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Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs join forces to shackle spending by Man City and Chelsea

EXCLUSIVE: Revealed… Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs join forces to shackle lavish spending by rivals Man City and Chelsea

PUBLISHED:

07:50 GMT, 14 January 2013

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UPDATED:

08:01 GMT, 14 January 2013

Martin Samuel on the attempted coup…

Fair play To the gang of four that means a ban on dreamers like Jack Walker – click HERE for our Chief Sports Writer's column

A breakaway group of elite clubs are attempting to curb the spending power of Manchester City and Chelsea.

A letter, signed by Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal and published on Arsenal-headed notepaper, was circulated at a Premier League meeting before Christmas.

Addressed to Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, it called for UEFA’s financial fair play controls to be implemented strictly — a step on from the regulations currently under consideration.

Moneybags: Man City have splashed the cash in their bid for Premier League domination

Moneybags: Man City have splashed the cash in their bid for Premier League domination

Rolling in it: Chelsea have spent hundreds of millions under Roman Abramovich

Rolling in it: Chelsea have spent hundreds of millions under Roman Abramovich

In a clear attack on high-spending owners such as Roman Abramovich at Chelsea and Manchester City’s Sheik Mansour, the letter reads: 'Thank you for your continued work on the vital subject of Financial Regulation for the Premier League.

'However, we do not feel that the latest proposals go far enough to curb the inflationary spending which is putting so much pressure on clubs across the entire League.

'We continue to believe that to be successful and have the best chance of gaining at least the 14 votes necessary, any proposals for Financial Regulation must include meaningful measures to restrict the owner funding of operating losses.

FFP plans: The letter with the Arsenal header which says the proposed regulations do not go far enough

FFP plans: The letter with the Arsenal header which says the proposed regulations do not go far enough

Part two of the letter

'The owners, controlling shareholders and chief executives of Arsenal Football Club, Liverpool Football Club, Manchester United Football Club, and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, continue to believe that the best way of achieving this will be a strict adoption of the UEFA Financial Fair Play rules.

'We already have seven clubs each season who are competing in Europe under these rules and, by proposing below some amendments to phase in FFP measures and make concessions to future new owners and promoted clubs, we believe there is a strong chance of achieving the necessary consensus.

'In summary, we would together make the following proposal:

Clubs will agree to break even over a rolling three-year period;Break even result to be calculated strictly in accordance with UEFA FFP rules.'

The letter was followed up by a 10-minute speech from Manchester United chief executive David Gill, who advocated handing over control of the new regulations directly to UEFA — a move that would as good as make UEFA president Michel Platini the head of English club football.

Rangers in crisis: Marvin Andrews rests easily

With Rangers in the clear, Andrews insists he does not fear knock at door

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UPDATED:

00:14 GMT, 23 November 2012

No worries: Marvin Andrews

No worries: Marvin Andrews

When a man believes in the power of prayer, the threat of a cash demand through the post is of minimal consequence.

Marvin Andrews says he will lose no sleep over the thought of HMRC or the Rangers liquidators coming after his money.

The reported recipient of 316,000 in loans from the Employee Benefit Trust (EBT) scheme introduced to Rangers by the Murray Group, the former Ibrox defender received a letter the same day he signed his contract with the club in May 2004.

romised to fund a sub-trust established in his name and set down a payment schedule, subject to his being a Rangers player on those dates.

The arrangements were far from unusual. The Trinidadian defender, now a pastor in Kirkcaldy, was one of 87 former players and members of staff offered an EBT.

/11/23/article-0-16100C14000005DC-123_634x399.jpg” width=”634″ height=”399″ alt=”Up in the air: Questions remain about Rangers' use of EBTs” class=”blkBorder” />

Up in the air: Questions remain about Rangers' use of EBTs

Instance page 79 of the FTT report, where the terms and conditions relating to the loans were drawn from verbal and documented evidence obtained during the tribunal. They were distinctly unusual.

According to the FTT report, for example, no security was ever requested or required for the hundreds of thousands of pounds borrowed.

