Sunday, 20 May 2018

You Have To Speculate To Accumulate

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United admit they took a huge 'financial gamble' to win promotion back to the Premier League, with their wage bill in the 2016-17 season the highest in Football League history. New figures released this week show the club paid wages of over one hundred and twelve million smackers, almost double the Championship's other promoted clubs, Brighton & Hove Albinos and Huddersfield Town, combined. The club lost over ninety million notes that year although that was partly off-set by average attendances at St James' increasing to over fifty one thousand per game during the Championship season. The Magpies said that the approach was 'only possible' because of the 'financial support' of want-away owner Mike Ashley. Under manager Rafael Benitez, Newcastle extremely won the Championship in 2017 to gain promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt and they finished tenth on their return to the top flight this season. High profile gutless cowards such as Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum, Andros Townsend and Florian Thauvin left after the club's relegation in 2016 but over fifty million knicker was spent on twelve players the following season in the Championship - including as Dwight Gayle, Matt Ritchie and Mo Diame. 'An immediate return to the Premier League was vital to restore the financial stability and future prospects of the club,' managing director Lee Charnley said. 'With the support and backing of the owner we took what was, in essence, a financial gamble on securing immediate promotion.' The one hundred and twelve million figure on wages and salaries includes 'promotion bonuses and onerous contract provisions' but was thirty seven million quid higher than in the previous season in the Premier League. The overall operating loss of ninety million smackers compares to a profit of one million quid the previous season. The loss after tax stands at £41.3m.
Stewart Donald's proposed takeover of Blunderland could be concluded 'as early as next week,' The Mackem Filth have said in a statement. Eastleigh chairman Donald and current Blunderland owner Ellis Short met with Football League executives on Friday to discuss the takeover. Donald already has a deal in place to purchase The Black Cats from Short, but requires formal approval. Blunderland were very relegated from the Championship to League One in April. 'Following a meeting with the EFL on Friday and the provision of further information, we can now confirm that the proposed sale of the club could be concluded as early as next week,' said a club statement. 'We would like to place on record our thanks to the EFL for their assistance during the process, at what is a very busy time of the football calendar for them.' After the meeting in London, American Short declined to answer any questions from BBC Sport regarding details of the deal and its progression. The BBC was told at the beginning of May that Donald had agreed the sale of his National League side Eastleigh but, so far, there has been no official confirmation of this. He has previously said if the deal for Blunderland was allowed to go through, it would be 'spectacular.' It has been reported that Short has agreed to clear debts in order to push through the sale of a club that has been relegated in successive seasons after spending ten years in the Premier League.
Former Everton manager Sam Allardyce says that he knew he would be sacked before it happened. And, so did pretty much everyone else which made the odious, full-of-his-own-importance plank getting the old tin-tack even funnier. Allardyce maintains that more Everton fans backed him than wanted him out. Because, obviously, he asked all of them. Allardyce was dismissed from his post on Wednesday, six months into his tenure, after finishing eighth in the Premier League. He had a year left on the contract he signed in November, but says he learned of his fate before meeting owner Farhad Moshiri. 'It seemed to be done and dusted through the media,' he whinged to Talksport.
West Hamster United want to speak to former Sheikh Yer Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini about their current managerial vacancy. There are reports in his native Chile that Pellegrini has already signed a contract but, the BBC reports that a deal is not yet done. The sixty four-year-old, who manages Chinese Super League side China Fortune, has been identified as a possible replacement for David Moyes, whose contract has not been renewed. Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez also remains of interest to West Hamsters - indeed, the Mirra this have been really pushing that particular angle with a shitehawk 'exclusive', something which the Torygraph was keen to pour cold water on. The Spaniard has twelve months remaining on his Newcastle contract and there is reported to be 'an acknowledgement' from West Hamsters that getting Benitez out of St James' Park would be difficult. Pellegrini managed Sheikh Yer Man City between 2013 and 2016 and won the Premier League title in his first season in charge. The former Real Madrid manager also guided City to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2016, the only time the club has reached that stage in their history. West Hamsters chairman and well-known soft-core pornographer David Sullivan has pledged to appoint a manager with 'a proven level of success at the highest level.' Shakhtar Donetsk manager Paulo Fonseca had been heavily linked the job - including reports that he met Sullivan on Monday - but he signed a new contract to stay at the Ukrainian club on Thursday.
In Saturday's FA Cup final at Wembley, Moscow Chelski FC beat The Scum thanks to Eden Hazard's first-hal penalt.y After the game, the always gracious Jose Mourinho whinged that his former club did not deserve to win the cup, accusing them of 'defending with nine players' during the final. Yes, that's Jose Mourinho whinging about someone winning a game of football by parking the bus. Oh, the irony ...

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A Lack Of Hart!

England manager Gareth Southgate named his twenty three-man squad for this summer's World Cup in Russia on Wednesday. Wankhand Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere - a classic example of a media-darling player who would totally transform English football ... if only he could get himself up off the treatment table for ninety minutes every once in a while - were not included, as reported by various media outlets after a leak on Tuesday. In the case of Hart, whilst his exclusion denied football fans across the planet the opportunity for yet more comedy hijinx, it will at least give him plenty of time to film some more of those shite shampoo adverts. The full squad is: Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Fabian Delph, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck. Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livemore and Adam Lallana are on stand-by in case of accidents. 'I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,' Southgate said. 'It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance. We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we've been looking to develop. The selection process has been over months really, it's not just been the last few weeks. We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum.'
A World Cup-bound referee has been very banned for life for a match-fixing attempt in Saudi Arabia just weeks before he was due to fly to Russia, says the country's football federation. The Saudi Arabian Football Federation says that Fahad Al Mirdasi 'confessed' to his naughty ways, offering to fix the King's Cup final between Al Ittihad and Al Faisaly. According to the SAFF, thirty two-year-old Al Mirdasi contacted an Al Ittihad official, who handed the messages over. FIFA has requested more information. 'FIFA notes the information that referee Fahad Al Mirdasi has allegedly been banned from all football-related activities by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation,' the world governing body told BBC Sport. The SAFF added that Al Mirdasi, who has been a FIFA referee since 2011, 'admitted soliciting the corrupt payment' after being taken into police custody. British former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg - who became Saudi Arabia's head of referees in February 2017 - replaced Al Mirdasi for Saturday's King's Cup final, which Al Ittihad won three-one after extra time.
The Argentine Football Association has been criticised for including a chapter about 'how to stand a chance with a Russian girl' in a manual it handed to journalists travelling to the World Cup in Russia. It recommended that journalists 'look clean, smell nice and dress well' in order to 'impress Russian girls.' It also urged them to treat women as 'something of worth.' And, not to ask them how much they want to take it up the Gary Glitter. Probably. The advice 'caused an outcry on social media' and the AFA has since removed it. The controversy comes just months after the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, saw the biggest women's march in Latin America with protesters decrying rampant sexism in Argentine society and demanding an end to violence against women. Argentine journalist Nacho Catullo said that he was among the dozens of reporters and football officials attending a free course on Russian language and culture held by the AFA for those travelling to the World Cup in Russia. On his Twitter account he described [in Spanish, obviously] how they were handed a manual in which the chapter on 'how to stand a chance with a Russian girl' featured. He tweeted photos of the chapter which started being shared and mocked on the Internet as the course was still going on. According to Catullo, officials then interrupted the course, collecting the manuals only to return them with the controversial pages torn out. The advice is divided into eight sections and goes straight to the point. 'Because Russian women are beautiful, many men just want to sleep with them,' it suggests. 'Maybe they want that too, but they are also persons who want to feel important and unique. Don't ask stupid questions about sex. For Russians, sex is something very private and not discussed in public.' It also urges Argentine men to start preparing early: 'Russian women like men who take the initiative, if you're not self-confident then you need to start practicing talking to women.' To those Argentine men still doubting themselves it offers encouragement: 'Remember that many [Russian women] don't know much about your country, you're new and different, this is your advantage over Russian men.' Finally, it urges men to 'be choosey' and to concentrate on those Russian women with whom they may stand a chance. 'Normally, Russian women care about the important things but of course you'll also find those who just care about material things, money or whether you're handsome, you name it. But don't worry, there are many beautiful women in Russia and not all are for you. Be selective!"' Alleged - though understandably anonymous - 'sources' in the AFA allegedly told local media that the controversial chapter had been 'lifted from a blog' on the Interweb. It is not yet clear who decided to include it in the manual. Or, how long they will remain in their current job.
