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GUARDIAN – Manchester City best paid team in global salary survey: how do other teams compare?

Manchester City have topped a ranking of global sports pay, with an average first team player earning more than £5.3m per year. How do other teams compare and which is the best paying league?Manchester City have topped a ranking of global sports pay, with an average first-team player earning more than 5.3m per year. The global sports salaries survey 2014, published by Sporting Intelligence and compiled in association with ESPN The Magazine, has calculated that an average first team salary pay per player comes in at 5.3m, or 102,653 per week. Baseball teams the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are ranked at second and third place respectively. Real Madrid and Barcelona make up the top five. Paul Campbell writes today:If Brendan Rodgers can win the Premier League title with Liverpool this season, some of his fellow managers will not be happy. While Jos Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini have been bickering over whose club is more like a little horse and Arsne Wenger has been complaining about the way his rivals spend their money, Rodgers has been accelerating past them with a team that is paid less money but wins more matches and scores more goals.Average pay is important – as opposed to total wage outlay – because two teams spending the same totals on salaries will have starkly different averages if they are paying a significantly different number of players. It happens, and it matters. You can employ a higher number of lower quality players for the same price as a smaller number of higher quality players, and we think its worth exploring which is most effective for performance. By average, we mean arithmetic mean. All the salaries are added up (and by salaries, we include money for playing sport for that team, not for endorsements or sponsorship or anything else extra-curricular) and divided by the number of players. Thats it. A simple list that provokes complicated arguments but does, at the very least, provide a ball park reckoner of what different sports teams pay. For the NBA, the NHL and the NFL, the numbers in this report pertain to the 2013-14 seasons. For MLB and MLS, the numbers are as they stood at the start of the 2014 seasons. For the IPL, NPB, AFL, CFL and CSL they come from the end of the 2013 seasons. And for the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A and SPL, the salaries reflect summer 2013, in effect the end of the 2012-13 season. Continue reading…

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GUARDIAN – 10 favourite things this week: the best sports journalism from around the web

