Thursday, 28 February 2013

Dad wants Facebook to ban daughter - Belfast Telegraph

Facebook should be ordered to do more to stop a 13-year-old Northern Ireland girl having highly sexualised contact with men on the site, the High Court has heard.

Lawyers for her father claimed the social media giant's open registration system allows children to log in and could put them at risk from paedophiles.

It was alleged that the current arrangements are not fit for purpose.

Under Facebook's policy no one aged under 13 is allowed to use the site.

But the girl, who is subject to a care order, has reportedly posted suggestive images of herself on it since she was 12.

She has used up to four different accounts on the site and been in exchanges with a man who is restrained from any contact with her, the court heard yesterday.

Legal proceedings were launched in a bid to secure an injunction compelling Facebook to take steps to prevent the girl using the site or publishing images on it.

In court barrister Peter Girvan claimed there has been a breach of her privacy.

He contended that her highly sexualised contact with men on the site was degrading, abusive and harassing.

According to Mr Girvan, the open registration system was flawed because 13-year-olds cannot enter a contract or legally consent to their data being used.

Even younger children could claim to be the required age and give themselves a fake name, it was argued.

It was also argued that Facebook could change its terms of registration to require users to verify their identity and age.

The case could have potentially significant implications for the social networking company's operation in the UK.

It was pointed out that if a ruling is made in favour of the girl's family it may prevent huge numbers of child users from accessing the site.

Mr Justice McCloskey is due to deliver his verdict in the injunction application later this week.

London Welsh are shown little pity by rivals as Premiership points deduction looms -

The charges faced by London Welsh relate to the registration last summer of scrum-half Tyson Keats, a 31-year-old New Zealander who joined the promoted club from now-defunct Italian side Aironi.

Former team manager Mike Scott was charged separately over an allegation he misled the RFU, incorrectly registering the player as English. A date for Scott's hearing has yet to be set.

The Exiles are expected to argue in mitigation that they uncovered the maladministration following an internal investigation and brought the matter to the RFU.

That did not wash with Rowe, who said: "We got caned for it, so I've got no sympathy for them. We got done and probably rightly so, because the rules are there.

"When you're in a professional business, which it is, you can't really have a slap on the wrist and people saying, 'Don't be a naughty boy', or, 'Don't do it again'. Otherwise, everybody tomorrow would say 'Sorry, it was just an administrative cock-up, we didn't mean to do it'."

Rowe acknowledged it would be "farcical" if London Welsh were docked 18 points – two for each match played by Keats – but said he expected them to lose "a lot".

He added: "People make mistakes but the reality is you can't expect to get away with it, can't expect to say 'Don't dock us any points because we're really sorry'. If you've made a mistake, you've made a mistake. If the rules say they must do this then they must do it. As we discovered, it's tough at the top."

Diamond was more diplomatic, insisting he did not know enough of the "detail" of the case to pass judgment on what sanction should be imposed.

He added: "Honest mistakes do happen and dishonest mistakes happen. It depends what the panel finds and they'll deal with it in due course, no doubt. In reality, there's a huge knock-on effect, isn't there, if you play ineligible players in games?

"If it's an administrative error then fair play but if it's deliberate then it's totally different and the sanctions will no doubt take that into consideration."

London Irish are just two points better off than London Welsh and while director of rugby Brian Smith said he had an opinion on the matter, he insisted it would be wrong to comment without being in full possession of the facts.

London Welsh, meanwhile, went into lockdown on Wednesday, gagging head coach Lyn Jones and his players from discussing anything relating to the case.

Chief executive Tony Copsey refused to add to his promise on Tuesday to cooperate fully with the RFU, while Jones was guarded in the extreme when previewing the club's Premiership game with Saracens on Sunday.

Asked how his players were feeling, he said: "They're fine, everybody's fine." He insisted the squad were "very much" focused on their jobs and revealed Keats, who is not thought to be linked in any way to the charges, was "fine" mentally.

But Jones betrayed his fears over the sanction that could be imposed on the club when revealing he was currently targeting two more wins for survival. He added: "I can't see f------ more than two!"

That gallows humour extended to hooker Neil Briggs, who joked about the charges hanging over the club: "We're all on death row, slitting our wrists."

Twitter turns cancer-free Alex Baston into global hit - BBC News

A teenager who announced on Twitter he had beaten a rare form of cancer has become a global internet hit.

Alex Baston, 17, from Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, had his message retweeted more than 9,300 times.

The St Cyres School pupil, who was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma a year ago, had a tumour weighing 9lb (4kg)removed from his thigh.

Last Thursday, Alex tweeted: "Had my results and today is the day I've officially beaten cancer!!!!"

After realising his euphoric tweet had gone worldwide, Alex said: "It was nice to see that people took time out of their day to congratulate me.

"And it was something happy, for once."

Just over a year ago, Alex discovered a lump on the inside of his right thigh.

He said: "I was messing around with my mates and I hit the sofa, it hurt and I found this lump."

Alex's GP immediately referred him for a scan which was followed by a biopsy.

In February 2012 Alex was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma.

It was an aggressive and fast growing tumour that was removed following two sessions of chemotherapy.

"Start Quote

I felt like the world had been lifted off my shoulders - I felt the most relaxed I had been in a year"

End Quote Alex Baston on being cleared of cancer

Alex said: "After that I had another 12 sessions of chemo. The treatment was pretty bad - I had to stay in hospital for four days every time I had it, but as soon as I went home I felt better."

Following a year of treatment, Alex was with his best friend while he waited for the call from his mother, Joanna, to tell him whether he had beaten the disease.

"I knew there had been no change in my leg and I didn't feel unwell," he said.

"I felt confident but when my mum rang I felt like the world had been lifted off my shoulders - I felt the most relaxed I had been in a year."

Alex, who also has rods in his neck and back following an operation for scoliosis, celebrated by going swimming, something the water polo player had not been able to do since diagnosis in case he caught an infection.

A-level student Alex said: "It felt really good, I had really missed it."

Joanna Baston admitted waiting for the phone call from Alex's consultant was "horrendous".

She said: "That was the worst part of the whole thing - the waiting. I'd taken the dog for a walk that morning and I felt like something was pressing down hard on my shoulders all the time.

"Simon, my husband, rang and was told they were clear and I have never cried like it - I couldn't pull myself together."

Mrs Baston, a nurse, called her son and "blubbed" down the phone his results were clear.

She said: "I would just like other parents out there who are going through the same thing that there is a huge light at the end of the tunnel."

The family, including Alex's brother Ben, 16, and sister Millie, 14, is looking forward to a holiday to Florida in October, courtesy of the Make a Wish Foundation.

Mrs Baston said: "I am so, so proud of him and the way he has dealt with this."

Alex also paid tribute to the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.

