Tag Archives: reporter

SJA awards: Lawrence Booth wins scoop of the year for Kevin Pietersen texts

Sportsmail's Booth wins scoop of the year at SJA awards for revealing Pietersen texts


22:41 GMT, 25 March 2013



08:10 GMT, 26 March 2013

Sportsmail's Lawrence Booth picked up a prestigious gong at this year's Sports Journalists' Association awards.

Our cricket reporter – who is also the editor of Wisden – led the way with his brilliant story about Kevin Pietersen's text-message scandal last summer.

This was recognised as the scoop of the year at the awards night in London on Monday night.


Neil Ashton

Recognition: Sportsmail cricket writer Lawrence Booth (left) won the scoop of the year and Neil Ashton (right), Jeff Powell (bottom left) and Jonathan McEvoy (bottom right) were highly commended in their categories


Jonathan McEvoy

Pietersen was revealed to have sent text
messages to members of the South African dressing room about his then
captain Andrew Strauss – later described by Pietersen himself as
'provocative' – which caused an almighty schism in the team's dressing

The scandal led to England's star
batsman being exiled from the squad for the rest of the Test series
defeat against the Proteas. It was also the final straw for Strauss, who
resigned the England captaincy soon after and retired from all cricket.

Meanwhile, Sportsmail's football news correspondent Neil Ashton was highly commended in the specialist correspondent category at the awards, while Jonathan McEvoy was highly commended as a sports news reporter. Boxing correspondent Jeff Powell was highly commended in the feature writer award.

The Mail on Sunday also picked up two prestigious awards, with Patrick Collins named as the columnist of year, while Martha Kelner won the young sports writer award.

Read Lawrence Booth's scoop of the year and his latest Top Spin column
EXCLUSIVE: KP text alert! Pietersen sent messages to opposition during Test

CLICK HERE to read the full award-winning story

The Top Spin: It's the end of an era as throwback Blackwell calls it a day (and ensures he will be a permanent one-cap wonder)

CLICK HERE to read the full column

And don't forget to read Lawrence Booth's latest Top Spin column on Tuesday morning at www.dailymail.co.uk/sport

Manchester United v Real Madrid tickets on sale for 1,000 each

Psst… want to get into Old Trafford tonight to see the big match, well it'll cost you 1,000 each

Colin Young


10:31 GMT, 5 March 2013



12:18 GMT, 5 March 2013

It is the match 'the world will stop' to watch, according to Jose Mourinho.

And it seems some fans are prepared to pay 'silly money' to watch Manchester United take on Real Madrid tonight.

Although official ticket exchange sites such as viagogo.com are showing no availability, other websites like ticket4football.com have set prices of up to 1,000 each for premium seats for tonight's clash between Manchester United and Real Madrid at Old Trafford.

Some fans have offered to sell spare tickets for up to 750 to watch the latest showdown between Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho, who marked his first visit to Old Trafford with a Champions League victory for Porto and a memorable celebratory dash down the touchline.

Main event: More than 75,000 fans will pack into Old Trafford tonight for Champions League clash

Main event: More than 75,000 fans will pack into Old Trafford tonight for Champions League clash

And the price is expected to go up as fans descend on Old Trafford for the match.

One ticket agent based near the ground, who asked not to be named, said: 'Tickets are going for silly
money, thousands in fact.'

Sportsmail has learned that Madrid fans wanting to see the Special One repeat that feat tonight after the 1-1 draw in the first leg can also expect to pay 800 on the black market.

And that is before the crowds start to gather on Sir Matt Busby Way and ticketless fans try their luck with touts as kick-off approaches.

Although Manchester Police have managed a number of successful convictions for ticket touting operations at United home games in recent years, illegal touts are still expected to flood the streets around the stadium tonight.

A scarf seller is seen outside Old Trafford

ticket poster.jpg

Supply and demand: Tickets for big games are being sold for more than 1,000

One New York Times reporter claimed he saw an exchange yesterday in which touts were charging 500 to 600 for seats for a game which is supposed to be a sell-out.

That was after the press conference at Old Trafford in which Madrid boss Mourinho said 'the world would stop' to watch the encounter between two of the biggest teams on the planet.

And Ferguson added: 'As European nights go you don't get much bigger. We're talking about two clubs with great history. It's set up to be potentially a marvellous game and I don't think it will disappoint either.'

And at 1,000 quid a ticket, it better not.

Jen Chang and Duncan Jenkins row: Using fans as muscle is abuse of power – Martin Samuel

Amid his Twitter row, Liverpool's Chang should know using the supporters as muscle is a dangerous abuse of power



06:35 GMT, 24 October 2012

Wherever Jen Chang is presently residing, it is to be hoped he was watching the match between Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United on Friday night. There, in microcosm, was the reason so many are taking his spat with a man who doesn't exist seriously.

Duncan Jenkins may be a fictional character but the man who created him on Twitter, Sean Cummins, says the threats he received from Chang, head of communications at Liverpool, were very real. It is the word of one man against another, so we should tread carefully but, if true, it is the manner of Chang's ultimatums that disturb.

Chang is accused of threatening to unleash the Liverpool supporters on Cummins, as if they were his personal heavy mob. This is outrageous, if correct. Football supporters are the biggest gang in town. And those with a direct line to their emotions need to exercise that power wisely indeed.

Dark side: Chris Kirkland holds his head after being assaulted by Leeds fan Aaron Crawley (circled)

Dark side: Chris Kirkland holds his head after being assaulted by Leeds fan Aaron Crawley (circled)

Chang arrived at Anfield earlier this year, freshly imported from the United States where he worked for ESPN. He was supposed to be a safe, corporate pair of hands after the PR debacle of the Luis Suarez racism affair. Yet this season Chang became inexplicably vexed by a Twitter presence known as Duncan Jenkins.

