– Advertisement – OlderNew research further undermines UK quarantine scheme NewerSteenbergen appointed chief financial officer at Lufthansa Heathrow chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said: “Aviation is the lifeblood of the UK’s economy, critical for exports of goods and services and imports of vaccines, as well as inbound tourism, students and foreign direct investment. “Lack of government action is weakening our sector, making it harder for us to support the eventual economic recovery and help deliver the prime minister’s vision of a global Britain.”Heathrow argued the lack of a testing regime has left British airports unable to compete with EU rivals.- Advertisement – Passenger figures at Heathrow were down 82 per cent in October when compared to last year, as the Covid-19 pandemic continue to take a toll on global aviation. The airport also warned data for November was likely to be even worse, as England enters a four-week lockdown. – Advertisement – Long-haul and critical markets for trade suffered the worst declines, Heathrow said.This was due to the “debilitating quarantine requirements” put in place by the UK government. Overall cargo volumes were down 23 per cent compared to last year. – Advertisement – At the same time, the refusal to offer English and Welsh airports business rates relief runs the risk of worsening an already challenging situation and the plans to end VAT-free shopping threatens to kick our industry when its down, a statement added.The figures come as new research suggests the quarantine regime may be less effective than previously thought.
https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/67/f/libertas-livorno_k4d1witiv8t4108sw047ft6ev.jpg?t=-1788366200&w=500&quality=80 Nowadays it hardly ever hosts basketball games, being mostly utilized for music concerts. After a whirlwind of mergers, bankruptcies and bailouts, including a new but less stellar stint in Serie A1, Livorno now only has a few teams competing in comparitively minor competitions. This is an unfortunately occurrence for those small Italian towns left all by themselves when the money started to flow away from basketball.In Livorno though, to this very day those who cheered for Libertas at the Palazzone in that May of 1989, still act like they won that championship. It still brings people together and serves as a marker of local identity. As they say in the local slang, “ir canestro era bono”: that basket was good. https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/dd/81/striscione-derby-libertas_w83wg5fknlrd1itc1w23xflzy.jpg?t=-1788702200&w=500&quality=80 And then, it’s 1989. Libertas is a frequent flyer in the Italian first league, except for a single Serie A2 season that felt like a trip to Purgatory. They usually sat among the top ten teams, punching tickets for International cups; on top of that, they reached the Italian Cup semifinals twice. 1985 is the most brilliant year for what concerns European competitions, when Libertas enjoyed a deep FIBA Korać Cup run – that edition saw an all-Italian final between Milan (the winner) and Varese.Two years earlier, speaking of international endeavours, Livorno had played host to the Russian National team, who won an exhibition match 112 – 107 against the local heroes. At the end of the 1989 regular season, Libertas gained the second spot in the playoff grid, boasting the league’s most prolific offense. Alberto Bucci was the coach, and the stars of that amazing ride were Italians Alessandro Fantozzi, Alberto Tonut, Andrea Forti and Flavio Carera. The two other key players that hailed from the USA were Wendell Carter, who played college basketball at Syracuse, and David Wood.Olimpia Milan, sponsored by Phillips, found itself at the end of a successful dynasty and went under the radar for the whole season, qualifying for the playoffs in just the fifth spot. Nontheless, the experience of evergreen Dino Meneghin (39 years old and considered by many to be the Italian GOAT) and veterans Mike D’Antoni and Bob McAdoo (38) proved invaluable during the post-season, leading Milan to the Finals. A bit of luck took part in the process too: in the semifinals Milan won a match by forfeit when a Pesaro supporter, from the stands, threw a coin in the direction of Dino Meneghin.Milan’s starting five also boasted Albert King, brother to the more famous Bernard who was wearing the Washington Bullets jersey in the NBA. And speaking of history and its crossroads: Albert King joined Milan because Real Madrid, his former team, sent him packing in quite a hurry: they had found his substitute in Dražen Petrović. https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/11/f9/libertas-livorno_pquzf4zie0951e8cspzuh7lec.jpg?t=-1788272008&w=500&quality=80 In Italy, basketball nobility revolves around a few landmark teams, polarised between Bologna (they call it Basket City for a reason) and three towns up north: Milan, Cantù and Varese. The beauty of Italian basketball, though, relies on those small places that can make a lot of noise. Far from the big cities, where the love for the game of basketball sometimes surpasses the passion for football. Between the 70s and 80s some big companies decided to invest money in those teams: that bubble would burst twenty years later in a bitter series of bankruptcies, but as long as the magic worked, it was a win-win situation.Pesaro’s achievements, in association with the Scavolini brand, came from that very beginning, and the same would be true for Benetton Treviso and the recent, troublesome story of Mens Sana Siena. Moving down the ladder we find Verona, Trieste and Livorno. They enjoyed a shortened, but intense, golden age – and in Livorno, the fascination for sports was already scorching hot. Truth be told, until the early 80s, townspeople were mostly occupied in fighting for bragging rights, because often times, in Tuscany, there’s nothing funnier than arguing and bickering inside domestic borders.On the one side there was PL, an acronym for Pallacanestro Livorno, whose colours were white and blue, a club born from the docks that boasted a raucous, blue-collar fanbase. On the other stood Libertas Livorno, clad in blue and yellow, a tad nobler in attitude: according to their rivals, they were “the rich ones”. Both teams played their games inside well-lit Palamacchia (or as people from Livorno people