Liverpool step up their quest to find the new Steven Gerrard and Jamie ... -

"Carra and Stevie would have always got to where they are. You need good people to help you get there quicker, but it's always the players' responsibility. Everyone here needs to understand the dirty work to get there."

The senior coaches and players have spent the day coaching at The Academy. It may seem nothing especially unusual, first team staff taking time to underline the requirements to those coming through. In a turbulent recent history at Liverpool, it is unprecedented.

Luis Suárez and Gerrard are playing five-a-side with the eight-year-olds, the Liverpool captain hosting a question-and-answer session of his own. Pepe Reina is trying to stop the ambitious under-12s beating him in a penalty shoot-out.

Every other first-team player is involved at some level on site, joining in the small-sided games with each of 198 of the academy playing staff aged eight to 21, and embracing a mentoring programme Rodgers is pushing.

"We've never done anything like this before," Carragher observes, his son among those enjoying the coaching sessions with the likes of Gerrard and Suárez.

The manager also spoke at length to parents to offer a reminder that whatever issues they encounter as they seek the best for their son they should approach him or his staff. Such is the inclusiveness he is encouraging, last week he arranged for under-14 players to be ballboys in the Europa League game against Zenit St Petersburg.

"We were meant to be in Dubai having a break this week," says Rodgers. "I cancelled it after we lost to Oldham and told the players we were coming here instead. I couldn't get it out of my mind the idea of players walking around Dubai after we had gone out of the Cup. I said 'no'. You have to earn those rewards. This is more important."

It was not so long ago different areas of this football club were perceived as factions rather than departments. Liverpool's academy was the first purpose-built facility of its type in 1999, the aim then precisely as of now – to maintain a conveyor belt that produced Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Steve McManaman and Carragher.

There have been an assortment of good professionals who have come through since, but nothing comparable to the 'centre of excellence' crop who pre-dated the move to Kirkby. Even Gerrard had barely spent time here before being summoned to Melwood.

It is a moment of symbolism when the current academy director, Frank McParland, introduces Rodgers to his development squad as 'the boss'. During the Gérard Houllier era and most of Rafael Benítez's reign, there was only friction. They would go years without stepping into the place, no deference considered necessary from the academy director to the manager. Those who worked under successive regimes do not only see a different relationship, but a different club.

"We are one club compared to what it was then," says McParland, who took on his role in 2009. "There are clear lines of communication. The relationship offers the players a pathway. It's the best time there has been in terms of that relationship."

This season, the edict was issued that from the under-nines up, the fluid, passing style and formation of the first team was to be replicated.

"When I came in I sold the owners that idea so that if it doesn't work out for me, at least you bring in a different manager who wants to play the same style and then it evolves," says Rodgers. "I want to create a shortcut so that everyone who comes in immediately understands what is expected in terms of style of play. It saves time, money and effort. This is the first year of that and, naturally, there are growing pains.

"The alternative is you have no plan. You start one way, that doesn't work so you bring in another manager who wants it completely different. Half your squad plays one way, the other half another. All you get then is stockpiling of players. Then it's the club's fault if you're not successful, not the players.

"The ideal is to bring us all together on one site. The environment here is terrific, but ultimately I've already advocated to the board the benefits of bringing us all together. If I'm here a long time, that's what I want to see happen."

Liverpool's last flurry of world-class youth products emerged in the mid-90s before that separation. McParland was a community coach in those days, promoted in the final year of Benítez's reign working alongside academy technical director Rodolfo Borrell, who was recruited from Barcelona's famed La Masia Academy. The network of scouts is spread across South America as much as Speke nowadays. The aspiration is to recruit the finest global talent while keeping the Scouse heart beating.

"There will be a number of top, Liverpool-born players coming through in the next five years. I will say that for definite," says McParland. "We've done well getting some through recently, but I don't think you say they're proper Liverpool players until they played 100 first-team games. I think we're doing alright, but there is no massive success until you get a situation where they're playing every week and the boss can't drop them.

"We have a massive network of scouts working for us - impossible to put a number on it because we have contacts everywhere but you have to remember we also have to look beyond Merseyside. We want the best of the best, not just from this area, but from London and Lisbon. But we also want that team of Carraghers the crowd sings about. That genuinely is the aspiration."

One theory is Liverpool, just like Manchester United, simply enjoyed a golden period in the mid-90s it is impossible to replicate. Look around the league, even across the continent, and few of the elite clubs are packed with academy talent.

"Throughout Europe it's a small percentage of under-21 players in the first team," says Rodgers. "The recurring question is whether those top players are a product of nature or nurture? There are some you see straight away and you know they'll be a player, and then others who haven't got quite everything but they will fight to be the best they can be. You want both."

Borrell spent 13 years at Barcelona, Lionel Messi among the most prodigious talents he oversaw.

"Some players are born to this, but not many," he says. "Messi, Dalglish, Cruyff and Gerrard are rare. The type of game in Spain makes it easier to produce a certain profile of player, but England has other qualities. The football here is not better or worse, just different and English football is creating better facilities and a structure which can only be positive for the future.

"We are always comparing players, but I won't say we will have a new Steven Gerrard at Liverpool. To find another Gerrard or Carragher is difficult. I want a player with his own name, making his own impact and I'm sure that will happen."

Rodgers concludes his speech to the development squad, some of who have already enjoyed a taste of the senior action. He tells them to honour and learn from their predecessors, but to strive to ensure the perennial quest to find the next 'big thing' from Anfield ends with them.

"The past is incredible but we can't be hostages to that," says Rodgers. "Don't be one of those sitting in the pub at 55 blaming everyone else saying how you could have been this or that. It is down to you to learn from Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher. It is down to you to make it happen."

Daddy time! Suri 'jets to London on private jet for five-day vacation with Tom ... - Daily Mail

By Monty Archibald


Her mother makes sure she lives a relatively ordinary life.

But when it comes to her father, Suri Cruise enjoys a taste of the high life.

The six-year-old boarded actor Tom's private Gulfstream IV jet as she headed to London last week to spend a week in his company.

Together again: Tom Cruise, seen here with Suri last year, flew his girl out to see him in London last week

Together again: Tom Cruise, seen here with Suri last year, flew his girl out to see him in London last week

A source told E!: 'Last week, Tom sent his private jet to NYC to pick up Suri so she could come to London and spend some time with him.

'He is currently staying at a hotel just outside of London. She spent five days with him.

'He has been working quite long hours on the set, but he was able to have some time off to be with her

'They had a really lovely time.'

Special delivery: The jolly actor dispatched his Gulfstream IV Jet to bring his daughter over

Special delivery: The jolly actor dispatched his Gulfstream IV Jet to bring his daughter over

No wonder he was in a good mood: Tom look jubilant when he returned to filming Kill in the Mall in London on Sunday

No wonder he was in a good mood: Tom look jubilant when he returned to filming Kill in the Mall in London on Sunday

Rejuvenated: After his brief holiday Tom was back to his best as he filmed a thrilling motorcycle sequence

Rejuvenated: After his brief holiday Tom was back to his best as he filmed a thrilling motorcycle sequence

After her visit Scientology buff Tom, 50 was visibly jubilant when he returned to filming his latest project Kill in the Mall in London on Saturday, where he filmed a thrilling motorbike sequence.

