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WORLD SNOOKER CHAMPIONSHIP 2013: Barry Hearn complains to BBC over Ronnie O"Sullivan coverage

We deserve better than this, BBC! Hearn complains after coverage of O'Sullivan ends… for Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

By
Nick Metcalfe

PUBLISHED:

15:04 GMT, 21 April 2013

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UPDATED:

17:18 GMT, 21 April 2013

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn has complained to the BBC, after they left the climax of Ronnie O'Sullivan's first round match at the World Championship to show a 1970s comedy.

O'Sullivan, making his return to snooker after pulling out of virtually the whole season, was about to complete a 10-4 win over Marcus Campbell on Saturday night when BBC2 switched to the Michael Crawford sitcom Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.

On the black: Ronnie O'Sulivan impressed during his snooker return at the Crucible

On the black: Ronnie O'Sulivan impressed during his snooker return at the Crucible

There were various complaints made by fans on social networking sites, and Hearn responded on Sunday by writing on Twitter: 'Sorry to all snooker fans for the poor BBC coverage last night. Letter of complaint sent to BBC today.'

The complaint from Hearn is surprising when you consider how much praise he has heaped on the BBC in recent times for their coverage of the sport.

The corporation, which has covered snooker for decades, has recently signed up as host broadcaster of the World Championship, UK Championship and Masters tournaments until 2017.

Having his say: Barry Hearn with Ronnie O'Sullivan at a special media event ahead of the World Championship

Having his say: Barry Hearn with Ronnie O'Sullivan at a special media event ahead of the World Championship

Jason Ferguson, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, welcomed the public response to the BBC's scheduling decision, saying on Twitter: 'Snooker Fans, World Snooker letter of complaint has been filed with the BBC over yesterdays coverage, thanks everyone for your comments.'

The BBC hasn't yet responded to Hearn's comments. They are almost certain to point towards their coverage on the 'red button' service, which showed the end of O'Sullivan's match.

Some fans of the sport might speculate on the timing of Hearn's complaints. The BBC have regularly left their coverage of more significant matches, at later stages of the tournament, in years gone by.

The overall picture on the opening weekend of the tournament is a positive one, with plenty of column inches accompanying O'Sullivan's win, as snooker fights its corner among other sporting attractions like key football matches, the London Marathon and Bahrain Grand Prix.

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Some mothers do 'ave 'em

Classic comedy: Millions of viewers watched Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em on the BBC when it was first screened between 1973 and 1978

Watch a classic clip from Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em…

Rafael Benitez buys ticket for conned Chelsea fan Harry Rennell

Benitez just the ticket for nine-year-old Chelsea fan conned by online tout

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UPDATED:

00:00 GMT, 31 December 2012

The cacophony of boos that heralded the appearance of Rafa Benitez at Goodison Park would have you believe he is football’s equivalent of a pantomime villain.

Since replacing Roberto Di Matteo as manager, the Spaniard has struggled to win over a stubborn Chelsea support, unwilling to accept him or forgive and forget his days as their nemesis as Liverpool’s manager.

Yet in the eyes of Chelsea-mad nine-year-old Harry Rennell, Benitez is very much his hero this morning.

Conned: Tony Rennell (left) thought he had bought a ticket for the Boxing Day match between Norwich City and Chelsea for his nine-year-old son, Harry, only to discover he had been tricked out of 300 by a touting website

Conned: Tony Rennell (left) thought he had bought a ticket for the Boxing Day match between Norwich City and Chelsea for his nine-year-old son, Harry, only to discover he had been tricked out of 300 by a touting website

Surprise: Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez secured the Rennell's tickets for the Capital One Cup semi-final with Swansea on January 9 after reading about the story

Surprise: Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez secured the Rennell's tickets for the Capital One Cup semi-final with Swansea on January 9 after reading about the story

In a story that pulled heartstrings across the country, Harry’s father Tony wrote a cautionary tale in the Daily Mail last Friday of how he had been let down after ordering two tickets from Online Ticket Express for Chelsea’s game at Norwich City as a Christmas present.

Despite paying more than 300 for the tickets, they failed to arrive in the post, leaving Tony and his son despondent.

