Tag Archives: sport

London 2012 Olympics: BOA Chairman Colin Moynihan hopeful drugs ban will stay

Olympic chief hopeful drugs ban will stay after first day of CAS hearing

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UPDATED:

17:43 GMT, 12 March 2012

British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan said he was 'cautiously optimistic' after a court hearing to decide whether the body's lifetime ban for drugs cheats breaches the world anti-doping code.

The BOA and the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) have gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for a ruling on whether the lifetime ban should stand.

If it is overturned it will enable cyclist David Millar and sprinter Dwain Chambers to compete for Team GB at London 2012.

Making a stand: BOA Chief Colin Moynihan is fighting for the Olympic lifetime ban for drug cheats to stay

Making a stand: BOA Chief Colin Moynihan is fighting for the Olympic lifetime ban for drug cheats to stay

The BOA were represented by leading QC Lord David Pannick and Moynihan said he expects a decision in around a month.

He told reporters: 'It was a good day, all the arguments were put really strongly. The voice of the athletes was definitely heard and we now wait and see.

Waiting for the outcome: Dwain Chambers will wait to find out if he is eligible for the London Games

Waiting for the outcome: Dwain Chambers will wait to find out if he is eligible for the London Games

'One of the questions we put is to try and get a resolution as soon as possible. My expectation is a month, we don't want it any longer as it is in the interests of the athletes that they know what the outcome will be.

'Today was an outstandingly good presentation, Lord Pannick was first rate and the voice of the athletes came over strong and loud so I'm cautiously optimistic.'

Nathan Cleverly interview: Welshman fighting to restore British boxing"s reputation

EXCLUSIVE: Saving grace: Cleverly fighting to repair British boxing's battered reputation

Shameful, disgraceful and disgusting were just some of the words used to describe the brawl between Dereck Chisora and David Haye last Sunday morning.

The two British heavyweights showed a flagrant disregard for a noble sport built on respect and discipline when their war of words escalated into an embarrassing punch-up.

But on Saturday, Nathan Cleverly, one of only two world champions from these shores, can begin the arduous task of dragging British boxing from the gutter.

All grown up: Nathan Cleverly is ready to take on Tommy Karpency to defend his light-heavyweight crown

All grown up: Nathan Cleverly is ready to take on Tommy Karpency to defend his light-heavyweight crown

The 25-year-old from South Wales faces the unheralded American Tommy Karpency in the third defence of his WBO light-heavyweight title at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena.

Cleverly’s long-awaited homecoming is part of a mouthwatering triple header for Welsh sport with Twickenham hosting the Six Nations clash with England before Cardiff travel to Wembley to take on Liverpool in the Carling Cup final on Sunday.

Wedged in between, Cleverly will hope to defend his belt in style as he eyes a summer showdown with American legend Bernard Hopkins at the Cardiff City Stadium.

And, at a time when many are questioning boxing’s place in society, the Welshman’s story epitomises the positive influence it can have.

Growing up: A young Nathan Cleverly

Graduating in style: Nathan Cleverly at his graduation

Graduating in style: Cleverly in his younger years and at his university graduation

‘As a young child, for some reason I enjoyed fighting,’ the world champion admits. ‘I enjoyed the buzz of being competitive and if I thought there was some guy who was a bit of a bully, I always liked to challenge myself against him and bring him down. It was a mix of competitiveness, aggression and wanting to stand up for myself.

‘The fights were mostly on street corners or in the nearest field with a big crowd of people. It was very raw and it sums up my background and the area I was brought up in. There were no facilities and not much going on, it was very rough.

‘The majority of boxers come from a background where they haven’t had everything put on a plate. They’ve had a tough upbringing and are often insecure people. I thought boxing was a good way to battle my demons.

Fighting fit: Cleverly weighed in at 12st 6lb

Fighting fit: Cleverly weighed in at 12st 6lb

‘I was named called quite a bit because I had big ears. I was never bullied physically because I had the strength and mentality to fight my way out of it. It added to my insecurities but you can either cave under the bullies or come out fighting and obviously I came out fighting. It does make you stronger.’

