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Volume 7 No. 149
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Names In The News: Michael Clarke Responds To Criticism

MICHAEL CLARKE "doubled down on his spray" at sports journalist GERARD WHATELEY after the former Australian test captain "refuted criticism of his leadership," saying that he would "relish the opportunity to express his feelings to Whateley face-to-face." Clarke "unleashed a social media rant" on Wednesday, labeling the broadcaster a "headline chasing coward" for insinuating he had a hand in the cultural failings that led to the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town. On Thursday, Clarke was "not willing to take a backward step." Clarke: "That's 100% how I feel. ... When somebody questions or insults my integrity and my credibility that's not for sale" (London GUARDIAN, 11/28). ... Former Japan captain MAKOTO HASEBE was named Asian Int'l Player of the Year on Wednesday at the Asian Football Confederation Annual Awards. Also at the ceremony, J.League side Kashima Antlers Manager GO OIWA was named men's Coach of the Year (KYODO, 11/28). ... Spain int'l DAVID VILLA "is being heavily linked with a move" to J.League side Yokohama F. Marinos (AP, 11/28). ... Bangladesh Premier League side Comilla Victorians on Tuesday signed former Australian captain STEVE SMITH for the upcoming edition of the Twenty20 tournament. Victorians coach MOHAMMAD SALAHUDDIN said that Smith would join the team mid-January for the second phase of the BPL as a replacement for Pakistani SHOAIB MALIK (AFP, 11/29). ... EPL side Southampton held talks with former Leicester City Manager PAULO SOUSA about replacing "under-fire" Manager MARK HUGHES. The Portuguese coach is understood to have attended Southampton's 3-2 defeat at Fulham last weekend and emerged as the club's "preferred successor" should it sack Hughes (LONDON TIMES, 11/28). ... CONOR MCGREGOR told reports outside Naas District Court, "You gotta drive safe, lads," after he was disqualified from driving for six months and fined €1,000 ($1,140) for speeding. The MMA fighter pleaded guilty to traveling at "over one and half times the speed limit" on October 11, 2017 (LONDON TIMES, 11/29). ... Chelsea Owner ROMAN ABRAMOVICH is launching Russia's largest private film fund, which "could potentially challenge the monopoly of the state-run cinema fund for film financing." Abramovich's fund will administer $15M a year, industry journal ProfiCinema reported. For comparison, the annual budget of the cinema fund, "which is responsible for the lion's share of Russian film financing," is about $90M. As most local producers "heavily rely on state cash for funding," the arrival of a major private player in the segment "looks unprecedented" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 11/29).

FOOTBALL TRAINING: VALENTINE HOLMES turned to former National Rugby League side Cronulla strength & conditioning coach TRENT ELKIN to "prepare him physically for his tilt at an NFL contract." Holmes' management is in the process of "putting together a team of local experts to get him in top shape" before he heads to the IMG Academy in Florida in January (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 11/30).