from BBC News for Birmingham and the Black Country
British number one Dan Evans beat Alexander Bublik to reach the quarter finals of the Adelaide International.Evans needed just 75 minutes to beat Kazakhstan’s Bublik 7-5 6-2.The Briton, who will be seeded at a Grand Slam for the first time when the Australian Open begins on 20 January, will face either Russia’s Andrey Rublev or American Sam Querrey next.
Elsewhere, Britain’s Kyle Edmund claimed his first victory of the year at the Auckland Open.Edmund, who has slipped to 67 in the world rankings, beat Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich 6-2 4-6 6-3.He will play either Italy’s Andreas Seppi or French seventh seed Adrian Mannarino in the second round.Live scores, schedule and resultsPlayers struggle with poor air quality in Melbourne
Trips through Birmingham city centre by private cars could be banned under plans to cut traffic and pollution. Private vehicles will be able to drive into the city, but would have to go to the ring road to access other areas. In a newly published transport plan the city council is also looking at rerouting the A38 and making residential roads a 20mph limit. It said it wanted to encourage the greater use of public transport, walking and cycling.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith says his team’s season “will not be defined” by their results against Manchester City and Liverpool.Villa’s 6-1 home defeat by City was their worst result since 2016.It leaves them in the bottom three on 21 points, a point behind Watford and West Ham, with a worse goal difference than both.
“Two of the sides below us were playing each other and with us against Man City, you didn’t need to be a betting expert to see we would be in the bottom three today,” said Smith. “But our season will not be defined playing Manchester City and Liverpool. Their three scorers today cost more than our whole squad.”Villa had high hopes of a respectable finish on their return to the top flight after a three-year absence last summer.The club spent £130m on 12 players to bolster Smith’s squad but following season-ending knee injuries for first-choice striker Wesley and goalkeeper Tom Heaton on New Year’s Day, are trying to find replacements who will ensure they don’t experience a swift return back to the Championship.
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Veteran former Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina was at Villa Park for the Manchester City game and is expected to complete a loan move from AC Milan in the next 24 hours.Villa remain on the hunt for a striker and against City gave a debut to former England midfielder Danny Drinkwater, who has joined on loan from Chelsea after Burnley cut short the 28-year-old’s loan deal.Drinkwater, who has only played three games in 17 months, was at fault for City’s first two goals and looked off the pace as Villa struggled.”Danny will make us a better team,” said Smith. “He has looked good in training and he got 75 minutes today, which he needed. He was not the reason we lost 6-1.”Smith said if Villa fail in their striker search “we will cope”.However, they have scored more than once only three times in 13 Premier League games and conceded 23 in their last nine, which has included a single clean sheet, so there are clear issues to address at both ends of the pitch.After Saturday’s trip to Brighton, they face crucial games against Watford and Bournemouth. Looking further ahead, Villa’s last game of the season is at West Ham, another of the clubs in a perilous position near the bottom of the table.”We are a proud club,” said Smith, a lifelong Villa fan. “Standing there at 6-0 was not a pretty picture. “In the end, it was a containment job against a far superior team but we were contributors to our own downfall and their third goal summed up the game. “They make 20 passes without any physical contact and when [Sergio] Aguero puts it into the top corner, there is no-one within three or four yards.”
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Amalie Eikeland scored a fine winner as Reading claimed a 1-0 home victory in a hard-fought Women’s Super League clash against Birmingham at Adams Park.The Norway international struck the only goal in the 39th minute when she took a touch to bring down a high ball forward before cleverly lobbing City goalkeeper Hannah Hampton from the edge of the box.Reading’s fifth victory of the season lifts them up to fourth on 17 points, 10 clear of Birmingham, who slipped to their seventh defeat in 10 league games.
