Reality check

Newcastle United’s hopes of raising £10m a year in new income from their stadium naming rights are extremely optimistic, according to industry experts.

Tim Crow, the chief executive at the sponsorship consultancy Synergy, believes the best way to avoid damaging a sponsor’s brand would be to stay away from the club.

“I’d be very surprised if any brand came forward and if any of my clients asked me for my opinion I’d advise them in the strongest possible terms not to,” said Crow. “Or they could do the shirt sponsorship on its own, which would be entirely positive.”

Andy Westlake from management firm Fast Track advises clients on sponsorship issues and his advice to anyone interested in sponsoring St James Park would be: don’t touch it with a barge pole.

“I don’t think any brand will be buying in to naming rights at Newcastle unless they are focusing on building a relationship with fans,” said Westlake.

“Newcastle fans are universally against this. Perhaps he (owner Mike Ashley) is generating the wrath so that a brand coming in can restore the St James’ Park name and be loved for it.”

That would indicate he had a strategy for the club, so I think we can safely rule that one out.

Drunk on duty?

Five Chile players have been thrown out of the squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Paraguay after turning up for international duty in a drunken condition.

Coach Claudio Borghi ordered the players go home after the five returned late from an evening out.

“I am in pain because one recognises what affect this has, we had an understanding built over a long time with the players in the good times and the bad,” Borghi told La Tercera.

“But there is a saying: ‘The show must go on’. It was time to take a stand, besides that they are players that we need in the team and we will be giving a big advantage if we don’t have them, but I had to say stop.

“The players in question arrived 45 minutes late. I went to see them in their bedrooms and they were not in a good condition.”

However, the players have denied the allegations, and claimed the coach is lying.

Winger Jean Beausejour, reading from a statement by the five including midfielders Arturo Vidal, Jorge Valdivia and Carlos Carmona and defender Gonzalo Jara, said: “We did arrive back about 40 minutes late… a situation which is not right and for which we publicly apologise.

“We’re not denying we took alcohol, because we were at a religious ceremony (baptism of one of Valdivia’s children) common in our country. But Mr Borghi’s assertion that we arrived in an inexcusable and inadequate state is not right.

“We’re extremely upset that Mr Claudio Borghi should make assertions like those he made.

“We cannot accept the remarks of Claudio Borghi that we got back in an inexcusable state. That’s totally false. I feel quite hurt by Claudio’s big lie yesterday.”

Some of the players, it has to be said, have a bit of form when it comes to letting their hair down (that’s a euphemism) on international duty.

Media reported before Chile’s match against Argentina in Buenos Aires last month that Valdivia and Beausejour had been warned for indiscipline although Borghi denied it.

Valdivia was also punished for his part in an act of indiscipline by seven players at the Copa America in Venezuela in 2007. They were suspended for 20 international matches (later halved) for being drunk and molesting a hotel maid.

They’d fit in well with the England team; the England rugby team that is.

Teething problems

Gabon celebrated the opening of the new D’Angondje stadium, with a showpiece fixture against Brazil, but the night did not go according to plan.

Shortly before the game was due to start the floodlights went out and the stadium was plunged into darkness, causing an 18-minute delay to the kick-off.

The stadium, a joint Gabon-Chinese construction, was built for the 2012 African Cup of Nations finals, for which Gabon is a co-host. Hopefully, any teething problems will have been sorted out by then. If not, for anyone planning to attend, there’s a useful app you can download which might come in handy.

Football against the enemy

Travelling Japanese football fans have been advised to moderate their behaviour when they face North Korea next week in their away World Cup qualifier.

Relations between North Korea and Japan, are tense, although it’s fair to say that relations between North Korea and pretty much every country are pretty tense these days. However, there is a special dynamic underpinning this particular fixture, fuelled by an historical antipathy.

Japanese supporters have been ordered to hand over their mobile phones when they arrive at the border. Furthermore, they have been warned to refrain from the use of loud speakers and drum beating at the Kim II-Sung Stadium during the match in Pyongyang. Japanese national flags and banners will not be welcome.

“We are going to a nation with which Japan has not diplomatic relations. Should something unexpected happen, we will not have the Japanese embassy or a consulate,” to help, said Takeshi Kumai, an official with the travel agency.

“We believe the customers understand the situation,” he said, also urging fans to refrain from displaying anything with political connotations.

The fans will have a sightseeing tour of Pyongyang in Tuesday morning, before the early evening kick-off. Among the sights they can see are the Ryugyong Hotel, which is the tallest building in North Korea. Construction began in 1987 and had it been completed on schedule it would have been the tallest hotel in the world at the time. That was more than 20 years ago and today it remains unfinished.

Fortunately, demand for hotel rooms in Pyongyang has been light in the past 20 years.

Beckham in demand

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber believes David Beckham is good for business and says he hopes the former England captain remains in America.

Beckham, 36, is preparing for what might be his last match with LA Galaxy – the MLS Cup final against Houston Dynamo – as his contract expires at the end of the month.

