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Tragedy in Indonesia

Around 175 people have been killed in a crush at an Indonesian match that has become one of the world's worst stadium disasters. A further 180 were injured in the aftermath of Arema FC’s game at the Kanjuruhan stadium. The crush took place after police tear-gassed fans who invaded the pitch. As panic spread, thousands surged towards the exits, where many suffocated. FIFA have consistently stated that no "crowd control gas" should be carried or used by stewards or police at matches. One eyewitness said police had fired numerous tear gas rounds "continuously and fast" after the situation with fans became very strained. 

PSG chief hits out at Barca

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has criticised Barcelona over their summer asset sales, the so-called “levers” that helped the club through its immediate financial crisis. Barca sold stakes in their domestic TV company and Barca Studios, raising over € 700 million which helped them comply with La Liga rulings. Al-Khelaifi questioned whether the sales were in fact legal. “If you allow this, others will follow. UEFA have their own financial regulations, so they will look at everything.” Al-Khelaifi, whose club were not involved in the aborted European Super League, unlike Barca and Real Madrid, believes the project will never get off the ground. “I am really sure that no one will allow the ESL to happen. We need to think of everyone, not just ourselves. And he must respect our fans.”

LA Galaxy return to MLS play-offs

LA Galaxy clinched their first MLS playoff berth since 2019 with a 1-1 draw away to Real Salt Lake. Douglas Costa converted a 68th-minute penalty won by Javier Hernandez. RSL had gone ahead in the 25th minute from Sergio Cordova's header, but wasted two late opportunities to clinch victory. Former Manchester United forward Hernandez earned Galaxy's reprieve when he was upended by Marcelo Silva inside the box, with Costa sending MacMath the wrong way. The draw was enough for the Galaxy, who are fourth in the Western Conference with 47 points from 33 games, with RSL in eighth, just outside the playoff spots.

Shame in Sydney

Football Australia is examining video footage of the crowd at the Australia Cup final in Sydney after some adopted the Nazi salute. The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies has rightly called for 58 Sydney United fans who displayed Nazi symbols and salutes at the match to be given lifetime bans. A record 16,461-strong crowd gathered at Commbank Stadium to watch Macarthur FC beat Sydney United 58 2-0.The final was overshadowed by the antics of Sydney United supporters jeering the pre-match welcome to country and the national anthem and made Hitler salutes visible on camera. The state Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive, Darren Bark, condemned the display of Nazi symbols and salutes during the game “in the strongest possible terms”. “These vile symbols and salutes have no place in modern Australian society,” he said.


PSG trying to cover up row between stars

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar's relationship is again the source of problems at Paris Saint-Germain. The tension came to the surface in the recent Champions League win over Juventus, when Mbappe shot from a tight angle despite Neymar having an open goal. PSG led 2-0 at the time, but Mbappe should have squared to his teammate. Some of his team-mates have been frustrated by Mbappe's apparent selfishness, notably Neymar. PSG manager Christophe Galtier is managing a difficult situation but he's having to play things down when he speaks to the press. "The relationship between them is very good, I don't want to talk about it," Galtier said. 

England relegated

A disappointing performance in Milan condemned England to relegation as their poor UEFA Nations League campaign continued with a 1-0 defeat to Italy.
Gareth Southgate's team suffered a third defeat in six games, adding to the 1-0 away defeat to Hungary and the 4-0 thrashing at Wembley from the same opposition. The breakthrough came in the 68th minute as 22-year-old Napoli striker Giacomo Raspadori scored, catching out Kyle Walker and then sending a pinpoint finish beyond Nick Pope. England struggled to generate serious chances, but Harry Kane had two attempts on goal late on.

Juve losses off the field

Juventus board members were in conference this week, diuscussing the club's finances. According to sources, the future of coach Max Allegri wasn't on the agenda. Juventus has announced a record-breaking €254.3m loss. The Bianconeri have been struggling with the after-effect of the 2020 covid pandemic and it continues to tell on their finances. As one of the biggest clubs in the world, they have continued to spend money to bolster their team to remain competitive. But a lack lustre start to the season and possible exit in the Champions League, Juve's situation will come under further pressure. Allegri is on a € 7 million per year deal, but his contract runs until June 2025.


