That was the weekend that was

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It's a knockout - for armchair fans

If Rupert Murdoch gets what we presume to be his way, watching a Premiership match on television will eventually require an "admission fee" on top of the Sky subscription, probably on a rising scale with high- profile games such as yesterday's Manchester United-Tottenham clash commanding the highest prices.

Happily, that day is probably some way off yet, with Sky estimating that digital television - the technology that will allow them to broadcast simultaneous matches on separate channels - will not arrive until autumn next year at the earliest.

The nation's boxing fans can be thanked for that. Some estimates say 600,000 paid to watch Tyson demolish Bruno, netting Sky a cool pounds 7m. Executives reportedly reason that if they can make so much from an event broadcast in the middle of the night, the potential for prime-time football must be huge.

It may be, however, that public willingness to go on paying through the nose cannot be taken entirely for granted. Last September, Sky changed the way it charges pubs from a fixed rate system to one based on rateable values, in some cases jacking up monthly payments from pounds 35 to pounds 120. As a result, pub chains have cancelled their subscriptions.

Best and Giggs United at last

Newcastle and Liverpool fans prepare for your worst nightmare - the return of George Best in a Manchester United shirt, or, to be more precise, a Ryan Giggs shirt. In the new Reebok advert, our wayward Irishman wishes he were in Giggs' boots, to coin a phrase. I bet he does, though not because he envies his talent, that's for sure.

Picking up on the fantasy football theme, the boot manufacturers have invited a cast of thousands, well a couple of dozen famous names at least, as diverse as Quentin Crisp and Chris Eubank, to join Best in his day- dreaming. Other celebrities in the advert, which was filmed in three countries at 13 venues across eight months, include Tom Jones, Richard Attenborough, David Mellor, Jarvis Cocker and Jose Carreras.

The advert will first be shown this Wednesday and will run throughout Euro 96.

Meanwhile, over at Carlsberg, one of the championship sponsors have found it necessary to spurn the rich and famous in order to project their new campaign: "probably the best players in the world". As a result, they have focused on a Sunday morning park team chasing that elusive Wembley dream in the brewers' own pub cup.

Well,

obviously...

`I spoke to Stan before the game and he called me Mr Clark. I don't know if he was trying to upset me and make me feel old but our differences are in the past. The crowd's reaction was silly and unfortunate but that's the way football is these days' - Forest manager Frank Clark after the Nottingham crowd had vented their wrath at old boy Collymore.

`It is sad when somebody who has given great service to a club gets a reception like that but I would not blame only him for our performance. Manchester United must be laughing their socks off' - Liverpool chief Roy Evans on a missed opportunity.

`I can give you a list of those who didn't play well today. There was Les Ferdinand, Faustino Asprilla, Rob Lee, David Ginola and Peter Beardsley and there were others as well - it is a long list' - Kevin Keegan, surveying the Highbury wreckage.

`The dressing-room is on fire. People don't know how invaluable this result is to us' - Joe Kinnear explaining how Wimbledon caught alight at Goodison Park.

`You never give up hope in this game but the diving board is getting shorter all the time' - George Parris, on sink-or-swim time for Brighton.

`This game is not just about having a good heart and a good pair of lungs - you need brains as well' - Jimmy Nicholl on some simple-minded defending by Millwall which dashed their play-off hopes.

PREMIER XI

TEAM OF THE WEEKEND

SOMMER

QPR

PETRESCU

CHELSEA

WALKER

SHEFF WED

BILIC

WEST HAM

PEARCE

NOTTM FOR

KANCHELSKIS

EVERTON

KINKLADZE

MAN CITY

CURCIC

BOLTON

CANTONA

MAN UTD

DOWIE

WEST HAM

MILOSEVIC

ASTON VILLA

Rumours

Fact and fiction from the Sunday papers

Arsenal's manager, Bruce Rioch, was spotted watching Milan's Uefa Cup defeat in Bordeaux last week - but confusion reigns as to why. The Sunday Mirror reckoned it was to check on 26-year-old Milan striker Marco Simone, whom the Italians are supposedly ready to sell. Rioch - "greatly impressed" - is to urge his board to post a pounds 5m bid.

