Wednesday 30 November 2011

Tiger Retains Chevron Exemption

Tiger Woods was happy he could announce his own name in the field of the Chevron World Challenge and expressed gratitude to the tournament committee on Tuesday - after squeaking into the event he hosts. 

His Official World Golf Ranking barely stayed in the top 50 last month, just high enough to qualify for an exemption, and he'll be at Sherwood Country Club in seven weeks for the final event of his so-far winless season.

Woods appears eager to continue his climb back from his latest low. Woods has dropped from No. 49 to 52 since clinching a spot the Chevron field, and he finished tied for 30th last week in Northern California in the Open, his first tournament in nearly two months.

"I had (rankings) points rolling off from '09," Woods said at a news conference in Hollywood. "I had a very good year that year. I won, what, seven times around the world, so all those points are coming off. Unfortunately, I fell quite a bit, and I fell fast. Good news is, by playing next year, I have no points coming off, so I can start rebuilding."

Rebuilding is the theme of Woods' life these days as he moves forward from injuries to his left knee and Achilles tendon. He plans to play a full schedule in 2012, but he'll play in the Australian Open and the Presidents Cup in the next few weeks before returning to his native California for the Chevron tournament.

"I'm really looking forward to going down to Australia and playing because now I have that feeling of playing again, not just hitting ball after ball after ball on the range," Woods said.

Woods will join an American-heavy Chevron field of 18 in Thousand Oaks, including Steve Stricker, Jason Day, Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney and PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley. FedExCup champion Bill Haas also received an exemption.

Woods has won the tournament four times, but lost in a playoff last year after Graeme McDowell rallied from four strokes back in the final round. Although he blew a late lead, Woods remains proud of his performance while he was still rebuilding his swing with coach Sean Foley.

"I had one golf shot only, and that was it," Woods said. "That was going to be a draw. I couldn't hit a fade. What we were working on at the time limited me to only hitting one golf shot. I'm like, 'OK, well, how am I supposed to play this week? I'm going to have to rely on my putter.' So I hit the ball well."

The tournament probably could have put Woods in its field this year even if his ranking hadn't stayed high enough for an exemption under the current rules, but such a move might have prevented the tournament from awarding ranking points.

While Woods' return to golf dominance still is far from certain, he remains the sport's biggest icon. Several hundred fans showed up Tuesday to watch Woods put on a good-natured putting exhibition in the middle of the Hollywood and Highland retail complex built around the Kodak Theatre, the home of the Academy Awards.

After several fans competed for the chance to walk inside the ropes with Woods during the first round at Sherwood, he competed against the winner on a large artificial putting green. 

The crowd included at least two Tiger impersonators -- no surprise in the mall next-door to Grauman's Chinese Theatre and its motley collection of celebrity lookalikes.

Andrew RFU Rugby Role Changed

The Rugby Football Union have on Wednesday revealed that England's elite rugby director Rob Andrew is to be appointed as the organisation's professional rugby director.

Andrew came into strong criticism after keeping hold of his job following the recent disappointing Rugby World Cup performances in New Zealand.

The former England fly-half twice stated that he would not be resigning but at a press conference at Twickenham, his new role was announced.

His new position will not involve direct contact with the senior team but he will have responsibility for other representative teams and the relationship with Premiership Rugby, with Ian Metcalfe, chairman of the PGB, insisting that Andrew's change of position was in no way a demotion.

"I don't think it's a demotion at all," he said.

"One of the ways we failed Rob is not explaining the breadth of what he is trying to do.

"He has a significant contribution to continue to make."

The RFU will appoint an interim coach to lead the national team into next year's Six Nations Championship while it searches for a permanent replacement for the outgoing Johnson.

The governing body revealed that Johnson's successor will be named in time for the tour of South Africa in June, and will report directly to the RFU's new chief executive, who will be appointed by the turn of the year.

The interim coach will be hired before England's Six Nations squad is named on January 11. Meanwhile, acting chief executive Stephen Brown had opened matters by apologising.