On reading the story, Benitez, himself the doting father of two girls, contacted Sportsmail and offered Harry and his father two tickets for Chelsea’s Capital One League Cup semi-final, first-leg tie against Swansea on January 9.

Harry’s delighted father Tony said: ‘Thank you, Rafa. There has been a very sympathetic response.

‘One Chelsea fan has invited us to go as his guest to the QPR game on Wednesday, and we’ll be there to cheer them on.

Stocking filler: Mr Rennell had wanted to surprise his Chelsea-mad son for Christmas and paid website Online Ticket Express over 300 for them

Stocking filler: Mr Rennell had wanted to surprise his Chelsea-mad son for Christmas and paid website Online Ticket Express over 300 for them

‘What is great is that nine year-old Harry now knows that, although some people may let us down in life, there are always others who will step forward to do the right thing.’

Doing the right thing may soften some Chelsea supporters’ view of their interim manager, but it’s not the first example of kind-hearted Benitez showing the grander side of football.

Hearing a pensioner had been mugged on the Wirral, then Liverpool manager Benitez made sure the elderly fan and his family were guests at Anfield.

On his departure from Liverpool, the 52-year-old gave a ‘substantial five-figure sum’ to the parents of Rhys Jones, the young Everton fan who was shot dead as he returned from football training in August 2007.

Disappointed: Harry was let down but will now get to watch his heroes in action next week

Disappointed: Harry was let down but will now get to watch his heroes in action next week

At the time, Benitez said: ‘I am doing this on behalf of the people that cannot. I know that every person on Merseyside would have loved to give the fund a donation, but they are in hard times and can’t find the extra cash.’

Benitez donated 96,000 to the Hillsborough Memorial Fund and gave a further 2,800 to aid running costs through his wife Montse’s foundation.

Whatever he does from now on, Benitez may always be the villain to some, but at least his gesture is just the ticket for Harry Rennell.

Miguel Angel Jimenez breaks leg and be out for at least three months

Jimenez breaks leg in accident and will miss at least three months of new golfing year

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UPDATED:

17:12 GMT, 30 December 2012

Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez will be out of action for at least three months after a skiing accident during the festive season.

The 48-year-old, who became the oldest winner in European Tour history when he won in Hong Kong last month, was skiing in the Sierra Nevada mountain region yesterday when he broke his right leg in a fall.

Blow: Jimenez will be out for at least three months

Blow: Jimenez will be out for at least three months

Jimenez, one of Jose Maria Olazabal's vice-captains at the Ryder Cup in Medinah, was taken to the mountain medical centre for an X-ray before being transferred to a hospital in nearby Malaga, where he was operated on that evening.

'I was going down a hill and lost control briefly and when I fell it was very sore,” Jimenez was quoted as saying on the European Tour's website. 'I knew immediately I had broken something.

Victorious: Jimenez won the Hong Kong Open in November

Victorious: Jimenez won the Hong Kong Open in November

'The medical staff at Sierra Nevada took me for an X-ray straight away and I am very thankful to them, as well as all of the staff at the hospital, for their quick and professional response.

'I was playing very well at the end of the season so it is obviously not a good time for me to get injured. When I took up skiing I knew the risks that I was taking but I love it so much I could not stop.'

England batsman Joe Root: I was quite relaxed in the middle

I was quite relaxed in the middle, claims England new boy Root

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UPDATED:

20:43 GMT, 14 December 2012

Joe Root admitted his selection for a
Test debut in one of England's most important games of the year had come
as a surprise after he held India at bay for almost five hours at
Nagpur.

Root, who turns 22 this month, was
only told by captain Alastair Cook that he had replaced Samit Patel at
No 6 – as well as leapfrogged both Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan – the
day before the game.

Relaxed: England's Joe Root (file image)

Relaxed: England's Joe Root (file image)

'It was a little bit of a surprise,' he admitted after making 73 to help England reach 330 in their first innings. 'But I got myself into a good frame of mind once I found out and tried to get my head round it as quickly as I could.'

His selection completed a remarkable rise to prominence for the Sheffield-born batsman, who in his debut season of 2009 was presented with his chestguard – part of a Yorkshire dressing-room tradition – by former England captain Michael Vaughan, who played alongside Root's father Matt at Sheffield Collegiate CC .

