Rabu, 31 Desember 2008

The downer Down Under

Just when you thought you'd had all your Christmas presents, you wake up to find another beauty left under the tree.

Rip off the wrapping paper, and there it is - Australia's sporting supremacy, smashed into hundreds of tiny pieces.

For sports fans around the world, battered into weary submission by years of Australian dominance, the sight is as sweet as it is surprising.

A first home cricketing series defeat in 16 years? Allowing a touring team to successfully chase down 414 in the fourth innings, and then escape from 184-7 to 459 all out in the next match?

It isn't meant to be like this. Ordinarily, Australian conquers while Britons capitulate. They do the exercise, we do the eating. They do the success, we do the self-deprecation.


But South Africa's triumph over Ricky Ponting's boys, and the preceding series defeat in India, are only two aspects of it.

There's a decent argument that this has been the worst sporting year in Australian history.

Linger, unless you're in green and gold, on the following results from 2008 - the ultimate austrannus horribilis, if you will.

  • Sixth place in the Olympics medal table - an acceptable showing unless you see where Great Britain finished. It's hard to say what must have been more painful - failing to win a single men's swimming gold, or having to watch your sports minister don a Team GB tracksuit top
  • Losing the rugby league World Cup for the first time since 1975, to a side beaten 30-6 in the tournament's opening game, and then having coach Ricky Stuart quit in disgrace after being caught abusing the match officials
  • Being beaten in football World Cup qualifiers by China and Iraq
  • Not having a single male or female tennis player ranked in the world's top 50
  • Having an Aussie golfer leading the Open going into the final round, only for him to then to card a seven-over-par 77 to finish six shots behind the winner

It gets worse. You might have missed it at the time, but Australia also lost both matches in the annual International Rules Football contest against Ireland (Aussie Rules meets Gaelic Football).

The mulleted Simon Whitlock was vanquished by Wales's Mark Webster in the final of the BDO world darts championships, while Australia's only Grand Prix driver, Mark Webber, broke his leg cycling at his own charity event.

And while the Wallabies might have gained partial revenge for their World Cup defeats by England with the thrashing at Twickenham in November, they were also spanked by the All Blacks in their last three meetings.


Now - all this may just be a blip, a freakish one-off never to be repeated.

Cricket fans in particular will be wary of celebrating too loudly, fearful that, like a monster in a horror film, the Aussie corpse will suddenly flick open an eye and stagger to its feet, roaring wildly before devouring every Englishman within reach.

It's happened before. Look what followed last time anyone dared dream that the beast had been slain, after the Ashes in 2005 - it went back into its cave, re-grew all the severed limbs and ripped England to shreds in the following series.

It's also not as if British sport had a year untainted by failure. The England cricket team were also dismantled at home by South Africa and away in India, while its rugby team in both codes went from bad to worse.

Then again, what about Lewis Hamilton? Wales's rugby team? Scotland's Chris Hoy? Not to mention the other 46 Olympic medallists?

It was the business in Beijing which seemed to hurt Australians most.

As sports writer John Birmingham wrote in his Olympic blog, "Frankly I don't care where we sit on the tally as long as it's somewhere in front of those gappy-toothed sock and sandal wearing (expletive deleted to comply with revised BBC guidelines)."

Christmas is a time for overindulging in a guilt-free manner. So with that in mind, enjoy this unprecedented Aussie anguish as much as you like, unfettered by fears of what might happen next year.

Australia - allow the rest of the sporting world this brief moment in the sun. We have every expectation that we'll be eating humble pie for Christmas dinner this time in 2009.

Until then, let the schadenfreude flow.

Selasa, 30 Desember 2008

January football sales

Not even a global financial crisis has prevented the Premier League's transfer rumour mill going into overdrive as 1 January approaches.

But despite the whirlwind of rumours, the harsh financial reality means this could be one of the quietest new year buying and selling periods on record as clubs opt to make do with the players they already have on their books.

Several clubs could change all that in an instant though. Moneybags Manchester City could spark things into life with one big signing from a Premier League rival, while Portsmouth and West Ham may be forced to sell their more valuable assets simply to balance the books.

BBC Sport, with the help of the corporation's local radio network, looks at the January transfer window's possible comings and goings at every Premier League club.

ArsenalAston VillaBoltonChelseaEvertonFulhamHull CityLiverpoolMan CityManchester UnitedMiddlesbroughNewcastlePortsmouthStokeSunderlandTottenhamWest BromWest HamWiganBlackburn

Click on your club's badge for more analysis


Budget: £20-30m

January previous: A mixed bag. In 2006 Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger signed Emmanuel Adebayor, Abou Diaby and Theo Walcott for a combined £14m. Two years previously he spent an initial £10.5m to bring in Jose Antonio Reyes from Sevilla.

What they need: A central midfielder and a domineering centre-half - particularly if William Gallas is sold. "They desperately need leaders," says BBC London commentator Nick Godwin. "Arsenal's lack of strength in depth was horribly exposed against Burnley in the Carling Cup, when their midfield was blown apart."

Yaya Toure
Who they might buy: Midfielders Xabi Alonso (Liverpool) and Yaya Toure (Barcelona) have again been linked with the club, as has Zenit St Petersburg's Andrei Arshavin. Former Gunners defender Matthew Upson (West Ham), Brede Hangeland (Fulham), Philippe Mexes (Roma), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus) and Steven Mouyokolo (Boulogne) could be options to bolster the centre of defence.

Nicklas Bendtner
Who they might sell: Questions marks surround the futures of Gallas, Kolo Toure,Emmanuel Eboue and Nicklas Bendtner. A number of younger players such as Gavin Hoyte, Kieran Gibbs and Jay Simpson are set for loan spells in the Championship and Godwin believes midfielder Alex Song might go out on loan, while Philippe Senderos, on loan at AC Milan, could leave permanently.

What the fans say: "Alex from Chelsea would be a good buy if at all possible. Arshavin seems to be a possibility also. Alonso would probably be out of the question now with his form for Liverpool."
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Budget: £10-15m

January previous: Manager Martin O'Neill pulled off a pair of cracking deals in January 2007, with hitman John Carew and the "world-class" Ashley Young both arriving at Villa Park. Last year, only Wayne Routledge came in.

What they need: A good-in-the-air striker as back-up for Carew, who has only played around half of Villa's games this season. Essentially, a plan B when the pace of Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor does not work.

Emile Heskey
Who they might buy: Rumours abound that the club will bid up to £16m for Portsmouth striker Jermain Defoe, while Wigan's Emile Heskey is out of contract in the summer and Villa could be in pole position to snap him up on the cheap. Failing that, Tottenham's Darren Bent or Reading's Kevin Doyle might be an option.