His ex-wife Katie Holmes, 34, meanwhile took full advantage of Suri's absence to make a trip of her own.

She was spotted dressed to the nines as she left a party in Beverly Hills last Thursday.

But she was back to her usual dowdy self when she took her daughter to see the New York City Ballet's presentation of The Sleeping Beauty at the weekend.

Enjoying a break: Katie Holmes took advantage of Suri's absence by attending a party in Beverly Hills last week

Enjoying a break: Katie Holmes took advantage of Suri's absence by attending a party in Beverly Hills last week

Reunited: Katie was back to her usual dowdy self when she took Suri to the ballet in New York on Saturday

Reunited: Katie was back to her usual low key self when she took Suri to the ballet in New York on Saturday

And the Batman Begins actress was back in dressed down mode as she enjoyed some sporting action on Wednesday.

For she was spotted giggling with glee as she watched the New York Knicks play the Golden State Warriors in their NBA clash at Madison Square Garden.

She wore a pair of ripped jeans and a blouse, and seemed on cloud nine as she chatted with a mystery man sitting next to her in a smart suit.

And her grin was even wider at the end of the match, as the Knicks managed to squeak through by just four points as they won 109 to 105.

Garden leave: Katie Holmes went to Madison Square Garden to watch the New York Knicks play the Golden State Warriors in an NBA clash on Wednesday

Garden leave: Katie Holmes went to Madison Square Garden to watch the New York Knicks play the Golden State Warriors in an NBA clash on Wednesday

Mystery man: She seemed to be enjoying the attention as she chatted with a fellow spectator

Mystery man: She seemed to be enjoying the attention as she chatted with a fellow spectator

Snap happy: Katie stopped to share a joke with a photographer after the game came to a dramatic close

Snap happy: Katie stopped to share a joke with a photographer after the game came to a dramatic close

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

oh yay! Maybe he will finally teach Suri how to walk....

Awe lovely photo of tom with his little girl. it is obvious that she really loves him.


Tom Cruise is awesome. Talented, good looking, speaks his mind. Gotta admire that. He tells the truth.

Love Tom Cruise. Great dad, great man.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

British Gas profits boosted by colder weather - BBC News

Ian Peters from British Gas told the BBC the profit and price rises were "not connected"

British Gas has reported a rise in profits for 2012 after colder weather led to people using more gas.

Profits from its residential energy supply arm rose 11% from a year earlier to £606m. It said gas consumption had risen by 12%.

But there has been some criticism that the company increased its prices in November when profits were rising.

Centrica, which owns British Gas, reported an adjusted operating profit of £2.7bn for 2012, up 14% from 2011.

Centrica chief executive Sam Laidlaw told the BBC that the firm's profit margins per household "actually went down", adding that the company had made just under £50 profit per customer household.

"A 5% margin on the business is the sort of margin we require" to make investments in new sources of energy, he added.

Centrica's dividends to shareholders have risen 6% and the company is also returning £500m to them.

Profits were up 16% to £312m at British Gas' residential services unit, which covers services such as boiler repairs.

Audrey Gallacher, the director of energy at Consumer Focus, said: "Perhaps we should not be surprised to see higher profits after a cold winter and with the prospect of significant investment in our energy infrastructure.

"But this announcement comes after more price rises last year, record numbers in fuel poverty and not long after the energy regulator warned of higher still energy prices for the foreseeable future," she added.

Ann Robinson from uSwitch: "Customers should get an annual renewal notice"

"We should not be surprised if consumers regard these results, and the warning of price rises to come, with a mix of resentment and dread."

Cheapest tariff

British Gas raised its gas and electricity prices by 6% in November, which Mr Laidlaw stressed was "lower than any of our competitors".

But Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at the price comparison website Uswitch, said: "Seven out of 10 of us actually went without heating at some point during this winter and over a third of us have reported that we feel it's actually affected the quality of our life and also our health.

"So no, I don't think customers will be celebrating. I think they'll be wondering why on earth British Gas had to take this move in November when they are making such high profits."

All of the big six energy suppliers raised prices this winter, prompting Prime Minister David Cameron to step in and say he was going to force them to put customers on their cheapest tariffs.

Energy regulator Ofgem provided details of the plan last week, which will also limit the number of tariffs that suppliers can offer and force them to make bills clearer.

The company also announced that Phil Bentley was stepping down from his role as managing director of British Gas to pursue his ambition to be a chief executive.

Twitter token limit criticised as Falcon Pro hikes app price to deter buyers - The Guardian (blog)

How much would you pay for a Twitter client? Does £87.48 (or $132.13) sound like a reasonable amount - when almost all of them are free, or cost a couple of pounds?

But that's the price put on the Falcon Pro for Android, a Twitter client, after its developer Joaquim Vergès ran into Twitter's policy - introduced last August - of limiting the number of "tokens" (in effect, users of the app) available to new third-party clients to access the service to a maximum of 100,000. The app has been on sale since November.

The intention of raising the price isn't to make money from people; it's to actively discourage anyone from buying the app, while allowing those who already have to continue to use it and get updates.

Though the 100,000-token limit is a problem for any Twitter app, because it puts a cap on success, the problem has been worsened, according to Vergès, by piracy of his app via Google Play's store. That has meant that the app - which used to be priced at $1 - was being "cracked", copied and shared or resold by others, but with each token activation still counting against Falcon Pro's total. In addition some of the tokens may have been used by people who did buy the original app, but then decided to get a refund within the 15-minute window that Google allows.

"As Twitter doesn't give any information or detail about the user tokens used, it's very hard to estimate exactly how many tokens are due to piracy or to inactive users," Vergès told the Guardian.

Falcon Pro is the second paid-for app to have publicly run into Twitter's 100,000 limit. In November Tweetro, a free app for Windows 8, hit the same limit, and pulled it from the Windows 8 Store and relaunched it as a paid app: "Had these restrictions not been imposed on us, we'd be more than happy to continue distributing the app freely as the exposure we've received from doing so has been amazing. Unfortunately, the circumstances have forced us to put a price tag on it to justify ongoing development. Of course, these restrictions also apply to Tweetro+ meaning we'll only ever be able to distribute it to a limited number of people," the developers wrote.

Vergès told the Guardian that his app had appeared on one pirating site within hours of a new version being released, and that there seemed to be another "community black market" where users uploaded pirated APKs - the core of the app - and share them.

