Wednesday, 31 October 2012

London 2012 Festival enjoyed by 20m - The Guardian

More than 19.8 million visitors attended an event at the London 2012 Festival, according to figures published.

Arts, theatre, music and exhibitions were part of the £63m cultural festival which ran from 21 June to 9 September to celebrate the Olympics and Paralympics.

Some 16.5 million visitors went to free events such as the BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend and the BT River of Music, says the report from London 2012.

In total, there were 621 productions and projects in the festival made up of 13,006 performances and events at 1,270 venues across the UK.

More than 200 works were commissioned and there were 160 world and UK premieres. There are now 176 permanent artworks that have been left as a result. The festival was the climax of the £55m Cultural Olympiad, the wide-ranging four-year artistic build-up to the successful Games. The International Olympic Committee has congratulated London 2012 for keeping a strong cultural focus to the Games.

Tony Hall, the Cultural Olympiad board chairman, said: "The scale and reach of the London 2012 Festival was unprecedented and arts intuitions across the UK were able to win new audiences."

Ruth Mackenzie, the London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad director, said: "We asked partners and artists from round the world to create once-in-a-lifetime new work to match up to the once-in-a-lifetime ambition and scale of the London 2012 Games.

"They rose magnificently to the challenge. They showed that the UK creative and cultural sector are world leaders.

"World class artists amazed us with the risks they took and the quality of the work they created."

Organisers hoped the festival would entice a new audience to the arts with work by star names such as Alfred Hitchcock, Tracey Emin and Damon Albarn on show.

Over half a million people signed up to London 2012 to receive information on cultural events linked to the Games.

It is estimated that more than 10 million people "have been personally inspired to take part in more cultural activities in the future," according to London 2012.

People aged from 16 to 24, approximately 38%, were the most aware of the festival.

Up to 30% of everyone who went to the festival was aged 35 or under and 11% of attendees were from minority ethnic groups. There was also 12.5% of visitors who were disabled or said they had a disabled person in their family.

A final report on the festival and the Cultural Olympiad is set to be published by the University of Liverpool's Institute of Cultural Capital in spring 2013.

Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor were the main funders of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival.

Backers of the festival also included BMW, Eurostar, Freshfields, King's College London, Panasonic, Samsung, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales, BBC, British Council, Creative Scotland, Culture department, Festivals Edinburgh, Mayor Of London, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Visit Britain and Visit Scotland.

Google, Facebook and Twitter face fresh UK tax scrutiny - The Guardian

Google, Facebook and Twitter are facing renewed scrutiny of their UK tax arrangements after the Labour party criticised the companies' lack of social responsibility and called for them to help fund anti-cyberbullying measures.

In a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday, Labour MP Helen Goodman said that social media firms were placing an extra burden on the UK public purse through the workload of teachers, police and social workers who had to deal with threats and harassment carried out on social networks.

"These firms are putting a new and costly burden on the public purse but they are not acting as responsible corporate citizens," Goodman told the debate.

"The government can't stand back and ignore this. Ministers need to ensure that [tax authorities] use all the weapons at their disposal and if necessary legislate further to crack down on these avoidance devices."

Goodman reiterated concerns over what she called artificial devices designed to depress profits, referring to the royalty that Google UK paid to its parent company for use of its search and advertising technology.

She cited Facebook's UK advertising sales of £175m in 2011 and accounts showing it paid £238,000 tax, while Twitter filed no UK accounts. Google paid £6.09m UK tax on 2011 revenues of £395m.

"[Google's] strategy is to minimise our tax and make up for it with a bit of corporate social responsibility – but in the grand scheme of things it's titchy. Are we going to accept that?" Goodman asked.

"We can carry on as we are, the industry can decide it is in its own interests to change its behaviour, or the government can set a coherent strategy that runs across departments."

Google and Starbucks have been called to a Commons public accounts committee hearing on Monday, along with revenue and customs inspectors, where MPs will grill both sides on corporate business contributions.

Google told the Guardian that it would not attend as the invited executive was not available at short notice.

"We make a substantial contribution to the UK economy through local, payroll and corporate taxes. We also employ over 2,000 people, help hundreds of thousands of businesses to grow online and invest millions supporting new tech businesses in East London. We comply with all the tax rules in the UK," Google said.

Facebook and Twitter declined to comment. Both companies are headquartered, for accounts purposes, in the Republic of Ireland, which is known for its generous corporation tax.

Goodman also called for new legislation and training, saying more clarity was needed between multiple pieces of legislation designed to tackle child protection, harassment and computer misuse, and that more needed to be done for e-crime and cyberbullying to be taken seriously.

She referred to the suggestion from Fiona Mactaggart MP that an enforceable code of conduct could be devised to protect children and adults online.

William Dutton, professor of internet studies at the Oxford Internet Institute, said there was something of a moral panic around social media akin to the rise of television in the 1950s.

"That anxiety is concentrated among people who don't use social media," Dutton said.

"Protection of children has nothing to do with taxing Facebook. Children should not be used as a lever for legislation about content controls online or taxation."

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Squatters take over one of London's oldest pubs - BBC News

One of the oldest pubs in London said to have been visited over the last 300 years by everyone from Sir Christopher Wren to Dylan Thomas, Bob Marley and Catherine Middleton, has been taken over by a group of 17 squatters.

The Cross Keys in Lawrence Street, Chelsea, west London, was until a few months ago a popular pub with a roaring trade in Sunday lunches.

Now a bag of dog food and loo rolls sit incongruously on the counter where the restaurant crockery still rests.

'Hobo Hilton'

The Chesterfield sofas next to open fires in the bar, once coveted by eager groups of paying punters, form part of the squatters' personal club room.

The mezzanine gallery area which was once hired out for private parties is their dormitory, sheets hanging down from the ceiling suggest a flimsy sense of privacy.

"Do you mind? This is our bedroom," says a tall lanky young man.

But that is a point of contention. One man's bedroom is another man's valuable real estate.

Andrew Bourne, the owner, has launched legal proceedings to evict the squatters who moved in on 12 October.

The pub was left unoccupied after Mr Bourne lost a bid to change it to a residential building.

Neighbouring residents had run a campaign to maintain the building's use. "Save Cross Keys" posters can still be seen in people's windows.

Fresh from the "Hobo Hilton", their former squat in High Holborn owned by BT, the squatters made up of people aged between 17 and 36 and eight different nationalities, wrote to Mr Bourne once they moved in.

Mariana Costa, 21, a Portuguese theatre student, said: "We offered to look after the property while prospective buyers looked around.

"We hoped to stay here until the place was sold and protect it from theft and becoming damp."

He declined their offer.

'Very hospitable'

He has been reported as describing as "outrageous" the fact the squatters moved in.

