron Gibson and brought back Steven Pienaar on loan.

They've eased past Liverpool into
seventh in the Premier League and will tackle their Mersey rivals at
Wembley in an FA Cup semi-final this month.

Moyes is a popular figure among his peers due to his hard-working and honest approach to tackling wealthier rivals.

Total spent this season: 6.5m. Points: 43. Pounds per point: 151,163

Finishing strongly: Moyes' Everton have been excellent in 2012

Finishing strongly: Moyes' Everton have been excellent in 2012

Past Winners of Manager of the year

1994: Joe Kinnear (Wimbledon)

1995: Frank Clark (Nott’m Forest)

1996: Peter Reid (Sunderland)

1997: Danny Wilson (Barnsley)

1998: Dave Jones (Southampton)

1999: Sir Alex Ferguson (Man United)

2000: Alan Curbishley (Charlton)

2001: George Burley (Ipswich)

2002: Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)

2003: David Moyes (Everton)

2004: Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)

2005: David Moyes (Everton)

2006: Steve Coppell (Reading)

2007: Steve Coppell (Reading)

2008: Sir Alex Ferguson (Man United)

2009: David Moyes (Everton)

2010: Roy Hodgson (Fulham)

2011: Sir Alex Ferguson (Man United)

SIR ALEX FERGUSON (70)

This may not be one of United's greatest seasons but that in itself highlights the impact of the manager, who is looking good to win the Premier League again despite the emergence of Manchester City.

If United do complete their 20th title, the sheer force of Ferguson's personality will have played a huge role, lifting young players when things were unravelling and encouraging Paul Scholes out of retirement in mid-season.

Perhaps this will make it an even finer personal achievement than some of the glorious campaigns built on undisputed world-class talent.

Total spent this season: 50.3m. Points: 73*. Pounds per point: 689,041*. *(before last night's game)