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Arsenal follow United"s lead by claiming packed stadium despite rows of empty seats at Emirates – Charles Sale

Arsenal follow United's lead by claiming packed stadium despite rows of empty seats at Emirates

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UPDATED:

08:44 GMT, 13 December 2012

Arsenal have followed Manchester
United in giving out highly misleading attendance figures that show
their stadiums to be at capacity when in fact there were thousands of
empty seats.

United announced a 71,000 near full
house for their Champions League game against CFR Cluj when the Old
Trafford crowd looked to be 20,000.

And the Emirates Stadium attendance
for last Saturday’s match against West Brom was said to be 60,000 when
it was obviously down by more than 10,000.

Sparse support: The Emirates was far from full as Arsenal beat West Brom

Sparse support: The Emirates was far from full as Arsenal beat West Brom

Both clubs defend their policy by
saying the figures are based on tickets sold — with United’s Champions
League group games included in the season ticket price. A Premier League
spokesman said: ‘Our attendances are up this season. This is not an
issue for us.’

The apathy among Gunners fans,
heightened by the Capital One Cup defeat at Bradford, was demonstrated
by the paltry turn-out for the Arsenal Supporters Trust Christmas drinks
with the club at the Emirates.

Fewer than 100 attended the function —
half the number expected — even when they had the opportunity to vent
their anger at chief executive Ivan Gazidis and commercial director Tom
‘brand defined by more than winning’ Fox.

Gazidis, who spent two hours talking
to the hardcore fans, apologised for the Bradford result, saying it
wasn’t good enough and that he was there to listen.

More from Charles Sale…

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Charles Sale: Diamond League can add some sparkle to Stratford before the bulldozers move in
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Charles Sale: Hearn is ready to throw in the towel over West Ham's Olympic Stadium move
05/12/12

Charles Sale: Channel 4 races to unload World Athletics Championships on the BBC
30/11/12

Charles Sale: Rivals Warren and Hearn take fight over Bellew to the High Court
29/11/12

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C4's half-time treat

Channel 4 are bowing to football’s dominance of the sporting landscape by scheduling all their big Saturday races at 3.50pm when their monopoly terrestrial contract starts next year.

The hope is that the half-time break in the day’s football fixtures will become associated with a racing attraction.

The most surprising part of Channel 4’s press launch of their vision for racing was that Carl Hicks, IMG’s executive producer of the coverage, did his presentation wearing sunglasses on his head in a dimly-lit Mayfair restaurant.

C4 will broadcast racing on 88 days next year, but star presenter Clare Balding is only contracted to do 40 of them. She will do an extra 20 days of filming for features around the showcase occasions.

Under contract: But Clare Balding will only host 40 races

Under contract: But Clare Balding will only host 40 races

The first company to show an interest in sponsoring the Grand National — outside bookmakers, who will be a last resort — is understood to be out-of-town fashion chain Matalan. But they might not be considered blue chip enough for the Jockey Club, who control Aintree.

Meanwhile, new QPR manager Harry Redknapp, whose team are chasing their first Premier League win of the season against Fulham on Saturday, will also be hoping for a lot better luck when his horse Hot Whiskey runs the next day in a novice hurdle race at Hereford.

Becks is Euro-bound

Another pointer that David Beckham will base his family in London even if he plays in France next year is that wife Victoria has now been spotted visiting two different west London schools in the last two weeks.

Loaded up on boxing

Lads magazine Loaded have given boxing another TV outlet on their new channel. Promoter Frank Maloney’s fighters will be appearing on albeit low-budget TV boxing shows. However, Maloney’s marquee fighter — heavyweight David Price — will continue to appear on the subscription channel BoxNation.

No sale: Mike Ashley

No sale: Mike Ashley

Ashley's court battle

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has been prevented from selling Queensberry sports clothing in his Sports Direct empire after a High Court battle this week. Queensberry’s major shareholders, boxing promoter Frank Warren and Planet Hollywood owner Robert Earl, won an injunction and costs against Ashley, pending a full trial.

