Revenue sharing?

Italian Serie A clubs gathered on Monday a bid to agree a new revenue sharing model for the league’s media rights for the 2012-13 to 2014-15 seasons.

The meeting was held after Serie A agreed a deal in September 2011 for its live rights for the next three seasons worth €829 million per season. Under the new TV rights window pay-TV platform Sky Italia is paying an average of €561 million per season while digital-terrestrial pay-TV service Mediaset Premium is paying an average of €268 million per season.

After Monday’s meeting, Lega Serie A president Maurizio Beretta said talks will resume over revenue sharing at another gathering on November 12.

He said: “We have asked for proposals to be received by Thursday so that we can bring these to the attention of the clubs over the coming days and arrive prepared for the meeting convened for November 12.”

The clubs will be hoping to avoid the saga that accompanied the previous rights process for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. These negotiations were affected by the 2007 ‘Melandri law’, which re-introduced collective selling to Italian football. Except it was only collective to a point and that point was reached when one of the criteria –  the size of each club’s fanbase – came up for discussion.

Ultimately, the clubs were unable to agree on the definition of a supporter. Anywhere else and this would constitute something of a surprise, but in Italy, a country seemingly intent on dismantling it’s illustrious football reputation, it just seems par for the course.

The argument put forward by 15 of the existing Serie A clubs in 2011 introduced the concept of a ‘doppio tifoso’, or ‘double fan’. Essentially, this is a fan that lives in one city but supports a team based elsewhere, but also likes the club closest to where they live. In this scenario, the 15 clubs in favour argue that this individual is a fan of both teams, and should be accounted for when it comes to determining a club’s fan base.

The five clubs that were not in favour were, unsurprisingly, the five big teams: Milan, Inter, Juventus, Roma and Napoli. Eventually, the big guns got their way with the 15 smaller clubs agreeing to a significant reduction in the weight given to audience ratings compared to the findings of a nationwide fans survey.

Press gang to blame

Scotland midfielder Charlie Adam has blamed the press for the departure of Craig Levein as national coach.

Lest we forget, Levein lost his job because of a competitive record that read three wins from 12 matches. Moreover, the less-than-sparkling style of football – remember the radical 4-6-0 formation against the Czech Republic? – has not helped his cause.

But Adam defended the departed Levein, suggesting that the coach had become a victim of a press campaign.

“On my way back to hear Craig Levein has gone. Unbelievable. Can’t believe the Scottish papers got what they wanted,” he said.

Adam was out of step with the rest of Scotland, with most observers arguing that Levein’s departure was not only inevitable, but also welcome.

Iain Emerson, editor of The Famous Tartan Army magazine, thought that the decision would be broadly approved by supporters.

“I think it was inevitable,” he told BBC Scotland. “It has been a long three weeks waiting for it.

“I think that the majority of Scotland fans are pretty pleased that this has been the outcome now.

“There haven’t been too many people speaking up for Craig Levein, that’s for sure.”

The scramble to not replace Levein begins, with former national coach, Alex McCleish, the first to rule himself out of the running. Given the pedigree of Scottish managers and the other job offers out there, one suspects, he won’t be the last.

Shirt swap apology

Andre dos Santos has apologized to Arsenal fans for swapping shirts with former captain Robin van Persie at half-time during the team’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United on Saturday.

The Brazil international was criticised for approaching the Dutchman, who angered supporters with a £24 million move to Arsenal’s rival in the summer, with his side 1-0 behind at the time, thanks to a goal scored by, who else, Robin Van Persie.

“I’d like to apologise to supporters who felt aggrieved by it,” Santos told The Sun.

That would be all of them.

“Did I think it would cause such a commotion? Of course I didn’t, otherwise I would have told Robin to exchange the shirts away from public view.”

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believed that Santos’ behaviour could have been caused by cultural differences, although even he didn’t seem entirely convinced by that explanation.

“It’s interesting because Santos is a player who cares. If you speak with him, he gives an image of himself which is not him,” the Gunners boss told the club’s official website.

“He is serious, he wants to do well. It is about the result, about the team. [Asking for a shirt at halftime is] a difference of culture.

“I can understand that an English guy doesn’t understand it and I’m French and I don’t understand it either. He is completely in a different world when he does that.

“But he cares and he understands today what it means and, believe me, he will never do it again. I spoke to him about it but I do not want to make too big a story of it. ”

Break a leg

The doctor who treated Barcelona striker David Villa after he broke his leg during the 2011 Club World Cup in Japan claims the player was lucky not to have the limb amputated.

Dr Ramon Cugat said the striker could have lost his leg due to the pressure changes which are exerted during flights, as the Villa flew home to Spain shortly after suffering the injury.

“Big pressure changes like that at eight, 10 or 12 thousand meters take a big toll,” Dr Cugat told La Sexta.

”They can lead to severe injuries, or even cause you to lose a limb.”

A hint of melodrama about that statement; one could argue that Villa was lucky the plane didn’t crash or he could have lost all his limbs.

The Catalan surgeon also praised Blaugrana coach Tito Vilanova for not rushing the prolific Spain forward back too quickly.

