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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Latest Football News

Hicks terminates DIC sale talks
Co-owner Tom Hicks has revealed he has "terminated discussions" with Dubai International Capital over their bid to buy a stake in Liverpool.

DIC, the investment arm of the Dubai government, were hoping to buy a minority stake in the club, but following lengthy discussions, Hicks has issued a statement which read: "Based on a meeting held earlier today in Dubai between my representatives and officials of Dubai International Capital LLC, as well as other recent contacts between us and them, I have decided to terminate any further discussions with DIC regarding their possible purchase of a minority stake in Kop and, in turn, in the club."
The statement continued: "DIC made it clear that if they invested in the club, they would want it to be managed by committee.
"Based on my 13 years of successful experience as an owner of professional sports teams, and based in particular on the situation at Liverpool Football Club over the past year, it is clear to me that such a committee approach would not be in the best interest of Kop, of the club or of the club's loyal and passionate supporters.
"Accordingly, I have decided to exercise my right under the Kop Football (Holdings) Limited partnership agreement to veto any sale of any portion of Kop and the Club to DIC.
"I and my colleagues and representatives will continue to explore a number of other options with regard to the ownership of Kop and the club aimed at achieving an appropriate ownership, financial and organisational structure for Kop and the club over the long term."
Talks had been taking place between DIC and Hicks about how a joint relationship would work.
Fellow American George Gillett is understood to have agreed in principle to sell 49% of his 50% stake to DIC, and the other 1% to Hicks to give the Texan a controlling interest.
DIC have accepted that Hicks will not sell his share in Liverpool in the near future, but would insist on a clause giving them first refusal to buy his stake.

Man Utd boss Ferguson made furious phone call to refs boss

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson made an angry phone call to refs boss Keith Hackett after their FA Cup defeat to Portsmouth, it has been revealed.
The Mirror says Fergie blasted Hackett following ref Martin Atkinson's failure to give a penalty when Cristiano Ronaldo was brought down in the 1-0 defeat.
But Fergie - who is set to be hit with an FA misconduct charge for his outbursts - went a step further on Saturday night by calling Hackett to deliver a fresh barrage of abuse.
He vented his anger and accused the refs' chief of allowing standards among officials to reach an all-time low following what he perceived as Atkinson's blunder which cost United their chance of the Treble.
But Hackett put Fergie in his place, informing the United boss he was not responsible for appointing officials to FA Cup matches, the responsibility falling to the FA.

Gerrard warns Liverpool to stay focused

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard says there's still a long way to go in their battle clinch Champions League qualification this season.
After victory over Newcastle United, the 27-year-old told "It was a comfortable win. The lads at the back did their job with the clean sheet, and the lads up front got the goals, but credit has to go to the team because it was a team display.
"It's easy to let your mind wander ahead of the Milan game but it was important we stayed focused. It could have affected the performance, so credit to the boys for being very professional and doing the job right. Now we can focus on Inter Milan. It will be a very difficult game but we're confident we can qualify.
"We'll show them a lot of respect but, like I said, we're confident, we're playing well and we got a fantastic result against them at home. Now we need to go finish the job off."

Liverpool's Babel using Henry as inspiration

Liverpool ace Ryan Babel has revealed he's using Arsenal legend Thierry Henry as inspiration as he establishes himself on Merseyside.
"Thierry started as a left winger. Further on in his career he became a striker and real goalscorer," said the Dutchman.
"That is what I want too. I am happy to play on the wing at Liverpool but eventually I hope I can do for the team what Thierry did at Arsenal. "I met Henry for the first time with Ajax when we played Arsenal in the Champions League in 2005. It is fantastic that I was able to visit him at the end of last year for a few days in Spain."
Babel, 23, added: "I also go and see Robin van Persie a lot in London.
"He has told me how to protect myself against the tough defenders in the Premier League and in the Champions League."

Liverpool boss Benitez: Midfield now built for Gerrard

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has revealed he's released Steven Gerrard from his defensive duties in central midfield.

The Reds skipper is clearly relishing the fact two holding midfielders allow him to bomb forward.
Benitez admitted: "Stevie now has the same freedom he had as a right winger, when he came inside.
"He's enjoying it because he knows he can go forward with no problem as he has the two behind him.
"The understanding with Torres is very good. They bring the best out of each other - you could see that with the second goal.
"With the freedom he has now, and the quality going forward, he is unstoppable. His understanding with those around him is very good."
Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan is certain Gerrard's best days still lie ahead. He added: "When I used to see kids with Gerrard on the back of their shirts, I used to say to the mum and dad, 'Good role model for your kid'.
"He's not just a good player but carries the burden of responsibility in other areas very well. I am a big fan of his. And I think there's more to come, definitely. He is 27, still young and is going to get better.
"He is outstanding at the moment but his best years are still to come."