The tag 'perspiring journalist' should have been the clue. Jenkins does not exist. He is the alter ego of Liverpool supporter Sean Cummins, a parody of an ambitious sports reporter.

As Jenkins, Cummins would search the ether for transfer rumours, team news and gossip, then issue it as fact. His judgment of the rumour mill, however, was uncannily astute and he got quite a lot right.

Chang, seemingly, missed the joke and the randomness of the enterprise and thought Liverpool had a mole. Believing the club's business to be damaged by these leaks, he set up a meeting with Cummins. From here it gets murky.

Accused: Ian Arye (left) is investigating claims of harassment against Jen Chang (right)

Accused: Ian Arye (left) is investigating claims of harassment against Jen Chang (right)

More from Martin Samuel …

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Bonkers but beautiful: Lightning Bolt strikes twice to take these Games to a new high… before celebrating with press-ups!


According to Cummins, at their lunch date in Manchester, Chang threatened him. He said he would expose him as the source of harmful rumours and the fans would make his life a living hell.

Some of the fantasy menaces were quite bizarre: dog faeces through the letterbox; harm to the business run by Cummins' father. If the account is accurate, Chang appears patronisingly to regard Liverpool supporters as little more than thugs for hire.

Chang denies much of this and there are some who regard Cummins as little more than a self-publicist. It seems a strange falsehood to tell, though, not least for the awkwardness it may cause when Cummins next arrives to support his favourite club.

Ian Ayre, Liverpool managing director, is treating the affair seriously enough to conduct an internal investigation and met Cummins on Monday. Cummins felt he received a fair hearing. Chang, meanwhile, is keeping a low profile.

He did not take his seat at the annual dinner held by the Football Writers' Association in Manchester at the weekend, and may have to issue an apology before he can actively pursue his role again. It may be that Chang has been falsely maligned. Perhaps Cummins misunderstood, or misheard.

Only two men truly know what was said at that meeting. If Cummins' recollections are believed, however, Chang will be very fortunate to keep his job.

Using the loyalty of supporters as muscle is a dangerous and irresponsible abuse of executive power. What happened at Hillsborough on Friday demonstrates the extremes of behaviour that can be unleashed by club passions.

Nobody should toy with the most unhinged or fanatical element of any band of supporters. The thug who assaulted Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was not inspired by Leeds, but his actions most certainly stemmed from a misguided, misdirected fervour for his club.

Could Chang, or any club official, live with the consequences if violent behaviour towards an individual as good as originated from a club directive Leeds United did not contribute to events at Hillsborough last week. It was a Leeds fan, Aaron Crawley from Cheltenham, who got tanked up and attacked Kirkland, but there the connection ends.

David Jones, the Wednesday manager, was understandably upset that his opposite number, Neil Warnock, still made his players applaud the travelling fans after a night of vile chants and one unforgivable assault, but there is no suggestion Leeds stoked bad behaviour prior to the game.

Jailed: Leeds 'fan' Aaron Cawley was handed a four-month prison sentence

Jailed: Leeds fan Aaron Cawley was handed a four-month prison sentence

Had there been a fall-out from the Duncan Jenkins summit, however, could Chang be equally blameless Every club manager, executive, player or administrator treads the line between demanding the fiercest loyalty and maintaining a sense of proportion. If Chang, new to the English game and impressed by how readily mobilised and unified Liverpool supporters were already by tragedy at Hillsborough, then sought to exploit this, it really would be the most reckless exploitation.

Yet if Chang lost his sense of restraint he would not be the first. Ken Bates has been the proud champion of a number of clubs and is still hugely popular with the supporters at Chelsea – no mean feat for the current chairman of Leeds – but has come perilously close to using tactics that went beyond the pale in the past, bringing public disputes into areas that breached the boundaries of personal privacy. This is a disappointing stance, when he has always been perfectly capable of winning his battles on his wits alone.

We do not know if intolerable pressure was what Chang intended when he met Cummins. Single source stories are frowned upon by Lord Leveson, so it may be that this one simply fizzles out with time, too.

Whatever was said that day, though, the timely juxtaposition of the Liverpool inquiry and the actions of a lone hooligan at Hillsborough should be a lesson and reminder for all. There are men enough out there who do not think rationally, without the saner members of society crossing to the dark side. We know the sort who would manipulate the disaffected proletariat for their own, violent ends. You'll find them in all good history books but not, one would hope, within any good football club.

Fair Kop, Andy

Andy Carroll says he was never given a fair chance at Liverpool. He was there 18 months and cost 35million. If he seriously believes that having paid such a huge sum the club were not desperate for his move to succeed, he may have that ponytail wound a little too tight.

England need more than saviour Jack…

Jack Wilshere may play for Arsenal this week and already, with the England team floundering, he is being promoted as The Answer for Roy Hodgson. Stuart Pearce would like a piece of him for the Under 21s, too, and predictably this has brought a wary response from Arsene Wenger.

'If you have to wait for one player to come back that means something is wrong,' he said. 'If Spain are world and European champions, it is because they are spoiled for choice.'

Welcome back, Jack: Wilshere is closing in on a first-team return for Arsenal after 15 months out

Welcome back, Jack: Wilshere is closing in on a first-team return for Arsenal after 15 months out

Indeed. If the season stopped right now, Juan Mata would have a fair claim to be Footballer of the Year. In tandem with Eden Hazard, he has been magnificent in Chelsea's rise to the top of the table.

