Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bolton sign Davis from Portsmouth

Sean Davis
Davis joined Portsmouth from Tottenham in January 2006

Bolton have signed Sean Davis on a free transfer - six months after Portsmouth rejected their £3.5m bid for the former England under-21 midfield man.

The 29-year-old moves to Bolton on a three-year contract after his Fratton Park deal expired.

Bolton boss Gary Megson said: "Sean made 40 appearances last season and he will strengthen our midfield.

"We wanted to bring him to the Reebok in January but our bid of £3.5m was turned down by Portsmouth."

Megson added: "We are delighted to have signed such an experienced Premier League footballer.

London-born Davis has made nearly 200 top-flight appearances with Fulham, Tottenham and Portsmouth. He won 12 England under-21 international caps between 2000 and 2002.

"I am happy my future has been sorted out," he told www.bwfc.co.uk. "I wanted to move to a club where I can play my football and be appreciated.

"Bolton showed genuine interest in January and that was hugely encouraging. It is an exciting opportunity not just for me but my family as well. I want to enjoy my football and take the club forward."

Meanwhile, Noe Pamarot, Lauren, Glen Little, Djimi Traore and Jerome Thomas have all been released by Pompey while Kanu is considering a new contract after his expired and former England defender Sol Campbell could also discuss a further deal with the club.

Council action could close Livi

Livingston chairman Angelo Massone
Massone has appealed for potential backers to help save his club

Livingston Football Club have moved a step nearer to administration after West Lothian Council began court action because of rent arrears.

The council had given the First Division club until midnight on Tuesday to pay around £300,000 for the use of Almondvale Stadium.

"Some months ago we agreed a deadline with the clubs owners," it stated.

"That deadline has now passed and reluctantly we have now begun formal legal proceedings to recover the debt."

It leaves the West Lothian club on the brink of entering administration for the second time in their 14-year history.

Livingston chairman Angelo Massone is due to arrive back in Scotland from Italy on Wednesday and, 24 hours earlier, had insisted that he was still having negotiations with the council and that administration could be averted.

He even issued a statement on the club website naming John Murphy, who had been goalkeeping coach, as the club's new head coach.

But the players returned to Almondvale on Wednesday for pre-season training amid uncertainty about the club's future.

Massone is hoping that the council, which has stressed its desire to retain professional football in the town, will accept a revised repayment plan to enable the club to continue.

He told BBC Scotland that he is proposing an increase in the current monthly payments from £10,000 to £20,000, in lieu of a one-off lump sum payment.

Massone stated that he is still in talks with former Dumbarton owner Neil Rankine over his possible investment in the club.

The Inland Revenue are also believed to be watching developments with interest, with the club owing a six-figure sum in unpaid taxes.

Livingston were given the 30 June deadline after their local authority landlord became frustrated with late payments and were concerned when Scottish Power switched off the club's electricity supply because of an unpaid bill.

Massone, who claimed he had deliberately left the bill unpaid to point out that the club relied on his money to survive, appealed earlier this week for potential investors to help save the club.

Rankine, former Cowdenbeath owner Gordon McDougall, and the Livi for Life Trust fans group have each expressed interest in taking over in recent weeks.

Massone claimed to be in talks with Rankine over a financial partnership, while McDougall has made it clear he would only be interested in sole control.

The Trust, which itself has expressed an interest in running the club, has been consistently calling for Massone to leave the club.

Massone took control of Livingston last summer as head of an Italian-based consortium.

He has blamed debt inherited from previous owner Pearse Flynn for the club's financial problems, stressing that he had paid large sums of his own money into the club to keep them afloat.

Livi, a club created in 1995 when Meadowbank Thistle moved from Edinburgh to the new town of Livingston, last went into administration in 2004.

Leto completes Panathinaikos deal

Sebastian Leto
Leto struggled to make an impact at Liverpool

Liverpool winger Sebastian Leto has joined Greek giants Panathinaikos.

The 22-year-old spent last season on loan with Pana's rivals Olympiakos after work permit problems prevented him from playing for Liverpool.

Leto signed for the Reds from Lanus in a £2m deal in August 2007 and made his debut in a Champions League qualifier against Toulouse later that month.

Argentine Leto went on to make three further senior appearances but struggled to make an impact at Anfield.

Money laundering risk to football

James Munro
BBC Sport news correspondent


Football is being used as a vehicle for money laundering, according to an international agency responsible for tracking the proceeds of crime.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) report warns football is at risk from criminals buying clubs, transferring players, and betting on the sport.

It also provides a rare insight into tax evasion in British football.

The report also raises concerns over human trafficking, corruption, drug trafficking and tax crime in the sport.

The FATF report provides two previously unpublished examples of tax evasion from footballers in the United Kingdom, and suggests that in both cases, the clubs were complicit in the scam.

Money laundering is a complex crime and one which HMRC is tackling

HM Revenue and Customs spokeswoman

In one case, according to the report: "A disclosure was made by an international player, revealing that his signing-on fee was disguised as part of a fee to a foreign agent.

"He confirmed that the agent then paid him £300,000 abroad and did not previously disclose this to the UK tax authorities."

The report goes on to suggest: "It is likely that the club concerned was fully aware that the payment to the agent included a signing-on fee for the player and the benefit to the club in such an arrangement is that it avoided social security contributions of £38,000."

In the second case, a club avoided paying tax through the use of image rights.

The report said: "A foreign player entered into an image rights agreement with a club. The player had transferred the rights to exploit his image exclusively on a world-wide basis to a company registered in a known tax haven in return for shares of that company.

