Renovation Plans For Anfield Stadium

By Brad Eveleigh

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English Premier League club, Liverpool FC have revealed renovation plans to increase the capacity of their home ground, Anfield.

The majority of the proposed amendments would occur to The Main Stand, expanding to three tiers and the Anfield Road Stand. 

At completion of the proposed redevelopment, the stadium’s capacity would rise from 45,500 to approximately 59,000. 

In October 2012, the club stated in a press release that the priority was redevelopment rather than relocation to the adjacent Stanley Park. 

The main concern raised by local residents during the 2012 proposal discussions was the demolition of some houses in close proximity of the ground.  

Club officials have stated that discussions with property owners effected were “progressing well and all parties are close to agreement, but there are still details to be finalised.”(BBC)

Further modifications to the redevelopment would see the Hillsborough Memorial relocated to The Main Stand, paying tribute to the 96 Liverpool fans who died attending an FA Cup match in 1989. 

The club must continue with current consultation processes before presenting and submitting the final plan application to the Liverpool City Council in the coming weeks. 

Liverpool Managing Director, Ian Ayre has said: “Good progress has been made so far and we are proud to be able to unveil our plans.”

If the application is successful, construction would commence early in 2015 and is predicted to be completed by the start of the 2016-17 Premier League season.

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FIFA Delay Barcelona Transfer Ban

By Brad Eveleigh

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FC Barcelona have had their transfer ban put on hold by FIFA allowing them to now make player purchases and sales in the upcoming European Summer market.

The club was originally handed a 14-month ban after they had been found to have breached the player transfer rules by signing international players under the age of 18.

FIFA have now decided to delay the suspension pending an appeal.

The defending Spanish Champions received a notice on April 2nd by FIFA’s disciplinary committee in regards to breaking the rules in the signing of 10 juniors (players names are confidential).

They were hit with a 450,000 Swiss franc fine along with the transfer suspension.

As expected, Barca’ fought the suspension and lodged an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for sport.

Due to the complexity of the case and further possible appeals, the case is not a certainty to conclude before the opening of the transfer market on July 1, hence FIFA’s decision to delay the punishment.

Club officials will be breathing a sigh of relief as the team Captain Carles Puyol and veteran goalkeeper Victor Valdes will both be leave at seasons end and will need their big shoes filling as soon as possible.

The FIFA International transfer rule states that International transfers are only permitted for players over the age of 18 unless:

  • The Under-18 player can move to a club in a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons,
  • If they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged between 16 and 18
  • If they live within 100km of the club

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MLB Early Season Report Card

By Troy Martin

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Well, baseball is back for another season – and I for one couldn’t be happier. Now you may think I’m alone on this, but I’ve got 76000 close friends who share in my joy! But more on that later..

The regular season is almost through it’s first month (around 20 games played out of the 162 game schedule), and several key storylines have started to develop.

Here at Grid of Sports we’ll run down the news of the season so far, as well as a snapshot of the happenings in each division.

 

The Stories so far..

 

MLB back in Sydney after 100 years

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 9.15.28 pmPrior to the Dodgers & Diamondbacks touching down in Sydney, there were questions raised about whether this year’s opening series would be a flop. Well, those questions were answered in emphatic fashion as 38000 screaming fans packed the SCG on both days.

We cheered, we booed, we caught foul balls, sang “Take me out to the ballgame”, and ate nachos out of a batting helmet. We saw why Clayton Kershaw was worth $300 million, and got to appreciate Australia’s past & present Major Leaguers. It was such a success that Major League Baseball have agreed to come back in 2018, and will be represented by none other than the storied New York Yankees.

 

Dropping like flies

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Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox

The list of top flight pitchers on the Disabled List (DL) is just jaw dropping. How’s this list for starters..

Clayton Kershaw (*)

Patrick Corbin (*)

Daniel Hudson (*)

Gavin Floyd

Kris Medlen (*)

Ryan Dempster

Chris Sale (*)

Mat Latos (*)

Brett Anderson (*)

Scott Feldman (*)

Luke Hocheaver

Matt Harvey (*)

Ivan Nova

Cole Hamels (*)

Josh Johnson (*)

Hisashi Iwakuma (*)

James Paxton

Taijuan Walker

Adam Wainwright (*)

Matt Moore (*)

Jeremy Helickson

Matt Harrison (*)

Tanner Scheppers (*)

Derek Holland

Doug Fister (*)

Now this isn’t every pitcher on the DL – not even close. But these are all quality Major League pitchers. Those with an asterisk (*) are their team’s #1 or #2 starter.

