Tag Archives: ticket

Wigan v Millwall FA Cup semi-final open to neutral spectators following poor ticket sales from Premier League side

Wembley woe for Wigan as FA open neutral section after Latics fail to sell 10,000 tickets

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

15:06 GMT, 10 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:38 GMT, 10 April 2013

Saturday's FA Cup semi-final between Millwall and Wigan at Wembley will be open to 'neutral' supporters following the Premier League team's struggle to sell tickets.

Wigan's ticket sales have so far not sold 10,000 of their 31,000 allocation for the last-four tie against the Championship side and the FA have intervened by opening a mixed zone for spectators.

Both teams were given just over 31,000 tickets and Millwall – who are, of course, based in London – are expected to sell their full quota.

Poor sales: The FA have opened a neutral section for this weekend's semi-final between Millwall and Wigan

Poor sales: The FA have opened a neutral section for this weekend's semi-final between Millwall and Wigan

But Wigan's Wembley woe is not exactly unexpected. Roberto Martinez's men rarely sell out home matches and the average attendance for Premier League games at the DW Stadium this season is just shy of 19,000.

Perhaps more of a surprise is that Millwall, who only had around 9,000 at their home game against Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday, have managed to shift nearly 31,000 tickets.

The FA have now made a maximum of 6,000 seats, from what was due to be Wigan's allocation, available to neutrals.

Even so, Wembley is still expected to be far from full on Saturday with officials estimating around 15,000 empty seat.

Sunday's more glamorous semi-final between Manchester City and Chelsea is expected to sell out, though.

Wigan qualified for their first ever FA Cup semi-final thanks to a surprising 3-0 win against Everton at Goodison Park.

Millwall,
meanwhile, advanced to the last four after Danny Shittu's header saw
off Blackburn in their quarter-final replay at Ewood Park.

Cruise: Wigan set up their first ever FA Cup semi-final after a 3-0 win at Goodison Park in the last round

Cruise: Wigan set up their first ever FA Cup semi-final after a 3-0 win at Goodison Park in the last round

Heading for Wembley: Danny Shittu scored the only goal as Millwall beat Blackburn in their quarter-final replay

Heading for Wembley: Danny Shittu scored the only goal as Millwall beat Blackburn in their quarter-final replay

Manchester United v Real Madrid tickets on sale for 1,000 each

Psst… want to get into Old Trafford tonight to see the big match, well it'll cost you 1,000 each

By
Colin Young

PUBLISHED:

10:31 GMT, 5 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:18 GMT, 5 March 2013

It is the match 'the world will stop' to watch, according to Jose Mourinho.

And it seems some fans are prepared to pay 'silly money' to watch Manchester United take on Real Madrid tonight.

Although official ticket exchange sites such as viagogo.com are showing no availability, other websites like ticket4football.com have set prices of up to 1,000 each for premium seats for tonight's clash between Manchester United and Real Madrid at Old Trafford.

Some fans have offered to sell spare tickets for up to 750 to watch the latest showdown between Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho, who marked his first visit to Old Trafford with a Champions League victory for Porto and a memorable celebratory dash down the touchline.

Main event: More than 75,000 fans will pack into Old Trafford tonight for Champions League clash

Main event: More than 75,000 fans will pack into Old Trafford tonight for Champions League clash

And the price is expected to go up as fans descend on Old Trafford for the match.

One ticket agent based near the ground, who asked not to be named, said: 'Tickets are going for silly
money, thousands in fact.'

Sportsmail has learned that Madrid fans wanting to see the Special One repeat that feat tonight after the 1-1 draw in the first leg can also expect to pay 800 on the black market.

And that is before the crowds start to gather on Sir Matt Busby Way and ticketless fans try their luck with touts as kick-off approaches.

Although Manchester Police have managed a number of successful convictions for ticket touting operations at United home games in recent years, illegal touts are still expected to flood the streets around the stadium tonight.

A scarf seller is seen outside Old Trafford

ticket poster.jpg

Supply and demand: Tickets for big games are being sold for more than 1,000

One New York Times reporter claimed he saw an exchange yesterday in which touts were charging 500 to 600 for seats for a game which is supposed to be a sell-out.

That was after the press conference at Old Trafford in which Madrid boss Mourinho said 'the world would stop' to watch the encounter between two of the biggest teams on the planet.

And Ferguson added: 'As European nights go you don't get much bigger. We're talking about two clubs with great history. It's set up to be potentially a marvellous game and I don't think it will disappoint either.'

And at 1,000 quid a ticket, it better not.

Eden Hazard ball boy kick charge shows the FA as hypocrites – Martin Samuel

A booking for one but a charge for the other. — so less than a year ago — Oxford United played at home to Swindon Town in League Two. This is the biggest match of Oxford’s season, for those not up on lower-league rivalries or the geography of middle England. The A420 derby might not enjoy the same prestige as its equivalents in Manchester or Liverpool, but if you have a season ticket at the Kassam Stadium, it’s the big one. There was a crowd of almost 12,000 and tempers ran high.

Oxford had James Constable sent off early, but were leading through goals by Asa Hall and Oli Johnson, when Matt Ritchie, a right winger voted League Two Player of the Year last season, became involved with a slow-moving ball boy, identified as Aidan Hawtin, 16 at the time, and on Oxford’s books as a youth player.

