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Blackburn Rovers executive’s letter
lifts lid on Venky’s ownership
Paul Hunt urges Anuradha Desai to sack Steve Kean • Letter
suggests relegated Rovers face financial meltdown • Read the full
letter here Page 2


Roberto Di Matteo says no regrets over
selection for Liverpool game
We’ve played every three days over the last eight weeks • Kenny
Dalglish: ‘It was an excellent performance’ Page 2



David Haye promises Dereck Chisora a
‘beating’ after brawl goes legal
The bout, sanctioned in Luxembourg, is billed ‘Licensed to Thrill’
but, with Chisora overweight, is likely to be one for ‘fight’ fans
Page 3



Yorkshire accuse                           Warren Gatland’s                             Rory McIlroy glad        London 2012
Mitchell Starc’s agent                     injury complicates                           to be back at Players    Olympics: ‘I
following deportation                       Wales tug of war over                        Championship for       contemplated
‘fiasco’ Page 4                             Lions duties Page 5                          ‘fifth’ major Page 6    suicide’, says Gemma
                                                                                                                  Spofforth Page 7
Argentine Olympic                           New Jersey Devils                            Harlequins and
Committee distances                         head to first Eastern                       England captain Chris   Liverpool exact final
itself from Falklands                       Conference finals                            Robshaw is player of    revenge thanks to
TV ad Page 5                                since 2003 Page 6                           season Page 7            Chelsea errors Page 8




guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                           guardian.co.uk
Registered in England and Wales. No. 908396. Registered office: Number 1 Scott Place, Manchester M3 3GG
Page  G24 Sport                                                                      Wednesday May 9 2012               08:17 GMT

                                                                       courts could take our houses from us. My family do not deserve
                                                                       this.”
Blackburn Rovers executive’s letter                                    • An end to public statements being issued by Venky’s in India
lifts lid on Venky’s ownership                                         and not from Blackburn.
                                                                       • Regular visits to meet the owners in India. Six months after
• Paul Hunt urges Anuradha Desai to sack                               his appointment as deputy CEO, Hunt reveals, he has not met
Steve Kean • Letter suggests relegated                                 Desai.
                                                                       • At least one representative of Venky’s turn up for “at least a
Rovers face financial meltdown • Read the
                                                                       quarter of games”. The Indian owners have rarely been seen
full letter here                                                       at Ewood Park in the past 12 months and were absent when
Andy Hunter                                                            Blackburn’s relegation was confirmed against Wigan.
                                                                       • Responsibility to “hire and fire staff”, naming a club
Venky’s controversial reign at relegated Blackburn Rovers
                                                                       executive who Hunt says “is against the owners and spreads the
[http://tinyurl.com/5yxbog] is under renewed scrutiny
                                                                       word wherever he can”.
following the emergence of an extraordinary letter from the
                                                                       • Action be taken to prevent the club “losing sponsors and
club’s deputy chief executive that urges the owners to sack
                                                                       suppliers”. Hunt claims an £800,000 a year contract with
Steve Kean [http://tinyurl.com/3fk45t7] as manager, settle a
                                                                       Umbro is in jeopardy due to the manufacture of Rovers shirts
£10m debt to avoid the threat of administration and lays bare
                                                                       in India and that “the Blackburn Rovers and Venky’s brands are
the dysfunctional relationship between the owners and the
                                                                       both suffering terribly”.
club’s board.
                                                                           The Guardian has not received a response from Hunt or
   The letter, from the deputy chief executive, Paul Hunt, to
                                                                       Venky’s on the contents of the letter.
the Rovers co-owner Anuradha Desai and dated 21 December
                                                                           Venky’s purchased Rovers from the Walker family trust in
2011, delivers the prescient warning that Blackburn are heading
                                                                       a £44m deal in November 2010 and the club’s fortunes have
for relegation under Kean – an outcome confirmed by defeat by
                                                                       subsequently plummeted, with the defeat on Monday sealing
Wigan Athletic on Monday night – and risk being foreclosed by
                                                                       relegation from the Premier League for the first time in 11 years.
the banks or HMRC. Hunt feared that he and his fellow directors
                                                                       Kean rejected calls for his resignation following the defeat and
could lose their homes should Rovers enter administration.
                                                                       despite the evidence of a dismal campaign, a run of seven losses
   Venky’s have since settled their entire overdraft with
                                                                       in the last eight matches and mass protests against his reign
Barclays and have no outstanding debt with that bank but failed
                                                                       from Rovers’ suffering supporters, claimed he retained Venky’s
to heed much of Hunt’s advice. The former commercial director
                                                                       backing and could oversee immediate promotion next season.
at Leicester City has led the executive team at Ewood Park since
                                                                           Kean is a client of the SEM sports agency, who advised
June 2011 following the departures of the long-serving former
                                                                       Venky’s on its takeover, and refused to apportion blame on the
chairman John Williams and managing director Tom Finn.
                                                                       owners for relegation. Instead, he called on them to ensure the
   Hunt’s letter outlines the extent of the distance and
                                                                       bulk of the Blackburn squad remains intact for next season and
disharmony between the India-based owners and the executive
                                                                       is enhanced by “one or two experienced players”, even though
team at Ewood Park and illustrates why Rovers supporters have
                                                                       he defended the departures of Ryan Nelsen, Chris Samba and
been so vociferous in their protests against the poultry giant
                                                                       Jason Roberts. Michel Salgado has not played this year as the
and the manager Kean. The letter was revealed on Tuesday on
                                                                       club seeks to avoid handing the former Real Madrid defender an
the website sportingintelligence.com.
                                                                       automatic 12-month extension to his contract.
   In a 10-point plan proposing “significant changes to save
                                                                           The manager’s rebuilding plans appear optimistic at best.
the club, perhaps from relegation but also perhaps from
                                                                       Junior Hoilett is out of contract this summer and has been
administration”, Hunt requests:
                                                                       linked with Arsenal and Bayern Munich, while doubts surround
• His promotion to CEO to avoid confusing staff, supporters
                                                                       the futures of Steven Nzonzi, Gaël Givet and Paul Robinson
and media, including a modest increase in salary. “I am
                                                                       among others.
currently the lowest paid senior club official in the Premier
League,” he writes.
• A £10m loan from Venky’s as Barclays are “very quickly losing        Roberto Di Matteo says no regrets over
patience as we cannot give answers”. He also states: “The
position with the finances is a cause for grave concern. Auditors
                                                                       selection for Liverpool game
KPMG have put as many obstacles as they can in the way of
signing off the accounts due to their concerns.” Money is also         • We’ve played every three days over the
required in January 2012 to pay players’ wages.                        last eight weeks • Kenny Dalglish: ‘It was an
• A change of manager who, Hunt claims, has lost the crowd
                                                                       excellent performance’
and the dressing room. The letter is dated the day after
Blackburn’s 2-1 home defeat by fellow strugglers Bolton                Andy Hunter at Anfield
Wanderers when supporters’ criticism of Kean reached its               Roberto Di Matteo [http://tinyurl.com/cynyms3] said he had
height.                                                                no regrets over his selection policy against Liverpool [http://
• That the executive team at Blackburn receive authority to run        tinyurl.com/42nq4e] as Chelsea [http://tinyurl.com/5ybu55]
the club and greater trust from the owners in India. “With our         suffered their heaviest defeat of the season and saw their faint
fiduciary responsibilities as directors, if the club goes under, the   hopes of a top-four finish expire at Anfield.
directors (including Vineeth [Rao], Mahesh [Gupta] and Gandhi             Chelsea’s interim manager made eight changes to the team
Babu) are all potentially personally liable for that failing and the   that beat Liverpool in the FA Cup final on Saturday and paid an
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                        guardian.co.uk
Page  G24 Sport                                                                    Wednesday May 9 2012                08:17 GMT

