Qantas’ first Boeing 747-400 makes final flight on March 8

The first of the Boeing 747-400 jumbos is being put out to pasture

Qantas’ first-ever Boeing 747-400 will makes its final flight on Sunday March 8, landing in its new home at Wollongong’s Illawarra Regional Airport to become a permanent attraction at the Historical Aviation Restoration Society (HARS).

Aviation geeks will want to mark that date in their diary, with the jet scheduled to land at 7.50am, weather permitting.

(However, it’s worth noting that public access to the airport will be difficult on the day due to the closure of the perimeter road.)

It was this jumbo – christened City of Canberra, with the registration VH-OJA – which opened up the one-stop Kangaroo Route between Australia and London with Singapore as the sole stop-over.

VH-OJA in fact made a promotional non-stop flight from London to Sydney in 1989 – albeit with very few passengers and cargo – to highlight the jumbo’s long-range capabilities, speeding through the 18,000 kilometre (11,190 mile) journey in just over 20 hours.

Fittingly for its final journey, one of the flight deck crew on March 8 will be Captain David Massy-Greene, the now-retired Qantas captain who operated the historic flight from London to Sydney.

Qantas says a GoPro video camera will be fitted to the cockpit to record to the jumbo’s take-off from Sydney Airport as well as its landing at Illawarra Regional Airport, to provide footage which will later be shared on the airline’s YouTube channel.

 

Source : Australian Business Traveller

Virgin Australia writes up slim $10.2 million pre-tax profit

Virgin Australia has eked out a slim $10.2 million pre-tax profit over the first six months of the 2015 financial year, but reported an overall statutory loss after tax of $47.8 million from July to December 2014, a period when air travel is typically at its strongest.

That number is still well down on earlier analyst expectations of a $100+ million deficit, with falling fuel prices helping push back the tide of red ink.

The overall trend is positive, with Virgin climbing from a $45 million pre-tax loss in the same period last year.

The airline says it received a $3 million benefit from lower fuel prices in the second half of the year, some of which was passed on to travellers in the form of lower airfares and the fuel surcharge being rolled back into base fares.

“We should see a benefit in the second half [of the 2015 financial year] of around $50 million if oil prices remain at the current level” Borghetti allowed, although he said “the key driver in this improvement has been executing the Virgin Vision strategy [which is] all about driving cost reduction and growing yield.”

This centred on “the disciplined execution of our five-year $1 billion cost reduction program” which Borghetti described as being about finding efficiencies “right across the board.”

Profit at the pointy end

Also contributing to the better-looking balance sheet was higher revenue from corporate and government markets, which Borghetti has chased and courted as part of the airline’s transformation from the low-cost Virgin Blue to a full-service Qantas challenger.

“The Group remains on track to reach its target of 30% of Virgin Australia domestic revenue from the corporate and government segment by 30 June 2017” Borghetti predicted.

Tigerair Australia remains a significant drag on Virgin, although the low-cost airline is expected to break even by mid-2016 after sniffing out a $500,000 profit in the last three months of 2014 compared to the $15.5 million sinkhole in the previous quarter.

This was noticeably the first time the budget airline has posted a quarterly profit since 2010.

Markers on Virgin’s roadmap for the year ahead include the opening of lounges at Alice Springs and Darwin in March, along with a substantial extension to its Brisbane lounge; a new Premium Entry for Brisbane lounge lizards in August; and the airline’s new Perth terminal and lounge in the second half of 2015.

 

Closer to hand, Virgin will launch business class on its trans-Tasman routes at the end of February, beginning with Sydney-Auckland flights and then expanding to other ‘pointy end across the pond’ routes until all ten of its trans-Tasman jets are upgraded by April 2015.

 

Source : Australian Business Traveller

Nannies and a single payment recommended by childcare report

February 20, 2015 – 12:20AM

Judith Ireland

National political reporter

Childcare: Nannies, grandparents and anyone else willing could join workers at childcare centres and family day care in being eligible for government payments.