New stadium for Milan

AC Milan and Inter have unveiled the latest project to replace their San Siro Stadium with a state-of-the-art arena. The Milan giants have long been looking to build a new football temple – ‘La Catedral’ – which will now be built alongside the current ground. Construction is due to begin in 2024 and San Siro will be demolished. Capacity will be 65,000 seats. The cost will be north of US$ 1 billion. Previous attempts to get the new stadium launched have hit a number of hurdles. The clubs then launched a feasibility study into the redevelopment of the stadium and the surrounding area after they were told by the city that they could not knock down the old stadium. “We have everything that is needed: the football, the people, fans. I see a brilliant future, you just need to have courage. Creating new stadiums is a fundamental step if we want to be at the top of the football world again," said AC Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis.

Human rights groups frustrated by FA

Action groups have criticised the Football Association for the "severe delay" in its statement on human rights prior to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. On Wednesday the FA launched an anti-discrimination campaign that will feature a OneLove armband. It also backed calls for compensation to be awarded for any injury or death related to a World Cup construction. Human Rights Watch has questioned the timing of the move. "The English Football Association's statement is welcome despite the severe delay," said spokesperson Rothna Begum. "With just weeks to go before the first football is kicked, it is urgent that all football associations maximise pressure on Fifa and Qatari authorities."

Russia still in the cold

Russia's isolation from international sport continues after UEFA confirmed the country would be excluded from qualification for Euro 2024. UEFA President Alexander Ceferin commented: "The decision regarding (Russian) national and clubs teams on their suspension it was a decision taken until further notice, which means, that until we decide otherwise this will remain on place. We hope that the war will end as soon as possible so we can have the national team of Russia in our competitions, but with the situation as it is, we cannot even discuss it." Russia has been banned from UEFA and FIFA competitions since it launched its invasion of Ukraine in February.

Just like old times

The 2021-22 season saw a return of football violence with trouble at its highest level for eight years. The UK Home Office has issued a report that indicates there were a total of 2,198 soccer-related arrests with incidents reported at 53% of games. There were also 441 pitch invasions, an increase of 127% on 2018-19. There were some bad incidents, such as Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp being hit on the head and the assault of Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen by a Manchester City fan. The report also revealed that 516 people were banned from attending games, the most sanctioned clubs due to off-field issues were Millwall, Leicester City and Everton.


Brighton appoint de Zerbi as new coach

Brighton have hired former Shakhtar Donetsk and Sassuolo manager Roberto de Zerbi to replace Graham Potter, who left the club for Chelsea earlier this month. De Zerbi, who is Italian, has been unemployed since leaving Ukraine in July due to the war. He has signed a four-year contract with Brighton, subject to receiving a work permit. Tony Bloom, the club’s Chairman, said he was delighted to welcome de Zerbi to the Amex and praised his approach to deliver an exciting and courageous brand of football. De Zerbi will be only Brighton’s third permanent managerial appointment since 2014.

Juve shocker as Monza break their duck

Monza, the club owned by former Italian president Silvio Berlusconi, secured their first ever Serie A victory when they pulled off a shock win against Juventus. Juve, who have won just two of their seven league games this season, were beaten by a 74th minute goal from Danish striker Christian Gytkjaer. Juve had Angel Di Maria sent off in the first half, the 10th red card of his career. Juve coach Max Allegri, who was sitting in the stand owing to his own red card a week ago, is now under pressure from the club’s fans and a social media campaign was triggered off by this latest setback.

