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Saturday, April 28, 2012

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Decision looms: Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola is expected to make an announcement on Friday about whether he will remain with the club. AFP-JIJI

Pep to speak out on plans

AFP-Jiji

MADRID — Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is likely to announce on Friday whether he is staying or leaving the Spanish champions, a source close to the team said Thursday.

"Everything points to the coach possibly making a statement on his future on Friday," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The fact that Guardiola has yet to sign a new Nou Camp contract has led to intense speculation on his future with rumours rife that he will quit on Friday.

Guardiola, 41-year-old architect of one of Barcelona's most successful soccer eras, said Tuesday that he would be speaking to Barca president Sandro Rosell in the coming days to decide his future.

The Barca coach revealed he would be holding the pivotal meeting at a news conference after Barcelona was knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea.

Barcelona's Champions League exit and its loss to Real Madrid on Saturday — which led Guardiola to concede the league title will go to Madrid — has led some to speculate about a mini-slump.

But Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said Monday he was convinced that Guardiola will continue at the helm.

"I think he's going to keep going — he loves this club, he loves his profession," he said. "I think there is no bigger passion for him than football and FC Barcelona. So really I bet he will be with us next year."

Spain's press was filled with rumous Thursday about Guardiola's possible departure but none of the reports quoted named sources and the club declined to comment.

In April of last year Guardiola told Italian television Rai Sports that he felt his time as Barcelona coach was coming to a close.

"I feel good here but I believe my time at Barcelona is ending," the coach said.

"I've already done three years, one more will be four years. And in four years a big club needs a lot of courage to keep the same coach. Everyone should know when it's the right time to go, as I always heard when I was a player."

The coach extended his contract with Barcelona by a season in February 2011 and his new deal expires in June this year.

Guardiola, who spent most of his playing career at Barcelona, coached Barcelona's B team before taking control of the first-team squad in June 2008.

Handshakes abandoned

AP

LONDON — The English Premier League has been forced to scrap team handshakes before Sunday's match between Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers due to John Terry's pending racism trial.

The Chelsea captain is accused of racially insulting QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, who is black, during their Premier League game in October. Terry faces a criminal trial in July from the incident that led to him being stripped of the England captaincy ahead of the European Championship.

Ferdinand was spared having to decide whether to shake Terry's hand before an F.A. Cup match in January after the Football Association allowed the sides to forgo the ritual.

The EPL wanted to retain the pre-match handshakes on Sunday and stressed that in "all normal circumstances it must be observed."

But legal advice led to the greetings being scrapped for the match at Stamford Bridge.

"After discussions with both Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers about the potential and specific legal context in relation to John Terry and Anton Ferdinand the decision has been taken to suspend the handshake convention for Sunday's match," the league said in a statement.



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