"The most important thing is to make an apology to everyone involved in rugby for the performance of the World Cup and the surrounding events," Brown said.

"We've let ourselves down as a sport and as a team. It's important we recognise that and take some action going forward.

"Standards were below what we expect, we had a number of off-pitch disciplinary matters and that attracted a lot of negative coverage which we regret.

"We need to fix this going forward and make sure we are in a better place going into 2015 and the report is aimed to do that."

Bruce First Managerial Casualty

Steve Bruce becomes the first Premier League manager to leave his job this season after two wins in the first 13 games.

"It is my job to act in the best interests of our football club and I can assure everyone that this is not a decision that I have taken lightly," chairman Ellis Short said.

"Sadly results this season have simply not been good enough and I feel the time is right to make a change."

Bruce joined the Black Cats from Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2009 and led the club to a 10th place finish in the Premier League last season.

However, the Stadium of Light side were sixth at the end of January after opening the year with three wins and one draw.

They then sold striker Darren Bent to Aston Villa in a deal which could rise to £24m and results took a turn for the worse.

The team struggled to score goals and matters were compounded when £13m signing Asamoah Gyan left the club in September - Bruce claiming "parasites" turned Gyan's head after his goal in the 1-1 draw with England at Wembley in March.

The Black Cats have slumped to within two points of the relegation zone this season, and Short acted quickly to stop the rot.

"Steve has acted with honesty and integrity throughout, which is testament to the character and commitment he has shown during his time at Sunderland," Short added.

"I would like to personally place on record my thanks to him for his significant contribution to our football club over the past two and a half years and everyone here at Sunderland naturally wishes him the very best for the future.

"I would also like to thank our fans, who have endured a trying start to the season. Their support continues to be the driving force behind our club and is vital as we now look to the future."

Kirwan Keen on Interim RFU Role

John Kirwan is interested in taking charge of England for next year's RBS 6 Nations on an interim basis.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) are expected to delay the appointment of a new full-time head coach until after the Six Nations as they look to find a long-term successor for Martin Johnson.

However Kirwan has now thrown his hat into the ring, the former Italy and Japan coach believing he could impress enough in the role to eventually secure it permanently.

The ex-New Zealand international insists he would be unperturbed by the political crisis and structural problems troubling the RFU.

"I understand the situation the RFU is in at the moment, but I'm a little bit different to the other coaches," he said.

"Others like Nick (Mallett) and Wayne (Smith) are saying no because of the structure above, but I'm at a different stage of my career.

"I'm a young coach, I enjoy risk, I love attack. Someone needs to get in there and sort the team out.

"If I'm not part of the future I'm prepared to do it as long as I'm set up to help these boys get back on the pitch and win football games.

"And then if there is a role because we have done well...

"England are not a complete failure - they won the Six Nations (in 2011) and played some great rugby.

"They have a great team and a great Premiership competition, but there are some structural issues that need to be sorted out."

But ex-Gloucester boss Dean Ryan, an outsider for the head coach's position, insists he has no confidence that the RFU will resolve the many internal issues that have rocked the English game in recent months.

"The events of the last six months have led to a lack of confidence in the governing body," he said.

"They are in a state of flux, in a void at the moment and pretty quickly someone needs to restart building trust.

"How do we get confidence that decisions are not taken for a vested interest? That is an erosion of confidence."

Kirwan and Ryan will be coaching the Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere respectively for the Help for Heroes charity at Twickenham on Saturday.

MCC Set for Lord's Vote

Marylebone Cricket Club will vote on whether to go ahead with a multi-million-pound redevelopment of Lord's, which it owns, on Wednesday.

Three proposals have been submitted for a 'Vision for Lord's', although senior MCC committee members criticised original plans in 2009.

An artist's impression of one of the proposals shows four diamond-shaped towers of flats at the Nursery End.

However, architects claim the towers will not throw shadows over the ground.

