Tag Archives: packages

Dortmund hoping Champions League history repeats itself

Dortmund hoping history repeats itself as they take on Malaga for place in Champions League semi-finals

By
Darren Witcoop

PUBLISHED:

12:55 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

13:02 GMT, 3 April 2013

Borussia Dortmund will still remain dark horses to win the Champions League, but the omens might just be in their favour if they can progress beyond Malaga in the quarter-final showdown.

Dortmund have given up the ghost retaining the Bundesliga title with runaway leaders Bayern Munich destined for the trophy.

But in Europe, it is a different matter all together.

Star man: Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski helped knock out Shakhtar Donetsk in the last-16 tie

Star man: Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski helped knock out Shakhtar Donetsk in the last-16 tie

Masked man: Dortmund defender Marcel Schmelzer will be forced to wear a mask in Malaga

Masked man: Dortmund defender Marcel Schmelzer will be forced to wear a mask in Malaga

There is little doubt Dortmund, who have already knocked out Manchester City, are an emerging team under highly-rated manager Juergen Klopp.

Now Malaga, another of the season's surprise packages, stand in their way of a semi-final place.

Dortmund's only ever win in Spain came in the same season when they won Europe's biggest club competition in 1997.

A coincidence or destiny Only time will tell.

No panic: Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp and Brazilian defender Felipe Santana are in relaxed mood ahead of the last-four tie

No panic: Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp and Brazilian defender Felipe Santana are in relaxed mood ahead of the last-four tie

But Klopp claims Dortmund's 2-1 bruising win over Stuttgart on the weekend, which took its toll on his players, was ideal preparation for the first-leg challenge that lies ahead.

'We got manhandled', he said.

'At times I was worried about the health of my players.

'But it was a good preparation for the Champions League game in Malaga, because they fly into challenges with just as much intensity.'

Despite their underdog tag, Malaga, the Qatari-backed side who were in Spain's Second Division just five years ago, will not just roll over.

Top job: Manuel Pellegrini has defied the odds to lead Malaga into the quarter-finals

Top job: Manuel Pellegrini has defied the odds to lead Malaga into the quarter-finals

The money might have dried up at this cash-strapped club but they have still punched above their weight this season.

As well as reaching the last eight of the Champions League, they are also in the hunt for a top-four finish in La Liga although UEFA have banned them from playing European football next season due to outstanding debts.

'Nobody gave us a chance at the start and yet the players have responded so well,” said coach Manuel Pellegrini.

'We eliminated Porto and that represented a huge achievement for the side. We don't want our run to end here.'

Prized possession: Isco is wanted by Europe's leading clubs

Prized possession: Isco is wanted by Europe's leading clubs

Dortmund will be favourites to progress but they have been hit with injuries.

Marcel Schmelzer will need a face-mask but is likely to play, despite breaking his nose against Stuttgart.

Jakub Blaszczykowski has travelled but is struggling to overcome a groin injury.

Midfielders Sven Bender and Kevin Grosskreutz (ankle) are doubts and Mats Hummels is certain to miss out.

Robert Lewandowski, who has scored 13 goals in as many games, will lead the line and will be supported by Mario Goetze and Marco Reus.

In contrast, Malaga have few injury worries.

Portuguese winger Eliseu has been ruled out with a knee ligament injury but defender Diego Lugano is likely to return.

Ignacio Camacho and Duda are also back in contention after serving suspensions and star striker Isco will start.

Mark Hughes has seven days to save Queens Park Rangers job

EXCLUSIVE: Under-fire Hughes has SEVEN days to save his job

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 28 October 2012

Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes is facing a seven-day battle to keep his job.

Winless Rangers sit rooted to the bottom of the Barclays Premier League on three points.

Hughes must deal with the very real possibility of being sacked if he cannot win next weekend's home match against Reading.

Running out of time: Queens Park Rangers are without a win this season

Running out of time: Queens Park Rangers are without a win this season

Sportsmail understands that a number of senior Loftus Road officials have lost patience with the manager.

The same QPR chiefs feel the club's start to the season simply is not good enough.

Members of the Rangers hierarchy do not feel the team's performances represent value for money after the significant transfer funds given to the ex-Manchester City boss.