emphatic price as Kenny Dalglish’s team produced a rampant           after his bottle-in-hand uppercut and camera-tripod attack in
first-half display to record their biggest league win of the         front of a stunned press pack in February.
season. Michael Essien, with an own-goal, Jordan Henderson               It is billed Licensed to Thrill, a sarcastic retort perhaps from
and Daniel Agger all scored in nine first-half minutes as the        the promoter Frank Warren at critics who have aimed fire at
visitors produced a calamitous defensive performance. Stewart        him for reaching out to the Luxembourg Boxing [http://tinyurl.
Downing also missed a penalty in first-half stoppage time – the      com/5ra7ax] Association to legitimise a bout that the British
seventh time Liverpool have failed from the spot this season, a      Boxing Board of Control has not sanctioned. Chisora had his
club record.                                                         licence suspended by the BBBC after the midnight ruckus in
    Di Matteo absolved his makeshift team and said the lowest        Germany and Haye gave his up last year when he retired after
league finish of the Roman Abramovich era was the product            his embarrassing defeat by Wladimir Klitschko.
of an underwhelming campaign rather than one off-night.                  And in an arena that had been at its most raucous as West
“Liverpool were the better side. They were inspired and scored       Ham United mauled Cardiff City in a one-sided spectacle the
goals at the right time,” he said. “I don’t think it was the team    day before, Haye promised a 35,000-strong boxing crowd he
[I picked]. Liverpool were better than us and we have to given       would deliver something similar – “a nice, slow, concussive
them credit. We’ve played with these players all season and          beating” – should they stump up the cash to watch the fight.
they’ve carried us so far. It’s been demanding for us and I          “He is the ideal opponent for me,” Haye said. “I am so glad he
thought that by putting a fresh team out would give us a better      has got a good chin because if he didn’t have a good chin he
chance. We have been using the strength that we have in the          would be blasted out in the first round. I tried to knock him out
squad to be able to be here but we’ve lost many points during        in Munich and this is the opportunity to shut him up.”
the whole season and you can’t just look at tonight. We’ve               Haye’s prediction could be an accurate one, as on the other
played every three days over eight weeks and we’ve had to            side of the fence dividing the two camps sat Chisora, as chubby-
utilise the strength in the squad to reach the finals and to be as   looking as many of the eight security guards who flanked him
close as we were with two games left.”                               and Warren, his manager. “I don’t like him. David, you need
    Chelsea had only an outside chance of finishing above            to get style. Cornrows were last stylish when Ja Rule had a hit
Tottenham and Newcastle in the table before kick-off and must        record on Kiss FM. Talk is cheap now. You got a lucky shot, I’ll
now now beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League on 19             give that one to you. Come a couple of weeks’ time, I’ll whoop
May to return to the European elite next term. i Matteo added:       your ass,” said Chisora.
“The final is a one off game. It was always going to be a high           Given his flabby physical state that scenario is unlikely.
pressure game. But we have to be objective as well because           Impressive as Chisora was against an ageing Vitali Klitschko,
we’ve played 37 games and I don’t think it’s the point we lost       he will have to do some serious training to be in peak physical
today that cost us. We hit the post and then the crossbar and        condition to face a more mobile boxer who is better suited to
that could have changed the game a little bit.”Victory ensured       a toe-to-toe contest with a lionhearted but shorter and more
Liverpool avoided equalling the club’s lowest return of home         limited brawler such as himself.
wins in a top flight campaign at Anfield and left Kenny Dalglish         And therein lies the problem. As a sporting spectacle it
enthused at the reaction to the FA Cup final defeat.                 does not offer much. Haye said he would end his retirement
    “It was an excellent performance, one that we’ve seen a few      only to face a Klitschko. Chisora has lost his last three fights.
times before but without the result being as positive as that,” he   Butas theatre it is extremely saleable – and the key reason why
said. “It’s pleasing the result was matched by the performance       Warren, who was “disgusted” by the scenes in Munich and
and so the supporters go away with a smile on their face. There      said in February that he did not feel he could promote a Haye-
is no other place in the Premier League where supporters would       Chisora bout, has made a complete U-turn.
show appreciation like that.                                             “There’s far more worse things gone on in boxing than what
    “I have a feeling of ‘what a result and what a performance’      is happening here,” Warren said. “We can all sit here and decide
not ‘what if’. The last half hour at Wembley and that                whether we feel right about what we are doing or not. The BBC
performance there was fantastic. Everyone played their part.         have shown the Formula One in Bahrain. They are going to be
Jonjo and Jordan, Luis was fantastic for the first goal and big      in the Ukraine covering the Euros. This fight sits well with me. I
Andy was unplayable. The old boy at the back [Jamie Carragher]       have not got a problem.
didn’t do so bad, either. Everyone played their part.”                   “I manage Chisora and I have a contractual obligation to him.
                                                                     The [appeal] hearing [with the BBBC] was put back to July so
                                                                     Dereck will have effectively been out of the ring for six months
David Haye promises Dereck Chisora a                                 and that equates, if he was a footballer, to being out of action for
‘beating’ after brawl goes legal                                     24 matches. He has lost half of his purse in sanctions and costs
                                                                     since the Klitschko fight. He has no qualifications, the next
                                                                     thing for him to do would be to sign on.”
The bout, sanctioned in Luxembourg, is                                   Painting a picture of himself as a white knight who is giving
billed ‘Licensed to Thrill’ but, with Chisora                        a man “his right to work” is a bit rich but not as rich as Warren
overweight, is likely to be one for ‘fight’ fans                     stands to be as a shareholder in BoxNation, the satellite boxing
                                                                     channel that will show a fight between two British boxers that
Gregg Bakowski
                                                                     Warren reckons is the “biggest this century” and is sure to be
After the brawl in Munich comes the official bout at Upton Park      profitable whether it delivers or not.
on 14 July. David Haye [http://tinyurl.com/6j27xd] and Dereck            How the BBBC views the prospect of the first professional
Chisora [http://tinyurl.com/7bgpfxz] will finally get the chance     fight to take place on British soil not under its remit, is not
to settle a bitter score that Chisora admits Haye is “winning 1-0”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                        guardian.co.uk
Page  G24 Sport                                                                    Wednesday May 9 2012               08:17 GMT