"Unlike all the other players at the club, he was the only individual not to have either a signing-on fee or a loyalty bonus and appearance fees.

"The club had not exploited the player's image in any way and after two years had sought professional advice, only to be advised that the image had no commercially exploitable value.

"Nonetheless, the club renegotiated both the playing and image rights contracts after three years, increasing the level of payments in both.

"The club concerned conceded that the image-rights agreement was part of the employment terms and paid over additional duties of £938,688. Additional duties of £404,480 were also to be paid over the future life of the image-rights contract."

HM Revenue and Customs is understood to have been involved in both cases, but for legal reasons, officials would not comment on either, though the government agency did issue a statement.

"Money laundering is a complex crime and one which HMRC is tackling," said the HMRC spokeswoman.

"We have a very good track record in the field of law enforcement and we take money laundering and tax evasion extremely seriously, focussing significant resources into tackling them.

"Our investigations can and do result in criminal prosecution sending a clear message to anyone tempted to launder money that they are taking a serious risk"

The FATF report provides a series of recommendations for how football can cope with money laundering risks.

One suggestion is that the sport adopts a code of best practices developed by the Football Association, which last year introduced a set of money-laundering guidelines.

It also highlights a risk associated with internet gambling, and suggests that the issue could be investigated in a separate FATF study.

Wednesday's gossip column

Transfers Other gossip And finally


Barcelona will turn their attentions to prising midfielder Cesc Fabregas away from Arsenal after learning that previous target Franck Ribery would prefer to leave Bayern Munich for Real Madrid.
Full story: The Star

The proposed move of Samuel Eto'o to Manchester City may be wrecked by the Cameroon striker's demands for a slice of any transfer fee Barcelona receive.
Full story: The Mirror

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce will offer former Everton winger Andy van der Meyde, who is currently wihout a club, the chance to resurrect his career at Ewood Park. (The Sun)

Real Madrid are delaying a move for Liverpool's Xabi Alonso until a sell-on clause with the midfielder's former club Real Sociedad expires later in July.
Full story: Daily Mail

Having been frustrated in their pursuit of Felipe Melo, Arsenal will go head to head with Tottenham for the signature of Marseille midfielder Loik Cana.
Full story: Daily Express

After securing Wigan's Antonio Valencia, Manchester United could now bolster their forward line with a move for £11m-rated Toulouse forward Andre-Pierre Gignac.
Full story: The Star

Or it may be that Lyon's Karim Benzema is next on United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's list of priorities at Old Trafford, with the France international forward's team-mate Miralem Pjanic claiming a £38m move is in the offing.
Full story: The Times

Brazilian forward Jo will return to Everton on loan next season, with Manchester City boss Mark Hughes unable to promise him a regular first-team place.
Full story: The Sun

Aston Villa are keeping tabs on Arsenal's Philippe Senderos as well as fellow defenders Sylvain Distin of Portsmouth and David Wheater of Middlesbrough. (Daily Mail)

Tottenham are weighing up an approach for Lokomotiv Moscow and Switzerland goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic.
Full story: The Times

Celtic's hopes of signing West Brom's Marc-Antoine Fortune have been given a boost as the forward has stalled on a proposed move to Hull. (Daily Record)

Bolton have moved to snap up Sean Davis on a free transfer after he turned down Portsmouth's offer of a new deal, while Swansea's Ferrie Bodde could line up alongside him in midfield if a £2.5m switch from Swansea goes through. (The Sun)


Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic has said that AC Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid have all enquired about the possibility of him leaving Old Trafford but, despite his wife's eagerness to move away from England, he is determined to stay put.
Full story: The Sun

England coach Fabio Capello has told his scouts to monitor Sylvan Ebanks-Blake once the new Premier League season gets under way to see if the Wolves striker is ready for the step up to international football.
Full story: The Sun

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says that the chance to develop the young players at the Gunners convinced him to stay at the Emirates rather than join big-spending Real Madrid.
Full story: The Mirror

More to follow.

Durham minnows will play Juventus

Alessandro Del Piero
West Auckland could face the likes of Juve's Alessandro Del Piero

Durham non-League club West Auckland Town are to play Italian side Juventus in a friendly in Turin on 1 August.

The trip marks the 100-year anniversary of the club's 6-1 defeat of Juve to win the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy, which was later dubbed 'the first World Cup.'

A £10,000 donation from the Football Association has enabled the Northern League outfit to make the journey.

"We are delighted to support West Auckland FC's return to Turin," said FA chairman Lord Triesman.

"It's so important they are able to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their famous match with Juventus.

"This is a wonderful story and it's only right that they will be in Italy to commemorate the remarkable achievement of winning the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy."

The trophy is widely seen as the forerunner to the Jules Rimet Trophy, which was won by England in 1966.

West Auckland, then a team mainly made up of coal miners, defeated German side Stuttgart in the inaugural competition in 1907 before beating Winterthur of Switzerland 2-0 in the final.

Two years later, they retained the trophy - which became theirs to keep - by beating Zurich in the opening match and then trouncing Juventus.

O'Driscoll joins De Villiers critics

Brian O'Driscoll and Peter de Villiers
O'Driscoll (left) believes De Villiers has brought the game into disrepute

Brian O'Driscoll has added his voice to the criticism of Springboks coach Peter de Villiers over his stance on Schalk Burger's gouging offence.

De Villiers initially denied Burger had done anything wrong in the second Test against the British and Irish Lions.

