Gill: United won’t sell Old Trafford

(GSM) – Manchester United chief executive David Gill is adamant Old Trafford and the club’s Carrington training base will never be sold to raise funds.

The Manchester giants have come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks as details of their financial structures have been made public.

Amongst the most contentious issues contained in a prospectus for an ultimately successful £504million bond issue was confirmation that Carrington and Old Trafford could be sold and then leased back to the club.

Even the mere mention of United losing ownership of two such iconic assets was greeted with alarm and brought ridicule from the anti-Glazer movement that has once again mobilised itself against United’s controversial owners.

Yet, as he attempted to portray a picture far less bleak than the one that has been created by those same critics, Gill insists Old Trafford and Carrington will not be sold to pay off debt.

“I can categorically confirm Carrington and Old Trafford will never be sold to raise funds,” he told BBC Radio Five Live.

“The sale and lease back opportunity for Carrington within the bond document is done for financial and tax planning.

“Manchester United will continue to have complete control over that asset and if it ever happened it would be for a peppercorn rent if it happens.

“But I am 100% convinced the sale and lease-back of Old Trafford will never happen under the Glazer ownership. I say that unequivocally, with no hesitation.”

Sun 31 January, 2010
RSS Feed

Agent: Raul move not ruled out

(GSM) – Real Madrid’s Raul could move to the Premier League at some point in the near future, according to his agent Gines Carvajal.

The Santiago Bernabeu legend has found opportunities harder to come by this season after the spending spree of last summer.

While he has no intentions of leaving at the moment, as he remains under contract for another year-and-a-half, his representative has hinted towards a possible move away from Real.

Carvajal also feels that England would be a possible destination if the 32-year-old did ever decide to embark on a new challenge

“It is no secret that he has always liked the Premier League,” Carvajal said in The People.

“The only formal offer the club ever received for him came from Chelsea at the time when they signed Makelele.

“Raul’s contract runs until 2011 and at the moment he plans to see it out but it is a long season and we will have to see what happens.”

Sun 31 January, 2010
RSS Feed

Lazio star closing in on Inter move

Lazio midfielder Cristian Ledesma is closing in on a move to Serie A rivals Inter, according to the player’s agent, Vincenzo D’Ippolito.

Reports say a switch could be completed before the January transfer window closes on Monday.

“The two presidents are talking and I think that an official announcement could be released today,” the agent told Lalaziosiamonoi.it.

“[Lazio president Claudio] Lotito has realised that he had to lower his demands, partly because the Inter offer was hard to turn down.”

Nigerian midfielder Joel Obi could join Lazio as part of a deal for Ledesma.

“As far as I know, Inter have included a Primavera youngster in the deal,” explained D’Ippolito.

“But it is not [Rene] Khrin, whose fee was too high.”

[Source: Lalaziosiamonoi.it]

Sun 31 January, 2010
RSS Feed

Sunderland set to sign Crystal Palace starlet

Sunderland are closing in on signing Crystal Palace starlet Nathaniel Clyne, according to the Sunday Mirror.

Clyne has impressed for Crystal Palace and Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has long been keeping tabs on the 18-year-old.

Bruce is ready to make a £1million bid for Clyne, after Palace falled into administration.

A Crystal Palace insider told the Sunday Mirror: “It’s pretty obvious a lot of players will be sold as there are a lot of talented youngsters at the club. Nathaniel is a really good lad and a talented player and there is a lot of interest in him. It’s likely he will leave before the end of the window.”

[Source: The Sunday Mirror]

Sun 31 January, 2010
RSS Feed

CAF disgraceful decision must be overturned

Terrible scenes

Terrible scenes

Just when I thought that in forty years of watching, playing, coaching, reading about, writing about and talking about football, there was nothing left that could surprise or shock me, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) make a decision does just that.

Petty

Togo have been kicked out of the next two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments due to their withdrawal from the current tournament in Angola. Now, I have no doubt that CAF are acting in line with the rules and regulations in their petty little rule books, but just how insensitive, stupid and downright ignorant is this decision?

