Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 2

Sports Category

Sports news, commentary and scores with wit and added value. We compare and contrast the best and worst sports reporting in the mainstream press, blogs, TV and online. We love the English Premier League (Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City) and all things football but we cover cricket, rugby, the Olympics, tennis, golf, F1 and highlights of the sporting year.

Arsenal Transer Balls: Willian, Coutinho, Partey and Carlos in; Guendouzi, Kolasinac, Sokratis and Mustafi out

Thursday nights remain good telly night for Arsenal fans thanks to the club winning the FA Cup and qualifying for the Europa League. When you’re holding the Cup all the suffering doesn’t quite go away because Arsenal finished 8th in the Premier League. And they’re looking to bolster their strange squad – how many average centre backs can one team have? – by recruiting Chelsea’s brilliant winger Willian, 31, Barcelona playmaker Philippe Coutinho, 28, and Atletico Madrid’s midfielder Thomas Partey, 27.

As Arsenal fans dream of replacing the irritating Matteo Guendouzi, expensive Mesut Ozil, limited Sead Kolasinac, likeable Sokratis Papastathopoulos and plodding Shkodran Mustafi, team captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tells Le10 Sport he’d like to play alongside Barcelona’s French forward Ousmane Dembele, 23. So you can add Alexandre Lacazette to the fire sale.

The obvious need for a towering, fast centre back means the Gunners are looking to recruit Sevilla’s Diego Carlos. Here’s Carlos, then with Nantes, keeping his cool as the referee loses the plot:

Posted: 4th, August 2020 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Bias Balls: Arsenal and Chelsea contest the FA Cup final facts

Media Bias: A look at biased football reporting. Arsenal won their 14th FA Cup with a 2-1 win over Chelsea. The game featured a penalty (VAR approved) and a red card, both given in Arsenal’s favour. What say the clubs’ websites.

The Penalty:

Chelsea: “a good Arsenal pass from the back sent Aubameyang away behind the Chelsea defence and onside this time. Azpilicueta gave chase but was judged to have fouled the Arsenal skipper as he entered the box and a penalty was awarded.”

Arsenal: “Kieran Tierney put Aubameyang away with a fine ball up the left. The Gabon international was hauled down by Cesar Azpilicueta in the box – penalty.”

The Red Card:

Chelsea: “Our Cup final prospects took another blow soon after when Kovacic was booked for a second time and was therefore sent-off. It was hugely debatable whether his contact with Xhaka’s foot warranted a yellow.”

Arsenal: “Matteo Kovacic was sent off for a second bookable offence”

The Hot Debate

Chelsea: “Another question was whether the Arsenal keeper later handled the ball outside of his penalty area when claiming a ball during the second half. He went unpenalised.”

Arsenal goalkeeper Martinez did not handle outside the area – which is why it wasn’t penalised.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, August 2020 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Aubameyang and Ceballos to stay at Arsenal: Sancho will walk to Manchester United

Let’s kick off this morning look at football transfer news in the media with the BBC’s ‘Gossip’ page. The State broadcaster’s headline is clear: “Transfer rumours: Sancho, Costa, Jimenez, Ceballos, Harrison, Aubameyang.” Before the rumours the fact: the name of Arsenal’s stellar striker, Aubameyang, appears in the headline only.

The striker is nearing the final year of his current Arsenal deal. Will be stay on? He’s 31 and looking for a three-year deal. He’ll get it. But the stories of any departure and interest from Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester City and more will keep the clicks coming. Why does the BBC need to do this? The BBC website hurts local news sites and now seems to want to take the traffic from football blogs and clickbait farms. The BBC is funded by a tax. Is this value for money? An attempt to be all things to all people?

The newspapers need clicks. Traffic is up but ad revenues are down. The Mirror says Borussia Dortmund’s England winger Jadon Sancho, 20, “may” have to instigate a move to Manchester United. Or he may not. The Star syas because Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz, 33, was terrific against Manchester City in the Gunners’ 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win, manager Mikel Arteta “could” decide not to try to sign a brilliant, young, fast, reliable and strong centre half. Or he coild wait a few moments, look on as Luiz makes a hash of a routine clearance and realise he should buy urgently.

