League 1: Gillingham sack manager Peter Taylor after 14 months in charge

Gillingham manager Peter Taylor has been sacked after 14 months in charge of the League 1 club.

A statement on the club website  said Taylor, who turns 62 on Saturday, has been “relieved of his duties with immediate effect”.

Former Gills boss Andy Hessenthaler, 49, has been placed in caretaker charge by chairman Paul Scally for Saturday’s League One game at Port Vale.

The Gills are currently one place and two points above the relegation zone.

Taylor was appointed interim Gillingham manager in October 2013, following the dismissal of Martin Allen, and was handed the job until the end of the 2013-14 season a month later.

The former Leicester, Hull and Crystal Palace boss agreed a two-year deal with the Kent club in the summer.

Taylor targeted a mid-table finish in pre-season but the Gills have found themselves in the lower reaches of the table since September.

Having previously led Gillingham to promotion to the second tier after spending the 1999-2000 season in charge of the club, Taylor was given the backing of chairman Scally in October.

Hessenthaler, who was player-manager of the Gills between June 2000 and November 2004 and had a second spell in charge between May 2010 and May 2012, was assistant manager at Priestfield Stadium.

Read more at BBC Sport

Premiership: West Brom set to appoint former Stoke manager Tony Pulis

Tony Pulis is set to be appointed as West Brom head coach to succeed the sacked Alan Irvine.

The 56-year-old former Stoke and Crystal Palace manager is likely to be confirmed in the position on Thursday.

It is hoped he will be in the stands at Upton Park for West Brom’s New Year’s Day Premier League visit to West Ham.

There are still some details to be decided, but the deal to make Pulis the club’s fourth head coach in a year is expected to proceed without a problem.

West Brom will retain their continental structure – in which the head coach works to technical director Terry Burton and sporting director Richard Garlick, who in turn report to chairman Jeremy Peace.

But Pulis has been assured he will have full control of all first-team matters, including the buying and selling of players.

The Welshman will meet with Peace for the first time on Thursday, and will bring Dave Kemp with him as his assistant, but decisions are still to be made on the rest of the coaching staff.

Albion are 16th in the Premier League, a point above the relegation zone, following Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Stoke.

Irvine was placed on gardening leave on Tuesday after winning just four of his 19 league games in charge.

Read more at BBC Sport

Premiership: Swansea set to sign midfielder Matt Grimes from Exeter City

Swansea City are poised to sign midfielder Matt Grimes from League Two side Exeter City.

The 19-year-old is undergoing a medical at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday ahead of a move that is expected to net Exeter a club-record £1.75m fee.

The Grecians’ player of 2013-14, has drawn comparisons with ex-England midfielder Glenn Hoddle.

Swansea are thought to have beaten several other Premier League clubs to secure Grimes’ services.

Grimes was recently called up by England Under-20s and he will become Swansea’s second signing of the January transfer window following the arrival of striker Nelson Oliveira on loan from Benfica.

Swansea lost 4-1 at Liverpool on Monday night and are next in action away to Queens Park Rangers on New Year’s Day.

Read more at BBC Sport

Championship: Chris Hughton named new Brighton & Hove Albion manager

Chris Hughton has been named as the new manager of Brighton & Hove Albion on a three-and-a-half-year contract.

The former Newcastle, Birmingham and Norwich boss, 56, will take charge of his first game in Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie at Brentford.

Hughton, sacked by the Canaries in April, replaces Sami Hyypia, who resigned on 22 December following a run of only one win in 18 league games.

Brighton are 21st in the Championship, one place above the relegation zone.

Seagulls chairman Tony Bloom told the club website:  “Chris has an excellent record in coaching and management.

“Chris is also a manager who has a track record for developing talent at all levels from academy upwards and will embrace the work we’ve been doing at the club in this area in recent seasons.

“Importantly, we also felt Chris is someone who can improve our immediate situation, while also having the management credentials and skills to plan our long-term future and help us to get back to progressing in the way we have in previous seasons.”

Since Hyypia’s departure, Brighton have picked up four points in two games under caretaker manager Nathan Jones.

Hughton had previously said he was interested in the vacant post at Brighton, as well as West Brom, having ruled out a return to former club Newcastle.

“It’s a very good club and one that has a tremendous infrastructure,” he told BBC Radio 4.

“Anybody like myself that has been out for a while would be interested in that type of job.”

The former Tottenham, West Ham, Brentford and Republic of Ireland full-back was assistant manager at Spurs before joining Kevin Keegan’s coaching staff on Tyneside.

He became caretaker boss when Keegan left St James’ Park in 2008 and took the job on a full-time basis the following year.

Hughton led the Magpies to promotion from the Championship in 2010, but was controversially sacked in December of that year with the side 11th in the Premier League.

He guided Birmingham to the Championship play-offs in 2011-12 before moving on to Norwich, but was sacked with five games remaining last season, which ended with the club being relegated.

