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Evening Standard

Formula E is ready for the green light in Battersea Park

Posted June 11, 2015

London Evening Standard

The boss of an environmentally friendly alternative to Formula One today said he hopes London will be the springboard for electric car racing.

Spanish entrepreneur Alejandro Agag, a former chairman of Queens Park Rangers, is bringing his Formula E circuit — whose cars, which can reach speeds of up to 150mph, are electrically powered — to the capital this month, transforming Battersea Park into a race track for the championship decider.

In its inaugural season tens of thousands of spectators, including Lindsay Lohan and Natalie Imbruglia, have turned out to see the environmentally friendly alternative to elite motor racing at 10 cities including Monaco, Moscow and Beijing.

Mr Agag told the Standard he was convinced London will be the peak of the season: “We are trying to get young fans and just as Formula One has its petrol heads London could see the start of the sparkheads.”

Natalie Imbruglia with driver Nelson Piquet Jnr (Picture: Action Press/REX) He said Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone had told him “you won’t make it” when the pair part-owned QPR with former Renault boss Flavio Briatore from 2007 to 2011.

But Mr Agag, a former Spanish MEP, said Mr Ecclestone has now changed his tune, saying: “I am glad I was wrong and you were right.”

He said: “I come from the world of Formula One and felt sponsors were having a problem with the sustainability credentials of our sport. The way to fix it is to create a clean motor sport.”

Mr Agag admitted that it “could take between 10 and 30 years” and that “electrical cars will only replace combustible cars if they are better, not because they are green”.

He said Formula E proved city centre races work: “No one knew us in Miami, 35,000 people showed up. Why? Because it was under their doorsteps.”

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Sepp Blatter planning to kick Britain on his way out of FIFA

Posted June 10, 2015

London Evening Standard

Sepp Blatter plans a drastic restructuring of FIFA, which could see Britain losing many of its privileges on football’s governing body.

Blatter’s reign of the crisis-hit organisation is set to end later this year with reports today that the election of a new FIFA president will be held on December 16.

Domenico Scala, head of FIFA’s independent audit and compliance committee, says before Blatter leaves he hopes to push through reforms which he considers “his legacy”.

Central to this is reducing the FIFA executive which has 24 elected members.

It is thought that the executive could be cut to 15 and that is where Britain could suffer.

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Katrien Meire: I’ve had frightening abuse from Charlton fans… but I love leading role

Posted March 25, 2015

London Evening Standard

Katrien Meire, Charlton’s chief executive, can smile again. Six weeks ago her club were 20th in the Championship but five wins in six games has seen them rise to 11th.

“I am very happy,” says Meire with a loud laugh. “Okay, in January, we had to dismiss the manager, Bob Peeters, and bring in Guy Luzon. But we know we made the right decision. Now I am really enjoying myself.”

Her mood contrasts sharply with how she felt on the night of January 17 as she returned home after a 5-0 defeat at Watford. It was Charlton’s 10th match in a row without a win and added to a sense of anger among fans, who were unhappy their team were already on their fourth manager in a year since the takeover by Roland Duchatelet. Clearly, all was not well but what happened that night shocked Meire.

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Graham Gooch: Kevin Pietersen did some great things for England… but bringing him back would be a mistake

Posted March 17, 2015

Today Paul Downton was facing questions at Lord’s about the World Cup humiliation.

There has been speculation that the managing director’s job is on the line and that head coach Peter Moores is also under threat.

England’s miserable pool stage exit has also renewed talk that Kevin Pietersen could be recalled despite being effectively sacked from the team in February 2014 and having since published a controversial autobiography in which he criticised some of his former team-mates and management.

After the Ashes debacle, Downton described Pietersen as being “disconnected” from the team. Now the thinking is that he needs to be re-connected if England are to have any chance of regaining the Ashes this summer.

But, for Graham Gooch, Pietersen is not the answer. “I wouldn’t bring Pietersen back,” says the former England captain and batting coach. “I would question whether he would have made that much of a difference in the World Cup. His record for England over his career has been box office. But his performances in ODI cricket before this tournament weren’t special. Kevin Pietersen did some great things for England, make no mistake. But now it’s time to move on.”

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QPR boss Chris Ramsey: I’ve always known that I have to be much better than white managers

Posted February 24, 2015

London Evening Standard

I am speaking to Chris Ramsey after a week in which racism has dominated the headlines.

First, there were the Chelsea fans abusing the black commuter on the Paris Metro and then, in another video, West Ham supporters were seen making anti-Semitic chants as they travelled to Sunday’s game at Tottenham.

“Racism in football has been parked, not eliminated,” says the QPR manager. “People are clever at finding a way to hide racism. I haven’t heard as much racist chanting as when I first came into the game [in 1978]. The only thing we can actually do is increase awareness. But it is not just a football problem. It is a social problem.”

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