known. Officials will be concerned about the further damage it           Kevin Pietersen has been in such commanding form for
could do to the image of boxing in this country as well as their     Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League in recent weeks
own authority. They meet on Wednesday night to discuss the           that it is tempting to see some connection between his return
issue and may make clear what, if any, action they can take          for a rare County Championship appearance before next week’s
against Warren for making arrangements with the Luxembourg           first Test against West Indies, and the receding of the floods
Boxing Association and announcing a very public fight                that will allow Surrey’s fixture against Worcestershire to go
somewhat out of the blue.                                            ahead at New Road. But even Pietersen will be powerless when
    A spokesperson for the Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson,       the collection of former players who steer on-field policy for
said he will monitor the response of the BBBC but is not overly      the International Cricket Council meet in Dubai this month to
concerned about the criticism surrounding the fight.                 consider the switch-hit in which he specialises.
    As for the public, this is perhaps a spectacle that will get         The ICC’s cricket committee, which includes such
“fight” fans salivating but perhaps not weary boxing fans who        luminaries as the former Australia captain Mark Taylor and Sri
still yearn for a skilful heavyweight bout worth the hype.           Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara, will be forced to tackle the recent
                                                                     controversies surrounding the Decision Review System, and
                                                                     are widely expected to recommend shifting the balance slightly
Yorkshire accuse Mitchell Starc’s agent                              back in favour of the batsmen. But Pietersen’s unorthodox
following deportation ‘fiasco’                                       batting style has also sneaked on to their agenda, after it
                                                                     returned as a live issue during England’s Test series in Sri Lanka
                                                                     last month.
• ‘This agent hasn’t done a proper job,’ says                            Pietersen, who first unveiled the shot – whereby he switches
Colin Graves • Kevin Pietersen set to make                           his stance and grip to hit as a left-handed batsman – during a
a rare appearance for Surrey                                         one-day international against New Zealand in Durham in 2008,
                                                                     was warned by the umpires for time-wasting when Sri Lanka’s
Andy Wilson
                                                                     former captain Tillakaratne Dilshan pulled out of bowling to
Yorkshire [http://tinyurl.com/4zjnmv]’s chairman, Colin              him on several occasions.
Graves, blamed Mitchell Starc’s agent for the “fiasco” that              The committee is expected to recommend a different
meant exactly a week after informing one international               approach, whereby the bowler will be given a couple of minor
fast bowler that he was free to leave, the county had                advantages – the right to an lbw decision wherever a ball pitches
another deported.                                                    and a relaxation of the usual tight one-day rulings over leg-side
    Starc, a 22-year-old from Sydney who has played four             wides.
Tests for Australia, had been due to start a five-week stint             None of that would seem likely to stop Pietersen playing the
with Yorkshire in their County Championship match against            shot at the right moment, although it may not be his top priority
Gloucestershire at Bristol on Wednesday, helping to fill the gap     on a Wednesday afternoon in Worcester. The game, for which
left by Ajmal Shahzad’s departure to Lancashire.                     he was ordered home by the England management to readjust
    Instead he suffered the indignity of being sent home from        to first-class cricket before the first Test, had been switched to
Heathrow, after being detained for more than four hours. “Well       a club ground in Kidderminster when New Road was engulfed
that’s a first!” Starc tweeted. “Being deported from England.        late last week. But Worcestershire’s chief executive, David
Surely nothing else can go wrong can it?!?! £ffsake!”                Leatherdale, said a new drainage system installed since the
    However, Graves suggested that instead of blaming Cricket        ground was last flooded in 2007 had coped with “half a million
Australia or the inflexibility of the UK Border Agency, Starc        litres of water” and that the outfield is now “bone dry”.
should look closer to home. “The whole thing to be honest is             Somerset have made the long journey to Durham with their
a fiasco,” said the Yorkshire chairman. “This to me just shows       only 11 fit senior players, after Jos Buttler split the webbing on
that you get good agents and bad agents, and this agent hasn’t       his hand in fielding practice. The county’s academy director,
done a proper job.                                                   Jason Kerr, a Lancastrian all-rounder, will be 12th man for the
    “We’ve got everything right, and Cricket Australia will          game, and the director of cricket, Brian Rose, said: “We must
look at it and say he’s got what’s required, and after that it’s     have run over a black tiger, rather than a black cat, to cause
down to the agent. You can’t blame the English authorities,          such a crisis in personnel. I’m beginning to wonder what will
they’ve got rules and regulations, and he didn’t have the            happen next. I don’t think I’ll be taking my glasses to Durham.
proper paperwork.”                                                   Otherwise I might be next in line for selection.” Rose turns 62
    In a later tweet Starc insisted he “will be straight back to     next month.
Uk ASAP once sorted. In time for next @Yorkshireccc game”                The West Indies tourists are hopeful that Assad Fudadin and
– against Hampshire at Headingley, starting next Wednesday.          Narsingh Deonarine will be granted their visas in time to be
He had arrived in the country on Saturday night and his              available for their four-day game against England Lions which
girlfriend – the niece of the former Australia wicket keeper Ian     starts at Northampton on Thursday. After the belated arrival of
Healy — has stayed in Yorkshire.                                     Marlon Samuels following his IPL commitments, that would
    However, Graves made it clear that Yorkshire would not be        leave them at full strength with the possible exception of Fidel
bearing the cost of this mistake themselves. “We’ve told them        Edwards, the fast bowler who has a back problem.
straight, we’re not paying the airfare again,” he added. “We paid
originally but now it’s down to them.”
    At least Yorkshire will have Tim Bresnan available for a third
consecutive Championship appearance ahead of the first Test
against West Indies at Lord’s next week.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                      guardian.co.uk
Page  G24 Sport                                                                   Wednesday May 9 2012               08:17 GMT


Argentine Olympic Committee                                         Warren Gatland’s injury complicates
distances itself from Falklands TV ad                               Wales tug of war over Lions duties

• NOC president says ‘Games are not a                               • Unveiling of Lions coach may be delayed
platform for politics’ • Clip shows hockey                          two months • Martyn Williams set to win
player training on British war memorial                             100th cap against Barbarians
Reuters                                                             Paul Rees