Who they might sell: Unless Real Madrid bid £27m or so for Ashley Young, the flying winger is staying put. Back-up striker Marlon Harewood is interesting Stoke and West Brom, while Spurs have been linked with midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker.

What the fans say: "We need a 20+ Premier League-standard goalscorer, a right-back, a cover winger, a left-back and a playmaker."
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Budget: As much as £25m if in-demand striker Roque Santa Cruz leaves but a whole lot less if he does not.

January previous: While at Bolton, Sam Allardyce made only minor tweaks to his squad in January but with Blackburn deep in the mire, it looks like the Rovers boss will have to brave the sales this time.

What they need: A creative central midfielder, a right midfielder and a striker (if Santa Cruz leaves)

El-Hadji Diouf
Who they might buy: Defender Nedum Onuoha could be used as a makeweight if Santa Cruz goes to Manchester City, while Allardyce could be in for a host of his former Bolton players including striker Kevin Davies, midfielder Kevin Nolan and forward El-Hadji Diouf (now at Sunderland).

Roque Santa Cruz
Who they might sell: With a price tag of about £20m on his head, Santa Cruz seems almost certain to leave - probably for Manchester City. Full-back Stephen Warnock may also want to link up with former manager Mark Hughes at Eastlands.

What the fans say: "If Sam can get Roque to stay and start playing again then great. But Blackburn are used to players peaking, then leaving - we have been here before and always moved on fine."
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Budget: £8m

January previous: Gary Megson made several decent buys last year to help keep Bolton up, bringing in Gretar Steinsson, Matthew Taylor and Gary Cahill. But he had less success after acquiring Nathan Tyson, Julian Bennett, Grant Holt and Sammy Clingan at Nottingham Forest in 2006 - he was sacked two weeks after the window closed.

What they need: A centre-back is top of Megson's shopping list but he lacks cover in other areas and will be wary of Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce raiding the Reebok Stadium for some of his old players.

Christophe Berra
Who they might buy: Bolton are one of several English sides believed to be interested in £3m-rated Hearts defender Christophe Berra, while Mark Beevers of Sheffield Wednesday is another defensive target. Megson is also an admirer of Fulham's all-action midfielder Jimmy Bullard and could try to persuade him to move north.

Kevin Davies
Who they might sell: Allardyce is believed to be particularly keen on Bolton stalwarts Kevin Davies and Kevin Nolan but Megson will do his best to keep them. On the other hand, he could be persuaded to allow some of his fringe players to leave. Nicky Hunt and Heidar Helguson have already been loaned out and appear to have little future at the Reebok Stadium, along with the likes of Joey O'Brien and Danny Shittu, who have barely featured this season.

What the fans say: "We need a creative midfielder - Simon Vukcevic would be my favourite, also a young centre back - Heart's Christophe Berra and possibly another striker - maybe Danny Sturridge from Manchester City."
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Budget: Will be determined by whether they sell. If the right player comes along money could be made available.

January previous: Chelsea tend not to be overly active in January, although they bucked that trend last season by signing Nicolas Anelka, Branislav Ivanovic and Franco di Santo for a combined £27m.

What they need: The club want to keep activity to a minimum but if manager Luiz Felipe Scolari gets his way, he is likely to sign a forward and a defender. "Chelsea need a striker because their reliance on Anelka is becoming painful," says BBC London commentator Nick Godwin. "Michael Essien has a long-term injury but I can't imagine them signing a midfield replacement as they would have done in the past."

Who they might buy: On the striker front, Tuncay (Middlesbrough) and Amr Zaki (Wigan) could be pursued, while rumours surrounding a move for Andrei Arshavin (Zenit St Petersburg) persist. Wagner Love (CSKA Moscow) and Luis Fabiano (Sevilla) are also realistic options, while the Blues have reportedly agreed a £4m deal for 21-year-old SC Braga striker Orlando Sa. "Michael Owen would give Chelsea something different," adds BBC London sports editor Pete Stevens. "And they may be the only club who can afford his wage demands."

Wayne Bridge
Who they might sell: Alex reportedly demanded a move away from Stamford Bridge but Scolari insists the centre-back is staying. Ivanovic has been linked with Inter Milan, Manchester City are said to be tracking Wayne Bridge, Ben Sahar could join Utrecht and Scott Sinclair is set for another loan move. BBC London commentator Phil Parry also believes Paulo Ferreira could be on his way out and goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini might well go out on loan to Tottenham.

What the fans say: "Wagner Love or Luis Fabiano, if Abramovich opens up the bank. Wouldn't mind seeing off Malouda either."
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Budget: Virtually non-existent - sell to buy at best.

January previous: Manager David Moyes is a reluctant operator in the January transfer market. In 2008 he brought in Manuel Fernandes and Anthony Gardner on loan and took £2m youngster Dan Gosling from Plymouth, while Alan Stubbs and James McFadden left. Moyes did break the then club transfer record to spend £6m on James Beattie from Southampton in 2005 and took Mikel Arteta on loan from Real Sociedad but do not expect big buys this time around.

What they need: A striker - desperately. Yakubu is out for the season, James Vaughan will almost certainly not figure again this term and Louis Saha's injury record needs no introduction. A powerful midfield presence would help but expect Moyes to concentrate on his attack.

David Nugent
Who they might buy: Newcastle's Michael Owen has been linked but that can be dismissed if Everton's public cry of transfer poverty is a true reflection of their financial status. It seems CSKA Moscow's Wagner Love can be struck from the list on similar grounds but BBC Radio Merseyside's Mike Hughes adds: "There's a suggestion now that a loan could be a possibility with Love. Mamadou Niang is a player with great potential and would fit the bill but Marseille may be less agreeable to a loan move. I think the favoured candidate is Huyton-born Portsmouth striker David Nugent. He certainly hasn't set the Premier League alight as yet but maybe a move to Goodison Park could rejuvenate his career."

Leighton Baines
Who they might sell: One player who appears surplus to requirements but is also marketable is left-back Leighton Baines. He has not established a regular place since his £6m move from Wigan in 2007 and Newcastle have been linked with a swoop for him.

What the fans say: "Kevin Doyle up front and Chris Eagles from Burnley will suffice."
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Budget: £5m.

January previous: Roy Hodgson was a very busy man last year, bringing Jari Litmanen, Paul Stalteri (loan), Tony Kallio, Eddie Johnson, Leon Andreasen and Brede Hangeland into the club and allowing Lee Cook, Steve Davis, Tony Warner, TJ Moncur and Collins John to go.