/02/24/article-2106091-11E13F7F000005DC-985_634x453.jpg” width=”634″ height=”453″ alt=”Flying the flag for Wales: Rugby captain Sam Warburton will be hoping to beat England while Cleverly defends his light heavyweight title and Cardiff City Captain Mark Hudson will hope to lift the Carling Cup” class=”blkBorder” />

Flying the flag for Wales: Rugby captain Sam Warburton will be hoping to beat England while Cleverly defends his light heavyweight title and Cardiff City Captain Mark Hudson will hope to lift the Carling Cup

‘The gym was a controlled and monitored environment. If you keep channelling your aggression on the street, you’ll end up in trouble.’

But while Cleverly found respite in the ring, some of his peers took a different path altogether.

‘There are numerous people I grew up with who ended up in prison,’ he admits. ‘They got into trouble and ended up paying the consequences. Part of that was because they had no way of channelling their energy.’

After the brawl in Munich cast a shadow over boxing, Cleverly is keen to extol its positive influence.

‘A lot of the boxing trainers are very hard and cold characters; they’re straight to the point, and strict,’ he adds. ‘That teaches you respect, to listen to commands and to focus. There’s no room for any violence outside the ring, that was always drummed into me from a young age.

Past and present: Nathan Cleverly met former undefeated Welsh fighter Joe Calzaghe and Bradley Pryce

Sparing partners: Nathan Cleverly with Joe Calzage

Meeting his hero: Cleverly with Joe Calzaghe and Bradley Pryce as a youngster and then as sparring partners

‘Personally, boxing has given me a focus and a direction in life. Ultimately its allowed me to earn myself a good living and has provided the foundations for life. It was a platform for my dream to become world champion and I’m grateful to the sport for allowing me to go on and to do that and for making me a mentally strong character, in and out of the ring.’

As well as flourishing with his fists, Cleverly used his new-found mental toughness to excel in the classroom.

‘Everything I did I wanted to be good at. I loved challenging myself and it was the same with school work and exams. I had a lot of respect for my education because it sets you up for life and I combined that with my boxing and pushed as hard as I could with both of them.

Keeping fit: Cleverly was into boxing and keeping in shape from a young age

Keeping fit: Cleverly was into boxing and keeping in shape from a young age

‘Boxing helps make you a more disciplined person because it requires a high level of concentration and that rubbed off on my school work. That benefited my education and I made the most of the opportunities I had in school.’

Having turned professional aged 18, Cleverly enrolled at Cardiff University in 2006 to study maths. Within two years, he had beaten Tony Oakey over 12 rounds to lift the vacant Commonwealth title which he went on to defend five times.

Courtney Fry was stopped inside eight at London’s York Hall as Cleverly added the British belt to his collection and the European title followed in 2010 just months before he graduated with a 2:2.

But juggling fractions with fighting brought its own problems.

Showing promise: Nathan Cleverly

Made it: Nathan Cleverly poses with his belts

Fulfilling his potential: Cleverly shows an early interest in boxing (left) and poses with his belts years later

‘It was the first time I had lived on my own,’ he recalls. ‘I had to try and concentrate on my diet, which was difficult, but I learned to be independent and to take care of myself.

‘I lived with four mates in my second year, which was crazy. We were all studying for good degrees but we liked to party. That was a really challenging year and I had to step it up because my workload was increasing, my fights were getting slightly harder and my social life was heavy.

‘I was always fit for my fights, but there were some I wasn’t 100 per cent for. I was going to bed at three or four in the morning after a long revision session and that affected my sleep pattern and my diet.

‘I did have a fear of losing. If my preparations were not right, doubts would creep in but I always found a way to pull out a victory.

Face off: Cleverly and Tommy Karpency go head to head at the weigh-in

Face off: Cleverly and Tommy Karpency go head to head at the weigh-in

‘At times I thought either university or boxing had to go but I just dug deep and worked hard. I do look back and wonder how I did it but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.’

Which gave him the bigger rush, graduating, or winning a bout

‘Graduating from university was special for me. I was always wondering if the day was ever going to come and when it finally did it was such a relief. I felt a sense of pride that I’d come through but my biggest buzz comes from winning in the boxing ring. When my hand is raised and I’m announced as the winner, it’s incredible.’

