Injured Emerton likely to miss out

SYDNEY FC coach Frank Farina may have to make up to three changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s trip to face Newcastle, with Brett Emerton likely to be ruled out with injury.
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Scans for Emerton’s back problem have been delayed and he won’t receive them until Wednesday. He has not trained so far this week.

It was in Newcastle last season that Emerton broke down during the first half. Having seen Emerton leave the field early in the 3-1 loss against Melbourne Victory last week, it is almost certain he will not play.

Emerton will join centre-half Tiago Calvano and left-back Fabio on the sidelines. Both players were shown two yellow cards against the Victory, meaning Farina will have to dig deep into his squad to find the necessary replacements. The most straightforward swap will be the inclusion Adam Griffiths for Calvano, with Griffiths finally regaining fitness after suffering from a knee injury that has kept him sidelined since the New Year’s Eve clash against Adelaide United.

”The last injury was a knock on the knee and it was disappointing because I tried to play [against Adelaide] but wasn’t right,” Griffiths said. ”Now I’ve made sure it’s right so it doesn’t happen again.

”Hopefully I can kick on now and get some form coming into the finals. I’m feeling good, feeling sharp again, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

With the Sky Blues in the middle of a six-way scramble for the final two places in the top six, every game is crucial, especially when they come up another team fighting for a finals berth. ”I think it’s been for a while now that we’ve needed to win most games, ”Griffiths said. ”This game is no different. Every game is important from here on in. I think every team in the league is beatable, and that’s why it’s such a good league.”

Griffiths came on in the second half against the Victory and praised Ange Postecoglou’s side as the competition’s benchmark.

”I don’t think it was just the defence [that let Sydney down] – I think we weren’t as strong as we were as a unit as we were against Wellington, but Melbourne are a much better team,” he said. ”Full credit to them, they’re a much better team [than us]. That’s the level we have to get up to if we want to be competing in the finals.”

The change of coach from Ian Crook – who signed Griffiths – to new boss Farina hasn’t been easy on the 33-year-old but he’s confident they can work together.

”It’s been a little bit difficult with a change of coach and new personnel and different partnerships all the time, but there’s no real excuses,” he said. ”We all just have to work together. We’ve got the majority of the team that’s fit now, and we’re starting to find some rhythm again and looking forward to the remainder of the season.

”It’s been tough but very positive, and I find that our team has more of a unity and solidarity now. We’re working well together here.”

The combination of Griffiths and his twin brother Joel was a mainstay of Newcastle during the early years of the A-League and the pair combined to lead the Jets to the 2007-08 title.

However, only the duo’s younger brother, Ryan, is left flying the Griffiths’s family flag in the Hunter, with Adam putting it bluntly: ”I’m going to get into him, that’s for sure.

”It’s always good to play against your old team, especially when you have good memories there,” he said. ”The fans are always brilliant up in Newcastle; they’ve stuck by their team through good times and bad. But now I’m with the Sky Blues and everything’s for them and we’re wanting to beat Newcastle on Saturday.

”It’s going to be a tough match. Both teams are fighting for the finals and looking to get the three points.”

Equally tough will be the threat presented by Jets striker Emile Heskey, who found his way back into the scoring charts in the 1-1 draw against Wellington Phoenix.

”He’s a great player. He’s strong – as you saw with that goal – the goalkeeper came out to get it and he bullied him into putting the ball into the back of the net,” Griffiths said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.


No simmering after T20 pressure cooker

AUSTRALIAN and Sri Lankan players insisted there was no lingering animosity from the heated end to Monday night’s Twenty20 match at the MCG.
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Australia required four runs from the last delivery to win but Glenn Maxwell – who hit the first two deliveries he faced to the boundary to give the home team a chance at an unlikely victory – was unable to get a third, playing and missing a full delivery outside off-stump by Thisara Perera. The resulting bye gave Sri Lanka a two-run win to cement their No.1 ranking in Twenty20.