Full-of-her-own-importance Karren Brady is reported to be 'facing mounting pressure' to drop her weekly column with the Sun after writing that 'malcontents and keyboard warriors' have undermined West Hamsters United's efforts to make improvements to the London Stadium. The Gruniad Morning Star claims that it 'understands' The Hamsters' vice-chairman has 'been repeatedly urged from within the club' to end her association with the newspaper, amid 'weariness' at the problems that some consider certain columns to have caused the club. According to an alleged - though suspiciously anonymous - 'source' remarks Brady made in an article last year are alleged to have scuppered a deal to sign Islam Slimani from Leicester City in January. Her latest comments have been met with a furious response from supporters. Brady received a vote of no confidence from the West Hamsters United Independent Supporters' Association before Sunday's game against Everton at the London Stadium. It has demanded that she does not write for the Sun any more. Passions were stirred when Brady made reference to the London Stadium's problems in her review of the season on Saturday. West Hamsters have struggled to settle in their new ground since leaving Upton Park two years ago and supporters mounted angry protests at the club's board during the home defeat by Burnley two months ago. 'We have some problems at the London Stadium caused to a degree by the terms of our lease, which we are tackling, but also by malcontents and keyboard warriors,' Brady wrote. According to the alleged - though anonymous - 'source', her remark has 'not impressed senior figures' at West Hamsters. However Brady has offered no indication that she will end the column, even though it appears to have caused friction inside and outside the club. Attempts to sign Slimani were hindered, according to the alleged 'source', because Brady offended Leicester's owners with comments about the club's chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. Although Brady and West Hamsters grovellingly apologised, Leicester refused to consider a deal for Slimani in the last transfer window. The Algerian striker joiner yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved 9though unsellable) Newcastle United on loan instead. Where he spent nearly two months injured with a thigh strain, took part in four games (playing not at all badly in a couple of them, let it be noted) and then kicked an opponent and got himself suspended for the final three games of the season. Quality signing, that was.
And, speaking of worthless planks, odious Sam Allardyce has left as Everton manager after six months at the club. Which, as with all of the previous occasions when the full-of-his-own-importance glake has been extremely fired for not being as good as he seems to think he is, is always good for a laugh. The sixty three-year-old signed a contract until June 2019 when he took over in November following the sacking of Ronald Koeman. Everton, who were thirteenth in the Premier League when Allardyce arrived, finished the season in eighth. Allardyce, however, has been heavily criticised by fans for his management and Everton's style of play since he took over and the club said that the decision was part of their 'longer-term plan.' It is understood that former Hull City and Watford boss Marco Silva is the main candidate to succeed Allardyce. The forty-year-old Portuguese was owner Farhad Moshiri's first choice when he dismissed Dutchman Koeman.
Someone else getting the old tin tack in David Moyes, who has as left West Hamsters after just over six months in charge despite guiding the club to Premier League survival. Moyes took over from Slaven Bilic on a short-term contract in November with the club in the relegation zone. The Hamsters secured safety with two games to spare and finished thirteenth. Moyes met senior figures at the club on Monday. The former Everton, The Scum and Blunderland boss recorded nine wins and ten draws from thirty one games as West Hamsters manager. 'When David and his team arrived, it was the wish of both parties that the focus be only on the six months until the end of the season, at which point a decision would be made with regards to the future,' said West Hamsters joint-chairman David Sullivan. 'We feel that it is right to move in a different direction. We aim to appoint a high-calibre figure who we feel will lead the club into an exciting future for our loyal supporters within the next ten days.' Moyes' assistants Alan Irvine, Stuart Pearce and Billy McKinlay have also left with immediate effect.
The German Football Federation has criticised its internationals Mesut Özil and Ilkay Gündogan for posing in photos with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two German-born players, both of Turkish origin, gave Erdogan signed shirts at an event in London on Sunday. Gündogan wrote: 'For my honoured President, with great respect.' Erdogan is currently campaigning for re-election. Both players are preparing for next month's World Cup in Russia, in which Germany is among the favourites. Turkey did not qualify. Many German politicians have also criticised the footballers, questioning their loyalty to 'German democratic values.' DFB president Reinhard Grindel said: 'Football and the DFB defend values which are not sufficiently respected by Mister Erdogan. That's why it's not good that our international players let themselves be manipulated for his electoral campaign. In doing that, our players have certainly not helped the DFB's work on integration.' DFB director Oliver Bierhoff said: 'Neither one of them was aware of the symbolic value of this photo, but it's clearly not right and we'll be talking to them about it.' In his youth, before entering politics in the 1990s, Erdogan played football semi-professionally for an Istanbul team, Kasimpasa. Erdogan, in power for the past fifteen years, is seeking re-election in a snap poll on 24 June. His Islamist-rooted AK Party has cracked down hard on opponents, especially since the July 2016 coup attempt by military officers. Turkish police have arrested more than fifty thousand people accused of links to US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen or to Kurdish separatists. They include opposition activists, journalists, teachers, lawyers and other public servants. Erdogan has also purged the military, police and judiciary, putting many state officials on trial. He has created a powerful presidency since winning an April 2017 referendum on constitutional changes, enabling him to dominate parliament and control the judiciary. A prominent Turkish-origin MP in Germany, Sevim Dagdelen, tweeted: 'It's a crude foul to pose with the despot Erdogan in a luxury hotel in London and dignify him with the title "my President", while in Turkey democrats are persecuted and critical journalists are detained.' She is deputy leader of the left-wing Die Linke group in the Bundestag. After the criticism emerged, Gündogan issued a statement defending himself, Özil and Cenk Tosun over their meeting with Erdogan. They met on the sidelines of an event at a Turkish foundation which helps Turkish students, he explained. 'Are we supposed to be impolite to the president of our families' homeland?' he asked. 'Whatever justified criticism there might be, we decided on a gesture of politeness, out of respect for the office of president and for our Turkish roots.' He added 'it was not our intention to make a political statement with this picture.' Turkish-origin Cem Özdemir, a prominent German Green MP and sharp critic of Erdogan, attacked Gündogan's 'my President' message. 'The federal president of a German international footballer is called Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the chancellor is Angela Merkel and the parliament is called the German Bundestag,' he said.
Sporting Lisbon have 'vehemently condemned acts of vandalism and aggression to athletes' after a group of fans reportedly attacked players and trashed the club's training ground. Sporting are preparing for Sunday's Portuguese Cup final against Aves. Portuguese newspaper Correio Da Manha posted pictures of forward Bas Dost with several bad cuts on his head. The club missed out on a Champions League place on the final day of the season. After the alleged attacks, a club statement read: 'Sporting is not this, Sporting cannot be this. We will make every effort to establish full responsibility for what has happened and we will demand the punishment of those who acted in this absolutely pitiful way.' The Portuguese League also released a statement 'strongly condemning the violent acts. The behaviours that are being reported by the press are regrettable and have no place in professional football. The perpetrators are not football fans, but criminals.' Earlier in the day, the club had released another statement denying reports that head coach Jorge Jesus had been suspended. In April, president Bruno De Carvalho claimed to have suspended nineteen first-team players after a Europa League defeat by Atletico Madrid, although he deleted the post and most of the players featured in their next game.
Former Aston Villa and Bolton defender Jlloyd Samuel has died in a car crash in Cheshire. The thirty seven-year-old, most recently player-manager of non-league side Egerton, died on Tuesday. Samuel made one hundred and ninety nine appearances for The Villains after signing with the club in 1998 and played eighty three times for Notlob between 2007 and 2011. The Trinidad & Tobago Football Association said he had 'collided with an oncoming vehicle.' 'We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of our former player Jlloyd Samuel at the age of just thirty seven in a car accident,' Villa said on Twitter. 'Our players will wear black armbands as a mark of respect tonight [in their play-off semi-final] and our thoughts are with his friends and family at this very difficult time.' Samuel won two international caps for Trinidad & Tobago and also played club football in Iran between 2011 and 2015. The Trinidad & Tobago FA continued on Facebook: 'We've received some terrible news that former national defender and ex-Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers player Jlloyd Samuel died in a car crash this morning in England. According to reports, Jlloyd was returning home after dropping his kids off to school and collided with an oncoming vehicle. The Trinidad & Tobago Football Association and his former national team-mates at this time extends deepest condolences to his family members both in the UK and here in Trinidad and Tobago.' Cheshire Police said that they were called to 'a serious collision' involving a van and a Range Rover in High Legh, Cheshire. 'Sadly the driver of the car, Jlloyd Samuel, from Lymm, died at the scene,' they said in a statement. 'His next of kin have been informed and are currently being supported by specially trained officers. The driver of the van, a fifty four-year-old man, sustained serious injuries and has been taken to hospital for treatment.'