Villa stun City

Aston Villa opened their WSL campaign with a 4-3 win against Manchester City at Villa Park in front of almost 7,000 people. Villa shocked their highly-fancied opponents by going into a 2-0 lead with goals from Alisha Lehmann and debutant Rachel Daly. City pulled a goal back before half-time through Laura Coombs. In the second half, City opened well and Khadija Shaw (53 minutes) and Coombs again (55) turned the game on its head. Kenza Dali made it 3-3 in the 58th. Villa clinched victory with another goal from Daly with 14 minutes remaining. It was the first time Villa had beaten City in the WSL.

Gunners go back to top

Arsenal returned to top spot with a comprehensive 3-0 win at Brentford and made a little bit of history in the process. In the closing minutes of the game, Mikel Arteta introduced Ethan Nwaneri as a substitute, and at 15 years and 181 days, he became the youngest ever Premier League player. William Saliba put Arsenal ahead after 17 minutes with a header and Gabriel Jesus made it 2-0 in the 28th minute, nodding home a chip from Granit Xhaka. Four minutes into the second half, Portuguese midfielder Fabio Vieira scored the third goal with a shot from 25 yards.


Son spectacular as Spurs win 6-2

Son Heung-Min, who hadn’t scored this season before Spurs met Leicester, came off the bench to score a 14-minute hat-trick against the struggling Foxes. Spurs came from behind to beat Brendan Rodgers’ side 6-2, but Leicester took the lead early in the game with a twice-taken penalty by Youri Tielemans. Harry Kane levelled with a header after eight minutes and Eric Dier headed a second on 21 minutes. James Maddison made it 2-2 after 41. Two minutes into the second half, Rodrigo Betancur restored Spurs lead and then came the Son show. He replaced Richarlison on the hour and scored two spectacular goals in the 73rd and 84th minutes. He completed his hat-trick in the 86th. Spurs are now level on points with Manchester City at the top of the table and are unbeaten in the Premier.

Nagelsmann under fire

Bayern Munich crashed to their first Bundesliga defeat of the season when they were beaten 1-0 at Augsburg. Bayern have now gone four games without a win in the league, their worst run for 20 years, and the pressure is building on coach Julian Nagelsmann. Bayern fans are calling for Nagelsmann to be replaced after a mixed start to the season. Bayern’s saving grace has been their performances in the Champions League. Bayern have been short of firepower in recent weeks and Sadio Mane has yet to convince the locals. Augsburg’s winner came in the 59th minute from Mergum Brisha. Bayern were very blunt in attack and their best chance came in the closing seconds when goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was denied by Augsburg keeper Gikiewicz.

WSL: Manchester United off to a flyer

In front of 5,300 fans, Manchester United’s women thrashed Reading in their opening Women’s Super League game by 4-0 with all four goals scored in the first half. Defender Maya Le Tissier, who joined the club from Brighton in the summer, scored twice on her debut. EURO 2022 star Alessia Russo headed another just before the interval and Katie Zelem scored the other goal from the penalty spot. Another England star, Ella Toone, also had a good game, while Lionesses goalkeeper Mary Earps had a comfortably afternoon as Reading struggled.

Lewandowski on song

Barcelona went top of La Liga with an emphatic 3-0 win against Elche at the Camp Nou. Robert Lewandowski gave Barca the lead in the 34th minute, set-up by a move involving Pedri and Balde. Memphis Depay scored a second after 41 minutes, receiving the ball with his back to goal, turning and sending a shot into the top corner. Elche’s coach, Francisco Rodriguez was red-carded before the break. In the 48th minute, Lewandowski netted again after Depay laid the ball off. While Barca went [temporarily] top, Elche are rooted to the bottom of the La Liga table.

Geordies frustrated by Bournemouth

A meeting between Eddie Howe’s old club and his current employer ended with Newcastle drawing 1-1 with Bournemouth at St. James’ Park. After a goalless first half, Bournemouth took the lead in the 62nd minute when Philip Billing steered a cross from Jordan Zemura into the net. Five minutes later, Newcastle’s record signing, Alexander Isak equalised from the penalty spot after Jefferson Lerma handled a cross by Kieran Trippier. Newcastle, who had over 70% of possession, continue to struggle to win games – they have drawn five times this season. Bournemouth, who had their chances to win the game, are on the brink of a takeover from a US-based consortium.