Neither was scrutiny undertaken as to why the loans were being requested. Or any vetting performed on whether the loan could ever realistically be repaid.

Sportsmail asked yesterday why the loans were never recalled when the Lloyds Banking Group were knocking at the door of Murray Group demanding repayment of an 18m debt prior to the sale of the club to Craig Whyte.

The report answers that question by saying the players and employees who had an EBT understood they would never be expected to repay the loans against their wishes.

And what sticks out most is the assertion of many of the anonymous witnesses that the loans would never have to be repaid. Not, at least, during their life span.

The anonymous Mr Grey — the agent for a former Rangers manager — is quoted as saying: ‘I could not conceive of any situation where the loans would require to be repaid.’

Mr Violet, meanwhile — the former manager in question — adds: ‘While I knew these were loans, I never thought I would pay anything back during my lifetime.’

For players, managers and former employees alike, then, any suggestion that they might now be liable to pay back the cash will come as a grave shock to the system. An injustice, indeed.

‘I didn’t know what loopholes were in there or anything,’ shrugs Andrews. ‘If there is a problem, then I will deal with it when it comes.’

In trouble: Rangers were relegated due to their financial problems

In trouble: Rangers were relegated due to their financial problems

Privately, the players argue they merely did what they were told. That joining the EBT was involuntary and offered alongside their personal contract on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis.

Yet the man who created EBTs and acted as an adviser to Rangers believes that is no defence. Paul Baxendale-Walker told Sportsmail last year that the players should be held liable for repaying any cash due to the Revenue.

‘The guarantees given to the players that they would not be pursued are very dangerous for the players,’ he said.

‘Because the rules say that if the employee knows what is going on and is party to it, then the employee is liable — not the employer.

‘The players may have been given assurances they wouldn’t be pursued for the money in future, but so what

‘Whoever received those payments now has to pay them back.’

It is far from certain that individual players will be pursued for cash, however.
Mark Houston, a partner at Johnston Carmichael Chartered Accountants in Edinburgh, believes HMRC have no remit to pursue the players unless it successfully appeals the tribunal decision.

‘The tribunal has ruled Rangers is not liable for tax on payments made under EBT on the basis that the payments were loans and not earnings,’ he said. ‘That effectively closes the door on HMRC being able to go after players.’

Liquidators BDO could still have the power to pursue all the loans on the basis that club money funded the trust, however. So far, they say they are merely reviewing the tribunal’s decision.

For many of the players who brought the glory days to Ibrox, however, the price of that success may yet prove to be unexpectedly heavy.

Rangers

Brian Clough: 8th anniversary of his death

The Life of Brian: Memorable Cloughisms on the 8th anniversary of his death

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UPDATED:

11:47 GMT, 20 September 2012

September 20 marks eight years since the passing of Brian Clough, one of the greatest managers ever to grace the dug-out.

A devastating striker in his playing career, Clough then spent 28 years in management and achieved some remarkable feats – notably guiding Nottingham Forest to back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980.

And, as we all remember, he was never short of an acerbic opinion whatever the subject matter.

In honour of the great man, who died in 2004 at the age of 69, Sportsmail looks at some famous Cloughisms.

Legend: It's eight years since Brian Clough passed away at the age of 69

Legend: It's eight years since Brian Clough passed away at the age of 69

'I wouldn't say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one' – Modestly reflecting on his own success.

'If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he'd have put grass up there' – On the importance of passing the ball to feet.

'I only ever hit Roy the once. He got up so I couldn't have hit him very hard' – On dealing with Roy Keane.

'We talk about it for 20 minutes and then we decide I was right' – On dealing with players in general who disagree with him.

'I'm sure the England selectors thought if they took me on and gave me the job, I'd want to run the show. They were shrewd because that's exactly what I would have done' – On not getting the England manager's job.

'Players lose you games, not tactics. There's so much crap talked about tactics by people who barely know how to win at dominoes' – On England's dismal exit from Euro 2000.