Yet after being active for Spain at senior, Under 21 and Olympic level in six out of the last seven summers, Mata asked for a rest and missed a friendly with Saudi Arabia and a qualifying fixture in Georgia. He has not been picked in the squad since. This is the power that England lack, always waiting for a saviour to rise from the ranks.

Mind you, much the same could be said of Arsenal. It wasn't England who played Wilshere into the ground the season before his ankle injury caused him to miss 2011-12 in its entirety.

And while we're at it

Steve Evans is back in the dug-out with Rotherham United, having served his six-game stadium ban. So where is the T-shirt protest over that Where is the mobilisation of player power, the splinter group, the righteous howl of outrage

Evans was charged with exposing himself to a female official from Bradford City, during a match with his Crawley Town side last season. Witness accounts say he deliberately dropped his trousers in the dressing-room area after the game. His ban was two matches less than Luis Suarez's for racist abuse; and not a peep from anybody.

Charged: Evans is back in the dug-out with Rotherham United having served his six-game stadium ban

Charged: Evans is back in the dug-out with Rotherham United having served his six-game stadium ban

We are acutely aware of the years of discrimination and oppression that make race such an issue, yet the same prejudices have also helped maintain sexism and misogyny in our society.

While John Terry's four-game ban is denounced for its perceived leniency, however, the skewed message relayed by Evans's six-game ban passes unnoticed. Women rarely come out well in the psychological warfare waged on the pitch during football matches. Wives, mothers, sisters, girlfriends, ex-team-mates' ex-girlfriends, they are usually only good for one thing.

Had Evans behaved in a racist or homophobic manner, there would almost certainly have been a T-shirt for the occasion. As it is, he is still in the boys' club.

Bacra drop away strip

Barcelona will ditch their latest second strip at the end of this season. The horrid orange top, merging into yellow at the bottom of the shirts, made them look like cheap ice lollies. Not even the finest footballers on the planet could appear cool in that outfit. They will now wear a new shirt based on the red and yellow stripes of the Catalan flag.

End of the road: Barcelona will ditch their away strip

End of the road: Barcelona will ditch their away strip

How convenient, though, that this design flaw comes with its own boosted revenue stream, as fans replace their out-of-date replica tops with the updated version.

If Barcelona truly were more than a club, as they claim, they would let supporters exchange the offensive merchandise for free. Don't hold your breath.

Why the FA's code is just not credible

The compromise at the heart of the Football Association's brave new code of conduct is there in black and white. On one page, dire warnings about the use of drugs and alcohol, on the next the evils of wearing unofficial issue sportswear. So what are they trying to protect here The integrity of the game or marketing rights

Watching Pat McQuaid of the International Cycling Union wriggle under scrutiny over the Lance Armstrong affair this week reveals the bankruptcy of merging principle with commerce. McQuaid could see no wrong in his organisation accepting 78,000 in donations from Armstrong between 2002 and 2007, when rumours were flying that he was corrupting the sport.

Indeed, McQuaid said he would accept charity from riders again. At this point, he lost all credibility, as do the FA when they equate a failed drugs test with a pair of unsanctioned training shoes.

You've been tangoed

Phil Brown, former manager of Hull City, was discussing racism on Radio 5 Live this week. 'I've been called Tangoman,' he protested, 'I've been called Orangeman. Is that racist I want to know what is racist.' Not that, Phil. Definitely not that.

Sticking to the rulebook

There has been much fuss about the FA council decision to make chairman David Bernstein stand down, according to the rulebook, in his 70th year. Why Bernstein knew the position when he took the job.

Suit you, sir: David Bernstein (left) will soon relieve his position as chairman of the Football Association

Suit you, sir: David Bernstein (left) will soon relieve his position as chairman of the Football Association

To get his feet under the table and try to introduce different terms of engagement is pretty much the approach taken by Michel Platini over the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Platini voted for a summer tournament and, ever since, has campaigned for a winter one. Bernstein accepted a short-term role and like most at the FA will now have to be dragged out of the place by his heels. Must be a nice little number.

Time for El Tel

Gerard Houllier is right to highlight the great flaw in the FA's St George's Park development: nobody at the top. Houllier cites the absence of a technical director, a respected former manager to act as the coach of coaches.

The FA already have Sir Trevor Brooking and, from July, Dan Ashworth, but neither possess the gravitas of a renowned and experienced top level manager. An entire generation of England players – many now involved in coaching – insist Terry Venables was England's best technical brain. He is certainly available, but maybe not in Burton-on-Trent.

Brian Woolnough tribute by Steve Curry

Farewell, Wooly: Steve Curry pays tribute to a giant of sports journalism



14:21 GMT, 18 September 2012

Legend: Brian Woolnough

Legend: Brian Woolnough

It was one of those wine-fuelled pre-season lunches that retired Sky Sports boss Vic Wakeling used the hold for chief football writers in a private dining room at Shepherd's restaurant in Westminster.

Owner Richard Shepherd popped in, told a few jokes and departed around 7pm. The only people left were Vic, Brian Woolnough and myself enjoying a few glasses.

As always, the debate was about football.

Wooly was presenting reasons why
Graham Taylor should still be given the benefit of the doubt as England
manger. Mine was the contrary view.

became quite heated and Vic, puffing on a cigarette in those
pre-no-smoking-days, was sitting back enjoying the debate. We retired to
the pub next door for a game of pool but the cut and thrust continued
between shots.

Vic said suddenly. 'This kind of debate goes on in every pub every
night. You guys work in the game. Why don't we get a few of you round a
table, forget the cameras are there, moderate the language and we have a
TV show.'