Brighton, meanwhile, finished in the Championship play-offs in the last two seasons, but struggled this term under Hyypia, who was appointed in the summer, two months after being sacked by German club Bayer Leverkusen.

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: Bianchi begins rehabilitation therapy

Jules Bianchi’s condition remains unchanged but he has begun rehabilitation therapy, according to the latest statement from his family.

Bianchi’s parents Philippe and Christine said there is no new information to report on the Frenchman’s condition following his crash at the Japanese Grand Prix, which left him with a serious brain injury. Bianchi was transferred to a French hospital last month and continues to breath unaided, though he remains unconscious.

“It was a significant and very comforting step for us to be able to bring Jules home to France last month, to continue his rehabilitation surrounded by his family and friends,” the statement said. “This is very important for Jules and also for us. Since that time, Jules has received the very best treatment in the Intensive Care Unit of Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (CHU) and now at the CHU’s rehabilitation centre for this kind of trauma.

“Jules’ neurological status remains unchanged; he is unconscious but able to breathe unaided. Whilst there is no significant information to report, we take a great deal of comfort from the fact that Jules continues to fight, as we knew he would, and this has enabled the medical professionals caring for him to commence the planned, but very painstaking, programme of rehabilitation therapy.”

The family thanked fans across the world for the support they have shown since Bianchi’s accident.

“As we reflect on the events of the past few months, we would like to acknowledge once again the overwhelming warmth and affection shown towards our son. These continue to be challenging times for our family, but the knowledge that he has touched the lives of so many people all around the world has helped us through.

“We would also like to acknowledge the respect and support shown by the media towards our family during this time, for which we are extremely grateful. We will continue to provide information when it is possible to do so and our sincere appreciation to everyone who continues to pray for Jules.”

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Swansea’s Jonjo Shelvey charged with violent conduct

Swansea’s Jonjo Shelvey has been charged with violent conduct by the FA

Midfielder Shelvey was not punished by referee Andre Marriner during the game.

The 22-year-old faces a four game ban if found guilty and has until 18:00 GMT on Wednesday to respond to the charge.

Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling, 20, has not been charged for an incident involving Swans’ Federico Fernandez.

BBC Wales Sport understands that Swansea are furious with Marriner’s claim that he did not see the incident, which was caught on video.

After the game, manager Garry Monk said: “The referee was perfectly placed and no-one had a better view than him of the incident.”

Monk added: “He felt it did not warrant any more action and the game went on, and there was no complaints from any of the players afterwards so you have to trust the referee made the right decision, which we thought he did.”

Shelvey, who was sent off against Everton in November, tweeted after the loss  to say the contact was unintentional and that he apologised to German Can, 20.

Monk, who had said before the game that Shelvey needed to “wise up” to improve his discipline, said there should be no retrospective punishment.

“Jonjo said to me his intention was not to catch the player at all . . . It’s not clear. There was a motion towards the player,” he said.

He continued: “Can was tugging on him and Jonjo was trying to push him away. In terms of an intentional elbow, it was not at all.”

Sterling has not been charged for pushing Swans defender Fernandez in the face as the incident was seen by at least one of the match officials at Anfield, so no further action will be taken.

Read more at BBC Sport

Premiership: West Brom sack manager Alan Irvine after Stoke defeat

Alan Irvine has been sacked as West Brom manager after seven months in charge at The Hawthorns.

The 56-year-old Scot was appointed boss in June following the exit of Pepe Mel and was on a 12-month rolling contract.

Albion are 16th in the Premier League, a point above the relegation zone following Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Stoke, their seventh loss in nine games.

Irvine, who won just four of his 19 league games in charge, has been placed on gardening leave.

West Brom travel to West Ham on New Year’s Day with Rob Kelly, assisted by fellow assistant head coach Keith Downing, in caretaker charge.

The Midlands club say they expect to be able to name Irvine’s successor by the weekend.

Among those linked with the job is former Spurs manager Tim Sherwood, 45, who was interviewed for the role in June after his departure from White Hart Lane but the move broke down after he asked to bring in his own coaching staff.

Also available is former Stoke and Crystal Palace boss Tony Puliswho is also being lined up as a possible replacement at Newcastle if Alan Pardew’s switch to Crystal Palace goes through.

Albion’s technical director, Terry Burton, said: “We appointed Alan in the summer convinced that we had taken on one of the foremost coaches in the UK and nothing that has happened since then has altered our view.

“But sadly that simply has not translated into results and they remain the ultimate currency of Alan’s position. Securing a sixth season in the Premier League is the over-riding target and sometimes unpleasant decisions have to be taken to serve that imperative.

“Alan has impressed everyone with his manner, dedication and diligence but he knows that results have simply not been good enough.”

Read more at BBC Sport

Dakar: 2015 Preview

The 2015 edition of the Dakar Rally begins in Buenos Aires on 3rd January.

The rally will also pass through Chile and Bolivia before finishing in Argentina on January 17th after 13 stages of competition.