Root added: 'I was delighted to get the opportunity, and to score a few runs at the same time was a real good feeling. It would be wrong to say there are no nerves when you're waiting to bat in Test cricket for the first time, but I've got a great team around me who were very encouraging and helpful.

'Once I got in the middle I was quite relaxed.'

Timely response: The 289-minute innings by Joe Root was the eighth longest on debut by an England Test batsman

Timely response: The 289-minute innings by Joe Root was the eighth longest on debut by an England Test batsman

Asked what advice he had been given as he walked out to bat with England struggling at 119 for four – soon to become 139 for five – Root replied: 'More than anything, it was just to keep your foot movements very precise and very quick and just grind it out. The guys who had gone in before said it was tough out there and it was quite a defensive field, so it wasn't fast scoring. It was about getting your bearings and being patient. You just try to adapt to the conditions and the situation.'

Was he disappointed to miss out on a debut hundred

'Thinking about it now, that's what you dream of as a kid going through your career. It just makes you more determined if you get another opportunity to make the most of it.'

Jonny Wilkinson handed Lions boost

Wilkinson handed Lions boost but veteran faces stiff challenge to force his way Down Under

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UPDATED:

12:02 GMT, 13 December 2012

Jonny Wilkinson has been given fresh hope about his chances of capping a glittering Test career with a third and final Lions tour next summer, but he will have to force his way past two younger English No 10s to earn a squad place.

The World Cup-winning fly half retired from international rugby with England at the end of last year, but at the age of 33 he has been in vintage form for his French club, Toulon, this season.

Having revealed that he is driven by a desire to return to Australia with the Lions, the initial response was far from promising.

Roaring back: Jonny Wilkinson could be in contention to feature for the Lions

Roaring back: Jonny Wilkinson could be in contention to feature for the Lions

When head coach Warren Gatland was asked last month if he had spoken to Wilkinson, his reply was a curt, decisive 'no'.

However, when the Kiwi revealed his coaching line-up in Edinburgh, one of his assistants provided the iconic English stand off with some welcome encouragement to believe that the door is open to him.

Rob Howley formed a Test half-back partnership with Wilkinson on the last Lions tour of Australia in 2001 and he said: 'He (Wilkinson) is playing in a good team at Toulon, who are going pretty well in the Heineken Cup, and Warren has said that all players who are in contention will be looked at.

'I'm sure Toulon will be in the quarter-finals and they are the games you need to be playing – quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Heineken Cup, if you're not playing international rugby.

'We have to see the players under pressure in those sort of situations.'

The serious Achilles injury which ended Wales No 10 Rhys Priestland's season has created an extra Lions fly half vacancy, as the Scarlets playmaker surely would have featured in the squad.

On form: Wilkinson is playing some of his best rugby with Toulon

On form: Wilkinson is playing some of his best rugby with Toulon

In theory, Wilkinson should come into the equation given his prodigious experience with England, and with the Lions in 2001 and 2005, along with his enduring goal-kicking class and defensive clout.

Furthermore, he is revered and feared in equal measure in Australia, to this day.

Yet, he has two compatriots ahead of him at present in the tussle to claim squad places along with the prime Irish candidate, Jonny Sexton.

Howley said: 'I enjoyed Sexton's performances during the autumn series, and the likes of Owen (Farrell) and Toby (Flood). They are all different styles of 10 and there will be a lot of analysis on those players in the next three or four months.

'It's competition, and that's what brings the best out of them. None of them have been on a Lions tour, so it will be interesting to watch them under the microscope during a Six Nations, in a Lions year. Particularly as a No 10, a key ingredient in performances is how they react under pressure.'

Meanwhile, Gatland says the management decision to leave Shaun Edwards from his coaching team emulated Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson's management.

England's Andy Farrell will be the Lions' defence coach in Australia in 2013 rather than the Wales assistant.

'It was an agonising decision – very tough,' Gatland told BBC Radio Wales.

'But you look at someone like Alex Ferguson. He has always been prepared to keep things fresh and make changes.'

Hearts could be bought by Angelo Massone

I'll buy Hearts! Massone fronts new 4.5m bid for stricken club

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UPDATED:

00:12 GMT, 16 November 2012

Former Livingston owner Angelo Massone has entered the race to save Hearts after lodging a 4.5million bid for the club.