He will go before West London County Court on 5 November to seek their eviction.

Peter Ling, of Howard Kennedy solicitors, said his client had no comment to make.

Ms Costa said the group has fixed the toilets, unblocked drains and got rid of mice.

Rosa, 28, said they planned to make the most of the building while they can, including using the space to exhibit artwork.

When the squatters sit around chatting, talk is of "debt bondage" and "popular sovereignty", a profound disillusionment with the trappings of modern life and the established order.

Two members of the group camped outside St Paul's Cathedral as part of the Occupy movement.

One of them, Mr X, 28, formerly earning £22,000 running poultry farms in Norfolk, said: "We are dropping out of the system. I'd rather live in a tent than be a slave being paid an average wage and being ripped off by electricity companies, utility companies and the BBC [for a TV licence].

"There are enough buildings like this sitting in limbo to house the 17,000 people on the homeless register."

A chalk board bar menu offers a burger and fries for £11. But the new inhabitants eat "skipped", leftover food from supermarkets and restaurants.

Rosa added: "We've had a few neighbours pop round and they've all been very friendly."

Gordon Taylor, of West London Residents' Association, said: "I don't really agree with any occupation of even commercial premises by squatters even though the group in there are very hospitable in fact.

"We want the developer to sell it on to someone else and for it to be reinstated as a hostelry."

Burden on landlords

Since September, the offence of squatting in a residential building carries a maximum penalty of six months' imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000 or both.

But it is a civil, not criminal, offence to squat in commercial properties.

Charlotte Bijlani, partner at law firm Norton Rose and head of real estate litigation, said: "Because the criminal sanction doesn't apply to commercial properties, squatters may well start going for those much more and of course in a recession there are many more empty commercial sites.

"If they are going in and trashing the place it is a huge problem for the landlord.

"They [landlords] already have the empty rates bill to pay if the building is empty after three months."

She said that from the county court appearance it can take two to four weeks for bailiffs to serve an eviction notice.

"Landlords rarely recover the court costs of proceedings against squatters," Ms Bijlani explained.

Liverpool: League Cup Defence Continues - Vitalfootball

Liverpool's defence of the League Cup continues tonight as they welcome Swansea City to Anfield in Round Four of the competition...

The Capital One Cup fixture this evening is the fourth match in twelve days for the Reds and despite being the holders of the trophy, a host of changes are likely.

Intriguingly the match also represents the first meeting between Kop boss Brendan Rodgers and the side he left during the summer. A decision he described at the time as 'extremely, extremely difficult'.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, the 39-year-old unsurprisingly paid Swansea plenty of respect but remained focused on progressing to the next round despite the opportunity to catch up with some familiar faces.

"I think it's one where you have two hats on," explained Rodgers.

"The professional hat, first and foremost, says we want to get through to the quarter-finals. We have got an opportunity, playing at Anfield, which is a wonderful stadium, and a chance to progress in the competition. Nothing will get in the way of that - no sentiment gets in the way of wanting to progress to the next round.

"But it's also good to see people. I had some fantastic professional and personal experiences at Swansea City, and the support I got there was unheralded in terms of the city and the people and south Wales in general. Of course it's a result I always look out for because they're good people and I always want them to do well.

"But obviously we want to win the game. It's the professional challenge, it's our job to focus and concentrate."

Team wise, it is likely some of the big names such as Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez will be rested or at the very least kept on the bench in case they are required late on. The likes of Jamie Carragher, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing, Oussama Assaidi and Joe Cole will be expecting to start after finding regular first team opportunities hard to come by so far this season.

Despite returning to the bench for Sunday's Merseyside derby draw against Everton, regular goalkeeper Pepe Reina will not be risked so Brad Jones will remain between the sticks for a fourth game in a row.

Out of the host of youngsters who featured in the previous round's triumph over West Bromwich Albion, young German forward Samed Yesil is the most likely to be utilised again. The club's youngest ever player, Jerome Sinclair, has been heavily involved with England U17s of late and is therefore not expected to be involved.

Commenting on the likelihood for change, Rodgers replied: "I said it on the first day I arrived, I'm going to rely on the whole squad. For us to compete in as many competitions as we can, we need everyone.

"They have an outstanding group of players who are very honest and work tirelessly, so it will be a difficult game for us. For us, it will be pretty much more of the same - we'll change the team around."

Vital Prediction
Swansea have had an up-and-down season so far with some very erratic performances but on their day they are a dangerous side who are a joy to watch. The Swans have a lot of pace down the flanks, which could cause us problems, but given home advantage and the desire to retain the trophy we should prevail. As is often the case with cup matches in the earlier rounds, a lot could depend on team selection with both sides likely to make alterations to their usual Premier League selections. I cannot see us playing as youthful team as in the previous round but there are a number of established squad players with a point to prove. Vital Liverpool predicts a 2-1 home win.

Possible Starting X1
(4-3-3) Jones, Wisdom, Carragher, Coates, Enrique, Henderson, Shelvey, Sahin, Assaidi, Suso, Downing.

Did You Know?
Liverpool are the most successful team in League Cup history having lifted the trophy eight-times as well as being runners-up on three occasions. The Reds were victorious in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1995, 2001, 2003 and 2012.

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Ryanair jobs at Liverpool, Manchester and East Midlands promised - BBC News

Chief executive Michael O'Leary says the company hopes to carry an extra one million passengers

Airline Ryanair is to expand its operations and create an estimated 1,000 jobs at airports in Liverpool, Manchester and the East Midlands.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary said the company was "growing like gangbusters" and hoped to carry an extra one million passengers from 2013.

He said the passengers would come from nine new routes from the airports.

East Midlands Airport's Tim McDermott said he would "challenge" whether new jobs would be created.

The expansion will also see two new aircraft added to operations at Manchester and East Midlands.

The company said it would be creating 460 new roles at East Midlands, 360 at Manchester and 180 at Liverpool.

Mr O'Leary said the roles, which the company hopes to fill by summer 2013, include "pilots, engineers, cabin crew, handling staff and baggage staff".

He said the company's success, which comes at a time when other carriers are struggling, was partly due to its strategy of basing some larger aircraft at regional airports around the UK, rather than London.

'Major contributor'

"We're taking more and more big aircraft and placing those not at the big airports like Heathrow, but across the regions," he said.

"People no longer want to travel down to Heathrow, they want to fly from their local airport."


East Midlands will likely be the biggest winner from Ryanair's regional expansion plans.

The airport witnessed a sharp downturn in fortunes earlier in the year when home-based airline British Midland International was sold to the International Airlines Group and its route network and valuable London Heathrow slots transferred to British Airways (BA).

East Midlands was effectively hit with a double whammy as the controversial BA route network and slots grab led to the closure of BMI Baby and left the airport without two of its key airline partners.