Months after completing his education, Cleverly earned the interim WBO title with a hard-fought win over Frenchman Nadjib Mohammedi in Liverpool.

Full champion Jrgen Braehmer was the next target but the German pulled out of the proposed fight last May. Cleverly was awarded the WBO title and successfully defended it against Aleksy Kuziemski, a late replacement for Braehmer, before winning a majority decision over Tony Bellew in October.

On Saturday, Cleverly will aim to continue on his upward trajectory and restore a little faith in a sport that has given him so much.

‘Boxing is commonly associated with thuggery,’ he concludes. ‘But my case proves you can break the mould.’

Nathan Cleverly meets Sam Warburton and Mark Hudson before Welsh sport"s biggest weekend

Welsh sport's biggest weekend ever Cleverly meets Warburton and Hudson as trio aim for greatness

Boxer Nathan Cleverly met up with Wales' rugby captain Sam Warburton and Cardiff City skipper Mark Hudson before one of the biggest weekends in Welsh sporting history.

Cleverly makes the third defence of his WBO World Light-Heavyweight title against American Tommy Karpency at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena, while Cardiff face Liverpool in the Carling Cup final, and Wales meet England in the Six Nations at Twickenham on Sunday.

Hensol Park's Vale Hotel hosted media events for all three clashes on Friday, with Warburton and Hudson stopping by Cleverly's press conference.

Welsh hopes: Sam Warburton (left) with Nathan Cleverly (centre) and Mark Hudson (right)

Welsh hopes: Sam Warburton (left) with Nathan Cleverly (centre) and Mark Hudson (right)

Warburton said: 'We are all hoping for a successful weekend in Welsh sport and it is great to have so much silverware at stake in terms of Nathan’s title fight, Cardiff City’s trophy bid and our own pursuit of the Triple Crown against England on Saturday.

'Everyone in the Wales squad would like to wish both Nathan and the Bluebirds the best of luck for the weekend and lets hope the entire nation, whatever the sport, will have reason to celebrate by Monday morning.'

Together: The trio are supporting each other in their separate endeavours

Together: The trio are supporting each other in their separate endeavours

Hudson added: 'Nathan’s a great fighter and I’m sure he’ll defend his title on Saturday so he can make it to our match on Sunday.

'Also good luck to Sam and the lads in their big match.'

Cleverly said: 'It’s a huge huge weekend for Welsh sport and I’m glad that I’m part of it.

Clash: Tommy Karpency (left) is challenging Cleverly for his belt

Clash: Tommy Karpency (left) is challenging Cleverly for his belt

'I’ll be relaxing in the afternoon watching Sam and the boys in the hotel on TV before my big fight and hopefully they’ll do the business.

'I’ve got my title defence against Karpency which is a must win for me, no two-ways about it.

'Then I aim to be at the match the next day watching Mark and my mate Darcy Blake take Cardiff City to win the Carling Cup against Liverpool.”

See Cleverly v Karpency live and exclusive on BoxNation, Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546 from 8pm. Join at www.boxnation.tv

Dereck Chisora and David Haye brawl in pictures – Graham Chadwick

I've not seen anything like that brawl in 24 years of photographing professional sport

A room the size of a tennis court, an hour after fight night, shortly after the last punches should have
been thrown.

It’s hot under the lights and with four heavyweights in the room, each with an axe to grind, the
atmosphere is poisonous. I have got to know David Haye quite well from covering his fights and I can’t believe this is happening. David is better than this: he is actually a pretty smart fella. This isn’t so smart.

Up close and personal: David Haye (left) and Dereck Chisora clash at the post-fight press conference

Up close and personal: David Haye (left) and Dereck Chisora clash at the post-fight press conference

Up close and personal: David Haye (left) and Dereck Chisora clash

After Dereck Chisora puts his fist, still gripping the microphone, to Haye’s jaw, Haye swings at him,
bottle still in hand. From then on it is a mass of bodies as both ‘gangs’ wade in to join the two heavyweights in a heap.