A Rome-based lawyer, Massone is mediating on behalf of an Italian consortium which has tabled a formal offer to lawyers representing Tynecastle owner Vladimir Romanov.

Sportsmail has been told the group will be headed by a professor of economics, with an Edinburgh-born Italian-Scots business figure also ready to invest.

In the running: Angelo Massone wants to buy struggling Hearts

In the running: Angelo Massone wants to buy struggling Hearts

Massone’s brief and controversial reign at Livingston ended in acrimony in 2009.

In a quest to reassure Hearts fans, however, the 41-year-old insists the investment consortium will sign a percentage of shares over to them and would appoint supporter representatives to a board of directors.

Facing outstanding tax bills worth 2.2m and a 2m annual shortfall, Romanov has already rejected an offer by the Foundation of Hearts fans group, led by businessman Alex Mackie, to pay the smaller tax bill of 450,000 in return for control of the club.

Informal discussions suggest the bid by the Italian consortium — tabled on condition of Hearts being delivered debt and liability free — will also fall short of Romanov’s valuation.

Awaiting a formal response to the offer however, Massone offered to pool financial resources with Foundation of Hearts in order to end Romanov’s seven-year reign.

Massone told Sportsmail: ‘Together with the other investors, we have written to Mr Romanov’s lawyer with a formal offer.

Will he sell Vladimir Romanov

Will he sell Vladimir Romanov

‘We do not know how much Mr Romanov wants for the club. But I believe there is no one else in Scotland who can match the value of the offer we have made.

‘But I will only come back to Scottish football if I have the support and trust of a club’s supporters. That is vitally important to me.

‘I am willing and able to bring serious, wealthy, respected investors to Scottish football. We want to save Hearts and develop the club and make them a strong force once more.

‘But we also want the supporters to have democratic representation on the board and be the real owners of the club.

‘There is an opportunity at Hearts to turn them into a major challenger to Celtic. With Rangers in the Third Division, we can help with the budget and use our contacts to bring important international players to the club and develop the youths.

‘In terms of money and budget we can put a team on the park which can compete at the very highest level.’

Hearts averted a winding-up order by agreeing a payment plan with HMRC earlier this week. In tandem with Supporters Direct chief Paul Goodwin, Foundation of Hearts are continuing talks with Romanov’s representative Sergejus Fedotovas with a view to agreeing a fan-ownership scheme. Via a new website, the group have appealed to fans across the globe to pledge cash support.

Massone insists he is also keen to win
the trust of supporters after an ill-fated Livingston experience by
handing fans groups a 10 per cent stake in the club, with a view to
handing it over to them in the fullness of time.

Tough times: John McGlynn is prepared for an exodus

Tough times: John McGlynn is prepared for an exodus
‘If we are not successful with our bid, then I am willing to help Hearts supporters to own the club instead.

‘If Foundation of Hearts or Supporters Direct need financial help in terms of money to realise the dream of the fans owning the club, then I will speak seriously with them.’

Sportsmail understands that, despite reports, former Rangers bidder Brian Kennedy has no plans to move for the club.

Meantime, Hearts boss John McGlynn says he is bracing himself for a major January exodus of players whose contracts end in the summer — including Andy Webster, Marius Zaliukas and Andy Driver — as the club plans to further slash its wage bill to avoid going bust.

John Terry facing uncertain Chelsea future

Beginning of the end for Terry as Chelsea captain is left on bench for Shakhtar tie

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UPDATED:

23:54 GMT, 7 November 2012

John Terry was on his bike on Wednesday night, warming up on the sidelines and saddled with a substitute's jacket.

The official line is that Terry was not match fit. Unofficially, the wheel is turning towards a new central defensive pairing.

On your bike: Terry's future is uncertain after being left out of Chelsea's starting line-up

On your bike: Terry's future is uncertain after being left out of Chelsea's starting line-up

Change is on the way at Chelsea, with contract wrangles, age and injuries convenient excuses to dilute dressing-room influence.

The benched captain must be uncertain of his status at the club after he was left out for such an important fixture.