Ryanair's announcement will be welcome news. It may result in skills within the region being maintained and indicates a softening of the previously fractious relationship between Manchester Airports Group and the airline.

News that the airline intends expanding operations at Liverpool John Lennon merely emphasises the importance of this airport to Europe's low cost air carriers.

Manchester and East Midlands Airports are operated by the Manchester Airports Group.

The group's chief executive, Charlie Cornish, said Ryanair's announcement was a "sign of its continuing confidence in Manchester and willingness to expand its range of services for our passengers".

"We want to work alongside our airlines to grow their services across our airports and the expansion represents the type of growth opportunities we are actively seeking in the market," he said.

The growth in Manchester was also welcomed by the city's Chamber of Commerce, whose research manager Christian Spence said it could "boost the tourism, retail and hospitality sectors and result in further increases in investment in these areas".

"The aviation sector is a major contributor to the economy and it is encouraging that the private sector is investing in our regional airports," he said.

Craig Richmond, the chief executive of Peel Airports, which operates Liverpool John Lennon Airport, said the expansion was "great news both for the airport and the region too".

"We're delighted with Ryanair's latest commitment to grow their business from Liverpool," he said.

"It gives holidaymakers an even greater choice next year and a further boost for the local economy with more visitors to Liverpool and the North West."

'Hard to pinpoint'

East Midlands Airport's Tim McDermott said that "any time you get an airline operating a new service out of your airport, it's always great news".

"When BMI Baby withdrew last year, it was a big blow and we've been actively working with a range of new airlines - Jet2, Monarch, FlyBe - to bring new services to this region to backfill the services we've lost."

However, Mr McDermott questioned the number of jobs the expansion would create and said he would "challenge whether it would be 400 new jobs created".

"It's always very hard to pinpoint where these jobs are going to be created from - a lot of jobs are actually sustained.

"In terms of new jobs, it will probably be in the tens."

Bob Atkinson, of consumer choice website, said that "any expansion in air services is great for UK consumers, because it gives more choice in either destinations or carriers to get there".

"From a jobs point of view, any operation will help sustain jobs, either here in the UK or at the points of arrival, and that is positive because it means people are able to take up new employment or continue in existing employment following this expansion."

Reading - Arsenal Betting Preview: Expect goals at the Madejski Stadium -

Having failed to secure a victory in the Premier League so far this season, Reading return to a happier hunting ground as they face Arsenal in the Capital One Cup.

The Royals have already picked up wins against Peterborough and QPR in this year's competition, but will have to step it up a gear to overcome Arsene Wenger's men.

The hosts have lost every one of their nine previous fixtures against The Gunners, and are outsiders at 3/1 (4.00) with Paddy Power to end that dismal record with a win tonight.

An inexperienced Arsenal side thrashed Coventry 6-1 in that last round, and can be backed at 10/11 (1.91) to send their opponents packing at the Madejski Stadium.

After three draws in the last four games for Brian McDermott's men, odds of 5/2 (3.50) might seem tempting on a stalemate taking place after 90 minutes here.

With Wenger sure to ring the changes from the side that beat QPR at the weekend, it is difficult to predict how an unfamiliar Arsenal line-up will fare against Reading's first team.

However, with an exciting array of young attacking talent at their disposal, The Gunners are sure to trouble a defence that has conceded 21 goals in 10 competitive fixtures this season.

When you consider that Arsenal's own back-line is likely to feature a couple of rookies, the best bet looks to be on over 2.5 goals going in this evening, available at 4/6 (1.67) odds.

With the regular strikeforce potentially taking a rest, tonight's match could give Theo Walcott the opportunity he so craves to show what he can do up front.

The England international bagged two goals in the rout against Coventry, and offers great value at 23/10 (3.30) to send his manager a message by getting on the scoresheet once again here.

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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.

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Stravinsky feted in top London dance house season - Reuters UK

LONDON | Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:03pm GMT

LONDON (Reuters) - London dance house Sadler's Wells will mark the centenary of the riotous premiere of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" with a commission that uses neither the original music or scandalous choreography, opting instead for a piece inspired by it.

Olympics opening ceremony choreographer Akram Khan's "ITMOi (in the mind of Igor)", with music by three composers that will in part draw on Stravinsky's groundbreaking work of musical brutalism, will have its first public performance on May 29, 2013, Sadler's Wells said on Tuesday.

That will be 100 years to the day after a near-riot broke out at the premiere of the ballet, choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Sadler's Wells will also revive a modern choreography by Michael Keegan-Dolan of Stravinsky's rhythmically ferocious and paganistic ballet that changed the course of 20th century music, the venue said at a news conference announcing its new season.

Other venues around the world will mark the centenary, including 14 performances of various versions and tributes to the work at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, starting on the anniversary day with the Ballet of the Mariinsky Theatre and conductor Valery Gergiev in a re-creation of Nijinsky's original.

Khan, whose dance piece for the 2012 Summer Olympics was intended as a tribute to the 52 victims of bombing attacks on the London public transport system in July 2005, said that given the brilliance of Nijinsky's work, and a more recent version by Pina Bausch, he had decided to go in a different direction.

"It's not really a piece about Stravinsky, it's inspired by his concepts...but it's still about the story of the 'Rite of Spring'," the British-Bangladeshi choreographer said.

He said he had asked three composers to provide the music because "I just wanted to make things more difficult" - partly in the spirit of paying homage to the sense of rhythmical and musical rupture that he senses in Stravinsky's score.

He said that one of the vivid memories Stravinsky recalled from his youth was the sound of ice breaking on the river in St. Petersburg: "He would never forget the sound so the idea of rupture fascinated me."

Sadler's Wells executives said the venue had presented 677 performances in its 2011/12 season, an increase of 53 shows on the previous year.

Artistic Director Alistair Spalding decried recent proposals by the Conservative-led government to drop dance from the core curriculum under a sweeping revamp of the British education system, saying the move would likely reverse a trend of more young people learning dance in school and choosing dance as a profession.

"The predominance of dance in the Olympic ceremonies shows how rewarding and involving it can be," Spalding said. "It will be deeply damaging to reverse this investment."

He said dance was the second most popular activity in British schools, after football, and ranked first for girls.

(Editing by Stephanie Pett and Paul Casciato)

Reading 5 Arsenal 7; aet: match report -

Arsène Wenger made 11 changes, indicating that he was not taking the Capital One Cup that seriously, but it remains a competition that offers a route up Wembley Way. It offers a chance of silverware, something that Arsenal fans crave. It is worth fighting for.

And they did. Gone was the incompetence of the early stages, replaced by a resilience, a pride in the shirt and a cutting edge. The key was Walcott, who demonstrated why he is worth a new contract – and a run through the middle. Even at 4-0 down, even with his fellow strikers Chamakh and Andrei Arshavin resembling statues, Walcott kept running, kept believing, kept threatening. His goal just before the break gave Arsenal hope.