So, dear blog reader, just in case you missed anything of importance during the recently completed fitba season, Sheikh Yer Man City won the Premier League title on 15 April when The Scum lost at home to West Bromwich Albinos. The teams finishing second, third and fourth - The Scum, Stottingtot Hotsshots and The Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws respectively - have joined City in qualifying for the Champions League. Because the FA Cup winners [which will be either The Scum or Moscow Chelski FC] and EFL Cup winners [Sheikh Yer Man City] have already qualified for Europe via their league position, the fifth, sixth and seventh-placed Premier League clubs all qualified for the Europa League. Fifth-placed Moscow Chelski and sixth-placed The Arse will enter at the group stage, with seventh-placed Burnley joining in the second qualifying round. The bottom three teams have been very relegated to the Championship. Dirty Stoke's ten-year spell in the top flight came to an end after a home defeat by Crystal Palace on 5 May, while West Bromwich Albinos joined them on three days later after Southampton's win at Swansea. The Swans own relegation was confirmed with their final-day defeat by Dirty Stoke. Wolverhampton Wanderings sealed promotion to the Premier League on 14 April without kicking a ball when rivals Fulham were held to a draw and Wolves clinched the division title by beating Notlob a week later. They will be joined in the top flight by Cardiff City, who secured second place with a draw with Reading on the final day of the regular season. Fulham and Aston Villains will contest play-off final to determine the third team to go up. The bottom three teams have been relegated to League One. Blunderland's desperate season ended in a second successive relegation which was confirmed on 21 April, whilst Barnsley and Burton went down on the final day of the season. Wigan Athletic were promoted to the Championship after their win over Fleetwood on 21 April, sealing the League One title by beating Doncaster on 5 May. They will be joined by Blackburn Vindaloos, who sealed promotion on 24 April. Shrewsbury Town will face either Rotherham United or Scunthorpe United in the play-off final on 27 May. The bottom four teams are all relegated to League Two. Bury were the first Football League team to suffer this sorry fate after a home defeat by Northampton on 14 April. Milton Keynes Dons joined them on 28 April when losing to Scunthorpe. Northampton Town and Oldham Not Very Athletic were both relegated after their draw at Sixfields on the final day of the season. Accrington Stanley (we now know who they are), formed in 1968, have never played in the third tier of English football - though the previous Accrington Stanley club - who resigned from the League in 1962 - did for much of their history. Stanley were promoted to League One by beating Yeovil on 17 April and clinched the title on 28 April with a win over Lincoln. Also promoted are Luton Town, who drew with Carlisle on 21 April and Wycombe Wanderers who made sure by winning at Chesterfield a week later. Exeter City, Notts County, Coventry City and Lincoln City will contest the play-offs. The bottom two teams are relegated to the National League. Chesterfield's fate was sealed on 24 April after Morecambe drew with Cambridge, while Barnet went down despite beating the Spireites three-nil on 5 May. Macclesfield Town have been promoted to the Football League, having clinched the National League title with a win at Eastleigh on 21 April. As mentioned above, Tranmere Rovers beat Boreham Wood in the play-off final on 12 May to take the second promotion place. The bottom four teams have been relegated and will replaced by the champions and play-off winners of the National League North and South divisions. Chester were the first team in England's top five divisions to be relegated when they lost to Tranmere on 7 April, while Guiseley joined them after losing at home to Barrow on 17 April. Torquay United were the third team relegated after their draw with Hartlepool on 21 April and Woking completed the quartet after losing to Dover on the final day of the season. Salford City clinched the National League North title on 21 April, while Havant & Waterlooville secured the National League South title on the final day of the season. Harrogate Town and Braintree Town won the North and South play-offs respectively to secure promotion. Glasgow Celtic clinched the Scottish Premier title and a place in the Champions League first qualifying round, by beating Glasgow Rangers five-nil on 29 April. Second-placed Aberdeen and Rangers, in third, qualified for the Europa League first qualifying round, with the Scottish Cup winners joining at the second qualifying round. This will be Motherwell if they win the Cup - but if Celtic win it, the fourth-placed Premiership team - Hibernian - will qualify instead. Bottom side Ross County have been relegated to the Scottish Championship, while Partick Thistle face Championship side Livingston in the play-off final. St Mirren were promoted to the Premiership as champions after avoiding defeat by Livingston on 14 April. Runners-up Livingston beat Dundee United over two legs and will meet Partick over two legs for the final place in the top flight. Bottom club Brechin City, without a win all season, had their relegation to League One confirmed as early as 24 March. Ninth-placed Dumbarton have been relegated through the play-offs after losing over two legs to League One Alloa. Ayr United were promoted to the Championship as League One champions after beating Albion Rovers on the final day of the season - a result which also confirmed Albion's relegation. Alloa Athletic won promotion in the play-offs, defeating Dumbarton two-one on aggregate. Bottom club Albion Rovers will be relegated to League Two, while ninth-placed Queen's Park joined them after losing to Stenhousemuir in the play-off semi-finals. Montrose were promoted to League One as League Two champions after drawing with Elgin on the final day of the season. Stenhousemuir beat Peterhead in the two-legged play-off final to win promotion to League One. Bottom club Cowdenbeath defeated Highland League champions Cove Rangers over two legs for the final place in next season's League Two, after Cove beat Lowland League champions Spartans in their play-off. The New Saints won the Welsh league (as usual), six points ahead of Bangor City whilst Crusaders fought off the challenge of Coleraine to take the Northern Irish championship.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Sssh! It's A Secret!

Moscow Chelski FC missed out on a place in next season's Champions League after being beaten by yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle's outstanding performance on the last day of the Premier League campaign. The Blues had a slim chance of sneaking into the top four by winning against The Magpies, but defeat, plus Liverpool's victory over Brighton & Hove Albinos meant they finished fifth and must settle for a Europa League spot. Last year's champions were second best throughout the game at St James' Park and fell behind through Dwight Gayle's close-range header. A barrage at goal from the hosts forced visiting goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to make sharp saves off the impressive Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame. But Ayoze Perez scored twice in the second period as his side finished the season in a very respectable tenth position. Moscow Chelski's best chance fell to striker Olivier Giroud, but the Frenchman's acrobatic effort was tipped away by United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka. Chelsea last played in the Europa League in the 2012-13 season, when they ended up winning the trophy under the guidance of now Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez. But the 2016-17 champions ended this poor season four places, twenty three points and twenty three goals worse off than last year. There has been much speculation about manager Antonio Conte's future at Torpedo Stamford Bridge and if it does prove to be his last league game, the Italian went out with a whimper rather than a bang. His side failed to register a single shot in the first forty five minutes and the usually passionate Italian watched on with his arms folded as his side fell apart by conceding two more after half-time. Giroud did eventually test Dubravka with an instinctive shot on fifty one minutes, while Ross Barkley - making his first Moscow Chelski FC appearance since 31 January - saw an effort kept out by the Slovak goalkeeper. Newcastle manager Benitez is another whose job is in question, not because of the team's performances but because of his relationship with the hierarchy. He said earlier this week that the club need to break their transfer record to sign a goalscorer in the summer as the sixteen million they paid Real Madrid for alleged striker The Little Shit Michael Owen thirteen years ago remains the club's record acquisition. The Newcastle supporters sang the Spaniard's name and chanted 'we want you to stay' for much of the game, ironically in front of the visiting fans who did not warm to him during his season as Moscow Chelski FC boss in 2013 because of his past at Liverpool Alabam Yee-Haws. Benitez has worked wonders on Tyneside with a squad largely made up of players who came up from the Championship last season. Perez, who ended as the club's top scorer with eight goals in the league and ten in all competitions, flicked in his first goal from Shelvey's low drive into the area. He then converted Florian Lejeune's cutback into an open net for his second. Shelvey bossed the middle of the park and his imposing showing could earn him a late call-up to the England World Cup squad, which will be named by Gareth Southgate on Wednesday. But, he probably won't. Midfield partners Mohamed Diame and Matt Ritchie were excellent too.
It has been claimed that the Premier League has 'secretly' been keeping the top six clubs apart on the opening and final weekends of the football season. According to a report published in The Times, the footballing body has 'arranged' fixtures that will ensure top teams only meet at either end of the season 'for commercial reasons.' The article claims that such shenanigans have been happening 'for years.' It is reported that the League is profiting from the fixtures, as putting the teams up against one another is thought to appeal to broadcasters and boost attendances at matches on the final weekend. The plan only recently emerged in a 'tender document' the Premier League provided to broadcasters for the 2019-22 period, though it is thought to have been an ongoing arrangement. In response, some supporters' groups have 'expressed concern' that this gives 'special treatment' and greater financial rewards to the bigger clubs. 'We are very concerned about this apparent designation of an elite group of top-six clubs,' said a spokesman for the Arsenal Supporters' Trust. The Arse are, of course, in the top six. Albeit, only just. The Football Supporters' Federation has also said that it was 'unaware' of the Premier League's arrangement.
Relegated Dirty Stoke need to look at their 'farcical' transfer dealings before signing the players needed to mount a return to the Premier League, according to their goalkeeper, Jack Butland. The Potters dropped into the second tier Championship following a home defeat by Crystal Palace last Saturday. England keeper Butland blamed 'players you cannot rely on' being signed by the club. 'The whole recruitment process needs looking at, to be honest,' he said. Meanwhile, Butland's team-mate Charlie Adam has told the BBC that 'four or five' of his team-mates have been 'getting away with murder for a long time.' Former Real Madrid forward Jese Rodriguez scored one goal in thirteen appearances during his loan spell from Paris St-Germain and has taken 'unpaid compassionate leave' for the remainder of his contract. Alleged forward Saido Berahino has started just eleven games since being signed from West Bromwich Albinos for twelve million notes in January 2017 and has never scored for the club. He is now training with the under-twenty three squad, as is defender Kevin Wimmer, an eighteen million smackers signing from Stottingtot Hotshots last summer. Record signing Giannelli Imbula, a midfielder who cost over eighteen million quid from Porto, has spent this season on loan at French side Toulouse. Meanwhile, two former Barcelona forwards, Ibrahim Afellay and Bojan Krkic, have been frozen out at the Bet365 Stadium, with the latter spending this season on loan at La Liga side Alaves. 'There's been transfers that aren't even part of the squad for all kinds of reasons, whether it be discipline, whether it be lack of performance,' Butland said. 'You've got to look at that - what decisions are being made and the type of characters.' He said midfielder Badou Ndiaye and defender Moritz Bauer, who joined in January, were 'two positive signings. But, you look at others and they're not even here to have an input. It's not because they were playing at the top of their game, because if they were they'd be here,' he continued. 'Too many of the recent investments - and over the years - are completely unused and that's unacceptable. So before anyone is signed and any changes happen that's got to be looked at because it's been farcical really.' Paul Lambert replaced Mark Hughes as manager in January following Dirty Stoke's FA Cup third round defeat at League Two Coventry City. However, Dirty Stoke have managed just one league win under the Scot. 'I believe Paul's had an extremely difficult job,' Butland said. 'He inherited a squad where, unfortunately, there was ill-discipline and players you cannot rely on. Despite those scenarios he's put together a really competitive side that's willing to work for him. I believe the manager is the right man for the job.'