So what does this all mean?

Well, a couple of things. Some highly touted rookies will be put to the test earlier than expected. This could mean we see the emergence of the next Matt Harvey or Stephen Strasburg. But an early promotion could also give us the next Ben McDonald.

Who’s Ben McDonald you ask? Exactly.

Some names to keep an eye on this year include Matt Wisler (Padres), Eddie Butler (Rockies), and Archie Bradley (Diamondbacks).

We should also see a busier than usual trade market around the All-Star break.

The old saying holds true – you can never have too much pitching.

 

Play it again Ump

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Major League Baseball moved in line with other major sports by introducing instant replay in 2014. The reports so far are mixed, with the main complaint being that simple replays are taking up to 10 minutes to complete. For those already unhappy about the length of games this is more aggravation, but for the fans who just want the call right, it’s worth the wait.

 

Division Report

 

American League East

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Masahiro Tanaka

The Good – The Yankees (just..)

After years of being the most talent stacked division in baseball, there is currently a feeling of.. meh.. about the AL East. The Yankees off season acquisitions of McCann, Ellsbury & Tanaka have been enough for the Bronx Bombers to jump out to an early lead, but for how long?

Baltimore’s fairytale appears to be over, and the Jays still can’t seem to live up to their promise. I think when it’s all said & done – the Rays (if they can keep their pitchers healthy) will edge out the Yankees to win the division.

The Bad – Red Sox

Last year’s World Champions look like anything but in the early going, but should start to put things together soon. Jon Lester’s public contract discussions are an unwanted distraction, and the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury has left a hole that top prospect Jackie Bradley Jr hasn’t quite been able to fill.

 

American League Central

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Ian Kinsler

The Good – Detroit Tigers

Most teams are presently suffering through injury woes to key pitchers. No such problems for the Tigers, whose “Big Three” of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer & Anibal Sanchez will ensure that the Motor City gets another post season appearance in 2014. Second Baseman Ian Kinsler, who was basically a throw in from the Prince Fielder trade to Texas has thrived in his new environment and has quickly become Detroit’s offensive catalyst.

The Bad – Minnesota Twins

The Twins have been bad. They were bad last year, they will continue to be bad this year. But much like the Pittsburgh Pirates, they figure to get really good – really fast.

With a farm system featuring baseball’s top prospect Byron Buxton, as well as Miguel Sano, Kohl Stewart & Alex Meyer, Minnesota’s faithful only have a couple of years to wait before they return to the glory days. In the mean time though, expect some pain..

 

American League West

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Sonny Gray

The Good – Oakland Athletics

What have we learned from the first month of the season? We’ve learned that the A’s are for real. Their production line of stellar young pitching continues to keep them at the top of the heap in the West. When Tommy Millone was sidelined with injury, longman Jessie Chavez emerged from the bullpen to make the rotation spot his own – pitching to a 1.38 ERA and striking out 28 and walking only 5 in 26 innings.

Sonny Gray has emerged as the staff Ace, and has been ably supported by Dan Straily, and comeback phenom Scott Kazmir.

The Angels are old, and shallow in pitching. Even the presence of baseball’s undisputed best player Mike Trout is not enough for them to contend. Texas also have too many question marks behind Yu Darvish, and after a promising start Seattle’s offense has once again become anemic.

The Bad – Houston Astros.

What did you expect, they’re the Astros..

Houston have scored an astonishing 60% of their runs via the long ball this year – a perfect reflection of a young team that is truly hit or miss (and unfortunately they are still mostly miss)

They have had the number one pick in the draft for the last couple of years, as well as having it this year (and probably next) so the rot won’t continue forever. But don’t expect a turnaround anytime soon.

 

National League East

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Bryce Harper

The Good – Atlanta Braves & Washington Nationals

As hard as I try, I just can’t split these two. Both teams have been decimated by early season injuries, but there is still daylight between them & the rest of the division. Atlanta have already had pitchers Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy & Mike Minor go down with injuries but have managed to open the season 13-7, mainly due to some stellar play on the road (8-4).

Washington have also had key players land on the DL including Ryan Zimmerman, Doug Fister, Wilson Ramos & Denard Span.

These injuries would usually open the door for another team to leapfrog into 1st place, but unfortunately for the Mets & Phillies the talent gap is presently too much.