Relive Sunday’s WSL actionReading looked to keep things safe for much of the first half but managed to get their noses in front through Eikeland’s superb finish and then pushed forward after the break, with much of the second-half action taking place in Birmingham territory.However, excellent defending by the visitors meant that, despite Reading’s domination, the Royals were unable to add to their lead.The closest the hosts came to scoring again was in the 89th minute when Hampton failed to keep hold of Eikeland’s attempt but, before any Reading player could slot home the loose ball, the Blues managed to clear to safety.Report supplied by PA Media.BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.Line-upsMatch StatsLive TextLine-upsReading Women27Laws23Rowe26HowardSubstituted forBartripat 56’minutes22Potter3PachecoSubstituted forHardingat 76’minutes6James18MooreBooked at 45mins8Allen9Eikeland19ChaplenSubstituted forUtlandat 71’minutes4WilliamsSubstitutes5Bartrip11Harding14Farrow16Utland21Bennink72StewartB’ham City Women1Hampton2MaylingSubstituted forSimkinat 65’minutes3Scott25Holloway15Jordan37Staniforth7Arthur20Walker19Whipp11GrantSubstituted forVisalliat 74’minutes8WilliamsBooked at 72minsSubstitutes10Visalli13Brooks14Kelly16Brougham26SimkinReferee:Tom BishopMatch StatsHome TeamReading WomenAway TeamB’ham City WomenPossessionHome58%Away42%ShotsHome14Away5Shots on TargetHome7Away3CornersHome5Away3FoulsHome9Away13Live TextPosted at Match ends, Reading Women 1, Birmingham City Women 0.Full TimePosted at 90’+5′ Second Half ends, Reading Women 1, Birmingham City Women 0.Posted at 90’+3′ Corner, Reading Women. Conceded by Lucy Staniforth.Posted at 89′ Attempt saved. Amalie Eikeland (Reading Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.Posted at 87′ Foul by Angharad James (Reading Women).Posted at 87′ Chloe Arthur (Birmingham City Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 87′ Attempt saved. Fara Williams (Reading Women) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.Posted at 84′ Attempt missed. Fara Williams (Reading Women) left footed shot from the left side of the box is just a bit too high.Posted at 81′ Attempt saved. Fara Williams (Reading Women) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.Posted at 80′ Foul by Angharad James (Reading Women).Posted at 80′ Claudia Walker (Birmingham City Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 79′ Corner, Reading Women. Conceded by Adrienne Jordan.Posted at 78′ Corner, Reading Women. Conceded by Lucy Staniforth.Posted at 77′ Foul by Amalie Eikeland (Reading Women).Posted at 77′ Adrienne Jordan (Birmingham City Women) wins a free kick on the right wing.SubstitutionPosted at 76′ Substitution, Reading Women. Natasha Harding replaces Mayumi Pacheco.SubstitutionPosted at 74′ Substitution, Birmingham City Women. Brianna Visalli replaces Abbi Grant.Posted at 73′ Attempt missed. Jo Potter (Reading Women) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high from a direct free kick.BookingPosted at 72′ Rachel Williams (Birmingham City Women) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.Posted at 72′ Rachel Rowe (Reading Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.Posted at 72′ Foul by Rachel Williams (Birmingham City Women).SubstitutionPosted at 71′ Substitution, Reading Women. Lisa-Marie Utland replaces Brooke Chaplen.Posted at 71′ Mayumi Pacheco (Reading Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 71′ Foul by Claudia Walker (Birmingham City Women).Posted at 70′ Attempt missed. Amalie Eikeland (Reading Women) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.Posted at 68′ Attempt missed. Fara Williams (Reading Women) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.Posted at 66′ Abbi Grant (Birmingham City Women) wins a free kick on the left wing.Posted at 66′ Foul by Rachel Rowe (Reading Women).SubstitutionPosted at 65′ Substitution, Birmingham City Women. Lily Simkin replaces Sarah Mayling.Posted at 65′ Rachel Rowe (Reading Women) wins a free kick on the right wing.Posted at 65′ Foul by Chloe Arthur (Birmingham City Women).Posted at 64′ Corner, Reading Women. Conceded by Lucy Whipp.Posted at 63′ Amalie Eikeland (Reading Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 63′ Foul by Rebecca Holloway (Birmingham City Women).Posted at 62′ Attempt saved. Rachel Williams (Birmingham City Women) header from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal.Posted at 61′ Corner, Birmingham City Women. Conceded by Mayumi Pacheco.Posted at 59′ Attempt missed. Claudia Walker (Birmingham City Women) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.SubstitutionPosted at 56′ Substitution, Reading Women. Molly Bartrip replaces Sophie Howard.Posted at 54′ Fara Williams (Reading Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.Posted at 54′ Foul by Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham City Women).Show more updatesgoal
