Friday, May 14, 2010

World Cup 2010 Betting

The first World Cup Tournament was held in Uruguay in 1930 and was won by the hosts and since then there has been some great tournaments. Brazil hold the record for the most wins with five having won first in 1958 and most recently in 2002.

With the 2010 South Africa World Cup fast approaching we are only too aware that all you football punters out there are looking for those little tips that might help you make your 2010 summer that bit more lucrative. We are going to be trying to give you those little pointers right here over the coming months that may well give you the upper hand over the bookies when you are ready to try some World Cup Betting.

The 2010 World Cup is slightly different as this is the first World Cup that has been played on African soil so there is no history to judge the winner on. The weather may well play a key part as teams like England, Germany and France may benefit as the tournament will take place in the South African winter which should give cooler temperatures.

One good pointer to keep in mind when making your World Cup selection is the astonishing fact that no European team has ever won the World Cup when the tournament has been hosted outside of Europe. For instance, when the World Cup was hosted by United States in 1994 and South Korea/Japan in 2002, Brazil was the eventual winner on both occasions.

This is a stat that is reeled out every time the tournament comes around but it is unlikely to be a coincidence as it is constantly proved over and over again. The old adage is that the European teams do not travel well and if the trend continues then punters need to be looking outside of the European teams in South Africa and this may in turn affect the odds provided by online betting web sites.

Tommy Smith: Jamie Carragher Deserves To Be In England's 2010 World Cup Squad

I couldn’t be more delighted to see Jamie Carragher called up into the England World Cup squad. And the rest of the country should be celebrating with me too.

Jamie’s no big head, that’s for sure. But he is a great player full of self belief and confidence in his abilities and when ex-England boss Steve McLaren repeatedly snubbed him, Jamie’s self-respect and his desire to devote himself totally to Liverpool FC told him he should quit international football.

But now Fabio Capello has made it crystal clear he knows exactly how good a player he is and barring a cruel injury or a major U-turn from the England coach, I’m sure Anfield’s vice captain with be on that plane to South Africa now.

If there’s one thing the Italians can spot it is a top international quality defender. And that’s exactly what Jamie is.

In a dreadful season for Liverpool, he’s given everything he’s got – once again.

He’s a superb tackler, can head the ball well and isn’t afraid to get rid of it unceremoni- ously when required, rather than play fancy football in dangerous areas near his own goal.

His passing, long and short, is far better than he ever gets credit for and he’s also one of the best readers of the game I’ve ever seen, as well as one of the best footballers ever to have played for Liverpool.

On top of all that, plus his vast experience, Jamie is an extra captain on the pitch and can play right across the back four.

So to me, taking him to the South Africa is a no brainer and I’m made up he has jumped at the chance to get involved again.

I never made a final World Cup Squad – so I hope Jamie now savours every moment if he gets out there.

In fact, I remember being in Alf Ramsey’s initial 30 man squad for Mexico in 1970 – and only found out I hadn’t made the final cut when I walked into a shop and read it in the Echo!

It was a huge blow – but Shanks picked me up and told me we’d win far more at Anfield than England and Ramsey ever would.

Jamie’s been brilliant in a rotten season for the Reds. I’m chuffed for you, Jamie lad!

Pepe Reina deserves to be Spain’s number one

Another player who’s never been in any doubt that he was heading to South Africa is Pepe Reina.

But unless injury befalls Iker Casillas, it looks like Pepe will spend most of his time on the bench for Spain.

Casillas is a great keeper but I think he’s slipped from the standards he set earlier in his career, whereas Pepe just keeps getting better and better.

If he gets a chance, not only will he take it, but I believe he could hang on to the shirt.

Pepe, like Jamie Carragher, has been superb for Liverpool in this awful season and has stood out with his passion and commitment to the club.

He fully deserves his player of the season honour at Anfield.

On top of that, Pepe has now come out and told the owners to do one – and do it quickly – which is just what every Liverpool fan is demanding of the Americans.