A report from Mark Edwards, sports editor of the Oxford Mail, and published on March 5, explains what happened next: ‘Acting as a ball boy in front of the Oxford Mail stand, Hawtin was grabbed and kicked by Matt Ritchie after the Swindon man felt Hawtin was taking too long to return the ball to goalkeeper Ryan Clarke. “He tried to grab the ball off me and kicked me as well,” Hawtin said. The Oxford Mail stand gave him a huge ovation for his efforts, which saw Ritchie booked for his antics. The Swindon man did apologise to Hawtin at the final whistle, however.’ Sound familiar

Long spell on the sidelines The FA's independent regulatory commission could increase Hazard's three-match ban

Long spell on the sidelines The FA's independent regulatory commission could extend Hazard's ban

A Facebook group catchily named ‘Matt Ritchie is a disgrace’ claimed that Hawtin was ‘grabbed round the throat and pushed’ and there was talk of a complaint to the police. Believing that the punishment should be greater, Myles Francis, an angry Oxford fan, wrote to the FA asking what action would be taken against Ritchie.

Knowing what we know of the FA’s take on Hazard, Ritchie’s yellow card would also have been deemed insufficient, one imagines. The FA made a direct link in their statement between Hazard’s actions and the offence of violent conduct and, coincidentally, that was among the points raised by Francis in his letter.

He wrote: ‘I would be interested to know for what offence Ritchie was cautioned by Mr Salisbury. To my mind, the altercation with the ball boy was a clear case of violent conduct. Violent conduct is defined in Law 12 as “using excessive force or brutality against a team-mate, spectator, match official or any other person”. Law 12 goes on to say that a player guilty of an offence of violent conduct must be sent off [my emphasis].’

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And this was the FA response. ‘Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. The FA have investigated and liaised with Oxford United on this matter. The player was cautioned by the referee for the incident and has subsequently apologised to the satisfaction of the ball boy and Oxford United.’ So much for the hard line.

Faced with near identical transgressions — in both cases the referee saw the incident and administered the punishment he believed fit, in both cases the player apologised and in both there is evidence to suggest that the ball boy was carrying out his duty to the benefit of the home team only — the FA behaved in contradictory ways.

They are now rigorously pursuing Hazard, having completely ignored Ritchie. The letter announcing that no further action would be taken against the Swindon player came from Gary Stonehouse, who is a member of the FA communications team. He signed off on behalf of customer relations.

‘Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you: he really is an idiot,’ President Firefly tells Freedonia’s Cabinet.

But this is not true in Stonehouse’s case. Stonehouse is not to blame for the inconsistency. He is a lowly employee who would no doubt have taken guidance from his superiors over Ritchie. The communications department do not get to make judgment calls on serious disciplinary matters.

Stonehouse would have asked a suitable senior, or the correct department, and would then have mouthed that response. He could not have imagined, either, that within a calendar year those superiors would hang him out to dry by adopting an entirely contradictory stance — just because Hazard’s transgression attracted headlines and Ritchie’s went unnoticed beyond that day’s crowd of 11,825.

Not exactly a kickabout in the park though, was it Not exactly a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing.

Anyway, considering some of the punishments meted out to amateur footballers playing in front of the proverbial two men and a dog, it would be highly disingenuous of the FA to claim that a kick is less of a kick if only 11,000 people see it. Such a stance would be indefensibly hypocritical. Stonehouse’s reply was also the standard FA fudge, hiding behind the dubious excuse that because the referee saw the incident and ruled on it, no further action would be appropriate.

Funny how that does not apply in Hazard’s case.

When Roy Keane almost snapped Alf Inge Haaland in two during the Manchester derby, a foul that still looms large in the memory such was its studied viciousness, there could be no additional action against the Manchester United player because referee David Elleray brandished a red card. In Hazard’s case, this no longer applies. More confusion, more inconsistency, more regulation on the hoof.

No extended ban: Roy Keane was sent off for this appalling tackle on Alf Inge Haaland

No extended ban: Roy Keane was sent off for this appalling tackle on Alf Inge Haaland

It wasn’t so long ago that the FA self-servingly appealed a lengthy UEFA ban for violent conduct because it would free up Wayne Rooney to play in the European Championship finals. Now they want to come over all masterful, the guardians of morality. They should pick a face, and wear it.

Chelsea are aware of the Ritchie precedent and may use it in defence of Hazard. At the very least, they believe its existence is an embarrassment and a point of weakness for the FA. Yet has that bothered them in the past

This is an organisation who speak proudly, some might say shamelessly, of their high conviction rate in disciplinary matters, having devised a system in which the prosecution appoints the independent judges and is therefore responsible for covering their time and expenses. Such a system creates an obvious conflict of interest.

On disciplinary matters, the FA act like the Mounties, always getting their man. But that is not so hard when the same body get to play judge and jury, and write the rulebook.

Their problem is that we now live in an age where even the smallest details exist in the public domain and a two-minute internet search can throw up records, precedents and case histories that were once filed and helpfully forgotten. You have got to be good to preside over sport these days because an Oxford fan with time on his hands and a computer can post damning correspondence on a forum that is picked up and circulated like wildfire.

At which point, a body as morally flexible as the FA are likely to be asked how their populist posturing over Hazard can be justified when less than a year ago, an identical incident was deemed worthy of no more than a yellow card, an apology and a handshake.

President Firefly would certainly know how to administer justice in these circumstances. ‘I got a good mind to join a club — and beat you over the head with it.’

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Veron proves Fergie is not always right

Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, regards some of those criticising his goalkeeper David de Gea as idiots. He is entitled to his opinion. It is not as if anyone is going to score many points disputing the merit of professional footballers with the greatest manager in the world.