A councillor accused of tweeting Islamophobic comments has been suspended from the Conservative group of Dudley Council. Colin Elcock, who represents Norton ward, could now face expulsion from the party over claims he wrote tweets saying Islam was “domination not integration” and asking whether people in Iran were “all on the dole”.The tweets have since been deleted.The council’s deputy chief executive said the authority was investigating. Mr Elcock has been contacted for comment. He has also been accused of making a sexist comment when responding to another tweet which contained a picture of woman’s bottom, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.Latest news from the West MidlandsMr Elcock’s suspension came after he met with the leader of the council and the Conservative group, Patrick Harley, on Friday.Mr Harley said: “The 21-day period allows local Conservatives and Conservative central office to consider the suitability of Councillor Elock holding a position which is representative of the party.”His conduct does not reflect the values of the modern Conservative party.”Further action may be taken when the Conservative group meets on 25 January, Mr Harley added.Mr Elcock also faces possible disciplinary action by the standards board for allegedly breaching the authority’s code of conduct. Alan Lunt, deputy chief executive of the council, said: “The council’s monitoring officer has received two complaints relating to comments on Twitter made by an elected member which will be investigated further before any decision is made.”In November, the vice-chairman of Stourbridge Conservative Association, Kyle Pedley, resigned from the party amid accusations of Islamophobia. Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.
A rail freight company has been fined £1.2m after a 13-year-old boy was electrocuted by a 25,000 volt overhead power line at a train depot.He suffered extensive burns while his friend was also injured and a third now has post-traumatic stress disorder, Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court heard.The judge said the after effects of the incident in Wednesbury could last for the rest of their lives.DB Cargo UK admitted a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act.It was also ordered to pay £27,873 in costs.The court heard how the three teenagers, who can not be named due to their ages, went into Bescot Yard in June 2017 after climbing through a hole in the fence.Two of them then climbed on top of a train with one “planning to take a selfie”, the court was told. There was a “loud bang” and one of the boys was set on fire as he suffered an electric shock. William Davis, prosecuting for the Office of Rail and Road, said the boy suffered 40% burns and had to be airlifted to hospital. His friend also suffered burns, a broken arm and now has an irregular heart rate.Mr Davis said children would frequently enter the yard and the perimeter fence was in poor condition.John Cooper, for DB Cargo UK, told the court the issue of trespass was “endemic”.Judge Michael Wheeler said the after effects for the three boys would “endure for a long time, if not for the whole of their lives”. Speaking after the hearing, Richard Sears of DB Cargo UK, said since the incident the firm had invested more than £2m in improving security around its sites.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.
There is confusion over when a town is a town after the government launched a promotional “countrywide town tour” in the city of Wolverhampton.The city’s mayor said the government needed to “catch up” to the fact Wolverhampton was made a city in 2000.The government was promoting a £3.6bn towns fund.Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, who was born in Wolverhampton, said smaller cities would still be eligible for the money.The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government described the mayor’s stance as a “silly criticism” because Wolverhampton was one of the 100 areas to benefit from the towns fund, while the town of the year competition is part of a “broad package of support for communities across the country”.But Mr Jenrick came under fire from the mayor of Wolverhampton, Claire Darke, for launching the “town tour” in a city.”We have been a city for 19 years and they need to catch up,” she said. “Are they that out of touch that they did not bother to look it up?”My concern would be that this competition is politically motivated and that they are doing it because there is a tough fight next year to vote for regional mayor for the West Midlands and they are trying to attract support.”Pat McFadden, the MP for Wolverhampton South East, added: “It’s embarrassing for the ministers they didn’t realise Wolverhampton is a city and not a town.”Mr Jenrick, who is MP for the town of Newark, Nottinghamshire, said eligibility for the town fund is “not as crude as whether one is a city or a town.””For our towns fund, we set the criteria based on population size and that does enable a smaller city like Wolverhampton to benefit,” he said.Mr Jenrick said the government was making an immediate start to serve local communities and deliver “real change” through the fund.He said the town of the year competition, to be launched later this year, aims to celebrate achievements in entrepreneurship, technology, community, enterprise and integration.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.
