Tag Archives: riddance

Mario Balotelli on his way out of Manchester City after fee agreed with AC Milan

Goodbye and good riddance: City agree 17m deal with Milan to sell 'Super' Mario

By
Chris Wheeler

PUBLISHED:

15:32 GMT, 29 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:49 GMT, 29 January 2013

Mario Balotelli will become an AC Milan player after Manchester City agreed terms with the Italian club this afternoon.

Juventus were also in contention to take the controversial striker back to Italy, but City have accepted an offer from Milan understood to be in the region of 17million plus 2.5m in add-ons. He is scheduled to have a medical tomorrow and sign a four-and-a-half year deal.

Balotelli has also helped the deal to go through by agreeing a pay-cut of nearly 1m so he could join his boyhood club on a 3m-a-year deal. He is now set to pull out of the City squad for tonight’s game at QPR and fly to Milan to complete the move.

New name: AC Milan's official website was quick to offer fans the chance to buy a Balotelli shirt

New name: AC Milan's official website was quick to offer fans the chance to buy a Balotelli shirt

Thanks for the memories: Mario Balotelli (pictured in training on Monday) is on his way to Milan

Thanks for the memories: Mario Balotelli (pictured in training on Monday) is on his way to Milan

On Monday, Balotelli was seen carrying some belongings from the club's HQ before he joined his team-mates in London for Tuesday's game against QPR at Loftus Road.

Earlier, coach Brian Kidd asked the striker for an autograph after training, which some interpreted as a sign the Italian's time in Manchester was coming to an end.

Samir Nasri also stopped and talked to Balotelli through the window of his camouflaged Bentley as he left the Carrington complex.

And he's off: Balotelli seemed to say his goodbyes at City's Carrington training base on Monday

And he's off: Balotelli seemed to say his goodbyes at City's Carrington training base on Monday

And he's off: Balotelli seemed to say his goodbyes at City's Carrington training base on Monday

Happy to be leaving This old image of Balotelli just about summed up his time in England

Happy to be leaving This old image of Balotelli just about summed up his time in England

Sportsmail revealled the City striker’s personal lawyer Vittorio Rigo, who works closely with his agent Mino Raiola, flew into Manchester over the weekend in readiness to try and negotiate a deal.

In a bid to help force the move through, Balotelli has taken a drop in wages from 4.3m per year, to 3.4m.

Only yesterday, first-team coach David Platt played down speculation about the striker's future.

'I saw that speculation yesterday but I've not heard anything,' he said. 'As far as we are concerned I think he is still a Manchester City player. I don't think there is anything is going to happen.

Balotelli moved to the Etihad in 2010, following boss Roberto Mancini from Inter Milan.

Fran Halsall vows to bounce back in Rio – Laura Williamson

I'll make waves in Rio, vows Halsall after flopping at home Olympics

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UPDATED:

22:09 GMT, 30 December 2012

Fran Halsall has made an important New Year’s resolution. The British swimmer never again wants to feel the way she did in the summer of 2012 after finishing the Olympic Games without a medal.

She has written it all down, just in case she ever needs a reminder, because Halsall is determined she will never feel like that again; so low she did not attend the post-Games parade because she ‘didn’t think she should enjoy it’.

While 2012 was an unforgettable year of sport for so many, there are those for whom 2013 and beyond promises far better things.

Gutted: Fran Halsall struggled to perform at the London Olympics

Gutted: Fran Halsall struggled to perform at the London Olympics

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A silver medal in the 50-metre freestyle at the World Short Course Championships in Istanbul earlier this month ‘was never going to make up for the Olympics’, but it has helped Halsall get her spark back. She has a new coach — James Gibson, who guided France’s Florent Manaudou to Olympic gold in the men’s 50m freestyle in London. But, most importantly of all, her confidence has returned.

‘Knowing I’m still a fast swimmer feels really good,’ she says. ‘I gave myself a little pat on the back, if you like. I’m really happy.

‘It took me a couple of months to get over the Olympics. There was a lot of upset and blame; of thinking I’m not good enough. I couldn’t deal with the fact I wasn’t good enough and it wasn’t a very nice feeling.