The flanker received an eight-week ban, and O'Driscoll said: "To hear the South Africa coach talk about gouging being part of the game was semi-repulsive.

"I just find it appalling. I truly find it a disgrace," added the Lions centre.

Burger was found guilty of "making contact with the face in the eye area" of Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald.

TV footage showed Burger's fingers making contact with Fitzgerald's eye inside the first minute of the match in Pretoria.

De Villiers later issued an apology for defending Burger's actions and the South Africans will not be appealing against the player's suspension.


But Ireland star O'Driscoll added: "When you think about a situation where a parent wonders about whether their child should play rugby or soccer, and you hear comments from a national team coach of that sort - and regardless of the apology he may have submitted - it's essentially bringing the game into disrepute.

"We're trying to promote the game, and yet you hear comments like that."

Fitzgerald was able to continue after treatment, but at the time Burger escaped with only a yellow card from French referee Christophe Berdos - a decision taken on the advice of New Zealand touch judge Bryce Lawrence, who spotted the offence.

After the match, De Villiers said he did not believe Burger should have been sent to the sin-bin

But on Monday, he backed down, saying: "It was never my intention to suggest that I condone foul play.

"That is the last thing I would ever do and I apologise for that impression."

De Villiers went on to say that "eye-gouging is something that we as a team will never be part of".

"The same applies to biting, head-butting, spear tackling or any other foul play that doesn't belong in the game," he added.

US judge overturns Stanford bail

Sir Allen Stanford - file photo 11/06/2008
Sir Allen Stanford became famous as a high-profile sponsor of cricket

A US judge has ruled that Texan billionaire Sir Allen Stanford should remain in jail until his fraud trial.

The judge in Houston overturned a decision to allow him to leave prison on a $500,000 (£305,000) bail.

Prosecutors argued he was a flight risk, saying Sir Allen's network of wealthy friends and dual citizenship could enable him to leave the US.

The financier is facing trial over allegations he ran a $7bn ($4.2bn) scheme to swindle investors.

Mr Stanford's lawyers said they were disappointed with the decision and would appeal against the ruling.


US District Judge David Hittner revoked the bail order granted last week, which would have seen Sir Allen freed before his trial.

Sir Allen remained in jail while the the government appealed against the earlier decision.

The judge said the case presented by government prosecutors convinced him Sir Allen could potentially make efforts to leave the US in advance of his trial.

"In total, the evidence proffered by the government is sufficient to weigh in favour of detention," he said.

Earlier, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in London froze $100m (£60m) of assets in London in connection with the case.

These funds were allegedly acquired in connection with Sir Allen's suspected fraud scheme, the SFO said.

The assets were frozen in April, but kept secret until after his arrest.

Sir Allen Stanford surrendered to FBI officers earlier this month and was taken into custody.

He appeared in court a week later where he pleaded not guilty to fraud, conspiracy and obstruction.

The 59-year old faces spending the rest of his life in jail if found guilty on all charges.

Cricket tycoon

Sir Allen and three former executives are accused of being involved in a scheme which persuaded investors to buy $7bn worth of certificates of deposit from Stanford International Bank, located in Antigua.

Prosecutors said they "promised returns that were too good to be true".

The unveiling of charges against Sir Allen capped a rapid fall from grace for a man who had shot to prominence in the UK and the Caribbean for his lavish sponsorship of cricket.

Sir Allen invested heavily in West Indies cricket over several years, sponsoring an inter-island Twenty20 competition and building his own cricket ground in Antigua, the island where his financial group, Stanford Financial Services, was based.

A long-standing friend of Antigua, where he was awarded citizenship and a knighthood, Sir Allen bankrolled a high-profile $20m cricket match between England and a Stanford All-Stars team on the island last year.

But his deals with English cricket began to unravel soon afterwards and were officially cancelled when the US levelled major fraud charges against him.

England's women thrash Australia

Second women's one-day international, Chelmsford:
England 259-6 (50 ovs) beat Australia 204 all out (43.4 ovs) by 55 runs
Match scorecard

England centurion Sarah Taylor
Taylor produced another magnificent batting performance for England

Sarah Taylor sparkled as England's women eased to a comfortable 55-run victory over Australia at Chelmsford in the second one-day international.

Taylor smashed her third ODI century, hammering a run-a-ball 120 as England racked up 259-6 from their 50 overs.

Australia got off to a good start with Shelley Nitschke and Lisa Sthalekar sharing 85 but England pegged them back with some fine fielding and bowling.

England bowled them out for 204 to go 2-0 up in the five-match series.

It was Taylor's day from the start as she continued her fabulous recent form, having struck 68 off 74 balls in the first match on Monday.

She put on 95 with Claire Taylor (42) and 86 with Beth Morgan as England reached 193-2, before she was eventually run out for 120, nine short of her previous best ODI score.

Ebony Rainford-Brent struck 30 off 32 balls to ensure England set an imposing target and Australia lost their first wicket with only two runs on the board, Leah Poulton caught and bowled by Katherine Brunt.

But Nitschke (47) and Sthalekar (43) knocked the ball around nicely and they were keeping up with the run rate too, until Laura Marsh (3-33) bowled Nitschke and Nicky Shaw got rid of Sthalekar.

From there the Aussies collapsed, as captain Jodie Fields ran herself out and the irrepressible Sarah Taylor produced two fine pieces of wicket-keeping to reduce them to 134-6, including a catch to dismiss Karen Rolton (32).

Laura Ebsary hit 38 as Australia managed to creep over 200, but when she was bowled by Shaw (3-39) it was all over.