Featuring the burdened walk of Tiger Woods, a year that lasted 21 seconds and the rules of a successful Fantasy Football teamThanks for all your comments and suggestions on our last blog. Here are a few highlights from this week.The article of the weekThe Burdened WalkCharles P. Pierce watched Tiger Woods at the US PGA championship last weekend for Grantland and had a peculiar realisation. The World No1 remains a great golfer, but he is now comparable to the rest of us: “I remembered that, once, he had looked as though he walked on air. He had looked as though his feet never touched the ground. He had looked as though his club managed to strike the ball perfectly within a private reality. Even his divots had looked cleanly cut as they sailed through the clear air. You could have used one of them for a welcome mat. Once upon a time, I remembered, Tiger Woods had looked as though he played golf in a self-contained universe that he carried around with him. I remembered all this as I crouched behind the green on the 13th hole of the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York, on Sunday afternoon, and watched Tiger Woods, who was standing in the shade a little ways down the fairway and rotating his upper body to the left and to the right, stretching his back muscles. Jesus, I thought to myself, that’s something I do.” Other stories we like1) A matter of life and deathBefore investing £20 in Red or Dead, the new book about Bill Shankly by The Damned United author David Peace, read this damning review by Simon Kuper in the Financial Times: “Peace has taken 700 pages to depict a saint. Someone should have stopped him. No first novelist could have got this book published but Peace has become too big to edit.” For an alternative view, here is Mark Lawson’s review for the Guardian.2) The women who changed American sports foreverThis Daily Beast article by Eleanor Clift explores the lives of the women featured in the ESPN documentary Let Them Wear Towels, about the first female sport reporters in the US. Theirs was a rocky path. They were banned from the dressing rooms, where men walked around naked and stories were broken. After a legal suit, women were granted more access, but at a cost. Lisa Olson, who covered the New England Patriots for the Boston Herald, was subjected to what she called “mind rape”. She ended up fleeing to Australia. Others forced their way through and things have improved, but they remain women in a man’s world. 3) Denis Suárez: sad indictment of City’s academic failingsWhy was Roberto Mancini sacked by Manchester City? Because he couldn’t handle Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli. Perhaps, but he also struggled to manage Denis Suárez, who has played 23 minutes of senior football for City since they paid £850,000 for him two years ago. The Spain youth international was voted the club’s young player of the year in 2012 and has attracted interest from Barcelona, but Mancini never promoted him to the senior team. According to Will Forsyth, writing here in the Lovely Left Foot blog, Mancini’s reluctance to play young players was a source of great frustration to Txiki Begiristain, the club’s director of football. Begiristain and City CEO Ferran Soriano are hoping Suárez will stay at the club and enjoy a more profitable career under Manuel Pellegrini.4) Predicting 2014′s major winnersIf this year’s roll of Major winners has taught us anything, it should be to avoid trying to pick next year’s. Not so, says fearless Will Tidey of ESPN, who has chosen his winners already. He reckons Adam Scott will retain the Masters, Phil Micklelson will win the US Open, Tiger Woods will pick up Claret Jug at The Open and Jason Day will land his first major at the US PGA. It’s all a bit ridiculous, but quite fun nevertheless. 5) Seven steps to a successful Fantasy Football teamFootball Weekly is back, we’re nearly finished with our pre-season previews and the European leagues are up and running. The only thing that remains to be done before the Premier League season begins is for you to select your Fantasy Football team. Thankfully Paul Fennessy of The Score is here with seven tips on constructing a team. 6) Anthony Perosh’s year lasted 21 secondsThe average working year in Britain lasts for 1,647 hours, but as pointed out in Fightland, MMA fighter Anthony Perosh has spent only 21 seconds in the ring in the last 12 months. Should Perosh be asking himself some hard questions: “What defines an athlete? At a certain point doesn’t Perosh’s situation become an existential issue? How does a man define himself in this world as one thing when he has done that one thing for 21 seconds over the last year? Not because he was injured or suspended for drug use or in jail, but because of the very nature of the sport he’s in?”7) Hull City are no longer being rebranded by stealthIan King, the creator of the football website 200%, is worth reading on any topic. When detailing the change of culture taking place at Hull City “Tigers”, he jumps up to the must-read category. 8) Before the internet, there were the Complete HandbooksEvery week we pick 10 items, and every week it is a struggle to feature the New York Times only once. This week their standout piece, by Pete Croatto, is about Zander Hollander, the 90-year-old sportswriter who pieced together 300 brick-sized yearbooks in his 45-year career. At the end of every day, Hollander would pour himself a scotch and tuck into a packet of peanuts. How the trade has changed. 9) Membership has its privilegesLast week NBC published a spoof video about Coach Ted Lasso, who had been given the job of managing Spurs but didn’t know a thing about football. This week the network have taken a step closer to their Premier League broadcasting debut by publishing a guide to picking a team. Joe Posnanski is explaining football culture to a new audience, but in some ways he sounds no wiser than Lasso. Here is his explanation of the FA Cup: “An awesome, sprawling, absurd and wonderful March Madness kind of tournament that includes pretty much every soccer team in England including a few guys who happen to play for the pub around the corner. That’s not a joke. More than 750 teams compete in the FA Cup. And they all play in this mad scramble of a tournament that will sometimes end up with a collection of plumbers and construction workers playing Liverpool. It’s a free-for-all.” This is his take on the league structure: “Premier League: The top league in England. That’s easy. Football League Championship: The second division – the easiest baseball comparison is that it is kind of like Class AAA, only it’s TEAMS that get promoted and relegated, not players. Why a second division would be called ‘Championship’ is, well, yeah a bit baffling. League One: Third division. Yeah, I know. League Two: Fourth division.”Posnanski visited Wembley on Sunday to watch the Community Shield. He seems to have enjoyed it: “Manchester United won 2-0 on two goals by Robin Van Persie* and the scene afterward was like something you might see at the end of the Super Bowl. There were streamers shot on the field. The players all went up to the royal box to collect medals, and then they stayed on the field to celebrate, and then they gave Manchester United’s new manager David Moyes this gigantic gold plate roughly the size of a queen-sized bed. *Though Van Persie scored both goals, it was another Manchester United player – Michael Carrick – who was named Man of the Match. Carrick, I’m told, “controlled the midfield.” So, yeah, I don’t understand soccer very well yet. And here was the best part: The game was UTTERLY MEANINGLESS. It was an exhibition.”At the end of reading this article, you will wonder who is more mad: football fans or the people who find the game confusing.And one more for charity…This week on the Guardian Sport Network1) Ashes 2013: fourth Test report cards2) Seven sporting partnerships of the 1980s3) County cricket: the week’s final over4) Will PSG retain their Ligue 1 title after a turbulent summer?5) How many boxers turn Olympic golds into pro titles?Debate the articles and share your own suggestions belowUS sportsAustralia sportGolfTiger WoodsUS PGAUS PGA 2013LiverpoolManchester CityBaseballPaul Campbelltheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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TTT: Sports Book Chat … The Numbers Game