Brendan Rodgers wants Leicester to “create new history” by reaching the Carabao Cup final with victory over Premier League rivals Aston Villa.The Foxes, who last won the trophy in 2000, host Villa in the first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday.”I’m aware the club hasn’t been to a final for 20 years so let’s get there then,” Rodgers said, with his side strong favourites.
The winners will play Manchester United or Manchester City in the final.Report: Manchester United 1 Manchester City 3Rodgers added: “Let’s not be worried too much about the past. Let’s create this new history but we know we’re going to have to play well to get there.”It’s always nice when you have something tangible to show for your progress by reaching the League Cup final.”Boyhood Aston Villa fan Dean Smith says he is aware of the importance of this competition to the five-time winners.”The players are all ready,” said the Villa manager. “We don’t have a lot of choice with the numbers we have, but everyone is looking forward to the game.”Some of my best memories of watching this football club came in this competition – my dad taking me to the 1977 cup final. I know my history about this football club in this competition and I’m excited about leading them in the semi-final.”There’s a real good work ethic and a drive about the players that I want to continue. We’re all looking forward to two really good games against Leicester.”Team newsLeicester striker Jamie Vardy, who has scored 17 goals for the Foxes this season, will be available after missing the last three matches with a minor calf problem.However, centre-back Wes Morgan will “miss the next couple of games” according to Rodgers, having come off with a groin injury during Saturday’s 2-0 FA Cup third-round win against Wigan.Villa will be without striker Wesley, goalkeepers Tom Heaton and Jed Steer and midfielder John McGinn.Full-back Matt Targett is expected to be back for the match against Manchester City on Sunday.Match statsLeicester and Aston Villa met in the League Cup semi-final the last time the Foxes reached this stage in 1999-00, with Leicester winning 1-0 on aggregate and going on to lift the trophy.Aston Villa have lost their last two away matches against Leicester, in the Premier League during 2015. Their last win at Leicester was in the League Cup in October 2006, a 3-2 victory under Martin O’Neill.Leicester have gone on to reach the final of the League Cup on each of the five occasions they’ve played at the semi-final stage (1963-64, 1964-65, 1996-97, 1998-99 and 1999-00).This is Aston Villa’s 15th League Cup semi-final tie and their first since 2012-13, when they lost 4-3 on aggregate to Bradford City. They’ve only won the first leg in two of their previous 14 League Cup semi-finals (W2 D7 L5).Brendan Rodgers has progressed from his last 30 domestic cup ties with Liverpool, Celtic and Leicester – the last team to beat Rodgers was Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi-final in 2014-15, when he was Liverpool manager.Aston Villa have scored 16 goals in the League Cup this season, six more than any other team. They’ve had two wins by five goals this season (6-1 v Crewe, 5-0 v Liverpool), the first team to achieve that in a single League Cup campaign since Manchester City in 2013-14, who won the tournament.Leicester’s James Maddison has scored four goals and assisted five in his last eight League Cup appearances, scoring in each of his three games this season.Aston Villa have won their last four League Cup matches, last winning five in a row in October 1994.