The Bad – Miami Marlins

Fans in Florida are in a state of limbo at present with the constant cycle of “spend up big, then have a fire sale” still the norm in Miami. They refuse to trade their best player Giancarlo Stanton, yet they refuse to build around him. Stanton and 21 year old pitching phenom Jose Fernandez are bright spots in an otherwise dull Florida landscape.

 

National League Central

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Carlos Gomez

The Good – Milwaukee Brewers

Could they really do it? Could the Brew Crew come out of nowhere to unseat Pittsburgh? I think the answer is probably not, but they have been nothing if not fun to watch.

The offense has been electric behind emerging superstar Carlos Gomez and perennial All Star Ryan Braun, but the pitching has been absolutely stellar.

The Pirates, however should keep pace with them most of the way and then overtake them down the stretch.

The Cardinals have had pitching setbacks of their own, but can never be counted out, and the Reds are capable of keeping up with all three of the teams just mentioned.

This figures to be baseball’s most competitive division.

The Bad – Chicago Cubs

The new regime of Jed Hoyer & Theo Epstein have been quietly amassing some talent in the Windy City, but they’re not quite where they want to be. But with young players such as Mike Olt, Anthony Rizzo & Starlin Castro, the Cubbies could soon become relevant again. For now though, its another last place finish.

 

National League West

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Clayton Kershaw

The Good – Los Angeles Dodgers

The NL West has a history of really close division races. Usually because the competing teams are all really good, or all really bad. Lately though, the gap between the boys from Chavez Ravine and everyone else is as large as it’s been in some time. Under new ownership, headed by LA’s own Magic Johnson, the Dodgers have opened up their chequebook and declared that money is no object in their quest to bring a championship to LALA land. And who knows? This could just be the year..

The Giants are scrappy and will provide some resistance, but ultimately neither they nor the improving Padres will have what it takes to unseat the defending champions.

The (oh so) Bad – Arizona Diamondbacks

If the D-Backs 5-18 record doesn’t indicate how their season is going, then here’s a couple of quotes for you.

“Bad teams typically have some positivity and rays of hope. This is different.” – Pitcher Brandon McCarthy.

“I’ve been on teams that weren’t very good, but at least we were competitive” – Infielder Eric Chavez.

These aren’t young guys opening their mouths when they shouldn’t, these are two veterans who know precisely what they are saying.

Australian pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith was recently dropped from the Major League roster and chose the uncertainty of free agency rather than staying with an obviously dysfunctional team. Come season’s end some D-Backs players may wish they were in the same boat.

 

Fearless Predictions

It’s never too early for some clairvoyance, so here goes..

AL East: Tampa Bay

AL Central: Detroit

AL West: Oakland

AL Wildcard: New York Yankees

 

NL East: Washington

NL Central: Pittsburgh

NL West: Los Angeles

NL Wild Card: Atlanta

 

AL Champion: Detroit

NL Champion: Washington

 

World Series Winner: Washington Nationals

 

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Aussie Heavyweights Attempt To Make History

By Hayden Hooper

Lucas Browne v Eric Martel Bahoeli

browne v bahoeliJust before Alex Leapai does battle with Wladimir Klitschko, Australian Heavyweight Lucas ‘Big Daddy’ Browne will be involved in his own bout with the possibility of breaking history.

Browne (19-0, 17KOs), faces Canadian Eric Martel Bahoeli (10-3, 7KOs) for the lucrative Commonwealth title at Sheffield’s Ponds Fordge Arena in the United Kingdom.

Not since the great Peter Jackson in 1892 has an Australian held the Commonwealth Heavyweight title.

Along with breaking the 122 year old drought, a victory could propel Browne, currently ranked #11 by the WBC, onto the world stage or possibly set up a mouth watering all Australian showdown with Leapai.

Promoted by former British world champion Ricky Hatton and having fought in the United Kingdom four times previous, ‘Big Daddy’ enters with a strong following.

The bout will be shown Live on Foxtel’s EuroSport channel at 6am Sunday morning.

Bribie Island Light Welterweight Ty Gilchrist will feature on the undercard.

Leapai v Klitschko

ImageAustralia’s Alex Leapai has been described as a real life Rocky ahead of his World Heavyweight title fight with Wladimir Klitschko.

The press conference also could have been mistaken for a scene straight out of a Rocky film, when former champion Shannon Briggs interrupted, Clubber Lang like, and begun to call out and taunt Klitschko.