That takes bottle for a player to say. But Pepe clearly loves the club and, rain or shine, is determined to speak his mind and commit his future to what will hopefully be brighter days ahead.

Like Jamie he too fully deserves to be out there on the world stage.

Kuyt Sets Reds Target

Dirk Kuyt admits it is crucial Liverpool get themselves back in the UEFA Champions League next season.

The Reds missed out on Europe's premier competition this season after finishing in seventh spot in their worst finish in 11 years.

It is feared Liverpool's failure to qualify for next season's Champions League could see a number of top stars depart Anfield, while it could hamper their chances of landing transfer targets.

However, Kuyt feels Liverpool are still an attractive proposition providing they make a swift return to the Premier League's top four next season.

"Liverpool is a massive club. It's very disappointing that we don't have the Champions League because, up until last season, we had done so well in the competition," said Kuyt.

"But this is what has happened. We have just got to make sure that we will be right back in it next year.

"Players who want to play in the Champions League would like Liverpool.

"We just have to make sure that we will back in it within one year."

Kuyt believes with a few quality additions and keeping Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard Liverpool can be back challenging for honours next term.

"If we can buy a few more players, I think we will be really close to winning trophies again," added Kuyt.

"There were times this season when we didn't play well and conceded last-minute goals but we were also really unlucky, when you think of the beach ball (which contributed to a 1-0 defeat at Sunderland) and the injuries we had.

"Fernando was a huge miss in particular. Last season, it was the opposite and we were the ones scoring the last-minute goals. Everything was going our way then.

"We just need a little bit more luck and a bit more quality in the team. Everyone knows that.

"In the meantime, everyone who is here needs to work really hard to improve."

Martin Skrtel Battling To Be Fit For Slovakia's World Cup 2010 'Dream'

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel is keeping his fingers crossed that the hard work he has put into his rehabilitation from a broken metatarsal will mean that he is fit enough to play in Slovakia's World Cup campaign.

The Slovaks begin their tournament with a group game against New Zealand on June 15 and Skrtel has been putting in the hours at Liverpool's Melwood training ground in order to ensure that he makes the fixture.

"It is a proud moment for my country to have qualified and I hope to be there with them," Skrtel told the Reds' official website.

"It has been a very frustrating time for me being injured and not being available for Liverpool but all I can do is wait and see.

"I've had great support from the medical staff at Liverpool and my family, so I will do everything I can to be fit for the World Cup."

The fact that their team has managed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time means that the players will be even more motivated to do well, according to Skrtel.

"It's a big thing for Slovakia to have qualified for our first finals. It's a dream for everyone to get to South Africa," the centre-back added.

"We have achieved this dream as a country and now we have to show what we are all about and give our best."

Ever Banega Close To £8.5m Liverpool Switch With Four-Year Contract On The Table

Valencia midfielder Ever Banega is keen on securing a summer move to Liverpool, has learned.

It appears that Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez is set to raid his former club to fill the void left by the departure of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid last summer, with Alberto Aquilani having not been an adequate replacement.

Now it is believed that Banega is fully in favour of a move to Anfield, despite the lack of UEFA Champions League football on Merseyside next season.

Sources close to the 21-year-old central midfielder have told Spain that the Reds have put on the table a four-year contract, which has delighted the midfielder, paving the way for a move which would see him link up with fellow Argentinians Javier Mascherano and Emiliano Insua.

It is understood that Liverpool have made a bid of around £8.5 million [€10m], Banega's buyout clause, but is considerably less than the £15m [€18m] los Che paid Boca Juniors to take him from the Bombonera two years ago.

Since leaving his home country, Banega has endured an up-and-down time in Spain, struggling to settle at first and being the subject of a fairly embarrassing 'video scandal'.

He was loaned out to Atletico Madrid and monitored by Everton, but was eventually recalled by coach Unai Emery and realised his potential this season. Alongside David Villa and Silva, Banega was hailed as one of the key components in Valencia's team, who have secured third place in La Liga behind Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Valencia's financial problems are well publicised and despite talk of potential big-money departures from the Mestalla, such as David Villa, Silva and Juan Mata, the transfer income from such sales would not be sufficient to get anywhere near clearing their debt, which is now in excess of £511m [€600m]. As a result, every player is unofficially for sale this summer in what could be another make-or-break transfer window for the club.