The third ODI in the series takes place at Stratford-upon-Avon on Friday.

Valencia joins Man Utd from Wigan

Antonio Valencia and Sir Alex Ferguson
Valencia is Ferguson's first signing since Ronaldo's departure

Manchester United have signed Wigan Athletic winger Antonio Valencia on a four-year deal for an undisclosed fee.

The 23-year-old Ecuador international is manager Sir Alex Ferguson's first signing since Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Real Madrid in a £80m transfer.

"Antonio is a player we have admired for some time now, having spent the last two years in the Premier League with Wigan," said Ferguson.

Valencia's transfer is reported to have cost United as much as £16m.

"I am sure his pace and ability will make a significant contribution to the team," added Ferguson.


United have been in contact with Wigan over a deal for Valencia over the last "two to three months", according to Latics chairman Dave Whelan.

"I have enjoyed my time at Wigan, but I am thrilled to have the chance to challenge for the biggest honours in club football here," said Valencia, who scored three goals for Wigan last season.

"Playing in front of 76,000 fans alongside players like Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs will be an amazing experience. I can't wait to get started."

Valencia has played 34 times for Ecuador, scoring four goals.

Murray targets place in last four

Date: 22 June - 5 July
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC HD, Red Button, website streaming (UK only) and text commentary, 5 Live, 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC iPlayer
Tennis on the BBC

Andy Murray

Report - How tough is Andy Murray?

By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Andy Murray will attempt to reach the semi-finals of Wimbledon for the first time when he takes on Juan Carlos Ferrero on Centre Court on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old Briton plays Spanish wildcard Ferrero in the second match at about 1530 BST, with Lleyton Hewitt or Andy Roddick waiting in the last four.

Murray beat Ferrero comfortably in the Queen's Club semi-finals two weeks ago.

"Ferrero is a very tough player. He plays well on any surface - he's a former world number one," said Murray.

"In every match, regardless of who you're playing against, especially in an individual sport, anything can happen on the day.

"I played very well at Queen's but the courts here are a little bit different.

"If I play poorly, there's a good chance I'll lose against him. But I'll try my best to play well. If I do that, I've got a chance of winning."


Murray is trying to become the first British man to win the Wimbledon singles title since Fred Perry in 1936, and the first Scot ever to win a Grand Slam singles title.

And the interest in the Scot's progress is such that fans began queuing for the 500 tickets Centre Court tickets available over two days in advance.

His quarter-final follows what is likely to be a serve-dominated contest between second seed Roger Federer and Ivo Karlovic on Centre Court, where play begins at 1300 BST.

It means Murray and Ferrero should avoid the worst of the hot weather forecast for Wednesday, when it is set to be dry with temperatures topping 30C.

The Scot came through a four-hour battle against Stanislas Wawrinka to win his fourth-round match on Monday, finishing late at night in the tournament's first full floodlit match under Centre Court's new roof.

"I believe I can win Wimbledon," he said. "That's not changed since the first match, but I'm going to have to play great tennis to do it."

I will try to be focused on my return, because his serve has been very, very big

Ferrero on Murray

Ferrero is a former world number one and French Open champion but the 29-year-old has slipped down the rankings and spoke recently about possibly retiring at the end of 2009.

However, a run to the last four at Queen's Club appears to have rejuvenated the Spaniard.

He has already beaten 10th seed Fernando Gonzalez and eighth seed Gilles Simon at Wimbledon, and is the first wildcard since eventual champion Goran Ivanisevic in 2001 to reach the last eight.

"I think right now I'm with a little bit more rhythm than at Queen's," said the Spaniard.

"And of course after the match I played against Murray, I learnt something. That is, I have to do my job and be aggressive all the time, because he likes to play on one level and then he changes the rhythm very fast.

"I think it's very difficult to play against him because of this, so I will try to be focused on my return, because his serve has been very, very big.


"If I want to win, of course it's going to be very difficult. He's at home and he wants to win and everybody wants him to win, so it's going to be tough, as every match is."

The winner of Murray-Ferrero will face Roddick or Hewitt, who will meet in the second match on Court One.

Former champion Hewitt is unseeded, and had to come back from a thigh injury and two-set deficit against Radek Stepanek in the previous round.

"I have loads of respect for Lleyton and what he's been able to accomplish," said Roddick, who has won his last four matches against the Australian.

"Everyone knows he's certainly capable of playing very, very well on this surface."

The first match on Court One sees fourth seed Novak Djokovic take on Tommy Haas, a repeat of the recent Halle final on grass, which the German won.

Opening proceedings on Centre Court is five-time champion Federer's encounter with Karlovic.

The 30-year-old Croat has hammered down 137 aces in his four matches so far.

But Federer, who has won eight of their nine meetings so far, said: "I like those sort of challenges.

"It's maybe not the most fun match to go through, but I like to beat this guy because he makes it hard to beat him. He's become an excellent player.

"He's not to be underestimated."

Aussies eye final warm-up boost

England Lions v Australia
Venue: New Road Date: 1-4 July Start: 1100 BST
Coverage: Live scorecard and match report on the BBC Sport website

Ricky Ponting
Ponting hopes his side can kick on ahead of the first Test in Cardiff

Australia will complete their Ashes preparations against England Lions from Wednesday, knowing their performance needs a step up in quality.

The tourists could only draw against Sussex last week and face a four-day match against a Lions side boasting the likes of Ian Bell and Steve Harmison.

And Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting said: "It is a big step for us from last week, there is no doubt about that.

