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  • 10 Aug
    导出博客文章LONDON -- Just a year ago Coventry was hosting Olympic football and being lauded
    by FIFA President Sepp Blatter. For world footballs most powerful executive,
    seeing top-level matches there again was "a source of great joy and pride." Now
    the Ricoh Arena, just eight years old and with a 32,000 capacity, is a football
    stadium facing a future without football. And the financially troubled team that
    had been based at the stadium is fighting for its future after 130 years in
    existence, predating the league it plays in. "Its a dreadful thing and it ought
    not to be allowed for a city to have its football club to be taken away," Labour
    Party legislator Bob Ainsworth, who represents part of Coventry in the House of
    Commons, told The Associated Press on Friday. "I want an investigation to expose
    everything that has gone on over the last few years." In the topflight for 34
    years until 2001, the 1987 FA Cup winners have plunged into the third tier as a
    bitter dispute between the hedge fund that owns the club and the Ricoh Arena
    landlords escalated. As they rowed over an annual rent of 1.3 million pounds ($2
    million) to play in the stadium, the team entered bankruptcy protection and
    gained permission from the Football League to play home matches about 30 miles
    away in Northampton, much to the annoyance of fans. Arena Coventry Limited holds
    the keys to the Ricoh -- and the football teams future. At a creditors meeting
    on Friday, the stadiums operators blocked a bid by the club to exit
    administration. As a result, Coventrys parent company will be put into
    liquidation. The immediate implication was a 10-point penalty handed to Coventry
    on Friday, which still allows it compete in League One in the Football Leagues
    125th season, starting Saturday at Crawley. "We now have certainty and the clubs
    future is secured," Coventry chief executive Tim Fisher said. "We can now get on
    and put our future plans into action which means building and owning our own
    stadium in the Coventry area." Stadium operator ACL is co-owned by a charity and
    Coventry City Council whose offices are adorned by a FIFA pennant honouring the
    "lasting legacy of the Olympics" to Coventry. Football League chairman Greg
    Clarke said his board is "dismayed at the level of intransigence being shown" by
    the stadium owners and the clubs administrators. "It is a source of immense
    frustration to everyone involved that the two parties in this dispute have
    failed to reach any agreement," said Clarke, who is in charge of running the
    three divisions below the Premier League. The league has backed Otium
    Entertainment Group -- named as the administrators preferred bidder -- to take
    control of the club from the hedge fund SISU, which has owned Coventry since
    2007. That, though, has been opposed by fans, the stadium owners and the tax
    authority, who are owed money. ACL lawyer James Powell said Otiums proposals do
    "not give stability to Coventry," and the Sky Blue Trust urged authorities
    against making a "bad situation any worse" by handing over control of the club
    to them. ACL, whose offer of annual rent of 150,000 pounds ($230,000) has been
    rejected, has concerns that Otium is connected with the existing owners
    following a "catastrophic insolvency," Powell said. "It is does not seem a fair
    and equitable outcome," he added. Ainsworth, the legislator who is a former
    defence secretary, has called on independent auditors to launch an investigation
    into Coventrys downfall. At the heart of his concerns is how a hedge fund
    apparently "with no previous connections to Coventry at all" was able to buy the
    citys one professional team. And that encapsulates wider concerns about football
    ownership in England and the financial management of clubs. "The game is in a
    parlous state," Ainsworth said. "If you look at the history of football over the
    last 20 years there have been countless liquidations and administration events
    showing that there are serious issues that ought to be addressed. "And Im afraid
    if the Football League are not prepared to follow their rules and own policy
    with regard to Coventry (being allowed to leave Coventry) it has to be an
    indication that they are not bringing about the reform that in my view is
    absolutely necessary." Ainsworth is demanding that the league listens to fans
    and allows them to take control of the club, as happened at Portsmouth recently.
    "Football is the nations most important sport, there are millions of people who
    are passionate about their own clubs and the game in general," Ainsworth said.
    "And they deserve to be well served."
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    runs in one minute 55.41 seconds -- a mere 0.01 seconds ahead of Meyers and Lolo
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    .Y. -- Syracuse has turned up the defence at the right time
    all season, and when High Point threatened to pull off a monumental upset the
    second-ranked Orange did what they do best with their quick hands and savvy
    play. In the second part of ESPNs top ten drivers of 2016, we name numbers 5-1.
    Read 10-6 here.5. Nico RosbergIn one sense Nico Rosbergs season was perfect.