Until then, Arsenal had been a shambles. Their defending was shocking, two experienced centre-halves in Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou proving so weak in the air. The watching Tony Adams and Martin Keown could have done better — even at 46.

What must have shocked Arsenal fans is that there was sufficient quality in their much-changed ranks to put up more resistance than evidenced in the first-half horror show. There was Emmanuel Frimpong, the highly-rated Francis Coquelin and teenage prospect Serge Gnabry in midfield. There was Walcott, Chamakh and Arshavin in attack.

Such was the poverty of Arsenal's early labours that Reading fans were taunting the visitors with crowing chants of "you're getting thumped on the telly", "are you Swindon in disguise?" and "Robin van Persie… is laughing at this".

The Arsenal fans were enraged, chanting: "We want our Arsenal back". The simple truth is that, for 40 minutes, Reading showed far more desire. Brian McDermott's men were quicker to the ball, also swift to launch counter-attacks particularly down the flanks.

With Mikele Leigertwood controlling midfield and Jason Roberts and Noel Hunt moving intelligently in attack, Reading tore Arsenal apart early on, beginning in the 12th minute. Hunt released Hal Robson-Kanu and Jason Roberts made a feint to throw his markers off the scent. When Robson-Kanu's cross came in, a yard of space free to volley beyond goalkeeper Damián Martínez. Five minutes later, Reading doubled their advantage, Koscielny turning Gunter's cross into his own net. It got worse. Two minutes later, Mikele Leigertwood unleashed a shot and Martínez's response was woeful, merely helping the ball into his own net. Eight minutes from the break, McCleary crossed for Hunt to head past Martínez.

Reading could have closed up shop, seeing out the first half but they remained open, a frailty that has cost them in the Premier League. Walcott punished slow reactions with a sprint through the centre before expertly lifting the ball past Adam Federici.

The goal inspired Arsenal. So did some words from Wenger at the break. Yet Reading should have had a penalty when Chamakh pulled down Hunt. Then Chamakh screamed for a penalty when Gunter handled. Kevin Friend booked Chamakh.

The Moroccan soon had more company in attack. Giroud arrived, making his mark with a firm, 64th-minute header. The Frenchman continued to threaten, seeing an effort pushed away by Martínez.

The clock seemed to be running against Arsenal. In the 89th minute, Koscielny headed in. The fourth official, Michael Oliver, signalled four minutes additional time but Friend — no Friend to Reading — kept the game going. Walcott fired in a shot that crossed the line before Shorey cleared. Jenkinson made sure.

When Friend blew for the end of 90 minutes, two of the Arsenal players thought it was all over, that there would be a replay. Giroud and Coquelin threw their shirts into the jubilant Arsenal fans before sheepishly having to request them back for extra time. The drama merely intensified. Chamakh made it 5-4 with a neat low strike before Pavel Pogrebnyak levelled. Penalties seemed inevitably until Walcott and then, unbelievably, Chamakh, made it 7-5 for the comeback kings.

Match details

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Gunter, Morrison, Gorkss, Shorey; McCleary (McAnuff 74), Leigertwood, Tabb, Robson-Kanu; Hunt (Pogrebnyak 74), Roberts (Church 90).
Subs: Pearce, Le Fondre, Harte, Taylor (g).

Booked: Leigertwood, Morrison.

Arsenal (4-3-3): Martinez; Jenkinson, Djourou, Koscielny, Miquel (Meade 105); Frimpong (Giroud 62), Coquelin, Gnabry (Eisfeld 62); Walcott, Chamakh, Arshavin.
Subs: Squillaci, Bellerin, Yennaris, Shea (g).

Booked: Miquel, Chamakh, Giroud, Koscielny, Martinez, Eisfeld.

Referee: K Friend (Leicestershire).

NFL franchises in talks with London Mayor Boris Johnson over Olympic Stadium -

West Ham have been favourites to take over the stadium since a shortlist, which had no NFL presence, was drawn up in July but they are cool on making such a payment. The club believe it is for the landlord to provide a suitable facility for its tenant.

With other events such as the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the 2017 World Athletics Championships and concerts due to take place at the stadium, the club have also pointed out in negotiations that they would not be the sole beneficiary of new seating arrangements.

This stance from a football club that could require full occupancy of the site more than 25 times a year might have been what encouraged Johnson to explore other tenancy options. An NFL anchor would require the facility for a maximum of 10 occasions each year theoretically permitting Formula One, already on the LLDC's shortlist of possible tenants, also to use the stadium for an annual race.

Bringing two new sports to east London would have commercial benefits for the capital, which could potentially reach the hundreds of millions of pounds.

"Sunday's game at Wembley, in front of more than 80,000 fans, further cements London's reputation as the natural home of American football outside of the US," the mayor's spokesman added. "Only last week the mayor, in conjunction with the NFL, announced an expansion from one to two regular-season matches in London from 2013. That means in total an additional £44 million in revenue for the capital from next year."

Turning to the biggest sport in the US would also avoid the potential complications presented by state aid for West Ham's bid, which the European Commission has said to have raised as a matter requiring clarification in a letter to the British Government. The European Commission has written to all member states about state aid to professional football, although the LLDC is confident that contributions for West Ham would not be classified as state aid.

Indeed, Johnson's soundings appear to chime with the stated aspirations of senior NFL executives. Robert Kraft, the New England Patriots owner whose team were one of four to play at Wembley this month, told the Boston Globe on Sunday: "For our game to continue to grow and be special we have to expand our fan base, and I think from our cultural and language point of view, going to England and playing there and developing the game made sense.

"We have such a following in the UK and people really grab on to the game. It's wonderful to see another country embrace our sport, and by bringing the real game there I think they have really loved it."

The Patriots have already made clear they would not be keen to relocate but the same might not be said of another side that came to London last week. The Jacksonville Jaguars, formed as an expansion team in 1995, have now signed a deal to host one of their regular-season matches every year until 2016.

"Everyone associated with the Jacksonville Jaguars is very much looking forward to our four home games in London through 2016," owner Shahid Khan said this month. Khan did not return calls to discuss the NFL's recent talks with Johnson. But he has been a cheerleader for his team's UK prospects.

How the rivals compare

West Ham United
In the 2010-11 season, the most recent for which figures are available, West Ham's match-day revenues were £18.8?million from Upton Park. At the 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium, Arsenal's were £93.1?million, hence West Ham's determination to become anchor tenants of the 50,000-seat Olympic Stadium. They remain favourites in the bidding race but, like other interested football clubs, West Ham's plans rest on the athletics track being placed under temporary seating. There is reluctance at the club to make a significant contribution to the estimated £160-£200?million cost of retractable seating.