Vergès says however that he's not worried by the piracy, even though it has been an issue for a number of paid app developers. "It's never been such a big issue for me until now, I believe that users that download a pirated version of my APK [app] probably wouldn't have bought it in the first place, either by choice or by obligation." Some countries still don't offer access to the paid version of the Google Play store, he points out.

"I write Android apps as a hobby," Vergès explains. "My day job provides enough that I don't have to worry about piracy that much. The real problem here is the limitation in tokens, which gets reached very quickly when it's not controlled. If I wasn't limited in users, piracy would not be so problematic. My real concern is having new buyers complain that they bought an unusable app."

Falcon Pro remain on "sale" at its hugely high price so that existing users will be able to get updates - while discouraging potential new "buyers".

Piracy in Google Play has been a concern to many big-name developers, but Vergès's experience is one of the first where it is thought to have driven an app into Twitter's tokens roadblock.

"I've learned recently that if you really want to protect your app, there's ways to prevent piracy by changing your business model (free app with in-app purchases seems to be the most efficient), or by providing critical information to enable your service via a private server. No protection is perfect, but it usually dissuades the common pirates who don't like to look at code," Vergès told the Guardian.

Twitter has told Vergès that it won't extend the 100,000 limit for his app - the same approach that it took with Tweetro - despite getting more than 6,000 signatures at an online petition.

Now Vergès is considering radical action: resetting the app's Twitter keys, so that every user has to log in afresh. "Every user would have to re-login into the app to secure their 'user token', while I'd enforce security to delay pirates from using it as long as possible," he explains. "With that reset, I'm starting fresh with a new set of 100,000 user tokens, and I'm hoping this way it will free up all the unused tokens that are still active."

He hopes that will allow him to keep selling the app - at the original price - for longer "and at least allow a few more new users to discover and enjoy the app, while I finish the latest features I want to implement to make the app complete."

He adds though that "I'm not entirely sure of what will happen next. I can only hope that the token cap won't be reached again in a matter of days. I really wish Twitter would give developers some insight to be able to monitor the consumption of user tokens."

London's hedge funds brace for bonus curbs - Reuters UK

LONDON | Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:58pm GMT

LONDON (Reuters) - It's all go at Peter Stratford's Aston Martin dealership in London.

"There is more money than there was before," he said, pointing to a recent 1 million pound sale. "Aston Martin prices have gone through the roof in the last couple of years."

London's unique concentration of hedge funds, clustered around the leafy squares of Mayfair, are a particular boon for purveyors of luxury goods such as Stratford.

But new European Union rules curbing the upfront pay of hedge fund managers, set to be introduced this summer, could cool some of the more conspicuous consumption.

The EU's Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive says 40-60 percent of a hedge fund manager's bonus must be deferred and no more than half can be paid in cash. The rest must be made up of units of their fund or an equivalent.

There is confusion about how the rules will apply in practice, with large gaps around the treatment of tax and dividends.

"It is potentially a massive concern if it all goes horribly wrong. But it is not yet clear (what might happen)," said one industry executive, who declined to be named because of the sensitivities around hedge fund remuneration.

London's hedge fund sector, which accounts for the bulk of the industry in Europe, is waiting for the successor to Britain's Financial Services Authority to publish its response to the directive in April or May. The FSA's wiggle room to make the rules less stringent, however, is limited.

"It is difficult. Managers like certainty and some of the gaps may never be filled in. It may be up to managers to determine their own approach," said Stephen Rabel, of consultancy Kinetic Partners.

In practice, many funds have already deferred manager pay, putting part of it into their funds because of pressure from investors.

"Most larger managers will have had this in place for some time," said an executive at one of London's biggest hedge funds. "It has come from investors saying 'Are you able to align yourself with us'?"


Hedge funds' bumper fee structures - traditionally a 2 percent management fee and 20 percent of performance but sometimes much more - have made the industry an easy target for politicians tapping into anti-banker sentiment in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

The EU parliament and EU states could agree on Wednesday to impose a cap on bankers' bonuses of double their base salary.

With hedge funds struggling to make returns in a low interest rate environment, the impending EU rules could have less of an immediate impact on them.

Some funds have not seen a performance fee for years, with the average fund barely breaking even in the past two years, and up just eight percent over five years, according to Hedge Fund Research data.

That said, there is still plenty of money sloshing around restaurants and private members clubs in Mayfair.

More than 80 hedge fund managers have personal fortunes of at least 50 million pounds, according to the Sunday Times Hedge Fund Rich List, and the income from management fees ensures even those not among the sector's top earners are still kept in Savile Row tailoring and fine wines.

With banker-bashing so popular, financiers are mostly keeping a low profile around the City of London financial district.

"It is not considered politically correct to be doing a lot of ostentatious spending in public anymore," said Sian Cox, a hospitality manager at Prism, an upmarket City restaurant.

"They might be spending their money on a country pile, or a Porsche or something but you are not actually seeing it in the City. They are not spending it on Chateau Petrus."

And in Royal Exchange Jewellers, a shop close to the Bank of England, owner Martin Deakins reported a sharp pick-up in sale of second-hand luxury watches.


For fund managers wanting to flee the rules, the traditional bolt-hole of Switzerland may not be an option. Industry insiders expect managers outside the EU, for instance in Geneva, to be subject to the same guidelines if they sell into the EU.

In practice, despite periodic threats to move, hedge fund managers are loath to leave Mayfair and St James's, despite a 40 percent jump in rents in the past 3-1/2 years, according to property consultant Cushman & Wakefield.

Geneva is no real match for London's buzzing nightlife, swanky restaurants and upmarket shops despite having a top marginal tax rate of 44 percent compared with an income tax rate of 45 percent in Britain.

The Swiss franc has also strengthened around 20 percent against the dollar - in which most hedge fund firms earn their revenues - since summer 2010, increasing staff and office costs.

Some hedge funds are now homesick for London again.

"There have been managers that have moved parts of their businesses to other jurisdictions, such as Switzerland, but a lot get drawn back to London," said Roger Ganpatsingh, managing director at Throgmorton, which provides back-office services for funds.

(Additional reporting by Costas Pitas, Alice Baghdjian and Tom Bill in London, and Martin de Sa'Pinto in Zurich; Editing by Carmel Crimmins and Dan Lalor)

He's the next Kieran Gibbs! Arsenal fans get news they've been longing to hear -

Arsene Wenger's deadline day move for Spain international Nacho Monreal has given the Gunners gaffer reason to smile during a tricky period.

The 27-year-old Malaga star arrived last month to shore up the hole left in Arsenal's defence by injured England left-back Kieran Gibbs – and the added bonus, says Wenger, is Monreal's obviously potent threat going forward.

"The first thing you want from your defenders is to defend well, so we cannot reproach him for that. You will see the other aspects of his game more when his confidence has settled," Wenger said in the March edition of the official Arsenal magazine, according to the Press Association.