“David has delivered for us on all aspects of our expectations, both on and off the field,” said Gerber. “David had a terrific year this year. It would be hard to argue that he wasn’t one of the most important players on our fields and really contributed to his team and to the league competitively.

“Off the field, he continues to be an important part of what drives some of the popularity of our league both here and around the world. He remains a very popular guy. His presence on the sports pages but also on the ‘people pages’ continues to grow as opposed to wane here in America and we benefit from that.

“MLS wouldn’t be what it is today if David didn’t decide to come and play in Major League Soccer. All of us appreciate everything that he has done.”

“I travel quite a bit outside of the United States on football-related business and people seem to ask about two things – when are the Cosmos coming into Major League Soccer and how is David Beckham doing?”

Surely, the fact that the enduring overseas interest in United States football is a club that peaked over 3o years ago and a player that peaked over 10 years ago, should be a cause or concern rather than a source of pride.

Brazil suffers further delays

Romário is pledging to step up his efforts to highlight irregularities involving FIFA and the Brazilian football federation president, Ricardo Teixeira.

The former World Cup winner, now a congressman, said on his website on Thursday that he and other legislators would ask Swiss authorities to let them review files from a court case involving former FIFA’s marketing partner ISL, which collapsed in 2001.

Romário said access to the documents were “crucial for the [World Cup] to take place with clarity and honesty in our country”.

The congressional committee was meeting to discuss the approval of a law needed for the 2014 World Cup and was not directly related to Romário’s decision to investigate Teixeira and FIFA.

Until the law is passed, the clock continues to tick.

“We are late, we cannot lose one more day,” FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke told a parliamentary  committee earlier this week.

“Travelling in Brazil is not easy. To drive in Sao Paulo, to go from one end to the other is a nightmare. To leave the airport takes half a day, this cannot happen (during the tournament).”

Goal of the Day

Another exciting encounter in the Copa Sudamerica saw Velez Sarsfield edge out Santa Fe 3-2 (4-3 on aggregate) courtesy of a controversial last minute penalty. The best goal of the night though came from veteran striker, Guillermo Franco, who was set up by a delightfully disguised backheel by Juan Manuel Martinez.

Improper conduct

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has been charged with improper conduct following comments he made about referee Chris Foy after the 1-0 defeat by QPR.

The Portuguese admitted he was “very aggressive” with Foy, who sent off Jose Bosingwa and Didier Drogba and booked seven other Blues at Loftus Road.

“The ref was poor, very very poor. And it reflected in the result,” he said immediately after the game.

“I spoke to him at the end and I was very aggressive to him. I don’t care if he’s OK or not.

“Everyone can have a bad day, but this was not a bad day for us. It was a good day for us and a bad day for the referee.”

Given that some Premier League managers have been punished for praising referees, Villas-Boas doesn’t appear to have much of a leg to stand on.

Tevez pleads innocence

Carlos Tevez’s excuse for not turning up for training is that he tried to tell manager Roberto Mancini that he was going home.

A spokesman for Tevez said: “He tried countless times to speak to Roberto Mancini. He was told it was Mancini’s decision as to whether or not he could go and left numerous voice messages and texts.

“He didn’t receive a response at all. He then flew to Argentina and tried to speak to Mancini again yesterday, leaving messages and texts. As of this moment we’ve had no response.”

It was only a week ago that Mancini offered an olive branch to Tevez; apologise and we can start again was his message. No apology was forthcoming, so is it any wonder he’s screening his phone calls.


Nominations for this year’s African Footballer of the Year have been announced, and to no one’s great surprise Cameroon striker, Samuel Eto’o is on the shortlist.

Eto’o is a four-time winner of the trophy and in a year when no African player has excelled, he seems a safe bet to pick up the title for a fifth time.

African Player of the Year:
Andrew Ayew of Marseille (France)
Samuel  Eto’o of Anzi Makhatchakala (Russia)
Didier Drogba of Chelsea (England)
Asamoah Gyan of Al In (UAE)
Yaya Toure of Manchester City (England)
Kevin – Prince Boateng of Milan (Milan)
Seydou Keita of Barcelona (Spain)
Yao Koussi Gervinho of Arsenal (England)
Moussa Sow of Lille (France)
Adel Taarabt of Queen Park Rangers (England)

African Player of the Year (Based in Africa):
Ayoub El Khahiqi of WAC (Morocco)
Banana Yaya of  Esperance of Tunis (Tunisia)
Edward Sadomba of El Hilal (Sudan)
Idrissa Laouali of ASFA (Burkina Faso)
Jerome Ramatlhakwane of  Vasco da Gama (South Africa)
Kalu Uche of Enyimba (Nigeria)
Oussama Darragi of Esperance (Tunisia)
Samir Aboud of Al Ittihad (Libya)
Youssef Msakni of Esperance (Tunisia)
Zouheir Dhaouadi of Club Africain (Tunisia)