Anfield expansion

Liverpool have opted to extend the capacity of Anfield to 60,000 rather than build a new ground.

The decision to plough ahead with the redevelopment of their existing ground will end a decade of speculation about building a new stadium in the adjacent Stanley Park.

The redevelopment would cost in the region of £150m and Liverpool would commit to building a hotel as part of the project.

Liverpool owner John Henry has previously denied claims that the club could only compete with their Premier League rivals if they built a new stadium.

“A belief has grown that Liverpool FC must have a new stadium to compete with [Manchester] United, Arsenal and others,” he said.

“While a new stadium or an expansion of Anfield is beneficial over the long term for the club, the financial impact of adding seats and amenities should be put into perspective.

“That’s why I say that it is a myth that stadium issues are going to magically transform LFC’s fortunes.

“Building new or refurbishing Anfield is going to lead to an increase from £40m of match-day revenue to perhaps £60-70m if you don’t factor in debt service.

“Our future is based not on a stadium issue, but on building a strong football club that can compete with anyone in Europe. This will be principally driven financially by our commercial strengths globally.”

Leaving aside issues of prestige, the financial argument in favour of increasing the capacity of Anfield, is not entirely convincing. Looking at Henry’s figures, the increased match-day income is comparable to the additional revenue Liverpool will receive from the new, improved television deal, but it carries with it a £150million cost and years of interest repayments.

For a London-based club like Arsenal who can extract a huge premium from blue-chip, corporate packages and who had a valuable asset in Highbury to offset their investment, the economic argument was more compelling. Surely, though, for Liverpool, ploughing that money back into the playing squad in the hope of qualifying for the Champions League on a regular basis would make more economic sense in the short term.

Trap door beckons

Opinion in Ireland over the future of national coach, Giovanni Trapattoni, following Friday’s crushing 6-1 home defeat to Germany, is divided.

There are those who believe that Trapattoni should quit now, while others believe he should be fired but wonder whether the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) can afford to sack a man earning nearly €2 million a year. In fact the only person who believes that he has a future is Trapattoni himself.

“They know our jobs, and they know what we are doing,” he said, with respect to the FAI. “And they (Irish people) are fantastic when we go on the road and the streets.”

Less so in the stadium though, where the rumbles of discontent were audible for much of Friday’s debacle.

“I think we can achieve qualification,” Trapattoni continued. “Germany is a superior name to us. Austria is not easy, but I know Austria, and there is Sweden too. We can be competitive with these teams. I don’t wish to repeat that we had players missing on Friday.

“With a new energy coming, we have this possibility.”

Clearly, he hasn’t seen that the odds on him surviving the year as Ireland coach have been suspended by one leading bookmaker.

“The amount of money placed over such a short period would lead us to believe that something is afoot and it’s safe to say that we’re running scared on this one,” a spokesman for Paddy Power said in a statement.

The Faroe Islands await on Tuesday. Defeat there and even Trapattoni might be looking to make a quick buck on his own departure.

Still, things could be worse: according to this Independent report, Harry Redknapp is being lined up to replace the Italian.

Reading the riot act

Ivory Coast players and fans were escorted by police out of Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium after Senegal fans rioted when their team went 2-0 down to Cameroon in Sunday’s African Cup of Nations qualifying match.

Didier Drogba had just scored his second goal from the penalty spot for Ivory Coast to lead the second-leg match 2-0, and 6-2 on aggregate, when the fans decided they’d had enough.

One supporter ran onto the pitch heading for Drogba prior to his spot-kick but was stopped, and after the goal Senegalese supporters began lighting fires in the stands, creating a haze of smoke over the stadium.

The Senegalese Press Agency reported one of the match officials was hit by a projectile.

 Senegal fans were attacking Ivorian supporters and police fired tear gas into the stands.

 TheIvorian fans were encouraged to evacuate onto the field, where both teams congregated in the middle.

The match was suspended in the 76th minute and abandoned 45 minutes later.

Here’s footage of the trouble, although for the most part it just looks like a lot of people standing around the centre circle.

Goal of the day

Despite losing 2-1 to Cameroon, Cape Verde qualified for next year’s African Nations Cup. It is the first time the small island community have reached the finals of a major tournament. This curling free-kick from Ronny Souto set them on their way.

Take a break

The chief executive of the Premier League, Richard Scudamore, has admitted the FA are considering introducing a winter break, similar to the model employed by several major European leagues. However, it seems the timing of the break is creating some trouble.

