Monday 30 September 2013

Lawsuits on the Horizon

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Rory McIlroy has launched legal action against his former management agency Horizon  Sports Management according to newspaper reports in Ireland .

An article in the national daily, The Irish Independent, indicate that the two time major winner has lodged papers in the High Court on Monday in Dublin against Horizon Sports Management, and two other named companies, Gurteen and Canavan Management. 

Apparently McIlroy is launching a plenary action and has engaged A&L Goodbody according to court records.

Yesterday the Sunday Independent reported that McIlroy had fired his Dublin based sports agency after paying them a staggering €5m over an 18-month period.

McIlroy decided to part company with Horizon Sports Management because he believed they were costing him too much money.

It is reported that McIlroy believes that the $7.5m he says the group was paid over the one-and-a-half year period did not make business sense, despite having willingly signed up to the agreement two years ago.

The Major winner believes he had no option but to sever ties with the company, which is headed up by Conor Ridge as his contract does not run out until 2017.

McIlroy has now joined his own company, Rory McIlroy Incorporated, which is run by CEO Donal Casey.

Horizon Sports Management also represent two other Irish golfers, US Open Champion Graeme McDowell and the 3 Irish open winner from 2009, Shane Lowry.

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Vikings Down Steelers

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Minnesota Vikings claimed a tense 34-27 win over Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL at Wembley Stadium.

A near sell-out crowd of 83,519 saw a thrilling finish as the Steelers came close to scoring a touchdown in the final seconds.

But Everson Griffen sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to clinch Minnesota's first victory of the season.

Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel said: "What an amazing experience."

Coach Leslie Frazier added: "It feels great to get a first 'home' win of the season even if we had to come all the way to London to get it.

"I'll always have a special place in my heart for Wembley Stadium. Thank you London for helping us get that first win. With all the noise we felt at times like we were back at home."

Pittsburgh, who contested three of the last eight Super Bowls, have now lost their opening four games of the season for the first time since 1968.

The match was the first of two NFL games at Wembley in the space of a month - Jacksonville Jaguars play San Francisco 49ers on 27 October.

Minnesota started strongly, opening the scoring with Blair Walsh's 54-yard field goal before stretching their lead to 10-0 through Greg Jennings's touchdown.

There was a quick response from Pittsburgh as Le'Veon Bell took Roethlisberger's pass to score but Adrian Peterson restored the Vikings' 10-point lead with a spectacular 60-yard touchdown.

Pittsburgh's Shaun Suisham and Minnesota's Walsh kicked field goals to leave the half-time score at 20-10.

The Steelers made the perfect start to the third quarter when Bell forced his way over, but they then conceded two touchdowns in as many minutes as Peterson and Jennings both claimed their second of the game for a 34-17 lead.

Jerricho Cotchery's touchdown kept the Steelers's hopes alive early in the fourth quarter before a Suisham field goal cut Minnesota's lead to 34-27.

The Steelers were closing in on the Vikings' endzone and looked set to level the match before Griffen stripped the ball off Roethlisberger on the six-yard line with 19 seconds left.

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Costa is World Champion

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Portugal's Rui Costa won a rain-soaked men's road race at the World Championships in Tuscany after Britain's Chris Froome withdrew.

Costa, 26, took the lead just yards from the finish as he beat Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez by a bike-length in seven hours, 25 minutes, 43 seconds.

Spaniard Alejandro Valverde took bronze, narrowly ahead of Italy's Vincenzo Nibali.

Tour de France champion Froome quit with more than 80km left.

"This has been a big dream of mine for a long time. I still can't believe I'm the world champion," said Costa, who broke down in tears on the podium.

Heavy rain caused multiple crashes early in the race, with none of the eight-strong British team, which included former Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins and ex-world champion Mark Cavendish, making it over the finishing line.

"The conditions are the same for everyone; we've got no excuse. We just weren't there," Froome, who was attempting to become the first man in 24 years to win the Tour and world road race in the same year, told BBC Sport.