Thus began Hold The Back Page, the Friday night show that captivated fans across the country. Brian was chosen to chair the programme. That was in 1994 and, 18 years on, the concept still draws an audience. And Brian has always been there, like a captain at the wheel.

But Wooly will no longer select the subject matter, to guide the participants on the subjects for discussion, to tease comments from his guests, to combine humour and significance, and to steer all around the table into fascinating conversation.

I had met Brian as a young reporter on The Sun, a serious news gatherer. As a chief football writer on a rival paper, I dreaded the late night call from my own boss to say Wooly had got another exclusive.

Farewell: Wooly (centre) pictured with Danny Fullbrook and Steve McClaren

Farewell: Wooly (centre) pictured with Danny Fullbrook and Steve McClaren

We travelled the world and he was excellent company. A man with strident views on sport, he was as a younger man, a formidable fast bowler. He was always ready with a view but prepared to hear the counter-argument.

Fiercely ambitious, he climbed to the top of his profession without, as far I can recall, ever losing his temper. A fierce inquisitor at press conferences, he had a way of asking the difficult questions without giving offence. And he always delivered them from the front row where he could look the manager concerned in the eye. He was up front.

I remember seeing Wooly in hospital after the very first operation. As ever he was cheerful. He stayed so to the end. When his much younger Daily Star colleague Danny Fullbrook also had cancer, he counselled him warmly and sympathetically even though he knew his own battle was far from over.

We were colleagues on the Barclays Manager and Player of the Month panel and though he knew he was ill, he attended the lunches with as much enthusiasm as he ever did.

In the last few years as a Chief Sports Writer at the Star, his views were expressed stridently and without extravagant language. It was the voice of the terrace fan.

Brian so much wanted to end his career on a high. He has done that in the esteem of his colleagues. And he will be pleased with that.

James Anderson: England will miss Andrew Strauss but Alastair Cook has respect of the whole team

We will miss Straussy dancing like your uncle at a wedding, but new captain Cook has respect of the whole team



22:27 GMT, 1 September 2012

Andrew Strauss's retirement means that
the England dressing room is never going to be the same again. For one
thing, it’s going to be a lot quieter.

Strauss possesses one of the biggest
voices you have ever heard, the force of it capable of leaving a
medium-sized market town in ruins.

It was hilarious watching him being
interviewed one-to-one by Tim Abrahams, the similarly loud Sky Sports
roving reporter, because the conversation would get louder and louder
until, without the aid of a microphone or satellite, they could be heard
in China.

In the thick of it: Andrew Strauss (centre) with Matt Prior (left) and Graeme Swann

In the thick of it: Andrew
Strauss (centre) with Matt Prior (left)
and Graeme Swann

That, his Radley education and his
unfailingly positive, up-and-at-’em nature, gave him the demeanour of a
public school head boy and meant he was the butt of tons of stick and
plenty of jokes in the dressing room.

Matthew Hoggard first christened him
Lord Brocket before settling for Posh Twit (I think it was Twit).
Swanny, of course, kept up the tradition, and one of the big reasons why
we are all so sad that Strauss is no longer leading us is that he could
not only take it brilliantly but knew how to give it back, too.

Sometimes, when a team-mate takes over as captain he can tend to distance himself from the team. Not so with Strauss.

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No other batsman in the world could have done what Pietersen did

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James Anderson: It can get fierce but don't kill off our aggression


He was not afraid to take the mickey
out of himself. And while he wasn’t exactly the first on the dance floor
when we went out celebrating, once he’d had enough beers he danced like
your embarrassing uncle at a wedding. It was mesmerising.

When we retained the Ashes in
Melbourne, we even got him to do the ‘sprinkler’. For a co-ordinated
man, his effort at that was pure comedy gold.

Strauss is a great communicator. He
had it in him to make a ‘fight them on the beaches’ speech — and did so
when he thought it was appropriate.

But there were also times when we were
in the huddle at the start of a day’s play, the cameras were buzzing
around and he felt we might be in danger of getting too caught up in the
tension of the moment. So he would tell us something genuinely funny or
leave us scratching our heads by plucking a baffling Chinese proverb
out of thin air.

In fact, Strauss just had a way of
reading situations and people and doing and saying the right things at
the right time that demanded 100 per cent loyalty.

No matter whether he was in good nick, putting on a brave face when going through a bad patch or dealing with other issues, you always got the feeling that he really cared about his players, whether he felt they needed a kick up the backside or a calming word.

I’ll never forget how he was with me during the World Cup in India last year. Truth be told, after the long Ashes winter, I was running on empty. I’d bowled poorly in the first two matches against Netherlands (0-72) and India (1-91) and was expecting to be dropped for the next game, against Ireland.

But he took me to one side in practice and said he wanted me to play and that he was backing me. For a player out of form, he said everything you want to hear from your captain and it gave me a great deal of confidence. Although we lost, I bowled my best spell of the tournament and went on to take 2-16 in the next match against South Africa.

Hands on: Strauss will be much-missed by England

Hands on: Strauss will be much-missed by England

When he then realised he might be flogging a dying horse, he had the strength to make the right decision and leave me out for the quarter-final against Sri Lanka.

As for rollickings, once he had delivered his talk to us when taking over the captaincy in West Indies in 2009 — about players taking responsibility for our own performances — he rarely needed to give them.

When he and Andy Flower came together, they really nailed what we needed to do to become No 1 in the world.