Leyton Orient
Leyton Orient have about 5,000 match-going supporters but would need 27,500 to fill the lower tier of the Olympic Stadium (the top section would remain closed). However, Orient's owner Barry Hearn has come up with several creative marketing solutions for his proposal to turn the League One club into viable tenants for the Stratford venue. The first is to give away free tickets to under-18s, students and armed forces personnel. The second is to rebrand his club as London Orient, as revealed by The Daily Telegraph. Hearn's proposal is to share the ground with West Ham.

University College of Football Business
The UCFB proposes becoming a subtenant for the stadium in the same way as it occupies a stand at Burnley's Turf Moor. It wants to expand into a second campus and has been looking for a site in the south of England. The Stratford site is its preferred option. A spokesman described the institution's plan as being to "take a proportion of the stadium. The seating is not particularly relevant because we would be using the back rooms. But we would be keen on access to a part of the site overlooking the pitch or that green area, depending on the anchor tenant".

Formula One & Intelligent Transport Services
Bernie Ecclestone has made plain his frustrations with the ageing Silverstone facilities that host the British Grand Prix. He has been taken by ITS's proposal for a race through and around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which Ecclestone said would even take F1 cars inside the stadium. He told The Daily Telegraph yesterday that he has held further dialogue with Harvey Goldsmith, who advised Anschutz Entertainment Group on the redevelopment of the O2 into a concert venue, over the prospect of hosting live events at the stadium.

Arsenal join chase for Wilfried Zaha - Neil Ashton column - Daily Mail

By Neil Ashton


When a player of immense promise appears on Arsene Wenger's radar, Arsenal's manager sends chief scout Steve Rowley to watch them in an away game.

It is a secret code at Arsenal, despatching his trusted talent-spotter to see if their target fancies it on a freezing cold day at a place like Leicester's King Power Stadium.

Arsenal are a little bit late to the party when it comes to Wilfried Zaha, only putting their marker down in the last few weeks with their constant presence at Crystal Palace matches. They have arrived at just the right time.

King of the Palace: Wilfried Zaha in focus against Leicester City

King of the Palace: Wilfried Zaha in focus against Leicester City

Zaha is electrifying, the most talented and gifted player that Palace supporters have ever seen.

Tough on Vince Hilaire.

Tougher on Ian Wright.

True all the same.

He has mesmerising qualities, skills reminiscent of Ronaldinho when he began playing for Gremio nearly 20 years ago.

Zaha is capable of anything, twisting and turning his way past opposition defences with his exceptional ability on the ball.

He has everything: pace, strength, ability and power, all the attributes required of a modern day footballer. For 70 minutes, until Leicester began a late rally, Zaha was unplayable.

Rowley, who was in the stands, left impressed.

Three weeks ago, Zaha went away with the England Under-21 team for their fiery play-off matches against Serbia in the Euro 2013 qualifiers.

The working environment raised his game, under pressure to perform in training alongside players who are regular starters in the Barclays Premier League.

At that level, the players are that much sharper and Zaha responded by smoothing over some of the rough edges to his game.

Rivals: Zaha is rated above the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain (left) and Walcott

He improved alongside Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Danny Rose, accepting the challenge of international competition.

It enhanced his game, returning to the Palace team for their Championship game against Millwall with an improvement in decision-making on the ball and superior game-intelligence.

Converting his ability to the Premier League is the next phase of his development, a target for a player regarded by all 24 Championship managers as the best in the division.

Six years ago, Theo Walcott wasn't even the best player in the Southampton team, but Arsenal signed a player based on future potential.

He was signed on the strength of 21 appearances and four goals, one of them an outrageous strike against Luton Town at St Mary's.

Walcott was only 16 when he signed for Arsenal and his profile exceeded his performances on the field when he Sven Goran Eriksson took him to the 2006 World Cup.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another Championship recruit, signed by Arsenal in the summer of 2011 after one successful season in League One.

His biggest test that season was against Manchester United in the FA Cup, a Saturday night game at St Mary's.

He wore colourful boots that night and barely got a kick. After the game his manager Nigel Adkins reminded his 17-year-old winger that there was plenty of work to be done before he became a Premier League player.

Star in the making: Zaha could soon be knocking on the England door

Star in the making: Zaha could soon be knocking on the England door

Two years on he is showing signs that he will eventually belong, making 16 appearances for Arsenal in the Premier League last season and a handful this year.

Neither Walcott or Oxlade-Chamberlain possess Zaha's ability and it is only a question of time before he is playing at the highest level.

Walcott barely played half a season for Southampton after graduating from their academy before he was sold to Arsenal for 12million.

Oxlade-Chamberlain played 36 League One games during Southampton's promotion season and left for the Emirates in 2011.

At 19, Zaha has already played 96 times for Palace in the league and made a handful of appearances in Cup competition, including their victory at Old Trafford last season.

He still has four years left on his contract at Palace, but Arsenal will be ahead of the game when he eventually decides to leave.

Zaha, who grew up in south London and came through the Palace academy, is an Arsenal supporter.

That may well be a factor in the final decision for Zaha, but first the clubs courting him will have to convince Palace to part with their prize asset.

The comments below have not been moderated.

another "star" of the future walcott was suposed to be

It's common knowledge he's a Gooner, let's hope another talented youngster will be on his way in January. Maybe a purchase and loan back until the summer.

Zaha tweeted today about the Arsenal game, and from what this article says he is a genuine arsenal fan. Come on wenger make the bid, and we will hopefully get our man :)

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In hurricane, Twitter proves a lifeline despite pranksters - Reuters UK

SAN FRANCISCO | Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:51am GMT

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - As Hurricane Sandy pounded the U.S. Atlantic coast on Monday night, knocking out electricity and Internet connections, millions of residents turned to Twitter as a part-newswire, part-911 hotline that hummed through the night even as some websites failed and swathes of Manhattan fell dark.

But the social network also became a fertile ground for pranksters who seized the moment to disseminate rumors and Photoshopped images, including a false tweet Monday night that the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange was submerged under several feet of water.

The exchange issued a denial, but not before the tweet was circulated by countless users and reported on-air by CNN, illustrating how Twitter had become the essential - but deeply fallible - spine of information coursing through real-time, major media events.

But a year after Twitter gained attention for its role in the rescue efforts in tsunami-stricken Japan, the network seemed to solidify its mainstream foothold as government agencies, news outlets and residents in need turned to it at the most critical hour.

Beginning late Sunday, government agencies and officials, from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo(@NYGovCuomo) to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (@FEMA) to @NotifyNYC, an account handled by New York City's emergency management officials, issued evacuation orders and updates.