‘But I took ownership of it and I swam fast again. That was all me. It’s not an Olympic medal but I had to differentiate between Fran the swimmer and the person. You can’t live your life like that.’

Halsall was tipped to star in the pool at London 2012 but did not win a medal in any of her five events. She was not the only one to disappoint, of course: Britain’s swimming team came away with only a silver and two bronze medals at their home Games and have lost 4million of funding as a result.

British Swimming conducted a review into what went wrong in London, which largely blamed the leadership of coaches and the timing of the national trials, which were held 13 weeks before the Games in March.

Bouncing back: Halsall has vowed to return to form for Rio in four years

Bouncing back: Halsall has vowed to return to form for Rio in four years

Head coach Dennis Pursley and performance director Michael Scott also quit, prompting Rebecca Adlington to call the situation ‘an absolute mess’.

Halsall, though, has conducted her ‘own review’ and has a much simpler explanation: she over-trained. Working under Ben Titley, who has since moved to Canada, at Loughborough University, she says she was an ‘Olympic keeno’.

Halsall picked up a shoulder injury in mid-May, which kept her out of the pool for ‘a few weeks’.

‘Trials weren’t the problem,’ adds Halsall. ‘I have always swum faster in the summer: this was the first year I didn’t. You have to swim fast for the trials, wherever you put them.

Back on track: Halsall in Turkey

Back on track: Halsall in Turkey

‘The issue for me was I did too much. I was an Olympic keeno. I probably overdid it and ended up picking up an injury. I tried to do more than I had ever done before.

‘I didn’t want to talk about my shoulder problem (before the Games). It’s an excuse and I didn’t want that. My focus was on swimming as fast as I could and I didn’t want to have that distraction. I still fought for every 10th of a second in every race.’

Halsall, though, is already a veteran of two Olympic Games, despite being only 22 years old.

She is determined not to make the same mistakes third time around.

‘I’m not too old just yet,’ she says. ‘I’m looking forward to Rio in four years’ time.’

Fran Halsall uses Multipower Sportsfood: www.multipower.co.uk

What they said

It's little wonder David Weir described the New Year Honours list as ‘a bit strange’ after Sarah Storey became a Dame but Weir, who also won four Paralympic gold medals in London, was given a CBE.

‘Sometimes it seems that Paralympians have to win lots and lots of medals to get a damehood or a knighthood,’ Weir told the Daily Telegraph.

Here's what I've been doing this week

Chugged around the country for the feast of festive football. Clubs might whinge about fixture congestion, but I love the tradition of it all. It works in other sports, too: just look at the record 82,000 people at Twickenham for Saracens’ win against Harlequins on Saturday.

Watched Superstars and revelled in the sheer naffness and rain-sodden Britishness of it all. I can cope with only having shooter Peter Wilson on my television screen every four years, but I enjoyed Mo Farah’s attempts at kayaking, the Brownlee brothers’ rivalry and being proved wrong by Helen Glover’s prowess on the track. And there was I thinking rowers are not always the most co-ordinated of athletes on dry land.

Back on our screens: Olympians took part in the BBC show Superstars

Back on our screens: Olympians took part in the BBC show Superstars

According to Fulham’s programme for their 1-1 draw with Southampton, I ‘swooned’ when I wrote about Dimitar Berbatov’s ‘style and swagger’ in his side’s 2-1 victory against Newcastle this month. That made me laugh, but not as much as the striker’s handwritten ‘Keep Calm and Pass Me the Ball’ T-shirt, which suggested Berbatov is not averse to ‘swooning’ about himself, either.

Performance of the week

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert continues to predict that ‘Aston Villa will be fine’ despite his side suffering a 15-0 deficit over the festive period. That’s some crystal ball he got for Christmas.

Sports Direct signs torn down at St James" Park, Newcastle

Newcastle fans rejoice as Sports Direct signs are ripped down from St James' Park

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UPDATED:

11:00 GMT, 15 October 2012

To the joy of Newcastle fans around the world, the club have begun the process of tearing down the Sports Direct signs to return the club's historic name: St James' Park.

There was outrage when the club announced a sponsorship deal with the sportswear retailer which included the naming rights to the stadium to end 119-years of history in the city.

