Outside the Box: Life's suite for Beckham in £4,500-a-night Milan hotel

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The Independent Online

As Milan's season moves into a crucial phase, attempting to secure their return to the Champions' League, and Fabio Capello picks his squad for England's next World Cup tie, David Beckham can have few excuses for not being on top of his game. It transpires Sir Becks is living in the £4,500 (a night) Royal Suite of the Hotel Principe Di Savoia, a five-star establishment from the chain who also own the Dorchester in London, the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. He is able to enjoy "sumptuous Empire-style furniture and a four-poster bed with 100 per cent cashmere sheets" in a suite big enough, we assume, for him to practise free-kicks.

Dope in positive drugs test

An unnamed young player with a club in the lower reaches of the Football League has been banned for four months for failing a drugs test, and made history in the process. The IoS can reveal he was the first British sportsman to test positive for Benzylpip-erazine, an Ecstasy-like substance that goes by street names including "Nemesis", "A2" and "Benny Bear". The youngster also tested positive for Benzoylecgonine, which is the primary metabolite of cocaine. What a dope.

Mabbutt in to save world

The number of Englishmen who have been involved in a successful bid to host the World Cup being strictly limited, the Football Association's team for 2018 need all the advice they can get from the likes of Gary Mabbutt. The former Spurs captain has duly been passing on his experience of helping South Africa to land the 2010 finals, for which he became European Ambassador after meeting Danny Jordaan, the Spurs fan who is chief executive of the Organising Committee.

Neill keen to go home

Lucas Neill of Australia, who would feature in a Bateman cartoon as The Man Who Turned Down Liverpool For West Ham, has hinted he could move to the A-League in Sydney as early as next year. Neill, 31, said he wants to finish his career in his home country. "It'd probably be shortly after the World Cup, whether it's immediately after or one season further on," he said.

Pop goes Wembley pitch

Wembley will again be the centrepiece of the World Cup bid, but it is an expensive one, and playing both FA Cup semi-finals there is not the only footballing compromise needed to pay for the place. The stadium authorities will risk relaying the pitch three times before important matches – the Community Shield and England qualifiers – early next season after staging lucrative concerts by Oasis (July), U2 (August) and Coldplay (September). The playing surface has been criticised on numerous occasions, most recently by Sir Alex Ferguson after the Carling Cup final win over Spurs. United's manager may have been on less firm ground, so to speak, after Friday's latest spat with Rafa Benitez about which club has spent more money in the past five years. The consensus among papers doing the sums yesterday was that based on net spending – which takes sales into account and is the fairer way to do it – United had handed over anything from £3m to £36m more. The fact, as Benitez might say, is that actually nobody knows, since in an age of supposedly greater transparency, clubs still refuse to divulge the sums involved.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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