Mauricio Pochettino: Tottenham contact former manager over return


Pochettino (right, with Neymar) lifted the French Cup with Paris-St Germain in May

Tottenham have made contact with former manager Mauricio Pochettino about a return to the club.

PSG failed to win the Ligue 1 title for only the second time in nine seasons and lost to Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals.

Tottenham sacked Jose Mourinho, Pochettino’s replacement, last month.

Academy coach Ryan Mason was put in temporary charge until the end of the season. Under him, Spurs lost the Carabao Cup final to Manchester City and finished seventh in the Premier League season.

BBC Sport understands there has been no contact between Tottenham and PSG, who have held talks with Pochettino about their plans for next season.

PSG won the French Cup in May but missed out on the Ligue 1 title to Lille.

PSG club released an interview with Pochettino,external-link who has one year left on his deal with them, on Thursday in which he talked about having “laid a good foundation”.

He said: “I’m happy with the way the players adapted to the changes. There are a lot of things that couldn’t be changed or couldn’t be developed because of lack of time.

“But I think that with this way of working, and with the desire to be able to develop other kinds of ideas on the pitch, it will be possible to do great things in the future.”

Pochettino led Tottenham to the Champions League final in 2019, when they lost to Liverpool.

They also lost the 2015 League Cup final to Chelsea and were runners-up to Chelsea in the Premier League in 2016-17.

After a disappointing start to the 2019-20 campaign, he was sacked with Tottenham 14th in the table. They had been knocked out of the League Cup by Colchester United and beaten 7-2 in the Champions League by Bayern Munich.

Tottenham played their home games at Wembley for 18 months during Pochettino’s reign while their new ground was being built.

Chairman Daniel Levy recently said Tottenham “lost sight of some key priorities” during its construction and the Covid-19 pandemic.

There remains speculation over the future of England captain and striker Harry Kane, who says he hopes to have “a good, honest conversation” with Levy.

In April 2020, Pochettino told BT Sport: “It was an amazing journey that finished the way no-one wanted it to finish.

“But deep in my heart I am sure our paths will cross again. From the day I left the club, my dream is to be back one day and to try to finish the work we didn’t finish.

“We were so close to winning the Premier League and Champions League.

“Deep inside I want to go back because the fans are so special. Maybe in five years, maybe in 10 years, but before I die I want to manage Tottenham.”

Analysis – could a return happen?

After the chaos since his exit, many Tottenham fans would welcome the return of Pochettino with open arms.

But it may be wise for those supporters not to celebrate too soon.

Firstly, PSG’s stance of planning ahead with the man they only appointed in January doesn’t inspire much confidence.

Would Pochettino be publicly prepared to say he wanted out of the French capital, if, indeed, that is his wish?

The problem for Tottenham is that after so much negativity around the ownership, an inability to secure Pochettino for a second time will look like failure and increase the pressure still further.

With the Kane situation unresolved, Levy needs to bring some kind of stability to the situation, whether that includes his popular former manager or not.

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Bid to tackle money laundering risks stymied by senior Crown manager, royal commission hears


Crown Resorts’ own anti-money laundering manager was told “casinos had always been that way” when he tried to raise concerns about groups of high-roller gamblers, and was stymied when he tried to hire more team members, an inquiry has heard.

Nick Stokes, the head of Crown’s Financial Crime arm, told the Victorian Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence that when he started with the company in November 2019, he quickly realised there were several risks associated with the company’s junket operations.

A NSW inquiry into Crown last year found that junket operators were often backed by organised crime syndicates, including triad-controlled drug trafficking and money laundering groups.

Mr Stokes said he tried to raise money-laundering risks and prevention strategies with his manager, Crown’s legal boss Joshua Preston, after he started.

“He would hear me out and he would listen to my views, but on a number of occasions he was of the view that ‘casinos had always been that way and that a casino’s not a bank, and the same rules didn’t quite apply’,” Mr Stokes told the Victorian royal commission.

