SBJ/November 17 - 23, 2003/International

Man U’s manager expected to sign $7M-a-year contract

Alex Ferguson is expected to sign a new deal with Manchester United to remain as manager of the club beyond 2007. The new deal for Ferguson, 61, would be worth $7 million a year, according to the London press, up from $5.3 million under his old deal, which expires in 2005. It would pay him more than any Man U player except Roy Keane. Sir Alex has been at the helm of Man U since 1986 and has won the league title in eight of the last 11 seasons.

FAST WOMEN: The first all-female motor racing series, the British Formula Woman RX-8 Championship, is scheduled to start next year and will be fodder for a "motorsport docusoap" for Britain's biggest commercial broadcaster. The pool of applicants is being assessed for nerves and stamina as well as driving skills (not to mention telegenic qualities). From this, 16 finalists will undertake further training to prepare for the series, with cameras following their every move. The ITV network is developing the program, produced by Carlton TV. Ex-Formula One driver Mark Blundell, now a commentator on ITV, is consulting on the project. Mazda is the manufacturer sponsor of the series, supplying new RX-8 cars for the competitors.

REINVENTING THE OVAL: The Oval cricket ground in London will undergo a $37 million overhaul in time to host matches in the 2005 Ashes series between Australia and England. The changes will include an additional 4,000 seats, increasing the Oval's capacity to 23,000. The facility, on the south side of the River Thames, is the home of the Surrey club in England's annual pro cricket competition between county teams.

PARIS BUDGET: Paris 2012 plans to spend $28 million in an attempt to win the rights to host the Olympic Games. The money will come equally from the French government, city authorities and corporate funds.

CLEANING UP IN ATHENS: An Australian company, Cleanevent Group, has won the cleaning and waste management contract for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, worth an estimated $57 million. The Cleanevent Group, based in Melbourne, will provide cleaning services to more than 120 competition, training and special venues for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Greece next year.

HALFWAY HOME: Five of the 10 Euro 2004 venues in Portugal are ready for use. The 65,000-capacity Luz Stadium opened in Lisbon at the end of October, joining the other stadium in the capital city, the Estádio José Alvalade. Also ready are the facilities in Guimarães, Coimbra and Aveiro. The work goes on in Braga, Faro-Loulé, Leiria and Porto, which has two facilities in progress (Dragão and Bessa).

— Jay Stuart

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