CAF released a statement saying that they understood the Togolese decision not to play in Angola but said,

‘Following a decision taken by players to participate in the competition, the Togolese government decided to call back their national team. The decision taken by the political authorities is infringing CAF and Nations Cup regulations. Therefore, a decision has been taken to suspend Togo for the next two editions.’

Just to add further insult, CAF fined the Togo federation US$50,000.

I may be missing the point here, but the Togo team bus came under a sustained machine gun attack that left players shocked and injured and two team officials sadly dead. I can’t find the words to describe a decision to punish that team for then withdrawing from the competition.

Unpleasant

The final of the competition takes place today and when football writers around the world should be writing about African football and the prospects for that game, CAF have ensured by making this inexplicable decision that they have turned potentially positive coverage of African football to something far more unpleasant and sinister.

CAF have told Togo that they can appeal against the decision. That is big of them. Of course Togo must appeal and they must get the ban overturned. If that happens quickly then African football’s organisers and rulers may just be able to rescue a tiny part of the crumbling remains of any respect that anyone around the world may now have for them.

Recover

As young Togolese footballers are trying to recover, physically and mentally, from a terrible ordeal, they have now been told that if they can resurrect their career and get playing again, they won’t be able to compete in the next two of the premier tournament on their continent

This is a disgrace and SoccerNews truly hopes that this awful decision can be overturned quickly.

Sun 31 January, 2010
RSS Feed

Schalke keep up pressure on league leaders Bayern

Schalke 04 remain in the hunt for the Bundesliga title after the Royal Blues beat Hoffenheim 2-0 on Saturday evening while Bayern Munich went top of the table with a 3-0 win over Mainz.

Schalke are third after goals by striker Kevin Kuranyi and midfielder Lukas Schmitz saw off Hoffenheim who drop to ninth in the table.

The Royal Blues are now level on 41 points with Leverkusen, just one behind Bayern, but with Leverkusen facing strugglers Freiburg on Sunday evening, Bayern can expect to lose their place at the top of the table.

Earlier Dutch winger Arjen Robben scored his second goal in two matches to seal Munich’s seventh-straight league win.

Having scored the winner in the 3-2 victory at Bremen the week before, Robben curled in another free-kick against Mainz to give Louis van Gaal-coached Bayern three more points after heavy snow made playing conditions difficult.

“The weather was not good, it was the same for both sides, but it worked out for us,” said Robben after the ball had slipped out of the Mainz goalkeeper’s hands for the first Bayern goal.

“We were lucky with the first goal and things went well after that.

“The coach told us to stay calm at the break because we were still level and our patience paid off.”

Bayern’s Mario Gomez and Daniel Van Buyten had fired the German giants into the lead before Robben stepped up with the third goal.

The home side took the lead amidst heavy snow when Van Buyten headed home after a cross from Robben on 58 minutes.

French winger Franck Ribery, who continues to work his way back to fitness after a knee injury, came off the bench with 30 minutes remaining.

Ribery and Robben combined to free Germany defender Philipp Lahm down the right flank who fired in a cross which Gomez slotted home on 75 minutes before Robben struck with four minutes remaining.

Elsewhere, Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf is in a precarious position as his side have now gone seven German league games without a win after they went down 4-3 at midtable Borussia Moenchengladbach.

The home side raced into a 3-0 lead after just 18 minutes before Mesut Oezil and Claudio Pizarro pulled goals back for Bremen and captain Torsten Frings converted a penalty with six minutes left to guarantee a frantic finish.

Second from bottom Nuremberg picked up only their second win in their last 10 games when they won 3-1 at Hanover and the result leaves bottom side Hertha Berlin five points adrift after they drew 0-0 with Bochum in the capital.

Cologne are up to 12th after their second consecutive win having beaten Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1.

With defending champions Wolfsburg drawing 1-1 at Hamburg on Friday, fourth-placed Dortmund face Stuttgart on Sunday.