Mr Stokes, who came to Crown with decades of financial crime experience in the banking sector, said when he prepared a paper for Mr Preston on the risk of junkets, Mr Preston didn’t pass it on to other senior staff members.

When he asked to increase the “under-resourced” anti-money laundering team at Crown Resorts, which consisted of three staff members, he was rebuffed by Mr Preston, he said.

Mr Preston left Crown late last year, after a damning appearance at the NSW Bergin inquiry in which he said he was unaware whether junket operators were linked to organised crime.

Mr Stokes said in September last year that attitudes changed among Crown management, and that he now had 20 anti-money laundering staff.

“I’ve seen that attitude change quite considerably to the point where the business now is very proactive in taking on those first-line responsibilities … we’re looking to build the team further, ” he said.

“So that’s very pleasing for me ’cause it’s been 18 months [since starting at Crown] and I hope to show something for 18 months.”

Earlier, the royal commission heard Crown Resorts “does not intend” to allow any high rollers associated with international junket tour groups to gamble at its Australian casinos in the future, an inquiry has heard.

Crown made the commitment in a letter sent to the Victorian royal commission examining whether the company was fit to hold a casino licence in the state. 

The inquiry is being held following allegations to a New South Wales inquiry that the junket operators were backed by organized crime syndicates, including triad-controlled drug trafficking and money laundering groups.

Counsel assisting the royal commission Penny Neskovcin QC said Crown showed wilful blindness to the activities.

“We’ll be submitting this is illustrative of Crown doing the bare minimum, and it will be illustrative of what we will call or describe as a culture of not looking too hard,” she said.

Ms Neskovcin said while previous statements from Crown about whether it would ban junket groups from its casinos had been “equivocal”, last night the commission received a letter from Crown about its future intentions.

“Each of Crown Resorts Limited and Crown Melbourne Limited confirms it has ceased dealing with international junket operators and it has ceased dealings with junket tour operators,” Ms Neskovcin said the letter stated.

“It does not intend to deal with international junket operators in the future, whether by staff based in Australia or otherwise, and does not intend to deal with junket tour operators in the future,” she said the letter went on to say.

In November 2020, Crown committed to stop relationships with all junket operators but left the door open to recommencing the relationships if gaming regulators allowed it.

In April this year, the Victorian Gambling regulator temporarily banned Crown from bringing junket tour groups to Australia.

Last week, Crown agreed with the NSW gaming regulator that it wouldn’t bring international junkets to its proposed casino at Barangaroo.

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Crown Resorts manager threatened Victorian gaming regulator, royal commission told


Managers at Crown Resorts misled, threatened and pushed back against Victoria’s gaming regulator when it tried to get the company to tighten anti-money laundering protocols at its Melbourne casino, at one stage even threatening to call the state’s Gaming Minister, an inquiry has heard.

The allegations were aired on the second day of the Victorian royal commission investigating the suitability of Crown Melbourne Limited to hold a casino licence.

The commission was called in response to the Bergin Inquiry in New South Wales, which found Crown Resorts was unsuitable to operate a new Sydney casino at Barangaroo due to allegations of money laundering and links to international criminal syndicates.

Jason Cremona, the manager of the audit team with the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR), told the inquiry that in July 2018, Crown Melbourne Ltd was told it had until June the following year to start recording the names and transactions of all high-roller gamblers.

The inquiry heard that players from Asia who came to Crown on junket tours organised through third-party operators were not required to disclose how much they were spending at the casino as individuals — just as a group.

The VCGLR was concerned this left the casino open to being used for money laundering activities, as authorities could not track the money spent and collected by individual players.

Mr Cremona said from July 2018 until June 2019, Crown management pushed back against the recommendation to change the protocol, but repeatedly said it was meeting representatives from the federal financial security agency AUSTRAC about it.