The artist's impression of that proposal was published in the Times newspaper on Wednesday.

The latest plans are one of "a number of options" available to the MCC committee, including maintaining the status quo of the 'Home of Cricket'.

The 20-man committee will meet at 1530 GMT and a spokesman for MCC told BBC Sport that "a decision will be taken today".

Developers are expected to fund the cost of any redevelopment, which could cost £400m, although Lord's has spent £3m in fees since the idea was first mooted in 2008.

Any proposals agreed by the committee must then meet planning approval from Westminster Council and be voted for by two-thirds of MCC's 18,000-strong membership.

As well as owning Lord's, MCC remains the guardian of the laws and the spirit of cricket.

In 2009, chief executive Keith Bradshaw ruled out selling the naming rights to the historic ground to fund redevelopment.

PFA Send The Footballers Guidebook

The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) will send a booklet on handling depression to all ex-players following Gary Speed's death.

The 36-page guidebook was circulated to the union's 4,000 members this season.

While it is not known whether Speed was suffering from depression, the PFA is keen to act.

And 50,000 former professionals will receive the booklet as PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor wants to "let people know there is a support system".

The debate around mental health has grown since Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke took his own life in late 2009 and Rushden & Diamonds keeper Dale Roberts killed himself a year later.

Speed, the Wales manager and former Leeds, Newcastle and Wales midfielder, was found hanged at his home on Sunday, aged 42.

The booklet, entitled 'The Footballers' Guidebook', contains advice, helpine numbers and case studies on suffering with depression from Andy Cole, Neil Lennon, Stan Collymore, Paul Gascoigne and PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle.

But Susannah Strong, the author, admitted she found it "really, really difficult to get any footballer to talk about mental health".

She told BBC Sports World Have Your Say: "There's a huge amount of stigma and taboo around mental health.

"It's an extraordinary sport where you get people to the absolute physical perfection - and yet there's no attention paid whatsoever to the mental health of footballers.

"It's very, very hard for players to know where to go and who to turn to when they start feeling rough."

Peter Kay, the chief executive of the Sporting Chance clinic which helps sportsmen fight addiction, told the BBC that 10 players have been in touch since Speed's death.

"There has been a tremendous outpouring of emotion this week, an indication that Gary was regarded as one of our finest," said Taylor.

"This booklet went out at the beginning of the season after the deaths of Robert Enke and Dale Roberts, and after what has happened with Gary we have decided to widen its circulation.

"Mental problems have to be treated with understanding. Players can have panic attacks, fail to come terms with leaving football, finishing as a player, or the pressures of being a manager.

"We want to do all we can to try to avoid another tragedy like this."

The guidebook is designed to be easy to read and contains cartoons by 'Roy of the Rovers' illustrator Paul Trevillion.

But Strong warned: "Our booklet is a start but there's so much more to be done.

"The thing now is about prevention. It needs to be ok to talk about mental health.

"There needs to be more communication. That needs to start before people become unwell, right at the beginning."

Andy Cole
Neil Lennon
Stan Collymore
Paul Gascoigne
Clarke Carlisle

Leeds Win a Speed Tribute

Leeds paid the best possible tribute to former number 11 Gary Speed with an emphatic win over Nottingham Forest on an emotional night at the City Ground.

Applause before the match for Speed, who died at the weekend, was followed by 11 minutes of chants from the 11th minute by Leeds fans.

Robert Snodgrass put the visitors ahead and Jonny Howson smashed a second.

Luciano Becchio's header and Adam Clayton's finish sealed the win before Andy Reid was sent off for Forest.

Leeds manager Simon Grayson, who forged a friendship with Speed after they signed schoolboy forms with Leeds on the same day when they were 14, had asked his players to win the game in Speed's memory and they did not disappoint.

They bossed the game from start to finish, to the backdrop of constant chants from the away support about their former midfielder.