The home team’s target was reduced from 161 from 20 overs to 122 from 15 overs due to a 46-minute rain delay. Australia was unhappy at how tardy Sri Lanka was in bowling its final five overs, from which it needed to score 62 runs. This peaked when a group of players held an impromptu conference with Perera before the final delivery, prompting a tirade from Maxwell.

Maxwell later tweeted that Sri Lanka’s players had ”apologised for going over the top” in their post-match confrontation with he and other Australians, although the batting all-rounder said he too had apologised, rejecting any notion of a dispute with senior Sri Lankan batsman Mahela Jayawardene, a teammate of his at Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League.

”I have a good friendship with Mahela, and it’s gonna stay that way,” Maxwell said.

Sri Lanka Twenty20 captain Angelo Mathews defended the lengthy conference with Perera before the last delivery.

”It was a bit nervous. All of the guys got a bit excited. I just wanted to keep it calm and told ‘Thisa’ [Perera] to go for what his instinct said,” he said.

”I thought it was a brilliant over. In a Twenty20, 16 runs in an over is sort of easy for the batting team. I thought he bowled a brilliant last over, considering the fact it was demanding conditions. You couldn’t really hold on to the ball – it was not gripping, it was wet, the outfield was wet – so it was not easy.”

Mathews dismissed the resulting post-match spat with Australians including Maxwell and Matthew Wade as ”just a heat-of-the-moment [incident]”.

”Things happen, you exchange a few words. They played hard, we played hard. That’s it. After the game we’re friends,” Mathews said.

Australian captain George Bailey said he was not fully aware of the cause and extent of the spat, given he had been dismissed early in the last over, but agreed there could have been discontent with Sri Lanka’s over rate at the resumption.

”I think there might have been. I’m sure the umpires were all over that, if that was the case,” he said. ”I can’t [conclusively explain the cause] because I wasn’t out there, but [I suspect] passion. People care about the game and the way they play. That’s it.

”We get on very well with this [Sri Lankan] side so … I think it’s all just heat-of-the-moment stuff. What you’re seeing are individuals, are teams that are keen to win.”

While Sri Lanka seemed reluctant to want to resume playing on Monday night – Mathews and Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford were involved in a lengthy discussion with the umpires during the delay – Mathews insisted the team always wanted to finish the match, despite already being ahead on Duckworth-Lewis calculations.

”The outfield was extremely wet. The bowlers were finding it really hard to grip the ball because it was slipping,” Mathews said.

”But we wanted to get out there on the field because we didn’t want to disappoint the crowd that’d turned up in large numbers – especially playing in Melbourne. It’s like playing at home because it’s the second-largest Sri Lankan community after Sri Lanka.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.


Delighted Gorman reveals he has no plans to go wandering

THE high-flying Western Sydney Wanderers players are set to stay after the club’s executive chairman Lyall Gorman confirmed his intention to keep hold of the majority of the crop of the squad for next season, including marquee player Shinji Ono.
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Gorman has reserved the highest praise for the club’s inaugural roster by outlining his desire to re-sign most of those coming off contract.

The Wanderers extended the contracts of six players recently, including captain Michael Beauchamp and will not look elsewhere until they have secured most of the 11 others in the final year of their contracts.

”We’re looking at retention rather than recruitment,” Gorman said. ”Our first priority is to reward and honour the existing playing group and from there we will understand better what the gaps are and where we need to focus our energies. But clearly we’ve been delighted with the outcomes and performances of our playing group this year, both on and off the field.”

After the Wanderers 1-0 win against Melbourne Heart on Saturday, when they played the majority of the match with 10 men, Gorman said there were no plans to sign new players until they concluded all contract renegotiations.

”We’ve just got to sit down now and look at the next round of retention of our current playing group and then see how those players react to the tabled offers and then start to actively explore those over the next couple of months,” Gorman said.

There are two days left in the January transfer window and the Wanderers have already dipped in by signing former Brisbane Roar winger Rocky Visconte. There will be no further transfer action as the deadline looms closer, however.