Tottenham Consider Sending Roman Pavlyuchenko To Liverpool In Swap Deal For Yossi Benayoun

Tottenham Hotspur could make a move that would send striker Roman Pavlyuchenko to Liverpool in exchange for midfielder Yossi Benayoun.

The Reds were looking to bring the Russian international to Anfield in the winter but Spurs asking price of Benayoun and £2million was too high for Liverpool.

Liverpool could decide to just sell the Israel international in a money deal and could get up to £10m from Spurs, Aston Villa, Roma, Sevilla or Dynamo Moscow, who have shown interest in Benayoun.

Spurs were close to selling Pavlyuchenko to Russian Premier League side Lokomotiv Moscow for £10m in the winter but with the striker returning to Harry Redknapp’s starting line-up Lokomotiv manager Yuri Semin fears that a move for the Russian will be tough.

“The situation has changed,” Semin told the Daily Mail.

“I'm afraid it will be difficult to get Pavlyuchenko.

“His team qualified for the Champions League and he regained the coach's confidence.”

Liverpool And Espanyol Join Chase For Turkish Winger Erkin

IMScouting sources understand that Liverpool and Espanyol have registered their interest in 21 year-old left-sided midfielder Caner Erkin.

The Turkish international has spent the season on loan at Turkish giants Galatasaray from his parent club CSKA Moscow. Erkin has performed well in Turkey, alerting both Liverpool and Spanish club Espanyol who have been monitoring him closely.

Erkin has spent three seasons at CSKA Moscow, but the quick and technically gifted midfielder was allowed to go to Galatasaray on loan with a view to a permanent move. However, transfer negotiations between CSKA Moscow and Galatasaray appear to be stalling and so Liverpool and Espanyol are considering taking advantage of the Turkish side's hesitancy.

Although Liverpool's financial future is uncertain, Erkin would provide a relatively inexpensive addition to Rafa Benitez's squad, as it is believed he would be available from CSKA Moscow for around 3-4 million Euros. With Albert Rieira's Liverpool career all but over and speculation over Yossi Benayoun's Anfield future, there could well be room for a midfielder.

Meanwhile, Spanish side Espanyol sit comfortably in mid-table in La Liga. However, they have a lack of left-sided attacking options and with Javi Marquez having been linked to several clubs including Tottenham, a move for Erkin could be on the cards.

Erkin already has seven international caps for Turkey to his name.

Hicks-Gillett Rift At Liverpool ‘Had Roots In Differences Over Benitez’

As the Spirit of Shankly group of Liverpool fans confirmed today that they will meet with Premier League officials on Friday to discuss ownership and governance issues at their club, sportingintelligence can reveal the historic rift between Tom Hicks and George Gillett was fueled by their contrasting views on Rafa Benitez.

Sources with intimate knowledge of the Hicks-Gillett relationship during the Americans’ time at Anfield tell us it was Hicks who “made all the running” in sounding out Jurgen Klinsmann as an “insurance policy” management option at the end of 2007.

After the Klinsmann talks were made public in January 2008 – when it became evident the owners had doubted Benitez – Hicks fell firmly into the pro-Rafa camp. Our sources add it was also Hicks who was the driving force in giving Benitez a five-year deal last year.

Gillett, on the other hand, although supportive of the Spaniard, felt Benitez worked best under the supervision of a “moderating” executive, specifically the former chief executive, Rick Parry.

Parry left in the summer of last year, after it became clear that, according to one source, “it was obviously going to be a dysfunctional situation going forward.” Hicks was aligned to Benitez, who had been given more powers in his new deal, while Gillett was aligned to Parry, who Gillett believed “kept Rafa in control”. Except Benitez didn’t want to be kept in control, and would not be.