"He is good in the air for a guy of his size, has a quick leap and has looked good. Monreal is very strong in other areas too, his crosses for example, and his forward play you will see a bit later.

"It happened with Kieran Gibbs too, the more confident he became the more efficient he was going forward.

"It can take a bit if time to express that side."

Toe in: Gabriel Agbonlahor of Aston Villa is challenged by Nacho Monreal of Arsenal
Toe in: Gabriel Agbonlahor of Aston Villa is challenged by Nacho Monreal of Arsenal

Wenger continued: "There is no better culture shock than to play against Stoke and Sunderland.

"He has not said a word to me about it, but he has spoken with the other players and he has seen all about the passion and commitment of the English game. You can say Nacho Monreal passed that test."

The PA report: Gibbs has been sidelined with a thigh injury picked up in the 2-2 draw against Liverpool on January 30 - which gave Arsenal little time to hasten a move for Monreal.

Wenger had been on the Spaniard's case "for a long time", and was happy to have landed "one of our big targets".

January was tough admits Wenger

The Arsenal manager admits the January window was a testing period for the club, who came under criticism for not spending big despite obvious shortcomings on the pitch.

"We had a difficult first six months of the season, because we were trying to extend the contracts of all the British players. That demanded a lot of work and then we had to deal with the (Theo) Walcott situation as well during January," Wenger said.

"So personally I am relieved because we dealt with the situation and we extended all of our players (contracts), kept Walcott and bought Monreal, of course you can always do better but overall I feel the club has dealt with the situation we faced in a satisfactory way."

Failing to add more options, however, means Wenger's faith in the current group is again on the line heading into the defining period of what has been another frustrating campaign.

Intense: Kieran Gibbs injured himself, possibly during this celebration
Intense: Kieran Gibbs injured himself, possibly during this celebration


Yet despite their trophy ambitions seemingly over once again after being handed a European masterclass by Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 clash at the Emirates Stadium which followed crashing out of the FA Cup at home to npower Championship side Blackburn, there could yet be a positive end to the season.

Arsenal head to north London rivals Tottenham on Sunday just two points off fourth-placed Chelsea, with Andre Villas-Boas' men moving four ahead after Gareth Bale's injury-time winner at West Ham on Monday night.

Wenger's men at least have some momentum in the Premier League, with three successive victories in a five-match unbeaten run.

Right-back Bacary Sagna missed the win over Villa with a knee problem, but could be fit to face Spurs - and so the man tasked with shackling Bale.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have moved their Premier League game against sixth-placed Everton which was set for March 9 after the Toffees progressed to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with last night's victory over Oldham.

The game will now take place on Tuesday, April 16 or 24 hours later, should Everton go on to reach the semi-finals at Wembley.

Dennis Bergkamp statue

Arsenal appear to be planning to add a statue of former striker Dennis Bergkamp outside the Emirates Stadium after images were leaked online.

Holland international Bergkamp scored 120 goals for the Gunners, before retiring in 2006, and has been touted as a possible successor to Liam Brady when he leaves his role at the Arsenal academy.

Good old days: Arsenal's captain Patrick Vieira celebrates his goal against Tottenham with teammates Ashley Cole, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires at White Hart Lane, April 2004
Good old days: Arsenal's captain Patrick Vieira celebrates his goal against Tottenham with teammates Ashley Cole, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires at White Hart Lane, April 2004


Bronze statues of former manager Herbert Chapman, double-winning captain Tony Adams and record goalscorer Thierry Henry are already in place around the ground at Ashburton Grove.

A club spokesman said: "We are pleased that speculation surrounding a future possible statue is generating interest and will obviously communicate details if and when there is confirmation of any new developments."

Harlequins 16-17 London Wasps - BBC News

Wasps held on at the Stoop to deny Harlequins a second comeback victory and top spot in the Premiership table.

The hosts stunned Wasps on the opening day of the season but Nick Evans's missed penalties proved costly.

A Tom Varndell interception and Christian Wade try put Wasps 14-0 ahead but Matt Hooper's lucky bounce saw the deficit reduced to 14-13 at half-time.

The home side pressed after the break but, after an exchange of penalties, Evans missed a late chance to steal it.

Had he kicked over the penalty with two minutes to go, it would almost certainly have extended Quins' winning run to 11 matches.

But Wasps snatched their second away win of the season - and first at the Stoop in six years, to move back into the Premiership top four.

They were ahead in the seventh minute when Varndell intercepted Evans's pass and streaked clear to run in under the posts for his 50th try for the club.

Evans missed a straightforward penalty soon after and Wasps doubled their advantage in the 14th minute with a fine counter-attacking move was finished by Wade.

Harlequins finally got themselves on the scoresheet four minutes later after centre Chris Bell had been sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Nick Easter.

And Hopper added Quins' first try when Wasps full-back Hugo Southwell failed to mop up his kick.

Evans trimmed the gap to 14-13 with another penalty to set up a thrilling second half.

Quins pressed but Wasps scored next, with Nicky Robinson kicking three points after an infringement from flanker Luke Wallace.

Evans reduced the deficit back with a penalty but missed his next effort to clinch the win.

Arsenal transfers Gunn shy: Arsenal move for Atletico's Lopez.. but don't ... -

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has made an enquiry for long-term target Adrian Lopez - but the Gunners do not want to pay his £14million buy-out clause.

The Londoners have been trailing Atletico Madrid striker Lopez for months and he is high on their list of potential January transfer targets.

Although he is a full Spain international, 24-year-old Lopez is only a bit-part player for Atletico and could be allowed to go in January, but Arsenal are reluctant to trigger the clause as they try to work out whether a deal can be done.

Wenger's scouting network have repeatedly watched Lopez and Atletico may choose to part with him rather than superstar Colombian hitman Radamel Falcao as they seek to offset financial problems at the club.

Arsenal are trying to bring in a new striker, even though Theo Walcott has been in sparkling form recently when used as a centre-forward.

Gunners legend Thierry Henry had been linked with another short-term loan from New York Red Bulls during Major League Soccer's winter off-season, but Wenger has now ruled that out.

Wenger has been looking for back-up for Olivier Giroud and is losing Gervinho to Africa Cup of Nations duty with Ivory Coast.

However, Arsenal still want to offload Marouane Chamakh this month, and doing so would free up money to make a signing on a big contract.

Wenger wants to get busy in January and the fact Schalke's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has signed a new contract strengthens the chances of Lopez emerging as the top target, but the Arsenal manager is determined not to pay over the odds in the winter window.

Arsenal are also keen on Crystal Palace and England forward Wilfried Zaha and Manchester United winger Nani.


Weather: Snow Threatens To Disrupt Travel - Sky News

Sky News Weather Forecast

Updated: 7:11am UK, Friday 08 February 2013

Patchy light rain or drizzle across northeast England, the Midlands, Wales and southwest England on Friday morning, turning to snow initially across the hills and mountains in the north.