Oh, and Dani Ceballos wants to stay at the club. The Spaniard is playing lovely football in the sun. But British football is mostly played under rain and cloud, conditions in which Ceballos has shone less brightly. Buyer beware.

Posted: 20th, July 2020 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, Sports | Comment


CNN obituary to Jack Charlton is US soccerball wrong

RIP Jackie Charlton. Stalwart of the mighty Leeds United, a World Cup winner with England in 1966, leader of the raucous Green Army when he took the Republic of Ireland into Italia ’90, defying the odds and making a country believe that maybe – just maybe – they could do it, and all-round good bloke. He gave many people a lot of joy. So how to pay tribute to the ‘Big Giraffe’?

Virtually all the newspaper front pages lead with a picture of ‘Our Jackie’. “Forever a hero,”says the Sunday Telegraph. And for millions of us who love football he was. Americans love football too. Well, the marketing says they do. This is how CNN hails the great player and manager:

Jack Charlton CNN fail

If only there was something out there, some kind of electronic database, perhaps, where a US researcher could working for the news station of record could find out what the figure dominating the headlines did.

Posted: 12th, July 2020 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal to sign Dani Ceballos

According to the BBC Arsenal are in a fight with AC Milan, Valencia and Real Betis in their attempts to sign midfielder Dani Ceballos, 23, on a permanent deal. The Spanish player signed to Real Madrid has been on loan at Arsenal this season. The BBC’s source is the Daily Express, the newspaper built on clickbait and SEO tricks. So we click.

The Express has been watching the telly. It repeats the words Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal manager, told everyone with a TV before Arsenal’s match with Leicester last Wednesday. “I’m really happy with him, the way he’s [Ceballos] evolving, and I love how much he likes to play football – the passion he puts into every training session and every game, you just have to see his celebrations,” says Arteta. “I think he’s evolving in the right way and he’s becoming a really important player for us.”

And then Express readers get a load of ifs and buts and coulds. If Arsenal quality for the Champions League – which they won’t do – they “could” sign Ceballos. So much for the scoop.

Ceballos

But hold on a moment. Just over a week ago, a few days before Arteta was hailing Ceballos as a “big talent” he wanted to keep at the club, the Express’s sister title, the Daily Mirror told readers:

Arsenal reportedly won’t sign Dani Ceballos when his loan spell from Real Madrid ends – as the midfielder has not done enough to impress manager Mikel Arteta.

The source was The Sun:

CEballos

The Suns source? There isn’t one. It’s almost as if the tabloids don’t have a clue what they’re talking about and design content for clicks. As it is, Arsenal are looking to sign Ceballos. And given his recent efforts, he’d be well worth the investment.

Posted: 11th, July 2020 | In: Arsenal, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Wigan Athletic: a victim of Premier League greed

Away from the greed and vanity of the absurdly hyped Premier League lies the EFL. It’s in the news because Championship club Wigan Athletic have gone into administration. EFL chairman Rick Parry, the former Liverpool and Premier League chief executive, says Wigan’s plight is “the “tremendous shock”. It is? Well, it is to the Wigan players and staff who knew nothing of the disaster until the very new owners said they’d had enough.

Wigan Athletic changed Hong Kong-based owners a month ago. The new owners, Next Leader Fund, have put the club into administration. The club have been duly handed a 12-point deduction, which could see them relegated. The owners say they injected “more than £40m” into Wigan’s coffers. After taking control, Au Yeung said he was “excited to join the Wigan Athletic family”.

So who is to blame? The Guardian notes:

The EFL’s test and takeover process involves determining that a new owner has the money to buy a club and support it financially for at least the remainder of the season and the whole of the following season. However less than a month later and a week since Au Yeung was announced as the majority owner, the club has appointed the administrators Gerald Krasner, Paul Stanley and Dean Watson of the insolvency practitioner Begbies Traynor.

Rod Liddle tells Times readers:

Rick Parry, the EFL chairman, was secretly recorded by a Wigan fan darkly suggesting that the decision to put the club into administration may have had something to do with a very big bet placed in the Philippines on Wigan being relegated this season. The apparent implication being that the prospect of Wigan going down would be somewhat enhanced, if not ensured, by the mandatory 12-point deduction for going into administration. All rather hard cheese on the manager, Paul Cook, who had hauled his side out of the danger zone and into comparative safety since February (thus, of course, lengthening the odds for their relegation).