Nine-goal thriller at Bristol Rovers

Bristol Rovers continued their grim start to the season with a 6-3 home defeat at the hands of Lincoln City. Joey Barton’s side conceded two goals in the first quarter of an hour from Ben House and Jack Diamond and by half time they were 3-1 down. It got worse after the break with Lincoln scoring two more through Matt Virtue and Diamond, who completed his hat-trick. Both players are loanees, Diamond from Sunderland and Virtue from Blackpool. Ryan Loft made it 2-5, but House netted Lincoln’s sixth before Aaron Collins scored his second of the game for the home side. It was a frantic game but good entertainment for the 8,000 crowd.


Pressure on Qatar to compensate workers

Around 75% of people in the UK would support FIFA using World Cup revenue to compensate 30,000 migrant workers who have suffered in Qatar, according to a survey by Amnesty International. The YouGov poll also found that 70% wanted the Football Association to speak out on human rights issues associated with the event. Amnesty has been urging FIFA to set up a £ 350 million compensation fund, which is roughly equal to the 2022 World Cup prize money fund. FIFA is expected to make around £ 5 billion from the tournament. Steve Cockburn of Amnesty International commented: “These findings send a clear message to football’s leadership. Across the globe, people are united in their desire to see FIFA step up and make amends for the suffering endured by migrant workers in Qatar. They also want to see their national associations take a much firmer stance."

Fred Callaghan

Fred Callaghan, who made 336 appearances for Fulham has died at the age of 77. A great character who was also well known in non-league football, Callaghan was as local as you can get to Fulham, being born in Parsons Green. He was known as “the tank” for his no-nonsense, hard-working style and was a pivotal part of Fulham’s 1971 third division promotion winning side. He enjoyed success at Woking where he produced a very attack-minded team that was a delight to watch.  Callaghan was a tax driver and if you happened to get in his black cab, he wouldn’t stop talking about football! 

Vital season for WSL

The Women’s Super League finally gets underway this weekend, possibly the most important campaign in the history of the competition. After the success of England in the European Championship, the WSL has the opportunity build on the popularity of the Lionesses and improve attendances at league games, which are still disappointing. There are encouraging signs, though, with 40,000 tickets sold for the Arsenal-Spurs derby on September 24 and Brighton reporting a 155% rise in season ticket sales. The WSL received a bit of a blow in the past few weeks with the departure of England star Keira Walsh, who moved to Barcelona for a world record £ 400,000 fee. This follows Lucy Bronze’s move to Spain. The WSL looks set to be another two or three-way battle for supremacy between Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal. 

Another blow for Juventus

Juventus are on the brink of Champions League group stage elimination after losing their second match against rejuvenated Benfica in Turin. Benfica fought back from a fourth minute setback when Arkadiusz Milik headed Juve in front. Goals from João Mário (a 43rd minute penalty) and a volley from David Neres in the 55th minute gave the Portuguese side a 2-1 win. Juve are now under pressure after a lack-lustre start to their league and Champions League campaign. Coach Max Allegri admitted that it will be difficult to reach the knockout stage. “It must be said that it is a delicate moment because we have lost two games in a row and this has not happened to me in 10 years. Now, it is complicated, but not yet compromised,” he said.


Worrying news for Chelsea

Chelsea's new owner, Todd Boehly has been sharing his plans and ideas for football in England, including the possiblity of Chelsea being part of a multi-club model. Boehly, who led a consortium to a £4.25billion takeover of Chelsea in May, put forward the suggestion that relegation places for the top-flight could be decided by a four-team tournament, rather than the usual format of the three bottom sides going down automatically. Boehly also came up with the idea of an all-star game in the Premier in the form of a North v South game. Boehly said the Premier could take a "little bit of a lesson from American sports."