It was apt that Leeds's first goal came almost exactly at the end of the United fans' 11 minutes of concentrated chants for Speed, with Snodgrass picking up the ball midway into the Forest half before unleashing a crisp strike that beat home keeper Lee Camp.

The goal was reward for an opening the visitors had dominated and they continued to do so after with Becchio seeing two efforts blocked by defenders and Snodgrass denied a second goal by a last-ditch intervention from Wes Morgan.

However, Leeds did make it 2-0 late in the half when Snodgrass set up Howson to crash home a superb 25-yard half-volley into the top corner of Camp's net.

Forest had barely registered a chance in the first half and brought on Ishmael Miller after the break in a bid to remedy this, but they were left reeling again four minutes into the second half when Becchio headed home Michael Brown's cross.

Miller did get in on the action on the hour but his header was comfortably saved by Leeds keeper Alex McCarthy.

This was only a momentary spark for Forest, though, and Leeds were amongst the goals again soon after when Clayton was on hand to finish from close range after Camp had saved Howson's initial effort.

And Forest's awful night was compounded late on when Reid's game was cut short when he received a second yellow card for a foul on Aidan White.

Leeds United manager Simon Grayson: "It's been a difficult couple of days for myself and Gary's family, supporters of Leeds United and supporters in general."

"Gary Speed was a fantastic person and I wanted my players to go out and produce a performance for him tonight.

"That was right out of the top locker of our performances tonight. It was very poignant that the first goal [from Snodgrass] came right as the 11 minutes of singing ended and was a left-footed shot.

"Gary Speed scored many goals like that. It's been difficult, but I'm a very proud manager tonight. I'm delighted to have got a result for Gary Speed."

Rowntree and Lancaster for 6 Nations

The Rugby Football Union will not name a new permanent England coach until after next year's Six Nations, BBC Sport understands.

Current assistant Graham Rowntree and Saxons head coach Stuart Lancaster will take temporary charge for the tournament starting in February.

The RFU wants a full-time replacement for Martin Johnson in place before England tour South Africa in June.

Nick Mallett and Jim Mallinder are among those tipped for the role.

Northampton director of rugby Mallinder has declared an interest in the job, while former Italy and South Africa coach Mallett said he would consider it but not until after the Six Nations.

Also in the running are Jake White and Eddie Jones, who jointly coached South Africa to win the 2007 World Cup, and two former All Blacks who are now established coaches, John Kirwan and Wayne Smith.

England's director of elite rugby Rob Andrew will lead the search for Johnson's replacement.

Former Leicester and England prop Rowntree, 40, is a familiar face in the recent national set-up, having been appointed by the RFU as a specialist coach in June 2007 before becoming assistant to Martin Johnson in August 2008.

He was one of the few figures to emerge with any credit from recent leaked World Cup reports into England's poor showing at the World Cup.

Ex-Leeds back-rower Lancaster was appointed as the RFU's Head of Elite Player Development in 2007 following a spell as director of rugby with the Yorkshire club.

He has also been Saxons head coach for the last three years.

Johnson resigned as England manager after a troubled World Cup campaign in New Zealand, which saw his team beaten by France in the quarter-finals and involved in a string of off-field controversies.

The RFU is currently in crisis following the leaking of the World Cup reports.

On Tuesday, chief executive Martyn Thomas - who had previously announced his intention to leave the RFU on 16 December - vacated the role with immediate effect, with Stephen Brown filling the vacancy on a temporary basis.

Former England coach Sir Clive Woodward, who led the side to World Cup success in 2003, said recently that the RFU should wait until a new chief executive is in place before making a decision on a new coach.

Harinordoquy Gets Unexpected Help

The father of Imanol Harinordoquy brought the Top 14 Basque derby between Biarritz and Bayonne to a halt by running onto the pitch to defend his son.

According to AFP, France international Harinordoquy's father came down from the stands in the sixth minute of the Tuesday night clash and faced up to Bayonne flanker Jean-Jo Marmouyet after his son got involved in a punch-up far from the action.