So much for the theories. Parry has been talking with the BBC:

Rick Parry: “It was a tremendous shock – a bolt from the blue.

“Normally if a club is facing administration you get warning signs. Generally they don’t pay HMRC, they don’t pay the players, there are problems with creditors and it happens gradually.

“It is really unprecedented for an owner [Au Yeung Wai Kay, the head of Next Leader Fund that took ownership] to put his own club into administration, literally overnight. It is completely unprecedented for an owner who has only just acquired the club for £40m to put his prized asset straight into administration and therefore destroy its value to him.

“It makes absolutely no sense to us – it’s a real mystery, I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”

Roan: Does the EFL need to take some responsibility?

Parry: “He passed the tests. You can criticise them and say they need to be beefed up, but he did pass the test. He wasn’t a complete newcomer because there had been a transition from the previous owner, who had been there two years.

“The previous owner had been putting something like £24m in, and had secured Wigan in the Championship. He introduced the new owner, there had been partnerships, it had evolved. This isn’t somebody who appeared from nowhere.

“Our test, bluntly, is limited, it’s an objective test, there are limited grounds to turn down an owner. It is a test that, by definition, the more foreign owners you have the more difficult it is to apply because of the amount of information that is available.”

Roan: Was the EFL lax in the application of the rules?

Parry: “No – he passed the test, albeit it self-certifications and he provided the assurances. What none of our rules can legislate for is an owner changing his mind.”

Roan: Does this all show that the ownership rules need to be tightened?

Parry: “It’s no use just talking about owners’ and directors’ tests as if that is going to solve all of the problems. You really need to go back to why did we end up with Chinese owners in the lower reaches of the Championship in the first place?

Can we follow the money?

“We need to make our clubs sustainable – we shouldn’t be relying on random foreign owners.”

Roan: Is coronavirus a plausible excuse?

Parry: “If he said it in February, then it would be plausible. What I don’t get is given we are coming out of the crisis and heading towards playing again, why would you buy a club in June and then put it in administration at the end of the crisis? That’s the bit that doesn’t quite stack up.”

It all stacks up. English football is a bubble pumped up by marketing guff that attempts to make gambling an essential part of the match day experience, and foreign investment by people for whom the sport is a property-based business. The Premier League is run on greed. When the bubble bursts, more clubs will go to the wall.

A few more bits:

In a Hong Kong stock exchange document setting out its reasons for selling, IEC [International Entertainment Corporation] cited the “unsatisfactory financial performance” of the club, due to the punishing economics of the Championship, and also mentioned the suspension of football because of the coronavirus pandemic and the impact of Brexit. It said Brexit “could have material long-term impact on the economy and the future growth of the UK which may damage investors’ confidence in the UK and also reduce local consumer spending, which could further deteriorate the performance of the [club]”.

Since buying the club the company said it sustained increases in players’ wages to £17.5m, from £10m in 2017-18, and sustained a £9m loss for the 13 months to 30 June last year.

Read it all: Wigan Athletic: EFL chairman Rick Parry says English football has been ‘disrespected’

Posted: 9th, July 2020 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Partey wants Arsenal move, agrees terms but prefers Manchester United

In today’s look at the twilight world of football reporting, the BBC says Arsenal are in the box seat to sign Atlético de Madrid’s Ghanian midfielder Thomas Partey. Is he turned on by the change to play with Musatfi and Xhaka and hang out with Gunnersaurus? Not quite and not all. The Gunners have offered to triply Partey’s wage, says AS. The Express says Arsenal want to pay the £45m transfer in instalments. The Sun says Partey is “ready to come” to Arsenal. The Mirror says his is a “massive boost” to Arsenal. The Express says Partey “wants to play for Arsenal”.