The Argentine Olympic Committee has distanced itself from a         Rob Howley’s first major decision as acting Wales head coach
television advertisement shot on the disputed Falkland Islands      while Warren Gatland [http://tinyurl.com/bpav9u] recovers
[http://tinyurl.com/czcld2] that has triggered a diplomatic         from two broken heels will lead to the veteran flanker Martyn
dispute with Britain [http://tinyurl.com/bqpcoem] before the        Williams, who is retiring at the end of the season, winning his
London Games.                                                       100th cap against the Barbarians on 2 June having spent nearly
    “The Argentine National Olympic Committee is fully              nine months stranded on 99.
committed to the Olympic charter and the best practices of              Williams will be on the bench against the Barbarians at the
the Olympic movement,” the NOC chief, Gerardo Werthein,             Millennium Stadium with Wales sending an advance party of
said in a statement on Tuesday. “We strongly believe the            15 players, including Sam Warburton who will captain the side
Olympic Games are not a platform for politics and we have           after recovering from a shoulder injury, to Australia two days
communicated this position to the International Olympic             beforehand to prepare for a three-Test series which starts in
Committee.”                                                         Brisbane on 9 June.
    The state-supported advertisement, which was branded                Gatland was due to be named on Wednesday as the Lions
by Britain as “tasteless and insulting”, shows the Argentinian      coach for next year’s three-Test tour to Australia but the
hockey captain Fernando Zylberberg training in the Falklands        announcement will be delayed for potentially a couple of
– the contested archipelago in the South Atlantic which the two     months while the injuries he suffered last month after a fall at
countries fought over in 1982. He runs past several symbolic        his holiday home in New Zealand are assessed.
British landmarks and exercises on the steps of a war memorial          Gatland’s left foot came out of plaster this week but it still
to British soldiers.                                                has to be decided whether he will need on operation on his
    The 90-second advertisement was made to coincide with the       right foot, which suffered multiple fractures. A Lions delegation
runup to the Olympics in London this year and ends with the         is due to visit Hong Kong and Australia at the end of the month
voiceover: “To compete on English soil, we train on Argentinian     to assess facilities before the tour and a detour to New Zealand
soil”.                                                              to check on the Wales coach’s progress is likely.
    Werthein added: “The Argentine NOC has made clear that              The Lions have been in negotiations with the Welsh Rugby
using the Olympic Games to make political gestures of any kind      Union [http://tinyurl.com/cd7l7o] about Gatland’s release. The
is not acceptable and we will conduct ourselves in the proper       tourists wanted him to be free to devote his full attention to
spirit of Olympism in all that we do in London and elsewhere.”      them from the beginning of next season but the WRU wanted
    The broadcast aired on the 30th anniversary of the sinking      Gatland to be involved in the final two of their four friendly
of the Argentinian ship the General Belgrano by a British           internationals next season, against Australia and New Zealand,
submarine, which led to the loss of over 300 lives.                 with Howley in charge for the Six Nations.
    The IOC said it found attempts to use the Games for political       “I spoke to Warren this morning and he is in good spirits,
purposes regrettable.                                               convalescing well,” said Howley. “Fingers crossed, he will be
    “We are in contact with the Argentine NOC on a regular basis    involved in Wales’s Australia tour at some stage. His right foot
and we have been reassured on a number of occasions that the        took the impact of the fall and he is having x-rays to see how it
NOC will not seek to use the Games as a political platform and      is healing. His health is the most important thing.”
will fully respect the Olympic Charter,” an IOC spokesperson            The Lions want to know when Gatland will be able to put
said.                                                               weight on his right foot again, which may not be until July, and
    “The IOC has always strived to separate sport from politics     when he is likely to return to Britain, something that could be
and honour the spirit of the Games and all those who take part.”    delayed if he needs surgery.
                                                                        Gatland is in contact with Howley on a regular basis with
                                                                    Wales, the grand slam champions, facing a crucial series in




  *
                                                                    Australia. The Lions centre Jamie Roberts has already been
                                                                    ruled out, with the hooker Huw Bennett, and a squad of 34 will
                                                                    travel Down Under for a tour that includes a midweek fixture
                                                                    against the Brumbies.
  Compare and buy                                                       The decision to send 15 players to Australia nine days before
                                                                    the first Test will mean effectively that a second team will play
  Use our free independent comparison
                                                                    the Barbarians, a fixture for which Wales alone award caps. But
  services to switch suppliers and save                             Howley denied a suggestion that the game had been devalued.
  money on all your household bills.                                “We are playing two matches in seven days and, given the
  guardian.co.uk/money/compareandbuy                                time it takes to fly to Australia and recovery time, we have
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                      guardian.co.uk
Page  G24 Sport                                                                     Wednesday May 9 2012               08:17 GMT

to field two sides,” he said. “What we have developed in the
last 18 months is strength in depth and the side that faces the
Barbarians will not be weak. It is a hugely important fixture for
                                                                      New Jersey Devils head to first Eastern
us and one we want to win.                                            Conference finals since 2003
    “The decision to pick Martyn, who will be on the bench, has
nothing to do with sentiment. It is based on rugby common             New Jersey Devils beat Philadelphia Flyers
sense. Sam will not be involved and we want experience for            3-1 on the night and 4-1 in the series to reach
what will be a difficult game. We will not be giving away caps,
                                                                      Eastern Conference finals for first time since
something Warren has always been mindful of, and Martyn, like
everyone involved against the Barbarians, will have a chance of
                                                                      2003
going on the tour.”                                                   Reuters
    One player not involved is Gavin Henson, whose
                                                                      Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils made their long
international career looks to be over. The 33-cap centre was
                                                                      awaited return to the Eastern Conference finals after brushing
dumped last month by Cardiff Blues, who have announced they
                                                                      Philadelphia aside 3-1 on Tuesday to complete their second-
will be moving back to Cardiff Arms Park next season after three
                                                                      round series victory.
years at Cardiff City Stadium, following drunken antics on a
                                                                         Smothering the Flyers’ dangerous offense as they did for the
flight from Glasgow.
                                                                      entire series, the Devils captured the best-of-seven series 4-1
    “Gavin will not be in the squad for rugby reasons,” said
                                                                      and reached their first East final since 2003.
Howley, who said it would be hard for the 30-year old, who does
                                                                         Brodeur, who helped guide New Jersey to their last Stanley
not have a club, to force his way back in. “He played a part in
                                                                      Cup in 2003, made 27 saves as the Devils resembled their
our Six Nations preparation but, because of circumstances, he
                                                                      glory days at the start of this century when they reached three
has not been playing and that has effectively ruled him out of
                                                                      Stanley Cup finals in four years.
the tour.”
                                                                         The Flyers were held to just 11 goals over the five games.
    Shaun Edwards will be a part-time defence coach next
                                                                         Philadelphia, without leading scorer Claude Giroux who was
season at London Irish, who this week lost Toby Booth, Neil
                                                                      serving a one-game suspension for an illegal check, opened the
Hatley and Justin Bishop from their backroom team.
                                                                      scoring in the first period through Maxime Talbot but Bryce
    Edwards has a contract with Wales until the end of the 2015
                                                                      Salvador and David Clarkson responded to give New Jersey a 2-1
World Cup. It contains a clause that allows him to spend one
                                                                      lead midway through the period.
day a week with a Premiership club, as well as his two days off.
                                                                         Ilya Kovalchuk then added a third-period goal from a slap
    Edwards spent 10 successful years with Wasps, many of
                                                                      shot to seal the scoring and set up an Eastern Conference
them as head coach, before leaving the club last November
                                                                      showdown against the winner of the series between the New
after the arrival of David Young as director of rugby. He was
                                                                      York Rangers and Washington Capitals.
approached by Leicester before Christmas, but an offer never
materialised and the Tigers have recently been talking with the       Phoenix move on, goodbye to St Louis and the
former France and London Irish defence coach, Dave Ellis.             Rangers leave it late
    Booth spent 10 years at Irish, latterly as head coach, and will
be part of Bath’s management team next season under the head
coach Gary Gold, the former South Africa assistant coach who          Rory McIlroy glad to be back at Players
joined Newcastle as their interim director of rugby last January,     Championship for ‘fifth’ major
narrowly failing to save the Falcons from finishing bottom of
the Premiership.
    Hatley will join Booth and Gold, along with Mike Ford,
                                                                      • McIlroy regrets skipping the tournament
the former England defence coach Mike Ford, who was at                last year • World No1 paired with Phil
Newcastle with Gold, and Brad Davis, the one member of Bath’s         Mickelson for first two days
coaching team this season who remains.
                                                                      Lawrence Donegan at TPC Sawgrass
    “Bath is a very ambitious club and I am excited to be a part of
it,” said Gold. “A good culture is being developed there and I am     You have got to be in it to win it, which means Rory McIlroy
keen to further that with my own experience and expertise.”           [http://tinyurl.com/dh65dc] is already ahead of the game at
                                                                      the Players Championship. Twelve months ago the Northern
                                                                      Irishman was at home, tweeting barbed comments about the
                                                                      tournament the PGA Tour likes to think of as the “fifth” major.