The regular English season consists of the Premier League, the FA Cup and the League Cup, in addition to European commitments for the top teams. In contrast, many leagues on the continent have only one domestic cup competition. The problem is that each of England’s three club trophies – Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup – are run by different organisations – the Premier League, the Football Association and the Football League, respectively – and each is unwilling to change format or alter the structure of the competition.

“We are not inclined to reduce the number of clubs in the Premier League. Similarly, the Football League don’t want to lose the League Cup. It’s a huge source of funding for the Football League and it is a big solidarity play between the leagues.

“As for the FA, they don’t want to give up replays in the FA Cup, so we all sit down and we all look at each other, but it’s pretty hard for those of us in English football to create that two-week space.”

So intractable are the problems and so deeply entrenched the respective viewpoints that Scudamore, renowned as a skilled and patient negotiator, may turn his attentions to a less taxing conundrum. Next week he’s planning to have a crack at solving the Israel-Palestine problem.

Quote of the day

“I think that Neymar can become the best player in the world even if he plays for Santos. There is no need for him to make the move to Europe. He can win trophies here as well, and there are great coaches here, too. Why is Messi seen as the best in the world, even if he has only played in Europe? Why do people see Messi as the best even though he has never played teams like Flamengo or Corinthians? Just because he has played versus Milan?”

Much travelled coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo dismissed claims made by his compatriots, Ronaldo and Rivaldo, that Neymar must move to Europe if he wishes to become the best player in the world.

Heads in the sand

The UAE Association has received an apology from the Asian Football Confederation after its website referred to the Emirati national side as the ‘Sand Monkeys’.

UAE FA General Secretary Yousuf Abdullah on Sunday called the description in Friday’s 2015 Asian Cup profile an “unfortunate affair” that “revealed some racist acts by some AFC officials”.

He called it a “genuine mistake” inserted by a new website writer who had seen “Sand Monkeys” wrongly listed as the team’s nickname on its Wikipedia page. The team’s actual nickname is Al Abyad, or The Whites.

Bad news comes in threes

Bulgarian club Etar Veliko Tarnovo have sacked coach Tsanko Tsvetanov for the third time since the start of the season on Monday.

To paraphrase, once is happenstance, twice coincidence, three times and you’re just asking for trouble, and one does wonder why, barring a huge capacity for absorbing punishment, Tsvetanov agreed to return for a third time to Etar Veliko.

Tsvetanov had been fired after Etar’s 1-0 loss at Beroe Stara Zagora in August and then after the 1-0 home defeat by newcomers Pirin Gotse Delchev in September only to be reinstated in both cases due to protest from fans.

The 42-year-old was first appointed Etar coach in January and guided them to the top flight after 14 years in the lower divisions.

A club statement said Tsvetanov was fired due to a “series of statements against Turkish owner Feyzi Ilhanli and actions that undermine the prestige of the club”.

Last month, Ilhanli accused Tsvetanov of being involved in match-fixing while Bulgaria’s prosecutor has opened an investigation into suspicious games. Tsvetanov has denied any wrongdoing.

Cubans on their heels

FIFA President Sepp Blatter says he will intervene with Cuban officials after three national team players defected in Canada ahead of a World Cup qualifier last week.

There is ahistory of Cuban footballers defecting whilst on international duty: seven members of Cuba’s Olympic team defected in Florida in 2008 after a game against the United States, and in March, a Cuban player left his team while they were in Tennessee for an Olympic qualifying tournament. Also, two players with the Cuba women’s team fled to the United States following a match against Canada in Vancouver nine months ago.

Blatter says it is a serious issue that “we cannot let just stand there — it will not work.”

The FIFA president says he will personally contact “the sports authorities in Cuba, but giving them a copy to give to their political authorities.”

Cuba had just 11 players available to face Canada on Friday and promptly lost 3-0.


Faroe Islands captain Frodi Benjaminsen has lashed out at Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the aftermath of Friday’s World Cup qualifier.

Benjaminsen was involved in a brawl with the Paris Saint-Germain striker as the players walked off the pitch at half-time, and the defender was not impressed with the forward’s behavior.

“He elbowed me shortly before the interval, and when I asked him for an explanation on our way to the dressing room at halftime, he attempted to grab me. There was no fight, though,” Benjaminsen told Expressen.

“Ibrahimovic is an arrogant player. He was belittling our team, and bragging all the time about where he plays and how much he earns. His behavior was very childish. He is a very dirty player as well. I simply don’t like him.”

There are a lot of players one can imagine belittling part-time opponents, but multimillionaire Ibrahimovic? Yes, he’d definitely be one of them.