Southampton boss Mark Hughes said 'the dark arts' which disrupted preparations for Tuesday's game at Swansea motivated his side to claim the victory that has all but secured Premier League safety. The squad stayed forty miles away from the Liberty Stadium after their hotel cancelled their booking at the last minute. Southampton beat Swansea thanks to Manolo Gabbiadini's late goal. 'It helped our focus. We used it as a motivating factor,' claimed Hughes. 'We suspected that maybe some of the dark arts were at work but we didn't let it affect us.' Victory lifted Southampton up to sixteenth in the table - level on thirty six points with Huddersfield - and left Swansea three points adrift of safety with one game remaining. The Marriott Hotel in Swansea defended its decision, saying that it 'cancelled large bookings' after 'some guests became ill.' Southampton stayed instead at the Vale of Glamorgan hotel near Cardiff on Monday night. Hughes added: 'I'm not for one minute suggesting Swansea had anything to do with that. Maybe it was over-zealous Swansea fans in positions to affect our hotel booking.'
England manager Gareth Southgate is considering new approaches to taking penalties at the World Cup, including whether players practise them at all. England have exited from six tournaments in penalty shootouts dating back to 1990. But England's World Cup-winning Under-Seventeens have been testing spot-kick techniques and have shared findings. They include rating the most eager takers before a game, whether takers need practice and ensuring players have several 'go-to' penalties. England begin their World Cup campaign in Russia on 18 June against Tunisia, but have lost on penalties in 1990, 1998 and 2006 tournaments. Southgate recently told an England fans forum broadcast on the Three Lions podcast: 'We have already started a couple of projects with the players and with our analysis team on successful and unsuccessful shootouts.' FA technical director Dan Ashworth said part of that would involve players being encouraged to take their time approaching the penalty spot, with research suggesting it leads to more success. But FA head of coach and player development Matt Crocker, who liaises with all England head coaches, said the under-Seventeen side had benefited from changes in approach in the space of five months. One of them was based on players saying they did not want to practise penalties every day. Crocker told BBC Sport: 'The head coaches meet once a week to discuss things like this and penalties is just one area we are looking to improve. Gareth and assistant coach Steve Holland are involved in everything that we do. They sit in on all our meetings.' Having lost the European Championship Under-Seventeen final on penalties against Spain a year ago, they tackled six key areas and beat Japan on penalties en route to their World Cup win against Spain in India last October. Crocker said the Under-Seventeen players were consulted at team meetings at the National Football Centre at St George's Park. That covered everything from whether they want to take a spot-kick through to practising more than one penalty based on the opposition goalkeepers knowing where previous penalties have been placed. 'Rather than thinking it's about the player practising penalties every day in training, some of the players told us "we don't want to practise them every day,"' Crocker said. 'Those who don't need it and just want to take it in a game, because that's their style, we tailor it specific to their needs. We then set up a loads of meetings with the players, where we said, "Here's a scale from number one and number ten. Number one is desperate to take a penalty. I thrive in that environment; I love it. Number ten was, as soon as the final whistle goes, I can't wait to be in the dressing room. It's just not me." Honestly, we asked them where they sat and some wanted to be sat in twelve or thirteen; there is a spectrum.' Crocker added: 'You have chats about four big areas. Going into extra-time, what are you thinking? Some players were saying they get nervous at the back end of extra-time because of penalties, so it's starting to affect their game. So what can we do to try and help you get better and overcome that? When the final whistle goes, it's about being organised and having a plan. We've already agreed who is responsible as a coaching staff on who is taking penalties based on the eleven left on the pitch, who is taking what and in what order. The third part is the walk - how is it going to feel? It's OK to feel nervous as hell. When you spot the ball, are you going to rush it? How do you keep your same routine and rhythm as you normally would in a game? Finally, it's your actual action in striking the ball. You might be on your third penalty of the tournament, so you might need to have more than one go-to penalty and how as a player are you going to manage those four stages? For the penalty shootout against Japan, we were organised and on the halfway line ready, while the Japanese guys were still running round with the players still deciding.'
The Russian Football Union has been fined twenty two grand for racist chants by fans in March's friendly with France. Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembele and N'Golo Kante were said to be among those subjected to taunts in Les Bleus' three-one win over the World Cup hosts. The game was played at Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg, one of the host venues for this summer's event. Lord Herman Ouseley, chair of anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out, called the fine 'pitiful.' He said: 'The organisation reiterates its belief that the lack of effective action from FIFA against the issue of racism in Russian football will likely result in the further abuse of black players in matches involving the country. Ultimately, with this outcome, Kick It Out has little confidence that FIFA can effectively deal with potential incidents of racism during this summer's World Cup and protect those black players, staff and supporters who will be in attendance.' A statement from football's world governing body claimed that FIFA has 'a zero tolerance approach' to discrimination. One or two people even believed them. 'Following a thorough investigation including the review of video evidence, after analysing all the specific circumstances of the case, in particular the gravity of the incident but also the limited number of fans involved, [FIFA has] decided that the Russian Football Union was liable for a breach of article fifty eight,' it added. The issue was first reported by photographers from news agency Agence France-Presse, who said that they heard chants when players went to take corners. It is the latest in a number of incidents of discrimination linked to Russia. Earlier in March, Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov said: 'I do not think we have racism on a scale that needs to be fought.'
Moscow Chelski FC have been extremely charged by the Football Association after players surrounded referee Lee Mason at half-time during their draw with Huddersfield Town on Wednesday. The club are charged with failing to ensure their players 'conducted themselves in an orderly fashion.' Players were reported to be 'unhappy' when Mason blew the whistle for half-time before they could take a corner.
Basaksehir's on-loan Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan has been banned for an eye-watering sixteen games in his native Turkey for pushing an assistant referee. Turan, who has one hundred caps for Turkey, was very sent-off after confronting the official towards the end of his side's Super Lig draw with Sivaspor last week. Basaksehir were leading one-nil at the time but conceded a late equaliser after being reduced to nine men. The thirty one-year-old was also fined thirty nine thousand Turkish lira. And, told to grow the Hell up. Probably. Turan shoved the official with both hands after being unhappy with a decision and he continued his protest after being shown a straight red card. He was banned for ten matches for attacking the assistant referee, three matches for insulting him and another three for threatening him. Turan joined Basaksehir on a two-and-a-half-season loan deal in January having struggled for first-team opportunities at Barcelona following his twenty four million knicker move from Atletico Madrid in July 2015. Third-place Basaksehir are challenging for their first Super Lig title and are three points behind leaders Galatasaray with two games remaining.
Tommy Charlton is set to become the fourth member of his family to represent his country when he plays for England's over-sixties walking football team. The seventy two-year-old is the younger brother of Manchester United legend Sir Bobby and Leeds' Jack. In addition, their mother's cousin, Jackie Milburn also played thirteen times for England in the 1950s. Tommy will make his England debut as the first-ever walking football internationals are played on Sunday. 'I never in a million years thought I'd follow in the footsteps of my brothers and represent England,' Tommy said. The grandfather of six was just twenty when he watched his two elder brothers help England beat West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final but he was forced to retire from amateur football aged twenty four because of injury. He now plays for the Mature Millers walking football club in Rotherham and earned his own international call-up after impressing during a trial at Burnley in March. He is joined in the over-sixties squad by Alan Kennedy who won two European Cups with Liverpool, while an over-fifties side also faces Italy, with both games at Brighton's Amex Stadium. 'I was shocked when I got the call, but am delighted to be in the squad,' Tommy added. 'There are so many good walking footballers in this country and it will be an honour to play alongside them against a strong Italian side. When I get my boots and the England strip on I'm sure it will be a great feeling. I just hope we can put in a good performance against Italy and impress the fans who come out to watch us.' Walking football is played in thirty five countries and there are now over eleven hundred clubs and an estimated thirty five thousand players participating in the UK. As well as no running, there is either no or minimal physical contact permitted while there are over-head height restrictions and indirect free-kicks.