One cannot help but recall, though, that the last time he used this phrase was over criticism of Juan Sebastian Veron’s performances for United. Remind us what happened there again

Expensive mistake: Juan Sebastian Veron cost Manchester United 28m - he was sold to Chelsea for 15m

Expensive mistake: Juan Sebastian Veron cost Manchester United 28m – he was sold to Chelsea for 15m

And while we’re at it…

It was a wonderful weekend in the FA Cup. Luton Town’s victory is among the greatest upsets of the modern era, while the results for Oldham Athletic, Milton Keynes Dons, Leeds United and Brentford were stunning achievements. Arsenal also defeated Brighton and Hove Albion in a five-goal thriller.

Yet live on ITV on Saturday, Stoke City played Manchester City and Fulham travelled to Manchester United. The richer teams won. Ho, and indeed, hum.

No imagination, some people, when it comes to Cup football. If City had drawn United then, yes, show a glorified Premier League game. But these were not even particularly good replica league fixtures. They would not have been the marquee match on any casual Saturday.

When United went a goal up after three minutes through Ryan Giggs, their tie with Fulham was dead and Stoke’s defeat was eminently forgettable. Some think the Cup has lost its magic, yet the earliest stages of the competition rarely fail to delight. It is football’s television masters that have grown stale.

The magic of the Cup: Luton's stunning victory at Carrow Road was one of the great giant-killings

The magic of the Cup: Luton's stunning victory at Carrow Road was one of the great giant-killings

Dual role: Sky pundit and England coach Gary Neville

Dual role: Sky pundit and England coach Gary Neville

Crunch time to come for Neville

Few pundits have a higher approval rating than Gary Neville. Fans who thought they would hate him on Sky love him instead for his honest, straight-shooting appraisals. Falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson over David de Gea will only enhance his reputation. Richard Keys could not have picked a worse week to suggest Neville was being operated, remotely, from inside Old Trafford.

Keys did make one valid point, though. Crunch time for Neville, Sky and the Football Association is yet to come. Last weekend, Neville stated quite explicitly that Tottenham Hotspur player Clint Dempsey should have gone down under pressure from a Patrice Evra challenge in the penalty area, rather than staying on his feet. As Roy Hodgson’s England regime remains inexplicably on honeymoon, the comment was ignored.

There will come a time, however, when results are not good and some are looking to make mischief for Hodgson. At which point ENGLAND COACH TELLS PLAYERS TO CHEAT would be quite a lively story. Under pressure.

That is when Neville’s hope of riding both horses to the finish line will be tested, not before.

Theo Walcott ready to sign new Arsenal deal – Arsene Wenger

Theo's ready to sign! Wenger claims Walcott will pen new Arsenal deal this month

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

09:48 GMT, 11 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:13 GMT, 11 January 2013

Arsene Wenger has confirmed that discussions with Theo Walcott over a new deal at Arsenal are going well and he expects the winger to sign by the end of the month.

The England international had been linked with a move away from the club with his contract set to expire at the end of the season, but in recent weeks has moved closer to extending his stay at the Emirates.

Wenger said: 'We are on a good road with Theo. I was optimistic last week, but even more optimistic this week.

Ready to commit: Theo Walcott is close to confirming a new deal

Ready to commit: Theo Walcott is close to confirming a new deal

'Do I expect him to sign by the end of the month Yes. Discussions are going smoothly.'

He added: 'I can see Theo Walcott
playing more up front, but he never made it a condition to sign or not.
He is happy to play on the wing as well.

'Walcott is a different animal now. His finishing has improved significantly and you can see a difference with the runs he makes.'

Wenger also commented on the ticketing debate which is raging over the price of admission to football grounds.

Tickets for the clash between Arsenal and Man City start at 62 – but the Arsenal manager insists the prices are fair.

He said: 'They have a choice. You can choose to go to the theatre or not. Of course it's fair.

Ticket debate: Wenger thinks the prices are fair

Ticket debate: Wenger thinks the prices are fair

'They can choose to go to Manchester
United. They can choose to go to Manchester City. They can choose to go
to Barca. Of course it's fair.'

But he conceded that it is an issue he has considered before.

'You'd like prices to be low as possible but the only way we can pay wages is through ticket prices,' explained Wenger.

'For visiting fans it's once a year. But I'm worried for our supporters. It's a delicate subject. We sell out.'

When asked if Arsenal tickets represent value for money, Wenger concluded: 'The only way you can answer that is whether people come back.'

The Gunners boss said it was unlikely that Arsenal would add to their squad in January but it was not because nobody wanted to move to the north London club.

He said: 'We have no problem in players wanting to join us. I'll give you my phone for 24 hours! We can afford 90 per cent of them.'

More to follow.

2013 golden ticket: The main sporting events of the year

The 2013 golden ticket: Which sporting event are you looking forward to most next year

PUBLISHED:

15:36 GMT, 31 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

21:33 GMT, 31 December 2012

The year 2012 will arguably go down as the greatest 12 months in British sporting history, but the drama does not end there as we roll into 2013. We asked our team of writers which main event they are looking forward to the most over the next 12 months, and here's what they told us…

**Scroll down for a full calendar of all the big sporting events in 2013

Year to remember: The London 2012 Olympic Games lit up a fantastic 12 months for British sport

Year to remember: The London 2012 Olympic Games lit up a fantastic 12 months for British sport

The Masters

April 11 to April 14

Derek Lawrenson

From the wider sporting world, it is hard to beat the magic of the first day of an Ashes Test series, with all its promise of a summer of cricketing splendour.