Childcare: Nannies, grandparents and anyone else willing could join workers at childcare centres and family day care in being eligible for government payments. Photo: Phil Carrick

The Abbott government should extend federal funding to nannies and prioritise childcare support to lower and middle income families with a single, means-tested payment, a major review has found.

But Social Services Minister Scott Morrison has cautioned that while the government is considering the nannies move, it needs to be mindful of what this would mean for staff levels in existing services.

The Productivity Commission’s long awaited final report on childcare and early childhood learning will be tabled in Parliament on Friday as the Coalition prepares its new childcare policy.

The 1000-page report says that the current system, which features multiple childcare payments, should be combined into a single subsidy. The subsidy rate would cover between 85 per cent of costs for families with incomes at or below $60,000 and 20 per cent for families earning $250,000 or above.

This is stricter than the draft proposal, which suggested a 90 per cent subsidy for low incomes and a 30 per cent subsidy for those above $300,000.

Under the current system, parents can qualify for a means-tested benefit and, or a non-means tested rebate.

The new payment would provide up to 100 hours of care per fortnight for children 13 years and under who have parents that work or study at least 24 hours a fortnight, using a “benchmark price” based on the median fees charged for a type of childcare service and the age of the child.

Families would be exempt from the work hours requirement if they are receiving an income support payment, the primary carer is a grandparent or a child is assessed to be “at risk” of neglect or harm.

In a finding that was floated in its draft report, released in July 2014, the commission has recommended that families should be able to use federal funding to pay for nannies. The nannies would need to be approved and have relevant qualifications.

The government is yet to respond formally to the report, but Social Services Minister Scott Morrison told Fairfax Media that the Coalition was “considering” the nannies idea.

“I think the recommendation reflects an observation that there needs to be a greater array of services offering to deal with a much more diverse range of needs,” he said.

But he cautioned that there were issues associated with the nanny move, including losing staff from long day care centres.

“If everyone goes off and becomes a nanny, there will be no one working in childcare centres.”

The final report contains multiple recommendations for streamlining the childcare quality standards that govern issues such as teacher qualifications and staff to children ratios. This includes speeding up the assessment process that rates childcare centres.

It recommends that educators working with children under three must hold or be be working towards a certificate III in early childhood education and be under the supervision of someone who is diploma qualified. This is change from the draft report, which did not include the supervision element – and caused significant concern in the sector and from parents about the watering down of qualifications.

The Commission said that there would only be a “small” boost to workforce participation under its recommendations – noting that childcare was just one factor that influenced parents’ decisions around work. It estimates that if the government adopted its approach, about 16,400 more mothers would start work.

Mr Morrison, who has made getting women back into work one of his key priorities, said that if the government wanted to do more than what the Commission recommended, then “obviously that requires offsets and savings”.

He again called for a bipartisan response to childcare policy, pointing to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which enjoys political consensus on the levy that underpins it.

The Coalition ordered the childcare review as part of its election commitments in late 2013. The final report was sent to the government on October 31, provoking repeated calls from the sector for it to be made public.

When asked how much work the government had to do on its new families policy, on top of the report, Mr Morrison said. “It is a significant input to our process.”

The commission’s other recommendations include:

  • Allowing au pairs to work for a family for up to 12 months instead of the current six months
  • Funding for childcare providers in rural and regional areas if demand temporarily drops and a centre becomes financially nonviable
  • Government bodies, such as the Human Rights Commission, trying new approaches to increase awareness about people’s legal rights to flexible work
  • Removing the caps on the number of occasional childcare places
  • Abolishing requirements that occasional childcare centres are open for a set number of hours to receive subsidies
  • A 100 per cent childcare subsidy for children who are deemed to be “at risk”
  • The federal government continuing to fund 15 hours a week of preschool
  • School principals taking responsibility to ensure that there is before and after school care services for their students .

Source : The Canberra Times

Woman wins workers compensation for crash on way home from work

February 19, 2015 – 11:30PM

Michael Inman

Courts reporter for The Canberra Times.

A Greenway mother injured in a car crash on the way home from work has won a workers compensation claim.

