Benayoun backing for Torres

Kal Naismith has become the latest player to commit his future

to Rangers.

The striker is now tied to the Third Division club until 2015

after signing a two-year contract.

And Naismith’s decision to sign on comes days after Fraser Aird

and Chris Hegarty did likewise.

Naismith told the club website: “It’s brilliant to be staying on

at the club, and staying for two years is great as the gaffer is

showing a bit of faith in me.

“Hopefully in that time I can get a chance in the team, take it

and kick on, becoming a first-team member.

“I feel that I know what I want now and I know what I need to

achieve to make it as a footballer.

“I’m ready to try to do that. I’m trying to be more professional

about things so I’m training hard and trying to get in the


Football was left to once again examine its last great taboo as

Rogers, capped 18 times by the United States and a 2008 Olympian,

wrote on his blog that he had been afraid of revealing his

sexuality – and he now wants to live a new life outside of the


“Secrets can cause so much internal damage,” he wrote. “People

love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple.

Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay.

“Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most

wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught


He added: “Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover

myself away from football.”

Rogers left Elland Road last month by mutual consent after

returning from a loan spell with Stevenage, but his old team-mates

quickly took to Twitter to send their support.

“Full respect to @robbierogers and good luck in the next chapter

of your life whatever you choose to do,” wrote full-back Adam


Striker Ross McCormack added: “Wow… Fair play to @robbierogers

for coming out. Must of took great courage!!! Take care mate and

stay strong!”

Defender Zac Thompson, out on loan at Bury, said: “A lot of

respect for @robbierogers Good luck in what ever you choose to do

next mate. All the best”.

Leeds defender Jason Pearce added: “Fair play mate- and good

luck in whatever you do next pal. Good to have met you. All the

best x”

His revelation also drew praise from former Whites winger Robert

Snodgrass and striker Dominic Poleon, now on loan at Sheffield


No British-based professional player has come out since

ex-Norwich and Nottingham Forest striker Justin Fashanu in 1990. He

committed suicide eight years later aged 37.

While the Professional Footballers’ Association and other

organisations continue to work with gay players within the game,

none of them has wanted to go public.

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the PFA, told Press

Association Sport: “I’m pleased that Robbie’s come out for his own

sake. We do have players who’ve said that, while they are gay, they

don’t feel comfortable enough to come out.

“It’s not dissimilar to many black players, and we need to

create a safe environment for them on and off the field. If there

is abuse, that needs to be dealt with by all the football


“It’s no bad thing that he’s been brave enough to come out. We

know of players who are playing who are gay who’ve not had that

confidence as yet. But, as the rest of the world becomes more

civilised, hopefully that will come.”

That view was echoed by Ruth Hunt, director of public affairs

for lesbian, gay and bisexual charity Stonewall, who said: “It’s

great that Robbie now feels able to be open about his sexuality but

it remains a shame that no professional player feels able to be out

during their career.

“Homophobia remains rife in football and we must work together

to stop it for the sake of the game.”

Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), who manage the stadium on behalf

of joint owners the Alan Edward Higgs Charity and Coventry City

Council, announced on Thursday that talks with the League One

club’s owners Sisu had “collapsed”.

A statutory demand for ?1.1million in unpaid rent stretching

back 10 months was issued to the Sky Blues in early December – a

figure which now stands at more than ?1.3million – and ACL chairman

Nicholas Carter warned “now is the time for Sisu to pay up or sell

up and get out of Coventry”.

ACL also claimed Sky Blues directors had backtracked on a verbal

agreement made between the two parties towards the end of January

to primarily cut the ?1.28million annual rent to ?400,000, as well

as waive more than ?300,000 of the debt amid other details

including a revised share of matchday revenue.

The feud was stepped up a notch yesterday as Coventry saw their

bank accounts frozen by ACL, who have issued the club with interim

Third Party Debt Orders in a bid to recoup the money owed to


In light of the latest developments, Coventry have made their

first official comment.

A statement on the club’s website read: “Despite the recent

campaign by ACL to force the football club into a deal that would

be completely disadvantageous, Coventry City Football Club remains

committed to work through to the conclusion of a deal that is

acceptable to both parties.

“This deal must take into consideration matchday revenues to

support the need for a squad which is strong and competitive and

yet still complies with Financial Fair Play and salary cap


“Therefore, we again propose to invite a leading expert in

football finance – such as Deloitte – to act as mediator and help

drive through a deal which makes sense.”

City, consigned to third-tier football for the first time in 48

years when they were relegated from the Championship last May, left

their Highfield Road home in 2005 to take up residence at the

32,000-seater Ricoh Arena.

Torres has one goal in 13 matches after Thursday night’s Europa

League last-32 first-leg 1-0 win at Sparta Prague – a match during

which the World Cup winner missed opportunities and was subjected

to the anger of visiting Blues fans.

While many Chelsea supporters have lost faith in Torres,

Benayoun, like interim manager Rafael Benitez, has backed his

former Liverpool colleague.

“You can understand it is not easy, from being the top striker

at Liverpool – he was unbelievable, you gave him the ball and you

knew he would score,” Benayoun said.

“But he had a bad time in the beginning at Chelsea. When he came

in, he was on the bench, then on the pitch.

“He did not get the confidence when he came in. And with the

?50million above his head, it is not easy for any player.”

In three and a half years at Liverpool, after being signed from

Atletico Madrid by Benitez for a fee of ?20m, Torres scored 81

goals in 142 matches before moving to Stamford Bridge on the final

day of the 2011 winter transfer window for ?50m on a

five-and-a-half-year deal.

There have been glimpses of his capabilities at Chelsea, but not

consistently. He has scored 25 goals in 134 appearances – 15 of

them this term.

Torres netted seven times in six games in December, but his only

goal since was the equaliser which forced Sunday’s FA Cup

fourth-round replay with Brentford.

Benitez has praised Torres’ work-rate and attributed his barren

streak to the role he has to perform as a lone striker, but the

Spain international could be removed from the firing line for

Sunday’s encounter, with Demba Ba and Victor Moses available.

Benayoun said: “For me, he is still one of the best strikers in

the world.

“You do not change so quick from being the best player, one of

the best in the world, to a player that some people say is not good

enough for Chelsea.

“He has had good spells, bad spells, and has 15 or 16 goals

already. That is not bad, but hopefully he will finish with 25.

“He just needs to believe in himself. It would be good to get

his confidence back and be his old self.

“Hopefully he will get a few more soon and you will see the real

Fernando Torres.”

Like Torres, Benayoun has struggled to reach the same heights

since moving from Anfield to west London.

The Israel international had a spell on loan at Arsenal last

season and was at West Ham during the first half of this campaign,

the latter stint being marred by a knee injury which limited him to

six appearances.

He has now made three substitute appearances since returning to

Chelsea, where he is under contract until the end of the


Benayoun said: “I knew I would come back, but I was injured, so

it took me a while to get fit. Now hopefully I will get more