'For all his horses, knighthoods and championships, he hasn't got two of what I've got. And I don't mean balls' – Referring to Sir Alex Ferguson's failure to win two successive European Cups.

'I can't even spell spaghetti never mind talk Italian. How could I tell an Italian to get the ball He might grab mine' – On the influx of foreign players into the English game.

'Anybody who can do anything in Leicester but make a jumper has got to be a genius' – His tribute to Martin O'Neill, who used to manage Leicester City.

'That Seaman is a handsome young man but he spends too much time looking in his mirror rather than at the ball. You can't keep goal with hair like that' – On the pony-tailed former England goalkeeper David Seaman.

'I thought it was my next-door neighbour because I think she felt that if I got something like that I would have to move' – Speculating on who nominated him for a knighthood.

'Don't send me flowers when I'm dead. If you like me, send them while I'm alive' – After the liver transplant which saved his life.

'I want no epitaphs of profound history and all that type of thing. I contributed. I would hope they would say that, and I would hope somebody liked me.' – On posterity.

'I bet their dressing room will smell of garlic rather than liniment over the next few months.' – On the number of French players at Arsenal.

'Rome wasn't built in a day. But I wasn't on that particular job.' – On getting things done.

'On occasions I have been big headed. I think most people are when they get in the limelight. I call myself Big Head just to remind myself not to be.' – Old Big 'Ead explains his nickname.

'Stand up straight, get your shoulders back and get your hair cut.' – Advice for John McGovern at Hartlepool.

'Take your hands out of your pockets.' – More advice, this time for a young Trevor Francis as he presents him with an award.

'You don't want roast beef and Yorkshire every night and twice on Sunday.' – On too much football on television (What would he say now)

'I'm not saying he's pale and thin, but the maid in our hotel room pulled back the sheets and remade the bed without realising he was still in it.' – Referring to former Forest player Brian Rice.

'I like my women to be feminine, not sliding into tackles and covered in mud.' – Clough on women's football.

'I'd have cut his balls off' – On Eric Cantona's infamous kung fu kick at a fan.

'Walk on water I know most people out there will be saying that instead of walking on it, I should have taken more of it with my drinks. They are absolutely right' – A typically candid reflection on his drink problem.

Newcastle still intent on selling St James" Park naming rights

We could buy another Cisse! Newcastle chief defends potential stadium naming rights sale

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UPDATED:

16:00 GMT, 6 May 2012

Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias has re-affirmed the club's intention to sell the naming rights for St James' Park.

Llambias and owner Mike Ashley sparked fury in the city when they changed the name of the stadium to the Sports Direct Arena in an attempt to demonstrate the benefits to potential buyers.

Despite the furore, and an admission that they still refer to the ground by its old name, they insist they need to maximise all possible revenue streams if they are to maintain the club's progress.

Another Papiss Cisse: Newcastle could use the money from selling the naming rights to buy more quality players

Another Papiss Cisse: Newcastle could use the money from selling the naming rights to buy more quality players

Writing in his programme notes for the Barclays Premier League clash with leaders Manchester City, which they lost 2-0, Llambias said: 'As a club, we have made some bold decisions this season, perhaps none bigger or more emotive that our plan to sell the stadium's naming rights.

'But every single decision is aimed at making this football club as successful and competitive as possible.

'Naming rights is clearly an emotional subject, and as I said in a recent interview, both myself and Mike Ashley still call the stadium St James' Park and we will continue to do so.

'Whilst we are not from the north-east, we respect and understand the passion, the history and the tradition that surrounds this football club.

Rebranded: The stadium's name has been changed but few are going along with it

Rebranded: The stadium's name has been changed but few are going along with it

'But it is crucial that we make the most of this commercial opportunity because while we have matched the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea on the pitch this season, they are in a different league when it comes to their sponsorship deals.

'Last season, we brought in 15.7million in commercial revenue. This sounds like a lot of money, but when you compare it to the 50million that Tottenham Hotspur generated, you can begin to see where I am coming from.