Her employer, QBE Management Services, denied liability, arguing that the woman had already travelled home, and deviated on the journey.

But Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker on Thursday found the woman had been involved in an employment related journey at the time of the accident.

The court heard the woman, her husband, and young child were planning on moving to a new home in Gungahlin in July 2013.

She had picked up her son at the property – where her husband had been preparing for the move –  after work before stopping at Woden for groceries on her way home to Tuggeranong.

She was injured in an accident on Drakeford Drive about 8.50pm.

ACT law covers workers from injury suffered through work related travel, including trips from the workplace to home.

The court heard deviation on the journey is not an issue unless it enhanced the risk of injury.

Lawyers for QBE Management Services argued the woman’s home had been Harrison at the time of the accident; therefore she had already travelled home by visiting the property immediately after work.

The company also argued that the woman’s two deviations on the journey meant it had ceased being a work related journey.

Ms Walker found the woman’s journey had deviated and been interrupted, but said it did not lose the quality of being employment related.

The magistrate said the stops did not increase the risk of injury and found the company liable to pay her compensation.

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Former Guantanamo guard Brandon Neely ‘ashamed’ of Hicks treatment

February 19, 2015 – 11:47PM

Natalie O’Brien

Terrorism conviction overturned: David Hicks.

Terrorism conviction overturned: David Hicks. Photo: Kate Geraghty

When David Hicks arrived at Guantanamo Bay 13 years ago, he had a gash to his head and the goggles he had been forced to wear were so full of sweat it was like pouring out a glass of water, former guard Brandon Neely says.

“He didn’t speak that day; he looked really tired and walked really slow,” Mr Neely told Fairfax Media in an exclusive interview.

“I saw David Hicks on January 11, 2002, and I escorted him off the bus at Camp X-Ray through in-processing, then into his cell on Bravo block.”

Mr Neely had arrived only a few days before the first detainees so he could get acquainted with the centre.

Mr Neely said he would never forget his first impression of the cage structures he thought looked like “dog kennels”.

He has since left his position as a guard and has spent the past few years campaigning to have Guantanamo Bay closed, while also reaching out to former detainees he met there.

“Honestly, I am not surprised but very ashamed it [Guantanamo Bay] is still open. I hate knowing I took part in something so horrible.”

Mr Neely was happy at the news that Mr Hicks was to be cleared on the charge of supporting terrorism.

“They told me David was a trained killer, would kill me in a heart beat. Now, they are telling the world he is innocent,” he said.

“For 13 years, they lied about David to the world and everyone that stepped foot on Guantanamo. Glad to see them have to admit they where wrong.

“I truly hope that David may be able to have some sort of closure and start his healing process. I just want David to be happy.”

Mr Hicks who says he still suffers the after-effects from his incarceration is also “disturbed” that the detention centre is still open.

“When [US President Barack] Obama entered office and signed a decree to promise to close Guantanamo … I was filled with hope, believing common decency and the law would prevail,” Mr Hicks said.

“After personally being there for 5½ years, being subjected to torture, isolation, medically experimented upon, incommunicado etc, I was left broken destroyed, suicidal.

“Nothing has changed … imagine how the men still there after all these years are coping, how destroyed they must be,” he told Fairfax Media.

Mr Hicks was one of two Australians held there.

Mamdouh Habib was sent to Guantanamo after being the subject of an “extraordinary rendition” to Egypt where he was held in secret and tortured.

Mr Habib was released in 2005 without any charge being laid against him. He has since settled a law suit against the Australian government about his treatment, for an undisclosed sum.

The detention centre still holds 127 men who have not been charged or faced trial.

Among them is Hambali one of the men alleged to have been involved in the 2002 Bali bombings.

He has been held since 2006 as a so-called high-value detainee, But he has not been charged with any crime.