However, when Mr Cremona approached representatives from AUSTRAC in 2018 and again in May 2019, the agency told him they had not been working with Crown to address that specific protocol, but rather broader anti-money laundering policy.

“At that stage, the alarm bells were ringing relatively loudly that they [Crown] were failing to address the recommendation,” Mr Cremona told the commission.

Mr Cremona said his concerns prompted him to send a letter to Crown Resorts chief legal officer Joshua Preston in May 2019, that they were at risk of not complying with the recommended protocol and could be directed to take “remedial action”.

The letter said Crown appeared “reluctant” to review its policy and to work with AUSTRAC to change it.

Mr Cremona told the commission he then received an “aggressive” phone call from Michelle Fielding, a manager with Crown’s compliance section, saying Crown had been misrepresented and that Josh [Preston] was “furious” and would most probably “call the Minister”.

“I just think the tone was unexpected,” Mr Cremona told the commission.

“I’ve had many engagements with Michelle, many discussions with Michelle across my 20 years in gambling regulation, and I was clearly taken aback by the tone, the aggressive nature.”

He said he could not recall Crown ever threatening to call the Minister before, and agreed with Commissioner Ray Finkelstein that they were pressuring him to drop the matter.

“And threatening you for pushing it?” Commissioner Finkelstein asked Mr Cremona.

“Correct,” he replied.

The Victorian Gaming Minister at the time was MP Marlene Kairouz, who last year resigned from cabinet over branch-stacking allegations.

The commission did not hear any evidence that a call was ever made.

Mr Cremona said the only reason Crown would have been unwilling to comply with the recommendation and find out who the individual junket players were, was because the company would have lost business.

“It’s the only reason isn’t it?” Commissioner Finkelstein asked Mr Cremona.

“I believe so, Commissioner,” he said.

When the June 2019 deadline for meeting the recommendation came, Mr Cremona said the VCGLR decided to say that Crown Melbourne had met the target, even though the regulator had serious concerns about the lack of compliance.

When asked why he did not stick to his guns, Mr Cremona said he believed it would be quicker if the VCGLR took its own action to change the regulations, rather than rely on Crown.

He told the commission they were changed at a later date.

Under questioning from Crown’s lawyer, Mr Cremona agreed that Crown had complied with 19 other recommendations that were made by the VCGLR in 2018.

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COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria infection control manager stood down after allegedly breaching protocols


The general manager of infection control at the agency running Victoria’s hotel quarantine program has been stood down after allegedly breaching their own protocols twice in the past two months.

Minister for Government Services Danny Pearson said he became aware of the reports last night and had stood aside COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria’s (CQV) general manager of infection prevention and control, Matiu Bush, pending a review into their conduct and behaviour.

“This issue with [Matiu] Bush goes more to [their] attitude and behaviour: there were infection control breaches, but they were of a very low level,” Mr Pearson said.

“Public confidence is paramount, and I don’t think the public would want to see someone in a senior leadership role continue to behave in this way, that’s why [they have] been stood down.”

The head of CQV, Emma Cassar, said the breaches were minor but disappointing.

She said the first incident involved Matiu Bush refusing to get tested at one quarantine hotel after a request by ADF personnel, but they were eventually tested at another site.

“[They] still met the requirement to have a daily test … but my understanding is the staff member did make comments about the fact [they] didn’t need to be tested at that site,” Ms Cassar said.

“We expect the highest standards from our staff, and this has fallen well short of that.”

Another incident involved the infection control manager getting a coffee from a coffee shop and coming back to a quarantine hotel without changing their mask or sanitising.

The leaked incident reports detailing the breaches were published in The Australian newspaper, which also published an internal report contradicting claims by the government that an outbreak at the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel in February was caused by a banned nebuliser.

Instead, the CQV infection control report said the “proposed working hypothesis” was that the leak was caused by a staff member who took an extended amount of time to swab a guest.

Ms Cassar on Wednesday said that was not her understanding.