”We’ll be having no player movement either way, in or out. We obviously had Rocky Visconte coming in a couple of weeks ago to cover Tahj [Minniecon], who’s out for the season, but other than that we’re looking at no player movement at all in the January window,” Gorman said.

The Wanderers have held preliminary discussions with the management of Ono but are not expecting to agree to terms immediately.

Ono has expressed his desire to continue wearing the red and black hoops beyond this season and while the club is happy with his performance, they are not rushing for a new deal. The Wanderers are wary that contract negotiations may distract the Japanese star from his on-field duties and will continue holding intermittent talks with his agent.

”We’re in discussions on a regular basis without distracting ourselves from playing football each week,” Gorman said. ”Shinji has clearly expressed his desire to stay both in the A-League and at the club. We’ve just got to now work out how it might look.

”It’s about balancing the process so nobody becomes destabilised by it.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.


Defence site in the firing line

PRIME Defence land in Hawthorn and Laverton could boost federal government coffers by $90 million if sold, industry insiders say.
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A leaked draft of the government’s 2013 Defence white paper, reported by Fairfax Media last week, outlines the possible closure of dozens of Australian military bases.

Thought to be in the firing line are the RAAF Williams base in Laverton and Royal Victorian Regiment depot in Burwood Road, Hawthorn. Both sites are prime development opportunities, agents and developers say.

The 4200-square-metre Hawthorn depot is on the corner of Drill Street and Burwood Road, a strip that is a hot spot for multistorey apartments catering for students at nearby Swinburne University, CBRE agent Mark Wizel said.

The site, which contains a large tree and barrack buildings, would fetch about $14.7 million depending on heritage, planning and other restrictions, said Mario Nobrega from commercial agents Gorman Kelly.

”Burwood Road is moving away from its industrial past and its old warehouses are either being torn down or converted to bulky goods showrooms,” he said.

Across the road, a $140 million project with 250 apartments and ground level retail space is under construction.

Another large site nearby is expected to come on the market soon.

Across town in Laverton, the RAAF Williams base is next door to the newly-minted suburb of Williams Landing, itself constructed on the base’s former airfield and runways.

A dedicated railway station and Princes Freeway interchange are under construction to connect the area’s expected 7000 residents to the city.

The remaining 150 hectares at the base could net the government up to $75 million if sold and might attract developers such as Perth-based firm Cedar Woods.

”It would be logical acquisition for us given our ownership and development of the adjacent Williams Landing development,” state manager Nathan Blackburne said.

But defence sites often contain contaminants that require cleaning up which can significantly devalue the land.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.


Mundine confident he can beat the odds – and Geale

Anthony Mundine The storm before the calm … a feisty Anthony Mundine, left, tries some pre-bout tactics on a cool Daniel Geale at their weigh-in on Tuesday.
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anthony mundine daniel geale

ANTHONY MUNDINE says his best fights have been when he is the underdog and predicts a win over IBF middleweight world champion Daniel Geale will put him a step closer to his dream bout against Floyd Mayweather.

With bookmakers and critics predicting a Geale win, Mundine insists he is ready to prove them wrong and will then pursue big-name opponents to cement his legacy.

”I have always thrived under pressure when I played league and in boxing,” Mundine told Fairfax Media on the eve of Wednesday night’s bout at Sydney Entertainment Centre.

”My best fights have been when I am against the odds and I am against the odds again so I am going to come out swinging.”

Mundine, who hit the scales at 71.95kg in Tuesday’s weigh-in and then engaged in some last-minute mind games with Geale, refuses to consider the possibility of a loss ending his 13-year boxing career.

Mundine says the fight, which will be replayed in the US, will be the beginning of a new phase in his career if he can win a fourth world title – one of which includes the IBO middleweight belt he took from Geale in 2009.

”There is a lot of interest around the boxing world because this guy is really a unified champion and I am the only man who beat him, and I am going to do it again,” Mundine said of Geale’s wins over Germany’s IBF world champion Sebastian Sylvester and WBA title holder Felix Sturm.