    Given the circumstances that unfolded over the course of the year, he beat every
    other driver on the grid and took the championship. Yet its still hard to argue
    that he was the best driver out there -- especially when you look at the
    achievements of the other drivers on this list. That should not be confused with
    the somewhat tedious debate of whether he is a worthy champion, of that there is
    no doubt. But was he the most exciting, brilliant, jaw-dropping talent on the
    2016 grid? The answer has to be no.Singapore was the crowning achievement of his
    season. On a track where Mercedes was on the backfoot, he outperformed everyone
    by a significant margin, including teammate Lewis Hamilton. But the staple of
    his championship success were the solid, no-thrills performances, such as the
    first four races of the year, Monza and Japan. At those rounds he did everything
    that was needed of him and nothing more -- and the same was true at the end of
    the season when he secured four consecutive second places to seal the title.It
    was a gritty year, built on sacrifices in his personal life and rewarded with
    his childhood dream of becoming world champion. But as impressive as that was,
    there were also days when he simply looked outclassed -- a wet Sunday in Monaco
    being the prime example. For that reason, the reigning world champion is only
    fifth on our list. LE4. Carlos SainzCarlos Sainz could so easily have become a
    footnote in the Max Verstappen story in 2016 but the Spaniards performances
    throughout the year were enough to warrant his place at number four on this
    list. Overlooked for the promotion to Red Bull, Sainz appeared to rise to the
    situation - with his consistently impressive performances made even greater when
    compared to the struggles of Daniil Kvyat alongside him.Sainzs first standout
    result, not coincidentally, came in Spain - the first race since Verstappens
    promotion - as he drove to sixth, a result he then repeated in Austin and
    Interlagos. He qualified brilliantly throughout the season in a car constricted
    by a 2015 engine - making Q3 nine times - and demonstrated a fiery side in
    battle with other drivers. His form was so good through the year that Renault
    came calling for his services in October, forcing Red Bull to offer a firm
    rebuttal. Sainz might appear to be stuck in limbo at Red Bulls junior team but
    another year like 2016 next season will make him well worth the money to prize
    him free of his contract. NS3. Lewis HamiltonOn his day Lewis Hamilton is
    undoubtedly the best driver on the grid. His ability to find an extra 0.2s in
    qualifying, pull a surprise overtaking move 150 metres before a corner or put in
    a succession of quick laps to win a race is unparalleled, but at times this year
    he appeared to be taking his talent for granted. Yes, he had reliability
    problems, but Hamilton had the pace and the ability to overcome them and he
    still fell five points short over 21 races. A quick glance back at his seasons
    results shows a series of opportunities where he could have easily made up that
    margin with a little more consistency.His biggest problems were his starts. In
    Australia, Bahrain, Italy and Japan, Hamilton lost multiple positions when the
    lights went out, and at all four races he dropped points to Rosberg. After
    spending additional time at the factory after Japan -- something Rosbergg had
    done earlier in the season -- Hamilton miraculously got on top of the issues and
    made consistent getaways at all of the final four races.ddddddddddddCould the
    issue have been solved earlier?Another missed opportunity came in Baku, where
    two uncharacteristic mistakes in qualifying saw him start from tenth on a track
    where he had dominated all three practice sessions earlier in the weekend. It
    was the one blip in a potential seven-race winning streak during the middle of
    the season and resulted in more dropped points.Regardless of his reliability
    woes, the opportunities were there for Hamilton to win the title this year. That
    in itself? is a huge testament to his immense skill level, but the fact he didnt
    secure it means he is not our Driver of the Year this season. LE2. Max
    VerstappenVerstappen announced himself to the big time in 2016 -- winning on his
    Red Bull debut in Spain and turning in a wet-weather drive for the ages in
    Brazil. The latter felt like a coming-of-age performance and seemed to confirm
    many of the lofty comparisons made about Verstappen since his arrival on the F1
    scene at the end of 2014.The teenagers racecraft is sublime: his relentlessness
    in battle matched by his penchant for pulling off remarkable overtakes. His pass
    on Nico Rosberg at Silverstone stands out as one of his best from the year, and
    there were plenty more. But Verstappen is far from the finished article. His
    aggression courted controversy and led to a clampdown on his habit of moving in
    the braking zone. Qualifying was a weak point earlier in the year before an
    upturn in the latter rounds, one he will look to continue in 2017.Verstappen
    confirmed to the F1 world he is the real deal this year -- but he is not quite
    the finished article Red Bull wants him to be. That accolade goes to a man he
    shared a garage with for most of 2016.... NS1. Daniel RicciardoCrack open the
    champagne and take off your sweaty racing boot, because Daniel Ricciardo is
    ESPNs Driver of the Year 2016.A combination of consistency and pure pace made
    him the standout driver of this season, as well as the ability to hold an edge
    over Max Verstappen during their time as teammates (Ricciardo finished had an
    11-point advantage over the Dutch teenager during their 17 races together). On
    seven occasions (equal to one third of the season) he finished ahead of at least
    one of the Mercedes, which is a hugely impressive achievement given the car
    advantage Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton held over him. Sure, he only won one
    race in Malaysia, but a quicker final pit stop in Monaco and a better strategy
    in Spain would have made that three -- not to mention a puncture that robbed him
    of an early lead at the Chinese Grand Prix.There were off days as well, but
    there was always a reason to explain his lack of pace. In Russia his car was
    damaged by an incident triggered by teammate Danill Kvyat; in Japan a fuel-flow
    metre inconsistency and a rubbing floor left him down on top speed; and in
    Brazil a fogging visor hampered his visibility in appalling conditions. They may
    sound like racing drivers excuses, but it was rare to see Ricciardo make a
    mistake this season and his inspiring moments far outweighed his mediocre ones.
    Add to that his upbeat personality and we cant think of a single driver who
    offered a more complete package in 2016.Now, where did I leave that shoe ...? LE
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