The "hush-hush trip", as the Mirror described it, was not so secret as to escape the notice of the Mail on Sunday as well. However, Rioch's target, according to their report, is not Simone but the Bordeaux forward Zinedine Zidane, "widely regarded as the best young player in France", and rated highly also by Alex Ferguson.

But maybe it was all a smokescreen, anyway. The spies at The People believe the Highbury chief's real target is the 27-year-old Croatian Robert Prosinecki, whom Rioch believes he can sign for pounds 4m from Barcelona, where he has reportedly fallen out with Johann Cruyff.

Also in The People, Manchester City face a battle to keep the Georgian Georgi Kinkladze in the face of interest from Milan, and a suggestion that Scotland defender Colin Hendry may be tempted by a move to Torino, a story confirmed by the Mirror, who also listed Bari and Benfica as admirers of the Blackburn stopper.

Missing person

STEVE HODGE (Watford)

Five previous moves attracted combined transfer fees of pounds 2.85m but Watford acquired a former England international for nothing when Queen's Park Rangers gave 33-year-old Hodge (right) a free transfer last December. Injury intervened before personal terms could be finalised. Then manager Glenn Roeder gave way to Graham Taylor, upon which, according to one observer, Hodge simply disappeared from the scene.

Watch out for...

SHAY GIVEN (Blackburn Rovers)

Third-choice goalkeeper behind Tim Flowers and Bobby Mimms, 19-year-old Given has benefitted from a loan spell with Sunderland. His 11 clean sheets in 14 matches - he has yet to concede a goal in seven appearances - have played no small part in the Wearside revival and are likely to earn a first senior Republic of Ireland cap this week, following the injury to Alan Kelly. Meanwhile, Blackburn must decide whether to cash in on their pounds 2m-rated talent.

Turn back

the clock

Whatever its future, the League Cup will forever hold a cherished place in the affections of Leeds United supporters, for whom the 1968 final against Arsenal represented a turning point. For the first time, after several dashed dreams, Leeds had been presented with a chance of glory and taken it.

Not that they could be said to have shaken off their inhibitions, sharing a match as drab and uninspiring as many could recall at Wembley, despite a promise from Don Revie that his much-criticised team would endeavour to entertain.

In the end, Revie, fearful that the morale of his players might not survive the trauma of another defeat, simply could not go through with it. He excused himself on the basis of injuries to Johnny Giles and Jimmy Greenhoff and the nervousness of the players before a contest "so vital for us to win".

Leeds were panned also for persisting with the controversial tactic of positioning Jack Charlton on the opposing goal-line at corners. It was ploy that led to the only goal, scored by Terry Cooper following a free- kick, despite Arsenal's claims that Charlton had impeded goalkeeper Jim Furnell.

Red card

FOREST FANS

Take a bow

NICKY WEAVER

10

reasons why...

Ian Wright should see out his career at Arsenal

1 Without him, we would have even more excuse to abuse Arsenal

2 It might keep Bruce Rioch off the dole

3 Rioch would have no one to moan at

4 The club's tiresome singalong, "One-nil to the Arsenal" would have to be renamed "Nil-nil for the Arsenal"

5 It will be bad enough trying to remember Ian Rush's new club without Wright's, too

6 The prospect of Ruud Gullit and Ian Wright in the same team would drive Gunners fans to suicide, even if, on the plus side, it might tempt Spurs fans to do the same

7 Born-again Christian Glenn Hoddle would not have to put up with his industrial language

8 He could fulfill the coaching role the club have in mind for him eventually

9 Old-timers might would have less reason to keep harping on about Cliff Bastin when Wright eventually overhauls his goalscoring recordBarry Venison's haircut

10 He would not have to move from his plush new South London home

n It may have been all smiles for the likes of Savo Milosevic and Dwight Yorke yesterday but for two of the club's former foreigners, Stefan Beinlich and Matthias Breitkreutz, it was less so. They hit the target for Hansa Rostock against St Pauli but still finished 3-2 losers

Programme notes

No 16: Chelsea

Price: pounds 2. Pages: 56. Glossy, smartly turned-out little number as befits the image of the club. Nothing much in the way of original ideas, but everyone (except Matthew Harding) has their own column, from manager to youth development officer. Plenty for fans to tuck in to. Reasonable photographs, good attention to detail.

Verdict

9/10

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