Partey agrees; Partey does not agree

And then the news gets shaky. The web is full of news that Partey has and has not agreed personal terms with Arsenal. TeamTalk says: “Thomas Partey has told Atletico Madrid he wants to leave this summer and that his preference is to sign for Manchester United”. “Arsenal target Thomas Partey prefers Man Utd transfer,” says the Express – the same paper that says he dreams of playing for Arsenal.

Does the player know what he wants? JJ Sport, the agency representing the player, posted on Instagram a picture of Partey alongside the words “pick his club” and the colours of Manchester United, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. How long before he kisses the badge at one of those clubs remains to be seen.

Posted: 4th, July 2020 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal News: Bukayo Saka signs new Gunners contract

Dash those reports that Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka as ready to lave the club. The 18-year-old star in the making with 33 appearances to his name has just signed a new “long-term” contract with the Gunners.

It was never in doubt. Well, not unless you’ve heeded some of the tosh written about Saka in the past few months. Get a load of this in the Express. The ‘stumbling block’ was ‘stumbling blocks’ – he didn’t want to leave and wasn’t for sale:

Such are the facts.

Posted: 1st, July 2020 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Fantastic photographs of Manchester United and Manchester City fans in the 1970s

Iain S.P. Reid’s brilliant photographs of football fans in Manchester in the late 1970s are being shared. People are coming forward to say ‘That’s me in the picture’. And that’s great. A book of Iain’s pictures will feature your names and your stories. So please spread the word. We really want to hear if you or someone you know is in Iain’s pictures of Manchester United and Manchester City fans enjoying the carnival of match day.

As part of the project we’ve also got prints of many of the photos at the Flashbak Art Prints Shop.

See lots more of Ian’s photos on Facebook.

Posted: 30th, June 2020 | In: Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Ceballos won’t stay; Edu talks nonsense; Thomas Partey too expensive

How do you reward the player who scored the goal that took you into the FA Cup semi-finals? If you’re Arsenal, you assure Dani Ceballos, 23, for it is he, that you will not try to buy him when his loan deal from Real Madrid ends. So bad are Arsenal at player recruitment, so scattergun their transfer policy, that Ceballos should write a thank you letter to whoever it is who runs the club for not trying to sign him.

Incidentally, who does oversea transfers at Arsenal? Who actually identifies and picks players? Does anyone know who thought Lichsteiner, Xhaka, Mustafi and Denis Suarez were good investments?

Raul Sanllehi says Arsenal must “outsmart the market”. What doe that mean? Is Thomas Partey at £45m too expensive or smart?

Sanllehi is the club’s ‘head of football’ and should not be confused with the Arsenal ‘technical director’, Edu. And there’s the head coach, who might also be termed ‘head of football’ or technical director, Mikel Arteta. Says Edu: “Mikel has to be involved in recruitment, he must. We talk about what we need, the characteristics of the players, the system we’re going to play and then I start the process internally.” With whom? Who does Edu talk with internally to hire players? Is it Josh Kroenke, the absentee owner’s son, a marketing man possessed with less football acumen than a kitten with a beach ball?

There are four people on the Arsenal board and two of them are called Mr Kroenke. Here’s what the Arsenal website says about the owners:

Stan:

Mr. Kroenke is a well-regarded real-estate developer with a diverse international portfolio that includes commercial and residential real estate, ranches, vineyards, shopping centres, warehouse facilities and hotels.

Josh:

Josh works closely with Kroenke Sports & Entertainment executives on multiple business operation issues, ranging from finance to marketing.

Arsenal: the London office of a marketing and real estate empire.

Posted: 30th, June 2020 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Luiz, Mari, Soares and Ceballos all sign up for a another year of misplaced unbearable hope

Good news, Gooners. And even better news for strikers playing against your club. Arsenal have beaten FC Desperado to secure the signature of David Luiz. The Brazilian will play for Arsenal for another season.

Joining him in the Premier League’s most over-priced defensive bunfight are Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares, who have also agreed to stay at the club.

Dani Ceballos has extended his loan deal from Real Madrid until the end of this season. And – who knows – the Spanish midfielder might prove to be a better defender than the lot of them.

As Arsenal fans wonder if the club’s recruitment policy is based on an attempt to make Xhaka and Mustafi look as good as their teammates, the club’s technical director Edu explains how it’s all part of the big plan.

