Rangers woe

Rangers’ second-largest shareholder has said he believes it is “inevitable” that the club will go into liquidation.

South African-based Dave King has offered the gloomiest assessment to date of Rangers’ financial problems.

“I do not believe that there is a reasonable prospect that the company can come out of administration,” he said. “I believe that liquidation is inevitable.

“It grieves me to state that it seems inevitable that the footballing institution will survive but the company won’t. This will entail many hurdles (that will be overcome) including ‘Rangers (2012) Ltd’ having to reapply for membership of the SFA (Scottish Football Association) etc.

“It is a sad point to have reached, but if managed sensibly, it can result in Rangers returning to its former glory as a football club in the shortest time possible. We must all strive to ensure that an appropriate ownership structure guarantees that this event is never repeated.

“We must remember that our footballing friends across the city came very close to the point that we now find ourselves in. Scottish football needs a strong Rangers and Celtic – but perhaps in a slightly humbler form.”

One would certainly hope so.

Meanwhile, Scotland Under-21 international, Gregg Wylde, and Sweden international, Mervan Celik, have asked to be released from their contracts without taking any redundancy pay.

“I wanted to help out the club by keeping people in a job,” Wylde told STV.

Blatter apologises

A day after FIFA general secretary, Jerome Valcke, issued a grovelling apology to Brazil for some ill-judged remarks about their readiness to host the 2014 World Cup finals, his boss, Sepp Blatter, has written to the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, to plead for forgiveness.

Blatter’s letter states: “Please allow me to express my deepest regret for the present situation. I am gravely concerned about the deterioration in the relationship between FIFA and the Brazilian government, a relationship that has always been characterised by mutual respect.

“You have also received a letter from the FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke and I have no further comment on this matter other than to say that both as FIFA president and personally, I would like to apologise to all those – above all the Brazilian government and President Dilma Rousseff – who feel that their honour and pride has been injured.”

The letter adds: “Brazil deserves to host the World Cup and the entire world is looking forward to it. However, the sands of time have been running since 2007.

“Therefore, let us not waste time on entrenching our positions. Let us instead build something great together, as promised by President Lula during his presidency. I will be travelling in Asia in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal until 10 March, and afterwards I would like to meet President Rousseff and yourself as soon as possible – ideally next week.”

Blatter’s vow to meet Rousseff in person is significant; it was his decision to send his assistant, Valcke, to meet with the Brazilian president last year, that set the tone for the acrimonious relations between football’s governing body and the 2014 hosts. Diplomatic protocol demands that the FIFA president should be present for a meeting with a head of state, and his absence, understandably, was perceived a huge snub. In that context, Valcke’s “kick up the backside” remark was particularly ill-advised.

Goal of the day

Junior Fernandez volleyed home to earn Universidad de Chile a draw in their Libertadores Cup encounter with Penarol.

Miss of the day

With Milan trailing Arsenal 3-0 on the night but clinging on to a 4-3 aggregate lead, Antonio Nocerino had a wonderful opportunity to calm the nerves of the Italian side. Four yards out with an empty net beckoning, the midfielder rolled the ball into the grateful arms of Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Quote of the day

“You’re not wanted here, you’re not wanted here, f*** off Benitez, you’re not wanted here.”

Chelsea fans at Tuesday’s FA Cup replay against Birmingham City were less than enthusiastic about the prospect of Rafa Benitez becoming the club’s next manager.

PSG offer escape route for Suarez

Paris Saint-Germain have named Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain as their principal summer transfer targets.

Owner Nasser of the Qatari-backed side, Al-Khelaifi, has outlined his plan to build a squad capable of winning the Champions League within the next six years.

“We are already looking at the market for next season,” he said.

“We have clear targets in mind. It is true that we want Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain.

“Our real short-term targets are to win the Champions League and find a new Lionel Messi.”

If they’re the short-term targets, one wonders what the long-term ones might be. Find a cure for cancer and send a manned mission to Mars perhaps?

FIFA rankings

Sao Tome and Principe were the big movers in this month’s FIFA rankings, jumping an impressive 53 places to 115th after beating Sierra Leone 2-1 in a 2013 African Nations Cup qualifier.

Elsewhere, Argentina returned to the top ten, while Brazil leapfrog England and Netherlands move above Germany after impressive friendly victories over Switzerland, Bosnia and England respectively.

Rankings (last month’s positions in brackets)
1. (1) Spain
2. (3) Netherlands
3. (2) Germany
4. (4) Uruguay
5. (7) Brazil
6. (5) England
7. (6) Portugal
8. (11) Argentina
9. (8) Italy
10. (9) Croatia

“You eat frogs in your home country…”

Manchester United’s Park Ji-Sung, the subject of one of English football’s most dubious terrace chants, has been called upon to help save frogs in his native South Korea.

Lobby group “Frogs Friends” said that consumption of frog juice had surged after Park Park wrote in his autobiography that his father would give him frog juice to boost his stamina on the pitch.

Since then, the frogs have been being hunted for their juice at an astonishing rate, prompting Frogs Friends to ask the footballer to denounce the practice.

“I do not know if it is just coincidence but after it was revealed… that Park eats frogs as a means to boost his strength, the number of cases of illegal poaching of frogs and toads residing in mountains has increased,” campaign organiser Park Wan-hee said.

“If Park joins our campaign to stop the practice, it would correct people’s misperceptions about eating frogs, believing it will raise their stamina,” said the lobby group.

Compensation claim

David O’Leary has appealed to FIFA in his compensation dispute with UAE Pro-League side Al Ahli.

Former Leeds and Aston Villa boss, O’Leary, was sacked by the club just eight months year into a three-year contract and he believes the club still owe him.

O’Leary has received support from the League Managers Association, whose chief executive Richard Bevan stated: “David O’Leary has been left with no option but to place his contractual dispute with Al Ahli before the Players’ Status Committee/Dispute Resolution Chamber of FIFA.”

Ahmad Hammad, the CEO of Al Ahli Football Club pleaded ignorance about O’Leary’s claim.

Hammad told Gulf News: “I have no idea about this situation. There’s much difference between comment, no comment and no idea. As a club we simply haven’t heard anything about this and don’t have any idea.”

The highlight of O’Leary’s brief spell at Al Ahli occurred during the Emirates Challenge Cup in January 2011, when he almost came to blows with Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.


Former Poland international striker Włodzimierz Smolarek has died at the age of 54.

Smolarek was part of the Poland team that finished third at the 1982 World Cup. He scored 13 goals in 60 games for Poland between 1980 and 1992.

He won two Polish League titles with Widzew Lodz, as well as playing for Legia Warsaw.  He left Poland to join German side Eintracht Frankfurt in 1986 and went on to play for Dutch clubs Feyenoord and FC Utrecht.

Former Poland striker Zbigniew Boniek said Smolarek was “ambitious, modest, quiet but never spared himself in the field.”

“We’ve lost one of the greatest players in the history of Polish football,” said PZPN president Grzegorz Lato.

In 2009, he ran, unsuccessfully, in the elections for the European Parliament.

His son, Eugeniusz Smolarek is also a professional footballer, having played for Feyenoord, Borussia Dortmund, Racing Santander, Bolton Wanderers as well as Poland’s national team.