Taunts: Haye mocked Chisora about his fight record from the back of the room in Munich on Saturday

Taunts: Haye mocked Chisora about his fight record from the back of the room in Munich on Saturday

Looking for trouble: Haye charges through a media scrum to reach Chisora as events turn violent

Looking for trouble: Haye charges through a media scrum to reach Chisora as events turn violent

One of the challenges for me is to stay on my feet and to try to keep shooting (my camera) through
the malice and mayhem. I put a hand to Haye’s back to stop him falling on to me, but my flash
gun is snapped off my camera in the melee. I take an image of him holding a tripod above his head,
but without a flash, it’s not a clean frame.

Too far: Haye picks up a camera tripod as his violent brawl with Chisora reaches a whole new level

Too far: Haye picks up a camera tripod as his violent brawl with Chisora reaches a whole new level

Coming to blows: Haye takes on a member of Chisora's team as the brawl continues unabated

Coming to blows: Haye takes on a member of Chisora's team as the brawl continues unabated

People are being clattered and knocked over as the crowd stumbles across the room and Haye strides off towards the exit.

I have never seen anything like it in 24 years of photographing professional sport.

Taking his leave: Haye finally exits the press conference after the shameful brawl that rocked boxing

Taking his leave: Haye finally exits the press conference after the shameful brawl that rocked boxing

Taking his leave: Haye exits the press conference after the brawl

Andre Villas-Boas wrong to join Chelsea, says Porto chief

You were wrong to join Chelsea! Under-fire AVB feels the heat as Roman considers axe

As he battles to save his job, Andre Villas-Boas has been told he made a huge mistake joining Chelsea.

Blues owner Roman Abramovich is considering ditching the young boss just eight months after appointing him to replace Carlo Ancelotti.

Abramovich has been a regular fixture at Chelsea's training ground over the past week and may pull the trigger after Sunday's poor defeat at Everton.

Under pressure: Andre Villas-Boas has struggled to make an impact at Chelsea since taking over last summer

Under pressure: Andre Villas-Boas has struggled to make an impact at Chelsea since taking over last summer

And Villas-Boas' cause has hardly
been helped by his former boss at Porto – president Pinto da Costa –
insisting he should not have left last summer.

Villas-Boas spent just one year at
Porto before being lured back to Stamford Bridge, where he originally
worked under Jose Mourinho.

However, Da Costa believes his former manager may now pay the price for his quick getaway to the Barclays Premier League.

He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: 'In
my opinion Villas-Boas made a mistake to leave Porto so soon. He thought
that this was a unique opportunity, but he would surely get other
offers like that.'

Lost for answers: Villas-Boas ordered his team in during their day off after losing 2-0 at Everton last weekend

Lost for answers: Villas-Boas ordered his team in during their day off after losing 2-0 at Everton last weekend

Da Costa does still believe
Villas-Boas has the pedigree to succeed at the top – and tipped him to
follow in Mourinho's footsteps to Inter Milan if Abramovich calls time
on his Chelsea reign.

He added: 'I think that Villas-Boas
is doing well at Chelsea. The only thing that could make him leave
Chelsea will be the team's failure to qualify for the Champions League.

'If he were to leave Chelsea, I am
sure he will become the next coach at Inter. He has the right
personality to coach the Nerazzurri. In the past, I said the same thing
about Mourinho.'

It comes as Villas-Boas faces a huge
fight to convince Abramovich that he is the man to guide Chelsea out of
trouble, particularly with Guus Hiddink waiting in the shadows.

Villas-Boas was criticised by his
Chelsea players over the tactics he used at Everton during Sunday’s
stormy training-ground meeting.

Great expectations: The young Portuguese manager is under intense pressure to reverse Chelsea's bad form

Great expectations: The young Portuguese manager is under intense pressure to reverse Chelsea's bad form

Details of the showdown at the club’s
headquarters in Cobham, Surrey, have emerged after the Portuguese coach
cancelled a scheduled day off following the 2-0 defeat at Goodison
Park.

Villas-Boas demanded the meeting with
his squad after their sixth defeat in the Barclays Premier League this
season saw them slip to fifth place.