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Asset sales reap $60 million from Tony Abbott government for Canberra light rail

February 19, 2015 – 11:22PM

Tom McIlroy

Legislative Assembly reporter at The Canberra Times

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has unveiled a plan to raise $400 million for the city to Gungahlin tram line.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has unveiled a plan to raise $400 million for the city to Gungahlin tram line. Photo: Rohan Thomson

A swathe of government buildings and public housing will be sold over four years, raising $400 million for the city to Gungahlin tram line.

The sale  will hit 1356 tenants as the government takes advantage of the federal asset recycling payment scheme.

An artist's impression of Canberra's proposed light rail.

An artist’s impression of Canberra’s proposed light rail. Photo: Supplied

Well known buildings will go on the market, including the health building in Moore Street, the Motor Registry, Dame Pattie Menzies House and the ambulance station in Dickson and Macarthur House and the visitor centre on Northbourne Avenue.

The government wouldn’t say which properties will be sold first but sales are due to be completed by 2019.

Public housing around the city will be sold, including the Red Hill flats, Strathgordon Court on Melrose Drive in Woden, the Stuart flats in Griffith, the Allawah, Bega and Currong apartments and the Northbourne flats and housing precinct, part of which has just been given heritage protection.

An artist's impression of the proposed Canberra light rail.

An artist’s impression of the proposed Canberra light rail. Photo: Supplied

In all, the buildings contain 1216 flats and are home to 1356 tenants.

The Northbourne flats and housing precinct have 403 units, home to 557 people. Another 313 tenants live in the 440 “ABC flats” in the city, with the Currong block already vacated. The Red Hill units house 239 tenants, the Stuart flats 157 and Strathgordon Court 90.

The sale  was revealed by Treasurer Joe Hockey as he signed a deal with Chief Minister Andrew Barr on Thursday, which will see the territory receive about $60 million in bonuses under the Commonwealth scheme designed to encourage states to sell assets.

Treasurer promised a "genuine community conversation" about the demographic challenges facing Australia's ageing population.

Treasurer promised a “genuine community conversation” about the demographic challenges facing Australia’s ageing population. Photo: Daniel Munoz

The $105 million sale of betting agency ACTTAB has attracted a bonus payment of $15.8 million.

The documents have blanked out the timing of sales and the expected sale prices, but reveal that 100 per cent of the amount made will go to the $783 million tram project from Gungahlin to the city.

The health building on the corner of Moore and Alinga streets is currently home to a host of health services, including a dental program and a breast screening centre, as well as the Asbestos Taskforce and the Act Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The Enivornment and Planning Directorate and ACT Planning and Land Authority is based in Dame Pattie Menzies House, while Macarthur House is home to the ACT government’s Territory and Municipal Services Directorate.

Under the terms of the deal the territory is required to ensure the total stock of public housing does not fall below June 2014 levels of 10,848 dwellings.

Mr Hockey’s announcement explains Mr  Barr’s scathing attack on the heritage listing, which he described on Wednesday as “absurd”, declaring the government would push ahead with plans to demolish the flats and sell the land for the development of 1100 apartments in their place.

State and territory governments are eligible for a 15 percent bonus from the Commonwealth for agreed asset sales under the scheme.

Mr Hockey said the ACT was the first to sign up to the scheme and confirmed all the funds would go to the Capital Metro light rail project. He described the 12-kilometre tram line to Gungahlin as “controversial”.

The Abbott government has previously said it would not fund public transport projects, in favour of national roads funding.

“While the project was considered to meet the criteria of the [asset recycling] initiative, the Commonwealth is aware that there has been debate as to whether alternative projects may have higher potential economic benefits,” Mr Hockey said.

Previously Infrastructure Australia has declined to fund the tram line.

“As the territory’s renewal of public housing progresses and outdated accommodation is replaced roof-for-roof, surplus land will be sold under the scheme and attract further bonuses,” Mr Barr said.

Opposition planning spokesman Alistair Coe said the government was “squandering a Commonwealth cash bonus on light rail”.

“It is unfortunate that the only infrastructure project the ACT government nominated is light rail,” he said.

“The Coalition government’s gift to the ACT could have been spent on any number of projects, such as road upgrades, bus infrastructure, or a convention centre. However, given the ACT has no such projects planned, light rail was the only option.”