“I am really happy that we will have these players in our squad for the future,” says Edu. “They have been part of the long-term technical plan [manager] Mikel [Arteta] and I have developed. They bring the right balance to our squad.” Luiz is 33. What long term plan is he part of?

“David is a really important player for us. He has played most of our matches this season and has been important for the team,” says Edu. “His passing, his communication with the team on and off the pitch – he helps everyone.” Just last week Luiz helped Manchester City to three points in a 25-minute spell that featured two bursts of hapless defending that led directly to two City goals and a red card.

Posted: 24th, June 2020 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: The Bernd Leno miracle

Remember when Bernd Leno, the Arsenal goalkeeper, suffered a “horror injury (Mail) in a match with Brighton? So horrible was the injury that the Sun told us that BT Sport refused to show it in a replay.

Leno the sun
X-Rated Horror!

As I pointed out, Arsenal fans are made of sterner stuff than those BT softies and could watch the gore fest on their club’s family friendly official website.

Leno injury
Will Leno walk again?!

As the world prayed for Leno, the Sun looked at five goalies Arsenal could sign to cover for Leno should be be out for year with what could be cruciate knee ligament damage.

And then prayers were answered. It turns out that Leno had merely sprained his knee. He will walk again! There will medical journals telling of Leno’s knee. Religionist will will point to Bernd ‘Lazarus’ Leno as evidence of god’s love.

Amen.

Posted: 23rd, June 2020 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Pray for Bernd Leno: watch the ‘horror’ injury before the watershed

Leno injury

Another days and with it another injury to an Arsenal player. This time it’s Bernd Leno, the talented Arsenal goalkeeper who jarred his knee in a match against Brighton. So bad was the “horror injury” that according to the Sun, broadcaster BT Sport “refused” to show it on the telly. Dead bodies, war, famine and George Floyd having his neck sat on by a policeman for nearly nine minutes in America (he was pronounced dead not long after) are all suitable items for tea-time watching. But the German goalie jarring his knee is unacceptable to Arsenal fans who have seen in recent years two players (Euduardo and Ramsay) carried from the pitch with badly broken legs and another (Diaby) badly hurt.

For anyone keen to see the incident help is at hand because you can watch Leno jarring his leg on the official Arsenal website. Elsewhere you can see Leno cussing at the Brighton player who clattered him, contributing to the injury and leaving the ground on crutches. We can assure viewers that Leno will walk again. In other news: 60,000 people are dead from Covid-19. As you were…

Posted: 21st, June 2020 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Beat Lockdown with your own Backyard Golf Course

Beat the lockdown with this Backyard Golf Course from 1960. To make your own, you’ll need: a putter, golfball, string, tin cards, cardboard, a backyard and a more odds and sods from around the home. And because it’s your own golf club, you can set the rules and ban whoever you like:

Spotter: Collection Jim Linderman

Posted: 20th, June 2020 | In: Sports | Comment


Arsenal : Injured Mari, Hapless Luiz, Terrible Mustafi and the worst defensive crisis in living memory

When Arsenal’s Pablo Marí was injured just a few minutes into the restarted Premier League season, the obituaries were ready to be written. The defender’s injury sustained in a 3-0 hammering at Manchester City is as bad as you want it to be. The Sun says the player’s season is over and he will need surgery. The Mail says the player’s loss is a “huge blow”. It is a “serious injury”. The prognosis is better in the Mirror, which reports that Mari “could sideline him for several weeks”. Or to rephrase it, he might not be sidelined for several weeks.

The narrative is that Arsenal are in a state of “crisis” because of the injury. But that’s bunkum. The truth is that Arsenal have lots of centre backs: Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding are fit, Sokratis Papastathopoulos is back next week and Calum Chambers – arguably the club’s best centre-half – is nearing full fitness after a lengthy injury-induced layoff. Oh, and in two games time the Gunners can call on the services of David Luiz. There’s also Mavropranos, who can be recalled from loan. And William Saliba, who could arrive at a push.

The official word on Mari is that it is a “significant injury which is currently undergoing further specialist assessment”.

The unofficial observation is that Arsenal have lots and lots of players – and most of them are not fit to tie Tony Adams’ laces.