Murray and Hoy missing

Even the razzmattaz draw of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year is not enough to attract all 12 short-listed candidates to London’s ExCeL Arena on Sunday for the live event. As well as Andy Murray staying at his training camp in Miami, Sir Chris Hoy is not returning from his 2013 preparation camp in Perth.

Ireland 0 Greece 1: Match report

Ireland 0 Greece 1: Holebas bags decisive goal as Republic lose at home again

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UPDATED:

02:05 GMT, 15 November 2012

Jose Holebas ensured the Republic of Ireland ended 2012 without the victory they craved as Giovanni Trapattoni's youngsters were undone by Greece.

The Italian's experimental side, which featured Ciaran Clark, James McCarthy, James McClean and Robbie Brady from the start and Wes Hoolahan after the break, competed well for long periods, but were unable to carve out the openings to take something from the game.

In front of a sparse crowd at the Aviva Stadium, where they were battered 6-1 by Germany in a World Cup qualifier last month, Ireland showed plenty of endeavour and at times craft, but they could not find the killer touch in front of goal.

Heated: The players of both teams clashed at the Aviva Stadium in dublin

Heated: The players of both teams clashed at the Aviva Stadium in dublin

MATCH FACTS

Rep of Ireland: Forde, Coleman, O'Shea, Clark, Ward, Brady (Hoolahan 46), McCarthy (Meyler 70), Whelan (Andrews 34), McClean, Cox (Keogh 61), Long (Doyle 46).

Subs Not Used: Randolph, O'Dea, Kelly, Clifford.

Booked: Long, Clark.

Greece: Karnezis, Torosidis (Maniatis 60), Papastathopoulos, Papadopoulos, Holebas (Fortounis 46), Stafylidis (Spyropoulos 82), Tziolis, Tachtsidis, Ninis (Vyntra 60), Mitroglou (Salpingidis 46), Samaras (Athanasiadis 46).

Subs Not Used: Peristeridis, Kone, Christodoulopoulos, Dimoutsos, Siovas.

Booked: Fortounis.

Goals: Holebas 29.

Att: 16,256

Ref: Eitan Shmuelevitz (Israel).

As a result, Holebas' sweet
29th-minute strike was enough to win the game for the visitors and leave
Trapattoni's detractors with enough ammunition to maintain their
opposition to his continued presence at the helm heading into March's
crucial World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria.

The 73-year-old, finally bowing to
mounting pressure, handed youth a chance as his side brought an end to
their 2012 campaign and tried to do so in style against the national
currently ranked 12th by FIFA.

Ireland slipped significantly in
FIFA's ranking table – to 36th place, 24 behind the Greeks – in the wake
of their humiliation at the hands of the Germans, and the Italian's
response was to include Aston Villa defender Clark, Wigan schemer
McCarthy and wingers Brady and McClean in his starting line-up.

He was also forced to make a late
change when goalkeeper Keiren Westwood withdrew with a groin injury and
Millwall's David Forde was handed an unexpected fourth senior cap.

Struggle: Ireland were unable to seal a win over Greece

Struggle: Ireland were unable to seal a win over Greece

Whack: Jose Holebas (right) put the winning goal in for the visitors

Whack: Jose Holebas (right) put the winning goal in for the visitors

It all started relatively promisingly
for the home side with McCarthy finding space in the middle of the
field to feed Brady and McClean on the flanks, and the movement of
strikers Shane Long and Simon Cox troubling the Greek defence.

Ireland had strong claims for a
first-minute penalty waved away by Israeli referee Eitan Shmuelevitz and
defender Konstantinos Stafylidis could consider himself extremely
fortunate not to be penalised for his less-than-effective attempt to
deal with Stephen Ward's deep cross.

Cox went to ground inside the box
under Sokratis Papastathopoulos' challenge three minutes later, but the
appeals on that occasion were more muted and also ignored, and McClean
scuffed a long-range effort wide.

But the Republic looked certain to
take the lead with 10 minutes gone when full-back Seamus Coleman, whose
combination with Brady proved a repeated threat down the right during
the opening 45 minutes, collected the winger's return pass and crossed.

Cox had found a yard of space and
climbed to meet the ball unopposed, but he was unable to hit the target
with just keeper Orestis Karnezis to beat.