Tranmere Rovers battled for almost the entire game with ten men to beat Boreham Wood and return to the English Football League after three years away. There was drama early on as Tranmere's Liam Ridehalgh was sent off within forty eight seconds after putting in a rash two-footed challenge on Ricky Shakes. Tranmere took the lead when Andy Cook headed James Norwood's cross but Bruno Andrade side-footed home to equalise. Norwood headed home with ten minutes left to seal promotion for Rovers. Rovers were relegated from the English Football League in 2015, ending a ninety four-year spell in England's top four divisions and had been in the third tier as recently as 2014. They have finished second in the National League for two seasons in a row, but fell agonisingly short of promotion last season with defeat at Wembley to Forest Green. It looked as though Micky Mellon's side could be facing more disappointment when Ridehalgh was dismissed, but Cook's sixth-minute opener gave them a huge boost. Boreham Wood, who were in the seventh-tier Isthmian League Premier Division just eight years ago, have never been out of the non-league pyramid in their seventy-year history. But they were given hope when Andrade found space to level seven minutes into first-half stoppage time. Rovers, who were forced to make their third and final substitution before half-time when Ritchie Sutton was injured, had to work hard to claw back the lead. Connor Jennings came on for Tranmere just ten days after being discharged from hospital following an illness - and it was the twenty six-year-old's cross which set up Norwood's winner as they sealed a hard-fought return to league football at the third time of asking. The result marked the end of a remarkable campaign for Boreham Wood who had been led to their highest-ever league finish and best FA Cup run this season under thirty two-year-old manager Luke Garrard.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Summer Sales

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United have confirmed that the club is still for sale and that contract talks with manager Rafa Benitez are 'ongoing.' Owner Mike Ashley put The Magpies up for sale in October after ten years in charge of the Premier League club which has seen a few highs and more than a few catastrophic lows. In January he ended two hundred and fifty million knicker takeover talks with businesswoman Amanda Staveley, though Staveley said that she was still interested. At a fans forum last week, the club stated 'the position has not changed. If or when there is anything to update, the club would do so,' it added. Newcastle also confirmed talks are 'ongoing' over extending the contract of Rafa The Gaffer, who has a year remaining on his current deal. Ashley has been a divisive figure at St James' Park, with some supporters regularly protesting about the way the businessman has run the club after buying it for one hundred and thirty four million smackers in 2007. At the time, his takeover from the previous owner, the late Freddie Sheppard, was widely celebrated by many supporters who expected that the club being bought by the billionaire owner of the Sports Direct brand would be a good thing. Instead, it turned into an almost textbook example of that age-old truism, 'be careful what you wish for, it might just come true.' Ashley has made a number of highly unpopular decisions, including - briefly - changing the name of St James' Park to The Sports Direct Arena. The club have been relegated twice from the Premier League during Ashley's reign - albeit, they've bounced straight back up at the first time of asking on both occasions - and are currently tenth in the top flight, having won promotion last season under the popular and widely-respected Benitez, who joined United in March 2016.
Live football matches could be shown exclusively over the Interweb in the UK for the first time after Sky lost the rights to broadcast Spain's La Liga. Eleven Sports, founded by the Dirty Leeds owner, Andrea Radrizzani, has acquired exclusive rights to the Spanish top flight for three years, starting from the 2018-19 season. It brings an end to an association with Sky Sports which has lasted for more than two decades, although the broadcaster may yet be able to show games through a secondary agreement with the new rights holders. 'We are proud to build on our existing relationship with La Liga, this time in the UK, one of the most passionate football countries in the world,' said Eleven Sports' chief executive, Marc Watson, in a statement. 'We will announce soon how we will introduce innovative ways for dedicated fans to watch and engage in the live action. The way people, especially young people, watch live sport is changing and we always try to reflect that in the ways we make our product available.' Eleven Sports would not say how much it is paying for La Liga coverage, but the arrangement comes in a declining market for sports rights. Earlier this year, Sky achieved a fourteen per cent discount in securing the rights to Premier League matches and it is understood that the broadcaster was unwilling to continue paying the eighteen million knicker per season agreed under its current deal with La Liga. That has left an opening for a new entrant in the market. Operating in seven countries across Europe, Asia and North America, Eleven Sports claims to have seventeen million paying customers and describes itself as 'a platform agnostic' broadcaster. In Poland and Belgium, for example, Eleven Sports has both its own TV channel, and 'an over the top' online streaming service - industry shorthand for the delivery of film and TV content via the Internet, without requiring users to subscribe to a traditional cable or satellite pay-TV service. In the US, meanwhile, Eleven Sports leases content through broadcasters and telecoms companies. The company has not revealed which approach it will adopt in the UK. According to the Gruniad Morning Star - citing no evidence - 'there had been speculation' that the Premier League could strike a deal with an OTT broadcaster under its latest rights deal, but that has not yet come about.
West Hamsters United striker Andy Carroll has apologised and returned to training after a row with manager David Moyes. Carroll was sent home from training on Monday after Moyes was reportedly unhappy with him leaving the bench early in Sunday's match against Sheikh Yer Man City. Moyes made a triple substitution during the game, a four-one defeat for The Hamsters and Carroll headed to the dressing room early. He was reportedly sent home after he refused to apologise to Moyes on Monday. The club now considers the matter settled. Javier Hernandez, Joao Mario and Arthur Masuaku were sent on in the second half against City, leaving a frustrated Carroll to depart for the dressing room and not return before full-time. Speaking after the match, Moyes said: 'It's something I'll deal with. In this situation what you need is everybody to be a team member, so if he has done that, I'll look at it and I'll deal with it.'
Graeme Murty has been extremely sacked as Glasgow Rangers manager following Sunday's five-nil hammering by Scottish champions Celtic. 'He will take some time to consider his options, which include returning to his role at the Rangers academy,' said the club. In December, the forty three-year-old had been given the job until the end of the season after a spell in interim charge following Pedro Caixinha's sacking. But he has now been 'relieved of his duties.' Rangers' next game is at home to Kilmarnock and the club said that assistants Jimmy Nicholl and Jonatan Johansson would 'take charge of the team for the three remaining matches of the season.' Former Reading and Scotland full-back Murty had expressed his desire to continue in the job, but Rangers have been in talks about appointing Liverpool youth coach Steven Gerrard for next season, a move which was confirmed on Friday. 'The club hopes to be in a position to comment further on the managerial situation in the near future,' Rangers said in a statement. 'Rangers are grateful to Graeme, who did not hesitate when asked last October to become interim manager after the departure of Pedro Caixinha and then, at the turn of the year, when he was offered the role as manager until the end of the season. Graeme has had to contend with difficult and challenging circumstances but conducted himself in a thoroughly professional manner.' Murty was first promoted from his role as development squad manager when Mark Warburton left the club in February 2017 before joining Nottingham Forest. Having reverted to his previous role, he stood in for a second time when Caixinha exited in October. When Aberdeen's Derek McInnes rejected an offer to be Rangers manager, Murty was told he would remain in charge until the end of the season. However, before this month's Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic, Rangers chairman Dave King released a statement saying that the club were looking to make 'the best appointment they can' for next season. It was widely interpreted as a sign that Murty would not be in charge for the next campaign. Rangers went on to suffer a four-nil defeat at Hampden against their Glasgow rivals, after which club captain Lee Wallace and veteran striker Kenny Miller were suspended by the club following a dressing-room disagreement with Murty. Then, before Sunday's final league derby of the season, it emerged the Ibrox club were in talks with former Liverpool and England captain Gerrard. Murty said in a pre-match interview that the speculation had affected him personally and his team went on to lose even more heavily at Celtic Park than they had done in the cup, as Brendan Rodgers' side secured a seventh consecutive league title. Rangers did not make Murty or any of his players available for interview after Sunday's game, despite a requirement from the Scottish Professional Football League. Rodgers subsequently expressed sympathy for his counterpart, saying Murty had been 'thrown to the garbage' and been treated with disrespect by Rangers.
Leicester's Marc Albrighton has been charged by the Football Association for his 'behaviour' towards referee Mike Dean in the game with Crystal Palace. The winger was shown a straight red card fifty six minutes into last Saturday's five-nil defeat for pulling down Wilfried Zaha, before reacting angrily towards Dean. Leicester boss Claude Puel said that Albrighton's sending-off was 'harsh.' In a statement the FA said that the charge 'relates to his behaviour towards the referee after his sending-off.'
Dirty Stoke have confirmed that forward Jese Rodriguez has 'taken unpaid compassionate leave' for the remainder of his contract. The twenty five-year-old Spaniard has 'encountered several disciplinary problems' during his season-long loan spell from Paris St-Germain. He left the bench early during Dirty Stoke's win over Swansea in December and failed to report to training last month. Rodriguez has not featured for the first team since March. Manager Paul Lambert said last week that he had 'no intention' of recalling the former Real Madrid player, or twelve million knicker signing Saido Berahino who has been training with the under-twenty three squad having becoming something of a national joke over failing to score a goal for more than two years. Rodriguez scored one goal in thirteen appearances during his loan spell with The Potters. Indeed, it's a toss up between him and Daniel Sturridge as to which has been the season's most disastrous loan signing.
