English clubs hit spending record despite sluggish January sales

by admin on June 30th, 2019

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Despite clubs’ “relative restraint” in January, the total spending in 2014-15 surpassed the 2013-14 record of 760 million pounds, Deloitte said.

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The amount spent in January was far less than the 225 million pounds record for the winter established in January 2011.

Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte who have been monitoring the spending of clubs for the last two decades, said: “Given the record level of spending seen in the summer, it is not entirely surprising that we haven’t seen a new record for the January window.”

The biggest spenders were champions Manchester City, league leaders Chelsea and Champions League perennials Arsenal, who between them accounted for around half of the total, according to the firm.

The window ended on Monday more with a whimper than a bang with the biggest deal of the day being Chelsea’s 35 million euros (£26.4 million) for Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado from Italian club Fiorentina.

The Cuadrado deal was part-funded by the English club’s sale of Andre Schurrle to German side Wolfsburg for 22 million pounds.

But the last-minute shopping spree often associated with the closing of the January transfer window failed to materialise as Europe’s top clubs largely kept their powder dry.

The lack of trading was unusually light, leaving presenters of Sky Sports News’ much-hyped deadline day coverage programme, who bizarrely all wear yellow ties for the day, desperately searching for something to talk about.

City’s biggest move came when they signed Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony from Swansea City earlier for 25 million pounds while Manchester United’s only arrival of note was former Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes on a free transfer.

UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules have made it less likely that clubs sign players without first off-loading some of their squad, stalling the usual merry-go-round.

Transfers of players from the Premier League to other European leagues is also hindered by the huge salaries.

The reluctance of club managers to part with players at such a delicate phase of the season has also become an increasing factor in the mid-season window.

Speaking to the BBC, former Hull City chairman Paul Duffen explained the lack of January activity.

“Getting players out in the market, there are problems such as liquidity. Clubs don’t have it, apart from Chelsea today,” he said. “There is the danger in January for a player that if it goes wrong, it could harm their career.

“They could find they go on loan at a club who get relegated and end up in a worse situation than they were.”

(Additional writing and reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

WA town’s residents defy fire evacuation

by admin on June 30th, 2019

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Around 40 residents have chosen to remain in the “undefendable” township of Northcliffe, which is in the path of an out-of-control bushfire.

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The town in West Australia’s far south is under imminent threat from fire and it is not safe to stay and defend, authorities say.

Householders have been urged to leave to the north towards Pemberton with most of Northcliffe’s 600 residents evacuated.

About 240 firefighters and 60 support personnel are battling the blaze that has burnt 25,000 hectares since it was sparked by lightning at Shannon National Park on Friday.

Shire of Manjimup president Wade DeCampo told AAP an unoccupied house owned by former councillor, the late Tom Fahey, has been lost in the fire.

A southerly wind change on Tuesday evening put Northcliffe directly in the path of the blaze, with the front only five kilometres away.

Despite the emergency warning, some locals chose to stay put, indicating they would defend their properties, Mr DeCampo said.

He urged residents not to leave it too late to evacuate.

“People won’t believe it will hit the town,” Mr DeCampo said.

“It’s their home, it’s their castle, they’re willing to risk their lives.”

Northcliffe Hotel publican Steve McGavin told AAP he took his two grandchildren to the Pemberton evacuation centre after police told him to evacuate.

Mr McGavin said the family was now heading to Margaret River to be with the children’s mother rather than spend another night on bunk beds.

He said the town had faced fires before but they’d never been told to evacuate.

Mr DeCampo said the windshift meant the next 12 hours would be critical for emergency services.

“They cannot see an end point to this fire,” he said.

Residents are being told the fire could burn up to 100,000 hectares and Pemberton – the current evacuation meeting point – may also have to be evacuated.

DFES says the fire is moving at more than 500 metres an hour with spot fires starting up to 100 metres ahead of the front.

More than 100 Victorian firefighters have been flown to WA to help tackle the blaze.

Bridgetown catteries and dog kennels are providing free housing for the pets of people who have evacuated, while the local brigade is collecting livestock from paddocks.

WA shopping centre blast kills two men

by admin on June 30th, 2019

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Two men have died after an explosion at a Perth shopping centre where they were carrying out electrical maintenance.

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Two other men were seriously injured in Tuesday’s blast, after which witnesses reported seeing people running from the scene on fire.

Police said it was believed all four men were working near an electrical transformer at the rear of a Woolworths supermarket at Galleria Shopping Centre in suburban Morley at around 9.30am.

Witness Jonathan McDonagh described the scene as horrific, panicked and rushed.

“I came driving in and saw three people come running out … they were on fire,” he told AAP.

“I had the radio on and didn’t hear the bang, but I saw a puff of smoke.

“A young man on the ground, he was dead.

“I saw another moving around, obviously not OK.

“I gave him a good helping hand, as much as I could.

“They were really burnt badly.”

Mr McDonagh was among several people who helped the injured, taking off his shirt and using it to put out the flames. Other bystanders were dousing the men with water.