But when it was necessary — during the meeting after we were beaten by Australia at Headingley in the penultimate Test of the 2009 series — he did not hold back. People have said this is a sad time for Strauss to go. Ideally, we’d have beaten South Africa or at least drawn with them and he could have gone out on a better note. But the fight we showed at Lord’s was a tribute to him. All he asked of us was to just keep fighting. That’s what we did and we came very close to causing an upset.

People have speculated that the Kevin Pietersen issue might have been a factor in Strauss’s decision to quit. I don’t think it has been ideal but he was thinking about this before that stuff started, so I don’t think that has been an issue at all. That sort of thing just wouldn’t influence a man like Strauss.

Not a factor: The Kevin Pietersen saga did not influence Strauss's decision to quit

Not a factor: The Kevin Pietersen saga did not influence Strauss's decision to quit

It was a measure of the man that his reasons for giving up the job were all about what he felt was best for the side. He has still shown glimpses of form but he knows what it takes to succeed at this level. He wanted to give a new captain time to settle in before the Ashes next year.

And what a way to go — leaving all of us a personal, hand-written letter. Each one was different and the full contents of mine will stay between him and me, but the gist of it was that he was proud of us and that he had many great memories to take with him. Class.

Now it’s over to Alastair Cook. It was one of Strauss’s strengths that he had the total respect of the players, and Cooky is the same.

While I’ll bet a number of the guys would love to have a go at being captain, there is not a single quibble or qualm about the fact that Cook is the right man to take over.

As Strauss’s understudy, he has shown he has a good cricket brain. He loves a challenge and, as captain, he is going to face plenty of them.

Cricketing brain: Alastair Cook has the backing of the dressing room

Cricketing brain: Alastair Cook has the backing of the dressing room

Euro 2012: Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni talk hazy but never lost in translation

Italian, German, French and English… Hazy talk but never lost in translation



00:45 GMT, 9 June 2012

In a late and unscheduled change, Giovanni Trapattoni held his
pre-match press conference in a room on the 10th floor of the Tower of
Babel on Friday.

Splinters of language flew like shards from a wood chipper. The meeting
began in English but then took off with the precision of a bear on a
unicycle; a German TV reporter begged the Ireland manager for a line in
Deutsche; a Polish reporter operating a camera addressed Trapattoni in
French and was answered in kind; and then there was the constant
exchange of information between the manager and his translator in
rat-a-tat Italian.

Age is just a number: Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni speaks in Gdynia on Friday

Age is just a number: Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni speaks in Gdynia on Friday

The Republic of Ireland supremo is an example of a man whose
achievements make him understood; dozens of journalists left yesterday's
press conference knowing little of substance about Ireland's final
preparations; words were strewn about the place in no special order, but
the aura of Trapattoni was undimmed.

Nobody knows how the hell he does it, but one of the world's most
illustrious managers is preparing for yet another opening curtain, and
he is relishing it. We sit and listen to meaning getting churned in
rooms like this one, in the Gdynia home of local club Arka, and wonder
how it works on a training pitch; is there some sporting offshoot of
Esperanto that allows the manager to communicate with his players and
make his intentions clear

Euro 2012 email button

Euro 2012

How do they absorb his ideas Has he got it through to them through mime, or interpretive dance. It can't be through language, can it

'You can start! Afternoon. Can you put the question please' he began. And the questions came, and the answers followed like bees startled out of a hive.

'It is not only attitude and balance, we have also quality very, very well. We must believe this,' he said by way of a rallying cry, and it was technically gibberish but it was also perfectly pitched; his meaning was clear instantly. It is important that his attempts at communicating in different tongues are acknowledged; it speaks of a sharp mind and a desire to learn and absorb information.

Further, sneering at a person struggling with a second (or third, or fourth) language is a cheap and unattractive game. Few sneer at Trapattoni – his achievements and his palpable intelligence prevent that – but his uncertain command of English is a fair and important topic of discussion, given his position in charge of a national side and the critical importance of good communication to his role.

The post-match confusion after the friendly draw with Hungary was
the result of language difficulties, for example, and it called into
question his insistence on trying to communicate in a language that he
finds so difficult.

But the haziness of meaning suits Trapattoni; he gets big laughs for
some of his bon mots, no matter how clumsily delivered, and in general
the shaky syntax allows him to withhold full meaning, and prevents him
being dragged into detailed debates about tactics or selection issues.

Countdown: Ireland's squad prepare to face Croatia during a training session in Gdynia

Countdown: Ireland's squad prepare to face Croatia during a training session in Gdynia

His difficulty with English does not frustrate him. He is a leader, he has presence, and that is communicated without words.

'I repeat always, you must to be proud of our country, our people,
because they make very big or great sacrifice: the money, the travel,
the trip,' he said he told his players. 'But players know this.
Obviously football is 90 minutes but it is important when we guarantee
our people total commitment.'

He was asked what it will feel like on Sunday, when he becomes the oldest man to manage at a European Championship.

'For me it is as if I am 20, because of my head, thank God. I am fresh in head.'

Then he was asked for a word in German that prompted some unkind
tittering. 'The word Deutsche in English is German,' Trapattoni
responded, before enjoying the laughter his answer prompted.

His answer in French to a Polish journalist was cleanly delivered
and impressively, but it was soon back to words being juggled and often

No holding back: Stephen Ward (left) and James McClean challenge for the ball in training

No holding back: Stephen Ward (left) and James McClean challenge for the ball in training

David Haye and Dereck Chisora trade insults at press conference

Insults fly from disgraced caged fighters: Upton Park summer showdown set for shamed boxers



00:13 GMT, 9 May 2012

Forget the steel fence, the steak knife and the irony of billing this fight ‘Licence to Thrill’, Tuesday’s preamble to a July 14 bout was best summed up when a thug deemed unfit to box in this country squared up to a television reporter and took exception to a question.