Blunderland's turmoil after back-to-back relegations has nothing to do with outgoing owner Ellis Short, according to former manager Gus Poyet. The Mackem Filth will play in the third tier for the first time in thirty years next season, while Short has finally agreed a long-awaited sale of the club this week. 'There is something inside the club that doesn't let it be as successful as it should be,' Poyet told BBC Sport. 'I don't think it is anything to do with Ellis Short.' The Uruguayan said that the current situation is 'incredible,' adding: 'It hurts a lot because I had a great time there.' Poyet was one of nine managers employed by Blunderland during Short's reign but was sacked in 2015 with the club then seventeenth in the Premier League. Short has owned Blunderland for nine years and during his time in charge the club repeatedly escaped relegation from the top flight before finally dropping out of the Premiership last season and then suffered the same fate in the Championship this campaign. Short has been heavily criticised in recent seasons for a lack of spending and a distant relationship with the club as he tried to sell - Chris Coleman, who was the latest Blunderland manager to be sacked on Sunday following relegation, claimed he had not spoken to Short during his six months in charge. But Poyet claimed that he has 'no complaints' about his relationship with Short. 'We always talked regularly when he was in England, London, Sunderland or in America,' Poyet said. 'When you change the manager many times and it doesn't get better, then people blame the directors and the chairman. I had a fantastic time with him when I was there. We were always very honest to each other, he knows what I think about everything that was happening there and it is fantastic for him to remember those things I said to him and that will stay between us.' Poyet took charge of Blunderland in October 2013 with the club bottom of the Premier League. Four victories and a draw from their final six league games helped to keep them up that season - a run which included wins at Moscow Chelski FC and The Scum, plus a draw at Shekih Yer Man City. The Uruguayan also led the Wearsiders to the 2014 Capital One Cup final, which they lost to City. Another former manager, Simon Grayson, who started this season in charge of The Mackems, added: 'It's very difficult to solely put the blame on Ellis because he's invested something like two hundred million pounds into a football club and anybody who invests that sort of money has a real affinity with a club.'
Meanwhile, prospective new Blunderland owner Stewart Donald has cleared another obstacle to his impending purchase by agreeing the sale of non-league club Eastleigh. Donald must sell Eastleigh before he can complete his takeover of League One-bound Blunderland. It is understood the sale will now be ratified by the National League. Providing there are no problems, Donald could be in a position to take control at Blunderland at some point next week. The news comes as Blunderland published annual accounts showing the football club's debt rose to over one hundred and twenty five million smackers. Figures show the debt of the club's parent company also rose from one hundred and thirty seven million knicker to one hundred and sixty seven million, of which just under ninty one million notes was owed to outgoing Sunderland owner Ellis Short. Financial details of Donald's purchase of the club have not been revealed but it is understood Short has agreed to clear the debt in order to push through the sale. The accounts to 31 July 2017 cover Sunderland's relegation from the Premier League. Turnover rose by eighteen million quid thanks to the new Premier League TV deal. Blunderland also revealed their highest paid director - understood to be chief executive Martin Bain - received £1.24m. The club reported a pre-tax loss of just under ten million knicker, a figure which was helped by the twenty five million quid sale of England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to Everton.
Stephen Fry had led the tributes to Wes Hoolahan who played his final game for Norwich City last Saturday. The Irish international scored a goal, an assist and the man of the match award as The Canaries beat Dirty Leeds two-one at Carrow Road. It was a fitting finale for a man who made over three hundred and fifty appearances for Norwich and tributes poured in from fans, team mates, managers and coaches. Fry, a lifelong fan of the club and former director, paid homage to one of their greats. He wrote on Twitter: 'A huge (manly and appropriate) hug to Wes Hoolahan, one of Norwich City FC's greatest ever servants. He goes out on a goal and a win. Bravo and thank you.' The Dubliner wrote an emotional letter last week announcing his departure from the club. He said: 'It's been a great ten years at this Club. The fans have been amazing to me, the club have been great and I'm going to miss the place. I've thoroughly enjoyed myself at Norwich City and it's going to be an emotional day on Saturday against Leeds. I just want to say to the fans thanks for the support, you've been amazing throughout my whole time here. I'm looking forward to my next challenge and to organising a testimonial for next year. I've had a brilliant time.'
A South African footballer who was struck by lightning during a match has died in hospital, his club confirmed. Maritzburg United striker Luyanda Ntshangase had been in an induced coma since being injured in the friendly game on 1 March. In a statement on Facebook, the club described him as one its rising young stars and said the team was 'in mourning.' Maritzburg United are currently fourth in South Africa's Premier League. 'We are extremely sad about the loss of Luyanda, an exciting young player with enormous potential,' said Maritzburg chairman Farook Kadodia in the statement. 'On behalf of Maritzburg United Football club, we would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Ntshangase family.' Ntshangase had risen though the club's ranks and made his debut against Kaizer Chiefs two seasons ago. He was one of three players caught by the bolt of lightning during the match in KwaZulu-Natal. The two others were only slightly hurt but Ntshangase suffered burns to his chest, South African media report. The player's death is the third tragedy to hit Maritzburg United in recent years. Promising midfielders Mondli Cele and Mlondi Dlamini both died in separate car accidents in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
A sports broadcaster has attracted praise for hitting a football fan after being 'groped' on live TV. During a post-match report on the CONCACAF Champions League Final between Guadalajara and Toronto FC, reporter Maria Fernanda Mora was seen making her live broadcast. In the video, Mora is surrounded by excited fans. She then turns around and hits one man with her microphone. Mora later explained what happened to her in a letter, which she posted online. 'What happened to me at dawn on Thursday, happens to thousands of women every day in public spaces. The difference is that it happened to me during a live link on television and I decided to defend myself. My reaction is what turned the fact into something viral,' she wrote. 'I thought, it could be an accidental rubbing because of people's pushing and I kept talking to the camera. This guy, emboldened because I did not react and kept doing my job, put his hand between my buttocks twice more. I decided to defend myself.' Maria went on to say that women 'will not be quiet' when it comes to the subject of sexual harassment and followers were quick to praise her for taking a stand.
Several Iranian women have caught people's attention by revealing the lengths they go to to attend a football match. Donning beards and wigs, they disguised themselves as men so they could watch their team, Persepolis, play rivals Sepidrood at the Azadi stadium in Tehran last Friday. Although there's no official ban on women going to sporting events in Iran, it is rare for them to attend as they are often refused entry. Prior to the Islamic revolution of 1979, women were allowed to attend sporting events. Women have been punished for attending games in the past. In 2014, British-Iranian activist Ghoncheh Ghavami was detained after attempting to watch a men's volleyball match in Iran. And in March 2018 thirty five women were detained for trying to attend a football match. In February, women were allowed to watch a major basketball game in Tehran - but they had to sit in an area separate to men. For one of the women pictured, it was the third time she had pulled off the trick. In an interview she gave to the moderate newspaper Iran, she explained that each time she had sneaked in she had used a different disguise and make-up. 'I Google for different make-up [tutorials] and learn new ways and apply them to go to the stadium,' she said. She told the newspaper she had been stopped by security only once. She encouraged other women to get in touch and offered to train them in disguise techniques. Asked whether she was ever scared of being detained, she replied: 'Why should I be scared? We women do not commit any crimes by going to stadiums. The law has not defined women's presence at stadiums as a crime. They have, of course, detained a few women and they have given a written promise not to go back there again.'
A referee has been attacked by players after making a controversial decision in Ethiopia's football premier league. The military team Defence and Welwalo Adigrat University were drawing one-one when the referee ruled the ball crossed the line and gave a goal to Defence. Welwalo Adigrat players got all stroppy and discombobulated and chased him, got him on the ground and he was punched by one of their coaches. The coach has been fired and the Ethiopian Football Federation has suspended all games in the league. A video posted online by state broadcaster ETV shows the referee attempting to defend himself with a corner flag. There have been several instances of violence in the Ethiopian game recently.
Europe's top leagues are 'firmly opposed' to plans by world governing body FIFA to introduce 'a global Nations League' and expand the Club World Cup. The European Leagues, an association with representatives from thirty two countries, has called the move reminiscent of 'the way the old FIFA acted.' Last month, BBC Sport reported that FIFA will meet in May to discuss the launch of two tournaments. The tournaments would be projected to generate twenty five billion dollars in wonga. 'To present a long-term twelve-year plan with lots of uncertainty and a lack of information sounds, to me, like a can of worm,' said Lars-Christer Olsson, president of the European Leagues. FIFA is proposing to expand the Club World Cup to twenty four teams, including twelve from Europe, with the competition staged every four years instead of annually. It also wants to introduce a new global Nations League based on the format UEFA's Nations League, which commences after the World Cup later this year. FIFA president Gianni Infantino has put his plans to FIFA's council and says they are backed by an unnamed international consortium of investors. However, European Leagues - which includes the Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga among its membership - is also 'concerned' that the potential distribution of funds from club tournaments to successful teams would increase the financial gap between top teams and those not involved. The association has called on the World League Forum and all European football stakeholders, in particular Europe's governing body UEFA, the European Club Association and players' organisation FIFPro, to stand against FIFA as the process 'lacks transparency and a proper consultation with the stakeholders.'