What they need: A centre midfielder and centre-half, if Hangeland leaves.

Who they might buy: South Africa midfielder Kagiso Dikgacoi will arrive if he can get the work permit that he failed to secure in the summer. Midfielder Benjamin Huggel (FC Basel) and defender Christophe Berra (Hearts) are also on the radar.

Brede Hangeland
Who they might sell: Hangeland is reported to have a host of admirers, while the club are struggling to tie midfielder Jimmy Bullard to a new contract.

What the fans say: "Hodgson is a very astute manager and I reckon he'll buy low-key players that he believes he can mould to his style of play."
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Budget: £5-10m

January previous: This will be Phil Brown and Hull's first taste of the Premier League's January transfer window. He wasn't a big winter spender in the Championship, although five players were shown the door a year ago.

What they need: A striker, a creative midfielder and central defensive cover.

Marlon King
Who they might buy: BBC Radio Humberside's David Burns sums up the situation: "The club seems quite relaxed and nothing is urgent but two new faces wouldn't be a surprise." The Tigers might be tempted to tie up permanent deals for the on-loan Marlon King and Kamil Zayatte. Brown could weigh up another move for Manchester United striker Fraizer Campbell, having seen a £5m summer bid fall through - but only if Spurs are willing to end their loan deal early.

Who they might sell: Defender Wayne Brown, midfielders Bryan Hughes and Ryan France and keeper Tony Warner could leave for the right price. Dean Windass appears set to stay, despite his first-team chances being limited this season.

What the fans say: "I'm a little worried whenever rumours pop up about Emile Heskey leaving Wigan because Steve Bruce could easily decide to recall Marlon King from his loan to fill the gap. He's been great for us this season."
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Budget: Probably sell to buy. Owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks are struggling to find the money to build a new stadium and they may feel they have pushed the boat out far enough.

January previous: Manager Rafael Benitez prefers to do his business in the summer but he has spent in January before. He splashed out £6.3m on Real Madrid's Fernando Morientes in 2005 and brought in Javier Mascherano on loan two years later.

What they need: Two quality full-backs would be beneficial. Alvaro Arbeloa is unconvincing, while Andrea Dossena and Phillip Degan have failed to get to grips with the Premier League. A striker in the target-man mould would appear to be a priority. Liverpool might also like to add quality on the right side.

Glen Johnson
Who they might buy: Wigan's Emile Heskey has been strongly linked to the club but he was hardly Anfield's most popular figure in his first spell at the club and this may be regarded as a retrograde step. Portsmouth's Glen Johnson might be an outside bet for the right-back slot. BBC Radio Merseyside's Mike Hughes says: "Spurs' Aaron Lennon could prove to be an astute buy, given his pace. Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp could be willing to do business, with Jermaine Pennant and Yossi Benayoun as potential swap candidates, plus a cash adjustment. Maybe even more exciting for the Reds would be Standard Liege's Axel Witsel. He's quick, powerful, can score goals and can play in a variety of roles."

Jermaine Pennant
Who they might sell: Liverpool would love to cash in on Jermaine Pennant - a poor purchase by Benitez and who has never fulfilled his potential. Yossi Benayoun might also be in the market if Benitez can strike the right deal, either cash or exchange. There are a variety of peripheral figures in the squad but there is hardly a queue of potential purchasers.

What the fans say: "I'd like to see Michael Owen and Ashley Young join the Reds. Owen's a goal poacher, which we badly need, and Young is a player with pace who actually knows how to use it, and can score goals."
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Budget: £40m-£80m

January previous: Manager Mark Hughes is a seasoned January shopper. Over the course of his four-year reign at Blackburn he brought Aaron Mokoena, Ryan Nelsen, Robbie Savage, David Dunn, Stephen Warnock and Christopher Samba to Ewood Park in mid-season. If the players he brings to Eastlands have the same impact, then expect City to climb the table.

What they need: A striker, holding midfielder and a left-back are Hughes' priorities. But he also needs an experienced back-up to goalkeeper Joe Hart and an alternative to Robinho on the left because Martin Petrov is out with a long-term injury.

Craig Bellamy
Who they might buy: Where do you start? Over 60 players - including Kaka (AC Milan), Fernando Torres (Liverpool) and Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) have been linked with a move to City since the last transfer window slammed shut but the fans might have to wait until the summer for those sort of superstar signings. Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn), Craig Bellamy (West Ham) and Wayne Bridge (Chelsea) or Stephen Warnock (Blackburn) might be more realistic.

Who they might sell: Midfielder Elano has fallen out of favour with Hughes and would be allowed to leave - on loan if necessary. Fellow Brazilian Jo could also be farmed out to try to gain some confidence after struggling since his big-money arrival in the summer, while Nery Castillo's unsuccessful spell at City will finish when his loan period from Shakhtar Donetsk ends.

What the fans say: "Michael Owen and Emile Heskey would be a good start, and I'd leave Roque Santa Cruz on the bench. Steve Harper from Newcastle, anyone? Very experienced, very capable, very patient understudy to Shay Given but I doubt that he'd leave."
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Budget: £20m, although United manager Sir Alex Ferguson claims he will not use it.

January previous: Sir Alex Ferguson generally avoids doing business in January - his only significant permanent signings were Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic arriving in 2006 - and both took time to settle in. He is capable of springing a surprise, however. Remember when Henrik Larsson joined on loan in 2007?

What they need: How do you improve a squad that won the Premier League, Champions League and Club World Cup in 2008? Midfielder Owen Hargreaves is out for the season but United have plenty of cover in that position, although they may need a back-up goalkeeper if Ben Foster leaves.

Zoran Tosic
Who they might buy: The big talking point is whether on-loan striker Carlos Tevez will be signed permanently, given his struggle to get in the starting line-up on a regular basis. The club have been in talks with Partizan Belgrade winger Zoran Tosic and have also been linked with another youngster in Axel Witsel (Standard Liege).

Ben Foster
Who they might sell: Foster needs first-team football to enhance his England prospects and, with his future still uncertain, Tevez has been linked with Arsenal and Manchester City.

What the fans say: "Players are usually overpriced in January because of the hype that comes with the short period, so I think it's better to avoid making big signings. A few youngsters might come in I suppose. Our first 11 and squad is very strong so it's not like we need anyone really."
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Budget: Zilch. Manager Gareth Southgate has been told he will have to sell before he buys.