In golf, even after attending every one since 1985, the lure of the Masters remains. Will Rory claim his first green jacket Will Tiger finally rediscover the scent of the Golden Bear Will an Englishman end the major drought As ever, the event offers a myriad of exciting possibilities.

Three's the charm: Rory McIlroy will be looking to add the Masters to his Major haul in April

Three's the charm: Rory McIlroy will be looking to add the Masters to his Major haul in April

Carl Froch v Mikkel Kessler

May/June – no official date yet confirmed

Martin Domin

In what could be a year of rematches for the Cobra, this unification showdown promises to be the highlight. While victory over undisputed super-middleweight king Andre Ward would be the best of his career, Froch’s meeting with his Danish rival is already a Fight of the Year candidate.

Kessler won a unanimous decision when they two clashed in the Super Six tournament in 2010 and recently won the WBA title from Brian Magee, while Froch holds the IBF belt after his stunning demolition of Canadian Lucian Bute. With a 4million pot to be shared by the protagonists, expect fireworks from the first bell… and a tight victory for Nottingham’s finest.

The Cobra: Carl Froch is set to take on Mikkel Kessler at the beginning of the summer

The Cobra: Carl Froch is set to take on Mikkel Kessler at the beginning of the summer

British and Irish Lions tour of Australia

June 1 to July 6

Chris Foy

No need to look beyond my own sport here, as any Lions tour is a wonderful, unique event, generating even greater public interest and debate than a World Cup.

This year’s edition sees a return to Australia, where the Lions last visited in 2001, culminating in an agonising 2-1 Test series defeat. This time, if injuries don’t brutally undermine his plans, head coach Warren Gatland should have a staggering array of British and Irish rugby talent at his disposal.

There is a very real prospect of a first series success since 1997 and with the fabled ‘red army’ expected to number 40,000 for the crusade Down Under, it will be an enthralling, colourful sporting highlight of the year.

Drought: The Lions were last victorious in a series back in 1997 against South Africa

Drought: The Lions were last victorious in a series back in 1997 against South Africa

Chris Cutmore

Nothing else in sport can match the intensity, brutality and white-knuckle tension of British and Irish Lions tours. Four years ago in South Africa they were heroic in defeat. But, as Jim Telfer famously once said, to win for the Lions is the ultimate. Australia await in June – can Warren Gatland inspire a first series victory since 1997 This is your Everest, boys.

Lee Clayton

My golden ticket would be The British
and Irish Lions tour, as a punter. I’ve always wanted to take my dad,
who is a massive rugby fan. The atmosphere and the social side of the
trip would be magnificent, as well as the sporting excellence.

The boss: Warren Gatland takes the 2013 touring party to Australia in June

The boss: Warren Gatland takes the 2013 touring party to Australia in June

The Champions League Final, back at Wembley, should be another wonderful sporting occasion, as should Carl Froch defending his world title at the 02 Arena in London (see Jeff Powell’s latest boxing column). Froch is a warrior fighter. And I might have more chance of making that than getting Down Under… this time. But the saving starts here for the next tour.

I am lucky enough to be going to the first day of the Oval Test against Australia on August 21. So here’s to dry weather and lots of English dominance.

Who said it was all quiet in London post-Olympics in 2013

Happy memories: England clinched the 2009 Ashes series at the Oval

Happy memories: England clinched the 2009 Ashes series at the Oval

Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Jeff Powell

Hopefully, prayerfully and if it actually happens almost unbelievably… Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao.

Never mind that the PacMan was knocked out by mini-Terminator Juan Manuel Marquez, this is still the No 1 pound-for-pounder which all boxing and much of the outside world wants to see. And with both men edging into decline – Mayweather’s legs were less spry against Miguel Cotto and it is not inconceivable he too could hit the deck soon – if the $200 million mega-bucks fight doesn’t happen this year it probably never will.

Will they, won't they The boxing world is still waiting for Mayweather (pictured) to take on Pacquiao

Will they, won't they The boxing world is still waiting for Mayweather (pictured) to take on Pacquiao

Wimbledon

June 24 to July 7

Mike Dickson

Normally, in the event of England hosting Australia in the Ashes, the golden ticket would be for the Lord’s Test match, or any other for that matter. But between June and January 2014 England will play their old foe at least 26 times in all forms of cricket, including ten Tests, which somewhat devalues the currency.

Therefore in a non-international football tournament summer the golden ticket has to be the men’s singles final at Wimbledon, preferably between Andy Murray and a fully fit and restored Rafael Nadal.

Old rivals: Murray and Nadal (right) have played out some epic matches in the past

Old rivals: Murray and Nadal (right) have played out some epic matches in the past

Laurie Whitwell

Sunday, July 7. The day when a British man reigns triumphant at Wimbledon to end a 77-year wait for a singles champion.

That singular man is Andy Murray, who has coped with prolonged national expectation and four Grand Slam final defeats to emerge this country's finest tennis player since Fred Perry. He did the improbable by winning the US Open to banish one enduring statistic of Perry's and on Centre Court on men's finals day 2013 he will get rid of another.

A ticket to see Murray ascend the heights set by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would be 24 carat.