By Paul Grech. In the beginning, there was Moneyball. Well, not really.  What kicked off sport’s interest in statistics was an underground movement in baseball headed by Bill James and which eventually made its way into the mainstream in the form of statisticians being employed by clubs. It was James who coined the term ‘sabermetrics’ (the search for objective knowledge about baseball) and who started publishing his theories in the highly influential Baseball Abstract books. Yet it was Michael Lewis’ book ‘Moneyball’ about the Oakland ‘A’s’ use of statistics to make up for their financial disadvantage that brought it all to the public consciousness. Since then anyone wanting to try and use statistics in any sport has had to live with claims of taking a ‘Moneyball approach’. And no sport has had to hear such accusations of late as much as football.  All of which makes it all the more surprising that there is still a huge misconception as to what ‘Moneyball’ actually is.  Indeed, many still harbour the belief that it is all about using statistics to determine which player should be signed and which shouldn’t. Or to use numbers to determine which players to use or which tactics to adopt. But it isn’t about that.  Or, at least, not only about that. It all centres around the idea of using statistics to gain an edge or to confirm whether the cold facts that are held in the numbers can support widely held perceptions. Take corners. There is an inevitable rise in anticipation every time a team wins a corner, which is understandable given that this leads to a greater chance of scoring. Except it doesn’t. That is what Chris Anderson and David Sally argue in their book ‘The Numbers Game – Why Everything You Know About Football Is Wrong’.  Again, this being a book about sports and which uses numbers, it is somewhat inevitable that ‘Moneyball’ gets a mention, but this is much more than that: whilst Moneyball was trying to explain a movement, The Number’s Game simply want to help you understand football better. Chris Anderson kindly agreed to this interview: The rest of this interview is for Subscribers only. Member-only content – you need to subscribe to read it ! A subscription costs only £3.50 per month. Find out what you get with your subscription, or Subscribe now.

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GUARDIAN – A reputation for diving is hard for referees to forget in a hurry | David Lacey