The interviewer had suggested to Dereck Chisora that there was something wrong with what was going on, that he and David Haye should not be entitled to earn money on the back of the punches and tripods thrown during a press conference in Munich three months ago. Chisora didn’t like it.

‘Will you watch the fight’ Chisora snapped. Silence. ‘Will you be watching’ he repeated. Silence.

The fight is on: David Haye and Dereck Chisora are separated by a fence during a press conference to announce a fight on July 14

The fight is on: David Haye and Dereck Chisora are separated by a fence during a press conference to announce a fight on July 14

Chisora turned his back. ‘You answer my question then I’ll answer yours.’
This is a fight that should not be happening and yet if it was that simple Frank Warren would not have made his announcement at a 35,000-seat football ground that will almost certainly be sold out in a shade more than nine weeks.

‘It’s a fight that people want to see,’ Warren had said. ‘It has everything.’

Tuesday’s shameless press conference at Upton Park didn’t have everything — the owners of the 24 tripods present will have been grateful — but it had more than most, including a seven-foot high fence between the two leading characters and a squad of four goons per man.

Caged: Haye and Chisora square up with a fence between them

Caged: Haye and Chisora square up with a fence between them

Necessary Probably not, but the bad blood between these two Londoners is real. Haye had been speaking for 24 seconds when he delivered his first insult. ‘As far as I was concerned we settled our differences in Germany,’ he said. ‘He came down and said he was going to give me two slaps and ended up on the floor.’

Haye went on: ‘I’m looking forward to this fight. The guy’s said so many things about me; that he’s going to do this and do that. He didn’t learn his lesson in Germany so I’ve got to do it properly, with no tripods and no bottles. We’ll do it the old-fashioned way in the ring and I can expose him officially. It can be on my boxing record, not my police record.’

Match makers: Chisora's promoter Frank Warren with Adam Booth, trainer and manager of Haye discuss the fight

Match makers: Chisora's promoter Frank Warren with Adam Booth, trainer and manager of Haye discuss the fight

The former heavyweight world champion was then six seconds into his second answer — after being asked his opinion of Chisora — when Chisora gave his first public words of the afternoon. ‘I don’t like him,’ he said.

There followed comments on Haye’s suit and hair and Chisora’s take on the brawl that not only replaced memories of his impressive performance in defeat against Vitali Klitschko the same night, but saw his boxing licence withdrawn by the British Boxing Board of Control.

Battle of words: Chisora traded insults with Haye at the press conference

Battle of words: Chisora traded insults with Haye at the press conference

‘That was a lucky shot you hit me with, David,’ he said. ‘You are 1-0 up but in July I am coming to whup your ass.’

Haye then commented that ‘the best thing to come out of your mouth was my fist’ and Chisora replied: ‘You keep talking, the more you keep talking the more I get upset. And the more I get upset, the more I want to jump over this thing (the fence) right now.’

‘And get knocked out again, eh’ Haye replied. ‘We’ve played that game before. You lost. I felt you drop to the floor, then you got up and said, “You glassed me! You glassed me”.’

In between the more typical examples of trash talk, Chisora recalled a night last month when he bumped into Haye.

‘I saw him in London, and guess what he picked up. A knife,’ Chisora said.
‘I was eating a steak,’ Haye replied. ‘In a restaurant.’

For 20 minutes it went on — it was that kind of afternoon.


Everton forward
‘How can two boxers with no licence both box The press conference was just embarrassing. Haye vs Chisora fight is a nonstarter. Both lack class.’

Ex-England rugby union hooker
‘If you pay to view you want your head testing. You’d get a better fight outside Upton Park any night of the week’

Ex-England and Man Utd right back
WHEN asked ‘Will you be watching the Haye v Chisora fight’ Neville responded on Twitter: ‘NO!! Rubbish.’

BBBC general secretary
‘Another country has come into our jurisdiction and overruled us. We’re obviously not happy about it and it’s not what we feel should happen.’

Boxing promoter
‘Why is this happening These guys are two losers. It’s happening because of a punch-up in a press conference.’

Boxing promoter
‘I’m a realist. Since the early days boxing has been run by money. It’s a big fight, it will draw a lot of attention and make a lot of money for everyone involved, but my company would never work on any show that wasn’t licensed by the British Boxing Board of Control. I have to doubt the credibility of the Boxing Board of Luxembourg. Are they experienced enough It’s hard to take the moral high ground in boxing because there perhaps isn’t any, but the idea of a fight in this country run by the board of Luxembourg is unacceptable.’ — BBC 5 Live

Rangers manager Ally McCoist hopes SPL are fair

SPL clubs would suffer if Rangers were relegated, insists McCoist



16:25 GMT, 5 May 2012

Ally McCoist believes other Scottish Premier League clubs could face a threat to their own livelihoods if Rangers are forced down to the Irn-Bru Third Division.

The 12 top-flight clubs are set to meet on Monday to discuss financial fair play proposals that could mean tougher sanctions for insolvent clubs.

If passed, the new rules would mean any club who has undergone an 'insolvency transfer event' would be docked 10 points for two seasons and see their league income slashed by 75 per cent for three years, as of next season.

Hope: Ally McCoist has his fingers crossed for Rangers

Hope: Ally McCoist has his fingers crossed for Rangers

Preferred bidder Bill Miller's plan if he gains control of Rangers is to create an 'incubator' company while Duff and Phelps aim to take the club out of administration via a CVA.

His 'newco' plans would have to be in place by the end of this season to avoid any new SPL rules, otherwise sanctions would be at the discretion of the SPL board.