January previous: In 2007 the club used January to get rid of Massimo Maccarone and Ugo Ehiogu, while last year they paid £12m to bring in Afonso Alves and sold Jonathan Woodgate for £8m.

What they need: Alastair Brownlee of BBC Radio Tees believes that the centre of midfield could do with strengthening. "They are a bit thin in that area," he says. "If they were to lose the likes of Gary O'Neil they would be relying on a youngster like Josh Walker to fill in."

Who they might buy: "Up and coming players from the continent," adds Brownlee. "The Serbian Nemanja Matic, who has been on trial, is the sort they are looking for."

Stewart Downing
Who they might sell: Several of their key players have been linked with moves and Brownlee says: "Much to Gareth Southgate's frustration, Stewart Downing has once again been linked with moves to various Premier League clubs - especially Tottenham. O'Neil has been suggested as a potential for a move back to the south coast with Portsmouth, while Tuncay has been linked with Chelsea."

What the fans say: "Get rid of Andrew Taylor and bring in Wayne Bridge - simple as."
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Budget: About £12m

January previous: The club have opted against any major moves in January in recent years - unless you count Fabio Zamblera, Ben Tozer and Oguchi Onyewu.

What they need: Manager Joe Kinnear has earmarked two players to bolster their squad - at least one is likely to be a left-back.

John Arne Riise
Who they might buy: Kinnear has his eyes on Premier League experience and ex-Liverpool defender John Arne Riise's name has cropped up persistently, while West Ham's Matthew Upson and Stephen Warnock of Blackburn have also featured.

Who they might sell: Not Michael Owen if all the noises coming from player and manager are correct. Owen is one of seven players whose contract ends in the summer but looks set to see out his current deal. Charles N'Zogbia has hinted at leaving, while midfielders Joey Barton and Nicky Butt have also been linked with moves away.

What the fans say: "We need a left-back to rival Jose Enrique first and foremost. That is top priority. Getting rid of deadwood such as Cacapa, Edgar and maybe Carroll would also help."
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Budget: Minimal, although the coffers received a boost with the £20m sale of Lassana Diarra.

January previous: Former boss Harry Redknapp was a notorious wheeler-dealer, with Jermain Defoe and Diarra joining in January last year. His replacement Tony Adams faces a vastly different financial situation now though, with the club reportedly £32m in debt.

What they need: Not to lose any more of their best players. A right-sided midfielder and a Diarra replacement would come in handy too.

Who they might buy: Who comes in depends on who goes out. Tony Adams says he is expecting a "boring January" with perhaps one or two signings - but he will surely be forced to dabble a bit further if any more of his star players are sold. He has already made Nadir Belhadj's loan deal permanent, Le Mans keeper Yohann Pele has been linked, Gary O'Neil is thought to be keen to return from Middlesbrough, while Adams is also said to be a fan of young Chelsea defender Jack Cork.

Jermain Defoe
Who they might sell: Pompey fans will be praying key players Glen Johnson, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe don't follow Diarra out of the door. They may not shed too many tears if misfiring striker David Nugent and unhappy defender Lauren find new homes. The departures of Kanu and/or Sol Campbell would significantly reduce the wage bill.

What the fans say: "January is going to be a VERY twitchy month for every Pompey fan. Let's just hope all the rumours are just that - rumours."
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Budget: £5-8m - or more if the right player is available

January previous: Tony Pulis hasn't been shy to dabble in the January market. He splashed out £6.2m a year ago to put the finishing touches on Stoke's promotion push, although several players were also shipped out.

What they need: A striker, a winger and ideally a centre-half and a creative central midfielder.

Joe Ledley
Who they might buy: Having missed out in the summer, Stoke could return with another £6m bid for Cardiff winger Joe Ledley, while Andrew Surman (Southampton) and Miles Addison (Derby) have also been linked with moves. A £3m bid could tempt cash-strapped Watford to part with 12-goal striker Tommy Smith, with Marlon Harewood (Aston Villa) another option. A move for Ghana midfielder Haminu Dramani may also be revived.

Who they might sell: Pulis may listen to offers for Dave Kitson, who has failed to score since his £5.5m summer signing from Reading. Fringe players such as Andy Wilkinson and Carl Dickinson could also be sacrificed.

What the fans say: "The first thing we need is a left winger; cue Joe Ledley."
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Budget: New manager Ricky Sbragia has been promised some funds but is unlikely to be given the blank chequebook afforded to previous boss Roy Keane.

January previous: Keane rarely let a transfer window shut without first throwing a suitcase of cash through it, with mixed success. Carlos Edwards and loans for Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson in 2007 proved fine additions, while £8m was spent last year. But it will be a step into the unknown for Sbragia.

What they need: BBC Radio Newcastle's Nick Barnes says midfield and defence are the priorities. "Someone who can sit on the ball, disrupt things and is a bit more aggressive than they have already is needed. They don't dominate that area enough. Sbragia has earmarked a centre-half but possibly some cover at full-back could also be on his list."

Matt Upson
Who they might buy: Matthew Upson has been tipped to join fellow ex-Hammers Anton Ferdinand and George McCartney in Sunderland's defence and Leeds youngster Fabian Delph has been mentioned, while Barnes believes they would jump at the chance to sign Fulham midfielder Jimmy Bullard. The club could try to make the popular Djibril Cisse's move permanent, while Michael Chopra is returning from his loan at Cardiff. However, another loan spell at the club for Evans seems unlikely.

Michael Chopra
Who they might sell: Kieran Richardson has been linked with Bolton but it seems unlikely he will be moving after he was recently made captain. With an enormous squad it is expected there will be some exits - both on loan and permanently. Ross Wallace appears keen to remain at Preston, while fellow loanees Paul McShane,Graham Kavanagh and Roy O'Donovan are unlikely to be recalled.

What the fans say: "We need to trim the squad quite drastically - the wage bill must be immense."
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Budget: £15-20m

January previous: Despite consistently maintaining January is not the best time to pick up bargains, chairman Daniel Levy has always put his hand in his pocket post-Christmas. Last year Gilberto, Chris Gunter, Alan Hutton and Jonathan Woodgate were signed at a cost of about £20m.

What they need: Striker, central defender, full-back, left winger, keeper.

Jimmy Bullard
Who they might buy: Take your pick… Portsmouth quartet Jermain Defoe, Glen Johnson, Niko Kranjcar and Sylvain Distin may fancy a reunion with Harry Redknapp, while Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough), Emile Heskey (Wigan), Brede Hangeland, Jimmy Bullard (both Fulham), Matthew Upson (West Ham), Carlo Cudicini (Chelsea) and Fernando Cavenaghi (Bordeaux) join a list as long as your arm.