And anger directed at Mike Ashley – owner of both club and retail giant – in a move the fans regarded as running roughshod over the iconic heart of the city.

Good riddance: Newcastle fans will be pleased to see the back of these signs

Good riddance: Newcastle fans will be pleased to see the back of these signs

Controversial new sponsors Wonga.com have recently signed a 32million four-year shirt and stadium sponsorship deal.

The deal does not start until next season, but the club have immediately pulled down the Sports Direct signs and restore the St James’ Park name.

The original lettering is due to be restored for Newcastle’s next home game, in the Europa League against Club Brugge. The move is a victory for supporters who have refused to acknowledge the change to the Sports Direct Arena.

However, Toon army are furious with plans to have the short-term loans company's name emblazoned on the front of the famous black and white stripes

And one local MP has threatened to boycott the Wonga Arena if Ashley renames the stadium for a second time as part of a three-year deal worth a reported 8m a year.

The controversial company, already sponsors of Championship club Blackpool and top Scottish side Hearts, have been labelled a 'legal loan shark company' for offering short-term loans at an APR of 4,214 per cent.

Controversy: Many fans have expressed unease at new sponsors Wonga

Controversy: Many fans have expressed unease at new sponsors Wonga

But Newcastle boss Alan Pardew told Sky Sports News he was thrilled with the decision to revert back to the original name last week

He said: 'I'm a romantic, so the stadium change last year hurt me and hurt our team. It's one of those business decision that you can't get your head around at times as a football person.

'I made a point of saying that the same sign should go up, not a new one, the same sign, 'St James' Park', and I'm absolutely overjoyed with that.'

We must start taking women"s cricket seriously – Laura Williamson

After Twenty20 World Cup we must now start taking women's cricket seriously

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UPDATED:

22:14 GMT, 7 October 2012

In Sri Lanka, which just hosted the ICC Twenty20 World Cup, it apparently costs 62 a day for a man to live but only 37 for a woman.

This isn’t anything to do with the prize money offered by the International Cricket Council, which is far more heavily weighted in favour of the men: 619,000 as opposed to just 37,000.

This is just as it should be, owing to the superior commercial pulling power of the men’s game. Female internationals only swapped long socks and culottes for trousers in 1997, after all. The game is still a work in progress.

Game changer: The decision to play matches on same day and at same venue as the men has helped greatly

Game changer: The decision to play matches on same day and at same venue as the men has helped greatly

More from Laura Williamson…

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Laura Williamson: It was just great, and thank you for putting sport first
09/09/12

Laura Williamson: I love the show but you've got one week to show this is a sport
02/09/12

Laura Williamson: Here's a challenge… forget the disability, focus on the sport
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Laura Williamson: It's time to show you really care about women's football
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Laura Williamson: Goodbye and good riddance to Plucky Britannia
12/08/12

Laura Williamson: Success of Britain's wonder women have made it the girlie Games
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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

No, this isn’t about prize money. This is the players’ daily living allowance we’re talking about here; something indelibly linked to the value of the players. How much they matter, basically.

The amount is more than enough for generous helpings of curry, coconut sambol and roti in a beautiful country like Sri Lanka, but the deficit implies female cricketers are not as important. They don’t matter.

Time and time again this is the message for females involved in sport, and this is why it hurts.

It rankles particularly when the achievements of England’s women far surpassed their male counterparts in this tournament.

While two men in suits and ties sat a table and talked about ‘reintegration’ last week, England’s Arran Brindle delivered a message to her class of primary school children back in Louth, Lincolnshire, via video link.

Charlotte Edwards’s side then got on with the business of preparing for their semi-final, in which they beat New Zealand by seven wickets.

Genuine success for England on the international stage is the catalyst needed to push women’s football to the next level in this country, yet England’s female cricketers already boast a quite overwhelming record of achievement.

They came up short in the final, losing to Australia by four runs, but it was only the team’s fourth loss in 29 Twenty20 matches they have played this year. This consolation won’t lessen the disappointment, of course, but the 20-over format has been an important vehicle for the women’s game.

Double headers with men’s fixtures have brought in new audiences and a higher level of interest — both at the ground and on television — even if that progress is still gradual.