"It's a big disappointment, especially having made it such a big objective, but with these conditions it just wasn't meant to be.

"The first three laps on the circuit, there were crashes everywhere. It's rained solidly all day. After three laps the split started happening and I looked around and realised I didn't have any team-mates left and it wasn't going to happen.

"Given we've come up empty-handed, we'll have to go back to the drawing board [ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016]."

Froome's withdrawal meant Geraint Thomas was the only Briton left riding, but he also pulled out shortly after.

"It was just carnage out there," Thomas told BBC Sport. "I saw five or six crashes out in front of me.

"Once you're in that back half, you're kind of destined to get dropped. We all committed to try and get Froome there, but it wasn't meant to be."

Cavendish, the 2011 world champion, led the peloton and helped keep Britain in contention for much of the first 106km after the race left Lucca.

However, as soon as the race hit the first of 10 laps around Florence, featuring two significant climbs, the Italian squad took over the pace-setting and Cavendish fell away.

Wiggins, who had been expected to support Froome in the latter stages of the race, was always near the back of the peloton and soon retired along with Cavendish.

The punishing 16.5km circuits, coupled with the horrendous weather conditions, were taking their toll with riders dropping out at an average of around 15 a lap.

Poland's Bartosz Huzarski, who broke away with four other riders early in the race, held on to the lead for around 240km.

He was finally caught with a little over 25km remaining, by a group of 40 riders that included defending champion Philippe Gilbert and fellow pre-race favourites Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara.

However, the trio were unable to respond when Italy's Michele Scarponi, Rodriguez and Nibali attacked on the final 4.3km climb to Fiesole , eventually finishing in a group 34 seconds behind Costa.

Rodriguez rode away from Giro d'Italia champion Nibali, who had crashed on an earlier descent, but was unable to open a significant advantage on the final ascent of the 600m-long Via Salviati.

Costa broke clear of Nibali and Valverde to catch Rodriguez with one kilometre remaining, before making the decisive move in a laboured sprint to become the first Portuguese world champion.

"Losing like this is stupid," said a tearful Rodriguez. "Winning is all that matters so this medal doesn't mean anything to me right now.

"We (Spain) had the numbers; we were the strongest; we should not have lost."

Also in the British team were Ian Stannard, Josh Edmondson, Steve Cummings and Luke Rowe, who replaced Jonathan Tiernan-Locke.

Tiernan-Locke withdrew on Thursday for what he claimed was a lack of form, but it was revealed on Sunday that the UCI, the sport's governing body, is investigating a potential discrepancy in his "biological passport data".

Race result:
1. Rui Costa (Por) 7:25:44"
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) ST
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) +15"
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita)
5. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) +31"
6. Peter Sagan (Svk) +34"
7. Simon Clarke (Aus)
8. Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz)
9. Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
10. Fabian Cancellara (Swi)

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Saturday 28 September 2013

Team NZ Rule Out Law

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Team New Zealand have ruled out a legal challenge to Oracle Team USA's use of an automatic stabilisation system that is thought to have boosted performance in the stunning America's Cup victory.

Oracle won eight straight races to edge the Kiwis 9-8 in one of the great sporting comebacks in San Francisco.

New Zealand media reported the system helped the foils to work more efficiently and improve speed.

But Team NZ boss Grant Dalton said there would be no legal challenge.

"Absolutely not, in any shape, form or any other way. It would be an incredibly bad thing to do," Dalton told New Zealand's Radio Sport.

The revolutionary 72ft catamarans feature rigid wing sails and hydrofoils that lift the hulls out of the water to reduce drag and help them achieve speeds in excess of 50 mph.

The automatic system is said to monitor the trim of the foils, making it easier for the sailors to coax the boat onto the foils earlier and for longer.

Under America's Cup rules, all adjustments must be by human power, but Dalton said his team had been assured by organisers that the Oracle boat conformed to specifications.

