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Volume 6 No. 216

International Football

Mark Hughes "was dismissed as head coach" of EPL Queens Park Rangers on Friday, with the club at the bottom of the Premier League table after failing to win any of its first 12 matches of the season, according to the AFP. QPR, which avoided relegation on the final day of last season, is the only EPL club that has not won a game. A statement on the QPR website read: "This decision has been taken after careful consideration by the board of directors, following numerous meetings over the last few days" (AFP, 11/23). In London, Jason Burt reported QPR Chair Tony Fernandes was "outvoted by his fellow Malaysian shareholders" over the sacking of Hughes. Fernandes had "fought to keep Hughes in his job, but met strong opposition" from QPR Directors Kamarudin Bin Meranun and Ruben Emir Gnanalingam. Fellow QPR Dir Amit Bhatia is "thought to have been less vociferous than the other two in trying to force Hughes out but agreed with the decision." Fernandes was persuaded after new Manager Harry Redknapp set "a deadline of Saturday" for QPR to make a decision. Redknapp insisted that otherwise he would "accept an offer to become the new coach of Ukraine" (TELEGRAPH, 11/25).

FIRST CHOICE: In London, Paul Wilson wrote the only surprise was Redknapp "promising not to spend a fortune in January." Redknapp said, "The players at QPR have not performed to their potential. The players have to be at it, the buck stops with them. I didn't tell the club I wanted money to spend, I have not even discussed that situation. There are some good players here and if we can get them performing then come January, we might not need so much." Redknapp, who will take charge for Rangers' visit to Sunderland on Tuesday, was Fernandes' "primary target." Fernandes: "Harry was our No. 1 target, the unanimous choice of the board" (GUARDIAN, 11/24). REUTERS noted media reports suggested Redknapp will be handed a £1M ($1.6M) bonus if he can "stave off relegation at Loftus Road" -- on top of the £3M ($4.8M) a year he has "apparently agreed with the club" (REUTERS, 11/24).

LONG JOURNEY: In London, Dominic Fifield wrote on the GUARDIAN's The Sport Blog "Not that long ago, the salvage job at Queens Park Rangers would have felt made for Harry Redknapp." This is "an ambitious London club, within daily commute of his home in Sandbanks, Dorset, which is money-flushed yet flailing at the foot of the table, and a team in desperate need of a spark who is not Sparky." Compared to recent seasons, Redknapp's appointment at Loftus Road "feels like too much of a comedown." After all, it has only been six months since his Tottenham Hotspur side finished fourth in the Premier League. A few weeks later, he was "the favourite to take over the England national team." Now, as he returns to club management to oversee the only winless team in the country, he will "feel the weight of the table heavy upon him" (GUARDIAN, 11/23).

BECKHAM ON WISHLIST: In London, Jamie Jackson noted Redknapp hopes to bring David Beckham to Queens Park Rangers with Fernandes "prepared to back the new manager in the January transfer window as he looks to strengthen the bottom-placed club in the bid to avoid relegation." Asked if there was interest in taking Beckham to QPR, Redknapp, who is also interested in players Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone and Darren Bent, told BBC 5 Live: "I'm sure he could still play in the Premier League. He is a top player and a fantastic person as well. I must admit we had him at Tottenham training and he was amazing around the place -- absolute class" (GUARDIAN, 11/25). Redknapp: “I haven’t discussed it with the chairman at the moment so we’d have to look at that but David could still certainly be a great asset to anybody, showing people how to train, how to look after yourself" (SUNDAY TIMES, 11/25). In London, Matt Law wrote Redknapp will "need all his powers of persuasion" to convince Beckham to snub lucrative offers from other clubs around the world to join the QPR "relegation battle." Redknapp’s bid to sign Beckham on a free transfer will be backed by Fernandes, who ¬≠attempted to sign the former ¬≠England captain last year (MIRROR, 11/24).

A BRIEF HONEYMOON: In London, Roger Blitz noted research has found that "a struggling football club is unlikely to fare any better in the long term if it fires its manager." It seems Chelsea and QPR have "more in common than they realise." Both are west London clubs, have billionaire foreign owners and sacked their managers this week. But according to research commissioned by Warwick Business School for the League Managers Association, the pattern of results generated by a new coach "is the same whichever position in the table a club holds, and has been that way for years." Since the Premier League began 20 years ago, managers taking over from a sacked predecessor enjoy "only a brief honeymoon period, largely inspired by the rejuvenation of players looking to impress" the new manager. The research showed that after a dozen games under the new manager, results "start to tail off." Another six games later, and the average points per game won by the newcomer is "less than his predecessor achieved more than a dozen games prior to his sacking" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/23).