So close: England's women were beaten finalists in Colombo

So close: England's women were beaten finalists in Colombo

‘We’re not completely dependent on the men’s game any more,’ said England bowler Holly Colvin, 23, speaking to promote Sky Sports’ coverage of the women’s semi-finals and final.

‘It’s getting a lot better: more sixes are being hit, TV coverage is better and the gap between international teams is getting closer. It’s the level of skill that’s getting better, too. We are just as skilful. We might not bowl 90 miles per hour but we are very happy with the standard we play.

‘Lots of people have commented on the improvements in fielding at this tournament. People just need to come down and watch and make up their mind.’

Colvin also insisted ‘everyone was happy’ with the daily allowance because it ‘is more than enough in a country like Sri Lanka and we are happy to get the amount we do’.

Very pragmatic, but it’s not about the pennies and pounds, it’s about what that amount signifies.

After all, England’s women cricketers have shown they are not second-class citizens.

Bowled over: The wonen's game has improved vastly in recent years

Bowled over: The women's game has improved vastly in recent years

… AND THIS IS WHAT I'VE BEEN DOING THIS WEEK

Watching Charlton against Watford on Tuesday night, when only two outfield players wore predominantly black boots. Just two.

Coloured boots were once seen as flashy; you had to be some player to wear them. Now they’re just the norm. I’m with Martin O’Neill on this one: back to black boots please, boys.

Supporting British swimmers Rebecca Adlington, Joanne Jackson and Ross Davenport on their 380-mile cycle ride across Zambia.

They’re raising vital funds for a charity called Sport in Action, which works to empower young people through sport, but camping and cycling for four days in 35-degree heat will certainly be a challenge. You can sponsor them at www.justgiving.com/zambiacycle.

On your bike: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson chats with Adlington

On your bike: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson chats with Adlington

Pleased that three gold medals in women’s boxing will be available at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow after the success of the sport at London 2012.

I found it a challenging experience watching women fight for the first time at the Olympics, but Nicola Adams provided one of the stand-out moments of the Games for me. I’m glad it won’t be a one-off.

WHAT THEY SAID

Dame Tessa Jowell called the Government’s ‘dismantling’ of school sport ‘beyond belief’ this week — a reference to the 162m cut in funding for School Sport Partnerships.

Education Secretary Michael Gove’s response was to invite cricket, tennis, rugby and football administrators to discuss what to do next. That’s right: those well-known Olympic disciplines; the sports that enjoy the highest profiles and kids are most likely to find outside school, anyway.

Anyone would think Mr Gove didn’t have a clue about school sport.

Taking a stand: Jowell described the Government's decision as 'beyond belief'

Taking a stand: Jowell described the Government's decision as 'beyond belief'

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

FA Women’s Super League champions Arsenal Ladies beat Barcelona, the Spanish champions, 4-0 on Thursday to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.

Perhaps even more remarkable was the fact they were already defending a 3-0 lead from the first (away) leg. Not too bad at all, really.

London Paralympics 2012: Is this sport? – Laura Williamson

Laura Williamson: I love the show but you've got one week to show this is a sport

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UPDATED:

22:29 GMT, 2 September 2012

The ‘brave new world’ of a Paralympics on home soil began on Thursday with many of us feeling very uncertain, even unsettled, about what we were about to see.

How would we feel watching a backstroke swimmer with no arms or a one-legged cyclist

Is there really such a thing as elite disability sport or is it just sport for disabled people Have tickets sold out because fans are genuinely excited about seeing Paralympic competition, or do they just want to see where the Olympics took place; to feel a part of it all

Undoubted excellence: Ellie Simmonds achievements were pure sport

Undoubted excellence: Ellie Simmonds achievements were pure sport

As we near the halfway stage, I’m still not sure. I expected the Paralympics to be a challenging experience, but not quite this much. After four days it is still asking more questions than it is providing answers.