”This will put me up there with the best pound for pounders and catapult me to the fights I want to get. I want to fight the best – I don’t care if they are middleweight, junior middleweight or what weight division.

”I want to fight the best of all time and that is Mayweather, but this fight is going to get me in the position to fight an Austin Trout, a Miguel Cotto, a Sergio Martinez or whoever comes up and is the best deal for us. But I have got to get past this test first and he is a champion so I am going to have to go and take it from him.”

As the pair came face to face for the last time before stepping into the ring at the weigh-in, where Geale proved slightly heavier at 72.5 kg, Mundine did his best to get under his rival’s skin by blowing bubblegum in his face.

Geale said he was used to Mundine’s antics and was determined not to let the 37-year-old get under his skin.

”There has been a couple of times I started to get angry but I take it all in my stride,” Geale said. ”He wants me to get upset and I understand that.”

After losing their previous bout, Geale said he was motivated by revenge. ”A statement needs to be made, all the talk has been done and I am just excited by this,” he said. ”I have put a lot into this and I can’t wait.

”He is definitely in great shape but we were expecting that. I said from the beginning that he would step up for this fight and he has to. It is going to make for a better fight.”

IBF featherweight champion Billy Dib, who will defend his title against Cuban Luis Franco in Connecticut on March 1, compared the build-up to the Mundine-Geale bout to Mundine’s fight against Danny Green at Allianz Stadium in 2006.

”I think Australian boxing is the winner because regardless if who wins the belts stays in Australia,” he said.

Dib said he had been leaning towards Geale on form but Mundine would step up for the bout.

”He knows that this is it – he either wins now or he is done.

”Honestly, can you ever write Anthony Mundine off? They said Danny Green would knock him out but he rises to these occasions, so I think it is a 50-50 fight.”FIVE THINGS WORTH FIGHTING FOR

ANTHONY MUNDINEHis career: At 37 years of age, a loss to Geale would all but end Mundine’s 48-fight career  —  at least on the world stage.His legacy: Should Mundine win, it will put  him back on course for a tilt at some of boxing’s biggest names, headed by Floyd Mayweather.To silence the critics: Mundine knows that there are those who would like nothing better than to see his career end,  and he is determined not to give them the satisfaction.A fourth world title: After taking Geale’s IBO middleweight world title in 2009, Mundine now wants to snatch the IBF version from him to add to the two WBA super middleweight belts he won against Antwun Echols in 2003 and Sam Soliman in 2007.Respect: After being criticised for taking easy fights in recent years, Mundine believes a win over Geale will force people to acknowledge him as one of Australia’s greatest sportsmen ever,  given what he achieved he in rugby league before taking up boxing.

DANIEL GEALERevenge: The only loss in Geale’s 29-fight  career was to Mundine in 2009,  so he wants to avenge that defeat.Recognition: Despite beating Germany’s IBF middleweight world champion Sebastian Sylvester and WBA title holder Felix Sturm on their home turf, Geale was largely unknown to most Australians until the fight with Mundine was announced.To silence Mundine: After repeatedly being on the end of Mundine’s trash- taking antics at press conferences and events to promote the fight, Geale would like little more than to be the man who ended The Man’s career.Reputation: Should Geale lose, he will risk becoming another name on the long list of Australian boxers to have been given an opportunity by Mundine and failed.Big fights: As the IBF middleweight world champion, Geale will again look to unify the belt against either WBA and IBO title holder Genady Golovkin or the division’s top-ranked boxer and WBC No.1 Sergio Martinez.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.


Costco rolls on in campaign to steal big boys’ market

Costco has turned its first profit.DISCOUNT retailer Costco has underscored its threat to supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles by posting its maiden annual profit in Australia.
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It has also received a further $50 million from its American parent to bankroll an aggressive push.

