Brazilian hits bull's-eye with cattle bonus

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The new owner of Londrina, a Brazilian Second Division club with serious financial problems, has devised a novel way of ensuring that his players carry on receiving their bonuses for good performances - he pays them in cattle.

Club president Marcelo Caldarelli, who is of course a cattle rancher, realised he had to find a way to beef up the players' basic salary after finding the club $5m (pounds 3.3m) in debt on taking office at the start of the year.

"There was no point in giving cheques because they just bounced," said Caldarelli, who decided to take the bull by the horns and donate his own animals.

So far, the squad have been awarded 20 cattle but they could earn another 50 depending on their forthcoming performances.

Caldarelli said that eventually he would auction the cattle, which have been separated from the rest of the herd and given their own field, and then give the proceeds to the players.

Caldarelli had already caused a stir with his off-beat managerial practices by appointing soap opera star, Nuno Leal Maia, as coach at the start of his term. Maia is a football fanatic who had a trial with Santos as a youngster but has never had coaching experience with a major club.

"Everybody deserves a chance in life and it was good for the image of the club, which was down in the dumps," explained Caldarelli.

While on the subject of Brazilians and bulls the sight of Branco playing for Middlesbrough must have been like a red rag to the Everton manager, Joe Royle, whose efforts to acquire a work permit for his own new foreigner, Marc Hottiger from Newcastle, have so far foundered.

Royle may decide to "park" Hottiger with Everton's League of Ireland "nursery" club, Home Farm, which would circumnavigate the problem since he would then be judged as a foreign import.

That was the weekend that was