More from Laura Williamson…

Laura Williamson: Here's a challenge… forget the disability, focus on the sport
26/08/12

Laura Williamson: It's time to show you really care about women's football
19/08/12

Laura Williamson: Goodbye and good riddance to Plucky Britannia
12/08/12

Laura Williamson: Success of Britain's wonder women have made it the girlie Games
05/08/12

Laura Williamson: We're in tune but we need to get on song too
29/07/12

Laura Williamson: Oh boy, it's tough for Faye to give up at top of her game
22/07/12

Laura Williamson: Why this giant of athletics shouldn't be like the rest of us
15/07/12

Laura Williamson: No love game for winner Williams in SW19
08/07/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

The most important item on a Government
press release trumpeting Paralympic legacy, for instance, was not elite
sport, the 50million that has been pumped into disabled athletes over
the last four years to try to maintain Great Britain’s second place in
the medals table. It was transport: there are now 66 step-free
Underground stations and 8,500 busses you can access in a wheelchair.

Great, wonderful, brilliant. But it’s not about sport.

Elite athletes such as Sarah Storey and Eleanor Simmonds have provided memorable, standout moments of genuine sporting excellence during these Games, but how could 42-year-old Darren Kenny produce the fastest time and yet end up outside the medals in the C1-3 1km time trial in what is supposed to be the pinnacle of the sport

There have been too many events with low-quality small fields, or lots of different categories of athletes bunched together for logistical purposes, conjuring up images of having a go at a school sports day.

Paralympians can get touchy when you ask about why they’re here and not what they produced on the track or in the field, but in some cases the remarkable back stories are still proving far more inspirational than the sporting action.

This has to change if the Paralympic legacy is to be anything more than a much-improved transport system. The venues feel even more raucous and passionate than they did during the Olympics — particularly inside the Aquatics Centre, where expectations of British success are much higher.

Husband and wife: Sarah and Barney Storey with their medals

Husband and wife: Sarah and Barney Storey with their medals

But in most cases fans seem to be cheering the red, white and blue vest rather than the athlete inside. It feels like an 11-day parade to celebrate a wonderful British summer of sport: all sport, not necessarily a bright new dawn for disabled athletes.

On the train home after Hannah Cockroft’s dominant performance in winning the T34 100 metres on Friday night, many of the families — and the sound of the Paralympics is certainly more high-pitched than its predecessor, with lots more children in the stands — were talking about ‘the British girl who won gold’.

Not Jess, Mo, Victoria or Wiggo, but ‘the British girl’. Most didn’t have a clue who Cockroft was and, quite frankly, they didn’t care. They were just happy to see a Briton at the top of the podium.

This is still progress. At least they were talking about Cockroft on a day on which Paralympic sport competed against football’s transfer deadline day, the UEFA Super Cup and a cricket one-day international between England and South Africa.

But that glass ceiling that featured in the opening ceremony has not yet been smashed to smithereens.

Paralympic sport has a week left in the spotlight to change that; to show that the brave new world is in fact a sporting one.

Cheered on: Hannah Cockroft was raucously supported

Cheered on: Hannah Cockroft was raucously supported

What they said…

Sheffield United owner Kevin McCabe explains his club’s decision to rename the Bramall Lane stand after Jessica Ennis. ‘It will provide an additional sporting legacy from the London Games,’ he said.

So why not re-name Don Valley (Athletics) Stadium after Britain’s golden girl This isn’t legacy, it’s just jumping on the bandwagon — and Ennis deserves much more.

…And this is what I've been doing this week

Cycling the Box Hill circuit used during the Olympic road race. The names of the British men’s team are still written on the tarmac as you go up Zig Zag Hill.

Cringing at some of Channel 4’s Paralympic coverage. I didn’t expect it to be as polished as the BBC, the adverts are a necessary evil and I wanted them to take risks, but I had to switch over on Saturday afternoon as Twitter told me the results before I saw them on screen.

Deadline day drought: Brendan Rodgers did not get any new strikers

Deadline day drought: Brendan Rodgers did not get any new strikers

Wondering if Liverpool’s owners thought the transfer window closed at 11pm in Boston, rather than 11pm British Summer Time. Friday was a nightmare for the Anfield club. No wonder Robbie Fowler tweeted a picture of his boots with the message ‘Just in case…’ at 10.15pm.

Performance of the week

It’s got to be Laura Robson’s run at the US Open. The 18-year-old knocked out Kim Clijsters, a three-time champion at Flushing Meadows, and then Li Na, the world No 8, in two stunning displays. British female + success = back page story. Brilliant.