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Fears Tony Abbott has damaged Bali nine diplomacy

February 20, 2015 – 7:38AM

John Garnaut

Asia Pacific editor for Fairfax Media

Some of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s senior colleagues are concerned that his tough talk with Indonesia may have undermined a carefully crafted strategy to save the lives of two Australians on death row.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has been leading what officials describe as a “massive” private and public diplomacy campaign to persuade Indonesian leaders to halt the execution of drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, convicted of trafficking heroin.

Tony Abbott's tough talk has not been well received by Indonesian leaders, including President Joko Widodo.

Tony Abbott’s tough talk has not been well received by Indonesian leaders, including President Joko Widodo.Photo: AFP

The strategy involves showing respect for Indonesia while outlining deep flaws in the legal and diplomatic policy processes, as excessive pressure could prove to be counterproductive.

Faint hopes of clemency have been kept alive by Indonesian leaders agreeing to delay the executions and hold a press conference to face questions, which appeared to demonstrate that Australian concerns have been taken seriously.

On Wednesday, however, Mr Abbott appeared to depart from the diplomatic script to promise an “absolutely unambiguous” response if the executions went ahead. Mr Abbott linked the threat to Australia’s generous humanitarian aid program following the Aceh tsunami of a decade ago.

Australians on death row in Bali: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Australians on death row in Bali: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Photo: Anita Kesuma

Mr Abbott’s comments not only attracted a heated response from Jakarta but have also caused dismay at senior levels of the Australian government, including inside cabinet.

“It’s awful,” said a senior source, requesting anonymity.

“It undid a lot of the good work,” said another.

Tim Lindsey, director of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society at Melbourne University, said Ms Bishop had been consistently and respectfully articulating Australia’s interests while “elegantly” pointing out deep legal and policy flaws in the Indonesian position.

Mr Abbott’s comments, on the other hand, were “probably counterproductive” and certainly “unnecessary”.

“Rightly or wrongly, when it comes to diplomacy, Indonesia can respond positively to measured persuasion and historically it has always responds very negatively to threats,” said Professor Lindsey.

Mr Abbott yesterday clarified that he was not imposing conditions on Australia’s generous aid program.

Legal analysts are dismayed that Indonesia could proceed to carry out the executions while court processes are ongoing and foreign policy analysts have pointed out that Indonesia would greatly compromise efforts to uphold the rights of its own citizens in similar circumstances abroad.

Australian officials are loath to draw historical comparisons but Fairfax has become aware of one case, in China, in which a convicted drug smuggler was saved from likely execution after strenuous diplomatic interventions.

The convicted Australian drug smuggler was spared the death penalty in April 2011, just days before the arrival of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Fairfax has agreed not to publish the prisoner’s name in order to respect the privacy of her son, who is studying in Australia and was five years old at the time.

It comes as the two prisoners asked their supporters to make “respectful” representations on their behalf, expressing their gratitude for the surge of support for their cause in Australia.

The mens’ lawyer Michael O’Connell, SC, relayed the information after seeing the duo who are facing execution by firing squad in Kerobokan prison on Thursday afternoon.

“Andrew and Myuran are very concerned that people remain respectful when they make representations on their behalf but, of course, they want those representations firmly made,” Mr O’Connell said.

Mr O’Connell declined to comment on Mr Abbott’s remarks and said the message from Chan and Sukumaran was not directed specifically at any campaign or remarks.

He added that the two were “humbled” by growing support for them in Australia and “to an extent” in Indonesia.

Mr O’Connell also said revelations in Fairfax Media reports that Indonesian President Joko Widodo did not have the men’s documentation in support of their clemency bid when he made the decision to reject mercy.

He said that these concerns about process would form a “large part” of their case before Jakarta’s administrative court, where they are appealing that the clemency rejection was flawed.

with Tom Allard, in Bali 

Follow us on Twitter

 

Source : The Canberra Times

The ghost game: new scourge of sports betting

February 19, 2015 – 12:30PM

Ben Rumsby

It was the kind of comeback of which Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United would have been proud. One-nil down with minutes remaining – and with their opponents having missed a penalty and dominated the game – FC Slutsk scored two late goals to snatch a 2-1 victory against Shakhter Soligorsk.