Historic moment: Murray sinks to the ground as he beats Novak Djokovic in the US Open final

Historic moment: Murray sinks to the ground as he beats Novak Djokovic in the US Open final

Sam Cunningham

Andy Murray did two things last year that suggest he is finally capable of ending a 77-year wait for a male British Wimbledon champion – he won a Grand Slam and won a major competition on Centre Court.

There wasn't much in 2012 that Britain didn't achieve in sport, but having a winner at Wimbledon was one of them. Every time the nerves kick in Murray can look at the Olympic gold medal in his locker to remind him of beating Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who beat Murray in last year's Wimbledon final, in front of a packed crowd at SW19.

If he goes all the way it will produce another two weeks of sport that will capture the nation's attention and would be likely to bump him up two places to win Sports Personality of the Year. I can't wait to watch it.

Sealed with a kiss: Murray will be hoping to add another Grand Slam to his trophy cabinet at Wimbledon

Sealed with a kiss: Murray will be hoping to add another Grand Slam to his trophy cabinet at Wimbledon

The Ashes in England

July 10 to August 25

Neil Moxley

I'm most looking forward to beating Australia. It helps if it is a mainstream sport. Therefore, victories in the Ashes and for the British Lions would be my idea of sporting heaven.

To be honest, any sporting victory over Australia is to be celebrated. Tiddlywinks, running for the bus, sheep-shearing. All of it would bring a smile to my face. Why am I like this I'm no xenophobe. But I just know how much they hate losing and how hard they try whenever they face any team from these shores, especially England.

And, having grown up in a cricketing era where we were routinely humiliated by the likes of Steve Waugh, (my cricketing hero) Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, we haven't yet inflicted the sort of pain upon them to nullify that inflicted upon us by the thrashings of the late 80s and 90s.

Arch rivals: England and Australia have some titanic clashed lined up this year

Arch rivals: England and Australia have some titanic clashes lined up this year

World Athletics Championships in Moscow

August 10 to 18

Laura Williamson

There is no excuse for a post-Olympics lull in track and field with the World Championships just eight months away and it promises to be an exciting competition from a British perspective.

Jessica Ennis wants her world heptathlon title back after silver in 2011, Mo Farah will eye another long-distance double and Greg Rutherford is out to prove his Olympic long jump gold was not a one-off. Then, of course, there’s Usain Bolt, who has already targeted breaking his own world records in 2013…

Main event: Usain Bolt will be looking to add World Championship gold to his Olympic crown

Main event: Usain Bolt will be looking to add World Championship gold to his Olympic crown

Other key dates in 2013:

FA Cup final, Wembley, May 11

Champions League final, Wembley, May 25

Tour de France, June 29 – July 21

The Open, Muirfield, July 18 – 21

Rugby League World Cup, October 26 – November 30

The Ashes in Australia

November 21 to January 7, 2014

Ian Ladyman

My plane ticket for the Adelaide Ashes Test in November is already booked so I am growing steadily excited about that. The last one in 2010 was remarkable and anything approaching that would be more than acceptable for me.

With England and Australia meeting in back-to-back series this year, the cricket authorities should be wary of overkill but we will see how that pans out.

There is also a Rugby League World Cup to look forward to this year – with the final at Old Trafford – while the conclusion to the Barclays Premier League will not be dull.

The Ashes home and away

Barmy army: England's travelling support are sure to be in full voice in Australia

Barmy army: England's travelling support are sure to be in full voice in Australia

January to June

July - December

Sir Alex Ferguson hails Bundesliga but says Premier League is still top

Fergie hails Bundesliga but Man United boss says Premier League is still the best

|

UPDATED:

12:00 GMT, 20 December 2012

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes the German Bundesliga is threatening the Premier League's status as the most exciting league in the world.

For the first time since 1999, more teams from the Bundesliga made it out of the initial group stage of the Champions League than their English counterparts.

With Bayern Munich, Schalke and Borussia Dortmund in the last 16.

Pole position: Bayern Munich are leading the way in the Bundesliga

Pole position: Bayern Munich are leading the way in the Bundesliga

German giants: Bayern had a Christmas message for their fans in Munich

German giants: Bayern had a Christmas message for their fans in Munich

So, with cheap ticket prices fuelling a soccer boom in the country, Ferguson believes they offer a genuine challenge to England's position.

'The Premier League is still the most exciting in Europe,' Ferguson told Eurosport. 'The great thing about our league is that anyone can beat you.

'It has always had that great quality and in general it is 100 per cent commitment, which the supporters recognise.

'But Germany is very successful at the moment also. The crowds there are fantastic and it is very cheap in relation to English football, which encourages supporter participation.

Realistic: Sir Alex Ferguson recognises the power of the Bundesliga

Realistic: Sir Alex Ferguson recognises the power of the Bundesliga

No 1: Fergie is convinced the Premier League is still the most exciting

No 1: Fergie is convinced the Premier League is still the most exciting

'The stadiums are great and the games are good quality with a lot of goals.

'Germany is creeping up but ours is still the most exciting.'

For the second season running, England lost half its Champions League contingent at the group stage.

Big-spending
Manchester City have found the acclimatisation process much harder than
they hoped, whilst this term Chelsea also bowed out, just as United did
12 months ago.

Atmosphere: Borussia Dortmund's home is one of the best arenas in the game

Atmosphere: Borussia Dortmund's home is one of the best arenas in the game

'Europe has been disappointing for the Premier League teams over the last couple of years,' said Ferguson.

'For quite a few years we were getting three teams in the semi-finals, or at least two. In 2008 it was an all Premier League final.