And the opinion among influential members of the club's top brass is that the visit of Reading will be a make-or-break game for Hughes.

The final decision will be left to co-owners Tony Fernandes and Amit Bhatia. Fernandes has remained loyal to his first managerial appointment, despite calls from other QPR officials to end Hughes's tenure.

Phone a friend: The final decision on Hughes' future will rest with Fernandes

Phone a friend: The final decision on Hughes' future will rest with Fernandes

Fernandes feels a sense of loyalty to Hughes and is desperate to see his appointment succeed, but the growing disquiet at Loftus Road could see the tycoon change his mind next weekend.

The cost of appointing a new boss will become a key issue. Hughes is only eight months into a two-and-a-half-year contract and compensation packages for him and his back-room staff will not come cheaply.

Out-of-work Harry Redknapp is understood to be high on the list of contenders to replace Hughes, but Fernandes is fully aware that the appointment of a new manager is likely to lead to further heavy investment in January.

Neil Lennon parcel bomb: Duo jailed for five years

Duo jailed for five years after sending parcel bombs to Celtic chief Lennon

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UPDATED:

10:36 GMT, 27 April 2012

Two men who sent parcel bombs to Celtic manager Neil Lennon and other high-profile fans of the club have been jailed for five years each.

Trevor Muirhead, 44, of Kilwinning, and Neil McKenzie, 42, of Saltcoats, both Ayrshire, plotted to assault Lennon by sending devices they believed were capable of exploding and causing severe injury.

Neil McKenzie

Trevor Muirhead

Guilty: McKenzie (left) and Muirhead have been sentenced to five years in jail

They were sentenced to five years each for the charge at the High Court in Glasgow.

Both were originally accused of a
more serious charge of conspiring to murder their targets but it was
thrown out a day before the trial concluded due to insufficient
evidence.

Target: The duo sent Lennon (centre) devices they hoped would cause injury

Target: The duo sent Lennon (centre) devices they hoped would cause injury

McKenzie was also sentenced to 18
months, which will run at the same time as his five-year sentence, after
being found guilty of a separate charge of posting a hoax bomb to
Lennon at Celtic Park to make him believe it was likely to explode.

Muirhead was cleared of the charge with a not proven verdict.

Sentencing them today, trial judge Lord Turnbull said their actions were 'incomprehensible'.

Muirhead and McKenzie were convicted last month following a five-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

The jury heard that McKenzie told police he learned how to make a hoax bomb after seeing it on the 1980s TV show The A-Team.

Giving evidence during the trial, Lennon said he was left 'very disturbed' after finding out he had been targeted.

The assault plot centred on four suspicious packages, all of them non-viable, which were discovered last spring. A

second device sent to Lennon at Celtic's training ground in Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire, was intercepted at a sorting office in Kirkintilloch on March 26 last year when a postman spotted a nail protruding from it. It tested positive for peroxide, which can be used to make explosives.

Fernando Llorente wanted by Barcelona

Man City and Spurs target Llorente attracting interest from Barcelona

Coveted Spain striker Fernando Llorente has emerged as a transfer target for Champions League holders Barcelona.

The 27-year-old Atheltic Bilbao giant, one of those keeping Fernando Torres out of the Spain squad, counts City boss Roberto Mancini and Spurs manager Harry Redknapp among his admirers.

Highly-rated: Llorente started in Spain's 5-0 midweek win over Venezuela

Highly-rated: Llorente started in Spain's 5-0 midweek win over Venezuela

Bilbao are keen to cash in their star man rather than risk losing him for free when his contract expires next summer and it was thought his likely destination would be the Premier League.

But Spanish newspaper AS are reporting that Barca are set to offer Bilbao and Llorente lucrative packages to fend off interest from abroad.

Al Jazeera bid for Premier League TV rights is "realistic prospect"

Al Jazeera bid for Premier League TV rights is a realistic prospect, says ESPN chief

Disney-owned ESPN will not get involved in a bidding war if Arab TV channel Al Jazeera takes on Satellite broadcaster BSkyB for exclusive live coverage of Barclays Premier League football.