  *
  The Guardian digital edition
                                                                      This year he is here and glad to be so.
                                                                          “Looking back it wasn’t one of my brightest moments,” he
                                                                      said of his decision to skip last year’s tournament. “I am glad to
                                                                      be back.”
                                                                          Suffice to say, the tournament is more than glad to have him.
  Read the Guardian on the web exactly the                            Privately, as well as publicly, PGA Tour officials speak only in
  way it was printed.                                                 the most glowing terms about the Tiger Woods ‘era’ and what
  With award-winning Guardian                                         it has done for the profile of the sport but there is growing
  photography accessible from anywhere in                             acknowledgement that a new age is upon us and that McIlroy is
  the world.                                                          its figurehead.
                                                                          He is the right age, 23, he has the right personality and he
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                        guardian.co.uk
Page 7 G24 Sport                                                                         Wednesday May 9 2012               08:17 GMT

plays the game with a freedom and a freshness that are manna              back, picked up the Land Rover Discovery of the season award.
in the halls of the PGA Tour marketing department. He is also                 Exeter [http://tinyurl.com/373qr9d]’s Rob Baxter was named
the world’s No1-ranked player. All of which make his absence              QBR director of rugby of the season in recognition of the Chiefs
last year all the more bizarre.                                           qualifying for the Heineken Cup after only two seasons in the
    Of course much has changed in the intervening period,                 top flight.
not least that he has taken up his PGA Tour card. He has also                 Robshaw, despite his international commitments, has played
changed agents, to the Dublin-based Horizon Sports from ISM,              16 Premiership games and he saw off competition for the award
which he suggested early this year had led him “down the                  from his Harlequins team-mate Mike Brown, the Leicester
wrong path” over his decision to skip the Players.                        flanker Julian Salvi, the Exeter loose forward James Scaysbrook,
    Now that he is here, he is one of the tournament favourites           the Saracens centre Brad Barritt and the Gloucester prop Nick
– as is the case at any tournament he enters these days. After            Wood.
a disappointing 40th-placed finish at the Masters, McIlroy                    “This award is richly deserved,” said the Harlequins director
returned to the top of the leaderboard at last week’s Wells Fargo         of rugby, Conor O’Shea. “What I like about him is that no matter
Championship at Quail Hollow, briefly leading the field on                which accolades come his way or what he achieves we all know
Sunday afternoon before losing in a play-off to Rickie Fowler.            what comes first with Chris is the team. He wants nothing more
    McIlroy has won the Quail Hollow course before. It suits              than for the team to be successful.”
him, which is more than can be said about the layout at TPC                   The ESPN Dream Team: Mike Brown (Harlequins); Horacio
Sawgrass. He has played here twice before and missed the cut              Agulla (Leicester), George Lowe (Harlequins), George Pisi
both times – a poor return for a player of his shot-making ability.       (Northampton), Alesana Tuilagi (Leicester); Toby Flood
    McIlroy’s problem is that he plays aggressively, an approach          (Leicester), Haydn Thomas (Exeter); Joe Marler (Harlequins),
that does not sit well on a golf [http://tinyurl.com/6dyxf8]              Schalk Brits (Saracens), Dan Cole (Leicester), Samu Manoa
course that rewards caution. His solution this time is to hit             (Northampton), Geoff Parling (Leicester), Chris Robshaw
fewer drivers off the tee and go with a two-iron instead. “That           (Harlequins, capt), James Scaysbrook (Exeter), Nick Easter
means sacrificing some distance for me but it also makes the              (Harlequins).
targets a little bit bigger,” he said. “If you are hitting your
second shot from the fairway here it makes life a lot easier.”
    The Northern Irishman’s stature on this side of the Atlantic is       London 2012 Olympics: ‘I contemplated
reflected in his pairing alongside Phil Mickelson for the first two       suicide’, says Gemma Spofforth
days of this tournament. He will no doubt feature strongly in US
television coverage, along with Sunday’s victor Fowler, who has
been paired with Tiger Woods for the first 36 holes.
                                                                          Great Britain’s former 100m backstroke
    The PGA Tour could not signal its hopes with greater clarity,         world record holder on coping with loss,
pitting the two most exciting young players of this era against           counselling and gaining a mental advantage
the two stalwarts of the passing generation. For Woods and
                                                                          Andy Bull
Mickelson, read McIlroy and Fowler?
    The Northern Irishman certainly hopes so. “I mean, as a fan           Before the race the swimmers wait in the call room. Each
growing up watching golf, I loved that Tiger was dominant and             follows her own routine. Some are still, some pace back and
I loved that Phil would come and challenge him for a while and            forth, some are silent, some are vocal. Gemma Spofforth, the
then Ernie [Els] and then Vijay [Singh] and then [David] Duval.           world record holder and former world champion at the 100m
I liked that as a story line,” he said. “I think for me if I was a golf   backstroke, sits, watches and thinks. “The call room,” Spofforth
fan, I’d like to see a rivalry.”                                          says, “is my sanctuary.” In there she feels she has an advantage
                                                                          over her rivals. It is not the conviction that comes with her
                                                                          achievements, the knowledge of her own superiority. It is what
Harlequins and England captain Chris                                      she does away from the pool that gives her an edge, not what
Robshaw is player of season                                               she has done in it.
                                                                             “I can see other people’s nerves and be one up on them,”
                                                                          Spofforth says. “It is nice to read people, to know they are more
• Saracens’ Owen Farrell is discovery of the                              nervous than me or just as nervous as me. For the next minute
season • Exeter’s Rob Baxter gets director                                of our lives we have all got the same opportunity.”
of rugby award                                                               Before the British Olympic trials Spofforth says she willed
                                                                          herself into a state of mental numbness. “I took away all the
Press Association
                                                                          emotions that I might need to swim fast and I took away all the
The Harlequins [http://tinyurl.com/4v4goa] and England                    emotions that would give me any nerves or anxiety before the
captain, Chris Robshaw [http://tinyurl.com/83dfucb], has been             race. I was just numb because I was thinking: ‘If I don’t make it,
named player of the season at the Aviva Premiership Rugby                 I don’t want to be in the depths of despair; I don’t want to have
Awards.                                                                   to pull myself out of a hole.’”
   Under Robshaw’s captaincy Harlequins finished top of the                  Spofforth is 24 but has had more than enough despair in
Premiership table and this Saturday face a home semi-final                her life already. She does not want to invite more in. In 2007
against Northampton at The Stoop. Robshaw captained England               her mother, Lesley, died of stomach cancer. In 2011 she lost
in only his second Test appearance and led the new-look                   both her father’s girlfriend, June, and June’s daughter Vicky,
national team to four wins in the Six Nations.                            both to cancer. There have been times, Spofforth admits in her
   Robshaw’s England team-mate Owen Farrell, the Saracens                 autobiography, due to be published after the Olympics, when
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                            guardian.co.uk
Page 8 G24 Sport                                                                       Wednesday May 9 2012               08:17 GMT