The 56-year-old refused to speculate on whether or not he considered the device legal.

"It would be so wrong for me or any person within the team to entertain a discussion about that," Dalton said.

Oracle, bankrolled by software billionaire Larry Ellison, were docked two points ahead of the competition for illegally modifying their smaller 45ft catamaran on the warm-up regatta circuit.

In the America's Cup, the US syndicate lost four of the first five races before drafting in British Olympic legend Ben Ainslie as tactician in place of American John Kostecki, and playing a race-postponement card to give them time to make significant changes to their boat.

Oracle then won 10 of the next 14 races, including eight in a row, to triumph when the Kiwis had been poised at match point for seven days.

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Marques Marcs Aragon Pole

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Championship leader Marc Marquez claimed his seventh pole position of the season at the Aragon Grand Prix ahead of title rivals Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa.

The Spaniard, 20, is aiming to become the first rookie to win the title since 1978 and left it late to take pole with a track record lap of 1:47.804.

Lorenzo was one hundredth of a second back, while Pedrosa will start third.

Great Britain's Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith were seventh and eighth.

Marquez leads the overall title standings by 34 points from both his compatriots - Lorenzo and Pedrosa.

With Aragon the first of five remaining races, Marquez is odds on to take Lorenzo's title and become the first rookie to be crowned world champion since American Kenny Roberts 35 years ago.

Ahead of the decisive qualifying session, Lorenzo failed to make use of final practice, with Yamaha team director Maio Meregalli stating the rider's bike was struggling for grip.

However, Lorenzo quickly broke Casey Stoner's 2011 qualifying record at the circuit and then went faster with two more laps before Marquez clocked his own record-breaking time.

"That pole was so close with Dani and Jorge going so fast, but the most important thing is the race and we will have to take care of the tyres," said Marquez.

Marc Marquez has become the youngest pole sitter and race winner in history this season

Lorenzo won at Misano last time out despite Marquez starting from pole, but the concerns surrounding his Yamaha were compounded after the race when the bike seemed to suffer more problems.

Pedrosa held pole for a brief period late on in the 15-minute qualifying session before eventually slipping to third, as did six-time world champion Valentino Rossi, who ended up fourth.

"I expected to improve with my second tyre but couldn't, so third in the end is ok," said Pedrosa, who won last year's race. "I'm hoping for a good start because the first corner is so tight."

Britain's Crutchlow will have work to do if he is to improve his fifth-place championship standing after only securing seventh on the grid, while his compatriot and Monster Yamaha team-mate Bradley Smith was pleased with eighth.

Aragon qualifying times:
1. Marc Marquez (Spa) Repsol Honda Team 1:47.804
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Yamaha Factory Racing 1:47.814
3. Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Repsol Honda Team 1:47.957
4. Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha Factory Racing 1:47.962
5. Stefan Bradl (Ger) LCR Honda MotoGP 1:48.128
6. Alvaro Bautista (Spa) Honda Gresini 1:48.302
7. Cal Crutchlow (GB) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:48.653
8. Bradley Smith (GB) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:48.854
9. Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Ducati Team 1:49.219
10. Aleix Espargaro (Spa) Power Electronics Aspar 1:49.348

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Friday 27 September 2013

Heineken Rugby Faces Breakaway

Top-flight English and French clubs say they are to set up a new tournament to replace the Heineken Cup from next season.

The clubs gave notice last year of their intention to pull out of the two existing European competitions at the end of 2013-14.

They are unhappy with the differing ways teams qualify for the Heineken Cup and how proceeds are shared.

The new format would include English and French teams and be open to others.

The Heineken Cup, which began in the 1995-96 season, features teams from England, France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.

But English and French clubs argue their counterparts in the other four nations have an unfair advantage in Europe.

With the Pro12 having no relegation, teams can rest players for league matches to keep them fresh for Europe, while the two Scottish and two Italian clubs are guaranteed a Heineken Cup place.