called it, “Palazzone” – “big palace”): 4200 seats that were never enough in those years. Imagine when the two teams collided in Serie A1, between 1986 and 1989.Two clubs from the same town competing in the Italian top league was a rare sight, only Bologna was capable of such feat with Virtus and Fortitudo: even more so, both Libertas and PL tried their luck in the FIBA Korać Cup, during the 1989 season. When the rivals faced one another, needless to say, Livorno turned into a battlefield. They even installed a jumbotron in the football stadium nearby so that anybody who couldn’t find a ticket would be able to see the game. https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/f4/0/libertas-livorno_1s0qqu7odpmpx1a4c0e1bib06l.jpg?t=-1788195152&w=500&quality=80 With one minute left, Milan has a one point lead and possession of the basketball. Coach Casalini engineers a set to run the clock down without taking any chances. They end up giving Roberto Premier a good look at the basket, but he misses the shot. Livorno collects the rebound with six seconds to go. A dribble, then a long pass to Andrea Forti who was streaking towards the opposing basket. It’s like a flashback from the final game of the basketball tournament at the 1972 Olympics, when Russia beat USA on the finishing line thanks to Edeshko’s touchdown pass received and converted by Aleksandr Belov, towering over USA’s defense.Forti scores right as the buzzer sounds. One official, closer to the basket, signals the two points while the other, Zeppilli, who was attentively looking at the clock, argues that the shot came late. His decision would turn out to be the right one, but in the meantime Livorno’s supporters flood from the Palazzone’s stands onto the court. The scoreboard was analogue, and one sneaky hand is enough to change the digits to 87 – 86 in favour of Libertas. Some players know best, they react fast and escape to the locker room. Some others, instead, get mixed up in the turmoil: before being ushered away, Roberto Premier trades punches with the crowd – he would pay for his involvement in the brawl with a five game suspension.When the verdict comes, in the shape of a pink sheet with the referees’ signatures, the two teams are already taking their showers. Milan’s players and staff are escorted to their bus by the police, and they’ll later find a barrier made of tyres to prevent them from entering the highway to get home. Libertas Livorno was the Italian champion for twenty minutes: the local tv shows live scenes of how brutal the transition between joy and rage can be. Those days were like the stone age of instant replay. The following night, a tv program would replay Forti’s shot frame by frame testifying how the ball had left his hand six tenth of a second too late.Libertas competed in another FIBA Korać Cup, then ended up joining forces with longtime rivals of PL in the same team. Livornos’ warring supporters didn’t like the merger, and the passion for basketball declined alongside the results, leading to the 1994 bankruptcy. In 2004 a new arena was built just outside Livorno, a state-of-the-art stadium, now called the Modigliani Forum, that’s able to seat 8000 people. Shifting to Italy, just three years later the very same kind of pandemonium – or maybe an even wilder one – was unleashed in Livorno, a seaside town of 150,000 people with little basketball relevance in the popular imagination. On paper, the underdog Libertas Livorno shouldn’t have been competing against juggernaut Olimpia Milan, even though they were sponsored by chemical giant, Enichem. Nonetheless, the decisive game 5 of the Italian League Finals took place on Livorno’s home turf, and it was the icing on the cake for the most successful season in Livorno basketball history.Their story grew all over Europe and across continents too, because throughout the 80s Livorno was an established FIBA Korać Cup competitor and played host to the Russian National team and a selection of NBA stars. Alas, like a fairy tale that can’t afford its own happy ending, Livorno fell short of winning that championship: by one point on the scoreboard and six tenth of a second on the timer, to be precise. That pandemonium turned from a joyful court invasion to an outburst of rage and frustration. But let’s take a step back: we need to see how things aligned to bring Livorno among Europe’s finest teams and an inch short from the very summit of his domestic league. The finals started off with two home wins, followed by two road wins that sent the two teams to a tiebreaker. It’s May 27th 1989 in Livorno, and hours before the tip-off it was already pandemonium inside the Palazzone. It housed more than 5000 people that day. With current security rules, the arena could have held only half of them. The game is tense, messy, nerve-wracking, filled with stories that are still told after 30 years.Given the rowdy crowd it’s almost impossible to hear the officials’ whistles, and in the end even the referees commit a mistake. Albert King should have gone to the bench after his fifth foul, but from the table they assign the infraction to another player and King enjoys some extra minutes on the floor. Milan’s Roberto Premier throws a towel towards the Italian television broadcaster, Gianni Decleva, while D’Antoni and Pessina harangue the crowd and teammates, McAdoo dives to recover a loose ball and starts the fast break, Carera muscles his way into the paint and Tonut flies up and down the court. One of the stated objectives for FIBA as basketball’s governing body is to grow the basketball community, and make the sport more popular. While the sport has undoubtedly grown over the past few decades in a global context, this progress (as you’d expect) is not necessarily consistent. There are regional quirks where there have been peaks and troughs and in this article we’re going to look at one of the high regional peaks that occured in Livorno (Italy) during the late 1980s.For many Italian fans, hearing Dan Peterson’s American accent will always bring back memories from NBA basketball of the 80s. After a prosperous career as a coach, he became the designated commentator for games broadcast on television: “Pandemonium!”, he famously yelled, when the Boston Celtics beat the Houston Rockets at the Garden, winning the 1986 NBA championship.
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