she contemplated committing suicide. “Is the concrete hard              actually feeling it was a different thing.” That was what got her
enough?” Spofforth writes in Dealing With It: Five Years of             through.
Mourning, Medals and Men. “I could jump right now. I could                 Two days after she qualified for the Olympic team Spofforth
escape. I would not have to deal with it, wouldn’t have to think,       discovered she had also got funding for a place on a Masters
wouldn’t have to worry.” That was when she was standing on              course in mental health counselling. “It was an amazing week
a hotel balcony, during a training camp on the Gold Coast in            for me. Everything just kind of set in place.” At long last.
Australia.
    Spofforth stepped back from the edge. For the past three
years she has been working as a volunteer on a suicide crisis           Liverpool exact final revenge thanks to
line in Florida, where she lives. To jump, she says, would have         Chelsea errors
made her a hypocrite. “Right after the death of my mum, I went
to a few classes. One of them was in psychology and one of my
                                                                        Andy Hunter at Anfield
friends who was sat next to me was like ‘You know, you’d be
good at this’. So I went through six weeks of intensive training        Chelsea [http://tinyurl.com/5ybu55] must win it to stay in it.
and I was on the lines at the end of those six weeks.” Soon             Champions League qualification was always a distant hope
afterwards she became an associate, which meant that she was            through the Premier League [http://tinyurl.com/6yneax] for
qualified to go out and try to talk people down off the ledge. “I       Roberto Di Matteo but, as though the club’s first European Cup
have seen a couple of dead bodies here and there, because the           was not incentive enough, there is no alternative now but to
families of a dead person need crisis counselling.                      beat Bayern Munich in their own backyard after the lowest
    “For me sitting in somebody else’s pain has become second           league finish of the Roman Abramovich era was confirmed at
nature. I know that sounds stupid but it is nice to know that in        Anfield.
somebody’s worst times I can be the person there so that they               A top-four finish was obliterated from the equation for
have a sound board and can let things out.” Spofforth’s work            Chelsea by a rampant Liverpool [http://tinyurl.com/42nq4e]
has taught her how to compartmentalise her emotions. “It is             team swaggering with a self-belief and adventure absent from
second nature to me to put things away and pretend they are             their FA Cup final display at Wembley three days previously.
not there.” So her training has helped her swimming [http://                Kenny Dalglish’s biggest league win of the season arrived
tinyurl.com/556nem]. But it also makes her hard to counsel. “I          too late to alter the complexion of the club’s season but, with
am quite a hypocrite when it comes to that because I don’t allow        Andy Carroll again a dominant force and an impressive home
people to listen to me. There’s one or two people who work              performance reflected in goals for a change, Liverpool signed off
with me on the lines, and they are really good but I call them          at Anfield with a flourish and a flicker of hope.
out on what they are doing, because obviously I have had the                Chelsea departed in the sure knowledge that several players
same training.”                                                         had ruined their prospects of starting at the Allianz Arena but
    As recently as last Christmas, seven months out from                with minds focused. Given the trials that preceded Di Matteo’s
a competition for which she has been preparing for seven                appointment as interim manager nine weeks ago, following the
years, she was thinking about quitting her sport. “Right from           dismissal of André Villas-Boas, win or bust at the Allianz Arena
the beginning of my career London 2012, or even before we               is an acceptable return.
got the bid, the 2012 Olympics was always my goal.”                         A repeat of this ramshackle defensive display on Saturday
    After the world championships in Shanghai last year, when           week, however, and the Kop’s taunt of “Bayern Munich, they’ll
Spofforth was ill and finished 17th, those doubts grew. Bad             win it five times” will ring true.
thoughts began to fester. “It was very real after Shanghai. There           The visitors arrived with their Premier League campaign
was a lot of times then when I just thought: ‘This is the end of        alive but the night was not without incentive for Liverpool,
my career. I can’t do another year.’ Over Christmas it was hard         however demoralised the club may have been by Saturday’s
because the pressure was insane.” The pressure, Spofforth               defeat and their performance against the same opponents in
explains, comes from the people around her. The problem with            the FA Cup final.
her compartmentalisation techniques, she says, is that she “can             Victory avoided equalling the lowest return of home
only be in control of myself, not everyone else”.                       wins in a top flight campaign at Anfield – the five of 1948-49
    “There’s so many people making comments like ‘after you             – maintained hope of finishing above Everton in the table and
win the gold’ and on and on and on, from my friends even.               restored some optimism ahead of Dalglish’s end-of-season
And it is just kind of like: ‘Stop saying that, if you say that, then   review with the club’s owners. Against another team Liverpool
I am going to go down this route.’ For me it is just too much           might have struggled to rouse itself but not against Chelsea and
pressure. When I go to the pool I can think about that kind of          not against a side containing Fernando Torres, back on Anfield
thing. When I come away from the pool and I am at home I don’t          soil for the first time since his acrimonious £50m exit 16 months
want to be thinking about what I have got to do at the pool.”           ago.
    Spofforth cannot pinpoint the exact moment when she                     The obligatory boos reverberated around Anfield every time
decided to carry on to the Games. “It may even have been when           the Spain international touched the ball. Torres must have been
I was on the plane back to America after Christmas. I had had a         tempted to join in, such was the paucity of the performance
week off and it was really hard being around family, who didn’t         around him and particularly of a visiting defence destroyed by
know what to say to me.” There was a moment, she says, when             the channelled aggression of Carroll and skill of Luis Suárez.
the prospect of swimming in the London Olympics began to                    Di Matteo made eight changes to the team that began at
feel very real. “It was just a day when I was like: ‘OK, so it is       Wembley but the rotation policy that has served him so well
the London Olympics.’ I had it in my mind and I had said it but         of late failed him here. Even so, he had every right to expect
                                                                        more from John Terry, his captain, and Branislav Ivanovic in
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                          guardian.co.uk
Page  G24 Sport                                                                     Wednesday May 9 2012              08:17 GMT