Harinordoquy senior's admirable sense of family loyalty was brought to an abrupt halt by Bayonne fly-half Benjamin Boyet, who tackled him to the ground before Biarritz hooker Benoit August stepped in to restore order.

Christian Gajan, Bayonne's director of rugby, was outraged by Harinordoquy's father's behaviour.

"I find his behaviour deplorable that he came onto the pitch to defend his son by boxing with (Jean-Jo) Marmouyet at the beginning of the match," he said.

"You could have been mistaken for believing it was a youth match between two local villages, it was a scandalous episode."

Harinordoquy junior - who is known as one of the tougher customers in the sport and a veteran of three World Cups - preferred not to comment.

Biarritz won the 100th Basque derby with the last kick of the game on Tuesday as Julien Peyrelongue landed a penalty to make the score 21-19 and give the hosts only their second win in 11 matches.

Three players were sin-binned during the match.

Liverpool Give AVB More Worries

Liverpool continued to increase the misery on Chelsea as the Reds progressed to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup following a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Andy Carroll failed to convert a penalty in the first half but it did not matter in the end as the visitors scored twice in the second period.

First Maxi Rodriguez slotted home a Craig Bellamy cross from close range just before the hour mark and moments later Martin Kelly headed home the Welshman's free-kick.

It completed an emotional return for Bellamy, who had been omitted from the squad for Sunday's 1-1 draw with Manchester City in the Premier League on compassionate grounds following the death of close friend Gary Speed.

The 32-year-old Wales winger provided the spark of creativity Liverpool needed to defeat toothless opposition who were prone to erratic defending.

Under-pressure Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas will be disappointed by the poor defending that led to both goals and hastened Chelsea's third defeat in four matches, a sequence spanning just 10 days.

Adding to Villas-Boas' woes was the performance of anonymous £50million striker Fernando Torres, who was a peripheral figure against his former club, who followed up their recent Premier League triumph at Stamford Bridge with another victory.

Kenny Dalglish has now never lost to Chelsea as Liverpool manager in 13 meetings, but that record would have been more seriously challenged had referee Phil Dowd not blundered in the third minute.

David Luiz had dashed into the area but just as he appeared to have rounded Sebastian Coates, he was caught by the Uruguayan's knee and tumbled over. Dowd was unimpressed, however, and booked Luiz for diving.

Alex clattered into Bellamy in a feisty opening that soon settled down as both teams sought to pass their way into the final third.

Dowd did point to the penalty spot in the 21st minute and it was Liverpool who were the beneficiaries.

Alex blatantly handled the ball while under pressure from Carroll and Dowd hesitated before awarding the kick and booking the Chelsea defender.

Carroll, who had protested fiercely to Dowd, stepped up only to drill his effort straight at Ross Turnbull, allowing the Blues to wriggle off the hook.

Chelsea twice passed their way out of trouble in their own third of the pitch, but the same patterns were missing in the opposition's penalty area.

The limping Josh McEachran was replaced by Ramires in the 42nd minute, moments before Florent Malouda almost connected with a dangerous through-ball.

Dowd made another mistake by booking Ryan Bertrand for a nasty challenge on Jordan Henderson when it was Romelu Lukaku who caught the midfielder on the shin with his studs.

Lukaku then sent a header narrowly wide after being expertly teed up by Jose Bosingwa.

Bellamy almost released Carroll after dashing clear from his own half, but he overhit the pass and England marksman had no chance of connecting.

Lampard sent in a free-kick that caused panic in Liverpool's defence, with first the crossbar and then Coates coming to their rescue.

Luiz stopped Rodriguez in his tracks with a wonderful tackle as the former Argentina international charged into the area.

But Liverpool and Rodriguez could not be denied in the 58th minute when Liverpool surged into the lead.

Bellamy did the initial damage with a killer ball across goal - perhaps Luiz should have done more to prevent the pass - for Rodriguez to complete a simple tap-in.

Liverpool's large and noisy travelling contingent were back on their feet five minutes later as Liverpool grabbed a second.