Costco opened the first of its warehouse stores in Australia four years ago. Operating last year out of three stores, in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, Costco managed to more than double its revenue to $609.5 million as shoppers warmed to its club membership model and bulk purchases of everything from whitegoods, fish and furniture, to hearing aids and French wine.

With another three warehouse stores under construction or awaiting planning approval, Costco has sent a clear warning to the supermarket heavyweights, German discounter Aldi and the struggling convenience store sector that it is rushing towards $1 billion in annual sales in Australia.

The threat to the supermarket dominance of Woolworths and Coles comes as Aldi, which specialises in a limited range of deeply discounted private-label groceries and merchandise, is set to open its 300th store in Australia next month. Aldi is believed to have captured 5 per cent of the national market since it arrived in 2001.

Documents lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission reveal that Costco Wholesale Australia reported a net profit of $9.73 million for the 53 weeks to September 2012, its first profit in Australia and a turnaround from its $13.2 million loss in 2011.

The period reflects a full year of operation for its three warehouse stores, with Melbourne and Sydney believed to generate the bulk of the nearly $610 million in sales and membership purchases. Melbourne and Sydney have more than 100,000 members each.

Since opening its first warehouse in Melbourne’s Docklands in 2009, Costco has racked up retained losses of just under $38 million, reflecting the start-up costs of building its large-format stores and operating out of limited sites.

The maiden profit in Australia was driven by extra revenue generated by its two new stores, improved productivity and efficiency that flowed from its expanding network and the recognition of current and prior-year deferred tax assets. It received a tax credit of $13.4 million.

The company’s managing director for Australia, Patrick Noone, said: ”I think there is a lot of opportunity for Costco here in Australia and we are thrilled and very satisfied to see that the business is growing.”

Mr Noone said the fresh-food category remained popular, as did the bakery and household goods such as toilet paper and detergents. Hearing aids were a standout performer for Costco, while its range of premium wines was also in demand.

”We do a lot of imported wines from Europe and that seems to be one of the big growth areas for us.”

During the 2011-12 year Costco received $50 million in equity funding from its US parent, helping to fund its growth including the purchase of land at Ringwood, where it is building its second Victorian warehouse.

Meanwhile, Wesfarmers, owner of Coles, Bunnings, Target and Kmart, on Wednesday reports its second-quarter sales performance. Market leader Woolworths, which also owns Big W, will unveil its sales numbers on Thursday.

Coles is again expected to outgrow larger rival Woolworths, notching up growth of around 4 per cent against 2.8 per cent for Woolies.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.


Apologies all round after spat at the ‘G

AUSTRALIA and Sri Lanka said there was no lingering animosity from the heated end to Monday night’s Twenty20 match at the MCG, with Australian Glenn Maxwell saying the tourists had apologised for their behaviour.
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Australia required four runs from the last delivery to win but Maxwell, who hit the first two deliveries he faced to the boundary to give the home team a chance, was unable get a third, playing and missing a full delivery outside off-stump from Thisara Perera. The resulting bye gave Sri Lanka a two-run win to cement its No. 1 ranking in Twenty20.

A 46-minute rain delay reduced the home team’s target from 161 in 20 overs to 122 in 15 overs. Australia was unhappy at how tardy Sri Lanka was in bowling its final five overs. This peaked when a group of players held an impromptu conference with Perera before the final delivery, prompting a tirade from Maxwell.

Maxwell later tweeted that Sri Lanka’s players had “apologised for going over the top” in their post-match confrontation with him and other Australians, although the batting all-rounder said he, too, had apologised, rejecting any notion of a dispute with senior Sri Lankan batsman Mahela Jayawardene, a teammate at Delhi in the Indian Premier League.

“I have a good friendship with Mahela, and it’s gonna stay that way,” Maxwell said.

Sri Lanka Twenty20 captain Angelo Mathews defended the lengthy conference with Perera before the last delivery.