Women"s football deserves the spotlight – Laura Williamson

It's time to show you really care about women's football

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 19 August 2012

Football made its triumphant comeback this weekend. You are probably aware of that: it is, after all, impossible not to have noticed the Premier League and Football League whirring into action, which is just as it should be.

But the FA Women’s Super League resumed, too. Did you know that More to the point, do you care

I mention this because 70,854 people certainly cared during Great Britain’s win over Brazil at Wembley in the Olympic Games. Another 80,203 cared enough to watch the USA beat Japan in the Olympic final, with a further 3.9million watching on the BBC.

We're back! Everton and Arsenal played out an exciting draw

We're back! Everton and Arsenal played out an exciting draw

More from Laura Williamson…

Laura Williamson: Goodbye and good riddance to Plucky Britannia
12/08/12

Laura Williamson: Success of Britain's wonder women have made it the girlie Games
05/08/12

Laura Williamson: We're in tune but we need to get on song too
29/07/12

Laura Williamson: Oh boy, it's tough for Faye to give up at top of her game
22/07/12

Laura Williamson: Why this giant of athletics shouldn't be like the rest of us
15/07/12

Laura Williamson: No love game for winner Williams in SW19
08/07/12

Laura Williamson: After Helsinki farce, when it comes to 4x100m, GB must stand for Get Better
01/07/12

Laura Williamson: Women's football so needs a repeat of its 'Yes!' moment
24/06/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

They cared, all right, as did the players, who won a lot of support not only through performances, but the sheer joy they showed in simply being there.

‘Everyone had an idea women’s football wasn’t as good as men’s but I think the games we have played over the last month have shown how good we can be,’ said GB and Arsenal Ladies left back Steph Houghton.

‘People were just coming to watch because it was a football game: that’s a compliment to us players. To change 70,000 people’s perceptions of women’s football is brilliant for the game.’

Yet last Wednesday, guess how many people watched Everton Ladies, a side featuring British Olympians Rachel Brown and Jill Scott, beat Doncaster Rovers Belles 2-1 at the Keepmoat Stadium Just 289. Another 287 spectators saw Bristol Academy Women beat Liverpool Ladies 1-0 on Saturday.

The Olympic flame has barely been extinguished and you can watch ‘Olympians in action’, as Houghton put it, for as little as 4, yet who is caring now

Women’s football in this country has approximately a month-long window to capitalise on the interest generated by the Olympic Games.

England play Croatia in their final Euro 2013 qualifier on September 19 in Walsall. It is ‘likely’ it will be shown on the BBC, but it must be televised on a terrestrial channel if this particular ball is to keep rolling. ‘Likely’ isn’t good enough.

Golden girls: The United States celebrate winning Olympic gold

Golden girls: The United States celebrate winning Olympic gold

This is a unique opportunity for women’s football, after all. It is not about deriding the men’s game, which took an unfair bashing during that glorious Olympic fortnight as we were swept away by the extraordinary exploits of ordinary people who didn’t talk in clichs and who actually seemed pleased to be playing a sport they loved.

But I was shocked to see Michael Owen say on Twitter this week that he ‘certainly wouldn’t take (his) kids to watch a (men’s) match’.

Perhaps women’s football can take advantage of these feelings of disenfranchisement. It’s still football, after all. The women’s game could provide an attractive alternative for new fans: a fun, entertaining and interactive opportunity to watch elite level sport.

Women internationals can stay and sign autographs, chat with fans and engage on social networks, but this is no longer realistic for many of their male counterparts, and most — though not all, by any stretch — should not be criticised for that.

But people need to vote with their feet; get out there and sample it for themselves. The FA’s target is to get at least the weekend’s results into national newspapers. So here you go, here’s what has happened this weekend. Now it’s over to you to decide if you really do care.

Bristol Academy Women 1 Liverpool Ladies 0, Doncaster Rovers Belles 0 Chelsea Ladies 1, Birmingham City Ladies 3 Lincoln Ladies 1, Everton Ladies 2 Arsenal Ladies 2.