Posted: 19th, June 2020 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Fabulous Photographs and Art Prints of Manchester United and Manchester City Football Fans 1976-1977

Manchester united fans art prints 1977

Thanks to the Flashbak art prints shop for showing us these brilliant photographs of football fans in Manchester in the late 1970s. They were taken by Iain S. P. Reid in 1976 and 1977. The photographs zoom in on Manchester derby games between Manchester United and Manchester City. Plans are for the photographs and the stories around them to appear in a book. So i you are in any of the photographs or know someone was is, please get in touch.

Manchester united fans 1977

Sadly Iain passed away in November 2000. He was cremated at Hazelhead Crematorium, Aberdeen on the 8th November 2000. The mourners were so many that some had to stand outside…. A testament to his life. He was much loved by many. His photographs are arguably the best images of British football culture in the 1970s. More from the Manchester series are being posted on Iain’s Facebook Page.

15% of all profits from prints and the book go to the charity Melanoma UK

You can buy the art prints here.

Please follow Iain’s Facebook Page for more of these great photos.

All images are the copyright the Estate of Iain S. P. Reid and must not be used without permission.

Posted: 2nd, June 2020 | In: Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Coronavirus Club: what happens if Premier League players refuse to play?

We’ve heard a fair a bit about footballers testing positive – and most of them testing negative – for coronavirus. But what if they don’t want to work in an environment so unsafe that they need to be tested for a potentially life-threatening virus twice a week? No players or club staff tested positive from 1,130 tests conducted last Thursday and Friday. But they might have. So they’ll all be tested again next week. Does that sound safe to you, or an admittance that things are dangerous? Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings is unimpressed. He says players were the “last people to be consulted” over the Premier League’s “financially driven” Project Restart. Mings says players are just “commodities” and the Premier League lacks integrity. Yeah. Who knew?

“Project Restart is financially driven. I think everybody accepts that,” he tells the Mail. “I am all for playing again because we have no other choice. As players, we were the last people to be consulted about Project Restart and that is because of where we fall in football’s order of priority. That isn’t a problem. We got the option to come back to training and that’s fine because we didn’t have to but if the FA and the EFL and the government and Uefa and the Premier League all say you are going back to play, it really doesn’t make any difference what the players think because you are going back to play. It is get in or get out.”

So what happens if player decides to down tools and not play? Surely they’ll be in breach of contract with their club. But would their club fine them? We may well get to find out.

Posted: 31st, May 2020 | In: Sports | Comment


Football team populates stands with sex doll WAGs

South Korea sex doll

To South Korea, where FC Seoul being are being cheered on by a platoon of immaculate WAGs. But take a closer look and these women are entirely made of man-made fibres. Has Vicky overcooked the injections and filler? No. These are factory-fresh, coronavirus-proof sex dolls.

“We will think hard about what we need to do to ensure that something like this never happens again,” says an FC Seoul rep who mistook Bot345 for Victoria Beckham. “We want to sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused by the instalment of the mannequins. Our intention was to do something lighthearted in these difficult times. We will think hard about what we need to do to ensure that something like this never happens again.”

Said one player: “She never took her eyes off me nor even blinked. It filled me with energy and desire. Now I feel a bit deflated – which is how Bianca was looking after we left the hotel. Please don’t tell my wife.”

Posted: 26th, May 2020 | In: Sports, Strange But True | Comment


Cancel the Premier League season: AFC Bournemouth player tests positive for coronavirus

Why anyone still think it’s sane to resume the Premier League season is beyond most of us. The German Bundesliga has restarted but with no crowds it’s a moribund, soulless spectacle. And now an unnamed Bournemouth player is one of two new coronavirus cases discovered by the latest round of Premier League tests. The players will now self-isolate for a week.

Speaking on Friday, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said he was “as confident as we can be” about restarting in June. To which the question is: if it was you or your child a kicking ball around, perhaps with a young child or pregnant partner at home, would you be “confident” about playing contact sport?

