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Category: Travel & leisure

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Sir Doug Ellis obituary

Former Aston Villa chairman known for his turbulent relations with the club’s managersSir Doug Ellis, who has died aged 94, made millions by selling package holidays and a national reputation with two spells as chairman of Aston Villa football club, wh…

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Can Amazon ace it in the brutal arena of live sports broadcasting?

The company hopes coverage of the US Open will put it on equal footing to Sky, after failures by several streaming servicesWhen Andy Murray returns to Grand Slam tennis at this week’s US Open, he won’t be the only one with big-day nerves, as Amazon loo…

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Gambling Commission to review firm’s licence over ‘piegate’ incident

• Sutton goalkeeper Wayne Shaw was fined £375 after eating pie• Tabcorp UK Limited, trading as Sun Bets, offered odds of 8/1The betting firm behind last year’s “piegate” controversy has been fined and told it risks losing its licence for its role in a …

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Gambling charity warns betting firms are failing to fund addiction treatment

Bookmakers and betting companies are failing to honour pledge to donate to care, says leading charity GambleAwareGambling firms are failing to honour a pledge to donate part of their income to fund addiction treatment and should be forced to do so by l…

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Uefa takes action against Viagogo over illegal Euro 2016 ticket sales

French police raid Bordeaux hotel where staff from online marketplace were handing out tickets for Italy v Germany

European football’s governing body Uefa has filed a criminal complaint against the ticketing website Viagogo for illegal ticket sales at Euro 2016.

Sources in Bordeaux told the Guardian that French police raided the hotel Le Provençal last Saturday, where Viagogo staff had booked a room and were handing out tickets for the game between Italy and Germany.

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Wentworth golf club members revolt against China-based owner

Reignwood, which bought famous Surrey golf venue in 2014, accused of trying to turn it into a club for the super-rich

A row between one of Britain’s most prestigious golf clubs and its members has escalated with the owners being threatened with legal action over plans to dramatically increase annual fees.

Members of Wentworth golf club have accused the Chinese-based owners of using an eye-watering rise in membership rates to get rid of them and turn the club into a preserve of the ultra-rich.

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Ferrari theme park to open at PortAventura resort near Barcelona

Attractions to include Europe’s fastest and highest vertical accelerator and a hotel in the shape of an F1 front wing

Ferrari has announced plans to open its first theme park in Europe, bringing the prancing horse to the PortAventura resort near Barcelona.

Due to open in 2016, the 75,000 metre square Ferrari Land promises to include Europe’s fastest and highest vertical accelerator and a 250-room hotel in the shape of an F1 front wing, billed as Ferrari’s first five-star hotel. The project, involving an overall investment of €100m (£83m), will be built by private equity firms Investindustrial and KKR, under licence from Ferrari.

Andrea Perrone, CEO of Ferrari’s branding division, said that after the opening of Ferrari World in the United Arab Emirates in 2010 the luxury sports car manufacturer had received many requests to build new parks around the world.

Perrone said the company welcomed “the opportunity to bring the spirit of Ferrari to Spain, where we have many fans and followers”.

The Spanish park will be about a third of the size of the one in Abu Dhabi.

More Ferrari parks may be in the works, said Perrone, as the company evaluates proposals to lend its name to other parks outside Europe.

About four million people a year visit PortAventura which is hoping to boost the number to five million once Ferrari Land is built.

The announcement comes as many theme parks across Spain are struggling to cope with decreased domestic demand during the country’s economic crisis.

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Paddy Power’s bet on the Pistorius trial is ‘an awful, callous thing’

A petition launched by a survivor of domestic abuse against the online betting company’s latest controversial ad has already attracted nearly 100,000 signatures. Should businesses be able to make money from a brutal death?

Read the latest news on day two of the trial of the South African athlete

It was a headline casting Oscar Pistorius in the same light as Nelson Mandela that first made Jean Hatchet mad; “Long Walk to Freedom – Or Jail” ran this weekend’s Sunday Times, linking a sportsman standing trial for killing his girlfriend with a statesman who served a lifetime in jail.

Then she heard about the Paddy Power bet, offering odds on the outcome of the murder trial which started on Monday. “I thought it must be a joke at first – or a scam,” she said. “But it wasn’t.”

As with many survivors of domestic abuse, the high-profile allegations of violence triggered an instant, upsetting reaction in Hatchet, who uses a pseudonym. “A young woman has been killed,” she says. “There’s no doubt that she was killed by this man, whether or not he intended to kill her.” She sees Paddy Power’s online bet as “an incredibly awful, callous thing”.

Working together with EverydayVictimBlaming (which accused the online betting company of “making a killing at the betting shop“) Hatchet launched an online petition and encouraged supporters to contact the Advertising Standards Authority about an ad that, presumably in a bid to garner maximum exposure, transposed Pistorius’s head onto one of the Academy awards statues. The petition has already attracted nearly 100,000 signatures, while 46 people have complained to the regulator so far.

Public comments by the Ireland-based company suggest its spokesmen are not quite sure what the fuss is about. A marketing man called Paddy Power (does it come with the job?) told the Belfast Telegraph that the firm had “no intention” of taking the advert down during a high-profile trail he described as “like OJ Simpson on steroids”.