Once more Bellamy supplied the ammunition - this time from a free-kick - and Kelly was given all the time in the world to nod home his first goal for the club.

Liverpool midfielder Lucas was stretchered off after going down in a tackle.

Torres was denied by the outstretched arms of keeper Pepe Reina, the Spain striker's most meaningful contribution to a match that had largely passed him by.

Bellamy left to a richly deserved standing ovation from visiting fans, and the game eventually finished in a 2-0 victory for his side.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

FA Wales Plan Speed Celebration

The Football Association of Wales will not hold talks about finding a new manager when it meets on Thursday out of respect for Gary Speed and his family.

Reports had suggested that Thursday's meeting would include tentative talks over finding the man to fill the void left by the death of manager Speed at his family home in Cheshire on Sunday.

However, it is understood that the FAW considers any discussions of such a nature to be highly insensitive, given that Speed's funeral has yet to take place, with any deliberations set to be put on hold until at least the next council meeting in late December.

Wales do not have a game until a planned friendly in February, against as yet unnamed opposition.

The inquest into Speed's death begins on Tuesday at Warrington Coroner's Court.

A stream of tributes have poured in from around the world in memory of the former Wales, Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United midfielder.

Speed, who was part of Leeds's 1992 league championship winning side and wore the No 11 shirt will, tonight, have his name chanted by the travelling supporters for 11-minutes starting in the 11th minute when they face Nottingham Forest in the Championship at the City Ground.

The FAW, meanwhile, has opened a book of condolence at its headquarters in Cardiff, while tributes have been left outside the grounds of Speed's former clubs.

FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford spoke yesterday of the organisation's desire to find a fitting tribute to the late Wales manager.

It is understood one of the options is for the February friendly to be used as an opportunity to celebrate Speed's life and career.

Costa Rica, the country against whom Speed won the first of his 85 caps in 1990, could potentially provide the opposition although a deal for the game is not thought to be close to being agreed at this time.

In a statement issued yesterday, Speed's family admitted to being "overwhelmed" by the support they have received following his death and the tributes paid by former colleagues, supporters and the wider football community.

Hayden Evans, Speed's agent, and best man at his wedding, said: "Gary's family would sincerely like to thank all the people that have sent messages of condolence and tributes in what is a very difficult time.

"We have been overwhelmed by the support and it really has helped.

"We would ask that the family are now given the respect of some privacy to just grieve on their own."

Evans also insisted that Speed and his wife had not argued in the lead up to his death.

"Louise is saying that's not the case. She just doesn't understand it," he told The Sun.

"They were happily married and anyone who knows them will tell you that. This is why it's a mystery.

"We genuinely at the moment have no clue whatsoever what has caused it and I have been with the family all day."

He added: "Everybody is asking the same question and no one has an answer. We are all in shock."

He declined to discuss why Speed had apparently decided to take his own life. He also denied Speed was suffering from depression.

His comments came as the BBC faces calls for Speed to be honoured at the Sports personality of the Year awards.

Fans posted messages on Twitter and Facebook urging the BBC to honour Speed at the ceremony on Dec 22.

Nominations for the Coach of the Year category closed on November 18, but fans are hopeful the BBC will make an exception for Speed.

There also remains the possibility that Speed will be honoured with one of the awards which do not require a voting panel, or a special award.

Armstrong Believes IFA Need Anthem

Gerry Armstrong believes the Irish FA should consider whether finding a new national anthem to replace God Save the Queen would encourage more nationalists to play for Northern Ireland.

Armstrong, capped 63 times, is the Irish FA's elite player mentor and says the issue has cropped up in recent conversations with prospective players.

"It is an issue which is sensitive to a lot of nationalist lads," he added.

A number of Northern Ireland-born players have declared for the Republic.

Part of Armstrong's brief in his IFA mentor role is to attempt to convince Northern Ireland-born players from the nationalist community not to switch their international allegiance.

