The Sports Matrix: Friday 28 October 2011

GP debut will lift India, says Massa

Felipe Massa feels the optimism in India ahead of its first Grand Prix this weekend has similarities with his native Brazil. “It reminds me very much of my country 20 or 30 years ago,” the Ferrari driver said. “Brazil has grown a lot and so, I believe, will India.” MORE

Murphy warns his Tigers of big battle

Leicester captain Geordan Murphy admits his team now face a “tremendous challenge” trying to move up the Premiership table from second from bottom. “It has been a tough start. We lost a lot of guys to the World Cup and we’ve also had injuries.” MORE

Kangaroos v Kiwis start to Four Nations

The Four Nations starts tonight with Australia playing New Zealand at Warrington. England kick off in Leigh tomorrow against battling outsiders Wales, who have already lost the talismanic Gareth Thomas. MORE

City must field Tevez in games

Manchester City must play Carlos Tevez in 10 per cent of their games to avoid giving the forward the right to terminate his contract. Part of Fifa’s regulations stipulate that a player has a “sporting just clause” to leave a club if he is failing to gain playing time. MORE

Unanimous verdict demanded in trial

The jury in the trial of Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif resume their deliberations at Southwark Crown Court this morning under instructions – after 17 days of evidence – to reach a unanimous verdict. MORE

We are on the right path, says Wenger

Arsène Wenger insisted at Arsenal’s AGM yesterday that his team would still be able to compete despite major departures: “The basis of our team and its potential is right. I am much more positive than [most] people are. The team is on the right way.” MORE

Injured Pietersen a big doubt for T20

England batsman Kevin Pietersen is rated as “extremely doubtful” to be fit in time for tomorrow’s T20 international against India at Eden Gardens. Pietersen fractured his thumb during the fourth one-day international of the series which England lost 5-0. MORE

Feature: Stephen Brenkley

Football is starting to assert itself in India. Although it is seemingly kept a secret from the outside world, the game is a big deal in Kolkata. When Mohun Bagan play East Bengal, they will have a crowd of 120,000. MORE

Chelsea’s pitch battle leads fans to defy Abramovich

Chelsea’s bid to buy back the freehold of Stamford Bridge with a view to moving was defeated yesterday, as they failed to win enough ‘Yes’ votes from the Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO). Bruce Buck, Chelsea chairman, claimed that it was “not a catastrophe” as the club won 61.6 per cent of the vote, short of the 75 per cent required under the CPO protocol to buy the freehold. Chelsea had announced on 3 October that they needed to buy the CPO freehold on the four stands and pitch at Stamford Bridge if they wanted to pursue a move elsewhere. The mood of the meeting was antagonistic towards the board. Tim Rolls of Say No CPO revealed: “The club simply do not understand the fans. That has been demonstrated by the emotions that surfaced at this meeting.” Queen’s Park Rangers yesterday denied that any of their players had been called to give evidence concerning the racism allegations against Chelsea captain John Terry. The FA expects to speak to Anton Ferdinand about the matter today. MORE

United expect to shell out for Gaitan

Sir Alex Ferguson will have to pay at least £35m to Benfica to tempt the Portuguese club to part with midfielder Nicolas Gaitan. The 23-year-old impressed against Manchester United last month and has been described as a better talent than Angel di Maria. MORE

McIlroy delighted with Shanghai start

Rory McIlroy shot an eight-under 64 to lead the first round of the Shanghai Masters yesterday. McIlroy’s bogey-free round put him on track to win £1.25m. “If I can play as solid for the next three days I’ll be very difficult to beat,” he said. MORE