Fast-forward one extremely disappointing season, and Hicks and Gillett are much closer now in mindset. The club is up for sale and Barclays Capital are actively talking to potential bidders, one of whom we reported on earlier this week.

The Americans still privately insist the club is in great financial shape, despite losses for the parent company of £55m last year, mainly due to interest payments of £40m on debt. They are also prepared to inject more money for transfers this summer “for one last time”, a source says.

The rationale is that they need an asset in good shape to make it attractive for a decent bid, but the Americans harbour “grave doubts” that Benitez should be the man to spend the money to keep the asset in good shape.

Figures acquired from inside the club by sportingintelligence show Benitez has spent more than £244m on transfers in the past four years. Hicks and Gillett do not trust Benitez to spend any more of their money. [NB late addition to piece: that £244m is a gross figure, not net, as the debate in the comments below elaborates on].

They will not sack him because his £16m pay-off is too expensive, and thus hope he leaves of his own volition. If he doesn’t leave – for Juventus or elsewhere – then they will only spend in the summer if the club’s chairman, Martin Broughton, oversees any deals.

Benitez wants cash and the freedom to spend it. All this is understood to have been part of a series of recent discussions (to be continued) between Benitez and Broughton.

The SoS group, meanwhile, will meet the Premier League, including chief executive Richard Scudamore, on Friday, to discuss issues they raised last month about Hicks and Gillett’s ownership.

SoS will ask a series of questions and will tell the League: “We do not want another Tom and George, we want ‘fit and proper’ owners. After all, it’s our football club, it’s our game, and on behalf of our members we are going to have our say.”

James McKenna, spokesperson for SoS, said “The Premier League have a duty to run the game properly, to regulate it and make sure it is protected. However, they don’t seem to take this duty seriously, allowing the debts at Liverpool to pile up, with owners who are far from fit and proper. Sadly, we aren’t the only club this is happening to, it is happening to many others, and the fans are the ones left to fight for their clubs.

“We would like to the Premier League to better protect clubs and put in place regulation that stops what has happened with Hicks and Gillett from happening all over again. It isn’t right or proper that a club should pay for its owners to actually own them, and it isn’t proper for the future and the finances of a club to be put in jeopardy for the sake of business and making a profit. Those in charge need to act, and they need to act now, before it’s all too late.”

Scudamore has been a sympathetic listener as Portsmouth fans have kept him updated on the dreadful declining state of their financially decrepit club this season. Lessons learned at Portsmouth have partly led to new rules that will be adopted this summer to lower the chances of new anonymous owners will no proof of funds and no business plans.

(The mysterious Ali Al Faraj – a former owner of Pompey who has never been seen in Britain and who never had an active role – falls into this category.)

SoS are sure to get tea and sympathy. But it will probably also be pointed out that both Gillett and Hicks had respectable references from major sports bodies in the USA, arguably the most highly-screened environment in the world in terms of sports ownership.

They passed the ‘Fit and Proper Persons’ test, which effectively amounts to having no convictions that bar them being directors in British companies. They would have shown proof of funds, albeit borrowed, but leveraging is not disallowed in English football.

They would also have shown a business plan, including the building of a new stadium. It’s just they didn’t manage to execute it.

Spirit of Shankly Set For Showdown Talks With Premier League

A leading Liverpool fans’ group is to demand answers when holding talks with the Premier League tomorrow.

The Spirit of Shankly have managed to secure a meeting with League officials in hope of finding resolutions to the ongoing off-field problems that are blighting the Reds..

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore is the highest profile member of the League delegation set for the face-to-face talks with SOS on Friday.

The supporters’ union says thousands of concerned fans have already e-mailed and written to the League asking what action they are going to take to help a club which has developed severe financial problems.

SOS have expressed their deep concern at how the club has been allowed to “deteriorate” and say Scudamore and the League’s hierarchy must not allow such issues, which have plagued the Tom Hicks and George Gillett ownership reign, to happen again.

James McKenna, spokesperson for SOS said: “The Premier League has a duty to run the game properly, to regulate it and make sure it is protected. However, they don’t seem to take this duty seriously, allowing the debts at Liverpool to pile up, with owners who are far from fit and proper.