central defence although, in mitigation to the established pair,     substance, jeopardising the health and safety of a fellow
they were exposed frequently by those around them, including         combatant”. He served his suspension but was then denied
Ross Turnbull in goal. Chelsea started strongly and should have      a new licence in California. Many felt he should have been
opened the scoring when Ivanovic planted a free header from          banned for life but instead his application for a licence in Texas
Florent Malouda’s corner against a post.                             was approved in September 2010, paving the way for the boxer
    But, unlike at the Cup final, Liverpool showed up from the       to fight Manny Pacquiao (which he lost).
first whistle. Out of the ashes of their misery the Liverpool            Rocky Graziano, meanwhile, was a master of working
manager had urged his players to find confidence in their            around revoked licences. In 1947 he had his licence suspended
rousing finale at Wembley and they stunned Di Matteo’s               by the New York State Boxing Commission for failing to
makeshift team with three goals in nine remarkable minutes.          report an attempted bribe to the board, but just moved his
From a Chelsea perspective all three were easily avoidable.          rematch against Tony Zale the following year to Chicago. A
    Suárez engineered the first when he held off Oriol Romeu         year later, Graziano was indefinitely suspended in all parts of
down the right wing, nutmegged the Chelsea captain as he             the world under NBA supervision (11 of the US states, Great
entered the area and cut the ball back into Michael Essien who       Britain, the European Boxing Federation, Cuba, Mexico,
diverted it into his own goal.                                       and Canada), following similar action by the California State
    A slip by Terry as he moved to collect a pass from Maxi          Athletic Commission. Graziano had not fulfilled his contractual
Rodríguez enabled Jordan Henderson to go through on goal             obligations to fight Fred Apostoli in New York but the promoter
and beat Turnbull with a cool finish into the bottom corner and      Ralph Tribuani got Graziano easily got a licence in Delaware,
then, with the Chelsea keeper AWOL at a Jonjo Shelvey corner,        where the allegations were not taken seriously.
Daniel Agger glanced Carroll’s header into the unguarded net.            Muhammad Ali, left, famously lost his licence to box in
    Torres’s duel with the recalled Jamie Carragher simmered         April 1967 after refusing to serve in the Vietnam war and was
nicely and the Chelsea forward was denied another goal in front      out for three years. In 1970 the city of Atlanta granted him one
of the Kop when his angled drive cannoned off the underside of       and he beat Jerry Quarry at the Atlanta Municipal Auditorium
the crossbar. At the other, busier, end Carroll was thwarted by      on 26 October. It was not until December that year that he was
Turnbull as he cut into the area and Stewart Downing struck the      allowed to fight in New York again.
bar with a delightful volley from Suárez’s knock-down.                   Mike Tyson, meanwhile, was involved in his fair share
    The moment for Downing to break his Premier League duck          of controversies and his contest against Lennox Lewis was
for Liverpool arrived on the stroke of half-time when Ivanovic       delayed for several months after Las Vegas (Nevada) and several
conceded a ludicrous penalty for elbowing Carroll in the chest       other states had refused him a licence following a brawl at the
as they awaited Henderson’s cross.                                   pre-bout press conference. In the end the fight took place on
    Ivanovic was only booked but, from 12 yards and having           8 June 2002, at the Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Tennessee,
sent Turnbull the wrong way, Downing smacked his spot-kick           with Lewis winning by KO in the eighth round.
against the post and out. Liverpool’s seventh penalty miss of
the season set an unwanted club record and extended their
number of strikes against the woodwork to 46.                        Wigan Athletic are a nightmare for
    Chelsea were being embarrassed and responded at the              pundits, says Roberto Martínez
start of the second half when Ramires unwittingly bundled
Malouda’s inviting free-kick beyond José Reina. But any
thoughts of a recovery ended when Turnbull scuffed a hopeless
                                                                     Spaniard says chairman’s belief allowed
clearance into the path of Shelvey and the Liverpool midfielder      team to work towards keeping the Premier
drilled the return high into his unguarded net.                      League dream alive
                                                                     Louise Taylor

David Haye and Dereck Chisora are not                                When Roberto Martínez [http://tinyurl.com/3698gla] returns
the first to beat boxing bans                                        home from work he routinely watches full recordings of the
                                                                     Wigan Athletic [http://tinyurl.com/6ku5ss] game on the 60in
                                                                     plasma screen that has become his pride and joy. Sometimes he
Rocky Graziano, Mike Tyson and Antonio                               views a single match as many as 10 times.
Maragrito have all found that having no                                 If that television set hardly fills the Wigan manager’s wife,
licence is no problem                                                Beth, with joy it has at least helped the club to keep fighting
                                                                     way above their unglamorous weight – not to mention securing
Marcus Christenson
                                                                     an eighth successive season in the Premier League. “My wife
The fact that neither David Haye [http://tinyurl.com/6j27xd]         understands that I need time and space in front of it to find
nor Dereck Chisora [http://tinyurl.com/7bgpfxz] holds a British      solutions, then I can come back to being myself,” said the
boxing [http://tinyurl.com/5ra7ax] licence was never going to        38-year-old Spaniard whose players guaranteed survival with
stop them setting up a fight in Britain. The bout, in the end, has   victory at Blackburn Rovers on Monday night.
been sanctioned by the Luxembourg Boxing Federation and the             After a shocking start to his third season in charge since
two Britons are not the first fighters to have looked elsewhere      succeeding Steve Bruce in 2009 and the ignominy of being
for their licences.                                                  bottom of the Premier League throughout January, February
    In February 2009 Antonio Margarito had his licence to box in     and March, Martínez eventually hit upon the “solution” of
California revoked for one year after attempting to enter a ring     switching his formation to a bold 3-4-3.
to fight Shane Mosley with his gloves loaded with a “foreign            It represented a high-risk strategy but offered confounding
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                       guardian.co.uk
Page 10 G24 Sport                                                                   Wednesday May 9 2012              08:17 GMT