Once he was first choice. Now he is the first-choice replacement for the David Luiz-Gary Cahill axis at the heart of Chelsea's defence.

Hearty response: Is this the beginning of the end for Terry at Chelsea

Hearty response: Is this the beginning of the end for Terry at Chelsea

Manager Roberto Di Matteo said: 'It wasn't easy to tell John he wasn't starting the game.

'Considering the last four weeks in his professional life, he's had one competitive game, and we needed players who were 100 per cent match fit for a game like this.'

In the past, Terry's experience would have been the calming influence, particularly after Oscar's beautifully taken goal put them in front.

Case for the defence: Luiz and Cahill are Di Matteo's preferred partnership

Case for the defence: Luiz and Cahill are Di Matteo's preferred partnership

The former England defender would have helped the rookie Ryan Bertrand through a torrid night at left back.

Ashley Cole is regarded by some as the best left back in the world. That is open to debate, but he remains the best left back at Chelsea.

Chelsea believe they can see a partnership developing between Luiz and Cahill, who were kept together for a Champions League game with plenty at stake.

Bench: The former England captain watches on from the sidelines at Stamford Bridge

Bench: The former England captain watches on from the sidelines at Stamford Bridge

It was a big call by Di Matteo, but he has been refining Chelsea's style to suit the man they call Mr A.

Owner Roman Abramovich wants Chelsea to play out from the back, with defenders making themselves available for short passes from Petr Cech.

The European champions are evolving and Terry faces a race against time to win back his place under Di Matteo.

'John has many qualities and I'm very happy he's available for us after the ban,' added Di Matteo. 'We will certainly need him.'

After the chaos in Chelsea's defence on Wednesday ight, Di Matteo may be forced to back-pedal before Liverpool arrive on Sunday.

PM David Cameron says football has failed to deal with racism

Prime Minister calls for football to get tough on racism after recent failures

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UPDATED:

12:49 GMT, 2 November 2012

Prime Minister David Cameron says the football authorities have failed to put the necessary structures in place to tackle racism in the game.

Senior Government sources say that the Prime Minister will demand the FA and other authorities put in place tougher measures in place to deal better with the sort of incidents which have damaged the football’s reputation over the last 12 months.

Sports minister, Hugh Robertson, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘We expect the football authorities to come forward with a clear plan of action in the coming weeks on what more can be done to tackle racism in the game. Events over the last year have shown the need for action.'

Time to get tough: Prime Minister David Cameron wants football's authorities to act better on racism issues

Time to get tough: Prime Minister David Cameron wants football's authorities to act better on racism issues

Cameron lead a an anti-discrimination summit for leading football figures, including the FA chairman, David Bernstein, in February when he staked his personal reputation on the matter following the two high profile incidents involving involving Chelsea’s John Terry and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.

Cameron ordered an inquiry by the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, which announced its conclusions on the FA’s interim response last month.

Bad for the game: High profile racism cases such as the John Terry and Anton Ferdinand one have been bad for football's reputation

Bad for the game: High profile racism cases such as the John Terry and Anton Ferdinand one have been bad for football's reputation

The committee’s chairman, John Whittingdale MP, said then: ‘More needs to be done to increase the diversity of the pool of candidates for coaches and referees, to embed the values of equality and diversity at all levels of the game.

'While the general level of progress in combating racism and racist abuse in the UK is positive and should be applauded, there is much more that can and must be done, and we believe it is for the FA to take the lead and set the example for everyone, from football authorities at all levels to the grassroots groups, to follow.'

The FA has given a first response to the parliamentary inquiry but at the highest level of government there is an expectation for robust measures when they report back with final proposals in December.

Joe Cole"s fall from grace at Liverpool

Subbed at half-time and lambasted by his manager and fans alike, how Cole became Ordinary Joe

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 1 November 2012

Leaving familiar surroundings behind and heading north to Merseyside was always going to be a journey into the unknown for born-and-bred Londoner Joe Cole.

He is unlikely, however, to have expected the list of new experiences to include being ridiculed by his own supporters and told a supermarket trolley would have fared better down Liverpool’s left, on a rare appearance in the starting line-up.