This rain band will slowly move southeastwards across the rest of England and therefore turning drier and brighter in the west.

Ahead of the rain it will be sunny over most of East Anglia and southeast England. Across Ireland and western parts of Scotland it will be a cloudy morning.

Ireland will start off with patchy rain, especially in the north and this rain will move eastwards into western Britain by this evening. Ahead of the rain it will become cloudier after beginning bright across much of Scotland and north-west England.

Overnight scattered wintry showers are likely for a time over East Anglia and southeast England, perhaps giving a thin covering of snow.

Cloudy with outbreaks of rain over Ireland, Wales, western England and western Scotland. The rain will be very light and patchy in the south but more extensive in the north with sleet and snow over the hills and mountains of northern England and Scotland.

Saturday will be a mainly cloudy day with patchy light rain or drizzle, mostly across eastern England. Some light snow is possible over East Anglia for a while, but only slight accumulations. A cold day in the far east, but milder across the west.

Rain across many southern and western parts of the UK and Ireland on Sunday, but cold air from the east will lead to the increasingly risk of snow. There is the potential for some significant snowfall on Sunday afternoon and into Sunday night, particularly across north England and Scotland but also Wales.

Liverpool FC paid out £8.6million in agents' fees over the past year - the ... - Liverpool Echo

LIVERPOOL paid out £8.6million in agent fees over the past year – the second highest amount in the Premier League.

During the period from October 2011 to September 2012, only champions Manchester City (£10.5million) shelled out more.

The Reds' outlay on agents increased by £1.6million compared to the previous 12 months when the total bill was £7million.

Liverpool only signed Fabio Borini, Joe Allen, Oussama Assaidi and Samed Yesil, plus Nuri Sahin on loan, during the two transfer windows covered by the latest figures.

However, their spending on agents was inflated by fees following the agreement of new contracts for players such as Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Jonjo Shelvey during that period.

There were also charges attached to transfers out of the club for the likes of Alberto Aquilani and Charlie Adam.

A club statement read: "The amount is the aggregate of all payments made to agents for transfers and contract extensions during the reporting period for agency activity, including payments made by the club on behalf of players."

Lowly QPR (£6.8million) paid the third highest amount to agents over the past year followed by Tottenham (£6.6million) and Chelsea (£6.5million).

Everton paid out just £3million.

The overall total spent by the 20 top-flight clubs was £77million compared to £71.8million for the previous 12 months.

Premier League table of agents fees:

Manchester City £10,537,982

Liverpool £8,600,444

QPR £6,818,688

Tottenham £6,595,905

Chelsea £6,490,382

Arsenal £5,580,873

West Ham £4,436,992

Manchester United £3,681,580

Newcastle £3,485,503

Everton £3,092,891

Aston Villa £2,730,539

Fulham £2,581,208

Sunderland £2,173,762

Reading £2,167,833

Wigan £1,974,305

Stoke £1,717,266

West Brom £1,341,301

Norwich £1,248,725

Swansea £1,100,845

Southampton £646,106

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Decline of listed firms on London's junior market slows - Reuters UK

LONDON | Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:19am GMT

LONDON (Reuters) - A decline in the number of companies listed on London's junior stock market eased this year and around half the companies that did leave were bought up or transferred to bigger exchanges, a Deloitte report shows.

It said the number of companies listed on the London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investment Market (AIM) had fallen every year since 2007, but the fall in 2012 was just 4 percent, compared with 16 percent in 2009, its fastest year of contraction.

"During the time of the financial crisis ... the principal reasons why companies were leaving the list were negative," said Richard Thornhill, capital markets partner at Deloitte.

"Either they no longer perceived that the market offered them value ... or the economic climate forced them to de-list. The situation in 2012 has been very different, with the driving force behind companies leaving the list being transactions which have consistently realised value for shareholders."

Of the 113 companies who had left the market by the end of November, 41 were acquired, 17 were subject to reverse take-overs and three transferred to London's main market.

Those companies which were bought received an average premium of 53 percent to their closing share price on the day before the acquisition.

By the end of November, 65 companies had joined AIM, and the share prices of the 44 which raised money on admission had risen an average 26 percent since listing.

"There are good reasons to be confident about the market in 2013," said Thornhill.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

Legal Action For 'Venables Twitter Photo' - Sky News

A number of Twitter users who posted photos claiming to show James Bulger's killer Jon Venables are facing the risk of jail after Britain's top legal adviser launched legal proceedings against them.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve said court papers would be served against a number of individuals.

Venables was 10 when he and classmate Robert Thompson abducted and murdered two-year-old James in Liverpool in February 1993.

The pair were jailed for life but were released in 2001 under the protection of a court order banning any publication of information that could lead to their identification.

Under the terms of an injunction, publication of any image or information purporting to identify anyone as Venables or Thompson is prohibited.

James Bulger
James Bulger was led from a shopping centre and murdered

The terms of the order mean that if a picture claims to be one of James Bulger's killers, even if it is not actually them, it would breach the order.

The Attorney General's statement said: "There are many different images circulating online claiming to be of Venables or Thompson; potentially innocent individuals may be wrongly identified as being one of the two men and placed in danger.

"Breaches of the order may be a contempt of court punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.

"It is also a criminal offence to encourage others to commit acts of violence or to publish online malicious communications."

Images recently appeared on Twitter claiming to show an adult Venables, who was released from jail on licence with a new identity in 2001.

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, of the High Court Family Division, made an unprecedented court order banning publication of any information which could lead to the revelation of their new identities.

Venables, now 30, had his parole revoked in 2010 and was jailed for two years after admitting downloading and distributing indecent images of children.

James's mother Denise Fergus, has always opposed the injunction, fearing it could lead to innocent men being accused of being James's killers.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Facebook blocks Vintage Camera app - BBC News

The developers of an application called Vintage Camera say Facebook has unjustly banned users from uploading their photos to the social network.

The app, which works on Apple devices, provides various effects to make pictures look dated.

French studio Presselite, which developed the app, says it has more than eight million users worldwide.

Facebook told the developers the decision had been made following negative feedback from account holders.

After Presselight appealed against the ban, Facebook sent the company an email saying: "We've checked out the circumstances of your app's restriction, and we found that your app received strong negative feedback from users and their friends.

"Unfortunately, we will not be able to restore your app's functionality."

But Presselite co-founder Antoine Morcos said that, according to administration data provided by Facebook itself, there had been about one negative report per 1,000 images shared via the app, which he believed had been due to "inappropriate use".

"We don't understand how Facebook could block the access to millions of users of the Vintage Camera application who want to share their photos on Facebook, only because of a few negative feedback reports," Mr Morcos wrote in a press statement.