'This is not about trampling on people's feelings for the club. It's about generating the kind of money that could bring in another Papiss Cisse, another Yohan Cabaye or another Cheick Tiote.'

Win tickets to see Wolves v Manchester United

Win tickets to see Wolves v Manchester United – courtesy of The Money Shop

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Win tickets to see Wolves v Everton - courtesy of The Money Shop

Sportsmail has teamed up with The Money Shop – the UK's No 1 instant cash provider and an official partner of Wolves – to offer one lucky fan the chance to grab a pair of tickets to see Wolves v Manchester United on Sunday, March 18.

It is a crucial match for Terry Connor's men as they attempt to preserve their Premier League status.

To be in with a chance to win this fantastic prize, answer the following question:

Which Wolves striker started his career at Man UnitedA) Steven Fletcher
B) Kevin Doyle
C) Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

E-mail your answer, along with your name, address and contact number to:

[email protected]

to arrive by 3pm on Wednesday, March 14.

PLEASE NOTE: You must validate your entry with either the words WOLVES COMP in your subject box; the tickets are for home fans only and do
not include travel to/from the ground, accommodation or hospitality; normal Associated Newspapers terms and conditions apply – the Editor's
decision is final.

The Money Shop’s Payday Loans* take care of life’s little emergencies. Get up to 500 in cash today at over 450 stores nationwide. To find your local store visit www.moneyshop.tv

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PSG pitch for Suarez as Uruguay skipper Lugano backs compatriot over Evra handshake snub

PSG pitch for Suarez as Uruguay skipper Lugano backs compatriot over Evra handshake snub

Paris Saint-Germain have become the first club to try and profit from the storm that has engulfed Luis Suarez by declaring an interest in the Liverpool striker.

Influential French newspaper L’Equipe reported that PSG have had contact with Suarez’s advisors and want the Uruguayan to spearhead their assault on the Champions League next season.

Suarez has been under a cloud for the past three months following his race row with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and the hard-line stance Liverpool took last weekend has put Europe’s top clubs on alert.

Yet Liverpool have no appetite at present to offload Suarez and are actively looking at targets of their own to buy this summer that will complement his talents.

Wanted: PSG have targeted Suarez

Wanted: PSG have targeted Suarez

However, PSG – who failed in attempts to land Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez and Alexandre Pato of AC Milan in January – will be waiting in the wings should the situation change.

Their captain Diego Lugano has praised Suarez for his refusal to shake hands with Evra and the defender believes his compatriot has been harshly treated.

Lugano said: ‘He has gone through a few months that he did not deserve. Everyone in football knows that it is a big circus.

‘Take into account that England is historically a colonial country and racism is a sensitive subject but we all know it has nothing to do with what happened between Luis and Evra.

‘It’s a football argument and many false moralists and hypocrites have profited. Luis is the only innocent party in this situation. You have to have balls to do what Luis did on Saturday.

Next stop Pairs PSG are interesting in bringing Suarez to France

Next stop Pairs PSG are interesting in bringing Suarez to France

‘He followed his principles. We live in a democracy and if you do not want to greet someone, you do not do it. And less so if that person has made you experience some bad moments.

Liverpool accused Suarez, 25, of misleading them over his intentions to shake Evra’s hands in a strongly worded statement last Sunday and had considered taking disciplinary action against him.

Suarez, though, will not be fined. Liverpool are anxious to move on from a saga that has hung over the club since last October and only want to be talking about him for his playing ability.

Dalglish said: ‘I can only reiterate what we have said already. We have drawn a line under what happened and we just want Luis to concentrate on his football now.’

Luis Suarez supported by Diego Lugano over Patrice Evra handshake

Support for Suarez! Uruguay captain Lugano defends decision to dodge Evra handshake

Luis Suarez's Uruguan team-mate Diego Lugano claims it took 'balls' for the Liverpool striker not to shake Patrice Evra's hand, as part of a staunch defence of his compatriot.