Didier Zokora
Who they might sell: Former Tottenham boss Juande Ramos, now at Real Madrid, is said to be keen on Didier Zokora, Aaron Lennon and David Bentley - although only the former, if any of those three, is likely to go. Otherwise, fringe players Ricardo Rocha, Adel Taarabt and Kevin Prince-Boateng could all seek transfers.

What the fans say: "Harry always springs surprises, transfers are his stock in trade."
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Budget: Chairman Jeremy Peace says no money will be made available.

January previous: Baggies boss Tony Mowbray has not been a compulsive January spender, with two ins and two outs in both 2007 and 2008. Snaring Robert Koren on a free two years ago, however, was a stunning bit of business and he will want to wave that magic wand once again.

What they need: Goals, goals, goals. Only 16 from 20 games tells its own story but who will sell them a 15-goal striker in January? Also, a get-stuck-in midfielder. A Robbie Savage circa 2005 would go down a treat at The Hawthorns.

Marlon Harewood
Who they might buy: Options for the league's bottom club might be limited. Marlon Harewood could come in from Villa, while Arsenal duo Carlos Vela and Jay Simpson are loan options. Doncaster midfielder Brian Stock could also arrive.

Who they might sell: No-one they cannot do without. Though the fact that left-back Paul Robinson is rumoured to be interesting Celtic might cause a few heart murmurs in the West Midlands.

What the fans say: "Mowbray's already said he's got nothing to spend. If we could get the two Arsenal kids (Vela and Jay Simpson) on loan and a defensive midfielder, that'd do me."
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Budget: £0

January previous: Sales have been the order of the day for longer than West Ham fans care to remember. Christian Dailly, Bondz Ngala, Hogan Ephraim all left last January, while Valon Behrami - signed in the summer - is the only big-money arrival at Upton Park in 2008.

What they need: Given the club owners' financial problems and the threat of the Carlos Tevez case being settled in favour of Sheffield United soon, January looks likely to be about attempting to replace outgoings rather than strengthening.

Sebastian Giovinco
Who they might buy: Loans will be the order of the day, if manager Gianfranco Zola is able to bring anyone in at all, with the Italian hoping to pip Arsenal to the signing of Juventus midfielder Sebastian Giovinco.

Matt Upson
Who they might sell: West Ham supporters await the January transfer window with an overwhelming sense of fear amid rumours of an Upton Park firesale. Craig Bellamy,Dean Ashton, Scott Parker, Lee Bowyer, Nigel Quashie, Luis Boa Morte and Danny Gabbidon have all been linked with departures, as has Matthew Upson, although the latter's sale would cause uproar among the club's faithful.

What the fans say: "We should look at Jerome Thomas or James McFadden - we need creativity. We need to lose timewasters like Lee Bowyer."
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Budget: Depends if Emile Heskey, who is out of contract in the summer and could leave then for nothing, is sold now. He could fetch £4m and that would all go on a replacement striker.

January previous: The £1m that boss Steve Bruce paid for Wilson Palacios on 11 January 2008 looks a bargain. The £5m he spent on Marlon King a couple of weeks later was not quite such good business.

What they need: "If Heskey goes, they will need a striker," says BBC Radio Manchester reporter Paul Rowley. "Tottenham and Aston Villa are supposedly interested and, if they make a decent offer, the chairman could accept it even if the manager wants to keep him.

Nicky Butt
Who they might buy: As far as replacements for Heskey go, there has been plenty of talk about a possible swoop for Reading frontman Kevin Doyle, while Marko Pantelic (BSC Berlin) and Ecuador hitman Christian Benitez (Santos Laguna) have also been heavily linked with deals. Veteran Newcastle midfielder Nicky Butt could link up with Bruce, an old team-mate of his at Manchester United, and a deal has apparently already been done for Colombian forward Hugo Rodallega, who plays for Necaxa in Mexico.

Amr Zaki
Who they might sell: As well as Heskey, there are no shortage of admirers of goalkeeper Chris Kirkland, Luis Antonio Valencia and Palacios - with reports in Spain linking Real Madrid with a £15m bid for Valencia. The future of on-loan striker Amr Zaki is uncertain too. Rowley adds: "It's bizarre really; there is talk that it is possible for another club to buy out his loan deal at Wigan." What the fans say: "Our ideal signing would be Michael Owen, which would keep Heskey at the club. I would like to hang on to Zaki, Valencia, Palacios, Ryan Taylor, Kirkland and Heskey."
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Top Scorers

Barclays Premier League Top Scorers
Anelka Chelsea 14
Robinho Man City 11
Zaki Wigan 10
Agbonlahor Aston Villa 9
Cisse Sunderland 8
Crouch Portsmouth 8
Gerrard Liverpool 8
Lampard Chelsea 8
Ronaldo Man Utd 8
Van Persie Arsenal 8
Adebayor Arsenal 7
Bent Tottenham 7
Defoe Portsmouth 7
Ireland Man City 7
Owen Newcastle 7

Player arrested after death crash

Jordan Robertson
Jordan Robertson was questioned by police about the M1 crash

A Championship football player was arrested in connection with a motorway crash on Christmas Day which left a father-of-five dead, it has emerged.

Jordan Robertson, 20, a Sheffield United striker on loan to Southampton, was arrested by Leicestershire Police on suspicion of dangerous driving.

Omar Mohamed, 38, from Leicester, was seriously injured in the M1 crash near Lutterworth. He died on 26 December.

Mr Robertson was released by police on bail after being questioned.

On Tuesday Sheffield United issued a brief statement which said: "It is an unfortunate tragedy and our condolences go out to the family of Mr Mohamed but Sheffield United cannot make further comment as it is a police matter."

Air ambulance

Mr Robertson, who is originally from Sheffield, is understood to have been the driver of a black Mercedes CLC 180 sport car which was in collision with Mr Mohamed's Ford Galaxy on the southbound carriageway at Junction 19.

A Leicestershire Police spokesman said Mr Mohamed sustained serious injuries and was taken by air ambulance to the Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry.

He said: "The injured man died at 1615 GMT on Friday, 26 December. No one else was injured in the collision."

Police are appealing to anyone travelling on the southbound M1 between Leicester Forest East Services and Junction 19 at about 1450 GMT on Christmas Day and who saw a black-coloured two-door Mercedes CLC 180 sports car or a red Ford Galaxy to get in touch with them on 0116 2222222.