And this is what I've been doing this week…

Thank goodness for Test cricket. Watching and listening to England’s battle with South Africa eased the post-Olympic blues; through excellent Sky coverage at home and Test Match Special in the car. Does any other sport work on the radio quite so well

Sight for sore eyes: England and South Africa filled the sporting void

Sight for sore eyes: England and South Africa filled the sporting void

Defending Great Britain’s ‘girls’ on the BBC’s Woman’s Hour. I don’t think it’s patronising to call our sportswomen ‘girls’ — I see it as a term of affection and respect which reflects how vibrant and dynamic they are.

‘Ladies’ sounds like they’re still playing tennis in long skirts, but ‘girls’ is a good alternative to ‘women’ because it sounds exciting and fresh. We don’t call young male athletes ‘boys’ because it’s more reflective of age.

Watching Britain’s Olympians trudge out of the athletes’ village on Monday. Lots took public transport for their journey back to reality, like 110m hurdler Lawrence Clarke, whose father is a baronet. He took the Javelin train back to St Pancras.

What they said…

The front page of The Voice newspaper this week featured images of Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha and double gold medallist Mo Farah with the headline: ‘Pride of Africa.’ Farah was then called a ‘British African’ in the corresponding article. I think you’ll find he’s just British, actually, and we’re very proud of him, too.

Brit special: Mo Farah completed a stunning Olympic double in London

Brit special: Mo Farah completed a stunning Olympic double in London

Performance of the week

Jonny Bairstow. He fell just five runs short of a century but the way he handled the pressure —never mind the barrage of short balls — after coming in with England at 54 for four was scintillating to watch. Who can blame him for succumbing in the nervous nineties There’ll be another time to put that right, that’s for sure.

Tal Ben Haim leaves Portsmouth

Good riddance! Ben Haim finally quits Portsmouth after wage compromise

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UPDATED:

09:55 GMT, 9 August 2012

Tal Ben Haim has left Portsmouth in a move that could save the club from financial liquidation.

The defender, who earned 36,000 a week plus 1m-a-year image rights, was locked in talks with administrator Trevor Birch for a number of days before Thursday's compromise was reached.

Gone at last: Tal Ben Haim's spell with Portsmouth has come to an end

Gone at last: Tal Ben Haim's spell with Portsmouth has come to an end

Birch had said the club would close
on 10 August unless all the senior players left. After ben Haim's
departure, only Liam Larence remains on the wage bill.

'I am pleased to announce that we
have reached a compromise agreement with Tal Ben Haim, who will now
leave the club,' Birch said. 'We expect to make an announcement on Liam
Lawrence's future later today [Thursday] and, whilst the situation with
Kanu has not yet been resolved, we are cautiously optimistic about our
prospects.

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Ian Ladyman"s Open all hours: Els understates remarkable Championship victory

Ian Ladyman's Open all hours: Els understates remarkable Championship victory

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 22 July 2012

Good riddance

Not all Lytham members have been so happy to lose their course to the build-up and staging of The Open over the last few weeks.

Indeed, one stick-in-the-mud complained at a recent committee meeting that Tiger, Rory and their pals would take too many divots out of the precious fairways.

I would imagine the income generated here this week would pay for a few bags of grass seed.

Humble: Ernie Els said he was feeling 'pretty groovy' after he won the Open at Royal Lytham

Humble: Ernie Els said he was feeling 'pretty groovy' after he won the Open at Royal Lytham

Gary's bacon-free

Open legend Gary Player charmed his guests at an HSBC-sponsored breakfast at Lytham but surprised everybody by bringing his own food along.

Now 76, the South African (right) is notoriously obsessed with exercise and diet and arrived at the event on Saturday morning with his own serving of Kiwi fruit.

'My message is “beware the bacon”,' he said with an impish smile.

Back to work

The return of 1994 Silver Medal winner Warren Bennett has provided one of the more romantic stories of the week and he finished tied with the great Tom Watson.

Bennett will be back on the anonymous Jamega Tour from next Monday and will use 230 of his 10,000 Open prize-money to enter a two-day 'pay and play' event in Chipping Norton.

Romance isn't dead: Warren Bennett scored equal to the great Tom Watson

Romance isn't dead: Warren Bennett scored equal to the great Tom Watson

Thumbs up for…

The world's best golfers for showing us all on Sunday just how difficult this game really is.

