For no particular reason - we would like to know if you shop at Sports Direct.
The latest on Ashley's business dealings .
Sports Direct and the owner of coffee chain Costa will prove there is money to be made in retail next week when they provide updates to the City.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct International will unveil higher half-year profits on Thursday as it takes advantage of the demise of rival JJB Sports and benefits from Olympic fever.
The group, which has nearly 400 stores and owns brands including Slazenger, Donnay and Karrimor, is expected by brokers Numis to report a 20% rise in underlying earnings to £169m.
Chief executive Dave Forsey said the period to September was buoyed by demand for products linked to the London Olympics and an “excellent” back-to-school period, and said in October trading had been equally strong since then.
The improvement by Sports Direct, which is majority owned by Ashley, came in a period when rival JJB Sports conceded defeat in its battle for survival.
Sports Direct bought 20 stores from JJB’s administrators but this meant the closure of another 133 sites with the loss of around 2,200 jobs.
Numis analyst Andrew Wade said: “As well as the benefit from JJB’s continued struggles, which may have been reduced through the quarter due to clearance activity, management pointed to benefits from the Olympics and a strong back-to-school period.”
The City will be keen to hear on updates on potential acquisitions following reports that Ashley is hunting down a stake in department store chain House of Fraser.
The founder of Sports Direct International is understood to have met unnamed shareholders to discuss buying out investors and creating a strategic partnership.
Sports acquired an 80% shareholding in retail chains USC and Cruise for £7m last year and bought a 51% stake in premium clothing brand Flannels in the summer.
Leisure group Whitbread will reveal further strong growth in sales at its coffee business Costa tomorrow amid ongoing speculation a spin-off will be on the cards.
Costa, which has nearly 1,400 outlets in the UK, is forecast by analysts at Barclays Equity Research to reveal like-for-like sales growth in its third quarter of 6%.
It has consistently been the top performer in the group’s portfolio, which also includes hotel chain Premier Inn and restaurants Beefeater and Brewers Fayre.
Shares in Whitbread are 50% higher than they were at the start of the year.
The coffee chain is also expected to benefit from recent bad publicity for Starbucks and Caffe Nero regarding their UK tax positions.
Carpetright is expected to show further signs of a tentative recovery tomorrow as the floor coverings chain reveals a bounce in half-year profits.
The group, which has 484 outlets in the UK, is forecast by brokers Numis Securities to report pre-tax profits of £7m in the six months to the end of October, up from £1.4m last year.
Newcastle-based transport group Go-Ahead will face further questions over plans to grow its bus division when it reveals its first-half trading update tomorrow.
The company currently generates an annual return of £70m from a fleet of around 4,600 buses carrying some 1.7m passengers a day.
It recently said it wants to take profits to £100m a year by 2015/16 through “high-quality services, innovation and marketing and cost efficiency”.
It comes as Go-Ahead faces up to uncertainty in its rail operation following the Department for Transport’s decision to postpone current rail franchise competitions in the wake of the West Coast Main Line debacle.
Broker Nomura recently upgraded its recommendation on Go-Ahead from neutral to buy, adding the firm has “a self-help bus story that should offer underlying earnings momentum over the coming years”.
The Olympics resulted in much higher levels of rail passenger revenues and journeys in its first quarter, while underlying revenues at its bus division were 5% higher.
The company’s margin from bus operations is currently just over 10%.CRAVEN COTTAGE - FULHAM
How To Get There By Car & Where To Park From the North M1
At the end of the M1, turn right (west) onto the A406 (North Circular) and follow it towards Harrow for nearly 4.5 miles. Turn left (east) onto the A40 heading into London (passing close to Loftus Road and after a little over 4 miles turn right (west) onto the A402 for just about 350 yards. Here you turn left (south) along the A219 for a little over half a mile. This brings you into Hammersmith where you turn right onto the A315 and then after just 130 yards or so turn left (south) back onto the A219. Follow this road for a little over a mile, and the ground down the side streets off to your right.
From The North M40 & West M25
Leave the M25 at Junction 15 and take the M4, which then becomes the A4, towards Central London. After around two miles branch off left into Hammersmith Broadway (before the flyover). Go around the ring road around central Hammersmith, keeping to the right. Then take the A219 Fulham Palace Road. Keep straight on this road, passing Charing Cross Hospital on your left. After about another half a mile turn right into Crabtree Lane for the ground.
From the South M25
Leave the M25 at Junction 10 and take the A3 towards Central London. After around eight miles, leave the A3 at the turn off for the A219. Take the A219 towards Putney. Continue straight on this road, down Putney High Street and across Putney Bridge. You will see the ground on your left.