The current three-season TV deal which saw Sky and ESPN pay a total of 1.78billion to screen 138 top-flight live games per year ends in May 2013.

All white on the night: Parker in action during Sunday's north London derby

Top quality: The last TV deal was worth 1.78bn

It is understood that senior figures
within Al Jazeera, which is owned by the Qatari royal family, are
contemplating a bid for the rights when they are put out to tender next
year.

The move would be a
serious blow to Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV service which is heavily
dependent on the revenues it earns from the millions of subscribers who
tune into its exclusive football coverage.

At present ESPN is a junior partner to Sky showing 23 matches, for which it is believed to have paid in the region of 160million.

And new head of ESPN for Europe,
Middle East and Africa, Ross Hair told the London Evening
Standard: 'We’re expecting another Premier League auction in April or
May. An Al Jazeera bid is a realistic prospect.

They have done something very interesting in France in buying first
division football against the incumbent satellite broadcaster Canal Plus
and we’ve also looked at what they’ve done in other markets.

'You can draw parallels with the upcoming auction in the UK. Al Jazeera
have the ambition to grow further in sport and into other markets.'

On the box: Al Jazeera already screen coverage of the French top division

On the box: Al Jazeera already screen coverage of the French top division

Sky and the American broadcaster ESPN currently share UK pay-for-view coverage following the 1.78 billion deal for the rights to cover matches between 2010 and 2013. Sky holds five of the six 23-game packages.

Qatar’s interest in football has mushroomed since last December when it won the right to stage the 2022 finals. Some purists were angered by the decision to award the event to a nation with so little interest in football. There were also claims that the country’s hot temperatures could even pose a health and safety risk to players.

But since then Qatar has become the shirt sponsors of Spain’s best club, Barcelona, and a Qatari investment firm has bought one of France’s most famous clubs, Paris St Germain.

Al Jazeera has already established itself as a major player in the market for televised sports.

In the summer it bought some of the domestic rights to screen matches from France's top division, Ligue 1.

The broadcaster also owns regional TV rights for the next three World Cups and to the Champions League, with the BBC’s Gary Lineker fronting their coverage.

How footballers and fans plan to spend Valentine"s Day

Love match: Romantic Valentine’s Day trip to St Andrew's… with sausage roll thrown in

Jinnarat Gregory is a lucky woman. Her husband, Roy, works in the Ukraine as a property consultant for up to four days a week and he likes to treat her when he’s back home in Alcester, near Stratford-upon-Avon. For Valentine’s Day, she’s landed a trip to watch Birmingham City play Hull.

‘I mentioned it ages ago and I don’t think she cottoned on about the dates,’ he says.

‘I’ll get her a sausage roll and I’m sure that’ll make things right.’

Romantic setting: Jinnarat Gregory and husband Roy will spend Valentines Day at St Andrew's

Romantic setting: Jinnarat Gregory and husband Roy will spend Valentine's Day at St Andrew's

Roy will be 70 this year and goes to most Birmingham matches. He has done since he was six when his dad, Harold, a former youth teamer at City in the 30s, first took him to St Andrew’s. ‘It was snowing and I got the bug,’ he says.

It has stayed with him through almost seven decades, including 17 years from the early 90s when he was working full-time in the Ukraine. He even set up a supporters’ club there. ‘There were five of us and my Dalmatian, Ari. Then Ari died. Ari loved watching the Blues.’

Naturally, his life-time best memory is Birmingham winning the League Cup at Villa Park in 1963. ‘I’ve been married four times but that was a really, really good day,’ he says. ‘Hull at home will be a good one. We’re both doing well in the league. Should be a good Valentine’s Day.’

The important things in life: Roy Gregory will hope Chris Hughton's Birmingham can take all three points at home to Hull

The important things in life: Roy Gregory will hope Chris Hughton's Birmingham can take all three points at home to Hull

There will be similar stories up and down and across the country, with 35 Football League matches being played on Tuesday night from the Championship to League Two.

Nineteen of those will feature romantic promotions of varying descriptions, from flower-laced hospitality packages at seven Championship games, to the sale of heart-shaped cupcakes at Bury and free tickets for women at Aldershot’s match against Hereford.