Porto hammered at home

Club Brugge pulled off a surprise 4-0 victory at FC Porto to maintain their 100% record in the Champions League. An early penalty by Ferran Jutgla was followed by two goals after the interval from Kamal Sowah and Andreas Skov Olsen before a late effort from substitute Antonio Nusa sealed the win.
The Belgian champions were deserved winners and added to their first matchday victory over Bayer Leverkusen. Brugge have six points while Porto have zero. In the other game in the group, Leverkusen beat Atlético Madrid 2-0.


Wolves sign Diego Costa

Wolves have signed former Chelsea striker Diego Costa on a free transfer.
The 33-year-old has been without a club since leaving Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro in January. He passed his medical on Thursday last week as cover for new signing Sasa Kalajdzic, who suffered a cruciate injury on his debut. Costa has made around 500 career appearances, won the Premier League twice with Chelsea and claimed several trophies with Atletico Madrid.

Arsenal's Europa League game postponed

Arsenal’s Europa League fixture with PSV Eindhoven has been postponed due to a lack of adequate security personnel following the death of Queen Elizabeth.“This is due to the severe limitations on police resources and organisational issues related to the ongoing events surrounding the national mourning for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” wrote UEFA in a statement. All other European fixtures on British soil will go ahead as planned with Liverpool hosting Ajax, while Chelsea welcome Salzburg and Manchester City play host to Borussia Dortmund.

Champions League anthem excluded

UEFA have decided that the Champions League anthem will not be played at British games ahead of the second matchday of group games. Clubs will still pay their respects to the Queen - Liverpool have confirmed there will be a period of silence at Anfield ahead of their game against Eredivisie champions Ajax. Both sets of players will also wear black armbands."Flags at Anfield have been lowered to half-mast and will remain so throughout the full mourning period," read Liverpool's statement.


Emergency halts Barca win

Barcelona's La Liga game at Cadiz was halted for about 50 minutes after a fan had a medical emergency. Barca were leading 2-0 with 10 minutes remaining when the incident happened. The fan was taken to hospital by ambulance and Barca boss Xavi said: "We all agreed to stop [the game]." He added: "This sort of thing goes beyond football, we're talking about a human life here. "Fortunately they managed to save him." Barca went top of the La liga table with a 4-0 victory with goals from Frenkie de Jong, Robert Lewandowski, Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele.

Saudi Arabia keen on 2030 World Cup

Saudi Arabia is set to launch a joint bid with Egypt and Greece to host the 2030 World Cup. If successful, it would mean a tournament staged across three continents and another finals in the winter. This year’s World Cup in Qatar is the first to be played in November and December following concerns over the summer heat. The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) has nurtured strong ties with FIFA recently. They were keen on the concept of a biennial World Cup, an idea that eventually died down following intense opposition. If Saudi Arabia move ahead with their bid, they will face competition from a joint South American bid as well as a combined Iberian bid, the latter of which has considerable support within FIFA. 

Premier postponements – putting football in its place?

Opinions vary, but some pundits are wondering if the postponement of the football programme as a mark of respect to HM Queen Elizabeth was a little strange. While other sports continued, football was cancelled across the board in England and Scotland. Admittedly, Prince William is the president of the Football Association, but why were other sports permitted to go ahead? Some suggest anti-royal sentiment might raise its head at some clubs, but generally, the population has been respectful whether they are pro-monarchy or not. As evidenced at West Ham in midweek, the passing of the Queen was observed with emotion and dignity, so why did the FA feel it necessary to postpone the entire programme?

Copa Libertadores final is all-Brazilian

The Copa Libertadores semi-finals were completed last week and the two winners are both from Brazil. There was a surprise, however in that Palmeiras, winners in the past two seasons, failed to get through against Athletico Paranaense. Flamengo – runners-up last season - cruised through to the final with a 6-1 aggregate victory over Argentina’s Vélez Sarsfield, but Palmeiras went out 3-2 on aggregate thanks to an 85th minute goal by Athletico. The Curitiba-based club are managed by Luiz Felipe Scolari, who has won the Copa Libertadores twice before, with Gremio in 1995 and Palmeiras four years later. The final will be played on October 29 in Guayaquil, Ecuador.