Premiership Rugby, which represents the 12 top-flight English clubs, said in a statement it had proposed the formation of two 20-team competitions to replace the Heineken Cup and second-tier Amlin Challenge Cup.

But it said "discussions have been unsuccessful and the clubs can only conclude that negotiations on any new European agreement have now ended".

It added: "Given the importance and urgency of the current position, and the reconfirmation that the French clubs will not participate in any competition unless it includes the English clubs, the clubs have now asked Premiership Rugby to take immediate action to put in place a competition for 2014-15 to include the French and English clubs but which will also be open to teams from other countries."

European Rugby Cup, which runs both European club competitions, said all parties involved in the consultation process would be represented at a scheduled meeting of its board in Dublin on Wednesday.

It added in a statement: "While there is a shared sense of frustration among ERC's stakeholders at the lack of progress towards a new accord, the meeting will provide an opportunity for the parties to review the consultation process to date."

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F1 2014 Calendar Announced

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New Jersey has been listed as one of three provisional venues on the 22-race F1 calendar for the 2014 season.

A race overlooking New York City had looked doubtful when it was dropped from a draft calendar.

But it was on the list released by the World Motor Sport Council on Friday, with provisional races in Mexico and Korea also included.

Meanwhile, Pirelli can continue as Formula 1's sole tyre supplier in 2014, the sport's governing body confirmed.

Pirelli's future in the sport had looked in doubt after a series of tyre failures this season, but a statement from the FIA said that they "may continue to supply tyres to competitors in the FIA F1 World Championship, subject to the requisite technical and safety standards of the FIA being met."

The inaugural Grand Prix of America is due to take place on 1 June, while a race in Mexico is set for 16 November. The Korean Grand Prix is listed as scheduled for 27 April.

The three provisional races' inclusion on the calendar is subject to circuit approval.

Australia is once again the first race of the season, taking place on 16 March with Interlagos in Brazil staging the final race on 30 November.

The British Grand Prix is on 6 July - a date that will see it clash with the men's singles final at Wimbledon for the first time in two years.

Meanwhile, Formula 1's governing body and commercial arm have signed a new agreement binding them together for the next seven years.

A statement on the website of the FIA said it and F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone's FOM organisation had both given their "approval".

The so-called Concorde Agreement now needs to be signed by the 11 teams to come into full operation.

It sets out the commercial terms of F1, which has about £1bn annual revenue.

The details are kept confidential, but the new agreement guarantees the FIA a greater slice of F1's income.

An FIA statement said: "This agreement provides the FIA with significantly improved financial means to pursue its regulatory missions and to reflect the enhanced role undertaken by the FIA in the Motor Sport.

Ecclestone said he was "pleased" the new agreement had been concluded.

FIA president Jean Todt, who faces a battle against Englishman David Ward in an election in December, said: "We can be proud of this agreement, which establishes a more effective framework for the governance of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

"The FIA looks forward to continuing to fulfil its historic role as the guarantor of both regulation and safety in F1 for many years to come."

2014 Calendar
16 March: Australia (Melbourne)
30 March: Malaysia (Sepang)
6 April: Bahrain (Sakhir)
20 April: China (Shanghai)
27 April: Korea (Korea International Circuit)*
11 May: Spain (Barcelona)
25 May: Monaco (Monaco)
1 June: Grand Prix of America (New Jersey)*
8 June: Canada (Montreal)
22 June: Austria (Red Bull Ring)
6 July: Britain (Silverstone)
20 July: Germany (Hockenheim)
27 July: Hungary (Budapest)
24 August: Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)
7 September: Italy (Monza)
21 September: Singapore (Marina Bay)
5 October: Russia (Sochi)*
12 October: Japan (Suzuka)
26 October: Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)
9 November: USA (Austin)
16 November: Mexico (Mexico City)*
30 November: Brazil (Interlagos)

* Subject to the circuit approval

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