Parking close to the ground can be quite difficult as Jim Huegett informs me; 'please note that parking on the streets near to the ground is restricted to one hour 'pay & display' on matchdays. This isn't obvious from the parking meters and signage and the wardens are out in force on match day'. To compound matters these restrictions are also in place for Bank Holidays, Sundays and evenings up to 9.30pm, so it will be a case of finding some parking further away from the stadium.
The nearest London Underground station is Putney Bridge, which is on the District Line. The ground is about a fifteen minute walk. Turn left out of the station and then immediately turn right into a street called Ranelagh Gardens. As the road bends around to the right you will see the Eight Bells pub on your right. Turn left after the pub to take you up to the main road by Putney Bridge. Cross over to the other side of the main road and proceed up to the bridge and then on reaching the bridge turn right to enter into Bishops Park alongside the Thames. Just proceed through the park (keeping the Thames on your left) and you will reach the ground ahead.
Tony Baker adds; 'Those wishing to avoid the Tube can use the Putney National Rail station, which can be reached from Waterloo and Clapham Junction. Its about a 15 or 20 minute walk to the ground. Turn right upon leaving the station, and keep going straight, down Putney High Street and over Putney Bridge. You will meet the crowds from the Tube station here. Follow them along the river bank through Bishops Park and to the ground'.
What's Craven Cottage Like?
On one side of the ground is the Stevenage Road Stand which has recently been renamed the Johnny Haynes Stand after the former Fulham great. It previously had terracing at the front, but this has now been made all seated. The stand was originally designed by Archibald Leitch (who designed a number of football grounds and stands in the early part of the 20th century) and was opened in 1905. Considering its age, it can be forgiven for having a number of supporting pillars and old wooden seating in its upper tier. It does though have a fine classic looking gable on its roof; labelled Fulham Football Club.
Opposite is the aptly named Riverside Stand. which sits on the banks of the River Thames. This all seated, covered stand was opened in 1972. It was slightly raised above pitch level, but at the beginning of the 2007/08 season additional rows of seating were installed at the front of it, bringing it down to the pitch side. It also has a row of executive boxes running across the back of it and also houses a television gantry. There are a couple of small windshields to either side, plus it has a couple of supporting pillars. Overlooking the ground from one corner, between the Johnny Haynes Stand and Putney End, is the unique Pavilion building, which many fans refer to as 'the Cottage' (although this is technically incorrect as the original cottage after which the ground is named, was demolished many years ago). This looks somewhat misplaced being more reminiscent of a small cricket pavilion, rather than something found at a football ground, but it does add to the overall character.
Both ends which were previously terraced have now been replaced by two new large all seated, covered stands, that look fairly similar in design. They both though have some supporting pillars which is disappointing. The Hammersmith End has one large pillar towards the front and middle of the stand, whilst opposite the Putney End has a row of pillars running across the stand, about a third of the way down it. Attached to these stands in three corners of the ground are some three storey structures that are used to house corporate executive boxes. An unusual feature is that the teams enter the field from one corner of the ground, by the Cottage and then make their way up onto the pitch as it is raised. The only disappointment is that the fabulous old floodlights that the ground previously had, have been removed and replaced by a nondescript modern set. There is a small electric scoreboard situated above the Putney End. Outside the stadium alongside Stevenage Road is the Johnny Haynes Statue, whilst Outside the Hammersmith End overlooking the River Thames is a statue of Michael Jackson, which was paid for by the owner of the Club, Mohamed Al Fayed.
What Is It Like For Visiting Supporters?
Away fans are housed to one side of the Putney End Stand on the river side of the ground. This stand is shared with 'neutral' supporters, with away fans being allocated around 3,000 seats, which is just under half of the overall capacity of this stand. There are a couple of supporting pillars that could impede your view, but this only applies to certain seats in Row DD and above. The leg room is ample and as the rows of stand seem to have been constructed from metal and plywood, rather than concrete, fans can't resist making some noise, by stamping up and down on it.
Food and drink are served from a number of outlets and stalls situated behind the stands. These areas although mostly covered are not enclosed, which is great in the Summer but can be rather cold in Winter. However if you go to the outlets around to the left of the stand then you can enjoy some nice views of the Thames, whilst having your beer. Cans of Tetleys, Guinness and plastic bottles of Carlsberg (500ml) are available at £3.50. The Club offer an interesting range of pies by Vilis. Including amongst others Lamb & Mint (£3), Vegetable (£3), Cottage Pie (£3.50) and Sausage Rolls (£2.50). You could also get a roll with a Cumberland sausage filling (£3.50). On my last visit I did try the Lamb & Mint pie, but I have to admit that it was not my 'cup of tea'. Generally there seems to be enough food and drink outlets available so that the queues were never too long (those located on the Thames side, hardly even had a queue at half time (even though on my last visit the away section was sold out). Around the concourses are flat screen televisions showing the game going on inside.