The Ukrainian champion brushed off the brash America’s comments, but Leapai took offense when Briggs called him a ‘Bum’, and the Australian had to be restrained from approaching Briggs.

The Brisbane based slugger who holds a record of 30-4-3, 24KOs, is attempting to become the first ever Australian to capture a Heavyweight World title when he takes on the Ukrainian superstar at the Koenig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen Germany, on Sunday morning Australian time.

Much like Rocky, he enters as huge underdog against WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF title holder Klitschko, whose record stands impressively at 61-3, 51Kos, and has not tasted defeat in a decade.

The fight will be broadcast Live on MainEvent PPV with proceedings to begin at 6 am and the title fight to begin at around 7 am Sunday morning.

Undercard will feature highly touted New Zealand heavyweight prospect Joseph Parker (7-0, 6KOs).

FIFA Secretary-General Inspects World Cup Stadiums

By Brad Eveleigh

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The Secretary-General of FIFA, Jerome Valcke has attended the Itaquerao Stadium in Brazil to inspect the delays of construction for the 2014 Football World Cup.

The Itaquerao Stadium will host the opening fixture between Brazil and Croatia on June 12, less than two months away.

Valcke said there is “not a minute to lose” as there is still a lot of work to do before completion can be declared.

He was confident that it would be ready in time saying, “we are running against time, but yes, the stadium will host the opening game”.

Construction at the Itaquerao Stadium came to a drastic halt last November when two workers were killed by a collapsing crane. Sadly an additional death also occurred earlier in the year to a construction worker who was helping install 20,000 temporary seats that will be needed for the opening. Both these tragic losses caused obvious delays.

Vlacke’s agenda now leads him South to Porto Alegre and Curitiba, where he will receive updates from local organisers about the delays and potential issues there.

Curitiba will house World Champions Spain against Australia on June 23 and the Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop has publicly expressed is concern over the conditions of the stadium. Let’s hope the report comes back positive for all parties involved.

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RBC Heritage Tips and Preview 2014

By Michael McGill

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While Bubba Watson  heads home with his second Green Jacket to celebrate his amazing Masters Tournament victory the rest of the players on tour head 200 kilometres south to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

This week’s tournament is the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links where the players will fight it out for a different colour jacket. This one is Plaid and is presented to the winner of the tournament. Harbour Town Golf Links is a Par 71, 6,973 yard course with 145 bunkers and water coming into play on nine of the holes. There are also three Par 5’s.

The course was designed by renowned golf course architect Peter Dye with the help of Jack Nicklaus in 1969. Peter has designed other famous courses like Whistling Straits and Sawgrass which is famous for its island green 17th hole. The RBC Heritage is one of only 5 tournaments on the PGA Tour that is given invitational status. The field will consist of 132 players unlike other events, which has the standard 156.

The tournament has been played one week after the Masters since 1983 and the record of -20 was set in 2009 by Brian Gay. Many great players have had success here such as Arnold Palmer who won the inaugural event back in 1969. Hale Irwin won his first ever PGA Tour event here in 1971 then in 1994 he had his third victory in this tournament which was also his twentieth over all and also his last ever PGA Tour win. Another player to record his first ever tour victory here was Nick Faldo in 1984.

The bookies Top 5 in betting this week are:- 16/1 Jordan Spieth, 18/1 Luke Donald, 18/1 Matt Kuchar, 20/1 Jim Furyk and 22/1 Zach Johnson. Spieth is coming off a 2nd at The Masters last week while Kuchar was 5th.

Last years Champion Graeme McDowell (25/1) is back to defend his title along with other past winners such as Brian Gay 100/1, Boo Weekley 80/1, Aaron Baddeley 100/1, Stewart Cink 80/1 and Justin Leonard 150/1. Other notable players teeing it up include Harris English, Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker and Bill Haas.

The course has tight fairways and some of the smallest greens on the tour. Ball placement is one of the crucial elements required for victory here. It is not a course for hitting it far and hard. Precision players always fair better than those that go for length. Shot shaping will take you a long way at Harbour Town. Putting and hitting greens is also paramount along with scrambling. All past winners have rated highly in scrambling for the week.

Looking at the field this week there are two players who rate well in the above mentioned stats and should be in contention over the weekend.

Billy Horschel 50/1 

Last year was Billy’s break through season the PGA Tour where he won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans as well as recording seven Top 10 finishes. This year Horschel is flying under the radar with seven made cuts from ten starts which have produced four Top 25 finishes.