In an email from its press office to the Guardian, the company stuck to its decision. “Trial betting in general isn’t a common occurrence, but there’s certainly nothing new about betting on the outcome of the most high-profile court cases – and they don’t come any more high profile than this. Given the rolling coverage of this trial, pretty much everyone will be talking about it and speculating on the verdict. We’re therefore expecting some of our customers to want to put their money where their mouth is.”

That’s OK then, isn’t it? Down the pub, people can’t get enough of the way Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead by her own partner after locking herself in the toilet. It’s all a bit of a laugh, isn’t it? Human nature is a funny thing, eh?

The nature of celebrity now is that every aspect of their lives is put into the “entertainment” or “sport” categories of life, even accusations of brutality. And in the story of Pistorius (paralympian action man), Steenkamp (blonde, beautiful and nearly always stationary in pictures) has been forced to play a bit part.

There may be nothing entirely new about the bets. The difference now is that online bets use a mass media that targets everyone – those interested in the “sport” or those victimised all over again by it. To put it another way, there probably were men at the forum taking bets on lions or men but their audience were all there watching. The mangled remains of the victims weren’t standing by watching the transaction.

Being controversial has never let Paddy Power down before, of course. Transgender people at the races (are they stallions or mares?), the old, the blind and chavs have all been targeted by the company’s marketing giants. And of course any coverage, even this piece, adds to its notoriety; a sort of catch 22 for anyone concerned that a company should be able to make money from a brutal death.

Hatchet wants the company to donate the profits made from the Pistorius bet to women’s charities working to end violence against women. Even that strikes an unsavoury note given the source of the profit. In response, Paddy Power argues: “We’re offering betting on the outcome of a trial. It’s about whether Pistorius will be found guilty or not guilty, it’s not a betting market on domestic violence.”

Supporters might see a warped sense of embarrassment in the company’s offer to return the money of anyone who bets that he will go to prison if Pistorius is found not guilty. Or a warped sense of logic. The ad reads: ‘It’s Oscar Time: Money Back if He Walks.’

Meanwhile, Hatchet has found solace in simply reaching other supporters. Men and women have signed her petition. “So many men have signed,” she says. “It’s restored my faith in humanity I think, which was a bit destroyed on Sunday morning.”

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Pubs cannot stay open late for England first World Cup game – Home Office

British Beer and Pub Association request for extended hours for opening and closing weekend of Brazil World Cup turned down

Pubs will not be allowed to open late during England’s opening World Cup match this summer, the Home Office has said.

It has rejected a requested from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) for serving times to be extended during the opening and closing weekends of the tournament in Brazil. Pub opening hours were extended for the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations in 2012 and the 2011 royal wedding, but the crime prevention minister, Norman Baker, said the World Cup was not a “one-off”.

England play Italy at 11pm on Saturday 14 June, the opening weekend of the tournament, and the BBPA has urged Baker to reconsider his decision as its initial request was made before the World Cup draw.

The BBPA’s chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, told BBC Radio 5 live: “The Home Office wrote back to us and said ‘we don’t consider this of national importance.’ They’ve really missed something here and they should reconsider.”

The home secretary, Theresa May, has powers to make an order to extend licensing hours in England and Wales for occasions of “exceptional international, national or local significance”. But Baker appeared to rule out any change of position.

“We have no plans to extend licensing hours for this year’s World Cup,” he said. “It is our normal practice to only extend licensing hours under the Licensing Act 2003 in exceptional circumstances, usually for one-off events such as the golden jubilee rather than for prolonged periods.

“Premises which wish to open longer during this time can do so by applying for a temporary event notice extension. This gives local authorities and police an opportunity to feed into the decision-making process, allowing them to allocate resources if necessary.”

After the opening England match, Ivory Coast play Japan at 2am UK time on the opening Sunday.

The World Cup final will take place at 8pm on Sunday 13 July, the day after the third-place play-off kicks off at 9pm.

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Paddy Power warning on profits after results bring customer winnings

Irish bookmaker expects €11m lower growth in operating profits than August projection after punters back favourites

Paddy Power, the Irish bookmaker, has disproved the old adage that the bookie always wins by warning on Tuesday that profits will be much lower than the stockmarket had been betting.

Its punters have winning by backing the favourites at sports events such as the Champions League – where fancied clubs lead the groups of club football’s most prestigious tournament – as well as the Melbourne Cup. Australia’s most famous horse race was won earlier this month by Fiorente, who at odds of 6-1 was the first favourite to win the race since Makybe Diva triumphed in 2005.

The company said that it now expects a lot lower growth in operating profits in 2013, meaning they will come in around €11m (£9.2m) lower than “the mid-point of our guidance” given in August.

Last week British rival Ladbrokes responded to speculation it could be forced to cut estimates for the second time in three months on adverse sports results, insisting it was on track to hit analysts’ forecasts.

Paddy Power shares were trading down 4.82 cents at €57.68 on Tuesday lunchtime.

theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Football fans boost UK tourism figures

About 4% of all foreign visitors last year went to a live sports event, including 900,000 who watched footballNearly one million overseas visitors to the UK watched a professional football match during their stay last year, according to new figures.Big…