However, Chelsea’s stars were furious
with the 34-year-old after he dragged them into the training ground,
following which he put them through a punishing full session.

Up and away: Villas-Boas guided Porto to the Europa League last season but the Portuguese club believe he left too soon

Up and away: Villas-Boas guided Porto to the Europa League last season but the Portuguese club believe he left too soon

HAVE YOUR SAY…

HOW MUCH TIME WILL ABRAMOVICH GIVE ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS
Chelsea dropped out of the Champions League places after their 2-0 defeat at Everton, a display manager Villas-Boas described as the worst of the season.

Andre Villas-Boas

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK

The Portuguese ordered the full and
frank discussion of the problems between management and players
following a performance he described as ‘the worst this season’.

In the meeting, Villas-Boas’s tactics
were challenged by players, while goalkeeper Petr Cech was criticised
by colleagues for his distribution.

Villas-Boas was also given a grilling
by Abramovich in a separate meeting. Abramovich is already considering
alternatives to his Portuguese coach and is well aware of Hiddink’s
availability.

Hiddink, who is out of work and was
playing golf in his native Holland on Monday, refused to discuss a
potential return to Chelsea.

The Dutchman was parachuted into
Stamford Bridge to replace Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2008 and ended the
season by winning the FA Cup in 2009.

Hiddink has made it his policy not to
talk about managerial vacancies while a club has a manager, but he
remains Chelsea’s fall-back option.

Jessica Ennis looking good in Sheffield

Ennis looking good in Sheffield as she builds up to World Indoor Championships

Jessica Ennis made the most of home advantage to enjoy an encouraging day as she builds up to the defence of her world indoor title in Istanbul next month.

Ennis trains at the English Institute of Sport in her home city of Sheffield, the venue for this weekend's Aviva Trials and UK Championships.

And the 26-year-old duly looked at ease in the surroundings with victory in the high jump and 14.09 metres in the shot on an otherwise low-key first day of competition.

Raising the bar: Jessica Ennis competes in the high jump

Raising the bar: Jessica Ennis competes in the high jump

Ennis cleared her opening three heights at the first attempt, but then needed two attempts to clear both 1.85 metres and 1.87m.

She then needed three attempts to clear 1.89m and found herself trailing on countback to Emma Perkins, who had cleared the same height at the first attempt.

However, Ennis dug deep to then clear 1.91m at the first try to seal victory, one made even sweeter when it was pointed out to the former world heptathlon champion that she had equalled her best jump in all of 2011.

'I'm really happy then,' Ennis said. 'It was a good competition because it puts you under pressure and a different state of mind when you have to clear heights at the third attempt.

'It was my first high jump competition of the indoor season and it felt comfortable. My run up felt good.

Looking good: Ennis is facing the biggest year of her career

Looking good: Ennis is facing the biggest year of her career

'You always want to jump as high as you can for yourself, but when you have someone there and a real battle it makes you raise your game, which I need to do in the world indoors.

'I think you do worry a bit (when you have failures at a lower height), because you don't want to go out at that height and I really wanted to jump in the 1.90s, but you have to get yourself together and refocus.'

Although Ennis lost her world title in Daegu largely as a result of a terrible performance in the javelin, she also only managed 1.86m in the high jump.

A clearance of 1.91m instead would have been worth an extra 65 points, bringing her much closer to eventual champion Tatyana Chernova of Russia.

Her best of 14.09m in the shot was some way down on her personal best of 14.67m set in Daegu, but anything over 14m was the target and she also managed 14.07m in the first round.

Veteran Yamile Aldama won the triple jump with a best of 14.09m, the 39-year-old, who was born in Cuba and also competed for Sudan, showing no signs of slowing down after reaching the World Championship final last year.

Saeed Ajmal claims ICC let him bend rules

ICC let me push the boundaries! Ajmal responds to chucking claims

Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal has again dismissed question marks over his action and claimed he is given special dispensation by the ICC bend the rules.

Ajmal was the star performer as Pakistan completed a 3-0 Test series whitewash over England on Monday with a 71-run victory in Dubai.