Newcastle fans turn on Ashley at Anfield

Mike Ashley was targeted by Newcastle United fans during Saturday's 3-0 defeat by Liverpool.
The Journal says Toon owner Ashley generally sits with the Newcastle fans rather than in the directors box at away games, and reports in Liverpool claim he was targeted by angry supporters on Saturday.
After the third goal a Magpies fan is said to have accused the billionaire of ruining Keegan�s chances of assembling a good team by failing to provide him with sufficient transfer funds. In a separate incident, a drunken fan allegedly lunged at Ashley.

UEFA open laser case against Lyon

UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against Lyon after home supporters aimed a laser at Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo during their Champions League clash at the Stade Gerland.
Portugal winger Ronaldo was dazzled by the laser before and during the first leg of the last-16 tie on February 20.
UEFA's Control and Disciplinary Committee will examine evidence in preparation for a hearing on March 20.
Lyon earned a 1-1 draw in that game but then lost the second leg 1-0 to be knocked out of the competition.

Spanish media say Primera Liga title race is over

Spanish media predicted the end of the Primera Liga title race on Monday after leaders Real Madrid went eight points clear of Barcelona at the weekend.

Real's 2-1 comeback win at home to Espanyol on Saturday, coupled with Barca's 2-1 defeat by Villarreal at the Nou Camp on Sunday, restored a healthy advantage that had been trimmed to just two points two weeks ago.
'Real Madrid escape again,' sports daily Marca said on Monday, while Mundo Deportivo wrote: 'Without (injured Lionel) Messi there is no Barca and no title race.'
Barca president Joan Laporta described Sunday's game as 'disastrous' as Villarreal played a sensible holding game, packing the midfield, breaking rapidly and effectively to a deserved win with goals from Marcos Senna and Jon Dahl Tomasson.
Villarreal are now just four points short of Barca in third place, with 11 games left in the season.
Real also went behind in their game against Espanyol at the Bernabeu, and like Barca had to endure murmurs of unrest and whistles from their fans before coming back with a goal from Gonzalo Higuain and a dubious penalty from Raul.
'It wasn't a game for the gallery,' a taciturn coach Bernd Schuster observed.
While the top two struggled it was the likes of lesser-lights Villarreal, Racing Santander, Getafe and Real Mallorca who provided the entertainment over the weekend.
Copa Del Rey semi-finalists Racing were the surprise package of the first half of the season, and have recovered from a dip in form to climb to fifth place, level on 44 points with fourth-placed Atletico Madrid.
The Cantabrians beat 10-man Real Betis 3-0 at home on Sunday to stay on course for a possible first appearance in a major European competition.
'Our objective from the start of the season was to avoid relegation and we have achieved that mathematically with this win. Now we can start to dream of other things,' said coach Marcelino.
Their Cup semi-final opponents Getafe made it nine games unbeaten in all competitions with a 3-0 away win over Real Murcia on Sunday, spoiling new coach Javier Clemente's first game at the helm of the hosts.
Michael Laudrup's modest side show little sign of fatigue as they chase a potential cup double. They are 2-1 up from the away leg of their UEFA Cup last-16 tie against Benfica.
Real Mallorca ended a run of five consecutive league draws with a spectacular 7-1 demolition of Recreativo Huelva, with Venezuela forward Juan Arango bagging a hat-trick in the islanders' biggest ever win in the top flight.
'It's a game every coach dreams of witnessing, but we haven't really won anything. It is still only three points,' Mallorca coach Gregorio Manzano said.

FA hand Blackburn Rovers misconduct charge

Blackburn Rovers have been charged with misconduct by the Football Association as a result of their players' behaviour during the game with Newcastle United on March 1.
The FA have alleged that Rovers were guilty of 'failing to ensure that their players and/or officials conducted themselves in an orderly fashion' in the match at St James' Park, which they won 1-0 thanks to a last-minute goal by Matt Derbyshire.
Blackburn have until March 25 to respond to the charge.

Cesc to become Arsenal's best ever paid

Arsenal are ready to make Cesc Fabregas the highest paid player in the club's history.
After their 0-0 draw at Wigan yesterday, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger insisted Cesc would have to wait until the summer before opening new contract talks.
However, the Sunday Mirror says Gunners sources admit they will need to put Fabregas on a par with Steven Gerrard, Cristiano Ronaldo and John Terry as the Premier League's top earners in the £130,000-a-week bracket.
That will mean topping the biggest pay packet in Arsenal's history - the £120,000 a week paid to Thierry Henry in his final year at the club.
An Arsenal insider said: "We're aware of the situation with Cesc and we will be looking at it in the summer.
"We want to keep him at the club and are not afraid to bring him into line with other high profile players in the Premier League."
Arsenal are keen to secure Fabregas as soon as possible to stop him using a FIFA loophole to buy himself out of his current contract.