Another defeat: Giovanni Trapattoni was deprived of the home win he craved

Another defeat: Giovanni Trapattoni was deprived of the home win he craved

Greece had offered little in
response, but gradually worked their way into the game and called Forde
into action for the first time when Sotiros Ninis took aim from 25 yards
and forced a diving 23rd-minute save.

However, the Republic failed to heed
the warning and fell behind six minutes later when skipper Georgios
Samaras, who had earlier had to leave the pitch for treatment to a head
wound, turned Konstantinos Mitroglou's pass into the path of Holebas,
who span John O'Shea and thumped the ball into the bottom corner.

Long and Clark were both booked for
clumsy challenges as the game unfolded in anything but friendly fashion,
but the home side had rather lost their way.

They might have levelled in injury
time when Brady tested Karnezis with a left-foot strike after being set
up by Long, but the goalkeeper was equal to the task.

Shall not pass: Kevin Doyle could not engineer a goal

Shall not pass: Kevin Doyle could not engineer a goal

There was warm applause from the
sparse crowd when, on their return, Ireland were joined by in-form
Norwich star Hoolahan, winning just his second cap, a fact which had not
gone unnoticed by Trapattoni's critics.

Brady departed along with Long to
accommodate his arrival and that of Kevin Doyle, who was asked to play a
lone striking role ahead of Hoolahan with Cox dropping in on the left
and McClean moving to the right.

Unlucky: James McClean (left) and Co could not bounce back from the 6-1 hammering by Germany last month

Unlucky: James McClean (left) and Co could not bounce back from the 6-1 hammering by Germany last month

Ironically Glenn Whelan, the man who
had pleaded with his manager earlier in the week to field an extra
midfielder, was back in the dressing room having limped off injured
before the break.

However, it was McCarthy who almost
dragged the Republic back into the game two minutes into the second half
when Karnezis failed to hold his long-range shot, although
Papastathopoulos prevented Doyle from converting the rebound and Cox's
follow-up was blocked.

But while perspiration was not in
short supply, inspiration was and the Irish failed to make the most of
the possession they were allowed as the game passed the hour-mark with
Greece's narrow lead intact.

Ward hacked a 69th-minute shot
harmlessly across the face of goal after the Greeks had failed to clear a
McClean free-kick, and Greece coasted to the final whistle and victory
with few alarms.

Kell Brook sees off Luis Galarza in one-sided bout to highlight world title credentials

Brook sees off Galarza in one-sided bout to outline title credentials on American bow

Kell Brook introduced himself to American fight fans with a classy fifth-round stoppage of Puerto Rican tough guy Luis Galarza.

The unbeaten 25-year-old Sheffield fighter is nearing a shot at one of the
welterweight world titles and wanted to make a statement on his American debut in Atlantic City.

He got the job done at the Boardwalk Hall, taking occasional early shots before stamping his authority on proceedings and forcing the stoppage. The win took Brook to 26-0 with 18 stoppages while Galarza dropped to 17-3 (13 KO wins).

On the offensive: Kell Brook lands a left on Luis Galarza

On the offensive: Kell Brook lands a left on Luis Galarza

Brook tested the water in the opening moments – taking a strong right over the top for his trouble – but soon assumed control by the end of the session and had Galarza stunned briefly as a left hook hurt his opponent and a right – a split second after the bell – scrambled the Puerto Rican”s senses.

A powerful left showed Galarza”s own power in the second. Brook soon jumped in with a right hand before picking his shots brilliantly to hurt his man again.

Perfectly timed left hooks were dominating the fight for the classy Yorkshireman and when he planted his feet to let the power shots go, Galarza was in deep water.

Referee Allan Huggins was watching closely, seemingly ready to step in and end Galarza”s misery as the sparse crowd enjoyed Brook”s work. But Galarza, though cut around the right eye and swollen in several other places, survived into the fourth.

Brook was prepared to bide his time before stepping it up in the fifth.

A stiff right hand shook Galarza and after taking a step back, Brook followed it up with a left hook and sharp right combination which had Galarza out on his feet and prompted Huggins to step in after one minute and 38 seconds of the round.