The match reports on the official websites of both clubs recounted a truly dramatic encounter between the Belarusian Premier League pair just over a fortnight ago.

Slutsk would have been underdogs from the start, having spent just one season in the top flight, in which they had twice lost against a Shakhter side involved in the Europa League this season and which previously graced the Champions League. Indeed, Slutsk had been in the country’s third tier as recently as four years ago, making a victory against Shakhter a surprise in itself, never mind the manner of it.

All this would have been reflected in the odds offered before and during the game by British bookmakers such as bet365 and SBOBET, odds that should have been increasingly in Shakhter’s favour.

Except most people backing them were doomed to lose from the outset, because FC Slutsk 2 Shakhter Soligorsk 1 was always going to be the final score of a match The Telegraph can reveal never took place.

Slutsk v Shakhter was, in fact, the latest and arguably most serious example of what has been dubbed colloquially as a ‘ghost’ game.

The newest weapon in the armoury of the match-fixer, a ghost game is a fictitious fixture designed to defraud bookmakers and rip off honest punters as part of a global betting market in which £90 billion ($178 million) is laundered annually.

It is perpetrated either by corrupt employees of teams or of sports data-gathering firms, those with the computing skills to plant false information, or any combination of the three.

The threat of ‘ghost’ games has been known about for several years but Slutsk v Shakhter was only the fourth documented example.

It was during the course of investigating the phenomenon that The Telegraph received a tip-off about suspicions over the fixture, eventually culminating in Shakhter confirming this week that it had not taken place.

The Belarusian Football Association also revealed that it had opened an investigation and that police had become involved.

It is understood that suspicion has fallen on a man who has previously worked for data-gathering firms in attending matches and relaying in‑game incidents as they happen.

FC Shakhter have denied any wrongdoing, claiming that a “hacker” had hidden a fake match report on their website.

FC Slutsk have yet to comment and did not respond to requests to do so by The Telegraph.

However, one of the bookmakers duped into offering a market on the game has claimed that it paid out on the result after contacting the club for confirmation that the match did take place.

Bill Mummery, executive director of Celton Manx, which operates SBOBET, said: “I have a statement from FC Slutsk, ‘Yes, the match was SFC Slutsk-SFC Shakhter. The match took place on Feb 3 at 3pm in Pinsk. The first half ended 1-0 in favour of FC Shakhter. Second half 2-1 in favour of FC Slutsk. With respect, Press Attache, SFC Slutsk.’ ”

Mummery refused to pass on the correspondence, citing data protection, but his testimony adds further intrigue to an extraordinary tale. As does what is purported to be a deleted page from Slutsk’s website dated January 5, which advertised the fixture with Shakhter, but said it would take place in Zhlobin, rather than Pinsk.

The abuse of official club websites was one of the allegations made during the last known ‘ghost‑game’ incident, almost six months to the day before the Slutsk‑Shakhter affair. That was the now-infamous non-encounter between the Portuguese and Spanish lower‑league sides Freamunde and Ponferradina. The difference on that occasion was that an investigation found a match had been played, just not between the two teams advertised.

The anomaly may have remained unnoticed but for a betting-monitoring agency which raised the alarm and also alleged that a fake report appeared on the website of Freamunde, who denied any involvement.

The data scout at that game, who worked for RunningBall – which is owned by the UK firm Perform – was cleared of any wrongdoing by his employers.

Spanish and Portuguese authorities have yet to reveal the findings of their own investigations into the matter.

There has also been no announced outcome to a probe in to the first documented ghost game, between Maldives Under-21s and Turkmenistan Under-21s in January 2012.

With a phantom match in Armenia between Ulisses Yerevan and Gandzasar Kapan having taken place in January 2014, there have now been three such incidents in little over a year, pointing to a growing threat posed by the phenomenon.