And speaking after Saturday's goalless draw against Motherwell, McCoist said: 'I just hope it's a favourable result for us on Monday.

'I can understand that the SPL and the SFA have got big decisions to make and they won't please everybody.'

Rangers have also been hit with a 12-month embargo on signing players over the age of 17 by the Scottish Football Association, which is subject to appeal by the Glasgow giants.

McCoist added: 'I just spoke to a radio reporter there and he said the phone-lines on the radio station have been jammed with non-Rangers supporters saying we should go down to Division Three and all that kind of stuff.

Support: Rangers fans hail their manager McCoist

Support: Rangers fans hail their manager McCoist

'I can understand that but it's not just as simple as that because I do believe there would be a threat to the livelihood of maybe some other clubs in the SPL if that were to happen.

'That's not something I would say lightly but in terms of the finance of Scottish football – sponsors and television money and things like that – it's a massive issue.

'The right thing to do might be the wrong thing in the long run. It's a big problem.'

Tennessee trucking tycoon Miller was named preferred bidder by administrators on Thursday ahead of a rival bid by the Blue Knights and Brian Kennedy.

McCoist said: 'I spoke to the administrators briefly before the game and I'll speak to them again within an hour or so.

'I'll probably try to give Bill Miller a call later this evening.'

Sasa Papac revealed he will quit Rangers when his contract expires at the end of the season.

And, with uncertainty still surrounding the future of the club, Saturday's game could be the last at Ibrox for some other Rangers players as well.

Bore draw: Rangers and Motherwell failed to shine at Ibrox

Bore draw: Rangers and Motherwell failed to shine at Ibrox

However, McCoist was reluctant to accept that could be the case, saying: 'I hope not. I hope that's not the case.'

Reflecting on the game, which was in stark contrast to the 5-0 thrashing of Dundee United midweek, McCoist said: 'It's really difficult to be too critical of the players but, at the same time, you've got a job to do.

'We didn't play well at all. We looked a little bit heavy-legged and a little bit tired.

'We had chances to win the game and possibly could have, and should have, had a penalty.

'It just looked like an end of season game to be quite frank.'

Motherwell had already secured third place before the short trip to Glasgow and will take Rangers' place in the Champions League qualifiers next season, with their financial issues restricting them from gaining a UEFA licence.

Boss Stuart McCall said: 'We wanted to come here and prove why we are the best of the rest and I thought we did that.

'We saw what Rangers did to Dundee United the other night and I thought we acquitted ourselves well. It was a deserved point.'

Mohammad Asif released from prison after serving half of spot-fixing sentence

Shamed cheat Asif released from prison after serving half of spot-fixing sentence



10:12 GMT, 3 May 2012

Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Asif has been released from jail after serving half of a 12-month sentence for his part in a fixing scam.

Asif, 29, the former world No 2 Test bowler, was freed from Canterbury Prison in Kent on Friday morning, according to his lawyers, SJS Solicitors, based in Balham, south London.

He was one of three Pakistan cricketers who received custodial sentences at London's Southwark Crown Court in November over a scandal that rocked world sport.

Guilty: Mohammad Asif was jailed at Southwark Crown Court in November

Guilty: Mohammad Asif was jailed at Southwark Crown Court in November

Ex-Test captain Salman Butt, 27, was jailed for two and a half years for his role as the 'orchestrator' of a plot to bowl deliberate no-balls in the 2010 Lord's Test against England.

Mohammad Aamer, 19, who had been tipped to become one of the all-time great fast bowlers, was released from Portland Prison in Dorset in February after serving half of his six-month sentence.

Mazhar Majeed, 36, the corrupt London-based sports agent at the heart of the fixing scandal, was jailed for two years and eight months.

All three players are serving five-year bans from cricket imposed by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The fixing scandal emerged after an undercover News of the World reporter approached Majeed in August 2010 pretending to be a wealthy Indian businessman seeking major international cricketers for a tournament.

The agent, from Croydon, south London, was secretly filmed accepting 150,000 in cash from the journalist as part of an arrangement to rig games.

You're fired: Asif was jailed, along with Salman Butt and Mohammad Aamer

You're fired: Asif was jailed, along with Salman Butt and Mohammad Aamer

Majeed promised the reporter that Asif and Amir would deliver three no-balls at specific points during the Test between Pakistan and England at Lord's from August 26 to 29, 2010.

He claimed he had been carrying out fixing for two and a half years and had seven players from Pakistan's national side working for him.

Explaining why he bowled a no-ball when Majeed said he would, Asif alleged that Butt told him, 'run faster, f***er', moments before his delivery.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Cooke, said there was no evidence that Asif had taken part in fixing before the Lord's match but added: 'It is hard to see how this could be an isolated occurrence for you.'

Asif took his 100th Test wicket during Pakistan's 2010 series in England. He had run into controversy before. He twice tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug nandrolone and was held in Dubai for 19 days in 2008 after opium was found in his wallet.

Amir and Butt failed in an attempt to have their sentences reduced at the Court of Appeal in November.

Luis Suarez apologises over Patrice Evra

Suarez says sorry! Liverpool striker admits he should have accepted Evra's hand

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has apologised for not shaking hands with Manchester United defender Patrice Evra before Saturday's Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford.

The Uruguayan, who was banned for eight matches after racially abusing Evra during the league game between the sides at Anfield in October, had been expected to shake hands with the Frenchman but failed to do so, causing an angry reaction from Evra.

Suarez has now said sorry for his actions and Reds boss Kenny Dalglish also apologised on Sunday for his conduct in the post-match interview.

