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Volume 6 No. 215


The tenure of EPL Tottenham Manager Andre Villas-Boas "came to an abrupt end" Monday as the club confirmed the “termination of his services” after its worst home defeat in 16 years, according to Matt Hughes of the LONDON TIMES. The 36-year-old Portuguese "had been given a stay of execution" by Tottenham Chair Daniel Levy after the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool at White Hart Lane Sunday, but "was relieved of his duties as he prepared to take training" Monday morning. Tottenham’s board "feared that Villas-Boas had lost the support of his players after falling to their second heavy defeat in three weeks, and were alarmed to hear the manager effectively write off their chances of Champions League qualification." Levy "will look to appoint a successor as quickly as possible in an attempt to salvage a season that began amid optimism" after the club spent more than £100M ($162M) on seven new players. Former England coach Fabio Capello, who now coaches Russia, was at White Hart Lane Sunday and "has a close relationship" with Tottenham Sporting Dir Franco Baldini. Other names linked with the post include former Tottenham striker and U.S. national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann. A "possible return" for former Tottenham midfielder and Manager Glenn Hoddle "has been mooted." Former Chelsea interim Manager Guus Hiddink "was also named as a possible short term appointment to give Tottenham the chance to stabilise things." However, Hiddink’s agent "ruled the Dutchman out of the running because he is taking over as Holland coach after the World Cup." Earlier, former Tottenham Manager Harry Redknapp "had said that Levy should give his successor more time." Redknapp said, "I think people are over reacting too quickly. You lose a couple of games now and you’re in trouble. It shouldn’t be like that" (LONDON TIMES, 12/16).

FALLING BEHIND: REUTERS' Mitch Phillips wrote the "vast number of new faces of varied nationalities have seemed to make it difficult for Villas-Boas to settle on a preferred side, resulting in an inconsistent season for the club." A "paltry return of 15 goals in 16 league matches has left the fans frustrated, while some appalling defending contributed to the Man City and Liverpool heavy defeats." Although they "are going strong" in the Europa League and Capital One Cup, they are seventh in the EPL, eight points behind local rivals and leaders Arsenal (REUTERS, 12/16). The BBC's Phil McNulty wrote "to trace the roots of Villas-Boas's demise requires a journey back to the summer and the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid" in an £85.3M move. Villas-Boas "lost his match winner, the game-changer -- but many observers, myself included, wondered if the coach, Levy and highly-regarded technical director Franco Baldini had pulled off the seemingly impossible trick of parting with your best player while at the same time raising optimism and expectations" (BBC, 12/16).

Nissan Managing Dir & CEO Peter Jones "has pledged his full support to the Nissan V8 team with the powerful executive out to help roll Holden in season 2014," according to James Phelps of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Jones "gave the four car outfit run by Todd and Rick Kelly a pass mark after the team picked up a historic race win in their first year." Jones also said that "his company was fully committed to the sport following a week of upheaval in the motoring industry and will pull out all the stops to take it to champion manufacturer Holden." He said that Nissan was not "concerned by Holden's plight when it came to racing and added the brand famous for conquering Bathurst with a beast called Godzilla were here to stay." Jones: "GM Holden's announcement this week has no direct effects on Nissan's business or motorsport program. We are concentrating all of our efforts on our own program and working hard with our Nissan Motorsport race team to ensure we have the best possible package when we roll out our Nissan Altima V8 Supercars for the start of the 2014 season" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/14).

Scottish League 1 Rangers Manager Ally McCoist "has put himself on a collision course with his Ibrox paymasters by proxying his shares to his local Rangers supporters club," according to Gary Ralston of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. McCoist "has handed more than one million shares, just under three per cent of Rangers’ stock, to the Calderwood Loyal in East Kilbride." McCoist "is honouring a promise he made to club members when he first took control of the stakeholding last year." However, his decision "has set the cat among the pigeons ahead of Thursday’s crucial agm as proxy vote will be used against the board." The East Kilbride club "are members of the Rangers Supporters Association, who are against the re-election of Finance Director Brian Stockbridge and bus boss James Easdale." McCoist’s decision "will further isolate him at boardroom level" (DAILY RECORD, 12/16). In London, Tom Farmery reported the Rangers largest shareholder, Sandy Easdale, has said that "the only way the club can operate in a financially viable way going forward is if fellow investors vote at the annual meeting to keep the present board in control at Ibrox." His comments come only days before "shareholders arrive in Glasgow to vote at Thursday’s AGM to decide the future of the Rangers boardroom." After speaking to a number of significant shareholders at Ibrox, the present board "will win the AGM vote by a clear margin." Easdale, whose holding is 4.37% but has voting rights of 26.62%, Laxey Partners, Artemis Investment, Newcastle United Owner Mike Ashley and Zeus Capital Dir Richard Hughes "will all back the present board." Their votes "collectively would produce" a total of 54.67%, more than 3% "more than required to secure a majority." The board consists of five members, with CEO Graham Wallace, Chair David Somers and Non-Exec Dir Norman Crighton "all joining last month." Wallace’s appointment, in particular, "has helped sway investors such as Artemis" (LONDON TIMES, 12/16).

National Rugby League club Penrith is "looking to make a second home in Tasmania," according to Brett Stubbs of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. The Panthers "are in negotiations with Tasmania's State Government about playing games for premiership points in Hobart, most likely Blundstone Arena or North Hobart Oval." The deal "would be similar" to Australian Football League side Hawthorn's for four home games in Launceston, but "without the sponsorship component, and would include growing the sport of rugby league in Tasmania." Tourism Minister Scott Bacon "confirmed a meeting with the Panthers last Thursday, where the Penrith representatives presented a proposal that would see the club play one fixture game in Tasmania in 2014 through to 2017" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16).

The Volkswagen Group "has played down suggestions" that it may be interested in bidding for the one or more F1 vacancies "hinted at by last week's call to arms by the FIA," according to CRASH. The FIA "surprised the motorsport world" last week by opening up an opportunity for prospective F1 entrants to submit proposals, which "automatically led to a retread of suggestions that VW -- or one of its group brands -- would be interested in expanding its motorsport programme into the top flight." However, the German company "has since told ESPN that it will not be bidding for a place." A VW spokesperson said, "Currently, there are no plans or intentions for the Volkswagen brand or any other brand of the Volkswagen Group to join F1." VW, which has motorsport brands such as Porsche, Audi, Bugatti, SEAT, Skoda and Lamborghini under its umbrella, "has repeatedly stated that it is not interested in starting an F1 programme, a claim echoed by its subsidiaries, most of which have competition arms active in other series." Audi "has also been connected to various openings in the F1 field," and as a potential engine partner to existing teams, but has "regularly denied interest, and VW's latest dismissal completes the set." Last summer, then-Audi Research & Development Head Wolfgang Duerheimer said that F1 "could be an option in the longer term." Duerheimer said, "I could imagine involvement in F1 in 2018, when the company is at the forefront of the industry. We have enough brands that could do that" (CRASH, 12/16).