Otago stave off liquidation
The Otago Rugby Union (ORU) temporarily staved off becoming the first New Zealand union in the professional era to go into liquidation yesterday, though its financial situation still remained “grave” the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) said. The ORU had said earlier in the week it was unable to service NZ$2.35 million (US$1.95 million) in debt, pay the wages of players and administrative staff or their bills, and that it would be forced to begin liquidation proceedings yesterday if it could not put together a rescue package. However, NZRU chief executive Steve Tew told reporters in Wellington they had asked the ORU to put off the proceedings for a week and continue working with potential sponsors, benefactors and financial institutions to find a solution. The Otago Highlanders are not directly affected by the bankruptcy, having been hived off as a separate legal entity.
Fowler trains with Blackpool
Former Liverpool forward Robbie Fowler is training with Blackpool and could be set to sign a short-term deal, the English second-tier club said on Thursday. The 36-year-old poacher quit English soccer three years ago to play first in Australia and then in Thailand, but he has returned home after an opportunity to join India’s Premier League Soccer fell through when the inaugural edition was postponed. Fowler, who also played for Leeds United and Manchester City, as well as representing England, is fourth in the all-time English Premier League scorers list with 163 goals. “Has he got some quality, can he find little pockets, can he play a pass, can he score a goal? Yes, he can,” Blackpool manager Ian Holloway said on the Lancashire club’s Web site. “I still think he’s hungry, I still think he wants to play and he’s got undoubted quality.”
Admiral defends costly pitch
The US admiral in charge of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp is defending the decision to build a US$744,000 soccer field for well-behaved prisoners, saying critics misunderstand the facility’s purpose and logistics. Rear Admiral David Woods said the camp’s mission was not to punish foreign captives unnecessarily, many of whom have been held there for 10 years already. He said his job is to detain them away from the battlefield under safe and humane conditions, and that providing socialization opportunities was part of that. “It does include things that keep their mind active, like the classes that we keep and the entertainment, newspapers, books, TV that they’re able to experience here,” Woods said on Wednesday night. The soccer field includes a soft gravel walking track, security cameras and a high fence topped with razor wire. It is expected to open in the spring, after goal posts and latrines are added.
Rodgers accepts doping ban
US sprinter Mike Rodgers has accepted a nine-month ban for a failed drug test, but he will still be able to compete in the London Olympics if he qualifies, the US Anti-Doping Agency said on Thursday. The former US 100m champion, who tested positive at an event in Italy in July last year, is banned until April 19, making him eligible for the US Olympic trials in June if he meets testing requirements. The agency said Rodgers gave “inaccurate and misleading testimony” at his hearing, but eventually agreed to his ban. “Needless to say, this has been both a humbling and enlightening experience,” Rodgers said in a statement. “I made a huge mistake and take full responsibility for my actions.”