Champions League finalists Real Madrid will not give new La Liga champions Barcelona a guard of honour before Sunday's El Clasico at the Nou Camp. A rather petulant and petty gesture which, frankly, tells you everything you need to know about the arrogance of Real and why most football supporters can't bloody stand them. Barca gave Real the honour in 2008 when the capital side had just won the league. But Zinedine Zidane was reportedly 'annoyed' when Barcelona did not see his side out on to the pitch after they won the Club World Cup in December. Barca are four games away from going an entire league season unbeaten. The Catalan side, who beat Deportivo La Coruna four-two last weekend to seal the domestic double, have not lost in a record forty one league games dating back over a year. No side has ever gone unbeaten for a Spanish top-flight campaign since since the 1930s when there were only eighteen games in a season. Real Madrid, the deposed champions, are fifteen points behind Barce - but set up a Champions League final against Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws this week by beating Bayern Munich four-three on aggregate.
A set of unused tickets for every match of the Euro Ninety Six football championship has been found in an old suitcase. The tournament, held in England in June 1996, had the slogan football comes home and saw the hosts lose to Germany on penalties in the semi-finals. Ah, Gareth Southgate. 'Why didn't he just smash it?' And all that. The thirty one tickets include the final and have a face value of over sixteen hundred quid. It remains a mystery why they were not used. The tickets, found among old cigarette cards in Stoke-on-Trent, are set to go on auction in Derbyshire next month. The owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that he took his grandfather's cards for valuation when he came across the tickets, which had been inside a suitcase his mother had given him ten years ago. 'It's a complete mystery,' he said. 'My mum, who died last year at the age of ninety, certainly wasn't interested in football. I have no idea how they ended up in the suitcase. I don't think my mum was a ticket tout!' He believes that she may have picked up the tickets at a car boot sale without realising what she had. An estimate of between one hundred and one hundred and fifty notes has been placed on the set, which is to be sold on 23 May in Etwall. Alistair Lofley, a 'football valuer' at Hansons Auctioneers, said the owner of the tickets would not have been able to make every game, as some were played at the same time and speculated that the tickets might have been competition prizes. 'For any diehard football fan, to think of these tickets going begging is hard to swallow,' he said.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

And, When They Were Up They Were Up!

With just a couple of weeks left in the 2017-18 footerball season, dear blog reader, things are becoming ever clearer with regard to the various races for trophies, promotions, play-offs and relegations in all five divisions of the English Footerball League and all that. In the Premier League, of course, Sheikh Yer Man City were already crowned Champions a couple of weeks ago and now the only question is will they break Moscow Chelski FC's existing records for the most points, wins and goals in a Premier League season. One would not back against Pep Guadiola's boys, frankly. The Scum, Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and Stottingtot Hotshots are all-but confirmed for Champions League qualification although Moscow Chelski FC still have a vague chance of a top four finish, though they are five points behind Spurs with four games remaining. Below them, The Arse and Burnley will qualify for the Europa League finishing in sixth and seventh respectively. At the bottom, West Bromwich Albinos could have been relegated on Saturday but their victory at Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies (who, after a good recent run have suddenly started playing like a bunch of girls again) means that they still have a slim chance of avoiding the drop. As do both Dirty Stoke (who gained a vital point at Anfield to take them to thirty points) and Southampton (whose win at home to Bournemouth took them to thirty two). Southampton are now just a point behind Swansea, albeit The Swans have a game in hand over The Saints. Don't count out Huddersfield, beaten at home by Everton on Saturday, also getting sucked into the relegation melee. Although they have thirty five points, their three remaining games are against Sheikh Yer Man City, Moscow Chelski FC and The Arse and results elsewhere could yet drag The Terriers down among the dead men. West Hamsters United are also on thirty five points but should be safe with four games remaining. As is the case with the Premiership, the Championship title was already wrapped up with Wolverhampton Wanderings claiming the honours, so the race for promotion remains the main focus. Cardiff (eighty nine points) and Fulham (eighty eight) are fighting for the second automatic promotion place. Cardiff host Reading on the last day of the Championship season next Sunday whilst Fulham visit Birmingham with both opponents still in danger of being relegated. Aston Villains and The Middlesbrough Smog Monsters will join either Cardiff or Fulham in the play-offs along with Derby County although Preston Both Ends and Millwall both still have slight chances of snatching the final play-off place if Derby slip up. The Rams could have confirmed their place in the play-offs with victory over Aston Villains but a late Lewis Grabban equaliser meant that Derby still need a point from their final game at home to Barnsley. At the bottom, Blunderland were relegated last week but the other two relegation places could go to any one of five clubs - Reading and Birmingham (both with forty three points), Barnsley and Burton Albinos (both forty one) and Notlob (forty). Blackburn Vindaloo's defeat at Charlton and Wigan Not Very Athletic's home draw with AFC Wimbledon meant that the League One title is still to be decided and will go to the final day of the season. Wigan are away to Doncaster next Saturday whilst Blackburn entertain Oxford. Given their vastly superior goal difference, a point would be enough to take the title to Wigan. Shrewsbury and Rotherham are confirmed for the play-offs, Charlton (seventy one points) and Scunthorpe (seventy) should join them although Plymouth Argyle (sixty eight) still have a chance to grab the final place; both they are Scunthorpe have two games remaining - one of which is against each other on Tuesday at Glanford Park - whilst Charlton visit Rochdale on the final day. With Bury and MK Dons already relegated, Northampton's defeat at Walsall meant that The Cobblers are also - barring a mathematical miracle - going down. The final relegation place is between Rochdale (forty eight points), Oldham Not Very Athletic (forty nine) and Wimbledon and Walsall (fifty one) although both of the latter have two games remaining whilst Rochdale and Oldham have only one (the former at home to Charlton whilst the latter visit Northampton). The League Two title was decided this weekend in one of the genuine stories of the season, via Accrington Stanley's victory over Lincoln. The promotion places are already decided too, with Luton and Wycombe Wanderings joining Stanley in League One. The play-offs will be contested between Exeter, Notts County, Coventry City and either Lincoln (who only need another point) or Mansfield, who must beat Crawley Town next week and hope that Lincoln lose to Yeovil. At the bottom, Chesterfield were already relegated from the League for the first time since 1922. Barnet (forty three points) are favourites to join them in the National League, although victory in their final game against Chesterfield and a defeat for Morecambe (on forty five points) at Coventry would change all that. Macclesfield were confirmed as the run-away National League champions some time ago, meaning they return to League football for the first time since they were relegated from League Two in 2012. Tranmere Rovers, Sutton United, Boreham Wood, Aldershot, Ebbsfleet and AFC Fylde all make the - fiendishly complicated - National League play-offs to decided the second side to go up to League Two. Dover missed out despite winning at Woking. Guiseley, Chester, Torquay and Woking are all relegated to the National Leagues North and South which form the sixth level of the EFL pyramid.
Fulham owner Shahid Khan has made an offer, thought to be worth a total of eight hundred million knicker, to buy Wembley Stadium from the Football Association. It is understood that Khan's bid includes five hundred million quid for the stadium and three hundred million for the FA to keep the Club Wembley debenture and hospitality business. The FA board discussed the approach at a meeting on Thursday. 'We would strive to be the best possible steward for a venue that is iconic,' said Khan. The owner of NFL side Jacksonville Jaguars added: 'Wembley would return to private ownership and The Football Association would be able to focus on its core mission of developing players. I trust many if not most of you are also supporters of the England national teams, so I hope you welcome the potential of this becoming a reality.' Fulham coach Slavisa Jokanovic said at a news conference on Thursday that Khan told him 'about his plan a year-and-a-half ago. He's very ambitious.' BBC Sport suggests that selling Wembley would allow the FA to make a major investment into football at grassroots level. The ninety thousand-seat stadium, which is the largest in the United Kingdom, cost seven hundred and fifty seven million smackers to build and opened in 2007. The FA said in January it would finish paying for the ground by the end of 2024. Stottingtot Hotshots have played their home Premier League games at Wembley this season whilst work on their new stadium takes place. Spurs also have a deal with the NFL to stage a minimum of two games a season over ten years once their new stadium is complete. Sottingtot Hotshots' chairman, Daniel Levy, said that the link-up with the NFL was 'a compelling and exciting partnership.' NFL executive vice-president Mark Waller said having stadium options in London has been 'critical to the NFL.' His statement added: 'The potential purchase of Wembley Stadium is a further powerful sign of their commitment to the UK and their vision to help us grow the sport. This new relationship would allow for even greater flexibility in scheduling future NFL games in London.'
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be coming out of retirement to play for Sweden at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The LA Galaxy and former The Scum striker said recently that he would attend the tournament but would not say in what capacity. Swedish FA chief Lars Richt said: 'I talked to Zlatan on Tuesday. He announced he did not change his mind about the national team - it is no.' Ibrahimovic retired from international football after Euro 2016. The Swede, who also played for Ajax, Barcelona, Juventus and Inter Milan, scored sixty two goals in one hundred and sixteen games for his country and appeared at World Cups in 2002 and 2006. And, despite a knee injury plaguing his final season at The Scum, he showed he still had form by netting a brilliant strike in his LA Galaxy debut last month after joining the Major League Soccer side in March. Sweden qualified for Russia 2018 without him, beating Italy in a play-off to secure their qualification. It will be the team's first World Cup since 2006 after missing out on the 2010 and 2014 tournaments.