Arsenal beaten for first time
Premier League leaders Arsenal crashed to their first defeat of the season at Old Trafford as Manchester United notched up their fourth consecutive victory. Arsenal thought they had taken an early lead through Gabriel Martinelli, but the effort was ruled out after a VAR check. United went ahead after 35 minutes, a sweet left-foot sweeping drive after some neat approach work. Bukayo Saka equalised on the hour, but Arsenal were caught by two swift counter-attacks by United. The first, on 66 minutes saw Marcus Rashford run onto a Fernandes through-ball and shooting home. In the 75th minute, Fernandes was involved again, sending Christian Eriksen clear who set-up Rashford for his second to make the final score 3-1 to United.

Bragging rights for the Rossoneri
Serie A champions AC Milan won the season’s first Milan derby, coming from behind to beat fellow San Siro tenants Inter by 3-2 in an exciting match. Marcelo Brozovic opened the scoring for Inter in the 21st minute, but Rafael Leao levelled eight minutes later. The Portuguese striker turned provider in the 54th minute, crossing for Olivier Giroud to put Milan ahead. On the hour, Leao added a third for the “home” side, beating two defenders before finishing with confidence. Inter refused to give up, however, and in the 67th minute, substitute Edin Dzeko fired into the net from close range.

Emphatic Celtic in the old firm derby
Celtic continued their excellent form with a 4-0 humbling of their Glasgow rivals, Rangers. In an explosive first half, Celtic raced into a 3-0 lead, with goals from Liel Abada (eight and 40 minutes) and a delightful dink from Jota (32). Rangers were shell-shocked at thye break but should have taken advantage of the chances they created, notably from the crosses of Borna Barisic. Celtic took their foot off the pedal in the second period, but 12 minutes from the end, David Turnbull rolled the ball into the net for the fourth goal.

All-square in Merseyside clash
Everton and Liverpool failed to find the back of the net in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. It was, nevertheless, a likely game that could have gone either way. Tom Davies hit the woodwork for Everton, while Darwin Nunez, Mo Salah and Luis Diaz were also denied by the posts and bar. Jordan Pickford also denied the vistors with some impressive saves. Everton thought they had snatched the win when Conor Coady turned the ball into the net from Neal Maupay’s shot, but VAR disallowed the effort. Liverpool’s goalkeeper, Alisson, also earned his wages with two outstanding saves from Maupay and Dwight McNeil.

FA Cup – Heybridge humble Hitchin
Isthmian League Step 4 club Heybridge Swifts pulled Hitchin Town apart at Top Field, winning 3-0 in their first qualifying round tie. But for a string of magnificent saves from second-choice goalkeeper Tiernan Parker, Hitchin might have been on the end of an even bigger defeat. Darren Phillips gave Heybridge the lead with a header after 25 minutes and generally, the Swifts were the better side in the first half. They went 2-0 ahead after a 40-yard shot from Jack Adlington-Pile that gave Parker no chance. Heybridge added more salt to Hitchin’s gaping wounds with a header from Adlington-Pile on 75 minutes. The woodwork prevented further goals, but Hitchin’s humiliation was complete.


Fofana joins Chelsea
Chelsea have signed French centre-back Wesley Fofana from Leicester City on a seven-year deal for £70 million. Fofana joined Leicester in 2020 from Saint-Etienne, but missed much of 2021-22 after breaking a leg."I'm here to win trophies - the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup, everything. I came here to win and the club is built to win trophies so I'm here to continue that." Fofana becomes the third most expensive defender in Premier League history.

Haaland does it again
Erling Haaland hit a first half hat-trick as Manchester City thrashed Nottingham Forest 6-0 at the Etihad. It was his second consecutive treble, scored just a few days after he netted three against Crystal Palace.
The 22-year-old has become the first player to score nine goals in his first five Premier League games. "He's brilliant. He's got the lot," said Forest manager Steve Cooper."Man City have the best striker in the world right now," said Dion Dublin.