'But sometimes you get blips. I don't think it is going to be a consistent thing. I think English teams will always be challenging to be in the latter stages of the European Cup.'

Charles Green pledges to give Ally McCoist 10m to spend from Rangers" flotation on LSE

Green pledges to give McCoist a 10m war chest from Rangers' flotation on LSE

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UPDATED:

00:01 GMT, 20 December 2012

Charles Green pledged 10million from the club’s share issue for Ally McCoist to spend on new recruits — with the promise of more to follow.

The Rangers manager cannot add to his squad in the coming transfer window due to a one-year embargo but can bring in free agents as of September 1 next year.

McCoist this week sought clarity from Green over transfer budgets after the chief executive failed to deliver the five players he had been hoping for before the August deadline.

And Green responded by insisting that 10m will be ring-fenced from the 22.2m raised ahead of the club being floated on the London Stock Exchange, with unspecified further funds on the horizon if season-ticket sales are again healthy.

Cash injection: Charles Green has vowed to boost Rangers' coffers to the tune of 10m

Cash injection: Charles Green has vowed to boost Rangers' coffers to the tune of 10m

Green said: ‘We’ve allocated 10m for Ally to spend on players as soon as he’s able to do that. But we’re not saying it’s 10m and only 10m — if Rangers fans buy season tickets next year, there’s another 20m there.

‘We have a transfer ban for another year but Ally and his team are looking at who is out of contract when we can sign pre-contract agreements in January then, on September 1, we can sign them.’

If Rangers do sign players on pre-contracts next month, no money can change hands until the end of the transfer ban in September, but Green still expects top players to jump at the chance.

‘Why wouldn’t you sit on your hands and wait if you had the chance to play for Rangers’ he asked.

‘In Europe, clubs are in meltdown and can’t pay players’ wages.

‘We know that (former Rangers keeper) Allan McGregor was having difficulty getting paid (at Besiktas), although I understand that has now been resolved.

‘But other players have gone into Europe on a gravy train and soon found out there’s no gravy.

‘So there’s a chance for them to sit on their hands or to leave their contracts and sign a contract for Rangers — who can pay salaries when we are allowed to do so. That is quite attractive.’

Ahead of the stock exchange flotation yesterday, Green had vowed that Rangers ‘will rise again’.

And the chief executive, who cannot cash in his shares for two years, believes success on and off the park over that period will result in Rangers amassing financial muscle that will ‘scare’ opponents.

Money to spend: Ally McCoist will have the chance to strengthen his squad

Money to spend: Ally McCoist will have the chance to strengthen his squad

‘We’ve sold 37,500 season tickets this season and we didn’t put them on sale until August.

‘Remember, no one was going to buy a ticket off me in July, because I was “a snake-oil salesman”.

‘With added goodwill, I’d assume if we’ve won the Third Division we’ll see no less season tickets next year.

‘We reduced the price to 315 this year but, if they went to 400 next year, then that’s another 18m in the bank.

‘That must be the scary thing about Rangers, looking from the outside.

‘In the past we might have needed 100m to get a squad together, but those days are long gone.

‘Last year, Theo Walcott would have cost up to 50m but now he may end up leaving Arsenal on a free.

‘That’s happening everywhere and we have to be aware of the options available to our Theo Walcotts, like Barrie McKay and Fraser Aird.

‘Football is changing. We don’t need to be paying 12m for Tore Andre Flo. When was that ever good business

‘What we have done is set a structure in place where Rangers are no longer a boom-or-bust club. This is the springboard for the rebirth of Rangers.’

Rangers shares sold for 70p and were worth 76p by close of trade, with Green hailing a successful flotation.

‘It’s an enviable position,’ he said, ‘and if Rangers was in any other league in the world, this club would be worth 400m, bigger than Aston Villa, Tottenham, Everton and others.’

Leeds and Chelsea fans warned by police

Behave, or else! Leeds and Chelsea fans issued warning before bitter cup clash

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UPDATED:

22:28 GMT, 18 December 2012

Leeds and Chelsea supporters have been warned not to add another chapter to football’s season of shame on Wednesday night.

The clubs go head to head in a potentially explosive Capital One Cup quarter-final at Elland Road.

The two sets of fans have a long-running feud that stems back to the 1960s and, in a season already blighted by numerous off-the-field flashpoints, supporters have been told to behave themselves or face serious action.

No repeats: This Leeds fan ran onto the pitch and attacked visiting goalkeeper Chris Kirkland - and police have warned fans not to cause any trouble on Wednesday

No repeats: This Leeds fan ran onto the pitch and attacked visiting goalkeeper Chris Kirkland – and police have warned fans not to cause any trouble on Wednesday

West Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Paul Money said: ‘We want the focus of the day to be the action on the pitch and for it not to be overshadowed by violence or disorder.

'I would ask responsible fans, who make up the vast majority of all supporters, not to allow the minority element of unruly fans to spoil the game.

‘I will also ask the managers of both teams to speak to the players and ask them to avoid doing anything which may antagonise supporters of the opposition team.

‘Experienced football intelligence officers from the Metropolitan Police will be working alongside West Yorkshire officers to identify any troublemakers. We will not hesitate to take firm action against any fans who cause disorder or use violence.’

Leeds manager Neil Warnock said: ‘While I want the fans to be loud, we don’t want any of the bad behaviour we have seen from different sets of fans around the country this season and I ask both sets of fans to get behind their side without any of the unwanted problems.’