As the storm battered New York Monday night, residents encountering clogged 9-1-1 dispatch lines flooded the Fire Department's @fdny Twitter account with appeals for information and help for trapped relatives and friends.

One elderly resident needed rescue in a building in Manhattan Beach. Another user sent @fdny an Instagram photo of four insulin shots that she needed refrigerated immediately. Yet another sought a portable generator for a friend on a ventilator living downtown.

Emily Rahimi, who manages the @fdny account by herself, according to a department spokesman, coolly fielded dozens of requests, while answering questions about whether to call 311, New York's non-emergency help line, or Consolidated Edison.

At the Red Cross of America's Washington D.C. headquarters, in a small room called the Digital Operations Center, six wall-mounted monitors display a stream of updates from Twitter and Facebook and a visual "heat map" of where posts seeking help are coming from.

The heat map informed how the Red Cross's aid workers deployed their resources, said Wendy Harman, the Red Cross director of social strategy.

The Red Cross was also using Radian6, a social media monitoring tool sold by, to spot people seeking help and answer their questions.

"We found out we can carry out the mission of the Red Cross from the social Web," said Harman, who hosted a brief visit from President Barack Obama on Tuesday.


Twitter, which in the past year has heavily ramped up its advertising offerings and features to suit large brand marketers like Pepsico Inc and Procter & Gamble, suddenly found itself offering its tools to new kind of client on Monday: public agencies that wanted help spreading information.

For the first time, the company created a "#Sandy" event page - a format once reserved for large ad-friendly media events like the Olympics or Nascar races - that served as a hub where visitors could see aggregated information. The page displayed manually- and algorithmically-selected tweets plucked from official accounts like those of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, who was particularly active on the network.

Agencies like the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and the New York Mayor's Office also used Twitter's promoted tweets - an ad product used by advertisers to reach a broader consumer base - to get out the word.

The company said offering such services for free to government agencies was one of several initiatives, including a service that broadcasts location-specific alerts and public announcements based on a Twitter user's postal code.

"We learned from the storm and tsunami in Japan that Twitter can often be a lifeline," said Rachael Horwitz, a Twitter spokeswoman.

Jeannette Sutton, a sociologist at the University of Colorado who has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security to study social media uses in disaster management, said government agencies have been skeptical until recently about using social media during natural disasters.

"There's a big problem with whether it's valid, accurate information out there," Sutton said. "But if you're not part of the conversation, you're going to be missing out."

As the hurricane hit one of the most wired regions in the country, news outlets also took advantage of the smartphone users who chronicled rising tides on every flooded block. On Instagram, the photo-sharing website, witnesses shared color-filtered snapshots of floating cars, submerged gas stations and a building shorn of its facade at a rate of more than 10 pictures per second, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom told on Tuesday.

Many of the images were republished in the live coverage by news websites and aired on television broadcasts.


But by late Monday, fake images began to circulate widely, including a picture of a storm cloud gathering dramatically over the Statue of Liberty and a photoshopped job of a shark lurking in a submerged residential neighborhood. The latter image even surfaced on social networks in China.

Then there was the slew of fabricated message from @comfortablysmug, the Twitter account that claimed the NYSE was underwater. The account is owned by Shashank Tripathi, the hedge fund investor and campaign manager for Christopher Wight, the Republican candidate to represent New York's 12th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Tripathi, who did not return emails by Reuters seeking comment, apologized Tuesday night for making a "series of irresponsible and inaccurate tweets" and resigned from Wight's campaign.

His identity was first reported by Jack Stuef of BuzzFeed.

Around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Tripathi began deleting many of his Hurricane Sandy tweets. Tripathi's friend, @theAshok, defended Tripathi, telling Reuters on Twitter: "People shouldn't be taking "news" from an anonymous twitter account seriously."

Tripathi's @comfortablysmug's Twitter stream, which is followed by business journalists, bloggers and various New York personalities, had been a well-known voice in digital circles, but mostly for his 140-character-or-less criticisms of the Obama administration, often accompanied by the hashtag, #ObamaIsn'tWorking.

On Tuesday, New York City Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr. appeared to threaten Tripathi with prosecution when he tweeted that he hoped Tripathi was "less smug and comfortable cuz I'm talking to Cy," presumably referring to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

For its part, Twitter said that it would not have considered suspending the account unless it received a request from a law enforcement agency.

"We don't moderate content, and we certainly don't want to be in a position of deciding what speech is OK and what speech is not," said Horwitz, Twitter's spokeswoman.

But Ben Smith, the editor at Buzzfeed, which outed Tripathi, said Twitter's credibility would not be affected by rumormongers because netizens often self-correct and identify falsehoods.

"They used to say a lie will travel halfway around the world before the truth puts its shoes on, but in the Twitter world, that's not true anymore," Smith said. "The lies get slapped down really fast."

For Smith, the ability to disseminate information via Twitter and Facebook on Monday night became perhaps even more important than his Web publication, which enjoyed one of its better nights in readership but went dark when the blackout crippled the site's servers in downtown Manhattan.

Buzzfeed's staff quickly began publishing on Tumblr instead, and Smith personally took over Buzzfeed's Twitter account to stay in the thick of the conversation.

"Our view of the world is that social distribution is the key thing," Smith said. "We're in the business of creating content that people want to share, more than the business of maintaining a website."

(Reporting By Gerry Shih in San Francisco and Jennifer Ablan and Felix Salmon in New York; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

UBS banking job cuts set to hit London hard - The Guardian

Swiss banking giant UBS is cutting up to 10,000 jobs worldwide as it scales back its investment banking operations.

In one of the biggest banking job culls since Lehman Brothers, the axe will fall heavily in London and New York, where UBS's investment banking operations are based. In London, about two-thirds of its 6,500 staff work in investment banking. The rest work in wealth and asset management, which are not affected by the latest cuts.

The Zurich-based bank plans to reduce its global headcount from 64,000 to 54,000 in the next three years and said some 2,500 jobs will go in Switzerland. It declined to give further detail. It is winding downits fixed-income activities if they are no longer profitable as a result of new capital rules on riskier busineses introduced since the financial crisis. Some 2,000 front-office staff will lose their jobs, with knock-on effects on supporting roles.

A spokesman denied reports on Twitter that some staff cannot get into the London offices beside Liverpool Street station because their passes have stopped working. He said: "When people arrive they go up in a room and get told by someone from HR."

According to Bloomberg News, around 100 traders in fixed income in London are being put on special leave. They are being sent home on full pay as the consultation process for their departure begins.

The restructuring is expected to deliver savings of £3.5bn by 2015.

Chief executive Sergio Ermotti said: "This decision has been a difficult one, particularly in a business such as ours that is all about its people. Some reductions will result from natural attrition and we will take whatever measures we can to mitigate the overall effect. Throughout the process we will ensure that our people will be supported and treated with care."

