An excerpt from former MLB Boston Red Sox Manager TERRY FRANCONA's new book that will appear in this week's Sports Illustrated "draws an unflattering portrait" of Red Sox and Liverpool FC Owner Fenway Sports Group, characterizing FSG as "meddlesome, obsessed with TV ratings, distracted by its soccer ventures, and craving more stars and 'sex symbols,'" according to Gordon Edes of ESPN BOSTON. Francona in the book wrote, "I don't think they love baseball. I think they like baseball. It's revenue, and I know that's their right and their interest because they're owners -- and they're good owners. But they don't love the game. It's still more of a toy or a hobby for them." Edes wrote the "fixation with declining TV ratings led to the club commissioning a $100,000 market research survey, the results of which were discussed in November 2010, a little more than a month after the Sox had failed to make the playoffs, primarily because of a devastating run of injuries." Cubs President of Baseball Operations and former Red Sox GM THEO EPSTEIN "offers one of the most damning indictments" in the excerpt. Epstein said, "They told us we didn't have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle. We need some sexy guys. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. This is like an absurdist comedy. We'd become too big. It was the farthest thing removed from what we set out to be" (ESPN BOSTON, 1/15).
EXCEPTION TO THE EXCERPT: Francona said that the excerpts in SI "make the characterization sound worse than it really is." He added that "when people read the book they'll understand the portrayal of ownership is not as harsh as it may seem." Francona: "The last chapter is hard because it was a hard ending. I’m sure there will be a thing or two that will piss somebody off that I didn’t think would, but I’ve read it seven times and me and [co-author Dan Shaughnessy] made change after change because I wanted it to be good, I wanted it to be interesting and I also wanted it to preserve the clubhouse because I do believe in that so much" (ESPN, 1/15). Francona added, "There's context. What's in Sports Illustrated isn't the whole story." The Boston Globe, where Shaughnessy works as a columnist, will "run excerpts from the book for three consecutive days starting Jan. 27." Shaughnessy will "write about the making of the book and his relationship with Francona for the Globe Sunday magazine" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/16).
Chinese FA President WEI DI "was removed from his position" Wednesday. Wei was expected to continue in his role "for a number of years," and leaving after only three years "comes as a major shock." Wei is being replaced by former General Administration of Sports' Policy and Regulations Department chief ZHANG JIAN. Zhang said his first priority is to "set straight" the internal politics of the CFA (WILD EAST FOOTBALL, 1/17). ... Super League club Bradford Bulls have hired KATE HARDCASTLE as a director, the first woman to hold such a role in the league. Hardcastle is regarded as one of England's leading commercial and marketing experts and joins Owner OMAR KHAN on the board. In her new role she will focus on developing the Bulls' brand and building the fan base among families and children as well as creating new opportunities for women in rugby league (Rugby Football League).
COACHES/MANAGERS: The Saudi Arabian Football Federation "sacked the national team's Dutch Manager FRANK RIJKAARD" after Saudi Arabia failed to pass the group stage of the 2013 Gulf Cup of Nations in Bahrain. Rijkaard's contract was reportedly worth $9M, with a penalty clause of more than $4M "in case of dismissal" (AFP, 1/16).
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Former Major League Soccer player DAVID BECKHAM "wants to return to Serie A club AC Milan." Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported Beckham "has contacted Milan Managing Dir ADRIANO GALLIANI and proposed the idea of re-signing him." Galliani has "in general agreed to the idea." However, coach MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI "has vetoed the move." Allegri "is currently trying to add youth to the team's roster" (SID, 1/16). ... F1 team Scuderia Ferrari "has signed Spaniard PEDRO DE LA ROSA as a test driver." The 41-year-old "signed a contract" for '13 (DPA, 1/16). ... ManU player RIO FERDINAND will "help launch a new social media site in Europe" called Bubbly. It is a voice-blogging service that allows users to share short voice updates, or "Bubbles," with friends and followers through their smart phones. Bubbly already has more than 20 million users around the world and is now launching in the U.K. (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 1/16). ... Argentinian DIEGO MARADONA said, "I don't want to work in football anymore. It sickens me" (AS, 1/15). ... Japanese tennis veteran KIMIKO DATE-KRUMM on Tuesday "became the oldest woman to win a main draw match at the Australian Open." The 42-year-old beat 12th seed NADIA PETROVA, who is 12 years younger, 6-2, 6-0 in just more than an hour "in hot conditions on an outside court at Melbourne Park" (AFP, 1/16). ... Premier League West Ham United Manager SAM ALLARDYCE has accepted "substantial damages" from STEVE KEAN, his successor as Blackburn Rovers boss, for saying he was fired by the club in '10 for being a crook. Allardyce's lawyer HANNA BASHA told the High Court that Kean acknowledged the allegation was "completely untrue, had withdrawn it and agreed to pay a substantial and undisclosed sum in damages" (IRISH INDEPENDENT, 1/16).
AWARDS & HONORS: Hungarian Gold Medal-winning swimmer DANIEL GYURTA will receive the World Fair Play Diploma after giving "a replica of his trophy" to the family of Norwegian rival ALEXANDER DALE OEN, who died before the London Olympics (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/16). ... China's first professional boxing champion XIONG CHAOZHONG has been awarded 750,000 yuan ($120,000) and a house in his hometown, "angering residents who feel the money could have been spent on the poor" (CHINA DAILY, 1/16). ... For a sixth time the Yachting Journalists Association has voted BEN AINSLIE Yachtsman of the Year. The title caps his '12 honors, which peaked with winning his fourth Olympic Gold Medal in the London 2012 Olympics, becoming Int'l Sailing Federation (ISAF) world sailing champion, and receiving a knighthood in recognition of his services to sailing in the New Year's Honours (YACHTING WORLD, 1/15).
FC BAYERN MUNICH: "Perfekt! PEP GUARDIOLA (41) ab Juli bis 2016 neuer Trainer des FC Bayern! / Heynckes beendet zum Saisonende seine Karriere. ^M.Hörwick" ... ("Perfect! PEP GUARDIAOLA (41) from July until 2016 new coach of FC Bayern! Heynckes to end his career at the end of the season. ^M.Hörwick")
FC BAYERN MUNICH: "Uli #Hoeneß: "Als adäquater Nachfolger für Jupp Heynckes kam nur ein Trainer vom Kaliber eines Pep #Guardiola in Frage"" ... ("Uli #Hoeneß: "As an adequate successor for Jupp Heynckes only a coach of the caliber of a Pep #Guardiola came into question"")
English footballer MICHAEL OWEN: "I was expecting Mourinho and Guardiola to both be managing in the Premier League next year."
London Times' RORY SMITH: "Great to see Bayern getting so much love for being so well run. You'd think they'd never been called FC Hollywood."
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