Blunderland manager Chris Coleman says that he 'doesn't know' where want-away midfielder Jack Rodwell is, mentally. The already-relegated Mackem Filth travelled to promotion-chasing Fulham in the Championship on Friday - and lost, two-one - but long-term absentee Rodwell did not feature. 'I don't even know where Jack is, to be honest with you. So no, he won't be involved [at Fulham],' Coleman said. Afterwards, Coleman clarified that he was referring to Rodwell's mental state rather than his actual whereabouts. The former Everton and Sheikh Yer Man City midfielder reportedly earning seventy grand-a-week at the Stadium of Plight, is currently training with Blunderland's Under-Twenty Three squad. Rodwell has not made a senior appearance for Blunderland since September and has asked to leave the club he joined for ten million knicker from Sheikh Yer Man City in August 2014. Sunderland offered to tear up his contract earlier this season, but Rodwell decided to stay and collect his, massive, weekly wage packet. His current deal, set to expire in the summer of 2019, does not include Blunderland's usual forty per cent wage reduction clause following relegation. In a newspaper interview in January, Rodwell insisted that he was 'fit and available' for selection and said it would be 'unfair' to ask him to walk away from a lucrative contract. Coleman believes that he does not want to play for Blunderland again. The former Wales boss added: 'I'm quite sure we've gone down the legal route of that situation and we're stuck with a player that doesn't want to play for Sunderland Football Club and wants to leave. But then where's he going to leave and go to? There's the conundrum.' Rodwell has made only fifty three starts for the Black Cats, with only three league appearances coming this season.
Fußball-Club Bayern München have been charged by UEFA after fans ran onto the pitch at the end of their Champions League semi-final first-leg defeat by Real Madrid. The German champions, who were beaten two-one, have also been charged over an offensive banner which was displayed at the Allianz Arena. One supporter grabbed the shirt of Bayern forward Franck Ribery, whilst another took a selfie with some of the Real Madrid players after the final whistle. This case will be dealt with on 31 May.
Germany and Turkey have both confirmed their bids to host the 2024 European Championship finals. The German Football Association submitted its application on Tuesday, with the Turkish Football Federation following suit on Thursday. UEFA will announce the host nation on 27 September. Euro 2024 will return to a single-host format, after Euro 2020 is held in twelve cities across Europe. Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland had considered a joint bid but did not proceed - the deadline for applications was 27 April. The DFB withdrew its application to host the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 to focus on this bid, ensuring the English Football Association unanimously won the vote, with Wembley hosting all three matches. 'I am certain that we will once again feel great enthusiasm and create a new spirit of solidarity at Euro 2024,' said former Germany defender Philipp Lahm, who is a DFB bid ambassador. West Germany hosted the 1974 World Cup and 1988 European Championship, while the 2006 World Cup was held in Germany. The Germans first announced their intention to bid for Euro 2024 in 2013 before officially declaring 'an interest' last year. 'We are building bridges between people of different nations, and are making an important contribution to bringing alive both the values of football and those of a modern civil society,' added DFB president Reinhard Grindel. Turkey has never hosted a major tournament, after unsuccessful bids to jointly host Euro 2008 with Greece and the 2012 and 2016 finals on its own. 'It's now our time and we are ready to share together with the whole of Europe,' said TFF president Yildirim Demiroren. 'All guarantees are given without any reservations, including some additional and innovative guarantees that will ensure the financial success of the tournament - thereby benefiting all UEFA member associations.' Euro 2024 is expected to use the twenty four-team format introduced for Euro 2016, which was won by Portugal.
The Daily Scum Express has grovelling apologised after it published 'an ill-informed and wrong' article suggesting that Liverpool fans 'shared responsibility' for violence before their Champions League semi-final match. The article, which was described as 'an appalling slur' by the mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, was published on the paper's website after Sean Cox, a Liverpool supporter, was left seriously injured after an alleged - and, seemingly unprovoked - attack by Roma fans before the game at Anfield on Tuesday evening. Cox is currently in an induced coma in hospital. Filippo Lombardi has been charged with violent disorder and causing grievous bodily harm and Daniele Sciusco was charged with violent disorder. Both men are from Rome. In the article, which has since been deleted, the journalist Colin Mafham wrote that trouble 'seemed to follow' Liverpool fans like 'bees round a honey pot.' Mafham said he feared that after the stadium disasters at Heysel and Hillsborough, the latest generation of the club's supporters 'could well add another chapter to England's footballing book of condolences.' A statement on the Scum Express website said: 'This article was ill-informed and wrong. It did not, in any way, reflect the views of the Express.' One or two people even believed them. 'It should never have been written and was very quickly removed. We unconditionally apologise, both for the article itself and any offence, understandably, caused. The journalist who wrote the piece was immediately suspended. Express.co.uk is conducting an inquiry into how the article came to be published on our website.' In the comment piece with the headline Liverpool must take serious action after Roma violence or risk further trouble, Mafham wrote: 'You would have thought the deaths of thirty nine Italians at the European Cup final Liverpool lost to Juventus in 1985, plus the five-year ban on English clubs that consequently came after that, would have had a sobering effect. You would have thought the horrors at Hillsborough and ninety six more deaths that followed only four years later would have made everyone more aware of their responsibilities to each other. Those two tragedies, in which the central figures were sadly mostly from Liverpool, are arguably football's most painful Achilles and hopefully will never happen again. So why do I fear that the latest generation of that club’s supporters could well add another chapter to England's footballing book of condolences?' He added: 'When you have a team capable of playing the joyous football Liverpool have for most of this season, how on earth are their fans always seemingly involved in such horrific altercations on big European nights. Why does trouble seem to follow them like bees round a honey pot?' Writing on Twitter on Thursday night, Anderson asked why the paper thought it 'acceptable' to publish the article, two years to the day of the Hillsborough verdict. He called on the Scum Express editor, Gary Jones, to 'face the city and apologise.' Anderson later tweeted that he had received 'a really passionate, sincere [and] heartfelt apology' from Jones and that 'the journalist concerned has rightly been suspended and an investigation is being held.'
The Professional Footballers' Association says that no complaint was made by Harry Kane or his family about a joke told by its chairman Ben Purkiss at the union's awards ceremony last Sunday. It was widely reported -albeit, not by anyone that you'd trust as far as you can spit - that Kane and his 'camp' were 'unhappy' with Purkiss' remark that the England striker was 'so prolific that he is able to score without touching the ball.' This was a reference to the goal Kane claimed against Dirty Stoke earlier this month, with Stottingtot Hotshots launching a successful appeal to have the goal credited to him after Kane claimed to have got the slightest touch to a Christian Eriksen effort. One or two people even believed him. It was reported - although, again, not by anyone with the slightest bit of credibility - that Purkiss' position at the PFA was 'under threat' but a statement from the union released on Thursday read: 'In response to recent media coverage we can confirm that no complaints have been received by the PFA from Harry Kane, Harry's representatives or Harry's family. At no point has any party demanded an apology. Out of courtesy our chairman Ben Purkiss contacted Harry personally to explain that the comment had been taken out of context. Harry has not expressed any concern at all about any comments and appreciated the joke. Furthermore Harry was categorically not at the event. We hope this brings an end to all the widespread inaccuracies. All concerned would now like to draw a line under this matter and move on.'
US President - and hairdo - Donald Trump has warned nations opposing the North American bid for the 2026 World Cup they risk losing the United States' political support. FIFA has received a bid from Morocco and a joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico to host the tournament - which will follow Qatar 2022. Trump issued his support for the shared North American proposal ahead of the final decision, which will be made at a FIFA Congress in Moscow on 13 June. 'The US has put together a strong bid w[ith] Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup,' Trump blustered on Twitter. 'It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the US bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don't support us (including at the United Nations)?' Trump's comments could - indeed, almost certainly are - in breach of FIFA's rules on political interference regarding World Cup bids. Football's world governing body promised a 'fair, objective and transparent' decision process last month, following suggestions by Moroccan bid chairman Moulay Hafid Elalamy that FIFA was 'privately backing' the North American proposal. Whether FIFA - a hypocritical bunch of corrupt gangsters at the best of times - will have the stones to stand up to Trump and tell him where to stick his opinions is, of course, an entirely separate matter. The North American bid boasts large stadiums and an excellent infrastructure but is no certainty to win the June vote. The Morocco bid is expected to receive strong backing from FIFA's African and Middle East countries. France plans to back Morocco, the country's football federation president told local media recently, while Russia, which will host the 2018 tournament has said it will also vote for the North African nation's bid. The chairman of the North American bid, Sunil Gulati, said in January that 'political factors' were complicating the effort. 'This will be a tough battle,' he said. 'This is not only about our stadiums and our hotels and all of that. It’s about the perception of America, and it's a difficult time in the world. There are only certain things we can control. We can't control what happens on the thirty eighth parallel in Korea. We can't control what happens with embassies in Tel Aviv and we can't control what happens with climate-change reports. We do the best we can.' Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010 - in South Africa - but the Northern part of that continent has never been involved in hosting and Morocco has had several previous attempts. The controversial nature of Trump's regime and his strong stance on immigration are considered potentially damaging to the bid, although it should be remembered that Trump would be out of office by 2026, even if he were to serve two terms.