“It was a bit nervous. All of the guys got a bit excited. I just wanted to keep it calm and told ‘Thisa’ [Perera] to go for what his instinct said,” he said. “I thought it was a brilliant over. In a Twenty20, 16 runs in an over is sort of easy for the batting team. I thought he bowled a brilliant last over, considering the fact it was demanding conditions. You couldn’t really hold on to the ball – it was not gripping, it was wet, the outfield was wet – so it was not easy.”

Mathews dismissed the spat with Australians including Maxwell and Matthew Wade as “just a heat-of-the-moment [incident]”.

“Things happen, you exchange a few words. They played hard, we played hard. That’s it. After the game we’re friends,” Mathews said.

Australia’s captain George Bailey said he was not fully aware of the cause and extent of the spat, given he had been dismissed early in the last over, but agreed there could have been discontent over Sri Lanka’s over rate.

“I’m sure the umpires were all over that, if that was the case,” he said. “We get on very well with this [Sri Lankan] side so . . . I think it’s all just heat-of-the-moment stuff. What you’re seeing are individuals are teams that are keen to win.”

While Sri Lanka seemed reluctant to resume – Mathews and Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford had a long discussion with the umpires during the delay – Mathews insisted the team always wanted to finish the match.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.


Webber distanced himself from Armstrong

FORMULA one driver Mark Webber distanced himself from his former buddy Lance Armstrong in 2008 after starting to doubt his doping denials.
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In a column for the BBC sport website, Webber said he struck up a friendship with Armstrong over a couple of years and went riding with him on occasion but became disillusioned after he failed to show up for the Monaco Grand Prix.

“That, coupled with the persistent rumours about Armstrong being a serial liar and a drug cheat, and long conversations I had had with the respected sports journalist Paul Kimmage (who had been on Armstrong’s case for years), made me realise that perhaps he wasn’t all I had hoped him to be,” Webber wrote.

“I kept asking myself how it was that everyone who beat Armstrong tested positive but he never did. It became a very heavy and difficult subject to discuss with the mutual friends we shared.

“I told them two years ago that he had to come clean but they felt it was something he was unlikely to do. The word “defiant” always seemed to crop up. Armstrong was defiant all the way; he believed he was clean.”

Webber said Armstrong’s defiance remained evident in his confessional interview with Oprah Winfrey this month, where he admitted using performance-enhancing drugs during seven Tour de France victories.

He said Armstrong “admitted he was a doper, but still didn’t see it as cheating”.

Webber wrote: “I think what’s staggering to everyone is the amount of people he was prepared to take out on the way up; people who were morally on the right side of the bridge.

“He wasn’t worried about the ramifications and the position he may have put these people in; it was all about Planet Lance.”

While Armstrong told Winfrey it was unjust that he had received the “death penalty” while other confessed dopers served far more lenient sanctions, Webber said the fall-out was deserved.

“You rubbed a lot of people’s noses in it for so long and treated the rest of us like idiots,” Webber said.

“Whenever I think of Armstrong now, I think of the clean cyclists who competed in the system Armstrong was fuelling week in, week out.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.


Coast bears brunt of Oswald as Queensland takes stock

MINES and farms close to the Queensland coast were hardest hit by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, with cattle and cane growers south of Mackay still assessing stock losses and damage to crops.
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Rabobank’s Rockhampton-based state manager, Brad James, said while Oswald had brought more rainfall in certain areas than cyclone Yasi two years ago, the impact was mainly confined to coastal regions this time and rainfall inland was beneficial.

Mr James said there would be stock losses and damage to infrastructure, particularly fencing, on beef properties from Mackay to Rockhampton but it was too early to quantify the damage.

”Cattle can go missing in floods but turn up later – they float downstream – and it’s often inaccurate to give an early estimate,” he said.

For cultivators, moving south to Bundaberg, Mr James said the storm had been ”quite destructive” with early reports of significant losses for citrus orchards and tree crops on the Burnett River floodplain.

Cotton growers inland were thankfully spared this year after incurring significant damage in 2011, Mr James said.