An ignominious 3-1 Capital One Cup home defeat by Swansea was never likely to elicit a sympathetic response from Anfield patrons, but it must still have been galling for Cole to read one tweet that claimed he should be replaced in Brendan Rodgers’s squad by ‘an upside down shopping trolley’.

Off the pace: Cole (right) made his Liverpool comeback on Wednesday night

Off the pace: Cole (right) made his Liverpool comeback on Wednesday night

JOE COLE BY NUMBERS

100 number of minutes of football he has managed this season

3.1m cost per goal scored by Cole, who has managed only three for Liverpool

16 the number of passes he has made in two Premier League appearances this season

2 shots in the Premier League, both of which were off target

90,000 Cole’s weekly wage

36 appearances in two years since joining Liverpool

10.7m Cole’s earnings since arriving at Anfield. Liverpool have paid 9.4m, with the rest funded by Lille

Rodgers himself set the tone for
widespread condemnation of the former England forward’s first start
since August 2 by substituting him at half-time and bluntly telling him
he had blown his big chance.

The Liverpool manager even turned the
spotlight on Cole’s 90,000-a-week wages, saying: ‘The club have
invested an astronomical amount of money in a talented player, and Joe
had the opportunity to show what he could do.

‘But the way we started was too slow and not what I expected from a team I tried to set up to be dynamic.’

While managers tend to be mindful of players’ sensitivities, fans tell it like it is, and the tweeters did not hold back.

One claimed he could not imagine a
worse performance by a Premier League footballer, another suggested he
should be fined two weeks’ wages for playing so badly, while there was
the inevitable vitriol about his salary being a ‘real waste of money’.

All this about a player Steven
Gerrard hailed as better than Lionel Messi when he arrived from Chelsea
on a Bosman free on July 2010.

Disappointed: Cole was hauled off by Rodgers at half-time

Disappointed: Cole was hauled off by Rodgers at half-time

The Liverpool skipper knew Cole from
their England days and said: ‘Messi can do some amazing things, but
anything he can do, Joe can do as well, if not better.

'He used to shock us in training by
doing footy tricks with a golf ball that most players can’t even do with
a football. I really fancy Joe for Footballer of the Year this season.’

It was a view not universally shared,
not even by Cole, who subsequently confessed he was at a loss to
explain why Liverpool signed him.

Or who wanted him, for that matter.
With Rafa Benitez having left a month earlier, managing director
Christian Purslow appeared to be the driving force behind a deal that
raised eyebrows among the Fenway Sports Group when they took over soon
after. Cole was approaching his 29th birthday but had been awarded a
four-year contract worth almost 20million.

Cole was almost as perplexed as he
reflected on a summer that began with Benitez’s departure and ended with
Roy Hodgson’s appointment.

He said: ‘I have racked my brains
trying to think, but I don’t know who signed me for Liverpool, whether
it was Rafa or the board. I really don’t know.

False dawn: Cole got some spark back while on loan at Lille but has dropped off

False dawn: Cole got some spark back while on loan at Lille but has dropped off

False dawn: Cole got some spark back while on loan at Lille but has dropped off

‘But under Roy, I got the impression
straight away I was not his type of player. He was asking me to do
things that were not natural to me. When pressure starts to build up on a
manager, it is usually young players or flair players who get the
hook.’

Such uncertainty perhaps explains why
he failed to shine at Anfield and looked a shadow of the player whose
wonder goal for England against Sweden was one of the talking points of
the 2006 World Cup.

A season-long loan at Lille restored
not only some zest to his game but a belief that he could yet prove
himself at Anfield. Three months on and after a calamitous 45 minutes,
he has been forced to accept that Rodgers may be no more enamoured with
him than Hodgson was.

Michael Walker: Coventry City"s decline – ON THE ROAD

Michael Walker: Good news and fans in short supply on another day in Coventry's decline

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 9 September 2012

Just before 2.40pm on Sunday, on a beautiful sky-blue late summer's afternoon on the outskirts of Coventry, an announcement of gratitude was made at the Ricoh Arena. It was a thank you. It was for the 9,458 who had turned up.

The collective response felt like one of consternation. There was half an hour left and the score was Coventry City 1 Stevenage 1. There was still some hope.