"It (the anthem) was an issue that was brought up on several occasions and it's something that I am aware of," continued Northern Ireland legend Armstrong.

"It might have been a reason, maybe, why some of them didn't want to play for Northern Ireland.

"I do think it's something that needs to be talked about. Where it goes, I just don't know."

Armstrong has held informal discussions with Snow Patrol songwriter and Northern Ireland fan Gary Lightbody about the anthem issue.

"I know Gary Lightbody and it was a possible way out in terms of what we could do.

"We looked at the Scottish solutions and the Welsh situations where they have their own national anthems."

Armstrong, who comes from a nationalist background, acknowledged that the playing of God Save the Queen was "never" an issue for him during his Northern Ireland career.

"Or for a lot of other players and I don't see why it should be a major issue now.

"(But) It is an issue that has been raised by some - not by all."

Sportswomen criticise BBC SPOTY List

Some of Britain's top sports stars have criticised the absence of women from the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist.

The list of 10 contenders was put together by a panel of 27 sports editors from national and regional newspapers and magazines.

Rebecca Adlington, one of those to miss out, expressed her dismay.

"There's been some great sportswomen like Keri-Anne Payne, it's sad they are not recognised," she wrote on Twitter.

"Hopefully next year can be all women nominations after [the] London 2012 [Olympics]."

It is the first time since voting for Sports Personality of the Year changed in 2006 that a woman has not been on the shortlist.

The 10 contenders in 2011 are (in alphabetical order): Mark Cavendish (cycling), Darren Clarke (golf), Alastair Cook (cricket), Luke Donald (golf), Mo Farah (athletics), Dai Greene (athletics), Amir Khan (boxing), Rory McIlroy (golf), Andy Murray (tennis), Andrew Strauss (cricket).

A public phone vote will decide the winner during the Sports Personality of the Year show on BBC One, which will be broadcast live from 2000 GMT on Thursday, 22 December.

The last female winner of the annual award was equestrian star Zara Phillips, who won the award in 2006 after claiming individual gold and team silver at the World Equestrian Games.

Adlington, who was third in the 2008 competition and won gold in the 800m at the World Swimming Championships in China earlier this year, earned six votes, one fewer than Khan, who made it on to the list, while Payne, another swimmer, achieved five votes.

Chrissie Wellington, who won her fourth Ironman world championship title in October, has also criticised the make-up of the list.

"No women in @bbcspoty top ten," she wrote on Twitter. "Its not about me, its about the need to celebrate achievements of so many female GBR athletes. Disgraceful."

A statement from BBC Sportsaid: "The panel consists of the sport editors of the nationals, selected regionals and magazines. These are selected because they cover a wide range of sport throughout the year. It is left up to each publication how they vote.

"This is the same voting system that has been used since 2006 and that, every year until now, has produced at least two women in the shortlist of 10. The decisions are based on sporting achievement and, in the opinion of that panel, this year has been stronger for those on the shortlist than other sports stars who have been omitted."

Keri-Anne Payne won gold in the 10k open water event at the World Championships and was named as the first member of the 2012 British Olympic team.

She wrote on Twitter: "Thanks for all your lovely tweets. It is a shame there are no women on the #SPOTY list but good luck to the boys though! We don't need awards just the support from the Great British public! So keep it coming."

Gail Emms, who won silver in the mixed doubles badminton at the 2004 Olympics, said she was annoyed that the likes of Adlington, Payne and Wellington had not made the list.

"Where are our WORLD CHAMPION women?" she wrote on Twitter."Think that sportsmen and women should vote.

"Get the true feelings of the athletes who know what it's like to win medals and be number one."

Kate Walsh, England and Great Britain hockey captain, told BBC Berkshire that female sportswomen were owed an apology.

"If there had been no female world champions or outstanding performances this year then we'd understand but that just isn't the case.

"What we want is an apology and fairness."

Paralympic champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson believes that it highlights problems in the coverage of women's sport.