Under former Tottenham Hotspur boss Christian Gross, who took over from Markus Babbel in December, Stuttgart have moved up to 13th in the table.

Sun 31 January, 2010
RSS Feed

Valladolid sign Del Horno on loan

Valencia defender Asier Del Horno has left the Mestalla to join Real Valladolid on loan till the end of the season, Los Che have announced.  The 29 year old was heavily linked with a switch to Deportivo La Coruna who were looking for a replacement for injured full back Filipe, but has now joined José Luis Mendilibar’s side.

Valladolid narrowly escaped the drop last season, finishing one point above the relegation zone. This season has been no different for them so far. They are  languishing in 17th place in the table and have the same number of points as Tenerife, who currently occupy the last relegation spot.

Valladolid are Del Horno’s fourth major club after Athletic Bilbao, Chelsea and Valencia. Del Horno, whose contract at the Mestalla runs out in 2012, has only made a handful of appearances for Los Che since his transfer from Chelsea in 2006.

[Source:- Valencia CF]

Sun 31 January, 2010
RSS Feed

Jokic joins Chievo Verona

Slovenian left back Bojan Jokic has left Ligue 1 club Sochaux to join Italian outfit Chievo Verona on loan till the end of the season.  The Flying Donkeys have the option to sign Jokic on a permanent basis at the end of the loan deal.

Jokic was born in the city of Kranj and began his football career with ND Triglav, who are based in the same city.  He was with Triglav till 2005 before leaving to joining Gorica. He was part of the Gorica team that won the Slovenian first league in 2005-06.  He won his first cap for Slovenia in 2006 and transferred a year later to Sochaux.

Jokic has made only six appearances in Ligue 1 for Sochaux this season. His last game for the club was on 20th January against Lille OSC.

[Source:- Chievo Verona]

Sun 31 January, 2010
RSS Feed

Mancini tells City to keep up United standard

Roberto Mancini has urged his Manchester City players to put their midweek League Cup disappointment behind them when Premier League strugglers Portsmouth visit Eastlands on Sunday.

Mancini and his squad have been licking their wounds since Wednesday’s crushing semi-final defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, but the Italian has been making a good job of hiding his hurt in the hope that this will give his players the lift they need.

Mancini says he was proud of his side and believes City will have no trouble in securing Champions League qualification for the first time if they can maintain the same levels that saw them push Sir Alex Ferguson’s men to the very limit.

Mancini said: “That game is now in the past, but after the game on Wednesday we still feel that we are strong.

“United scored late and won the game, but we still think we played very well. For us, the most important thing is that we did well and showed that we can win. I’m happy about that, but disappointed for the players.

“But now it’s in the past and we must think about the next game. We need to keep up the same level of performance. If we can do this and win the next three games in front of us then we know we have a good chance of getting fourth place.

“If we continue to play like we did against United then we will be fine. Okay, we lost to United but that is football. We played well.

“The important thing was that in two games we played at the same level as United. I am pleased with that. Now we have to focus on the game on Sunday, which is very important. We want to win and we must win.”

Mancini welcomes back Kolo Toure from African Cup of Nations duty, while Emmanuel Adebayor could be in line for his first start since his ill-fated departure for the same tournament with Togo.

Former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira remains sidelined with a calf injury, however, but Mancini believes he will be fit to make his debut against Hull next weekend and bring an end to supporters’ fears that his signing might have been a gamble that has backfired.

Portsmouth could well represent cannon fodder to City as the club’s financial troubles show no sign of easing. It was not even certain that Avram Grant would still be their manager for Sunday’s match, such is the depth of the turmoil at Fratton Park.

The players have once again been forced to wait for their wages for the fourth time in succession, while Grant and chief executive Peter Storrie have accused the club of trying to sell players without consulting them both.

Storrie has decided against walking out on the club but admits he and Grant have plenty of cause to consider their futures.

He said: “We are both angry, frustrated and fed up, but neither of us are quitters. I don’t intend to quit now I’ve slept on it and although I cannot speak for Avram, from what we have talked about I don’t think he will quit either. And, let’s face it, we both have good reason to walk out.