"With it being the last game before the Test, the intensity needs to lift up."

Australia face England at Cardiff in the first Ashes Test of the summer from 8 July - and places are still up for grabs in the starting XI.

While the likes of Philip Hughes, Simon Katich, Ponting, Mike Hussey and Michael Clarke enjoyed valuable batting time at Hove, Marcus North failed to impress as he looks to hold onto his number six spot.

And, with the ball, spinner Nathan Hauritz took just one wicket from 38 overs, going for 158 runs, while Brett Lee and Stuart Clark will be looking to impress as Australia assess their pace bowling options.

Those three are all in the side, along with another paceman in Mitchell Johnson, with fellow seamers Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus rested.


Ponting admitted: "There are absolutely no certainties for the first Test right at the moment.

"We are still a week away from that first Test match and a lot can happen in that period of time in international cricket."

He added: "It is good to have this calibre of opposition as our last game. You look at their bowling attack and their quicks have all played international cricket.

"It will be really good preparation for us but, on the flip side of that, it gives those guys a really good chance to impress the England selectors as well so all in all it should be a really good game of cricket."

Meanwhile, all-rounder Shane Watson's planned return after a thigh problem was delayed by the rain at New Road on Tuesday.

Ponting said: "He was going to bat until it started to rain. Unfortunately he hasn't been able to get in the nets. The whole plan was for him to bat today.

"He's not playing in the game but he seems to be coming on well enough to get into the nets so that is a good sign for us.

Ian Bell
It is Australia's last opportunity before Cardiff and we expect them to come out as if it is a Test match.

Ian Bell

"How far is he from bowling? I don't know. Obviously, Tuesday was his first step of getting back into some cricket on the batting side of things."

Bell, meanwhile, has revealed both his and Harmison's determination to regain their England spots for the Ashes battle - starting with impressing against Australia for the Lions.

"We are both in good form in county cricket, and this game for the Lions is another opportunity to show much we want to get back into an England shirt," said the Warwickshire batsman.

"It is Australia's last opportunity before Cardiff and we expect them to come out as if it is a Test match.

"That is the kind of preparation we would go into when on tour so I fully expect they are looking for a really tough match and, with the side we have got at the minute, everyone is in pretty good form. That is why they have been picked.

"Can we stop them getting momentum? I don't think we can worry too much about what they are going to do. We know an Australian team are always going to come out and play aggressive cricket.

"These guys in this side will go into the game with a lot of confidence and not worrying too much about it being Australia and just playing the way they have done the last few months."

England Lions: I Bell (captain) (Warwickshire), T Bresnan (Yorkshire), J Denly (Kent), S Davies (wk) (Worcestershire), S Harmison (Durham), S Mahmood (Lancashire), S Moore (Worcestershire), E Morgan (Middlesex), G Onions (Durham), A Rashid (Yorkshire), V Solanki (Worcestershire).

Australia: S Katich, P Hughes, R Ponting (capt), M Hussey, M Clarke, M North, B Haddin (wkt), M Johnson, B Lee, N Hauritz, S Clark.

Burnley capture Fletcher for �3m

Hibernian striker Steven Fletcher

Fletcher's performances for Hibs have been much praised

Burnley have signed Scotland striker Steven Fletcher for a club record fee of £3m from Hibernian.

The English club's website stated: "The highly-rated 22-year-old has agreed a four-year deal at Turf Moor."

Fletcher believes he will grow as a player under Owen Coyle, who previously managed St Johnstone and Falkirk.

"As soon as I heard that Burnley were after me, and knowing Owen Coyle as I do, I thought this was the right place to develop my career," he said.

"The opportunity came along in January for me to join Celtic, but Hibs did not think it was the right time to move on.

"When the chance arrived to come to the Premier League and play for a club like Burnley, I was glad they accepted that and let me come down."

It will be a blow for Hibs to lose such a quality player, but personally I think he is going just a bit early

Former Hibernian striker Keith Wright

New Hibs manager John Hughes had hoped to persuade Fletcher, who is a product of the club's youth system and has four Scotland caps, to stay at Easter Road.

But the striker, who had four years of his Hibs contract to run, had been vocal about his desire to further his career in England's top flight.

When Celtic failed with what the Glasgow club described as "substantial offers", Fletcher's agent said the player felt "let down" by Hibs.

Now he will join Coyle, who was linked with the Celtic manager's job this summer, as he leads promoted Burnley into the Premier League.

Fletcher scored 52 goals in nearly 190 appearances for Hibs and scored Scotland's winning goal in April's World Cup qualifying match against Iceland at Hampden.

He was also named as young player of the year by both the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football Writers' Association.

But former Hibs striker Keith Wright believes Fletcher may find it tough to make an immediate impact in England's top flight.

Fletcher leaving too early - Wright

"It will be a blow for Hibs to lose such a quality player, but personally I think he is going just a bit early," Wright told BBC Scotland.

"I think he's still got a bit to learn before going down south and I don't know if he will go there and play every week."

Wright thought that the money earned could be a blessing in disguise for Hughes.

"As long as Yogi is getting part of the money to bring in players that he has earmarked and who can score goals, it might not be a bad thing," he said.

Martin Paterson and Chris Eagles share the previous Burnley transfer record, both costing around £1.5m last summer.

Fletcher became Coyle's second signing of Tuesday, Burnley having earlier completed a £500,000 deal with Derby County for defender Tyrone Mears.

