Scotland national football team Manager CRAIG LEVEIN has been sacked following a "poor start" to the World Cup qualifying campaign, with Scotland at the bottom of Group A, according to Ewan Murray of the London GUARDIAN. GORDON STRACHAN "is the heavy favourite to become the next Scotland manager." Despite his sacking, Levein will continue to receive full pay for "the remaining 20 months of his contract," totaling at about £700,000 ($1.1M). Strachan, who has been out of work since leaving Championship club Middlesbrough in Oct. '10, "is expected to be uppermost in the thoughts of the Scottish FA, and the early soundings are that the 55-year-old would be keen on a first int'l management role." However, other out-of-work Scottish coaches, including JOE JORDAN and ex-Scotland Manager ALEX MCLEISH, "will also inevitably be considered." SFA CEO STEWART REGAN said, "We will give ourselves time, given our fixture schedule, to find the right person for the job. The key matches for us are the World Cup qualifiers, which restart next March. This is not a knee-jerk appointment" (GUARDIAN, 11/5). In Glasgow, Gregor Kyle wrote the pressure "has been mounting ever since Scotland's defeat to Wales and Belgium." The news of Levein's termination "came late in the day," hours after the draw for the fourth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup at Hampden and followed weeks of "speculation about his future" (DAILY RECORD, 11/5). SKY SPORTS noted Scotland U21 coach BILLY STARK "will take temporary charge of the team," and his first task will be to name a squad for Wednesday's friendly in Luxembourg (SKYSPORTS.com, 11/5).
NOT EVERYONE AGREES: The Scotland DAILY RECORD reported that Scottish national football team player CHARLIE ADAM "fired off the first, quick defence of his former manager," blaming the press for his departure. Adam wrote on Twitter: "On my way back to hear Craig Levein has gone. Unbelievable. Can't believe the Scottish papers got what they wanted" (DAILY RECORD, 11/5). In London, Murray wrote that the SFA "ultimately arrived at the right decision" regarding Levein, "even if the backdrop to that cannot be described as anything other than farcical." Faith in those in charge of Scotland's national game "is at a low ebb, and understandably so." It has been 20 days since Scotland "timidly lost in Brussels, with every informed voice in the immediate aftermath of that game pointing to the imminent end of road for Levein." Yet, the SFA board "delayed and dallied to the extent that a split was clear, and it was impossible not to feel sorry for Levein, a decent and conscientious employee who did not merit such shocking indecision" (GUARDIAN, 11/5).
Marketing research company Repucom has appointed BRUNO LALANDE to the newly-created role of director of strategy EMEA. Based in Paris, he will report directly to COO JEFFREY STEIN. Lalande was previously secretary general for Europe and Africa at Lagardère Unlimited and, prior to that, led WPP’s Kantar Sport for 11 years (Repucom). ... Hampshire Cricket Board Chair JEFF LEVICK has stepped down from his position. He will be replaced by JOHN WOLFE. Levick has occupied the role since '02 (ISPORTSCONNECT.com, 11/2). The All India Tennis Association has appointed Bengal Tennis Association Secretary HIRONMOY CHATTERJEE as its CEO (THE HINDU, 11/3).
MANAGERS: Bulgarian football club Slavia Sofia has refused to accept the resignation of coach MARTIN KUSHEV. Kushev quit after Sunday's defeat at "lowly" Botev Vratsa. Slavia President VENTSESLAV STEFANOV said, "I implore all fans to support the team and Martin" (REUTERS, 11/5). ... Belgium side Club Brugge KV has revealed the departure of coach GEORGES LEEKENS after Sunday's 1-0 home league loss to SV Zulte Waregem. Reserve team coach PHILIPPE CLEMENT will lead training in collaboration with other staff members (UEFA). ... Korea Baseball Organization club Lotte Giants have hired former Nexen Heroes Manager KIM SI-JIN "to lead the Busan club that finished in third during the '12 season." Kim signed a 1.2B won ($1.1M) three-year contract to replace YANG SEUNG-HO (KOREA JOONGANG DAILY, 11/6).
EPL Queen's Park Rangers Chair TONY FERNANDES has "once again insisted" that he will not be firing coach MARK HUGHES, despite a "dreadful start to the season" in which the club is yet to register a win (London INDEPENDENT, 11/5). ... Russian Football Union (RFS) President NIKOLAI TOLSTYKH visited the House of European football in Nyon, Switzerland. He met UEFA President MICHEL PLATINI and UEFA officials for discussions on football in Russia, as well as the relationship between the Russian association and European football's governing body (UEFA). ... Former Super League rugby player KEITH ASHCROFT died at the age of 72. Ashcroft played for Wigan between '68 and '70. More recently he was on the committee of the club's Past Player's Association (London DAILY MAIL, 11/5). .... Tour de France champion BRADLEY WIGGINS "is set to take part in this year's Dubai Rugby Sevens -- as a water carrie." As a Wigan Warriors fan, he will be "supporting the Joining Jack fund-raising team taking part in the int'l veterans section of the event," which runs from Nov. 29-Dec. 1 (PA, 11/5).
HOT SELLER: Adidas said that the home jersey of NBA Houston Rockets player JEREMY LIN "officially went on sale around Taiwan." More than 80 stores in Taiwan launched jersey sales "to coincide with the new season" that started Wednesday (CNA, 11/4). ... The world's top men's singles players and doubles teams, including NOVAK DJOKOVIC, ROGER FEDERER, ANDY MURRAY and BOB and MIKE BRYAN, attended on Saturday the official Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Gala at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. The event, supported by champagne brand Moët & Chandon, raised more than £400,000 ($639,000) for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity (ATP). ... Swiss National League A club ZSC Lions "signed NHL L.A. Kings forward DUSTIN BROWN for the duration of the lockout" (NZZ.ch, 11/5). ... German tennis players TOMMY HAAS has been voted the ATP Comeback Player of the Year for the second time in his career (SPORT1.de, 11/5). ... Referee MARK CLATTENBURG has been "overlooked for another weekend" of EPL matches as a result of Chelsea’s allegations that he racially abused JOHN OBI MIKEL (LONDON TIMES, 11/5).
APOLOGIES NEEDED?: New Zealand PM JOHN KEY has become "embroiled in a media row" amid allegations that he called DAVID BECKHAM "thick." Key was reported to have said the footballer was "thick as bat shit" on a recent visit to a school in Auckland. While discussing an exhibition match between Beckham's L.A. Galaxy and the Oceania All-Stars, which took place in '08, he is said to have described the former England captain as handsome and "a really nice guy" before adding the offending remark (PA, 11/5). The AFP reported that Key "insisted he did not owe" Beckham an apology. The PM refused to confirm or deny making the comment Monday and told talkback radio he did not owe anyone an apology, "suggesting the conversation may have been misheard" (AFP, 11/5).
AWARD CANDIDATES: The Confederations of African Football revealed last year's African Footballer of the Year award winner YAYA TOURE heads a list of candidates for this year's award, which will be announced next month. Toure is joined by fellow Ivory Coast internationals DIDIER DROGBA and GERVINHO on the 10-man shortlist (REUTERS, 11/5). ... USAIN BOLT headlines the shortlist for the 2012 Int'l Association of Athletics Federations Male Athlete of the Year award, but "there is no place" for double Olympic champion MO FARAH. American 110m hurdler ARIES MERRITT and Kenyan middle distance runner DAVID RUDISHA "are also in contention" (London TELEGRAPH, 11/5).