West Yorkshire Police will bolster their resources while Chelsea’s ticket allocation has been slashed from 5,000 to 3,000 in a bid to forestall potential problems.

Already this season, Rio Ferdinand has been hit by a coin, Chris Kirkland was attacked by an opposing fan and several players have issued complaints that racial slurs have been made against them by spectators.

Football's shame: Rio Ferdinand was hit by a coin during the Manchester Derby

Football's shame: Rio Ferdinand was hit by a coin during the Manchester Derby

Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez tried to play down the potential for trouble when he said he will offer to shake Warnock’s hand despite bad blood between the pair. The Leeds boss says he is undecided over a handshake as he holds him partly responsible for his Sheffield United team’s Premier League relegation in 2007.

Benitez, then manager of Liverpool, fielded a weakened side against struggling Fulham in the final weeks of the season.

He said: ‘Will I shake his hand I’m a professional so I will do my job. I’m a professional and have to behave.’

Benitez will hold talks with technical director Michael Emenalo about the club’s January transfer plans. Daniel Sturridge is set to join Liverpool next month so Chelsea will want a new striker, with Radamel Falcao a top target.

Simmer down: Rafael Benitez will try to keep a lid on any potential trouble by shaking Neil Warnock's hand

Simmer down: Rafael Benitez will try to keep a lid on any potential trouble by shaking Neil Warnock's hand

Manchester City fan who confronted Rio Ferdinand apologises after pitch encroachment charge

'I'm ashamed and have let my family down': Man City fan who confronted Ferdinand says sorry after bursting on to pitch at shameful climax to manic derby

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UPDATED:

15:49 GMT, 10 December 2012

The Manchester City supporter who ran on to the pitch to confront Rio Ferdinand has issued a grovelling apology for his action during a tumultuous derby on Sunday afternoon.

Matthew Stott, 21, was restrained by Blues keeper Joe Hart and then arrested after he raced onto the Etihad Stadium pitch following Robin van Persie's stunning late winner.

He has since been charged with pitch encroachment and has released a statement through his solicitors. In the meantime, City have removed his season ticket with immediate effect and he will be banned from the stadium for life if found guilty in court of a charge of pitch encroachment.

Scroll down for video

Nicked: The City fan is hauled off by police and stewards after attempting to confront Ferdinand

Nicked: The City fan is hauled off by police and stewards after attempting to confront Ferdinand

In the statement, the landscape gardener, from Knutsford, said: 'I would like to apologise to all those affected by my actions yesterday, particularly Mr Ferdinand and the other players. I am extremely ashamed of my actions. I have let myself down, my family down, my fellow fans down and Manchester City Football Club.

'I intend to write personally to Mr Ferdinand to express my extreme regret and apologies and also apologise to Manchester United and their fans. I would like to thank Joe Hart for his actions when I came on the pitch.'

'I have been a fan of Manchester City Football club all my life and I have been a season ticket holder for three years and I attend the games with my father. I have had the same seat in the section next to the away fans for those three years.'

Rebecca Caulfield, solicitor at Stephen Lickrish and Associates, is representing Stott.

Ashamed: Hart steps in to stop the situation escalating after the winner had been scored

Ashamed: Hart steps in to stop the situation escalating after the winner had been scored

Ashamed: Hart steps in to stop the situation escalating after the winner had been scored

She said: 'Scott is a hard working man who has held a full time job as a landscape gardener for four years and lives with his partner of five years.

'He has never been to court before and has never been in trouble with any of the stewards at Manchester City Football Club before or at any other ground. He is extremely remorseful and is mortified by his behaviour which is completely out of character.

'This was a momentary mistake by Mr Stott which has led to him being charged, brought shame on his family, and will bring sanctions on the club that Mr Stott has supported all his life.

'Mr Stott will accept the consequences of his actions. He would like to make clear that he is not the stereotypical drunken football fan but a fan that attends games with his father.

Apology: Stott plans to write to Ferdinand to express his regret

Apology: Stott plans to write to Ferdinand to express his regret

'He is embarrassed and ashamed of his temporary moment of madness that has brought wider consequences on the club he supports and his fellow fans.'

Greater Manchester Police today confirmed nine people had been charged in connection with trouble at yesterday's Manchester derby.

Among the charges faced by the nine people are racially aggravated public order and pitch encroachment.

Police are still hunting for the person who threw the coin which struck Rio Ferdinand above the eye.

A City spokeman confirmed: 'His season card has been immediately removed for the rest of the season
and he has been charged to appear at court. If he is found guilty he
faces a lifetime ban.'

VIDEO: Fans react to the aftermath of the violence…

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Arsenal fans protests – Arsene Wenger shrugs them off after defeat to Swansea

Protesting Arsenal fans turn heat up on Wenger and Gazidis
as shock Swansea defeat leaves club facing crisis

|

UPDATED:

19:34 GMT, 1 December 2012

Arsene Wenger stonewalled questions about the future direction of Arsenal after being jeered throughout a miserable 2-0 home defeat to Swansea.

Hundreds of disgruntled supporters protested against the club's owners in the streets outside the Emirates before kick-off, waving placards and banners condemning the club's bosses.

And the mutinous mood continued inside the stadium, as the Welsh side snatched a deserved victory courtesy of Michu's two late goals.