They spend most of the season making golf look incredibly easy but there was some error-ridden, twitchy stuff on display.

Seeing them struggle means that the next time I stand over a three-foot putt and push it wide of the hole (this will be today) I for one know that I will feel a whole let better.

Fluffing your lines: Adam Scott was amongst the many golfers who struggled at Lytham

Fluffing your lines: Adam Scott was amongst the many golfers who struggled at Lytham

Thumbs down for…

The ticket touts who were busy desperately trying to flog entry tickets at below face-value prices outside the entrances to the course yesterday morning.

It was hardly the brightest move to buy up tickets in advance for an event that – due to the vast expanses of the course – is never likely to sell out.

Stick to fleecing people at football matches and pop concerts, lads.

Quote of the day

'At the moment, everything feels pretty groovy.' Ernie Els gives us his thoughts after winning his second Open Championship.

Something of an understatement, you might say.

Not the brightest idea: Ticket touts attempted to sell cut-price tickets for the event, which was never likely to be a sell-out

Not the brightest idea: Ticket touts attempted to sell cut-price tickets for the event, which was never likely to be a sell-out

Paul Pogba blasted by Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of Juventus move

Good riddance! Fergie blasts Juve-bound youngster Pogba for showing no respect

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UPDATED:

17:35 GMT, 3 July 2012

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has fired a parting shot to Paul Pogba, blasting the Juventus-bound youngster for showing the club 'no respect'.

The 19-year-old was a controversial arrival from Le Harve in 2009 when the French side accused the Barclays Premier League side of tapping up the teenager

The France youth international made his breakthrough into the United first-team in 2011 but was forced to wait until January, at the start of this year, before making his debut as a substitute against Stoke.

Good riddance: Sir Alex Ferguson has fired a parting shot at Juventus-bound Paul Pogba

Good riddance: Sir Alex Ferguson has fired a parting shot at Juventus-bound Paul Pogba

Frustrated with a lack of opportunities – featuring just seven times in total – Pogba paved the way for a move to Serie A giants Juve by refusing to pen a new deal.

Although Pogba is yet to rubber-stamp his 20,000-a-week switch to the Italian champions, Ferguson insists the French midfielder is as good as gone.

'Pogba signed for Juventus a long time ago as far as we're aware,' Ferguson told the club’s in-house TV station MUTV.

Uncertain future: United youngster Ezekiel Fryers

Uncertain future: United youngster Ezekiel Fryers

'It's a bit disappointing because I don’t think he should us any respect at all.

'To be honest, if they carry on that way, I'm quite happy that he's away from me anyway.'

Ferguson, however, expects United's other young contract rebel Ezekiel Fryers to report for pre-season training despite the uncertainty surrounding his future at Old Trafford.

The 19-year-old defender is a free agent after his contract expired at the end of last month and has attracted interest from Tottenham and Newcastle.

But despite not having any contact with United officials, Ferguson believes the promising starlet will be involved in his forthcoming pre-season plans.

'As for Ezekiel Fryers, I don't know what's happening there,' Ferguson added.

'He hasn't been in touch with the club and the agent hasn't been in touch with club.

'I can only assume he'll be back in training today.'

Andros Townsend back with Spurs after cutting short Leeds loan spell

Townsend back with Spurs after cutting short his loan spell with Leeds

New Leeds manager Neil Warnock has revealed that Andros Townsend has returned to Tottenham after a loan spell.

The forward has decided to cut short his time at Elland Road.

The 20-year-old has played seven times for Leeds since joining on New Years Day. He scored a crucial goal in the dramatic 3-2 win over Doncaster last weekend.

Leaving: Andros Townsend has cut short his time with Leeds

Leaving: Andros Townsend has cut short his time with Leeds

'I’ve lost Townsend,' Warnock said on Thursday. 'His agent told me he didn’t like here, he wasn’t happy, and he hadn’t settled.

'I’ve heard that Birmingham want to sign him, I don’t know if that’s got anything to do with it.

'I’m disappointed because we’ve lost a player, but I don’t want people who don’t want to be here so good riddance I say if that’s what he wants to do.'