Rampant Serena crushes Azarenka

Date: 22 June - 5 July
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC HD, Red Button, website streaming (UK only) and text commentary, 5 Live, 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC iPlayer
Tennis on the BBC

Serena Williams
Serena has not dropped a set in five matches at Wimbledon

By Caroline Cheese
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Serena Williams remains on course for a meeting with sister Venus in Saturday's Wimbledon final after sweeping aside Victoria Azarenka 6-2 6-3.

The second seed will face Elena Dementieva in the semi-finals after a typically powerful display.

Williams made one error as she raced through the first set, and although the second set was more closely fought, she came through in one hour 13 minutes.

Dementieva had earlier thrashed Italian Francesca Schiavone 6-2 6-2.

Venus, the five-time champion, is favourite to defend her title this year, but Serena has been in ferocious form and, like her sister, is yet to drop a set.

Azarenka, the 19-year-old from Belarus, has impressed too on the way to her first Wimbledon quarter-final, but she was no match for a ruthless Serena.

The American hammered 13 winners and just that one unforced error in a near-perfect first set, breaking twice to wrap it up in 26 minutes.

Serena's first serve percentage dropped at the start of the second, and that opened the door for Azarenka.

The teenager capitalised, breaking serve for the first time when Serena netted a forehand in the fifth game.

But the setback only seemed to fire up Serena, the two-time champion roaring her delight when a brutal return onto the baseline forced Azarenka to go wide at break point in the very next game.

The Belarusian, who stunned Serena in their last meeting at Miami earlier this year, did not win another game.

Her fourth double fault handed Serena the break and a 5-3 lead and the American served out to love.

Nadal left out of Davis Cup match

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal is out for Spain following injury problems with his knees

Rafael Nadal has been left out of Spain's Davis Cup squad for their World Group quarter-final against Germany on 10-12 July.

The world number one has struggled with tendinitis in his knees since being knocked out of the French Open last month and missed out on Wimbledon.

Spain have called up Fernando Verdasco, Tommy Robredo, David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez for the match on clay.

The Puerto Banus bullring in Marbella will host the fixture.

Tokyo to host Bledisloe Cup match

Brad Thorn
Australia and New Zealand clashed in Hong Kong during the 2008 series

Australia and New Zealand will face each other in Tokyo on 31 October in only the second Bledisloe Cup fixture to be staged on neutral soil.

The match will be played at Tokyo's National Stadium, which seats 57,000, later this year.

It will be the fourth match in the 2009 Cup series and will precede Australia's trip to Europe in November.

The Aussies will take on England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales in their first Grand Slam attempt in 25 years.

Last year, the All Blacks beat the Wallabies 19-14 in Hong Kong, their first meeting on neutral soil outside the World Cup.

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew, who travelled to Tokyo for the announcement, said the match was a key money-making opportunity for the Australian, New Zealand and Japanese unions.

"Building on the success of the Hong Kong match between Australia and New Zealand last year, we have agreed with Australia and our match hosts Japan, to schedule an additional Bledisloe Cup fixture again this year with the dual aim of growing the rugby footprint internationally," said Tew.

The other Bledisloe Cup matches this year will be at Auckland on 18 July, Sydney on 22 August and Wellington on 19 September.


Australia coach Robbie Deans, a former All Black, said the Tokyo match was an exciting development for the game in Asia and around the globe.

"It is an opportunity for the rugby-loving public of Japan to see two of the best teams in action up close, while also having a rare opportunity to sample the great history which accompanies the Bledisloe Cup rivalry," he stated.

"Not only does it break up the trip between Australia and our Grand Slam tour destinations, it also provides the team with the chance to represent their country in a new arena, and show the Japanese first hand why the Wallabies are one of the game's most respected teams."

The Wallabies have never played a Test on Japanese soil.

England set for 2015 World Cup

The Springboks wait to receive the Webb Ellis trophy
South Africa beat England to win the 2007 World Cup in France

England are close to winning the right to stage the 2015 Rugby World Cup after organisers recommended their bid to the International Rugby Board (IRB).

The IRB council will make their final decision on 28 July, but the decision of Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) to back England is a key development.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) are up against South Africa, Italy and Japan in the race to host the competition.

Japan have been recommended as hosts for the 2019 World Cup.

England would use Wembley, Anfield, Old Trafford and the Emirates Stadium as venues for the tournament, with the final to be played at Twickenham.

They also hope to stage games at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, even though Wales would not be co-hosts for the tournament.

RFU chairman Martyn Thomas said: "The RFU is delighted that Rugby World Cup Limited has decided to recommend England to the IRB Council as the host for RWC 2015.


"When we presented to the council in May we said that in the current difficult economic environment we could deliver a low-risk, high-return tournament that would leave a lasting legacy for the global game.

"We would like to reiterate that commitment and promise that we will pack iconic stadia full of excited fans and that we will give the game the best possible global platform on which to showcase itself to the world.

"We are truly excited about the opportunity to host the third largest sporting tournament in the world and fervently hope that the recommendation is accepted in July."

Having the World Cup in England would generate the type of revenue the RWCL believe will allow the IRB to take it into the emerging market of Japan four years later.

RWCL chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "As the revenue generated from the RWC is vital to the IRB's ongoing development plans (there is a preference for it) to be held in one of the major rugby markets on a regular basis.

"However, the commercial success of the RWC also means we can now consider placing the tournament in developing rugby markets to both reflect and assist the game's continued strategic growth.

"It is all about finding the right combination. The IRB council's decision to award two tournaments simultaneously has assisted in that vision.

"A tournament in England would allow the IRB to maximise funding available for investment in the game through a strong commercial programme and a great RWC showcase."