Man of the series: Saeed Ajmal

Man of the series: Saeed Ajmal

Man of the series: Pakistani spinner Saeed Ajmal

He had his action reviewed by the ICC in 2009 and claims the game's governing body allow him to bend his elbow beyond the permitted 15 degrees.

He told the BBC Sport website: 'Someone is telling me my action is bad but the ICC allow me to bowl 23.5 degrees because my arm is not good but that's my problem.

'Apart from that there is no problem with my action, it has been cleared by the ICC.'

Accused: Many think Ajmal is a 'chucker'

Accused: Many think Ajmal is a 'chucker'

The 34-year-old claimed 24 wickets in the three Tests with England failing spectacularly to deal with him and spin partner Abdur Rehman.

The doosra – the off-spinner's version of the googly – has caused particular alarm with some pundits – including former England fast bowler Bob Willis – questioning its legitimacy.

Alberto Contador stripped of Tour de France title and banned for two years on doping charges

Contador stripped of Tour de France title and hit with two-year ban for doping by Court of Arbitration

Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador has been banned for two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport following his positive test for clenbuterol, according to the International Cycling Union.

It was initially announced Contador had failed a doping test in September 2010, shortly after he had won his third Tour de France – he was also victorious in the sport's biggest race in 2007 and 2009.

The 29-year-old has always maintained his innocence and claimed he failed the test after eating contaminated meat.

Banned: Contador has been stripped of his Tour title

Banned: Contador has been stripped of his Tour title

The Spanish Cycling Federation initially proposed giving the rider a one-year ban before subsequently acquitting him.

But the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency both appealed that decision to CAS.

A statement from the UCI read: 'The UCI acknowledges the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to impose a suspension of two years on the rider Alberto Contador following the UCI's appeal, brought in conjunction with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), in the case concerning the Spanish cyclist.

'In rejecting the defence argument, in particular that the presence of clenbuterol in Alberto Contador's urine sample came from the consumption of contaminated meat, today's ruling confirms the UCI's position.

Champion: Schleck (left) will now become the 2010 Tour victor

Champion: Schleck (left) will now become the 2010 Tour victor

'However, the UCI has not derived a
sense of satisfaction from the CAS ruling, but rather welcomes the news
as the end of a long-running affair that has been extremely painful for
cycling.'

UCI president Pat McQuaid added:
'This is a sad day for our sport. Some may think of it as a victory, but
that is not at all the case.

'There are no winners when it comes
to the issue of doping: every case, irrespective of its characteristics,
is always a case too many.'

Harry Redknapp could face abuse in live Tottenham v Watford match on ESPN

As Redknapp steps back into the dugout for live TV clash, ESPN prepares for fans' taunts in match coverage

Broadcasters ESPN are on alert ahead of Harry Redknapp's return to the touchline on live TV.

The Spurs manager, who has been in court all week for the trial at which he is accused of tax evasion, will be back in the dugout for the FA Cup clash against Watford on Friday night.

There are fears that Redknapp will face a torrent of abuse at Vicarage Road amid the ongoing case at Southwark Crown Court.

Scroll down for video

Spotlight: Harry Redknapp outside court with his son Jamie on Thursday

Spotlight: Harry Redknapp outside court with his son Jamie on Thursday

An ESPN spokesman said: 'Our
commitment is always to serve fans with the best coverage of the match,
and to bring them closer to the action.

'Equally, we are very mindful of our
responsibilities as a broadcaster and to Ofcom’s rules, and will take
all appropriate actions from a production standpoint.

'Live sport is unpredictable – and
with that comes challenges – but we have an experienced team in place
that knows how to handle live sports and events.'

Redknapp – who denies the charges is is facing in court – was abused by fans at Shamrock Rovers in the Europa League last year ahead of his trial.

During the match he made a clenched-fist gesture at the home supporters and later criticised their chants.

He said: 'I can't repeat what they
were saying. I am not allowed to repeat what they were saying to me. I
didn't do anything to them, no.

'I have spent enough time in Ireland
to know what lovely people they are. If you go and meet them afterwards
they are probably lovely people.