"As you all know, Facebook has acquired the Instagram photo-sharing application, and we hope this acquisition is not influencing this kind of access limitation for other photo applications."

After being contacted by the BBC, Facebook said that Presselite had received warnings about the app before it was blocked.

"While we provide an open platform, every application on Platform is required to meet our policies. We take both automated and manual steps to detect violations and ensure compliance," the firm said.

"Pending on the violation, we give developers an opportunity to come into compliance via a warning system. In the case of this application, the application was not in compliance with our platform policies and had received three warnings prior to our systems taking action on the application."

The app has a four-star average rating on the Apple store, although some users have written in reviews it does not always work and others complain it is too similar to Instagram,

In 2010, Presselite accused London-based developer Q Mapps of infringing its copyright, after both firms released an app called Paris Metro for Apple devices.

Presselite asked Apple to remove the Q Mapps app from its store but was found to have had its trademark application rejected by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

At the time, developer Malcolm Barclay described the allegations as "utterly baseless and false".

Sandy Hook: Facebook Pulls Some Tribute Pages - Sky News

Facebook has agreed to remove some so-called tribute pages related to the Connecticut school shooting over concerns they are being used to exploit the tragedy.

Lawmakers from the state requested the removal of offending pages in a letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.

They said some of pages purportedly set up to honour the victims of the December 14 shooting have been used to exploit or harass the victims' families and could be used as vehicles for financial fraud.

They also said the pages also appear to violate Facebook's terms of use, which prohibit users from creating accounts for anyone other than themselves.

Officials are aware of more than 100 pages dedicated to just one of the victims, Sandy Hook teacher Victoria Soto. Some contain postings from conspiracy theorists who claim the shootings were staged and that Ms Soto and others were actors.

US Senator Richard Blumenthal said: "Certainly there have been many, too many, of these pages that are intimidating or harassing or exploitive. I'm pleased that Facebook has responded positively."

US Shooting 1
Officials know of more than 100 pages dedicated to Victoria Soto alone

The lawmakers said Facebook also had received complaints from Ms Soto's family and the family of Kaitlin Roig, a teacher who survived and has been credited with saving the lives of her students by locking the class in a small bathroom and barricading the door.

A Facebook page titled "Kaitlin Roig is a Hero" prompted some abusive posts, such as one that reads: "Congratulations Kaitlin or whatever your name is ... Now you're famous and got to meet the 'President.' You ought to be ashamed of yourself."

Mr Blumenthal said his office received a phone call from Facebook officials saying they had begun removing the pages immediately.

Facebook did not immediately reply to an email request for comment.

Mr Blumenthal said they are not asking that all tribute or donation pages be removed, just the ones that are not authorised by the families.

One fraud arrest already has been connected to a Facebook posting on the shooting. Nouel Alba, a 37-year-old New York City woman, is accused of using her Facebook account, telephone calls and text messages to seek donations for what she called a "funeral fund".

She allegedly told one donor that she had to enter the scene of the mass shooting to identify her nephew, according to the criminal complaint.


Climate scientists link global warming to extreme weather - Register

There has been a healthy debate in the scientific community about the linkage, if any, between the recent spate of extreme weather events and the ongoing increase in global temperatures. Now a group of researchers reports they've uncovered an atmospheric mechanism that lends credence to the argument that, yes, global warming is to blame for at least some of our increasingly mucked-up weather.

Global weather is normally influenced by waves of air that oscillate between the Earth's tropical and Arctic regions, alternately pulling warm air up from the tropics to northern climes, then bringing cold air down from the Arctic. As a result of uneven global warming, however, those waves are now getting stuck.

The mechanism that Petoukhov and his coauthors studied is, at its core, rather straightforward. As global temperatures have increased, the Arctic is warming to a greater extent than the rest of the northern hemisphere, and the reduced temperature differential between Arctic air and more southerly air is decreased, which reduces air flow between the regions.

In addition, global land mass is concentrated in that hemisphere, and land masses warm and cool more quickly than do oceans. "These two factors are crucial for the mechanism we detected," Petoukhov said. "They result in an unnatural pattern of the mid-latitude air flow, so that for extended periods the slow synoptic waves get trapped."

And when they get trapped, so does the air and heat that they would otherwise be redistributing. Heat thus trapped contributes to such weather events as the 2012 US drought – 2012, by the way, was warmest year ever recorded in the US.

The researchers tested their hypothesis by creating a set of assumptions about atmospheric wave behavior and testing them against 32 years of daily weather data from the US National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). Sure enough, during recent periods of extreme weather occurrences, their model showed stalled wave formations, as predicted.

"Our dynamical analysis helps to explain the increasing number of novel weather extremes," said coauthor and PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. "It complements previous research that already linked such phenomena to climate change, but did not yet identify a mechanism behind it."

Schellnhuber is not, however, ready to call case-closed on the connection between global warming and extreme weather. "This is quite a breakthrough," he said, "even though things are not at all simple – the suggested physical process increases the probability of weather extremes, but additional factors certainly play a role as well, including natural variability."

The PIK study may not be anywhere near a final "smoking gun" proof of how the long-term phenomenon of rising global temperatures affects the short-term phenomena of extreme weather events, but with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently announcing that greenhouse gases increased to record levels in 2011, and with the recent cluster of extreme weather events being called "highly unlikely" to be mere statistical outliers, this recent study by the PIK researchers deserves – at minimum – dispassionate consideration. ®

Champions League race: Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Everton's ... -

Run-in West Brom (h), Fulham (a), West Ham (h), Southampton (a), Sunderland (h), Tottenham (h), Liverpool (a), Swansea (h), Man Utd (a), Aston Villa (a), Everton (h).


Tottenham Hotspur

Form Only one defeat in last 14 games and that came in the FA Cup at Leeds so confidence is not a problem. Have been consistent all season.

Strength Can adapt style of play depending on manager Andre Villas-Boas's tactical tinkering and in Gareth Bale they have an outstanding individual match winner who can turn tight games in their favour.

Weakness Have an extremely tough run, playing four of the top six, and including tricky trips to Liverpool and Chelsea, as well as north London derby against Arsenal. An injury to Bale would severely weaken them.

Verdict Tottenham Hotspur could well miss out again after the misfortune of finishing fourth last season only for Chelsea to win the Champions League and snatch their place.

Run-in Arsenal (h), Liverpool (a), Fulham (h), Swansea (a), Everton (h), Chelsea (a), Man City (h), Southampton (h), Stoke (a), Sunderland (h).



Form Despite bad cup defeats to Blackburn and Bayern Munich, have lost only twice in the league this year and have steadily closed gap on top four.

Strength Arsène Wenger has yet another point to prove as criticism grows and most of the players have been in this situation before. Remain a class act on their day and have creativity to cut teams apart.

Weakness Under more pressure than ever to finish in the top four and defence is fragile and prone to errors. Do not have a reliable goalscorer.