“The working hypothesis is still as I understand, is that this was caused by the nebuliser,” she said.

The Victorian Opposition has called for all of the incident reports to be released to the public and said the state government had not learnt the lessons from previous hotel quarantine leaks.

“This is an outbreak waiting to happen, this is a lockdown waiting to happen, because the government hasn’t learnt the lessons and they still can’t get it right,” Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said.

Victoria recorded no new locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Wednesday for the 68th day in a row.

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Collingwood Magpies list manager Ned Guy quits


Guy oversaw the most aggressive list changes at the end of last season to fix a salary cap that had spiralled out of control, and would have left the club over the salary cap without significant remedial action.

He took the decision at the end of last year, with board approval and football department support, to oversee massive changes that resulted in the club moving on Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson and Tom Phillips for relatively insufficient compensation.

The decision to leave was Guy’s and he was not pressured to go as a consequence of the tumultuous trade period. On the contrary, former football manager Geoff Walsh tried to talk him out of leaving.

Walsh argued Guy had done the hardest part of the job in fixing the salary cap and should remain to build the list under a reshaped cap.

Wright was aware of Guy’s decision when he arrived in the football manager job.

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Wright, formerly the list manager at Hawthorn before transitioning to general manager of football jobs, will assume Guy’s role in a caretaker basis until a replacement is found.

Guy arrived at the end of 2017 and inherited a salary cap that had for years back-ended and extended contracts to push problems down the road with large, long-term deals.

He was responsible for bringing Dayne Beams back to the club, which involved not only a high-priced, long-term contract but cost the club two first-round draft picks.

That deal was done on the basis that Beams was a top-10 midfield talent in the league coming into a side that was a kick off a premiership, but also with significant pressure from the board to bring the former Magpies premiership player back to the club from Brisbane.

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He also signed Brodie Grundy to a seven-year deal worth about $925,000 a year amid strong pressure from the board to retain the ruckman and in a climate of a hemorrhaging salary cap where the only way to retain Grundy was to commit to a long-term deal.

A player manager before joining Collingwood as list manager, he is expected to stay in football but is unlikely to return to player management.

He has a young family, which compounded the pressure of hub life and stress last year of trying to manage the bloated salary cap. His wife is pregnant, with the couple expecting their third baby.

Collingwood’s football department has been a revolving door for football heads. Coach Nathan Buckley has had seven football managers in his 12 years coaching the club.

Geoff Walsh was there when Buckley took over before Walsh left for North Melbourne to be replaced by Rodney Eade, who later quit to coach Gold Coast.

Eade was replaced by Neil Balme until Graeme Allan was brought in. Allan was then suspended and Marcus Wagner was briefly made the interim head before Walsh returned. This year Wright arrived to replace Walsh after his retirement.

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Paul Scholes and Michael Owen make same criticism of Man Utd manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer


Paul Scholes and Michael Owen made the same criticism of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after Manchester United ’s 0-0 draw with Leeds.

The Red Devils were unable to find a breakthrough against their rivals after opting to leave Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba on the bench.

Both Owen and Scholes were critical of Solskjaer’s “negative” team selection, which saw Scott McTominay and Fred both start in midfield.

“I was disappointed with the team that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer picked,’ Owen told Premier League Productions.

“I thought it was quite a negative team. You’re going to a team that you’ve already beaten 6-2 in the Premier League, you don’t really need two sitting midfielders.



Paul Scholes and Michael Owen made the same criticism of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team selection
Paul Scholes and Michael Owen made the same criticism of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team selection

“I thought it was a negative statement to start with.”

Expressing similar disappointment with Solskjaer’s line-up, Scholes said: “I was surprised Pogba didn’t start the game, surprised Cavani didn’t start the game.

“It took him a long time to bring him on as well and chances were few and far between.”

A frustrated Scholes also told his former team-mate he should not be pleased with a point if he holds ambitions of launching a Premier League title challenge next season.