'But they get together and shout a load of nonsense and that is football. That's life. I don't hold any grudges.'

Redknapp has vowed to take charge of
team affairs for the match against Championship side Watford despite the
huge distraction of his court case.

Spurs coach Kevin Bond, who has been
overseeing preparations with Joe Jordan, says the manager has no problem
stepping out at the match.

Raring to go: Tottenham's players train on Thursday morning

Raring to go: Tottenham's players train on Thursday morning

Raring to go: Tottenham's players train on Thursday morning

He said: 'Clearly the manager is not here, but very little (has changed) really.

'The training carries on pretty much
as normal and everybody has been getting on with things as normal so
there's not really a lot of difference except obviously Harry is not
here during the day.

'We had a similar scenario a few
weeks ago when Harry had a small (heart) procedure done and he wasn't
here for a week or so leading up to the Fulham game.'

Bond and Redknapp usually make the 250-mile round trip from Dorset to Chigwell together, but the Spurs boss has been staying in London this week during the trial, which is expected to finish at the end of next week.

The pair have been talking on the phone twice a day, however, with Redknapp keen to know how his players are getting on following last weekend's agonising 3-2 defeat to Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester City.

City won the match in injury-time thanks to a penalty from Mario Balotelli, who has since been banned for four games for a stamp on Scott Parker that went unpunished at the time.

Bond admits Spurs now only have a slim chance of winning their first championship in 51 years.

'The City result and the way it came was a kick in the teeth,' he said. 'We are eight points adrift (of City) so strictly speaking we are probably not (in the title race), but in three or four games' time that might be different. Hopefully we can get closer to them than we are now and then we would be back in it.'

Thoughts of any fightback in the league will have to wait until Tuesday's match against Wigan as Spurs face a tough hurdle against Sean Dyche's men.

Trial: Milan Mandaric arrives at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday

Trial: Milan Mandaric arrives at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday

Gareth Bale (thigh), Scott Parker
(hamstring) and Younes Kaboul (groin) are all doubts after coming off in training on Wednesday, but it is likely that none of the trio
would have played as Redknapp is likely to rest several of his star
players.

Champions League qualification
remains Spurs' main priority, meaning the likes of Steven Pienaar, Danny
Rose and Niko Kranjcar should get some game time, but Bond
insists resting key players does not mean the club are not taking the FA
Cup seriously.

'Champions League is our No 1 goal, but the FA Cup is hugely important to us,' the 54-year-old said.

'As a youngster when you played, you
didn't dream about finishing in the top four so you could play in the
Champions League, you all dreamed about playing at Wembley and lifting
the cup. The players crave a cup final. They crave playing in the big
games, the one-off games.'

Watford looked to be npower Championship play-off contenders until a recent poor run of form left them 18th in the table.

Bond still expects a tough game from the Hornets, however.

'We are fully aware of how difficult a
game it will be for us,' he said. 'It's Sean Dyche's first job as a
manager and he has done very well there.'

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Reading 40m takeover by Russian tycoon

EXCLUSIVE: Reading chairman Madejski agrees 40m takeover by Russian tycoon

Sir John Madejski is on the verge of selling Reading to a Russian billionaire in a deal that could top 40million.

The Royals chairman signed an
agreement with Team Sport International on Friday that will end with
tycoon Anton Zingarevich, 29, buying the club.

Staying on: Reading chirman John Madejski

Staying on: Reading chirman John Madejski

Reading manager Brian McDermott flew to Milan to meet the club's prospective owners earlier in the week to discuss team rebuilding.

He has been assured by Zingarevich that his job is safe as Reading push for promotion to the top flight.

Madejski has agreed a deal to sell 51 per cent of his stake in the club with an option on the remainder of his shareholding.

Zingarevich, educated in Reading before moving to New York to attend university, signed off the deal on Friday.

Talks: Reading manager Brian McDermott

Talks: Reading manager Brian McDermott

His management consultants PWC are going through the process of due diligence but they do not expect any issues.

Chief executive Nigel Howe, nephew of former Arsenal coach Don, will be retained along with Madejski in his role as chairman, while director of football Nicky Hammond will also remain at the club.