Hull City 0 - 1 Aston Villa

30 December 2008
KC Stadium
Premier League
Player of the match:
steve bennett (lol)
comment on the article

What a boring match. very few chances, and the most exciting scenes were at the beginning and the end, courtesy of steve the incompetant referee bennett.
On 5 minutes, hull were denied a goal by a terrible decision that friedal had been fouled/impeded- by just looking at his reaction in trying to get the ball that he dropped, you could tell that he knew that he was at fault.
The rest of the game was very uninteresting, however with 2 minutes to go, Villa score- Michael Ricketts, poor defending, and it looked like Villa were going to win from another late goal.
And then the penalty controversy- firstly, what was Ashley Young doing, putting his hand up. And how could the referee give a penalty- he was vertially unsighted looking at the evidence, and giving the penalty without consolting the linesman, who were not signalling for a penalty, was always highly controversial. Can i say that it was fantastically brave (and confident) of the referee to change his mind- it was not a penalty, as his linesmen informed him- although he should have consulted his linesman first. Hull cannot feel agreived about this, as the correct decision was (eventually) acheived- it hit the crossbar, not the hand.
To conclude, a boring game, which neither team deserved to win- 0-0 would have been a fair result, as both teams were poor.

Hull 0-1 Aston Villa

Gabriel Agbonlahor
Anguish for Hull, but delight for the Villa

Aston Villa regained fourth place in the table after a late own goal by Kamil Zayatte gave them victory.

Nicky Barmby had the ball in the net in the first half after Brad Friedel dropped a cross but the goal was ruled out for a foul on the goalkeeper.

Villa sneaked the win when Zayatte turned Ashley Young's cross into his own net with two minutes left.

Hull thought they had won a penalty for a handball by Ashley Young in injury time but the decision was reversed.

Referee Steve Bennett initially looked to have given a spot-kick but changed his mind after consulting with his assistant.

It might have been a cruel blow for Hull, but replays showed the ball hit only the bar and not the player's hand after it had looped goalwards off Luke Young.

Yet Hull will feel devastated to have been beaten in a game that neither side looked like they wanted to win.

Early on, Barmby briefly thought he had scored when he tucked the ball into an empty net but the goal was ruled out for his challenge on keeper Friedel, who had dropped the ball.

Hull, who had conceded nine goals in their last two matches and won only once in their last 10 games, were understandably cautious.

They sat deep, allowing Villa to stroke the ball around at the back, and neither side attempted to lift the pace.

It made for a dismal first half, with most of the play compressed into the middle third of the pitch and consequently there was a dearth of scoring opportunities.

In rare moment of goalmouth action Curtis Davies cut out a cross and narrowly missed his own goal with his header.

Little changed after the break as the tempo remained pedestrian and quality continued to be in short supply.

Neither goalkeeper had much to do and their biggest challenge must have been how to stay warm on a bitterly cold night.

Barmby should have at least made Friedel work when he got on the end of Bernard Mendy's cross but he headed the ball straight at Nigel Reo-Coker.

But there was harsh twist of fate to come, when two minutes from time Zayatte poked the ball home at the near post as he tried to clear Ashley Young's cross.

If that was not tough enough on Hull, they will feel even more frustrated after it seemed they had been awarded a penalty shortly after only to have it taken away.

The result leaves Villa level on points with third-placed Manchester United - and three points ahead of Arsenal, who they leapfrogged.

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill on the late penalty drama:
"It wasn't a penalty.

"I'm delighted the right decision has been made and pleased we've won.

"We didn't play well, we struggled to create things but we just keep putting pressure on the sides around us."

Hull boss Phil Brown on the same incident:
"It's a tough one. The referee got it wrong because he gave it originally.

"The linesman took up a position that he was giving the penalty but for some reason they've changed their mind between them.

"The referee is 15 yards away but he consults a linesman who was 40 yards away from the incident."

Hull: Myhill, McShane, Turner, Zayatte, Ricketts, Mendy, Garcia (Fagan 89), Ashbee, Halmosi, Barmby (Hughes 85), Cousin (King 69).
Subs Not Used: Duke, Doyle, Geovanni, Giannakopoulos.

Booked: Zayatte.

Aston Villa: Friedel, Reo-Coker, Knight, Davies, Luke Young, Milner, Sidwell (Gardner 86), Petrov, Barry, Ashley Young, Agbonlahor.
Subs Not Used: Guzan, Harewood, Delfouneso, Salifou, Shorey, Osbourne.

Booked: Barry, Petrov.

Goals: Zayatte 88 og.

Att: 24,727

Ref: Steve Bennett (Kent).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Aston Villa's Ashley Young 6.81 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

Arsenal 1-0 Portsmouth

Arsene Wenger claims his Arsenal side are just "one or two per cent" away from dominating the Barclays Premier League.

Not on this performance they are not.

Former captain William Gallas might have kept their title challenge just about breathing with a late headed winner but you did not have to be able to understand Pascal's Triangle to realise that Wenger has got his maths horribly wrong.

You just had to watch his Arsenal side toiling aimlessly for great swathes of a match against a Portsmouth team which is going through its own crisis of confidence under Tony Adams.

Arsenal are miles away from Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea and if Wenger does not do some serious business in the January transfer window they will stay that way.

As it is the result leaves Arsenal 10 points adrift of league leaders Liverpool and still hoping.

But let's not dwell overly on Arsenal because this was the day Tony Adams returned to Arsenal for the first time as a fully-fledged manager and at last he got the sort of battling performance from his Portsmouth side that he always gave during 20 years in an Arsenal shirt in which he lifted 10 major trophies.

Unsurprisingly, it came after the Arsenal fans had paid their due respects to one of their own, the reception Adams received affectionate bordering on reverence.

He bowed appreciatively to accept it. Adams has never been anything but brave. He had dropped Jermain Defoe to the bench after three straight defeats had culminated in a 4-1 home defeat against West Ham. It was a challenge to his side to deliver.

He received a dogged response. Sol Campbell and Sylvain Distin defended superbly and with a bit more luck Pompey would have taken back a point at least to the south coast.

Adams, however, will now be even more desperate to use a chunk of the £20million the club are set to receive for Lassana Diarra in the January transfer window. This was their fourth straight defeat and that is relegation territory. And quite why he waited until the 88th minute to bring on Defoe is a mystery.

The Gunners dominated possession and Adams continually was out on the touchline urging his side not to defend so deep.

But, without the injured Cesc Fabregas, in midfield Arsenal were light on invention, resorting to speculative long shots.

It was a dreadful, stale-as-Christmas-turkey first half, full of cagey football and two teams desperate for a confidence-boosting result.