Getting a reputation for diving means penalties are not always awarded where they should be. But diving is nothing newThe catchphrase “don’t forget the diver” was made popular by the wartime radio show ITMA but originated with a one‑legged man who used to dive for coins off the pier at New Brighton. In football it would appear that this Merseyside tradition is being kept alive by a two-legged Uruguayan who dives for penalties rather than pennies.Unfortunately for Luis Suárez and Liverpool there are growing signs that referees, aware of the player’s reputation for going down at the slightest touch, if that, are now refusing to award penalties when the evidence suggests that Suárez has indeed been fouled. Maybe they just think ‘it’s that man again’ and ignore the victim’s habitual expression of pained disbelief.Either way Liverpool should clearly have had a penalty at Carrow Road last weekend after Suárez had been pulled down by Norwich’s Leon Barnett and another at Old Trafford a week earlier when he was fouled by Jonny Evans of Manchester United. Brendan Rodgers is worried that referees may be influenced by Suárez’s thespian antics, which have already brought him one booking this season for simulation, although the Liverpool’s manager’s bizarre suggestion that his players might have to go down more often to get penalties hardly helps his argument.This summer’s European Championship was relatively free of dives so maybe players and managers are taking the authorities’ moves against simulation on board. Yet the notion that foreigners are more prone to diving than British footballers dies hard.This week the Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, insisted that “down the years there have been plenty of players diving and you have to say particularly foreign players”. Ferguson’s barnacled view was in sharp contrast to the more measured judgment of Sergio Agüero, Manchester City’s Argentinian striker, following the champions’ 2-1 win at Fulham after they had had two confident penalty appeals refused by Mark Halsey when Carlos Tevez and Pablo Zabaleta were caught in the area.Agüero felt that in the Premier League decisions were more inclined to go against foreign players than the locals. “It happens everywhere,” he said. “There is a little bit of privilege with the players who come from that country. That is normal. It is the referee’s job to know who is tricking and who is not.” Quite right, but it is only natural that players will get to know which officials are easier to fool.Either way the notion that diving for penalties is a purely foreign import should be dismissed for the empty generalisation that it is. Footballers in the English leagues were diving like Esther Williams long before the ban on overseas players was lifted in the late 70s.Rodney Marsh could win a penalty by tripping himself up. And of course there was that Lancashireman of Oriental descent, Lee Won Pen, a master of the pratfall compared to whom Suárez is a clumsy beginner. Well, Francis Lee actually who went down once too often when he was playing for Derby County against Leeds United at the Baseball Ground in 1975. The way Lee won a penalty so enraged Norman Hunter that he promptly chinned him with a punch of which Henry Cooper would have been proud.Of course the critics wondered what the game was coming to but it is hard to avoid the feeling that Suárez and others of his inclination might feel less inclined to die a thousand deaths in the penalty area if they could expect, in the words of Tony Hancock, a swift punch up the bracket.Maybe one of these days a fallen footballer will tell the referee that in spite of appearances to the contrary he had not in fact been brought down. It has happened. In 1997 Liverpool were leading Arsenal 1-0 at Highbury with 25 minutes remaining. Then David Seaman seemed to topple Robbie Fowler and the referee, Gerald Ashby, awarded Liverpool a penalty in spite of Fowler’s insistence that he had not been fouled.Fowler denied that his subsequent soft kick, which was easily parried by the goalkeeper, had been deliberate but since Jason McAteer scored from the rebound, with Liverpool going on to win 2-1, it did not matter anyway.Today Fowler might get a yellow card for dissent. Even then his honesty was regarded as a curiousity rather than a blessing.Luis SuárezLiverpoolDavid Laceyguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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GUARDIAN – Liverpool still hurting from failings of past owners, says John W Henry

• ‘You can’t turn an ocean liner around like a speedboat’• ‘That is the way it was with the Red Sox and the Yankees’Owner John W Henry says Liverpool face a huge financial challenge to compete with the very best as the English Premier League side continues to pay the price for the failings of the previous regime.Henry told British media on Thursday that the Fenway Sports Group (FSG) were committed to restoring the Reds to the top of the English game but warned not to expect a change of fortunes as rapid as the one achieved with the Boston Red Sox.FSG acquired the Major League Baseball team in 2002 and within two years, they ended an 86-year wait to win the World Series. They completed their Anfield takeover in October 2010, bringing to an end the acrimonious reign of fellow Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett.”The best analogy is that you can’t turn an ocean liner around like you can turn a speedboat,” said Henry, whose consortium paid £300m for the club when they were on the brink of administration. “When you look at the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United, Liverpool isn’t holding up its side of the rivalry.”That is the way it was with the Red Sox and the [New York] Yankees,” he added. “The Yankees were just completely dominant when we arrived. We knew we could never be on an equal footing financially with the Yankees. But we had to do everything in our power to get on a level footing with them on the playing field. That was a tremendous challenge. You could say Liverpool is an even bigger challenge than the Red Sox.”Liverpool, who won the last of their 18 English titles in 1990, have finished sixth and eighth in the Premier League over the past two seasons. Principal owner Henry and chairman Tom Werner said transforming the club’s fortunes would take time, with a squad in need of strengthening and an inflated wage bill to reduce.”We looked at how the situation was financially, with the player contracts and the youth system,” Henry said. “The further we went into it, the more sobered we were. Looking back at the day we bought Liverpool, I was trying to make a point then about how much of a challenge it was going to be because of the issues we inherited.”We had a lack of depth in the squad and some really high payrolls. We also had issues with the age of the players and so forth. We knew it was going to be very difficult.”Werner promised FSG were serious about building for the future. “We feel that we have work to do,” he said. “We feel that we are behind – but we are on it. Do we feel that it is possible to get on a level with (the top European) clubs? Absolutely. We can close that gap and compete at the very highest level. Absolutely.”LiverpoolJohn W Henryguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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