He added: “I get the impression he’s a little bit happy with that draw.



Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were unable to find a breakthrough at Elland Road
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were unable to find a breakthrough at Elland Road

“I don’t think he should be, not against a Leeds team without probably their best player in Raphinha.

“If it’s this time next year and United are going close for the league, it should be used as practice for a run-in where there’s big pressure.

“You need to go to these places and win games.

“They should be trying to take Manchester City all the way. All the way and as far as they possibly can now to put pressure on them. Use it as practice and as pressure to win those big games.

“Going there with a performance like that won’t be acceptable.”



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Morrisey’s manager lashes Simpsons parody


Morrissey’s manager has accused The Simpsons of employing “harshly hateful tactics” after it mocked the singer in its latest episode.

The long-running cartoon featured Benedict Cumberbatch voicing a thinly disguised parody of the former Smiths frontman.

In the episode Panic On The Streets Of Springfield – a reference to a 1986 Smiths song – Lisa was accompanied by an imaginary friend named Quilloughby, a sullen vegan singer who has become overweight and anti-immigrant.

Peter Katsis, Morrissey’s manager, responded with a post on the star’s Facebook page and said The Simpsons’ writing had gone downhill.

The comedy has “degenerated to trying to capitalise on cheap controversy and expounding on vicious rumours”, Katsis wrote.

“But when a show stoops so low to use harshly hateful tactics like showing the Morrissey character with his belly hanging out of his shirt (when he has never looked like that at any point in his career) makes you wonder who the real hurtful, racist group is here,” he said.

“Even worse – calling the Morrissey character out for being a racist, without pointing out any specific instances, offers nothing. It only serves to insult the artist.

“They should take that mirror and hold it up to themselves.”

He said Simpsons star Hank Azaria had recently apologised over the character of Apu after the show was accused of making the Indian shopkeeper a racist stereotype, and Katsis defended Morrissey, 61, against some of the jibes in the latest episode.

“Morrissey has never made a ‘cash grab’, hasn’t sued any people for their attacks, has never stopped performing great shows, and is still a serious vegan and strong supporter for animal rights,” he said.

Morrissey, a revered figure for many, has alienated some fans with his outspoken and controversial views.

He once called halal meat “evil” and showed support for the far-right For Britain party during an appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s TV show in 2019.

Morrissey denies being a racist.

Before the episode aired, Simpsons writer Tim Long said Morrissey, Joy Division’s Ian Curtis and The Cure’s Robert Smith were among the inspirations for Quilloughby.

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Jose Mourinho sacked as Tottenham manager ahead of cup final


A 2-2 draw on Friday against Everton left Tottenham, who were Champions League finalists in 2019, in seventh place in the Premier League and unlikely to reach the top four. Earlier this month they crashed out of the Europa League to Dinamo Zagreb.

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Mourinho, 58, took charge in November 2019, 17 months ago, replacing Mauricio Pochettino, who has led Paris Saint-Germain to the Champions League semi-finals this season.

Ryan Mason, 29, a former player and the club’s academy coach who had to retire after suffering a fractured skull while playing for Hull in 2017, will take training this week. He and ex-Charlton and Huddersfield boss Chris Powell will co-manage the team through to the end of the campaign in June, according to reports.

After finishing sixth last season, Mourinho has suffered 10 league defeats in a single campaign for the first time in his managerial career. And no other Premier League side has lost more points from winning positions this season than Spurs, who have dropped 20.

The early bookmakers’ favourite to replace Mourinho is Julian Nagelsmann, the 33-year-old manager of German club RB Leipzig, while Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, manager of Glasgow Rangers, are also considered contenders.

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Metro Trains manager tipped off Transclean about audit during Victoria’s second COVID-19 wave, IBAC hears


A Metro Trains manager tipped off a cleaning company about a surprise COVID-19 cleaning audit during Melbourne’s deadly second coronavirus wave last year, a corruption inquiry has heard.

Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) is holding an inquiry into alleged corrupt payments from a cleaning company to two public transport officials.

Today’s IBAC hearing heard an intercepted phone call in which now-sacked Metro Trains manager Peter Bollas gave advance warning to cleaning company Transclean about a surprise COVID-19 cleaning audit. 

Transclean provided cleaning services to V/Line and Metro Trains, and last year Mr Bollas admitted to IBAC he received up to $150,000 in corrupt cash payments from Transclean.

On Wednesday, the commission revealed these payments to Mr Bollas and former V/Line chief executive James Pinder included monthly cash payments of $10,000 from the cleaning company.

The tapped phone call played today revealed Mr Bollas giving dates and times of the surprise cleaning audits to Transclean employee, Steven Kyritsis, and also telling him to improve their special COVID-sanitising procedure, inferring it might not be up to standard.

“The spraying needs to get better,” Mr Bollas told Mr Kyritsis on July 13, referring to the microbial spraying mandated by Metro to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

This was days after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the extension of Melbourne’s second lockdown, due to a spike in cases.

The tapped phone call also captured Mr Bollas telling Mr Kyritsis he may need to change timesheets to pass the independent audit.

 “If the sign-on sheets don’t show your people are working additional hours … you’ve failed,” Mr Bollas said in the call.

“Do not f*** it up.”

Mr Kyritsis responded by saying he had “redone all the documentation for North (Melbourne station), refilled, checked it”.

But under questioning at the IBAC hearing, Mr Kyritsis denied their cleaning was not adequate and public safety was at risk.

He also denied he had changed time sheets.

Earlier, Mr Kyritsis admitted he and his uncle, Transclean co-owner George Haritos, had conspired to sabotage a trial by Metro Trains testing a new microbial sanitiser to help with COVID cleaning.

When the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Australia last year, the amount of cleaning provided by Transclean jumped, along with their income from Metro Trains.

In May, Metro Trains started to test a new microbial sanitiser, which claimed to have a longer residual effect, so it did not need to be sprayed as often.

If this product was used, it could have significantly reduced the amount of time Transclean staff spent sanitising train carriages.

Phone intercepts played today heard Mr Kyritsis and Mr Haritos discussing how to sabotage the trial, by running a dirty rag over train touchpoints.

Mr Bollas provided specific information about which train carriages were being tested by Metro.

The hearing continues.

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North Queensland Cowboys fly to Sydney to meet Adam Reynolds’ manager as South Sydney Rabbitohs refuse to budge


A medical retirement, if granted, will give the Cowboys an additional $1 million to spend on top of the $1 million they will free up in the salary cap with Justin O’Neill and Jake Granville off contract at the end of the year. The Cowboys also have utility Scott Drinkwater off contract at season’s end. Drinkwater’s manager Chris Orr met with North Queensland last week, however his future remains in the air.

As reported by the Herald last week, the Cowboys are also keeping a close eye on Luke Brooks’ future at the Wests Tigers. Brooks was under enormous pressure after the first two rounds but last week’s win against Newcastle will silence the critics for a short period.

The Herald has been told Brooks still has a close relationship with Payten, who coached the halfback in the juniors at the Tigers.

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Rabbitohs utility Benji Marshall recently declared Brooks would be better suited to playing five-eighth, an option the Cowboys would contemplate if they land Reynolds, and the Tigers’ playmaker was to look for the exit.

Reynolds recently said he would not accept the club’s one-year deal. “I can’t see myself doing a one-year deal at the moment,” Reynolds said. “I understand where the club are coming from, but does it make me happy? No. I feel like I’ve still got a lot to offer.”

“The one thing I do know is it won’t become a distraction for the group. As players we’ve got a job to perform and whether my contract stuff keeps ending up in the papers, I’ve told the club and the boys I’m fully committed to this season regardless of whether I’m here next year or not.”

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