Wenger delighted with win

Arsene Wenger was pleased with Arsenal's 1-0 win over Portsmouth and the contribution of William Gallas.

Wenger insisted he does not want to sell any players in the transfer window and praised the controversial Gallas, who he stripped of the captaincy after the players' criticisms in his controversial autobiography, for what was a timely winner.

Wenger said: "He answered everybody by his performance on the pitch and that's what you do when you are a great player. He started as a striker and looks most likely to score at set-pieces. He has good timing to attack the ball."

The Arsenal manager also believes his injury-hit side have received more unfair flak than any Arsenal team he has managed.

He said: "The team are maturing and have shown great mental strength in the past few weeks.

"No team since I have been here have got as bad publicity and I don't think it is fair because they have got great character."

You could say the same about the Arsenal crowd, who gave Adams the most affectionate of receptions before singing the obligatory 'One-nil to the Arsenal.'

Adams acknowledged the chants but said: "It comes back to haunt you. I thought it was one-nil to the lucky Arsenal today."

The BPL Sunday Review

Liverpool surged three points clear of Chelsea with an impressive 5-1 win at Newcastle while the Blues drew at Craven Cottage.

A Frank Lampard double looked like it was enough to give Chelsea all three points at Fulham - until Clint Dempsey scored a dramatic late equaliser.

Fulham took a shock 10th-minute lead at Craven Cottage - the visitors' defence was at sixes and sevens when Simon Davies delivered a free-kick into the box - and Dempsey was on hand to poke the ball home.

Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari was forced into some early changes because of injuries to Alex and Florent Malouda - bringing on Nicolas Anelka and Ricardo Carvalho, for his first start since October 29 following a knee injury.

The second half was dominated by Chelsea. Lampard's first came in the 51st minute, when he tapped in from eight yards out.

The England midfielder's second - a free-kick from outside the area - had more to do with a gap in the Fulham wall and a goalkeeping blunder from Mark Schwarzer.

But in the final minute of the match Dempsey headed home the equaliser and was promptly booked for his goal celebration, although Schwarzer redeemed himself in injury-time by denying Lampard his hat-trick.

The point means Chelsea slip three points behind Liverpool, who will go into 2009 as leaders of the Barclays Premier League after embarrassing Newcastle 5-1 at St James' Park.

The result in the lunchtime kick-off capped a miserable end to the year for the Magpies, whose fans have seen their hero Kevin Keegan leave after a second stint as manager - followed by an announcement that the club was being put up for sale by owner Mike Ashley.

Just hours before today's game, Ashley announced the club was no longer for sale.

Two goals from captain Steven Gerrard - and one each from Sami Hyypia, Ryan Babel and substitute Xabi Alonso (penalty) - secured a comfortable win for the Reds, with David Edgar scoring the consolation.

Stoke's game at West Ham was overshadowed by the second half sending off of Ricardo Fuller for unsporting behaviour - against his own team-mate.

Television replays show Fuller taking a swing at Andy Griffin - then getting a straight red card from referee Michael Jones.

Down to 10 men, Stoke were unable to hang on to their early lead given them by Abdoulaye Faye's header at the back post from a corner after four minutes.

A 52nd-minute strike from Carlton Cole levelled the contest, and Diego Tristan claimed the second when Cole's goalbound shot hit the substitute before finding the net.

A stunning 25-yard free-kick from Mikel Arteta gave Everton a dream start against visitors Sunderland after nine minutes.

He doubled the scoreline 25 minutes later, but not in as spectacular fashion. This time his free-kick from a similar distance rebounded off the wall and back to the Spaniard, and his volley at goal rebounded off Daryl Murphy and past the wrong-footed Marton Fulop.

Substitute Dan Gosling put the game beyond Sunderland in the 84th minute, giving the hosts only their second home success of the season and making it a miserable first game in charge for Ricky Sbragia.

William Gallas' header in the 82nd minute from Denilson's free-kick was enough to beat Portsmouth at the Emirates Stadium.

Both sides had good chances. Portsmouth's Peter Crouch came close to opening the scoring, but his header in the 24th minute hit the post.

Mikael Silvestre also nearly broke the deadlock with a second half header which beat David James, but it was cleared off the line by Sylvain Distin.

Gallas' goal means Arsenal go into fourth place, leapfrogging Aston Villa who play at Hull on Tuesday.

Tottenham lost 2-0 at West Brom and had Benoit Assou-Ekotto sent off for a dreadful tackle on Gianni Zuiverloon in the 34th minute.

The hosts proved too strong in the later stages and goals from Roman Bednar (83) and Craig Beattie (90) won it for them.

An injury to Emile Heskey looked like a blow to Wigan's chances at Bolton. The striker was forced off just after the half-hour.

But Steve Bruce's men were given a boost just before half-time when Heskey's replacement Henri Camara was fouled by Andy O'Brien in the area and Amr Zaki converted the spot-kick for the game's only goal - which lifts the Latics up to seventh.

In the late kick-off, Manchester City needed a last-minute equaliser by Robinho to draw 2-2 at Blackburn. Dean Sturridge was the super-sub for City - coming on to pull his team back 2-1. Then the youngster set up Robinho dramatic goal at the very end of the game at Ewood Park.

Brown fumes over key decisions

Hull boss Phil Brown claimed to be bemused after being awarded then denied a late penalty in the 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa.

Hull were beaten 1-0 after a drab Barclays Premier League encounter at the KC Stadium burst into life in the final two minutes.

Villa snatched what turned out to be the winner in the 88th minute when Kamil Zayatte turned Ashley Young's cross into his own net.

But there was still time for more drama as referee Steve Bennett pointed to the spot after ruling that Young had handled on his own line in injury-time.

Villa protested and Bennett changed his mind after consulting with his assistant, who correctly had seen the ball hit the bar and not Young's hand.

Brown conceded the "harsh reality" was that the final decision was correct but he was unhappy at the about-turn.

"People will end up talking about the penalty decision which wasn't," said Brown, who got into an argument over the matter with a journalist in his post-match press conference.

"It's beyond me whether it was a penalty or it wasn't - he's given it.

"A referee gives a penalty and then a linesman tells you it's not.

"Some days you get bad days at the office because of referees, other days you get bad days at the office because of players.

"Today was a good day at the office from the players and not so good from the ref."

Brown was at least pleased with the performance of his players after their 5-1 thrashing at Manchester City on Boxing Day.

Brown, who made five changes following their Eastlands humiliation, said: "What is relevant is that is a great performance from Hull City and one I am quite proud of.