Canegrowers chief executive Steve Greenwood said flooding rains had ravaged pockets of land, and major damage would be sustained by some growers, particularly in the Bundaberg, Maryborough and Childers areas.

Mr Greenwood said the crop in those areas would have been about 2.5 million tonnes and was reasonably well established after the November harvest. But with rivers still rising it was too early to determine the full extent of the damage.

Damage in the 18 sugarcane areas across Queensland and New South Wales would be assessed over the next week, but Canegrowers said Australia’s production overall was not expected to be significantly downgraded.

The Queensland Resources Council said the export coal industry could take several weeks to resume full production, but despite the heavy rainfall mines were by and large resuming normal operations.

There were reports of significant damage to the Blackwater and Moura rail systems that carry coal from the southern and central Bowen Basin to the port of Gladstone, where operations have also been hampered by about 800 millimetres of rain.

China-backed Yancoal closed two of its Queensland coalmines. Production at Middlemount open-cut mine was likely to be impacted for at least three weeks although its Yarrabee mine, closed at the weekend, would return to normal this week. Yancoal shares were unchanged.

A spokesperson for Gladstone Ports said shiploading had recommenced at RG Tanna Coal Terminal as was rail unloading. Barney Point Coal Terminal was set to resume unloading yesterday. All coal ports were open to shipping and coal seam gas-LNG operations reported only minor disruptions.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.


Demons’ financial viability at risk, warns Healy

MELBOURNE great Gerard Healy has hit out at AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou and the AFL Commission and fears the Demons could be left financially depleted if found guilty of tanking.
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As the Melbourne board, chief executive Cameron Schwab, former football manager Chris Connolly and former coach Dean Bailey responded on Tuesday to the league’s investigation into the 2009 season, Healy expressed concerns about the club’s future.

”If they are found guilty of tanking, they may have the very existence of the football club at threat,” he said. ”They are a holder of a gaming licence down at the Bentleigh Club. If, in fact, the club is found to have been unscrupulous in its behaviour, if you want to use those terms, that capacity for them to hold that licence may be at threat. That would provide them with one or two million [dollars] a year.

”Their sponsorships have all got clauses that say they [sponsors] could walk out if, in fact, they are guilty.”

The board, Schwab and Connolly are facing charges of bringing the game into disrepute and tampering with the draft. Bailey also faces a charge of not coaching to his utmost.

Through their individual lawyers, all parties had to show reason to the AFL by Tuesday why they should not be charged. The AFL’s acting football operations manager, Gillon McLachlan, will now play a key role in deciding their fate.

Lawyers for at least two of the parties were expected to hold back from responding in full in case a hearing is convened.

Healy, who played 121 matches for the Demons before joining Sydney and winning a Brownlow Medal, believes the Demons tanked to secure the top two picks in the ’09 national draft.

”I don’t know what the AFL should do. What I thought at the time was they were tanking and nothing has probably changed my mind,” he said.

Healy said Demetriou and the AFL Commission had erred in their handling of the controversy, which simmered for years before exploding last year when former Melbourne player Brock McLean made his stunning revelations that Melbourne had tanked.

”I also think Andrew Demetriou should have called an amnesty only a few months ago when Brock McLean made this thing go front and centre again,” Healy said on 3AW.

”I think if they called the amnesty it would have sufficed … under the salary-cap cheating [amnesty], every club put their hand up bar two or three.

”Andrew Demetriou has also got to understand he has played a significant role in creating the environment for which four or five clubs have tanked. They have taken away the incentive, but his reluctance to accept what the whole world was telling him, his complete denial that tanking existed, allowed clubs to think they could get away with it. It was almost tacit approval.

”I think the commission needs to cop a bit on the chin about this one as well, because they stuffed up with their handling of this.”

The AFL last year toughened the guidelines for securing a priority draft pick.

”If [the Demons] are found guilty, they are going to court. You can guarantee – unless there is a deal done – they are off to court,” Healy said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.