The news came as UBS posted a loss of £1.4bn for three months to September, compared with a profit of £670m a year ago. The bank took a one-off charge of £2bn linked to the restructuring of its investment banking division and a debt-related charge of £574m.

It wants to focus on its private bank and leave other business lines, mainly in fixed income. The Swiss bank said these divisions had been "rendered uneconomical by changes in regulation and market developments".

The remaining investment bank operations - equities, foreign exchange trading, corporate advice, and precious metals trading - will be run by Andrea Orcel, a recent Ermotti hire from Bank of America.

"The net impact of all these changes will be transformational for the firm," chairman Axel Weber and Ermotti told shareholders in a letter. "Our overall earnings should be less volatile, more consistent and of higher quality."

Profits slid 40% to £1.5bn in the first six months of the year. UBS said in July that the botched stock market listing of Facebook cost it £227m. It blamed the loss on Nasdaq's "gross mishandling" of the flotation, which involved a series of technical errors that caused a delay in the start of trading of Facebook shares in May.

Former UBS investment banker Kweku Adoboli, who is accused of almost sinking the bank with illicit dealing, denied on Monday that he had been a rogue trader when he lost the bank £1.4bn. He said other members of his team knew about his "off book" activities. The 32-year-old is currently on trial at Southwark crown court in London, accused of gambling away the money while working for UBS during the global financial crisis.

Arsenal schedule final round of Walcott talks to break contract stalemate -

By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Arsenal have scheduled a final round of talks with Theo Walcott in a bid to break the contract stalemate with the forward, can reveal.

Negotiations will resume between the Londoners and Walcott's representatives in mid-November, with both parties hopeful that a resolution can be reached to end the long-running impasse. understands that Arsenal regard the forthcoming talks as the final chance of tying the England international to a new agreement.

The club will look to sell the 23-year-old, who is set to return to the starting XI for the Capital One Cup tie at Reading on Tuesday night, in the January window if there is no breakthrough next month.

However, it is believed that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger would rather offload Walcott abroad than to a Premier League rival, even if it means reducing the cost of the transfer fee.

Juventus have registered their interest in the wide forward and are ready to enter the bidding in the new year.

But the Serie A champions face strong competition from Liverpool, who regard Walcott as a possible answer to their dearth of attacking options, while Manchester City also are continuing to monitor developments.

Walcott has been locked in contract negotiations with Arsenal since the back end of last season and had been hoping for a significant upgrade on his current £60,000-a-week deal, which has just eight months to run. revealed back in April that the 23-year-old had been holding out for a £100,000-a-week salary that would now make him the club's highest earner.

But Arsenal have made it clear they will not be held to ransom by the player and are unwilling to increase their package for Walcott much beyond their current £75,000-a-week offer.

There is also a dispute between Walcott and Wenger over how the player fits into the Arsenal team.

The Frenchman has used the former Southampton man almost exclusively on the right of a front three in his six-and-a-half years at the club but Walcott believes he has plenty to offer in a centre-forward role.

"It is a case of having trust in me up front," said Walcott last month. "I was signed as a striker and it is about time, I want to play up front. I have learnt my game on the wing. When you look at what I did last year I think I can do even more. Hopefully I will be given the opportunity. I am desperate for it."

Walcott has started only two of his 10 Arsenal games this season, and only one match – the Capital One Cup thrashing of Coventry City last month – since his contract stand-off with the club at the end of August.

This comes after he established himself as an undisputed first-team regular last season, starting 29 of Arsenal's 32 first Premier League matches and ending the campaign as the club's second leading scorer behind Robin van Persie, weighing in with 11 in all competitions.

Walcott is poised to make his first Arsenal start for five weeks against Reading on Tuesday in a team made up predominantly of emerging players.

The front man suffered a chest injury on England duty against San Marino earlier this month and only returned to the first-team squad against QPR last weekend.

Follow Wayne Veysey on

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard mocks Everton as a "long-ball team who play like ... -

"Everton are effective because they have some big physical lads in the team and are very direct. They are effective. But the only team who tried to play football was us. Everton are not better than us.

"Everton were very direct and were getting on the second balls. The plan in the second half was to go 3-5-2 and try to stop the long balls coming in.

"Once we stopped that we passed through Everton and looked very dangerous on the break.

"We had a young, small team and they were all men and stood together. We deserved the win."

With so much attention on Suárez's reputation for allegedly attempting to fool officials, Gerrard could not resist a swipe at Neville for the booking he received.

"I think Phil Neville badly let his manager down," he said.

"His manager did every paper, every radio station and every TV channel talking about Luis Suárez and then his captain, who is meant to be setting an example, blatantly dives.

"If David Moyes is a real man and a real manager, which I think he is, then he will be speaking to Phil Neville about it.

"With what he said about Luis Suárez before, David Moyes was trying to get in the referee's head, which is fine, that's all part of the game, stuff like that, but you don't expect your captain to dive like that.

"Luis Suárez was fantastic for us again. I can't control what he does when he scores a goal, I was just happy to see it hit the back of the net. He doesn't need David Moyes to fire him up. But if people want to try to get in Luis's head and wind him up then it's the wrong thing to do.

"You saw that it seems to inspire him rather than go against him."

Gerrard also attacked the decision to disallow Suárez's injury time goal.

"I've seen it again and we can feel sorry ourselves because it was a clear goal," he said.

"We should have taken away the three points rather than just one.

"There is no offside and it's difficult for me to explain it. The only person who can explain it is the linesman.

"I asked him after the game if it was offside and he said 'I think so'. That's not good enough.

"If every decision in this league is based on 'we think so' then we're in trouble.

"The linesman got it badly wrong. The benefit of the doubt is supposed to go to the attacking player anyway.

"And for their second goal, it's a clear throw-in to us.

"The linesman gives us the throw but the referee saw something different.

"He gave Everton the throw and their second goal came from that."

Gerrard reserved special praise for teenager Raheem Sterling, who handled the intensity of the occasion.

"I thought Sterling was fantastic. He has been a revelation for us," said Gerrard.

"To be 17 years of age away in a derby in a cauldron in an atmosphere like this against a big physical, long-ball team, I thought he was outstanding.

"I don't think the Everton players would have known too much about Raheem Sterling before Sunday. But I think they are going to be seeing an awful lot of him in the future.

"He is going to be playing in many, many Merseyside derbies. He is going to have a major impact in them.

"Even when he was through on goal, when he matures a little bit and gets a bit more composure into his game, that will come. We've all been there.

"He is going to be one of the top players in the league, there's no doubt about it.

"The way he stands up for himself, wants the ball and doesn't hide. It's a credit to himself.