"I'm quite pleased with the mentality, quite pleased with the response."

Pressley considering Swiss move

Steven Pressley
Pressley joined Danish Superliga outfit Randers in September

Steven Pressley is considering a move to the top-flight in Switzerland but has options in England after returning from a spell with Randers in Denmark.

The 35-year-old former Scotland defender moved to the Danish Superliga club after his release by Celtic.

"I have an offer from Switzerland to play in their top league," said Pressley. "It is a very exciting proposition and one I might take up.

"But I have a couple of options down south, so nothing is definite."

Pressley, who began his career with Rangers before spells with Coventry City, Dundee United and Hearts, is not ruling out a return to the Scottish Premier League and does not think he is outwith the price range of smaller clubs.

"Managers have contacted my representative, but there is nothing definite in Scotland," he said, stressing that he has no thoughts of retiring.

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"I would play football for nothing to be perfectly honest. I still have a great desire and just want to play football.

"I will see what the next 10 days hold and, after that, make my decision.

"But the decision will not be a financial one. It will be a decision based on what I think is right for me and my family and my education as a footballer."

Pressley would encourage other Scots to grab opportunities to play their football in another country.

Sometimes Scottish players are maybe slightly underestimated on the Continent
Steven Pressley

"I thoroughly enjoyed the freshness of my time in Denmark," said the Scotland coach, who signed for Randers in September.

"It certainly is an education to play abroad and was good for me as I had played 15 to 16 years in the SPL almost consecutively.

"It gives you an understanding of what it's like for foreign players to walk into our dressing-rooms."

Pressley recognised that Scottish players faced difficulties in finding opportunities abroad but would encourage them to take any that came their way.

"Sometimes Scottish players are maybe slightly underestimated on the Continent," he suggested.

"I was very fortunate that my representative went out and found the right club for myself.

"I think that sometimes the opportunities don't arise for the young Scottish players to go and experience European football.

"But I certainly think it would be beneficial to them."

Transfers - December 2008

The transfer window is now closed for permanent signings and will reopen on 1 January 2009.

In the Football League, once seven days have passed since the closing of the summer transfer window on 1 September, loan deals are permitted until 27 November.

However, in exceptional circumstances, clubs can apply for special dispensation to the Premier League or Football League outside these times - for instance, if they had no goalkeepers available.

In addition, players who are unattached free agents, and were not registered with a club when the transfer window closed on 1 September, are able to join new clubs.

The transfer window does not apply to clubs below Blue Square Premier level.

Meanwhile, if an out-of-contract player under 24 (who has been offered a new deal but has turned it down) moves clubs within the same country, then his "old" club are entitled to compensation. If the two clubs cannot agree a fee, then it will be determined by a tribunal.

* indicates a move has been agreed which will officially become permanent when the window reopens on 1 January.

30 December 2008

Graham Gartland [Drogheda United - St Johnstone] Free
Lee Robinson [Rangers - Queen of the South] Loan
*Steven Thomson [Brighton - St Mirren] Free
Barry Wilson [Inverness CT - Queen of the South] Free

28 December 2008

*Scott Bevan [Shrewsbury - Torquay] Free

19 December 2008

Lee Askham [unattached - Chesterfield]

18 December 2008

Mansour Assoumani [unattached - Leeds]

12 December 2008

Alan Maybury [unattached - Colchester]

11 December 2008

Luke Malcher [Huddersfield - Harrogate Town] Undisclosed
Noel Whelan [unattached - Harrogate Town]

9 December 2008

Mikkel Andersen [Reading - Brentford] Loan

5 December 2008

Moses Ademola [Brentford - Welling] Loan
Marc Newsham [Rotherham - Sheffield FC] Loan

4 December 2008

Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro [unattached - Grimsby]

2 December 2008

Tom Evans [Swindon - Truro] Loan
Wesley Thomas [Dagenham & Redbridge - Grays] Loan

1 December 2008

Ashley Barnes [Plymouth - Eastbourne] Loan
Josh Klein-Davies [Bristol Rovers - Newport County] Loan
Dan Smith [Plymouth - Eastbourne] Loan

Senin, 29 Desember 2008

Droylsden hit by FA Cup expulsion

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Richardson 'expected' Droylsden punishment

Droylsden have been thrown out of the FA Cup after they were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player in their second-round win over Chesterfield.

Sean Newton scored both goals to help his side to a 2-1 win.

But Chesterfield asked the Football Association to intervene when they discovered Newton should have been serving a one-match ban on 23 December.

Chesterfield will now face Ipswich on 3 January, although Droylsden have lodged an appeal.

According to the FA website, any appeal must be made with the association by 0900 GMT on Tuesday 30 December, with the appeal to be heard the following day.

Droylsden manager and chairman Dave Pace told BBC Radio Manchester: "It is ludicrous as we have beaten Chesterfield fair and square on the field.

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"It is not as if we have brought a ringer in at the last minute. Sean Newton is one of our players.

"It was a genuine mistake by our secretary. Fine us by all means but don't kick us out."

Chesterfield manager Lee Richardson said: "This has been a cup tie with many talking points and it seems that the FA has now had the last word.

"The outcome is no real surprise as the rules clearly set out what it likely to happen if a club plays an ineligible player."

An FA statement added: "The FA Cup prize fund payment of £30,000 should be redirected to Chesterfield.

"There is no fine imposed against Droylsden and the club's participation in future FA Cup competitions is not affected."

Bloods manager and chairman Pace had previously given his version of the Newton situation.

He said the club sent a fax to the FA explaining that as far as they were concerned, Newton would serve his ban in their league game on Boxing Day.

"If there was any doubt from our point of view that he should not have played against Chesterfield then he would not have," he told BBC Radio 5 Live at the time.

Pace then added that he would "go to the nearest bridge" and throw himself off if Droylsden were thrown out of the Cup.

The second-round match between the two sides was played four times.

The first and third matches were abandoned because of fog and floodlight failure, with a controversial 2-2 draw at Saltergate sandwiched in between.

The Blue Square North side had protested furiously when Jack Lester put Chesterfield 2-1 up, lobbing the keeper from a throw-in after the visitors had put the ball out of play for an injured player.

The home side then allowed Steve Halford to walk unchallenged into their half to tap the ball in for the equaliser.

In 2006, Bury were expelled from the competition for a similar offence.

In that incident, Stephen Turnbull played in Bury's second-round tie against Chester, who were reinstated and allowed through to the third round, where, by a bizarre twist, Ipswich were once again the waiting opposition.