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News & Comment

Outside the Box: If Beckford stays put, the Stones won't be rolling in it

The increasing likelihood of Leeds United's Jermaine Beckford seeing out the season at Elland Road has been greeted with dismay at non-League Wealdstone, alma mater of Stuart Pearce and Vinnie Jones. The Ryman League club, who sold him to Leeds for about £45,000 in 2006, are due to receive 20 per cent of any future transfer, and were rubbing their hands when Newcastle United recently offered £1.8m for the striker – one-fifth of which amounts to a cool £360,000. Leeds seem prepared to risk losing him for nothing when his contract expires in June, which means that the hard-up Stones will not receive a penny. "It would be heartbreaking for the club," a spokesman told Outside The Box. "That sort of money would ensure our mid-term future." One (very) small consolation is the raffle with which Wealdstone have sold off naming rights to their newly developed Vale Stadium, a home at last after almost 20 nomadic years of ground-sharing; that honour has been won for the next 15 months by St George's Shopping Centre, Harrow.

That's not a Duff record

Ryan Giggs may be the only player with at least one goal to his name in every Premier League season, but by scoring for Fulham early in the new year, Damien Duff has beaten him as the first to register a League goal in three different decades; Duff's very first came for Blackburn back in November 1997, and he has now been emulated by Chelsea's Nicolas Anelka (first goal in the same month) and Frank Lampard (August 1997). A whole crop of other strikers and midfielders could join them, as well as two long-serving defenders: Arsenal's Sol Campbell is now back in contention, having first scored for Tottenham as long ago as December 1992. But don't bank on Jamie Carragher, who averages one per decade and has famously scored as many times for Spurs (three own goals) as for Liverpool (three in over 400 League games).

Leeds women pull out

The Football Association's new Women's Super League has suffered a first casualty 14 months before it starts. Sixteen clubs had made official applications to join the eight-team professional league, which will begin in March next year and run through the summer. The preferred eight will be chosen in two months' time but Leeds Carnegie, who were expected to be strong candidates – they have seven players in the England squad and play in the Premier League Cup final in two weeks' time – have pulled out after learning running costs could be as high as £250,000 a year.

Foul report is a tall story

Bad news for Peter Crouch, though he may long (sic) have suspected it. New research from Erasmus University, Rotterdam, suggests fouls are more likely to be given against the taller of any two players involved in a challenge. Two German researchers studied more than 120,000 incidents in the World Cup, Champions' League and the Bundesliga, concluding that taller people are indeed more often held accountable – even when no actual foul was committed. Premier League statistics appear to back them up: big Kevin Davies of Bolton has supposedly committed the most fouls, while most free-kicks have been given to Geovanni, Stephen Hunt and Stiliyan Petrov – none of whom are exactly giants.