Baggies set to appoint Di Matteo

Roberto Di Matteo
Di Matteo succeeded Paul Ince as Milton Keynes Dons boss in July 2008

MK Dons boss Roberto Di Matteo is set to be confirmed as West Bromwich Albion's new manager within the next 48 hours, BBC Sport understands.

The Albion board approached Di Matteo late on Monday with a view to making him Tony Mowbray's successor.

Preston manager Alan Irvine was also on a shortlist of two but rejected the chance to move, after being given permission to speak to West Brom.

Di Matteo took the Dons to the League One play-offs in his first season.


The Italian signed a contract extension with MK Dons in December which was to tie him to the League One club until June 2011.

The Baggies have been without a manager since Mowbray left the Championship club for Scottish Premier League giants Celtic on 17 June.

Benefits Of Participating In Swimming

Swimming, which is defined as self propelled movement through water has over the years grown to be one of the major human activities.

People swim for a variety of reasons.

There are for instance those who undertake swimming for recreation, and going by the number of mentions swimming warrants in peopleÂ’s hobby lists, it is clearly a popular hobby all over the world. In the past, the occurrence of swimming as a hobby tended to be limited to people living near large water bodies, for instance lakes and oceans. And while this is still a major trend, we are seeing more and more people living far from lakes, oceans and other large water bodies mentioning swimming as their major hobby, thanks mainly to the emergence of inland swimming pools, which are nowadays considered almost a standard and essential fixture in high-end homes and recreation clubs.

Then there are those who swim for occupational purposes, that is, people to whom swimming is a source of livelihood. This category includes those who are employed as swimming instructors in various swimming clubs as well as those employed as ‘life-savers’ in the same clubs. The number of people in this category is also huge and growing, considering that in many jurisdictions, every swimming club must have a lifesaver every time it is put to use. And in the same vein, many schools are offering swimming lessons to their students, calling for the employment of more and more swimming instructors. Apart from the instructors and ‘lifesavers’ another category of people getting their livelihood from swimming are the various professional athletes, whose lives revolve around competitive swimming.

While acknowledging that not everyone is inclined to undertake swimming as hobby or an occupational activity, it is considered prudent for everyone to make an effort to know at least the basics of how to swim - as it is an essential life skill. Going around without any knowledge of swimming (and especially when going around involves traveling in water vessels) means that the person doing so would be in a very bad predicament should, for instance, the vessel capsize.

Before engaging in swimming, it is important for one to be aware of some of its hazards, most of which arise out of the fact that man is not an amphibian being by nature. These hazards include the risk of drowning, the risk of infection by micro-organisms resident in the water one is to be swimming in and the risk of hitting unseen objects in the water. Therefore, it is essential to wear a proper swimming costume, swim caps and needful protection accessories, before you jump into the water. Yet these should not be a put-off to anyone keen on learning swimming, as they can all be avoided with proper precautions.

See Also:

[Via Recreation & Sports]

Wimbledon defends roof decision

Date: 22 June - 5 July
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC HD, Red Button, website streaming (UK only) and text commentary, 5 Live, 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC iPlayer
Tennis on the BBC

Andy Murray serving during his win over Stanislas Wawrinka
Murray serves under the Centre Court roof

Wimbledon boss Ian Ritchie has defended the use of the Centre Court roof during Andy Murray's epic victory over Stanislas Wawrinka on Monday.

Murray claimed he had not been given enough notice the roof would be closed and questioned the need for its use.

But All England Club chief executive Ritchie said: "The forecast was that there was a 70% chance of a heavy shower with a risk of a thunderstorm.

"You would be slightly foolish if you didn't close the roof."

Murray's match finished at 2238 BST - the latest finish in Wimbledon history.

"There was also always a chance that the match wouldn't finish under normal light," said Ritchie.


"There were two options. First, we could have got them on for 10 minutes and had a heavy shower and come off which no-once would have liked.

"And there was a possibility of it being dark and bringing them off again. At least there was certainty with it being closed."

Ritchie revealed that the Murray camp had been told of the likelihood the roof would be closed during the previous match between Dinara Safina and Amelie Mauresmo.

He also played down the British number one's unhappiness at the humidity levels in the indoor Centre Court.

"It was very humid generally," said Ritchie. "We thought the conditions were fine and perfectly playable. The court was perfectly dry, I've not heard anyone say it was slippery on court.

"There was enough humidity taken out to make the playing surface dry. Could we have taken more out? We learn each time something happens here. If some lessons are to be learned we will do so."

Ritchie added: "The standard of tennis was fantastic. It produced a fantastic event for people here and for millions on TV. From where I'm sitting it was a great success.

Andy Murray

Highlights - Murray clinches thriller

Champion Venus powers into semis

Date: 22 June - 5 July
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC HD, Red Button, website streaming (UK only) and text commentary, 5 Live, 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC iPlayer
Tennis on the BBC

By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Venus Williams
Williams is through to her eighth semi-final at Wimbledon

Defending champion Venus Williams is closing in on a sixth Wimbledon title after a crushing win over Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarter-finals.

The American, 29, had too much power and athleticism, winning 6-1 6-2 despite heavy strapping on her knee.

She will play world number one Dinara Safina or unseeded 19-year-old German Sabine Lisicki in the last four.

Serena Williams faces Victoria Azarenka, and Elena Dementieva plays Francesca Schiavone later on Tuesday.

Venus wasted little time in seeing off the 11th seed Radwanska on a scorching day at the All England Club.