The four major groups that compete in Dakar are motorcycles, quads, cars and trucks, and the race is open to both professional and amateur competitors.

Defending champion 2014 in the car category Joan Roma, said: “It will not be easy. It is never easy to win the Dakar.

“This year it may be even tougher than usual as there will be quite a lot of competition with the involvement of such a team as Peugeot with their very good drivers,” he added.

The 2015 Dakar

The only way to complete the Dakar is through a combination of endurance and determination. The competitors will have an additional problem to resolve on the 9,000 kilometres to be covered in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia: adopting and maintaining the right momentum, while the route continuously endeavours to break it. Depending on the day, both the setting and the pace will change, moving from rocky routes to desert dunes and from endurance stages to extreme sprints. Given the competitors’ inability to recognize clearly identifi ed sections, in particular they must capitalise upon their ability to adapt… and to control their stamina. The marathon stages will defi nitely remind them of this basic rule of off-road races.

Marathon Stages

The Dakar tests competitors and their vehicles in extreme endurance. The marathon stages, where drivers cannot use their assistance teams, are a particular test of their ability to independently manage their mechanics. This year, cars and trucks, which have not taken part in a marathon stage since 2005, will have to tackle this additional difficulty.

Split over two days, a marathon stage involves some of the competitors spending the night in an isolated bivouac. The vehicles are taken into a closed area, where only help between competitors is authorised. Despite the technical challenge which this constraint represents, the drivers also enjoy a different, highly convivial atmosphere. In Uyuni, it will be the car teams which will spend a night apart, followed by the motorcyclists and quad bikers the next day. The truck category will have its own dedicated bivouac in the middle of the Atacama Desert.

To make organisation of the marathon stages possible, a new system has been set up at the heart of the extended stay in Iquique. So, on 11th January, three races will take place on three different routes and in two countries. This meant there was also a need to incorporate staggered rest days for the motorcyclists and quad bikers.

Different Routes

For several years now, the organisers have used their in-depth knowledge of the South American terrain to refi ne the routes and off er specifi c features for each category. For the 2015 edition, the motorcyclists and quad bikers will face an additional diffi culty, with a particularly dense second week: four marathon days in total. 35% of the kilometres they cover without the cars and trucks will be in the form of special stages.

Different routes and rest days also gives the car teams the opportunity to fully demonstrate their potential, both in terms of driving and navigation. With 1,382km of open space (a third of the special stages) the cars will be able to compete without being slowed down by overtaking… and will also enjoy routes on virgin terrain. The truck drivers will find themselves in this situation for more than 600km.

Three Countries: Argentina, Chile, Bolivila


Read more at Yahoo Sport


Premiership: Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse banned after accepting FA charge

Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse will serve a three-match ban after accepting a charge of violent conduct from the FA.

Cisse elbowed Everton defender Seamus Coleman during Sunday’s 3-2 league win over the Toffees.

He will miss Thursday’s visit of Burnley, Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Leicester and the Premier League game at Chelsea on 10 January.

The 29-year-old is his side’s top scorer with nine goals.

He netted for the fifth time in six Premier League games as Newcastle ended a four-game losing run on Sunday.

Toffees boss Roberto Martinez said Cisse was lucky not to have been sent off for the incident, which was not seen by match officials at the time, describing it as “unacceptable”.

“You don’t want to see that on a football pitch, that shouldn’t be allowed,” he said.

“Two players fighting for their position at a dead-ball situation and you end up deciding to take the law into your own hands by elbowing a fellow professional.

“It’s unacceptable and that should have been a red card.”

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: Pérez urges Formula 1 to help smaller teams

Force India driver Sergio Pérez has urged Formula 1 to introduce measures to aid the smaller teams in the sport.

Backmarkers Marussia and Caterham entered administration towards the end of 2014 and missed races, with Marussia’s assets auctioned off shortly before Christmas.

While Caterham was able to return to the grid in Abu Dhabi, the future of both teams appears uncertain despite the squads being provisionally added to the 2015 entry list.

With other teams also voicing their concerns over the future of the sport, Pérez believes that Formula 1 needs to act to prevent the problems from getting worse.

“Of course, we see a lot in the media,” Pérez told GPUpdate.net about the sport’s problems.

“Formula 1 is not going through a great period, especially this side of the grid. The small teams are struggling to keep up. So hopefully the sport can do something to help us and help the team to survive, because I think Formula 1 needs these teams to stay.”

Pérez downplayed the idea that modified GP2 cars could be introduced to aid Formula 1 backmarkers and keep up numbers in the sport.

“I think if they want to do a second series and if you are in the second series, you are not in the pinnacle of the sport,” he said. “So what’s the point? If you are in Formula 1, it is because you believe you are one of the best racing drivers in the world. It’s because you are racing for one of the best teams in the world. What’s the point of being in Formula 1 but not being in the pinnacle of the sport?”

Read more at gpupdate.net