“We would like to the Premier League to better protect clubs and put in place regulation that stops what has happened with Hicks and Gillett from happening all over again. It isn’t right or proper that a club should pay for it’s owners to actually own them, and it isn’t proper for the future and the finances of a club to be put in jeopardy for the sake of business and making a profit.

“Those in charge need to act, and they need to act now, before its all too late.”

SOS, established in backlash to the American owners, will have the chance to hammer home their fears for the future having already sent the Premier League a letter.

The furious Anfield supporters’ group believes lack of regulations on the behalf of League chiefs is in part to blame for the Reds’ spiral into danger.

An exert from the letter to the Premier League reads: “It is Liverpool FC’s current predicament and the Premier League's criminal silence on these issues that has prompted me to contact you. Liverpool Football Club now finds itself being 'touted' around looking for someone to come in and pay down the debt with a £100 million investment. So far one bid has been submitted from the Rhone group and with the deadline for offers fast approaching. We may find ourselves forced into inappropriate investment, rather than finding suitable investment.

“I demand that the Premier League conduct a vigorous 'fit and proper' person’s test of any new investor, considering they are expected to take a controlling stake. I demand that subsequently you regulate in a much more vigorous way to ensure that any future investor keep any promises to protect all football clubs and the game that you regulate through binding undertakings to be given to the Premier League.”

SOS also claim in their letter to have sent questions to Reds managing director Christian Purslow - but say they have yet to receive answers.

Sean McGuire: Profits Don’t Matter When Bottom Line Is So Poor

Liverpool FC must persuade every one of its season ticket holders to part with an extra £1,900 just to break even.

That is the magnitude of the mammoth £54.9m pre-tax loss for the 2008-09 season that the club’s accounts revealed when they were published last week.

Talk of an operating profit of £27.4m is misleading as it doesn’t take into account the £42.6m cost of “player amortisation and trading” or the interest payments on the club’s huge loans.

Interest payments alone account for more than £40m – with £8.1m going to the parent company based in the Cayman Islands owned by the club’s co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Only salesmen are happy with operating profits. To everyone else it’s the bottom line which is critical.

It’s like saying your household is in a healthy financial position, if only you didn’t have to pay your mortgage or tax on your wages.

The trouble is that Liverpool face reduced income due to their seventh-placed finish and poor European performance this year – and if you were in charge of Liverpool’s finances, would you budget for higher performance-related pay next season or not?

The accounts also showed the club’s costs soared again, with its wage bill increasing by more than £12m to nearly £103m. Its number of full-time staff shot up from 386 to 474.

However the increase in turnover – up £161.8m to £184.8m – was largely attributed to broadcasting revenue and prize money, which was not the result of any endeavour by Liverpool’s commercial team.

While the £20m-a-season sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered will make a sizable difference, which will only boost the bottom line if costs don’t continue to rise.

The club’s owners want to sell but probably have an unrealistic price in mind and have brought in a temporary chairman to join an unsettled manager at a time some of the club’s most illustrious players are entering the veterans’ stage of their careers.

The fans are angry and in rebellious mood at what they see as the near ruination of their great club and at the slow and very painful public weakening of that incomparable spirit which, in all its different manifestations, made Liverpool one of the really very few great sports clubs in Europe.

But someone in a position of influence at the club is going to have to have the guts and the vision and the courage to explain to the fans of Liverpool what the plan for the rebuilding of the club involves and they need to do that very soon.

No one believes that next season will be much better than the ignominy of this season. Only someone who is blind to reality – both financial and playing reality – can look forward to 2010-11 with any confidence.

There is only one thing to do. Accept that the rebuilding process will take some time and that the club’s finances need to be sorted out as a priority.

Only when the club is under the control, and then the direct management of a group of people with a plan for its future success, based on the harsh truths of its current predicament will fans have the faith and belief to rally round the team, stick together for a few tough years and then look with real confidence to a much better future.

Whatever now happens, the status quo is not an option.