I'm in the semi-finals of Wimbledon, it's where I want to be and I'm looking to go further

Venus Williams

The champion clambered all over the Radwanska serve from the start on Court One and, despite some valiant scrambling from the Pole, Williams converted her fourth break point to go 2-0 clear.

Within 18 minutes the American was 5-0 up and when Radwanska, 20, did get on the board it only provided temporary relief, and the chance for the crowd to finally get involved, before Williams wrapped up the set in 28 minutes with an ace.

Radwanska looked to be coping better with the pace at the start of the second but it still came as a shock when she got to 0-40 in game two and converted her first chance to break.

It was hardly a crisis for Williams, however, and she broke twice in succession before firing a magnificent cross-court backhand winner to get to 5-2, and sealed victory soon after with a huge forehand into the corner.

"She plays the ball so low and so fast, I'm happy to get through," Williams told BBC Sport.

"I'm in the semi-finals of Wimbledon, it's where I want to be and I'm looking to go further."

Asked about a possible final against her sister, she added: "That would be fantastic, it's what Serena and I want, but we still have to play well and bring our best tennis to the the court."

Tuesday's gossip column

Transfers Other gossip And finally


1640 BST: Maicon's agent has reassured Inter Milan fans that the highly-rated defender will remain at the San Siro next season. The Brazilian full-back has been linked with Manchester City, Real Madrid and Chelsea this summer. (PA Sport)

1356 BST: Southampton's financial problems could see more players join David McGoldrick in leaving the club. McGoldrick joined Nottingham Forest for a reported £1m on Monday, goalkeeper Kelvin Davis is set to join West Ham as his contract expires on Tuesday and midfielder Andrew Surman has been linked with Wolves.
Full story: Southampton Daily Echo

1243 BST: Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti says Paolo Maldini, a former player of his at AC Milan, has turned down an offer to become part of his coaching staff at Stamford Bridge. (Radio Deejay)

1145 BST: Arsenal target Felipe Melo has moved to end speculation about his future by signing a one-year contract extension at Fiorentina. (Press Association)

1120 BST: Manchester United and Tottenham look set to miss out on Mirko Vucinic after his agent said the forward will not be leaving Roma. (Press Association)

1022 BST: Inter Milan defender Maicon may have edged closer to a move after the club refused to give in to his demands for a pay increase. The Brazilian has been linked with Manchester City, Real Madrid and Chelsea. (Press Association)

0815 BST: Former England midfielder Peter Reid has rejected speculation he will quit as coach of Thailand to take charge of League One club Southampton. (Press Association)


Samuel Eto'o wants a £12.5m signing-on fee to join Manchester City. The Barcelona striker has already been offered wages of £250,000 a week by the Eastlands club.
Full story: The Sun

Or the Cameroon striker is looking for a £15m golden handshake from Barcelona otherwise the move to City is off.
Full story: Daily Mirror

Chelsea are poised to complete a hat-trick of signings by landing CSKA Moscow forward Yuri Zhirkov, Manchester City forward Daniel Sturridge and Middlesbrough goalkeeper Ross Turnbull.
Full story: Daily Mirror

Arsenal have been stunned by Andrey Arshavin's revelation that he would be "really happy" to play for Barcelona if he gets the chance.
Full story: The Sun

Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso will holds talks with manager Rafael Benitez this week over a possible move to Real Madrid.
Full story: The Sun

Meanwhile, Reds defender Alvaro Arbeloa is set to seal a switch to Real for about £5m. (The Independent)

Aston Villa are ready to pay £5m for Espanyol forward Luis Garcia, who is also wanted by Porto.
Full story: The Sun

Villa are also set to bid £5m for Middlesbrough midfielder Tuncay.
Full story: Daily Mirror

Tottenham have joined the chase for Groningen's Sweden international striker Marcus Berg but they may need to pay £10m to beat Everton to his signature.
Full story: Daily Mirror

Spurs have told Villarreal they want cash plus Sebastien Eguren and Marcos Senna in exchange for striker Roman Pavlyuchenko. (The Times)

West Ham are trying to hijack Hull's £3.4m move for Nancy striker Marc-Antoine Fortune.
Full story: Daily Mirror

Fulham have offered £2.2m for Almeria striker Kalu Uche. (The Sun)

Birmingham want to sign Tottenham defender Gareth Bale on a season-long loan deal. (Daily Star)

Wolves are set to sign Reading striker Kevin Doyle for a club record fee of £6.5m.
Full story: The Sun

Huddersfield will pay £1m to sign Bristol Rovers striker Rickie Lambert. (The Sun)

Ipswich boss Roy Keane is close to completing a £1m deal for QPR full-back Damien Delaney. Keane also wants to make a double raid on former club Sunderland to sign defender Nyron Nosworthy and winger Carlos Edwards. (Daily Star)

Burnley are fighting it out with Cardiff in the race to sign £2.5m-rated Doncaster defender Mat Mills. (Daily Star)


Carlos Tevez has accused Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson of blowing the chance to win the Champions League final by dropping him. The Argentine striker, whose United contract expires today, said: "He made a mistake to leave me on the bench."
Full story: Daily Mirror

Former Aston Villa manager David O'Leary says his successor Martin O'Neill has not helped the club progress.
Full story: Daily Mirror


Usually there is little to be pleased about when you miss your flight but Fabio Capello's failure to catch a plane from South Africa meant he was spared being in attendance for England Under-21s' humiliating 4-0 defeat by Germany in the European Championship final in Sweden on Tuesday. (Daily Mirror)