Posted: 24th, May 2020 | In: Sports | Comment


Brighton players infected with Coronavirus spells end of Premier League season

Attempts to restart the Premier League have been hit with another problem: three Brighton players have tested positive for coronavirus Covid-19. “It is a concern,” says Brighton chief executive Paul Barber on Sky Sports. “Despite all of the measures that we’ve been taking over the past few weeks, where the players haven’t been involved in any significant training at all, we’ve still suffered another player testing positive for the virus.”

The Premier League was put into hibernation on 13 March. The people who run the league and are fretting about losing all those TV billions want to resume matters in June. Teams have nine of 10 games to play to complete the full fixture list. Can they all safely be crammed in before the next season begins in August? Players’ health is paramount, so too that of the non-playing staff around them. What if the players, coaches, coach drivers and kit washers don’t want to work? What then? At what point did an enjoyable leisure activity become essential and so self-regarding? That question to you, the people in the executive boxes talking to one another on Skype…

Posted: 10th, May 2020 | In: Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stays at Arsenal, leaves for £30m and Chelsea swap him for Willian

No football, but no end of transfer balls as the BBC tells us that Arsenal “will sell Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 30, for £30m”. The team captain who scores around half of all Arsenal goals will be sold because next September he enters the final year of his current deal. The Sun agrees that £30m will get your club one of the world’s best strikers. Says the paper:

ARSENAL are looking to sell Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for just £30million. Mikel Arteta is desperate not to lose his 20-goal top scorer for nothing next year.

Logic be damned. Arsenal manager Arteta wants Aubameyang to stay so will sell him. We’re also told Arsenal will swap Aubameyang for Chelsea’s Willian. “Arteta is facing a major issue to overhaul his squad — and with a severely restricted transfer budget,” says the paper. But the Sun told us Arsenal are lining up a £45m bid for Thomas Partey.

Partey arsenal

Maybe the Daily Express can shed some light on the facts? The paper’s headline screams: “Aubameyang ready to sign new Arsenal contract despite Man Utd, Chelsea transfer proposals.”

Aubameyang

Such are the facts.

Posted: 29th, April 2020 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal sanction Aubameyang exit in cavalcade of tabloid tosh

The BBC says Arsenal are no longer discussing a new contract with their captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Beeb’s source is the Daily Mirror, which says Arsenal have “pulled out” of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang contract talks before name-checking for SEO purposes a list of top clubs: “Aubameyang has been linked with a move away from the Emirates this summer, with Manchester United, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea all believed to be interested in signing him.” Believed by who, the Mirror (prop. Reach plc) does not say. But it does revels the source for its story: the Daily Express (prop. Reach plc).

Over to the Express, then, a paper known for churning out clickbait. Get a load of the scoop’s URL: “Arsenal-news-Aubameyang-contract-talks-Inter-Chelsea-Man-Utd-transfer-EXCLUSIVE.” Four clubs named in one burst of SEO. And now for the facts: “The Gunners are ready to listen to offers for the £56million star after pulling out of contract talks with him late last week.” And? And nothing. That’s it.

Posted: 26th, April 2020 | In: Arsenal, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Liverpool finish first but don’t win Premier League title; Leicester, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United qualify for Champions League; Wolves, Sheffield United and Arsenal get Europa League

The Dutch have cancelled their domestic football season. And it’s bad news for Liverpool and very good news for Norwich and other teams facing relegation from the Premier League. There will no champion of the Eredivisie, the Netherlands’ top league. There will be no relegations. One option was to take an average of points scored so far and add them to games still to play. But that would have made no difference to the teams qualifying for the Champions League and Europa league, respectively. In the Premier League, it would – and it means Arsenal (currently in 9th spot) qualifying for the Europa League ahead of Spurs (8th).

Manchester City’s (2nd) ban from the European competition means Manchester United (5th) take their place in the Champions League, where they will be in the mix with Leicester City (3rd) and Chelsea (4th).

It is the most likely scenario. Already all football in England below the three divisions that make up the National League has ended and all results expunged.

It’s time for the upper tiers to follow suit and present a clear path ahead. The Dutch have set the agenda – and it’s the right one.

