Arsenal coach ARSÈNE WENGER launched an "impassioned defence of his 16-year reign" at the club during a press conference Monday, according to Matt Hughes of the LONDON TIMES. Wenger "reacted angrily" to reports that he is to be offered a new two-year contract at the club, which he dismissed as a "cynical attempt to cause more unrest among supporters" leading up to Tuesday's Champions League clash against Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium. The Frenchman "lost his temper on several occasions during a heated press conference," which was dominated by his "repeated assertion that he deserves to be treated with greater respect." Wenger said, "I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am 30 years in this job and if I was paranoid you would know it already. I just think that when I worked for 16 years in the country I expect a certain respect. You can criticize me and say I am doing a bad job, but manipulative things when they are wrong, I don’t accept" (LONDON TIMES, 2/18).
HEATED PRESS CONFERENCE: In London, Jeremy Wilson wrote Wenger then asked why one of the journalists present was looking at him, to which the reporter replied "because it's your press conference." Wenger believes his team have been "insulted by anyone deeming them as a second string." Wenger said, "I've been accused of not taking the FA Cup seriously. I've won it four times. Tell me who has won it more than me. Tell me, one name" (TELEGRAPH, 2/18). In London, Olley & Rice reported Wenger looked at a journalist in the press conference and said: "I look at you not because you give information, I do not know if it is you. This is a pre-match conference for the Champions League. If we can get some questions about the game, that would be very nice." The summer transfer window “will arguably be the most pivotal transfer window in the club’s history” with the board prepared to back Wenger with £70M ($109M) as a new Emirates shirt-sponsorship deal kicks in. The payment structure of that deal was front-loaded, meaning Arsenal can expect a £30M ($47M) windfall from that tie-up alone this summer. The Gunners have cash reserves of around £150M ($233M), but after deductions for contingency planning -- including a season without Champions League football -- and running costs, Arsenal still has around £40M ($62M) available "to spend on players" (INDEPENDENT, 2/18).
STAYING PUT: In London, James Olley reported it remains unlikely that Wenger "will leave the club this summer despite planned protests by fans and regardless of whether Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in his 16-year tenure." Club CEO IVAN GAZIDIS said in September that the club was "happy to extend Wenger's contract but talks were yet to be held and that position has not changed." Majority shareholder STAN KROENKE and Gazidis "remain staunch supporters of Wenger's philosophy, believing their policy of self-sustainability will finally reap dividends this summer" (EVENING STANDARD, 2/18).
Repucom announced it has hired Octagon Managing Dir Europe, Middle East and India GLENN LOVETT as President, Global Strategy. Lovett will take responsibility for a number of key areas of Repucom's global business. These include Products, Knowledge & Insights along with further refinement of the company's consulting services. Lovett will be based in the company's London offices where he will join the Repucom Global Exec Committee and will report to COO JEFF STEIN (Repucom). ... German free-to-air TV channel Sport1 commentator FRANK BUSCHMANN announced that he "will leave the channel in the summer after 20 years" (DWDL, 2/18).
COACHES/MANAGERS: League One club Swindon Town coach PAOLO DI CANIO has resigned. In a statement the Italian cited "a number of broken promises" and claimed his position had "become untenable" with continuing uncertainty over the club's ownership (PA, 2/18). ... Israeli Premier League club Hapoel Tel Aviv named FREDDY DAVID as its coach on Monday. He replaces YOSSI ABUKSIS (L'EQUIPE, 2/18). ... La Liga club Celta Vigo has let go of head coach PACO HERRERA and replaced him with ABEL RESINO. Resino has previously coached Atletico Madrid, Levante and Granada (MARCA, 2/18). ... Former Scotland and England rugby coach ANDY ROBINSON has been appointed director of rugby at second-tier English club Bristol (REUTERS, 2/18). ... European Super League club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats boss RICHARD AGAR has been appointed as France national coach on a "part-time basis." The 41-year-old will lead France into the World Cup later this year (BBC, 2/18).
FILA named three-time Olympic champion SAORI YOSHIDA as a candidate to sit on a female committee that will be established as the world wrestling governing body "aims to retain the sport for the 2020 Summer Games" (KYODO, 2/18). ... Juventus coach ANTONIO CONTE has been voted coach of the '11-12 Serie A season by his Italian peers after "leading the Turin side undefeated to the title." ZDENEK ZEMAN, who "led modest Pescara to promotion to the top flight last term" with his attacking brand of football before being let go as AS Roma boss this month, won the Serie B prize (REUTERS, 2/18). ... Former Melbourne coach DEAN BAILEY and his assistant CHRIS CONNOLLY will be "forced to serve the full term of bans for tanking." The Australian Football League has "rejected a bid to have part of their sentences suspended" (HERALD SUN, 2/19). ... Ireland's ANNALISE MURPHY has been named Afloat magazine's Sailor of the Year for '12. Her performance at the London Games, in which she won fourth place in the Laser Radial at Weymouth, "capped off what has been a remarkable year for the young sailor." Murphy beat out fellow Olympic challengers PETER O'LEARY and DAVIDBURROWS as well as"such promising talents" as SOPHIE BROWNE, FINN LYNCH and FIONN LYDEN (IRISH TIMES, 2/18). ... Racing Integrity Unit Chair KERRY HOGGARD has "resigned from his position." Hoggard said that he "did not want the industry watchdog's work undermined by questions about his own integrity" (STUFF, 2/19).
Süddeutsche Zeitung's ANDREAS BURKERT: "Der deutsche Basketballmeister fährt Bus. "@BroseBaskets: Shake it, Baby!" ... ("The German basketball champion rides the bus. "@BroseBaskets: Shake it, baby!")
Team GB Olympic boxer ANTHONY FOWLER: "Not slagging Adrian broner or anything he has achieved, but I'd like to see Olympic style drug testing in pro boxing, only way to be fair"
BBC Radio 5 Live's JENNIE GOW: "Wouldn't surprise me if Sutil & Bianchi both get a seat this year with some sort of 3rd driver support role going to Bianchi? We'll see #f1"
Canal+ Sports Dir CYRIL LINETTE: "Plus d'1,4 million d'abonnés ont suivi le match #SOCHAUXPSG hier soir sur @canalplus. Joli score. Vivement dimanche !" ... ("More than 1.4 million subscribers followed the #SOCHAUXPSG game last night on @canalplus. Nice numbers. Can't wait for Sunday!")