“I am no longer involved in the finances, I am not involved in the transfer negotiations and Avram doesn’t know what players are being sold.”

The duo’s anger surfaced when Portsmouth opened negotiations with Tottenham to sell defender Younes Kaboul and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic without their knowledge.

It is understood the club are waiting to receive payment from Tottenham for the Kaboul deal before they can cover this month’s staff wages.

In the meantime, Grant will welcome midfielder Jamie O’Hara back into his side for the trip to Eastlands.

O’Hara has returned to Fratton Park on-loan from Tottenham until the end of the season, although Grant is still waiting for Kanu, Nadir Belhadj and Hassan Yebda to return from the African Cup of Nations.

Sun 31 January, 2010
RSS Feed

Champions Egypt, youthful Ghana clash in Cup climax

Defending champions Egypt have steamrollered their way into Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final where they must now overcome a youthful Ghana side to claim a third consecutive continental crown.

Beset by injuries Ghana have excelled themselves, the eight youngsters from the Under-20 World Cup winning side belying their inexperience to manfully step into the shoes of the likes of injury-hit stars Michael Essien, Stephen Appiah, John Pantsil and John Mensah.

Ghana started out with an opening loss to Ivory Coast, but then rattled off wins against Burkina Faso, Angola and Nigeria to make it to their first final in 18 years.

Egypt for their part have have looked invincible, brushing aside Nigeria, Mozambique, Benin, Cameroon and old foes Algeria to set themselves up for a third straight title and seventh in all.

The smart money must be with Hassan Shehata’s Pharaohs pulling off an amazing treble to offer them handsome compensation for missing out on the World Cup.

But Ghana won’t prove easy pickings, as they have shown scant regard for reputation here in Angola, witness the way they dug deep and defended after Asamoah Gyan’s decisive first half goal in the semi-final against Nigeria.

For Gyan, 2010 has proved a far more enjoyable experience than the 2008 edition on home turf.

In Ghana the in-form Rennes striker was psychologically and mentally knocked for six by the attacks directed by fans and media who slated him for his lack of form.

“I felt bad two years ago in Ghana,” he said. “But I’m a strong man – mentally strong – and as a strong man I have to keep on going.

“I believe in my qualities – I’m scoring for my club – I’m also scoring for my country – I know they are happy back home.

“I’m not angry, I’m confident because I’m scoring goals – that’s what everyone is expecting of me.”

Egypt have scored 14 goals to two conceded in their path to Sunday’s climax, but Ghana coach Milovan Rajevic was unperturbed by the free-scoring opposition lying in wait.

“People are saying we need to score at least two goals against Egypt to win, but I say we only need to score half a goal more than them to win the title.

“Egypt are a very polished team. They have been playing together for a long time and their coach has also been there a long time.

“We played a friendly against them in Cairo last year and so we know them well, but we’ll prepare our team to achieve a result.”

The Serb added: “In the quarter-finals Angola, playing at home and with all their experience, were favourites. Nigeria were favourites, now Egypt are favourites. They’ve won the last two titles, but we’re not thinking about that.

“What’s more important, playing beautiful football or the result?”

Ghana are hopeful inspirational skipper and goalkeeper Richard Kingson will have recovered from a groin problem to face Egypt – the Wigan stopper was receiving treatment in a Luanda hospital on Friday.

Egypt turn up at the 11 November stadium their confidence sky high after Thursday’s 4-0 semi-final wipe out of eight-man Algeria.

Star player Mohamed Zidan, said: “We were one million times better than Algeria. We haven’t won five games here in this competition to lose the final.”

Captain Ahmed Hassan, in his 171st international, warned Ghana to expect more of the same silky smooth football from the kings of Africa.

“Against Ghana we will continue to play as we have started. We don’t care how they play, we are here to defend our title, and we’ll do everything to succeed.

“Our 4-0 win over Algeria has proved we are the best team in Africa, without argument.”

Sun 31 January, 2010
RSS Feed