angles upon which to construct the possession-based                  through the tough times when we were bottom, Dave Whelan
passing game which has become Wigan’s holy grail under his           kept believing in us,” said Martínez.
management. Consequently the team’s last 10 games have                  “He stayed firm and allowed us to keep working towards our
featured six wins – including victories at Arsenal and Liverpool     goal of keeping his dream alive. He’s an incredible man and I’m
as well as a 4-0 home thrashing of Newcastle United – and two        incredibly proud to work for him.”
draws.                                                                  1995 Roberto Martínez, below, arrives in England to join
    “Roberto Martínez has a real calmness,” said Gary Caldwell,      then Third Division Wigan Athletic, going on to make 188
Wigan’s captain. “Where other managers could panic or                appearances
lose their heads, he stays cool. He also always focuses on              2001 Joins Motherwell on a free
performances rather than results; if you do that, the results will      2002 After having his contract terminated in Scotland, he
follow. He came in [from Swansea] with the idea of changing          moves south to Walsall
our playing style and it’s taken a long time but we’re slowly           2003 Signs for Swansea City and racks up 122 games before
getting there.”                                                      finishing his career at Chester City
    Martínez could easily have been at Aston Villa now were             2007 Takes his first management steps with Swansea and
it not for a bond forged during the 1990s when, as a young           gains promotion to the Championship in 2008
midfielder, he played for Wigan alongside two fellow Spaniards          2009 Enticed back to Wigan and keeps them in top flight for
Isidro Díaz and Jesús Seba. Known as “The Three Amigos”              three successive seasons
they quickly became cult figures in west Lancashire with their
homesickness eased by frequent invitations for hospitality at
the home of the club’s chairman, Dave Whelan.                        Everton’s David Moyes considers move
    “He opened the doors of his house to us,” said Martínez.         for Crewe midfielder Nick Powell
“That’s why my decision not to go to Aston Villa last summer
was not a football one. It was a human decision. It was my turn
to show support and loyalty.”
                                                                     • Powell also watched last weekend by
    Considering that Wigan’s former star player Charles N’Zogbia     Sir Alex Ferguson • Crewe’s 18-year-old
did decamp to Villa Park last summer – when the impressive           midfielder could attract £3m bid
loanee Tom Cleverley also returned to Manchester United – the
                                                                     Andy Hunter
general assumption was that relegation beckoned.
    Instead survival arrived with the luxury of a game to spare      David Moyes is considering a move for Crewe’s coveted
while, with N’Zogbia looking a pale shadow of his former self in     midfielder Nick Powell this summer having joined a host of
the Midlands, Victor Moses has begun fulfilling his rich promise     Premier League admirers to scout the 18-year-old at Gresty
at the DW Stadium.                                                   Road on Saturday.
    Whelan believes the articulate, intelligent, urbane Martínez         The Everton [http://tinyurl.com/4gsl6u] manager, and
will eventually depart for a top European club but, for the          Sir Alex Ferguson and his Manchester United assistant Mike
moment at least, his remaining Amigo appears keen to stick           Phelan, attended Crewe’s 2-2 draw against Aldershot to watch
around. “I will only leave if the chairman decides to go because     the midfielder, whose 15 goals this season have helped the
we have an agreement that I’ll stay and finish the project here,”    League Two club into the play-offs and attracted strong interest
said Wigan’s manager last month.                                     from Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Liverpool.
    Certain Premier League rivals will almost inevitably                 Powell is rated at £3m and Moyes hopes the teenager’s desire
attempt to test such resolve but Martínez possesses rare             to sign for a Premier League club that can offer an immediate
integrity. Whereas certain peers might have moaned about a           first-team opportunity will enhance Everton’s prospects of
lack of transfer cash, his post-graduate diploma in business         landing the latest talent to emerge from Crewe’s youth system.
and marketing from Manchester University has helped him
understand the relative shallowness of Wigan’s pockets.
Meanwhile the knowledge he gained while qualifying as a              Amir Khan rematch in doubt after
physiotherapist has, he feels, enabled him both to reduce            Lamont Peterson fails drug test
radically the club’s injury count and to be a better man manager.
    During the bad times earlier this season his critics – and
after eight successive defeats earlier in the campaign he did
                                                                     • Delay over test results shocking, says
collect a few – accused him of “talking a better game than Wigan     Khan camp • About 4,000 British fans
play” but over the past few weeks, those detractors have been        bought tickets and booked flights
silenced by yet another “Great Escape”.
                                                                     Kevin Mitchell in Las Vegas
    “We are a nightmare for pundits,” said Martínez, whose
policy of finding value in overseas signings such as his excellent   The world title rematch between Amir Khan [http://tinyurl.
Omani goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi has once again been vindicated.        com/6lg4w8] and Lamont Peterson in Las Vegas on 19 July
“We’ve got 12 or 13 different nationalities in our dressing room     edged closer to cancellation on Tuesday night when it was
but all my players feel a responsibility to Wigan. I always had      confirmed the American has tested positive for testosterone
belief we would stay up because I know my players’ characters.”      use.
    Similarly indefatigable resolve on the part of Wigan’s              The Nevada State Athletic Commission, which is responsible
75-year-old chairman also played its part. “Eight seasons in         for the conduct of the promotion, will take submissions from
the Premier League is something remarkable for our club but,         Peterson’s legal advisers before delivering a judgment within
                                                                     the next day or so.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                     guardian.co.uk
Page 11 G24 Sport                                                                    Wednesday May 9 2012               08:17 GMT

    “Unless there’s some real obvious and legitimate reason for           Peterson’s attorneys will submit their explanation to the
the positive test, he’s not fighting,” NSAC’s executive Keith         commission on Tuesday afternoon.
Kizer told the Associated Press.                                          “In the coming days,” Schaefer said, “I would assume by
    The development will cause concern for the estimated 4,000        today or maybe the day after, we will know where we stand.”
British fans who have booked flights, hotels and fight tickets to         “We want to get to the bottom of this and do what is right.
support Khan as he seeks to reclaim the WBA and IBF light-            We cannot overrate how important random drug-testing is
welterweight belts lost in a controversial fight in Washington        for the sport of boxing. This is not about hitting a baseball,
last December.                                                        running faster or jumping higher. This is toe-to-toe battle,
    So, while anarchy was ruling the day in London at the             where one’s life is at risk every time these young athletes enter
announcement of David Haye’s upcoming fight with Dereck               the ring. I think it’s important that the Nevada commission
Chisora, boxing [http://tinyurl.com/5ra7ax] was falling over          have all the facts and them makes the ruling as they deem
itself in the United States to do the right thing, albeit clumsily.   appropriate.”Kizer told The Ring magazine last night that
How the NSAC views the alleged use of a banned performance-           Golden Boy Promotions will abandon the whole show if
enhancing substance will reflect its commitment to probity            Peterson is not granted a licence, and reschedule it for later
in the sport. Its record, generally, has been good; it banned         in the year. That would be a blow for Gary Sykes, the 28-year-
Mike Tyson for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear in 1997 and             old Dewsbury super-featherweight who had landed himself a
would not let Antonio Margarito box in Nevada after he was            world title shot on the undercard against the unbeaten WBO
caught with loaded gloves before his fight with Shane Mosley          champion, Adrien Boner.
in 2009.However it had no qualms about sanctioning Floyd
Mayweather’s fight with Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand last
Saturday night – just three weeks before Mayweather was due
to go to prison for domestic battery against his former partner
Josie Harris.
    Richard Schaefer, chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions,
Khan’s American promotional partners, on Tuesday night
put meat on the bones of a story that has been bubbling up
as rumour for days. He was not pleased that news of the test
results had been slow to emerge. While Peterson’s camp knew,
Khan’s did not – and the selling of tickets at the Mandalay Bay
went ahead.
    “We were informed by a call [on Monday morning]
from Keith Kizer, the director of the Nevada State Athletic
Commission. He said he had received a letter over the weekend
from the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (Vada).”
    The tests took place at a lab at the University of California
(UCLA) in mid-March but were not relayed to the drugs agency
until nearly a month later. “Why I was not informed, I cannot
explain,” Schaefer said. “I find it rather shocking that I was not
copied into this letter. Nobody from Team Khan was copied into
that letter.
    “A urine specimen was taken from both athletes on 19
March. It was an unannounced, unscheduled visit by the
collections officers [of Vada] following the press conference in
Los Angeles, where both fighters, obviously, were present. The
adverse result for Peterson’s A-sample was reported to Vada by
the lab [at UCLA] on 12 April. Again, why we were not informed
until Monday – not even by Vada, but by the commission – is a
mystery to me.”
    Vada told Peterson the results of the test the following day
and said the B-sample would be analysed on 30 April.
    Schaefer observed: “Why it took so long to analyse the B-
sample is also a mystery to me. If I would have been informed
about it, I certainly would have asked for expedited testing,
rather than wait two weeks to get this sample tested.”
    Peterson had representation at the second analysis, Schaefer
said. “The result of the B-sample confirmed the analytical result
of the A-sample. Both showed that the athlete’s specimens
were consistent with the administration of an anabolic steroid,
such as testosterone. There were follow-up samples taken from
Peterson on 13 April and the laboratory reported it came back as
negative on 6 May.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                        guardian.co.uk

				
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