Protest movement: Hundreds of Arsenal fans marched to the Emirates before the match with Swansea City in protest at the club's ownership and high ticket prices

Protest movement: Hundreds of Arsenal fans marched to the Emirates before the match with Swansea City in protest at the club's ownership and high ticket prices

Mutiny: Fans have started the Black Scarf Movement to make their feelings known over the way the club is being run

Mutiny: Fans have started the Black Scarf Movement to make their feelings known over the way the club is being run

Difficult afternoon: Arsene Wenger was jeered throughout Arsenal's 2-0 defeat but shrugged off the protests

Difficult afternoon: Arsene Wenger was jeered throughout Arsenal's 2-0 defeat but shrugged off the protests

Both the half-time and full-time whistles were greeted with a chorus of boos and jeers, with Wenger targeted by angry fans during the second period.

But the Frenchman shrugged off questions about his future after the game, saying: 'I don't want to get involved in that.'

The Black Scarf Movement (BSM), a supporters' protest group, gathered outside the stadium before the match to stage a vocal protest march to the ground.

Fans held aloft banners reading: 'Ivan Gazidis – What the f*** do you do' and 'Let's kick greed out of football.'

The Movement are protesting against escalating ticket prices, the composition of the club's board – including the role of chief executive Gazidis – and a lack of silverware for seven years.

March: Arsenal fans make their way towards the Emirates behind a banner saying 'Let's kick greed out of football'

March: Arsenal fans make their way towards the Emirates behind a banner saying 'Let's kick greed out of football'

New motto: These fans held placards suggesting profit had taken precedence over points at Arsenal

New motto: These fans held placards suggesting profit had taken precedence over points at Arsenal

Arsenal fans have to pay some of the highest prices in the league to watch their side, who slipped to tenth in the Premier League table after today's result.

BSM spokesman Kelvin Meadows explained the reasons for the protests: 'Most Arsenal fans realise that there's something wrong at the club. What divides opinion is who is responsible.

'We are doing this walk to highlight a few concerns, but when we reach the end at the stadium we will get all our flags out to show we are 100 per cent behind the team.

'But we want to know a few things with regard to what's going on at the club.

'If there is money for the manager to spend why isn't he spending it or why isn't anyone telling him to spend it

Vocal: The protest march ended outside the Emirates stadium, though there were jeers inside after the final whistle

Vocal: The protest march ended outside the Emirates stadium, though there were jeers inside after the final whistle

Not flagging: Supporters make their feelings known to the board

Not flagging: Supporters make their feelings known to the board

'If there's not money to spend then where on earth has out money gone

'We've got some of the most expensive ticket prices, yet where is the expenditure on the players

'My personal point of view is that I think Wenger is partly responsible. But I think to a degree he has been left working with his hands tied behind his back.

'But the one thing we are trying to make clear is that it's not about Wenger, but the way the club is run. That's what we have to stay focused on.'

Today's protest comes five weeks after a stormy club AGM in which owner Stan Kroenke was forced to leap to the defence of his regime after fans criticised his vision for the club.

Swansea were good value for their victory, which was secured through goals from Michu in the 87th and 90th minutes.

Double blast: Swansea's Michu netted twice to settle this match 2-0 in their favour after Arsenal again failed to perform

Double blast: Swansea's Michu netted twice to settle this match 2-0 in their favour after Arsenal again failed to perform

After watching his side slip to 10th in the Barclays Premier League, Wenger said: 'We are in this job to turn things around, and I am confident we will [because of] the quality of the players and the spirit we have in the team. It is a good moment to stick together.

'I am not so much worried about [league] places, even if that is not the place you want to be, but I believe what is important is we get the quality of our game back. Then the places change.'

Wenger turned 63 last month, but insisted there were no thoughts of calling time on his Arsenal career as he looks to guide the club back to winning ways.

'You make your assessment at the end of the season, as I said many times,' the Arsenal boss stressed.

Oh dear: Santi Cazorla (left) and Mikel Arteta look defeated after the defeat left them in 10th in the Premier League

Oh dear: Santi Cazorla (left) and Mikel Arteta look defeated after the defeat left them in 10th in the Premier League

'I know that at the moment, you get some good news from everywhere because there is a lot of unrest everywhere.

'I believe it is a good opportunity to stick together and show we are a strong club.'

Wenger maintained he can empathise with the frustrations of supporters, but refused to be drawn on the pre-match protests.

'It is more down to shareholders and that is not my job,' he said.

'It's difficult to answer that straight away after a game like that, but I believe the support from the board is there to spend the money if we find the players.'

Despite the disappointment of the defeat, Wenger acknowledged Swansea had produced the required performance to get a positive result.

He said: 'The quality of our game was not there. It was a bit frustrating because we lacked a bit of decisiveness and creativity.

Not good enough: Arsene Wennger saw his side slump to a home defeat

Not good enough: Arsene Wennger saw his side slump to a home defeat

'Swansea were more creative, more sharp. It is very frustrating, but it is the truth.'

Swans boss Michael Laudrup praised the efforts of his team as their positive run continued, following on from the midweek win over West Brom.

'There have been three great performances, each better than the (previous) one. The team is playing with a lot of confidence,” Laudrup said.

'They put us under pressure for 20 minutes in the second half and you know their players can make the difference at any moment, so you can never sit easy.

'We looked in quite good shape and were only defending deep a few times.'

Despite guiding his team to a first win at Arsenal since February 1982, Laudrup insists the performance today must be kept in context.

The Dane said: 'For me, it is not more special than winning at QPR, or at Newcastle, it is an away game.

'Winning at the big clubs is more for people on the outside.

'For me, every away game is so difficult and now we have already won three away, plus in the cup against Liverpool, that is great for a club like us.'