"I wouldn't want tokenism and I wouldn't want a woman to be on the list just because she was a woman," she said.

"But I think you just look at where the nominations have come from and that highlights another problem really - only 2% of media coverage in sport goes to women."

Thompson added that women "just aren't on the minds" of editors or producers.

"You're fighting against the system all the time," she said. "It's the big sports all the time that get the recognition."

Dai Greene, the World, European and Commonwealth 400m champion, said he thought there should have been a woman on the shortlist.

"It's disappointing that there's no women on the list," he said. "If you were to substitute a few female world champions for a few of the guys on the list, I don't think anyone would have complained at all."

Lord Coe, who won the award in 1979, expressed his surprise that no women are on the list.

He said: "We have had Rebecca Adlington winning a world title in the world swimming championships, we have had other women world champions this year too.

The Manchester Evening News also attracted controversy for selecting the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira.

Sports editor Peter Spencer said: "The rules are, for starters, that you can nominate people who have predominantly plied their trade, i.e. sport, in this country. That's why Berbatov, for instance, is in because he scored the most goals for Manchester United when they won their record title.

"Yaya Toure has been selected by me - he scored those two significant goals for Manchester City at Wembley when they won their first trophy for 35 years, the FA Cup.

"Patrick Vieira, the most controversial of all, has lived in this country for well over a decade. He's done some grand work for City on the community side of things. I think he's a great ambassador."

Kaymer to Remain in Europe

Martin Kaymer insists he has no plans to follow the leads of Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood by committing himself to playing a full schedule on the PGA Tour.

Last week Westwood joined McIlroy in confirming he had decided to take up PGA Tour membership for the 2012 season.

That means both men will now divide their time between Europe and America, although they will have to play a minimum of 15 tournaments in the States.

Luke Donald - who is on the verge of winning the money-list on both sides of the Atlantic this year - has proved that it is possible to combine the two Tours successfully, but Kaymer believes the travelling involved would compromise his form.

The German, who sits just below McIlroy and Westwood at number four in the world, is adamant he will continue to focus his attention solely on the European Tour for the time being.

"I just don't know why Rory and Lee go back and forth, and that to me seems a little strange," he stated.

"One year they are on the PGA Tour and next they're not. But it's their decisions and they can make up their own minds."

Asked if he had thought about combining the two, he continued: "I did, for a little bit, but then I saw - I put both schedules next to each other from the PGA Tour and The European Tour.

"I think I have to play 12 tournaments in Europe and 15 in America to fulfil the status, and I think it will be a little bit too much, like travelling, you know, and that's why I decided to stick to the schedule that I had the last two, three years."

Kimi Raikkonen 2012 F1 Return

Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen will return to Formula One in 2012 after signing a two-year contract with Lotus Renault GP.

The Finn had been strongly linked with a move to Williams but Renault, who are set to start the season without the still-injured Robert Kubica, have instead snapped him up.

Raikkonen won the F1 title with Ferrari in 2007 but left the sport two years later to drive for Citroen in the World Rally Championship.

"I'm delighted to be coming back to Formula 1 after a two-year break, and I'm grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity," Raikkonen told the official Renault website.

"My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career as a driver, but I can't deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming.

"It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP as I have been impressed by the scope of the team's ambition. Now I'm looking forward to playing an important role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid."

The 32-year-old won 18 grands prix with Ferrari and McLaren during his first spell in F1 and Lotus Renault owner Gerard Lopez is delighted to have been able to recruit a driver of his experience.

He said: "All year long, we kept saying that our team was at the start of a brand new cycle.

"Backstage we've been working hard to build the foundations of a successful structure and to ensure that we would soon be able to fight at the highest level.

"Kimi's decision to come back to Formula 1 with us is the first step of several announcements which should turn us into an even more serious contender in the future.

"Of course, we are all looking forward to working with a world champion. On behalf of our staff, I'd like to welcome Kimi to Enstone, a setting that has always been known for its human approach to Formula One."