The common theme in all these matches is that they were friendlies, making them far more vulnerable to such manipulation, and it raises questions over why bookmakers are accepting a market on them.

The former FIFA head of security Chris Eaton, now director of sport integrity for the International Centre of Sport Security, told The Telegraph that match-fixers turning to ghost games coincided with the explosion in sports data gathering.

He said: “Criminals look for the vulnerabilities in new areas and they believe they’ve found a vulnerability in the sport-data model in its reliance on very poorly paid individuals who are there providing minute-by-minute or second-by-second data.

“You’re talking about a sport data scout at a match being paid €50 ($73) maximum – often even less. So, economically, they are already pretty easy targets if they are of a mind to take any inducement.”

Eaton said that it was impossible to estimate how much money there was to be made from such fraud, because most of betting took place in the often-illegal Asian markets. “You have a marriage of convenience between eastern European organised crime and south-east Asian organised crime,” he said.

Such is the profile of English football that those in charge of policing the game may feel the prospect of a ghost game here is remote.

However, Eaton said: “There are so many football matches played in the UK and they are not all well‑attended. No jurisdiction, no country is immune from the threat of ghost games.”

The Telegraph, London

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat ‘moves on’ to Brisbane Roar challenge

February 19, 2015 – 3:44PM

Michael Lynch

Senior sports reporter with The Age

Moving on: Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat.

Moving on: Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat. Photo: Getty Images

Melbourne Victory boss Kevin Muscat may still be seething about what he believes was the injustice of the penalty awarded to Sydney following the clash between Sky Blues defender Sebastian Ryall and his midfielder Gui Finkler last Saturday, but he was not about to fan the flames of further controversy following the decision by a disciplinary committee on Wednesday night to acquit Ryall of diving.

The Victory boss believes  that referee Strebre Delovski’s error in awarding a spot kick potentially cost his side two points, but he straight batted any attempts to reignite the row in the wake of the verdict.

“There is nothing further from my mind. I couldn’t care less.  It’s really got nothing to do with us. The game finished, the footage speaks for itself,  a decision was made last night, move on,” was his response when asked for a comment on the outcome of the disciplinary hearing.

He did, however, back up his striker Kosta Barbarouses, who earlier this week said he had lost respect for Ryall for what he and his Victory teammates believed was cheating.

“Kosta has certainly got my full support, and the rest of his teammates’ full support and probably every other player in the competition  as well. Let’s move on, it’s happened, been dealt with, couldn’t care less.”

Victory travels to Brisbane to take on the defending champions who have won their last three games and are pushing for a spot in the top six. Brisbane haven’t been all that impressive in those wins – two of which came with last-gasp goals and another from two penalties – but they have picked up maximum points and that builds belief.

The forecast is for heavy rain, but Muscat says that is simply something his players will have to deal with.

“From all reports it’s going to be really wet but our preparation has been really good. Brisbane are on a good little run, they have won their last three and are pushing to make finals. They have confidence.  But we will turn up with a mindset of getting a job done.”

Last weekend was the second time in three games that Victory has let slip a lead late in the game to draw 3-3. Muscat says while the result was disappointing, there was plenty to like about his players’ attitude  and the soccer  they played.

“I commended the players for how they acted and our response  and the way we conducted ourselves. It was first class. We were five minutes away from bringing all three points  back in a difficult game.

“Some of our play was outstanding … we look to emulate that against Brisbane.”

But he admitted there were things to learn about defending leads late in matches.

“Retaining possession   of the ball when you are in the lead is a massive part of it, retaining the ball and frustrating the opposition. But it’s not in our nature to sit back on things. For long periods of that second half we were in control and were very comfortable. Some of the football we played was excellent. We will work hard on improving it … we have looked very good going forward.

“Archie [Thompson, who is due to play his 200th game]  won’t start tomorrow … it’s important that he is still at a stage where he is contributing so much to the team. The idea was to be successful this season and it would  be nice to add to the history that he’s created at this club and add some silverware.”

 

Source : The Canberra Times