Posted: 24th, April 2020 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, News, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Kick It Out: Newcastle United’s Saudi Arabia money is perfect for the greedy, moralising Premier League

Newcastle United: Saudi Arabia money  is perfect for the greedy, moralising Premier League

The latest plot to make Newcastle United winners is under attack. beIn Sports wants the Premier League to stop Newcastle’s proposed £300million takeover from a Saudi Arabia-led consortium. The prospective buyers have funds from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund – money controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Qatar media network beIN SPORTS has an exclusive deal to broadcast all Premier League football matches in the Middle East and North Africa for the three seasons 2019/20-2021/22. “Nothing brings people together and excites passions and emotions like sport; particularly football,” guffed beIn’s spots chairman as the £400m deal was signed. But sport can only do so much. The hand of friendship can be cut off at the wrist. The two countries are not on the best of terms:

Since 2017 Qatar has been subject to a boycott by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt (the Arab Quartet), creating a deep rift in a region already beset by civil wars and insurgencies

CityAm explains:

BeIN is locked in a bitter dispute with illegal Saudi-backed broadcaster BeoutQ, which it has accused of pirating its coverage of Premier League fixtures.

“In light of the Saudi Arabia government’s facilitation of the near three-year theft of the Premier League’s commercial rights — and in turn your club’s commercial revenues — through its backing of the huge scale BeoutQ pirate service, I would strongly suggest that you fully interrogate this deal, and ask the Premier League to do the same, as a matter of urgency,” al-Obaidly wrote.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the future economic model of football is at stake,” he added.

Pick a side: Qatar or Saudi Arabia? And don’t forget to pull on your rainbow laces. This is what Human Rights Watch says of each bastion of the beautiful game:

Qatari laws continue to discriminate against women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals

The Premier League says: “The Premier League, proudly stand alongside Stonewall in promoting equality and diversity… we ask that all fans support LGBT people in football and beyond by making them feel welcome.”

Premier LEague kick it out

Saudi Arabia faced unprecedented international criticism in 2019 for its human rights record, including continuing repression of dissidents and activists and the failure to provide accountability for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in October 2018. Amid the criticism, Saudi authorities announced landmark reforms for Saudi women that, if fully implemented, represent a significant step forward, including allowing Saudi women over 21 years old to obtain passports and travel abroad without male guardian permission for the first time. However, women’s rights activists still remained in prison or on trial for their activism. In 2019, Saudi Arabia carried out 184 executions, 84 for non-violent drug crimes. Through 2019, the Saudi-led coalition continued a military campaign against the Houthi rebel group in Yemen that has included scores of unlawful airstrikes that have killed and wounded thousands of civilians.

Racism and sexism are the norm in Saudi Arabia. The moralising PL must be shocked. It support Kick It Out, stating:

The Premier League is making it clear there is No Room For Racism as we continue to work with all our clubs, fans, the FA, EFL, PFA, Kick It Out and the police to tackle discrimination across all areas of football.

The League’s No Room for Racism campaign demonstrates its continued commitment to equality and diversity, using the power and popularity of the League to oppose racism in football.

Racism is not acceptable in our competition or the wider sport.

The Saudi and Qataris are just the sort of people, then, that our moralising Premier League can do business with. Time for the PL to make a tough decision and stop using football to teach the fans how to think.

Posted: 23rd, April 2020 | In: Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal show their class as players agree reduced salaries to help the club

How is your football club responding to the coronavirus crisis? Liverpool and Spurs got greedy. Their plan to milk the State for staff wages upset fans, whose vociferous reaction caused both clubs to change direction and pay their staff in full. Manchester United expressed their view that a pandemic presented the chance for them to hammer smaller clubs. And Arsenal? Their players are the first in the Premier League to agree to a pay cut. The board has already agreed a more than 33% wage cut for the next 12 months.

The Gunners players will take a 12.5% wage cut but be reimbursed if they qualify for next season’s Champions League or the 2021-22 competition. They will get a £100,000 bonus for reaching next year’s Champions League. They will each reportedly earn £500,000 for winning the 2021 Champions League or £100,000 for the Europa League.

The Gunners are eight points off of a Champions League place with 10 games remaining. Their chances of reaching the Champions League are slim. Those wages will never be made up.

Posted: 18th, April 2020 | In: Arsenal, Money, Sports | Comment