“There’s been a craftsman who has masterminded the issue; Tito Vilanova, who has been easing him back in. He’s been very smart,” said Dr Cugat, adding that “Villa has [now] overcome his ordeal.”

“David Villa is in better shape now than he was in the season before his injury,” he added.

Goal of the day

Released down the left Alexandru Zaharia cuts infield and lashes home a wonderful strike to earn CSS Drobeta Turnu Severin a draw against Pandurii.

Last chance saloon

Another day, another crisis. Such is the lot of Roberto Mancini, the manager of the world’s richest club, Manchester City, who face the prospect of an ignominious Champions League elimination at the hands of a technically adept, but modestly-funded Ajax side.

The English champions suffered defeat to Frank de Boer’s men a fortnight ago and, having lost to Real Madrid and drawn at home against Borussia Dortmund, are now teetering on the brink of elimination.

With the likes of Joleon Lescott, James Milner, David Silva and Maicon on the injury list for the Dutch outfit, Mancini is down to the bare bones of his £500million-assembled side.

“We have some important players injured, but when you have this problem, all the players tend to put more [effort in] on the pitch,” Mancini told reporters. “This is the last chance for us.”

Despite the huge outlay on new players, many of whom have Champions League experience including several players who have won the competition, the Italian remains content to play the role of the continental ingenue.

“For me, [managing in Europe] is the same,” Mancini explained. “But if I said we are ready to win the Champions League, this is not true. We need to improve.”

Ferguson to be honoured

While Mancini contemplates the prospect of footballing mortality, his Manchester United counterpart, Sir Alex Ferguson, prepares to receive yet another tribute to mark his Old Trafford longevity.

United will mark Ferguson’s 26 years in charge at the club by unveiling a statue outside Old Trafford on 23 November.

A statement from United said: “As Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates 26 years in charge of Manchester United, the club can announce that the statue of Britain’s most successful manager will be unveiled at Old Trafford on Friday, 23 November, at 2pm.

“The unveiling will take place the day before United’s match with Queen’s Park Rangers, the opponents of Sir Alex’s first home match in charge at Old Trafford on 22nd November 1986. Key figures from the manager’s time at United will be in attendance to share the occasion. The statue was commissioned to mark the manager’s quarter of a century in charge of Manchester United.

“The statue, by renowned sculptor Philip Jackson, will be positioned in a prominent position near the entrance to the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, renamed in his honour last year. The club will also be unveiling new artwork and installations in the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand concourses which illustrate the manager’s achievements throughout his United career.”

The club will be hoping Ferguson calls it a day soon; they’re running out of things to name after him. I still think they missed a trick by not unveiling the Sir Alex Ferguson clock – permanently stuck on injury time.

Quote of the day

“I don’t think I’m responsible for the economic crisis in Spain or Germany.” 

Asked to comment on the fact that several thousand tickets remain unsold for Real Madrid’s Champions League showdown with Borussia Dortmund, Jose Mourinho confirms that there are limits to his talents.

Hulk’s sister kidnapped

Brazilian police have confirmed that they are investigating the possible kidnapping of the younger sister of the Brazil striker Hulk.

The 22-year-old Angélica Aparecida Vieira de Sousa has been missing since Monday afternoon after going missing outside a restaurant in the city of Campina Grande. A person who was with her at the time told police that he thinks she was kidnapped. Well, it was either that or she really doesn’t want to see you again.

The Campina Grande police officer Kalina Suerde said an initial call to Sousa’s phone was answered by a man impersonating her husband.

“She is missing, nobody saw anybody taking her, but we are checking the reports that she may have been kidnapped,” she said.

Hulk was unavailable for comment, but one can imagine he will have been upset and angered on hearing the news. And with a person like Hulk, you don’t want to make him angry. You really wouldn’t like him when he was angry.

Kidnappings of relatives of footballers are an all-too-common type of crime in Brazil with Romario, Robinho, Luis Fabiano and Ricardo Oliveira’s families all having been targeted previously.

Finally…

Spare a thought for FIFA. With speculation rife about Brazil’s ability to stage next year’s Confederations Cup, never mind the 2014 World Cup, the last thing football’s governing body needed was an international tournament being disrupted because one of the stadiums had not been completed in time.

The Futsal World Cup in Thailand has descended into chaos as FIFA confirmed that the Bangkok Futsal Arena, due to host the final, would not be ready in time to stage any matches.

Where’s Jerome Valcke when you need him? Sourcing cement in Sao Paolo I would wager.

The announcement came with the indoor tournament’s group stage already under way and only eight days before the arena was due to host its first games – two quarter-final ties.

“Although further significant progress has been made, including the installation of a pitch, the key criteria laid out on October 31…have not been sufficiently met,” FIFA said in a statement.

“The safety of spectators, teams and all other visitors to the stadium are of paramount importance.

“FIFA and the Local Organising Committee therefore concluded that such a fundamental issue, as well as the functionality of core services and facilities, cannot be compromised.”

The Bangkok Futsal Arena has also been criticised for being badly located and difficult to get to. Although, if the hosts are looking for a silver lining, these issues will no longer be of concern.

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