Yet most of those present knew this was some kind of historic low. Ten minutes later a leggy Canadian striker called Marcus Haber – last seen at St Johnstone, now a Stevenage substitute – met a Luke Freeman corner kick and the score was Coventry City 1 Stevenage 2.

Worrying times ahead: Coventry's caretaker manager Richard Shaw (centre), with Lee Carsley (left) and Steve Ogrizovic, knows he has it all to do to arrest the slide

Worrying times ahead: Coventry's caretaker manager Richard Shaw (centre), with Lee Carsley (left) and Steve Ogrizovic, knows he has it all to do to arrest the slide

That is how it stayed. It meant that Coventry have won none of their five league matches since sinking into the third tier of English football in May. It is the first time since 1964 Coventry have been at this level. They have not won a league game since March. It is not difficult to see why attendances are collapsing.

You need to be around Jimmy Hill's age to recall such a bad time. Hill was manager back in 1964 but Coventry were moving up then. Today movement is downwards and Coventry do not have a manager.

That is just one of many, many problems. Andy Thorn, in charge last season, was sacked after three games of this, which does not smack of planning.

Richard Shaw is in post temporarily but sadly for him, any good news such as (on-loan) David McGoldrick’s opening goal was undermined by developments at the other end of the pitch and a referee who disallowed a genuine second for the home side from Stephen Elliott.

But, when Robin Shroot equalised for Stevenage in the first half, Coventry heads fell noticeably and the visitors – a non-League club two years ago – were the more coherent outfit in the second half. Their victory took them up to third. Coventry, meanwhile, are sixth bottom and travel to second-placed Tranmere Rovers on Saturday.

Where is everybody Attendances at the Ricoh Arena continue to plummet

Where is everybody Attendances at the Ricoh Arena continue to plummet

Before then Shaw thinks he may be interviewed for the job but the candidate shortlist is said to be a long one and he did not sound a man being given certainties by the opaque ‘hedge fund’ owners of the club.

Shaw said the team require ‘a few nasty characters’; he spoke of ‘nervousness at the club as a whole’ and ‘too much negativity’. He stressed that he does not have a ‘defeatist attitude’ and talked about making the play-offs.

There are 41 games to go in this slog of a league, so there is time. But you could understand why Shaw said an appointment needs to be made ‘sooner rather than later’.

Coventry City cannot afford much, certainly not a transition season in League One.

Estimated to be 60million in debt, the club rent the Ricoh from the council at a cost of 1.2m per annum. Every week they need to find around 25,000 before turning on a light or kicking a ball.

Hence the newest chief executive, Tim Fisher, has described this season as ‘critical’ in terms of promotion. The economic consequences of third division life can shock even those who think they have bargained for the worst.

The accuracy of Fisher’s assessment guarantees nothing, however. This may be fresh trauma for him and Coventry fans but they are by no means the first club of this stature to slip into League One in recent years.

Nottingham Forest, Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton Athletic, Southampton, Leicester City and Norwich City have all been down here.

Head boy: There was an air of inevitability about Stevenage's winner

Head boy: There was an air of inevitability about Stevenage's winner

Only Norwich and Leicester bounced back at the first time of asking. Forest, Leeds and Charlton each had three seasons in League One. Brighton, another club comparable to Coventry in size – and, for a while, trajectory and despair – spent five years in the division.

So, probably when they thought it couldn’t, it could get worse for Coventry City, who moved from Highfield Road to the curious Ricoh Arena seven years ago. It has 32,609 seats, obvious potential despite its location on the edge of town… and a feeling of emptiness.

It will be a long winter

Any Coventry fan who had not bought a season ticket and who fancied walking up for the game at the Ricoh Arena at short notice was confronted by a turnstile price of 22.

That’s 22 to watch third division football of inconsistent quality.

That’s 22 to watch a team who aren’t winning against, with all due respect, Stevenage.

That’s 22 to see Gary McSheffrey sit on the bench.

Last season’s average attendance was just over 15,000. Had Coventry been facing Derby – the third league opponents here last season – then 22 might have been acceptable. Or maybe not. The inflated price of football remains a scandal. As bad as coffee.

At Coventry it may help explain why, on such a gorgeous day, fewer than 9,000 locals turned up – Stevenage brought almost 500. What will happen to the crowds when winter comes