EPL referee Mark Clattenburg is "free to resume his career" after the FA decided there is "no case to answer" over the allegations made following a heated and controversial encounter between Chelsea and ManU on Oct. 28, according to the Scotland DAILY RECORD. Following the decision, Clattenburg spoke of his relief and said the last few weeks had been "the most stressful of his life." Clattenburg: "To know you were innocent of something but that there was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly frightening." The FA said that the evidence had been considered by independent Queen's Council David Waters who ruled Brazilian midfielder Ramires' claim "was not supported by any other evidence and disputed by the other match officials." An FA statement added: "Moreover it was contradicted by other witnesses and does not cross the evidential threshold required to bring a charge against Mark Clattenburg." Also, Chelsea midfielder John Mikel has now been charged by the FA for "using threatening words or behaviour after going into the referees' changing room after the match in question." The FA said, "The player has until Friday 30 November 2012 to respond to the charge" (DAILY RECORD, 11/22).

The Brasileiro rivalry game between Flamengo and Vasco "had its worst attendance in 10 years," according to Janir Júnior of GLOBO ESPORTE. Only 5,971 fans paid for tickets to the game between the two Rio de Janeiro rivals. Moments before the game kicked off on Saturday at 7:30pm local time, it was difficult to tell the two teams were getting ready to play each other from the scene outside the Engenhão stadium. There were "no traffic jams, the bars were empty." With both teams having nothing to play for in the Brasileiro, the total attendance was 9,416. It was the worst attendance figure for the rivalry game since '02. It was also the first time since '06 that attendance was below 10,000 (GLOBO ESPORTE, 11/25).

Brazilian Football Federation President José Maria Marin has decided to let go of the entire coaching staff of the national team. The decision was made after a meeting with CBF Team Dir Andrés Sanchez. The new coaching staff will be announced during the month of January (CBF). LANCE NET's Leo Burlá reported that the name of Pep Guardiola "is at the top of a list of favorites" for the job. However, the CBF "has yet to officially contact the coach or his representatives." The other candidates for the job, "in order," include Brazilians Tite, Abel Braga and Vanderlei Luxemburgo (LANCE NET, 11/24). In São Paulo, Martin Fernandez reported that by firing Menezes, Marin "went against the advice that he received." After the meeting with Marin, Sanchez said, "The seleção is not only picking players. It's everything: logistics, planning, where it's heading, how it will train." The president believed it was time for a change. We respect his decision" (FOLHA DE SAO PAULO, 11/25). The AFP wrote that Menezes "was sensationally sacked" as coach of five-time world champions Brazil. During his time as coach of the national team, he oversaw 20 wins, six draws and five defeats. His job had been "on the line" since Brazil's latest attempt to win Olympic Gold ended in a 2-1 loss to underdogs Mexico at Wembley in August (AFP, 11/24).

Fans of Scottish Third Division team Rangers Friday night accused Elgin FC of "risking their safety for a fast buck after police ordered their game to be postponed," according to Euan McLean of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. The Highland club faces a Scottish Football League probe into why it sold more than 1,000 tickets above the 4,500 capacity of its Borough Briggs home ground. Elgin "couldn’t say exactly how many tickets had been sold for the match." However, Rangers "had already accused Elgin of profiteering by making ticket prices 50% higher than regular Third Division games." The SFL has "vowed to launch an investigation into the matter, which is expected to result in a heavy fine for Elgin" (DAILY RECORD, 11/24). The SCOTSMAN reported Rangers "accepted an apology from Elgin over the postponement, but Manager Ally McCoist expressed his disappointment." A spokesperson for Moray Council said: "We are extremely disappointed to have to ask the club to cancel the game. It is certainly not a decision anyone involved has taken lightly. We know how thousands of fans have been looking forward to the match, but there is a real risk to their safety here. The ground can only take 4,500, so another 1,000-plus disappointed fans with nowhere to go is a major concern" (SCOTSMAN, 11/24). The PA reported fans "have been assured they will be given a refund, but tickets issued for the game will not be valid for the rearranged date, which has yet to be announced" (PA, 11/24).

AS Roma claimed is has discovered "serious defects" in the gear provided by kit manufacturer Kappa, according to Brooks Peck of YAHOO! SPORTS. Kappa parent company BasicNet has responded by suing the club for "making up excuses to wiggle out" of its deal. In a statement Roma said, "A.S. Roma S.p.A. board of directors has decided to cancel the contract with the technical sponsor with immediate effect due to BASIC ITALIA's non-performance of contractual obligations." Despite being "seriously defective," Roma will still wear the Kappa kits until the end of the season. The president of BasicNet has been "unamused by this development" and responded by issuing the following statement: "For over a year the Americans now in charge of Roma have declared their intention to terminate the contract with us. The reasons they gave with regards to the quality of material are nothing more than excuses which will be torn apart by the judges" (YAHOO! SPORTS, 11/25).