The under-fire striker snubbed the Manchester United left-back's hand before the Premier League clash on Saturday, even though the FA ruled him guilty of racially abusing his opponent and slapped an eight-game ban on him.

Sir Alex Ferguson said Suarez was a disgrace and should never play for Liverpool again, while Liverpool also rebuked the forward after he dodged the handshake.

Incident: Luis Suarez misses out Patrice Evra

Incident: Luis Suarez misses out Patrice Evra

However, Uruguay captain Lugano said: 'You have to have balls to do what Luis did on Saturday.

'He followed his principles. We live in a democracy, and if you do not want to greet someone, you do not do it.

'And less so if that person has made you experience some bad moments.'

Defence: Diego Lugano supported his international colleague

Defence: Diego Lugano supported his international colleague

Lugano added: 'He has gone through a few months he did not deserve.

'Everyone in football knows it is a big circus.

'Take into account that England is historically a colonial country and racism is a sensitive subject, but we all know it has nothing to do with what happened between Luis and the Manchester United player.

'It’s a football argument, and many false moralists and hypocrites have profited, and Luis is the only innocent party in this situation.'

Tim Ream cancels honeymoon for Bolton move

Sorry love, we're off to Bolton instead! Ream cancels honeymoon to seal move

Tim Ream has been left thousands of pounds out of pocket after finally completing his 2million-plus move to Bolton on a three-year deal.

The New York Red Bulls centre-half had his bags packed and was ready to head to the airport when the call came from Owen Coyle, telling him a deal had been agreed.

An idyllic South Pacific island was the destination he had in mind, though, rather than Bolton’s Reebok Stadium, nestling in the windswept Lancashire hills near Horwich.

New boy: Tim Ream with manager Owen Coyle at Bolton Wanderers

New boy: Tim Ream with manager Owen Coyle at Bolton Wanderers

Newly married, Ream was about to set off on an 11-day honeymoon in Tahiti, but had to abandon it to salvage his dream of playing in the Barclays League. A plea to an unsympathetic travel agent failed to elicit much of a refund.

‘That’s kind of a touchy subject,’ he said, with a wry smile, after arriving at Bolton’s training ground. ‘After getting that call, I sat down with my wife-of-one-day and tried to explain that we wouldn’t be going to Tahiti after all. We talked it over, and, disappointed as she was with the timing of it, we both accepted you have to make decisions you don’t always like.

‘It was all booked, and we were due to fly out the following day. When we cancelled, we lost the majority of what we had paid, so it wasn’t just the sunshine we sacrificed to make sure I became a Bolton player.

‘It wasn’t cheap, not cheap at all, and it had been booked for a solid year. Everything was in place, and we had talked about nothing else all year long. There was a lot of excitement, but we both realised coming to England was too good an opportunity to miss.

Big move: Ream has moved from the New York Red Bulls to the Premier League

Big move: Ream has moved from the New York Red Bulls to the Premier League

‘My wife, Kristen, played as a midfielder throughout her college days, and that helped. She appreciated what being a footballer entails, and she agreed it would be a sacrifice worth making. Once the initial shock of that phone call subsided, we began to think about what this chance with Bolton could mean to us, and we are both excited about that now.

‘It would have been our first visit to Tahiti, but we could arrange another trip further down the line. I’ll have to see what the Mrs says!’

Ream flew back to America last night, to have his passport stamped, and is expected back at Bolton shortly after next Tuesday’s game with Arsenal. He could have been stepping out at The Reebok for Arsenal, he admitted, after impressing Thierry Henry.

‘Thierry definitely tipped them off about me after visiting London last summer,’ he said. ‘He likes to look out for young players, and he wanted me to have the best opportunity to showcase my abilities. But New York wanted to keep me for a second year, and, much as it sounded like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I might not have been playing all that regularly, had I joined Arsenal.

‘Now I have finally made it to English football, and it is a great feeling that everything is set in stone. Bolton felt right, from the moment I sat down with the manager, and I can’t wait to get started.’