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Monthly Archives: November 2008

Formula One: Shanghai may axe Grand Prix – official

by Talek Harris*

Shanghai is considering axing its loss-making Formula One Grand Prix after the contract runs out in 2010, a senior official told AFP, dealing a potential blow to the sport.
Qiu Weichang, deputy director of the Shanghai Administration of Sports, said the situation was being assessed and a decision would be announced next year.
"We're doing the assessment. By next year we should be able to give you an answer," he said in an interview late on Thursday.
China's biggest city spent 240 million dollars on the state-of-the-art Shanghai International Circuit and hosted its first Formula One race in 2004.
But the event has been plagued by poor ticket sales and Qiu said its fate was in the balance.
"We want to create a win-win situation, for our side and for Bernie (Ecclestone) and the F1 organisers as well," he said.
"If this is something we can do, and our cooperation is very happy and smooth, we will consider it.
"Of course we would like at least to break even. But there are two factors, one is the assessment the other part is the win-win situation that we can create."
Qiu was also cool on the idea of night racing, which Formula One chief Ecclestone is pushing in Asia as a way to boost European TV audiences. Singapore held the first night Grand Prix in September.
"In Singapore… holding the event at night is a good way to attract tourists to a small country," he said.
"I think Singapore is hosting this event in their own unique way but we have our own situation."
Formula One events are often run at a loss with this year's Australian Grand Prix going 27 million dollars into the red. France recently cut its race over money worries.
But Asia is a huge growth market for the sport with South Korea due to host its first race in 2010 and India joining the circuit in 2011.
Shanghai's ties have soured since Yu Zhifei, who helped bring Formula One to China, was jailed in January in a massive corruption crackdown which brought down the city's top official.
The city has already pulled its annual Moto GP race, although Qiu said the circuit was in use for most of the year by car clubs and for private driving sessions.
"Even if we don't run F1 after 2010 we should be able to cover our bases because of events are taking place in the rest of the year over about 200 days," he said.
"We want to turn it into Disneyland for cars. Fans can go there if they want to really enjoy F1-style driving and enjoy the thrill of driving at speed at this venue.
"Thanks to F1 we have already created this huge wave of car fever, so in that sense it is good news."
The Chinese Grand Prix is one of a series of major sporting events that have helped raise Shanghai's profile during the economic boom of recent years.
The HSBC Champions golf tournament is one of Asia's richest, while the city also spent "over one billion yuan" (146 million dollars) on the Qi Zhong Stadium to host the Tennis Masters Cup, Qiu said.
He admitted the tennis stadium was also yet to make a profit with only a small number of events held there since its completion in 2005.


Football: English leaders seek to banish League Cup blues

Chelsea and Liverpool will attempt to draw a line under what has been a difficult week for both clubs as they resume their tussle for pole position in the Premier League title race this weekend.
Chelsea, who travel to bottom club West Brom tonight, currently top the table courtesy of the impressive goal difference that reflects Luiz Felipe Scolari's commitment to an expansive style.
Liverpool, who are at Bolton this evening, have not set many pulses racing but they have matched Chelsea's haul of points and Rafael Benitez's side appears set for a serious tilt at what would be the club's first English title since 1990.
Both the pacesetters were left smarting by ignominious exits from the League Cup in midweek, Liverpool slumping to a 4-2 defeat at Tottenham while Chelsea's exit on penalties to Championship side Burnley was aggravated by Didier Drogba's ill-judged reaction to being struck by a coin thrown from the stands.
The Ivory Coast striker tossed the missile back into the crowd and treated the visiting supporters to a one-fingered salute, conduct that is likely to earn him a ban at a time when he has only just come back from a knee injury.
Scolari will not have been impressed and Drogba could find himself confined to the bench tonight given Nicolas Anelka's rich vein of goalscoring form of late.
Benitez has shrugged off Liverpool's defeat in midweek but acknowledges a response on the pitch is required to prevent a blip in the club's season escalating into something more signficant.
"If the team goes to Bolton and wins, we'll still be top of the table and everyone will be talking about our priorities," said the Spaniard.
The one bright spot from the Tottenham defeat for Liverpool was that Fernando Torres managed almost an hour on his comeback from a hamstring problem and will be ready to face Gary Megson's struggling side.
Champions Manchester United, out-boxed by Arsenal last weekend in a contest that delighted purists, face an altogether different kind of bout when Stoke visit Old Trafford.
In Rory Delap's laser-guided long throw-ins, the Potters have a weapon capable of perturbing the best of opponents, as Arsenal found to their cost two weeks ago.
Manager Tony Pulis recognises that the trip to Old Trafford will represent the biggest test yet for his top-flight newcomers, but insists it is United who should be concerned about tailoring their approach to the opposition.
"This is one of the games you pick when you get promoted," Pulis said. "We know it will be a tough game but we have got to enjoy it. We are on a good run and confidence is high.
"We will play the way we usually play. We are what we are and the players know the system."
Of the top four, Arsenal look to have the toughest day with fifth-placed Aston Villa the visitors to the Emirates Stadium.
Confidence is, however, running high in north London following last weekend's win over the champions and an equally exhilarating display by the next generation of Gunners stars in the League Cup in midweek, while Villa's early season momentum has been checked by back-to-back defeats.
Elsewhere, Tottenham will seek to extend their unbeaten start to life under Harry Redknapp when they travel to London neighbours Fulham.
Newcastle entertain Wigan in the hope that they will be able to claim a win that will lift them out of the relegation zone, which is where the league's richest club, Manchester City, could find themselves if they go down to defeat at Hull tomorrow and other results go against them.

Fixtures (2300 unless stated)

Bolton v Liverpool (2045), Arsenal v Aston Villa, Blackburn v Sunderland, Fulham v Tottenham, Manchester Utd v Stoke City, Newcastle v Wigan, West Ham v Portsmouth, West Brom v Chelsea (0130)

Everton v Middlesbrough (2130), Hull v Manchester City (2400)