LITESPORT London Lite Wednesday, 21 October 2009 43 BE HAMMEREDBREAKING NEWS... Button forced to pay for his own flights NEWLY-CROWNED Formula One champion Jenson Button (above) has revealed he paid for most of his flights to races this season. Button, 29, took a 5m pay cut when Brawn GP emerged from the wreckage left when Honda withdrew from F1. And now he admits: I paid for pretty much all my travel this season. I went on a lot of smaller airlines, but it wasnt a big deal. We all give up certain things when times get tough. And when you get a chance to drive the car Im driving, youd give up pretty much anything. Ironically Richard Branson, who owns an entire airline, said today he was still deciding whether his Virgin Group would carry on backing the Brawn GP team. Branson told said today: It was the perfect relationship. Virgin loves to support an underdog but they are now one of the most expensive teams and certainly not underdogs any more. We will make an announcement in the next month. Aussiesclaim theyllcashin AUSTRALIAS prospects of hosting the 2018 or 2022 World Cup finals ahead of England rely on the bid team convincing FIFA they offer the best financial return. With a decision on both hosts to be made in December next year, Aussie FA chairman Frank Lowy said: We are able to show FIFA that the TV rights and other income will be larger than if they go anywhere else. Europe is full of football, there is nowhere to go. The people of Australia want football badly. They want it to succeed. The entire nation was spellbound by the Socceroos in the last World Cup in Germany. PREPARE FOR BATTLE OF BUTTON: PAGE 39 On the verge: Gareth Southgate last night Chairman Gibson only slings when hes winning... and Gareths gone MIDDLESBROUGH chairman Steve Gibson admitted today that sacking Gareth Southgate was the most difficult decision I have had to make in football. Southgate was axed at midnight last night after a 2-0 victory over Derby which left them a point off the top of the Championship table, with West Brom and Newcastle both suffering upset defeats. Gibson said: Gareth is a good man and has all the qualities we wanted in a manager. This has been the most difficult decision in all the time I have been in football. But the time is right for change and change has had to be made. Gareth has given us magnificent service as a skipper and, in very difficult circumstances, as manager. He will always be welcome at our club. English football needs people of his stature. Gareth deserves another opportunity once he has had the chance to refresh himself. With sections of the support in revolt, a crowd of just 17,459 -- the lowest ever League attendance at the Riverside -- turned out to see an Adam Johnson double shoot down the Rams. But Southgate seemed to have no idea of his fate in his post-match press conference. BY DAVID DIBBLE We came Real close to getting Wenger ARSENE WENGER was close to joining Real Madrid last season, according to the Spanish giants general director Jorge Valdano. I felt that we were closer than ever before, he tells The Times, but then gives a fascinating clue as to why the Arsenal manager (below) may have decided to stay put. This is the kingdom of urgency, he says. I imagine he values the calm in which he works there. At Madrid, if you lose a game, it obliges you to manage a catastrophe. Valdano hinted there will be more big-money signings on top of Ronaldo and Kaka. Stating that the club has a 70m war-chest for new signings each year, he said: We have three challenges: to be the best, to Spanish-ify the team and to rejuvenate it. Real are currently second in La Liga with six wins from seven games. Rafa crisis deepens after Lyon balls-up LIVERPOOL lurched from a position of mild concern to a fully blown crisis following last nights Champions League defeat against Lyon. Cesar Delgados injury-time strike saw the French side leave Anfield with three points, subjecting Liverpool to a fourth successive reverse -- the first time thats happened since 1987. And the picture is unlikely to get rosier any time soon for under-fire boss Rafa Benitez, who will head into Sundays do-or-die Premier League showdown against Manchester United sweating on the fitness of his main men Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard, as well as impressive debutant Martin Kelly. Torres missed last nights defeat with a groin strain, while skipper Gerrard and Kelly failed to last the 90 minutes -- and must rate as major doubts for Sunday. Glen Johnson was a late withdrawal, while Albert Riera requires a scan on a hamstring strain. With a mounting injury crisis allied to their perilous position both in Europe and on the domestic front, Benitez is struggling to maintain an air of calmness. He said: There are other players with other problems, I have no idea what team I can put out against Manchester United until we have had the players tested and seen by the medical team. We have just too many problems, I cannot remember an injury situation like this. Although nobody could have envisaged his players dropping like flies, former Liverpool boss Graeme Souness believes the Spaniard is the architect of his own downfall. Souness suggests Benitez is paying the price for relying too heavily on Gerrard and Torres, who, as our table shows, are irreplaceable. Souness said: If youve been there five years and bought 68 players you should have more than that. You should be able to cope losing two players. There is no spark, just plod, plod, plod and no creativity. Cesaring the moment: Delgado sweeps home an injury-time winner for Lyon in front of a disbelieving Kop LIVERPOOL .........1 LYON .................. 2 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, GROUP E GROUP E P W D L F A PTS LYON 3 3 0 0 7 1 9 FIORENTINA 3 2 0 1 6 4 6 LIVERPOOL 3 1 0 2 2 4 3 DEBRECENI 3 0 0 3 3 9 0 STATS WHEN... GERRARD & TORRES PLAY P 82 W 51 D 19 L 12 WIN % 62 BOTH DONT PLAY P 7 W 3 D 2 L 2 WIN % 43 index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html40.html41.html42.html43.html