Verdict Next two games will be pivotal against Spurs and Everton, but relatively easy run in on paper gives them a big advantage and fourth place is very much within their reach.

Run-in Tottenham (a), Everton (h), Swansea (a), Reading (h), West Brom (a), Norwich (h), Man Utd (home), QPR (a), Wigan (h), Newcastle (a).



Form Only two league wins this year and have wobbled in recent weeks. Also have FA Cup to consider.

Strength Traditionally strong finishers and players also know a top-four finish is also likely to ensure David Moyes does not seek a new challenge in the summer. Hungry and capable of beating anyone if they click.

Weakness Are not playing nearly as well as they did over the first half of the season and attacking players are out of form. Tough run in, most notably the visits to Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Verdict Already six points adrift of the top four they are the big outsiders in the race and it is difficult to see them making up ground with so many awkward fixtures.

Run-in Reading (a), Arsenal (a), Man City (h), Stoke (h), Tottenham (a), QPR (h), Sunderland (a), Fulham (h), Liverpool (a), West Ham (h), Chelsea (a).

Arsenal announce £17.8m profit as pressure to spend on transfers mounts - The Guardian

Supporters' groups have called on Arsenal's board to ensure a substantial portion of its cash reserves of £123m are used to invest in the team, after the club announced a pre-tax profit of £17.8m for the six months to the end of November 2012.

The release of interim results showing the club continued to make a healthy profit on player sales and held cash reserves of £123.3m were criticised by fans' groups who claim they underline the club's lack of ambition.

Continuing the trend of recent years, Arsenal were able to post a profit thanks to the £42.5m recouped from player sales over the summer including those of Robin van Persie to Manchester United and Alex Song to Barcelona, and a modest upside from the property deals that underpinned the move to the Emirates Stadium.

As restive fans face the prospect of an eighth successive season without a trophy, the chairman, Peter Hill-Wood, used his statement to defend the board's approach. "Let me be quite clear that our intention is to keep our best players and recruit new talent to make us stronger," he said. "Although we were disappointed to see Robin van Persie leave the club, we have taken steps to secure our best players and have recently signed Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson to long-term contracts."

He also pointed to the acquisitions of Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud and the more recent purchase of Nacho Monreal. "Our ability to compete at the top of the game here and in Europe is underpinned by our financial performance which gives the club strength and independence," he said, highlighting the positive impact of new financial regulations introduced by Uefa and the Premier League.

"Our desire is to make everyone connected with Arsenal proud of the club. We know that comes through winning trophies but also through the way we do things and that will remain our constant guide."

Most of Arsenal's revenue growth over the past five years has been driven by the centrally negotiated TV contract, which is due for another major rise next season after the Premier League delivered £5.5bn over three seasons. But Hill-Wood argued that new commercial deals with Emirates, worth "up to £150m", and other new contracts will boost that figure as the original long-term deals that helped bankroll the Emirates are being renewed.

The Arsenal Supporters' Trust called for more investment in the playing squad, again highlighting the club's high ticket prices. "These figures contain few surprises. They show that Arsenal yet again made a profit from the sale of their best players and that the club has large cash reserves," a spokesman said. "Arsenal fans have contributed to this financial health through paying some of the highest ticket prices in world football. A further improvement in the club's financial strength is expected when new TV monies and commercial deals come on stream in 2013 and 2014. AST members want to see this money used for more, and better, investment in the team."

It also criticised the decision-making of the chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, and the manager, Arsène Wenger, questioning whether they were following the right policy in paying relatively high wages across the whole first-team squad but refusing to break the overall structure for specific players.

"The results also show the club does spend considerable money on wages, approximately £150m per annum. But the football decisions made on player investment, player selection and player wage levels are not delivering a more competitive team," said the spokesman.

"The AST believes the club are financially well set to improve on the decline of the last few seasons. The remaining question is whether it has the boardroom leadership and football decision-making expertise to make the money count."

Arsenal announce profit of £17.8m but figures reveal reliance on player sales - The Independent

The Evening Standard reports the Gunners made £23.2m in player trading after selling stars including Robin van Persie and Alex Song while acquiring Lukas Podolski, Oliver Giroud and Santi Cazorla and tying six first-team players including Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott to new deals. For accounting purposes, the cost of signing a player is spread out over the term of their contract.

Last year Arsenal announced a £49.5m profit for the six months to November 2011, thanks to selling Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy but the previous half-yearly figures showed a £2.5m loss as there were no major departures  in the summer of 2010.

Today's figures showed turnover fell by £7.4m to £106.1m due to there being four fewer home fixtures than the same period last year and the importance of turning a profit on transfers is underlined by the club's operating profit falling to just £5m compared to the previous £15.2m figure.

Arsenal already have the fourth highest wage bill of clubs in the country and the full impact of new deals handed to Wilshere, Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will not be felt on the balance sheet until the next set of accounts later this year.

However, to offset that increase, several players on considerable salaries are expected to leave the club this summer, notably Andrey Arshavin, Marouane Chamakh, Andre Santos and Sebastien Squillaci among them.

And Arsenal believe they have reached something of a financial watershed. The club's healthy cash balance, £123.3m according to the accounts, reflects the dividends yielded by the property development scheme at Highbury Square, where all but one flat is sold and that is expected to be retained for private use.

Instead of relying on player sales to boost their financial position, Arsenal will instead be able to use funds from the new Emirates sponsorship deal, worth £150m over five years. The payment structure is frontloaded, meaning the Gunners will receive £30m this summer which has been earmarked to spend on players.

The process of paying for Emirates Stadium has been slow with Arsenal usurped by cash-rich clubs Chelsea and Manchester City only too willing to spend beyond their means in the transfer market but they now believe their self-sustainable model will soon achieve results that enables them to compete.

Chairman Peter Hill-Wood said in the report: "While we have our sights set on a 16th straight season in the Champions League, our aims are higher; our ambition is to win trophies. No one is more focused on that than our manager Arsene Wenger, our majority shareholder Stan Kroenke and the board and it is what we work towards every day."

He continued: "Our ability to compete at the top of the game here and in Europe is underpinned by our financial performance

"Let me be quite clear that our intention is to keep our best players and recruit new talent to make us stronger. Although we were disappointed to see Robin van Persie leave, we have taken steps to secure our best players going forward and have recently signed Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson to new long-term contracts.

"During this financial period we also invested £40.9m in the acquisition of new players, Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, and the extension of other player contracts. More recently we added Nacho Monreal to our ranks from Malaga. This is a strong indicator of our ambition to compete and win trophies."

Arsenal are also confident of further boosting their position by announcing a new kit deal — possibly with adidas — to replace the Nike contract which expires in 2014.

It is expected that the contract would be similarly frontloaded as with Emirates to ensure Wenger is given immediate access to newly?generated funds.

Full story in London Evening Standard