Another witness said: “It was just `whoosh’ and then there were these guys coming out and hitting the deck and then ripping their gear off.”

Stephen Beer from Federation Centres, which manages the Galleria, said the accident occurred during routine electrical maintenance.

The exact cause of the explosion is unknown but lightning has been ruled out, and EnergySafe and WorkSafe are investigating.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has cordoned off the scene.

High Energy Service Pty Ltd, a privately owned company that services the high voltage electrical industry, said the four men were their employees and subcontractors.

“This is a truly tragic day and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the deceased persons, and those of the injured employees,” the firm said in a statement.

“Our staff are currently working with DFES to ensure the site is safe.

“We will be fully co-operating with all the relevant authorities in their investigations and will be conducting our own investigation.

“Our focus at this moment is supporting those injured people and their families and our other employees.”

The three injured men were rushed to Royal Perth Hospital in a critical condition with serious burns.

One of the men had burns covering 80 per cent of his body and was conscious and breathing when paramedics attended.

Hours later, police said the man had died.

A woman who was trying to assist the injured suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

Several other people were treated for shock and smoke inhalation on the spot, but didn’t need to be taken to hospital.

Mr Beer said a large section of the centre, the Woolworths/Target mall, would remained isolated and closed for the time being.

A Woolworths spokeswoman stressed the explosion did not occur in the supermarket or areas managed by Woolworths.

Lumumba joins Demons’ AFL leaders

by admin on June 30th, 2019

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Former Collingwood star Heritier Lumumba has made an immediate impact at Melbourne, joining their leadership group for the upcoming AFL season.

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Lumumba is part of a six-man group that will have Nathan Jones as the skipper.

It will be the first time since Brad Green led the Demons in 2011 that they have not had co-captains.

Jack Grimes, who stepped down from the captaincy after last season, remains in the leadership group.

Lumumba is in his first year at Melbourne after a successful but occasionally rocky spell at Collingwood.

“It shows what high standards he has,” coach Paul Roos said.

“There are a lot of rumours, a lot of talk about Heritier, which surprised me.

“The players would agree, we’ve seen nothing but high standards, nothing but a guy who’s been compliant and wants to drive the group.

“For him to be named in such a short space of time, it gives you an idea of how highly regarded he is already by the guys at Melbourne.”

Jones became co-captain last season and was the obvious choice to lead the team again.

“We’ll continue to raise the bar and raise the standards as leaders as much as we can,” the star midfielder said.

“I’m really confident in the current list of players we’ve got and the direction the footy club has taken, that we’ll be back to being a great footy club again.”

Roos said he had an open mind whether the Demons should continue with co-captains.

“I’m never 100 per cent sold … one captain, two captains, three captains – I’ve seen them work in a lot of different formats,” he said.

“We were really comfortable, as the players were and as the leadership group was, to go with one captain.”

Lynden Dunn was rewarded for improved form with the vice-captaincy, while Daniel Cross and Chris Dawes are the other members of the leadership group.

“For him to be named vice-captain is a very, very good effort,” Roos said.

Lumumba and Dawes were members of Collingwood’s 2010 premiership team, while Cross played in preliminary finals at the Western Bulldogs.

Jones and Dunn have endured Melbourne’s ongoing lean period, with the club finishing second-bottom last year despite definite improvement.

“There’s a really good mix of guys who understand how difficult it’s been, but also some guys who’ve had some real success, who can continue to raise standards around here also,” Roos said.

Ebola fighters donate $45,000 to Liberals

by admin on June 30th, 2019

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A company awarded a $20 million federal government contract to fight Ebola in Africa donated $45,000 to the Liberal Party.

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Australian Electoral Commission party financial disclosures for 2013/14 show Aspen Medical gave $30,000 to the federal Liberals.

There is no date for the individual payment, but the party financial return is dated October 20, 2014.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on November 5 that Aspen Medical would be paid $20 million to operate a UK-built Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone.

A spokesman for the prime minister told AAP that contract was decided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in accordance with usual procurement procedures.

“Aspen – an Australian company – had a well-established track record of delivery, including in West Africa, and was able to deliver a timely response which is saving lives,” the spokesman said.

The AEC noted that a further $15,000 was provided to the Liberals’ ACT division.

But an amendment to the ACT return included the note: “Funds incorrectly paid into account. Funds returned to Aspen Medical.”

Labor received a $1500 donation from Aspen during the 2013/14 financial year.

Australian Greens senator Lee Rhiannon says the Liberals should pay all of the money back to Aspen to avoid perceptions of a conflict of interest.

“Mr Abbott as prime minister, who is clearly in an increasingly difficult situation, would be wise to show some leadership on this,” she told AAP on Tuesday.

Senator Rhiannon said electoral laws should be changed to ensure the government must declare whether companies receiving public funds are party donors.

“It puts a spotlight onto why we need to clean up electoral funding.”

The Greens plan to introduce a bill to ban donations from certain industries such as mining, alcohol, gambling and tobacco, but support the idea of a wider ban on corporate donations.

Comment is being sought from the Liberal Party.