I have been previously to Craven Cottage on a number of occasions and on a nice summer day, this is one of my favourite grounds. From the walk from the tube station through a park, to having a pint overlooking the River Thames, this can be quite an enjoyable experience and I have never had any problems there. The walk down Stevenage Road to the away entrance, gives you chance to admire the quaint red brick facade of the Johnny Haynes Stand, whilst inside you can enjoy modern facilities, and apart from the game, you can still catch glimpses of rowers making their away along the Thames.
I have to say the recent re-developments have made a great ground even better and there is now a superb blend of the new and the old, giving the ground great individuality and character. My only grumble has been sometimes the rather large police presence outside the ground (including mounted police and dog handlers), before and after the games that I have attended. One would have thought they were expecting a riot.
One other item of interest is that Fulham is the only Club that I know of that has a designated area of the ground reserved for 'neutral supporters'. This is located on one side of the Putney End, adjacent to the away fans section. I guess that the original idea was to attract tourists to London to a game. However, for each game there seems to be a good mix, of home, away and neutral fans in this area. Both away fans and neutral supporters use the same entrance and both can access the same facilities at the back of the stand.
Where To Drink?
Near to the tube station is the 'Eight Bells' which is popular with away fans. Along Fulham High Street there are a number of pubs to be found.David Frear recommends; 'The Crabtree on Rainville Road (10 minutes from the ground) welcomes all away supporters and as a Fulham season ticket holder I can tell you that as long as you don't watch your football at Loftus Road you can be assured of a warm welcome'. To find this pub go along Stevenage Road away from the Cottage and the away end. On reaching the home end of the ground, turn left along an alley which runs behind the stand. When you reach the River Thames turn right and walk along the riverside path. You will reach the Crabtree on your right.
Alan Holmes a visiting Norwich City fan adds; 'The Eight Bells (before the game) had a wonderful atmosphere (home fans enjoying it as well) and there was even a backboard proclaiming "Run by football fans for football fans" and headed "Welcome to all Canaries fans!" The Crabtree (afterwards) was well worth the swim against the tide and when the weather is pleasant, the spacious beer garden is an added bonus. This pub is also just under 20 minutes walk from Hammersmith tube station. There was an excellent range of real ales in both pubs'.NEWCASTLE UNITED FC 2012/13 Newcastle United Fixtures Monday December 10 20:00 Fulham v Newcastle United Saturday December 15 12:45 Newcastle Utd v Manchester City Saturday December 22 15:00 Newcastle United v QPR Wednesday December 26 15:00 Man Utd v Newcastle United Saturday December 29 17:30 Arsenal v Newcastle United PREMIERSHIP NEWCASTLE 3 WIGAN 0 (Ba 2 - 1 pen, Bigirimana)Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon (49' Ferguson), Marveaux, Tiote (46' Bigirimana) Anita, Gutierrez (75' Sammy Ameobi), Ba, Cisse Subs: Harper, Shola Ameobi, Ranger, Tavernier STOKE 2 NEWCASTLE 1 (Cisse)Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Anita (87' Sammy Ameobi), Perch, Tiote, Gutierrez, Ba, Cisse (87' Ranger).Subs: Elliot, Bigirimana, Marveaux, Ferguson, Tavernier SOUTHAMPTON 2 NEWCASTLE 0Krul, Simpson, S Taylor (90+1' Perch), Williamson, Santon, Anita (66' Marveaux), Tiote, Gutierrez, Ferguson (46' Sammy Ameobi), Ba, Cisse.Subs: Harper, Bigirimana, Ranger, Tavernier NEWCASTLE 1 SWANSEA 2 (Ba)Krul, Simpson (74' Bigirimana), S Taylor, Williamson, Santon, Ben Arfa, Anita, Tiote, Ferguson (46' Shola Ameobi), Sammy Ameobi (79' Marveaux), Ba. Subs: Elliot, Amalfitano, Tavernier,Abeid NEWCASTLE 0 WEST HAM 1Krul, Simpson (79' Obertan), Steven Taylor, Williamson, Santon, Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Gutierrez (24' Anita), Ferguson, Cisse (45+5' Shola Ameobi), Ba Subs:Elliot, Amalfitano, Bigirimana, Marveaux. LIVERPOOL 1 NEWCASTLE 1 (Cabaye)Krul, Anita, S Taylor, Coloccini, Santon, Perch (26' Simpson), Cabaye (68' Ferguson), Gutierrez, Ben Arfa, Cisse, Ba (49' Sammy Ameobi).Subs: Harper, Williamson, Shola Ameobi, Obertan. NEWCASTLE 2 WEST BROM 1 (Ba, Cisse)Krul, Simpson (61 Cisse), Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Perch, Gutierrez, Ba (72 Sammy Ameobi), Shola Ameobi (61 Obertan). Subs: Harper, Anita, Steven Taylor, Ferguson. SUNDERLAND 1 NEWCASTLE UTD 1 (Cabaye)Krul,Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini (79' S Taylor) Santon, Gutierrez, Cabaye, Tiote, Ben Arfa (83' Obertan), Ba, Shola Ameobi (38' Perch).Subs: Harper, Anita, Cisse, Ferguson NEWCASTLE UTD 0 MAN UTD 3Harper, Santon, Perch, Williamson, Ferguson (63' Anita), Ben Arfa, Tiote (80' Bigirimana), Cabaye, Gutierrez, Cisse (63' Shola Ameobi), Ba Subs: Alnwick, Simpson, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi READING 2 NEWCASTLE 2 (Ba 2)Harper, Perch, Williamson, Steven Taylor (Tavernier 56), Santon, Ben Arfa, Tiote, Bigirimana (Ferguson 70), Gutierrez, Cisse (Shola Ameobi 69), Ba.Subs not used: Elliot, Anita, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi. NEWCASTLE 1 NORWICH 0 (Ba)Harper, Perch, Williamson, Steven Taylor, Santon, Ben Arfa (Shola 85mins), Anita (Tiote 76 mins), Cabaye, Jonas, Cisse (Obertan 70 mins), BaSubs unused: Elliot, Tavernier, Bigirimana, Sammy Ameobi EVERTON 2 NEWCASTLE 2 (Ba 2)Harper; Perch, Williamson, Taylor, Santon; Anita, Cabaye (Bigirimana 93), Gutierrez; Marveaux (Ba 46), Ben Arfa; Cissé (Shola Ameobi 80). Substitutes not used Elliot (g), Gosling, Obertan, Tavernier. NEWCASTLE 1 ASTON VILLA 1 (Ben Arfa)Krul, Simpson (Bigirimana 38), Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Santon, Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Anita, Gutierrez (Marveaux 86), Ba (Obertan 86), CisseSubs not used: Harper, Williamson, Gosling, Amalfitano CHELSEA 2 NEWCASTLE 0Krul, Simpson (Ryan Taylor 64), Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Santon (Marveaux 74), Ben Arfa, Anita, Cabaye (Perch 77), Gutierrez, Ba, CisseSubs not used: Harper, Williamson, Gosling, Obertan NEWCASTLE 2 SPURS 1 (Ba, Ben Arfa pen)Krul; Simpson, S Taylor, Perch, Santon; Ben Arfa, Cabaye (Anita, 71), Tiote, Gutierrez; Cisse, Ba (Obertan, 85). Subs not used: Harper; R Taylor, Williamson, Gosling, Amalfitano EUROPA LEAGUE BORDEAUX 2 NEWCASTLE 0Elliot, Tavernier, Williamson (74' Coloccini), Perch, Ferguson, Abeid, Bigirimana, Ranger, Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi (46' Anita) Shola Ameobi (80' Cisse)Subs: Krul, Simpson, Romain Amalfitano, Campbell NEWCASTLE 1 MARITIMO 1Krul, Simpson, S Taylor, Coloccini, Santon, Marveaux, Bigirimana, Anita, Sammy Ameobi (76' Abeid), Ben Arfa (40' Ba), Cisse (50' Amalfitano)Subs: Elliot, Williamson, Ferguson, Tavernier'. CLUB BRUGGE 2 NEWCASTLE 2 (Anita, Shola Ameobi)Krul, Anita, Williamson (58' Steven Taylor), Coloccini, Tavernier, Tiote, Sammy Ameobi (83' Amalfitano), Marveaux, Bigirimana (72' Cabaye), Obertan, Shola Ameobi Sub: Elliot, Santon, Cisse, Shane Ferguson NEWCASTLE 1 CLUB BRUGGE 0 (Obertan)Harper, Perch, Santon, Steven Taylor, Ferguson 80 (Cabaye), Obertan, Tiote, Bigirimana, Anita 46' (Shola Ameobi), Sammy Ameobi 73' (Coloccini), CisseSubs: Krul, Ben Arfa, Ba, Campbell NEWCASTLE 3 BORDEAUX 0 (Shola Ameobi, Henrique og), Cisse)Elliot (Harper, 46 ); Simpson, Williamson, Perch, Ferguson; Anita, Tiote (Gosling, 71), Cabaye (Bigirimana, 61); Cisse, Ameobi, Obertan. MARITIMO 0 NEWCASTLE 0Elliot, Santon, Williamson, Perch, S Taylor, Gosling, Amalfitano (Ferguson 76), Bigirimana, Obertan (Marveaux 80), Vuckic (Sami Ameobi 53), Shola Ameobi. Subs (not used): Harper (gk), Tavernier, Abeid, Campbell NEWCASTLE 1 ATROMITOS 0 (Vuckic)Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Ryan Taylor (11 Vuckic), Obertan, Bigirimana, Perch (59 Tavernier), Marveaux (91 Amalfitano), Gosling, Ba. Subs: Harper, Cabaye, Cisse, Campbell. ATROMITOS 1 NEWCASTLE 1 (R Taylor)Harper; Tavernier, Williamson, Perch, R Taylor; Bigirimana, Anita; Obertan, Gosling (Amalfitano, 64), Marveaux (Gutierrez, 71); Cisse (Campbell, 77). Subs not used: Krul, Santon, Cabaye, S Taylor. LEAGUE CUP MAN UTD 2 NEWCASTLE 1 (Cisse)Elliot, Coloccini (Ferguson 61), Williamson, Perch, Tavernier, Gosling, Marveaux, Tioté (Bigirimana 71), Obertan, Vuckic (Cisse 81), Shola Ameobi. Subs not used: Harper, Anita, Amalfitano, Sammy Ameobi. PRE-SEASON CARDIFF CITY 4 NEWCASTLE 1 (Shola Ameobi pen)Krul, Simpson, Coloccini (Williamson 46), Steven Taylor (Gosling 63), Santon, Obertan (Campbell 83), Tiote (Amalfitano 71) , Gutiérrez, Marveaux (Vuckic 46), R Taylor (Perch 28), Shola Ameobi. HARTLEPOOL 1 NEWCASTLE 5 (Shola Ameobi, Marveaux 2, Obertan, Vuckic)Harper (Alnwick 82), Simpson (Good 72), Tavernier, Williamson, S.Taylor (Vuckic 46), Perch (R.Taylor 72), Gosling, Amalfitano (Santon 80), Marveaux (Obertan 78), Sh.Ameobi (Ben Arfa 46), Bigirimana (Abeid 59). DEN HAAG 0 NEWCASTLE 0Krul; S Taylor (Gosling 65), R Taylor (Perch 71), Coloccini, Santon (Simpson 80); Obertan (Bigirimana 71), Tiote (Ameobi 71), Vuckic (Williamson 65), Gutierrez; Ba (Amalfitano 82), Cisse BRAGA 1 NEWCASTLE 2 (Ba, R Taylor)Harper; Simpson, Tavernier, Coloccini, R.Taylor; Sammy Ameobi (Obertan 88), Tiote (Cabaye 70), Gutierrez, Marveaux; Cisse, Ba (Vuckic 85). OLYMPIACOS 1 NEWCASTLE 1 (S Taylor)Krul, Perch, Williamson, S.Taylor (Dummett 46), Santon, Obertan (Sammy Ameobi 72), Bigirimana, Gosling (Abeid 36), Amalfitano, Vuckic, Shola Ameobi (Cisse 72). FENERBAHCE 1 NEWCASTLE 1 (Abeid)Elliot, Simpson (Santon 68), Tavernier, Coloccini, R Taylor, Tiote (Bigirimana 59), Gosling (Abeid 73), Obertan (Shola Ameobi 75), Marveuax (Gutierrez 59), Vuckic (Sammy Ameobi 46), Ba (Cisse 68). MONACO 0 NEWCASTLE 1 (Ba)Harper, Santon (Ryan Taylor 57), Simpson, Williamson (Perch 46), Gutierrez, Amalfitano (Obertan 62), Abeid (Tavernier 46), Bigirimana (Tiote 62), Sammy Ameobi (Vuckic 46), Shola Ameobi (Gosling 62), Ba (Marveaux 78) CHEMNITZER 1 NEWCASTLE 0Elliot; Tavernier (Simpson, 70), Williamson, Perch, R Taylor (Santon, 70); Obertan (Gutierrez, 77), Abeid (Bigirimana, 70), Gosling, Amalfitano; Vuckic (Shola Ameobi, 70), Sammy Ameobi (Ba, 77). Sub not used: Harper.
Source: Newcastle United Mad