Early indications also suggest there will be two proposals on the pitch at half-time at Birmingham and one each at Portsmouth and Oldham.

Under the thumb: Blackpool's Gary Taylor-Fletcher is loved up with his wife Viv, according to team-mates

Under the thumb: Blackpool's Gary Taylor-Fletcher is loved up with his wife Viv, according to team-mates

As John Nagle, a spokesman for the Football League, put it: ‘What could be more romantic for people in this country than a trip to see your football team play on Valentine’s Day’

One of the longer trips will be the 115 miles undertaken by Blackpool fans to get to Doncaster. There are suspicions among one or two at Bloomfield Road that midfielder Gary Taylor-Fletcher might not be there when they arrive.

Love is in the air: West Ham fans will celebrate Valentine's Day with a home game against second place Southampton

Love is in the air: West Ham fans will celebrate Valentine's Day with a home game against second place Southampton

‘He’s the worst of our lot,’ says Ian Evett, the Blackpool centre-half. ‘He is pretty under the thumb. We all love our wives, but he is extremely loved up with Viv. No-one is quite like him, but we have a few romantics at Blackpool.’

One of them will be sat at the front of the bus. ‘Ian Holloway is a massive romantic,’ Evatt says.

‘It can be tough in football. You spend a lot of time away, especially at weekends, and a lot of the time we live away from where we were brought up so you and your wife might not have that much of a network around you. She can be left at home, which if you have young kids or babies is not ideal.

‘For an away game we will normally train on Friday, travel after training and stay over and then get back late on Saturday. That can mean a bit of time away. But, like I say, we’re lucky at Blackpool because the manager is a massive romantic.

‘If one of the boys has a problem at home he will give them time off. He is a real family man – his family is everything to him.

Family man: Blackpool manager Ian Holloway is a romantic at heart

Family man: Blackpool manager Ian Holloway is a romantic at heart

‘He takes his wife, Kim, on the bus on some away games and I’m sure there’ll be some romance on the bus to Doncaster, but hopefully not too much.’

Taylor-Fletcher, however, is apparently at a different level altogether. ‘It will be interesting to see if any of the players mysteriously don’t appear,’ Evatt adds. ‘Fletch might not be allowed to play by his wife. His house number on his phone is under the name Love Nest.

‘Who knows what Valentine’s Day will be like with them

Not a big deal: Reading skipper Jobi McAnuff says won't celebrate Valentine's Day with wife-to-be Jolene

Not a big deal: Reading skipper Jobi McAnuff says won't celebrate Valentine's Day with wife-to-be Jolene

‘For me, I normally cook my wife, Danielle, a nice meal on Valentine’s Day but this year I’ll probably do something on the Monday night. On the Tuesday morning I’ll make her breakfast in bed before going to the game.’

So romance isn’t dead. Except maybe at Bournemouth.

‘I’ve never had a player ask for time off on Valentine’s Day – never heard that anywhere to be honest,’ says manager Lee Bradbury. ‘What would I do I’m not sure I’d be happy about it!’

Unromantic: Andy Griffin is not a player who will be doing anything for Valentine's Day, according to McAnuff

Unromantic: Andy Griffin is not a player who will be doing anything for Valentine's Day, according to McAnuff

And the love won’t really be felt at Reading’s game with Derby, either.

‘Romance Not much here,’ says midfielder Jobi McAnuff. He will marry Jolene, his girlfriend, in the summer, but February 14 holds no special significance for him. ‘Her maybe,’ he says. ‘But I won’t fall for that.

‘I’m not a great one for Valentine’s Day. I don’t think footballers in general are the most romantic of men out there. I think Valentine’s Day is something a woman invented one year and the others are happy to go along with it.

‘Our team don’t have many great romantics. Andy Griffin, Adam Federici and Kaspars Gorkss are possibly the least romantic people to have lived.

‘Ian Harte is a bit of a romantic. And Mathieu Manset – he is French so it goes with the territory.

King of Harte: Ian Harte is a romantic

King of Harte: Ian Harte is a romantic

‘But Valentine’s Day doesn’t really bother me. I think a lot of guys use it as a day to get themselves out of jail by giving the woman in their life a treat.’

Lucky Jinnarat.