CHARLES SALE: Northern Ireland's claim rubbished over England visit for Windsor Park reopening
The FA were bemused yesterday by reports from Belfast that the England team were being lined up to play Northern Ireland at the opening of a renovated Windsor Park in 2012. Raymond Kennedy, the president of the Irish FA, was responsible for the speculation after saying: 'Negotiations are at an advanced level with the FA to bring England over here. I am personally very hopeful that a deal can be agreed.' However, far from lengthy talks having taken place, the FA executive at Wembley had no knowledge of a game against Northern Ireland even being at a planning stage. No go: England are unable to commit to a Windsor Park match just yet And it transpired that Kennedy's 'advanced negotiations' were just a preliminary request to chairman Lord Triesman for a match - one of many the FA receive on a regular basis. The FA are in no position to grant Northern Ireland a game as they only meet next month to discuss the dates of their Euro 2012 qualifying matches this year and next, while the 2012 London Olympics and the FA's 150-year anniversary in 2013 add to the pressure on the calendar. Meanwhile, Kennedy's reign in charge of Northern Ireland football is now the subject of a government-instigated independent inquiry after former IFA chief executive Howard Wells won a reported £400,000 settlement from his unfair dismissal case. Kennedy and sidekick David Martin were christened 'Dumb and Dumber' by the media after the departure of Wells, who had revitalised the IFA. Chelsea captain John Terry, who flew to Dubai yesterday to see wife Toni on a peace-making mission after his affair with Vanessa Perroncel, will find himself in familiar company as the entire Blackburn Rovers squad are heading there for warm-weather training this weekend. Aston Villa's in-form James Milner (right) is confident enough of his England World Cup selection, according to friends, to have already booked some family flights to South Africa. By standing down as a Labour MP at the upcoming General Election, the former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon will clear the ground for his attempt to become Football League chairman. TV mogul Michael Grade is his main competitor. UEFA will not allow any World Cup bidding countries to present their cases at the annual congress in Tel Aviv in March. UEFA did not want World Cup business to overshadow the congress or repeat the example of African confederation CAF, who received millions of dollars from Qatar for their monopoly bid presentation rights in Angola. Qatar's limitless budget for their 2022 campaign is now causing concern to rivals. And the emirate's FIFA power-broker Mohamed Bin Hammam could well use the 2022 issue as a bargaining chip before he decides whether to stand against Sepp Blatter in 2011 for the FIFA presidency. Bids going radio ga-ga The Premier League, with their licence to print money, can look forward to a big increase in the £36m value of radio rights in the three-year deal starting next season. More from Charles Sale... Charles Sale: Michael Grade wants to succeed Lord Mawhinney as chairman of Football League10/02/10 Charles Sale: Barmy England put shirt on Kasabian09/02/10 Charles Sale: FA chasing £30m England sponsor08/02/10 Charles Sale: Wembley's tough line on box bandits07/02/10 CHARLES SALE: Protesters hunt down TV historian in bid to stop 2012 Olympics equestrian at Greenwich Park 05/02/10 Charles Sale: Shamed England skipper Terry is expected to keep his kit on04/02/10 Charles Sale: Fabio Capello's untimely night on Pall Mall03/02/10 Charles Sale: China set to exploit BOA's Surrey state during London 2012 Olympics02/02/10 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE Football newcomers Absolute Radio, owned by the Times of India media group, have been awarded the second pick of Saturday afternoon games - one of seven packages in a bidding process akin to the TV rights sale. The rest of the tender has gone to a second round and both 5 Live and talkSPORT, who both desperately need live Premier League matches to make their stations work, will be chucking money at the PL to ensure that they don't miss out. And Absolute, who paid around £6m for their one package, will also be seeking further live matches. The cash-strapped British Horseracing Authority have ditched head of communications Jon Ryan, the former Mail on Sunday and Sunday Telegraph sports editor, after just two years in the post, proving once again journalists don't necessarily make good PR operatives. Sports Agenda revealed last December that Ryan's job was in jeopardy. The Professional Cricketers' Association, who have been without a chief executive since Sean Morris moved to Rajasthan Royals, is the next sports body where a round of redundancies is expected following a cost-cutting review.
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