"He has some bottle. That's what you look for in young lads. You wonder whether they have the bottle to play away against tough teams in tough situations, and he handled it superbly."

Robson-Kanu relishing Arsenal reunion after winging his way back - Daily Mail

By Rajvir Rai


It's 2004, and a small but skilful teenage winger is being told by Arsenal, his boyhood team, that he is not strong enough or fast enough to progress further at the club.

The 15-year-old is told he can stay for one more season, but his chances of playing will be limited.

Undeterred, the headstrong lad leaves and starts a remarkable eight-year journey that will culminate on Tuesday night when he comes up against the club that let him go.

Bring it on: Reading's Hal Robson-Kanu (right) is looking forward to facing Arsenal

Bring it on: Reading's Hal Robson-Kanu (right) is looking forward to facing Arsenal

The tale of Hal Robson-Kanu, Reading's 23-year-old winger, whose last-gasp equaliser rescued a point against Fulham on Saturday, is cautionary and inspiring.

It includes two serious cruciate ligament injuries, loan spells in League One and an eventual rise to Premier League and international football.

As Robson-Kanu says: 'Some people can't believe how far I've come and how quickly.'

To fully appreciate his journey, first we must rewind to his Arsenal days. 

Robson-Kanu grew up in west London and joined the club as a 10-year-old.

Jay Simpson, now of Hull, was in his age group while Fabrice Muamba, formerly of Bolton, and Matthew Connolly, now of Cardiff, were a year ahead.

In the younger ranks were Emmanuel Frimpong and a certain Jack Wilshere.

'It was brilliant to be part of that,' reflects Robson-Kanu. 'But I was one of the smallest players in the squad. I wasn't fast enough, strong enough or big enough.

Bulking up: Arsenal reckoned Robson-Kanu was too small to make it

Bulking up: Arsenal reckoned Robson-Kanu was too small to make it

'Arsenal said they knew I had the quality to be a football player and were happy for me to stay another year till I was 16, but because of my size and physical attributes they said if another club wanted to take me then they would let me go.'

It's a message that countless young, technically gifted footballers have heard over the decades.

Many have fallen by the wayside, but fortunately for Robson-Kanu he had caught the eye of a progressive young manager who saw past his physical deficiencies.

'Brendan Rodgers was the academy manager at Reading and he liked what he had seen of me,' says Robson-Kanu.

'He told me I would progress through the ranks and become a first-team player and I liked what he had to say.

'A few other clubs came in for me but I chose Reading and haven't looked back since.'

His development, however, was twice checked by serious injury.

National service: Robson-Kanu is a Wales international

National service: Robson-Kanu is a Wales international

'I was out for nearly three years. I was 16 when I did my cruciate ligament for the first time in a youth game and then 17-and-a-half when it happened again,' says Robson-Kanu.

'It was a tough period and anyone who has been through that kind of thing knows how hard you have to work to get back to the level you were at before and in my case to an even better level.'

Comeback and improve he did. Loan spells at Swindon and Southend provided valuable first-team experience and caps at England Under 19 and 20 level followed.  

And by the end of the 2009-2010 season, half a decade after he had left Arsenal, Robson-Kanu had established himself in the Reading first team and made his senior Wales debut, having switched allegiances from England.

As he prepares to face Arsenal for the first time as a professional, he feels no bitterness or resentment.

'It is a fantastic club with a fantastic ethos. It was a great grounding and we had some great coaches – Neil Banfield (now first-team coach), Steve Bould (now assistant manager) and Dermot Drummy (now Chelsea reserve manager),' he says.

'They've changed their policy now and don't let players go at that age without giving them a proper chance to grow and develop.

'Within two years of leaving Arsenal I had grown upwards and outwards and got stronger and faster.

'We played Arsenal in a youth team game a few years after I had left and their coaches, Steve Bould and Liam Brady, couldn't believe it when they saw me again. They came over afterwards and were shocked at the size of me.'

On Tuesday, Robson-Kanu, all 6ft 1in and 85kg of him, will be hoping to shock his old club once again.

Arsenal take on United for Crewe starlet Max Clayton - dubbed the new Michael ... - Daily Mail

By David Kent


Arsenal will battle Manchester United for the 3million signature of highly-rated Crewe striker Max Clayton.

The 18-year-old, who has been likened to Michael Owen, is the latest product of the prestigious Gresty Road production line. He has made 48 appearances since his first-team debut in April 2010.

Clayton, who has represented England at every age group from Under 16 has been watched by scouts from Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle.

'The new Owen': Crewe striker Max Clayton (left), who has been likened to former England striker Michael Owen (right), is on Arsenal's and United's radar

Arsenal are now ready to make a move when the January transfer window opens, with manager Arsene Wenger being alerted to Clayton's progress by his former assistant, now scout, Pat Rice.

Gunners staff watched the Crewe youngster in games against Portsmouth and then Walsall earlier this month, and Wenger was handed promising reports on the striker, who has been likened to ex-England star Owen because of his movement in the box.


Date of birth: 9 August 1994
Place of birth: Crewe, England
Height: 5ft 9in

Senior career
2011–     Crewe 48 apps (9 goals)

2010     England U16     5     (2)
2010–2011     England U17     20     (4)
2011–     England U18     2     (0)
2012–     England U19     1     (0)

Follow him on Twitter @MaxJClayton

Arsenal scout's presence at those matches has prompted speculation that a potential deal with Crewe has already been secured, and while that was rebuffed by Alex boss Steve Davis, he has admitted that he expects Clayton to move on soon: 'I've had no inquiries about Max, only people watching, so it's only a rumour. He's not ready to go anywhere,' said Davis last week. 'When the situation is right he will leave to go in somebody's first team.'

Clayton is said to be valued at 3m by Crewe, who sold fellow teenager Nick Powell to Manchester United for a similar fee during the summer.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Better all round goal scoring rate than 99.9% of the Wanderers last season! You should buy him as you might increase your goal tally! Lol!

He should go to little Arsenal as he would get straight in their first team then if he does well could move on to one of the Manchester clubs

Arsenal can have him. Seen better younger players

48 games, 9 goals - the new Michael Owen ? - Tony, London, United Kingdom, Exactly what I thought when I seen the stats. Owen was scoring way more in the prem and at 17. Hardly a good comparison is it. New Heskey more like.

should go to Liverpool if that's the case, they made Owen a world class player. he didn't perform well with other teams to be honest.

Sorry, I did'nt realise the daily mail had so many expert scouts as readers. Stick to the day job guys.

Wonder if him and Powell are friends? If so, he is OT bound

No Offence but his scoring record is not amazing. Owen's goal scoring record through youth teams was exceptional!

The new Michael Owen...constantly injured, happy to warm the subs bench, likes horses.

48 games, 9 goals - the new Michael Owen ?

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