Snubbed: Patrice Evra grabs Luis Suarez after the Liverpool striker ignores him

Snubbed: Patrice Evra grabs Luis Suarez after the Liverpool striker ignores him

Anger: Evra is bristling as referee Phil Dowd (right) steps forward

Anger: Evra is bristling as referee Phil Dowd (right) steps forward

Flashpoint: Luis Suarez refused to shake Patrice Evra's hand


Do you agree with Sir Alex Ferguson's opinion on Luis Suarez
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has labelled Luis Suarez a 'disgrace to Liverpool Football Club' and added he should never play for them again

Luis Suarez


Dalglish was quizzed by Geoff Shreeves about Suarez's snub and almost lost his temper with the Sky reporter.

Dalglish claimed he did not know Suarez refused the handshake.

The Scot has been criticised for defending his player in the aftermath of the race row that stretches back to last October but Dalglish and Suarez have now shown some remorse over the latest incidents.

'I have spoken with the manager (Kenny Dalglish) since the game at Old Trafford and I realise I got things wrong,' Suarez said in a statement on the Liverpool official website.

'I've not only let him down, but also the club and what it stands for and I'm sorry. I made a mistake and I regret what happened.

'I should have shaken Patrice Evra's hand before the game and I want to apologise for my actions.

'I would like to put this whole issue behind me and concentrate on playing football.'

Praise me: Evra (right) made a point of celebrating wildly at the final whistle

Praise me: Evra (right) made a point of celebrating wildly at the final whistle

Calm down: Evra is restrained by referee Phil Dowd after the match

Calm down: Evra is restrained by referee Phil Dowd after the match

Heart on his sleeve: Evra was clearly delighted with United's win

Heart on his sleeve: Evra was clearly delighted with United's win


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Dalglish said: 'Ian Ayre has made the club's position absolutely clear and it is right that Luis Suarez has now apologised for what happened at Old Trafford.

'To be honest, I was shocked to hear that the player had not shaken hands having been told earlier in the week that he would do.

'But as Ian said earlier, all of us have a responsibility to represent this Club in a fit and proper manner and that applies equally to me as Liverpool manager.

'When I went on TV after yesterday's game I hadn't seen what had happened, but I did not conduct myself in a way befitting of a Liverpool manager during that interview and I'd like to apologise for that.'

Under scrutiny: Dalglish has apologised for his post-match reaction

Under scrutiny: Kenny Dalglish has apologised for his post-match reaction

Rio Ferdinand delivered a snub of his own when he refused to shake Suarez's hand but later claimed Evra had gone too far with his post-match celebrations.

The Frenchman reacted exuberantly at the final whistle, appearing to goad Suarez with his actions.

And Ferdinand tweeted: 'I'm sure Patrice Evra will feel that
his celebrations at the end were maybe a bit much….emotions etc
probably got the better of him…'

In a separate statement, Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre said the club was misled by Suarez.

'We are extremely disappointed Luis Suarez did not shake hands with Patrice Evra before yesterday's game,' he said. 'The player had told us beforehand that he would, but then chose not to do so.

Claim: Dalglish was under the impression Suarez would shake hands

Claim: Dalglish was under the impression Suarez would shake hands

'He was wrong to mislead us and wrong
not to offer his hand to Patrice Evra. He has not only let himself
down, but also Kenny Dalglish, his teammates and the club. It has been
made absolutely clear to Luis Suarez that his behaviour was not

'Luis Suarez
has now apologised for his actions which was the right thing to do.
However, all of us have a duty to behave in a responsible manner and we
hope that he now understands what is expected of anyone representing
Liverpool Football Club.'

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson described Suarez as 'a disgrace' and suggested he should never play for Liverpool again while Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor branded the player's conduct 'disrespectful, inappropriate and embarrassing'.

Taylor added: 'If anything, Patrice Evra was the victim and he was prepared to put his hand out.

'These players are expected to be role models but if we have a situation where nobody accepts the findings of hearings and just carries on regardless, all you get is anarchy.

Out of line: Suarez thumps the ball into the crowd at half time at Old Trafford

Out of line: Suarez thumps the ball into the crowd at half time at Old Trafford

Hot head: Suarez appeared to be fired up as Liverpool lost at Old Trafford

Hot head: Suarez appeared to be fired up as Liverpool lost at Old Trafford

'Now the Football Association have to step in because the whole situation has gone too far.

'Suarez had a chance to put everything to be yesterday, in front of a worldwide audience. The fact that he chose not to is, quite frankly, depressing.'

The pre-match incident set the tome for a fiery encounter at Old Trafford and players from both teams were involved in a melee in teh tunnel at half-time.

Suarez scored for Liverpool – after a Wayne Rooney double – but the match was overshadowed by the handshake incident just before kick-off.

Suarez also booted the ball into the crowd and complained to referee Phil Dowd that Ferdinand should have been penalised for a challenge on the Reds forward. Replays showed the defender got the ball.

Having already defended his man in a flash TV interview, Dalglish opted not to make himself available for further discussion on the matter.

Long-time friend Alan Hansen did not say on Match of the Day whether he had spoken to Dalglish prior to transmission.

What's going on Evra complains that Suarez refused to shake his hand

What's going on Evra complains that Suarez refused to shake his hand

However, his own observation was withering in its condemnation.

'Liverpool FC made a statement that there would be a handshake,' he said.

'Luis Suarez was party to the statement. He knew about it and obviously agreed with it. To snub Patrice Evra was, in my view, totally unacceptable.

'The football club and the manager have given him total and unequivocal support through thick and thin.

'He has let Kenny Dalglish down, the club down and himself down.'