This week he is back to a course that saw him finish 9th last year when on debut. Harbour Town is a course that should see Billy back to his best as it suits his game down to the ground and this could be the week he shows the form we know he has.

Entering this week he is coming off a 37th place finish at The Masters where he was -10 on the Par 5’s. This week he has three of them to enjoy. He also hit 72% of greens in regulation last week.

In this tournament last year he played the Par 5’s at 7 under par. His stats this year have him ranked 16th in driving accuracy, 16th in greens in regulation, 8th in total driving and 3rd in ball striking,

At 50/1 this could be the week we strike a winner at great each way value.

Kevin Na 33/1 

Kevin last won on tour in 2011 at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. A back injury saw him out of the game for 20 weeks last year and he only managed to contest 13 tournaments.

This year he is back big and better than ever with 7 made cuts from 8 starts which has produced 6 top 20 finishes!

His last three tournaments read as 2nd, 14th and 11th. this will be his tenth start at the RBC Heritage where he has already had five Top 20’s. His two most recent results were 9th and 8th.

Stats wise he is ranked 15th in strokes gained putting, 20th in birdie average, 7th in scoring average, 2nd in scrambling and 7th in Par 4 birdie or better average.

Now that his back is well and truly fixed we can expect to see the real Kevin Na stand up this week and continue his impressive recent results here.

Good luck and good punting.

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CLOTTEY CRUSHES MUNDINE

By Hayden Hooper

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It may have been a lopsided defeat against Anthony Mundine, but ‘The Man’ proved he’s not short on intestinal fortitude by getting off the canvas 5 times in Newcastle on Wednesday night.

Joshua Clottey entered the bout with a definitive size disadvantage, but from the opening bell it was the former Welterweight champion who looked the much stronger physically. At 38, Mundine, a former title holder at Super Middleweight (76.2kg) and Middleweight (72.5kg), looked physically drawn out at the Light Middleweight (69.9kg) division.

The Ghanian imposed his will on Mundine from the get go, establishing his left to the body early and walking forward with relentless pressure. Despite being inactive, having only fought twice since 2010, Clottey was able maintain the pressure throughout the entire 12 rounds.

Round 3 would see the first of the 5 knockdowns. While Mundine answered the count, he didn’t have an answer to Clottey’s attack. He went down again in round 6 from a crisp right uppercut, then again towards the end of the round and was lucky to be saved by the bell.

Mundine found himself on the deck again in round 8 and once more in round 10 from a left hook.

Whilst Mundine sit in his corner after round 10, his trainers threatened to stop the fight.  Mundine pleaded for them to allow him to continue. Courageously Mundine was able to survive the final 2 rounds and make it to the closing bell.

The three ringside judges scored the contest 116-108, 115-109 and 117-108. Clottey becomes the new WBA International Light Middleweight champion, his record improves to 38-4, 22KOs.

Mundine’s record falls to 46-6, 27KOs and a question mark now lay over his career.

Pitt Dealt First Defeat

David Aloua has handed Brad Pitt his first career defeat with a 4th round TKO in their much anticipated Cruiserweight matchup.

Pitt came out looking confident with fast hands, but Aloua used a very smart and defensive game plan against the dangerous puncher.

While Pitt pressured for the opening 3 rounds, bloodying Aloua’s nose, the New Zealand born Aloua seemed content on sitting back and waiting for Pitt to make a mistake.

Round 4 would see Aloua capitalise and land a right hand that sent Pitt crashing to the floor. It looked as though Pitt was in no shape to continue, but referee allowed the contest to carry on after a mandatory count. Aloua rushed straight back in and finished the unsteady Pitt to claim the OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and WBA Pan African belts.

Aloua improves to 11-1, 8KOs and a matchup between the winner of Daniel Ammann and Mark Flanagan could be a high possibility. Pitt’s record now stands at 15-1 12KOs.

Also on the undercard

2012 Olympian Cameron Hammond cruised to a 6 round decision victory over late replacement Promool Boonpok with all scorecards reading 60-54.

Renold Quinlan scored a 4th round KO against his replacement opponent Dechapon Suwunnalird.

Ahmed Dib faced showman Dennapa Bigshotcamp, scoring a 2nd round TKO in what commentator Barry Michael described as a flop.

George Kambosos Jr proved much to tough for Thongthai Rajanondh, stopping him in the 1st round with a body shot.

 

You can read more of Hayden’s work at: ChatterBoxing

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