The father of a bus driver whose battle against cancer inspired an awareness campaign says he is devastated by her death.Isobel Gall died on New Year’s Eve from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, aged 29.Driving buses was her “dream” job and she beat 250 others to be named Bus Driver of the Year in 2018.Services in the West Midlands carried the slogan #WeStandWithIsobel to help spread the word about her condition. “She wanted as many people to learn about it as possible,” said her father Roger Gall.His daughter, of Brownhills, had been a bus enthusiast for years before she began driving National Express double-deckers around Walsall in 2015. Three years into her career, she became the first woman to win Bus Driver of the Year and was asked to go to Germany to take part in an international competition, but fell ill three weeks later. ‘Why my Isobel?’In August 2018, Isobel was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma – a rare form that affects the lining of the abdomen. It is caused by exposure to asbestos and usually affects people aged over 70, according to the British Lung Foundation. “It was such a rare disease. We had to do a lot of research. To hit somebody so young, it was devastating,” said Mr Gall.”I’d think ‘why my Isobel?’ Why did she get it? It’s always the good people.”It is thought Isobel might have breathed in asbestos fibres around the ages of six to eight.The material was used in different products and buildings from the 1950s to the mid-1980s – including homes, hospitals and schools – but it is not known where she came into contact with it.Isobel had several successful rounds of chemotherapy and went back to work, but the disease returned. She however continued to raise money for Mesothelioma UK and attended the charity’s conference in Blackpool last year, while her friends in the transport community organised the #WeStandWithIsobel campaign on social media. It was picked up by other bus companies which put up posters on their services and carried the slogan on their blinds.Isobel, also an artist and violinist, had a couple more rounds of chemotherapy but “her body couldn’t handle it any more”, said Mr Gall. Following her death, many passengers and bus companies paid tribute on social media. Mr Gall said her friends and family were proud of her determination to raise awareness of mesothelioma as she fought it. “She wanted as many people to learn about it as possible,” he said.Phil Bowen, operations manager at National Express West Midlands, said the company was “very sad” to hear of Isobel’s death. “She was an excellent driver and a very well liked member of the Walsall team and the wider bus enthusiast community,” he said.”On behalf of colleagues across the business, I’d like to pass on our sincere condolences and thoughts to Isobel’s family and friends at this very sad time.”Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone
Birmingham City sold St Andrew’s to a company controlled by owner Paul Suen Cho Hung for £22.8m to bring pre-tax losses down to £8.4m last season.Financial details came a day after news that Blues could face another points deduction for breaching spending rules.Losses of £48.8m over three years saw them deducted nine points last term.
The deal to sell “land and property” to Birmingham City Stadium Limited will see the ground leased back to the club for £1.25m per year for 25 years.Birmingham City Stadium Limited, which was only registered on 20 May 2019 according to Companies House, is a “wholly owned subsidiary” of Birmingham Sports Holding Limited – the Cayman Island-registered, Hong Kong stock exchange-listed parent company of the football club.The financial results also show that Birmingham owe the parent company £97m, up from £73.1m a year earlier, and “forecasts show” an additional £54.2m is needed before December 2020.A profit of £17.2m on the sale, referenced only as “the disposal of freehold land and buildings”, comes after the asset was independently valued at £22.8m.That sale brought the pre-tax loss down to £8.2m, with Blues having recorded an operating loss of £29.2m for the 12 months up to June 2019.Their pre-tax loss the previous year was £37.4m.What does it mean for Blues?Birmingham have followed the recent trend of clubs selling their home ground to try to avoid a spending breach, while not breaking English Football League rules.However, similar arrangements by Derby County, Aston Villa and others are being scrutinised, while Sheffield Wednesday have been charged for misconduct over their sale of Hillsborough.For Blues, it does improve their financial results on paper.That, however, may not be enough to avoid a second points deduction after the club revealed on Monday that it faces a charge of breaching a business plan imposed by the EFL last season.Figures show that £7.4m was spent on transfers, while player sales – which includes the reported £4m that Aston Villa paid for Jota – brought in £8.2m.In the month following the accounting period, last season’s top goalscorer Che Adams was sold to Southampton for a reported £15m and Croatia midfielder Ivan Sunjic was brought in for an estimated £6.3m – one of eight summer transfer window signings.Club director Xuandong Ren confirmed that the latest breach notification was received on 14 May 2019 and said they were “in negotiations with the EFL on the possible disciplinary actions that might be imposed”.”Save for the breaches of the EFL regulations, as far as the board and management are aware, during the year under review, the club complied in all material respects with the relevant laws and regulations that have a significant impact on the business and operation of the club, and there was no material breach of noncompliance with the applicable laws and regulations by the club,” he wrote in the accounts.In the 2018-19 season, Blues’ turnover was £23.3m, up from £19.1m the previous campaign, with ticket sales, broadcasting income and other commercial revenue all increasing.And, while the club’s wages were brought down from £38.6m to £32.8m, they was still spending £140 on salaries for every £100 earned.