Milan taken over
US firm Redbird Capital have acquired AC Milan for US$1.2 billion. The sale represents a huge windfall for investment fund Elliot which acquired Milan in 2018. “Our vision for Milan is clear: we will support our talented players, coaches and staff to deliver success on the pitch and allow our fans to share in the extraordinary experiences of this historic club,” said RedBird founder Gerry Cardinale. “We will look to leverage our global sports and media network, our analytics expertise, our track record in sports stadium developments and hospitality to maintain Milan’s place at the summit of European football.”

Napoli for CR7?
As the summer transfer window draws to a close, Cristiano Ronaldo is still pushing for a move. Although on Wednesday it was reported he would continue at Manchester United, the Portuguese star has the option to play at Napoli on loan for this season. Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis is excited by the idea of having the Portuguese striker at his club. Furthermore, coach Spalletti admitted a few days ago that "coaching Cristiano is something a coach would talk about for the rest of his life".


Klopp may or may not like a midfielder
Liverpool may be in the market for a new midfielder, but time is running out for the Reds with the transfer deadline on the horizon. Jürgen Klopp responded to questions about whether the club was still looking with the throwaway comment, “ish”, implying that if a target became available, Liverpool would be ready to act. However, Klopp intimidated that there were players he would like, but for various reasons, it wasn’t possible to buy them.  “I can’t tell you if I wanted to…and I don’t want to,” he joked in his pre-game press conference.

Manchester United overpay for Antony
Manchester United have reached agreement to sign Brazil winger Antony from Ajax. The deal, which is subject to a medical, is for an initial fee of €95 million - the fourth most expensive signing in Premier League history. The 22 year-old scored 24 goals in 82 appearances for Ajax after joining from Sao Paolo in 2020. He links up with his former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag at United.
The club has now spent over £ 200 million in the current transfer window, but this latest acquisition does look a shade expensive.

Chelsea let it slip
Chelsea’s inconsistent start to the season continued at Southampton, where Thomas Tuchel’s side crashed to a 2-1 defeat after taking the lead in the 23rd minute through Raheem Sterling – his third goal in two games. The Blues’ weaknesses in defence and up front showed through as Southampton came back in style. Romeo Lavia shot a superb equaliser for the Saints in the 28th minute after Chelsea failed to clear a corner. Southampton were the better side for the rest of the game and just before the interval Adam Armstrong sent a deflected shot into the top corner of Mendy’s net. 


Liverpool - crisis over
Liverpool, who had yet to win in 2022-23, swung back to winning ways in dramatic fashion, beating struggling Bournemouth 9-0 at Anfield.In doing so, they equalled the Premier League highest scoring record. Liverpool got off to the perfect start with two goals in the opening five minutes through Luis Diaz and Harvey Elliott. Trent Alexander-Arnold netted with a long-range shot and Roberto Firmino and Virgil van Dijk made it 5-0 by half-time. An own goal at the start of the second half added to Bournemouth's woes and Firmino scored again to claim his 100th goal in Liverpool colours. Fabio Carvalho volleyed the eighth and Diaz headed home for 9-0.

Alex Neil moves to Stoke
Stoke City have appointed Alex Neil as manager following his departure from Sunderland. Neil, who began his managerial career with Hamilton Academical in 2013, only moved to Wearside in February. Stoke joint-chairman John Coates said Neil was the club's "number one choice" in the search for a new manager."His managerial pedigree is excellent with three promotions already on his CV and we are looking forward to working closely with him to help him realise the ambitions that he and the club share."

ECA backs UEFA model
The European Club Association (ECA) board, has re-iterated its support for UEFA’s new financial distribution model, highlighting the broadcast deal with Paramount/CBS in the US as an example of the co-operation. UEFA and the ECA have undertaken a joint venture that covers media rights sales processes for UEFA competitions post-2024. Highlighting the principles of solidarity and investing across the football pyramid, the ECA said: “With 42% of all revenues currently going to clubs and projects outside of the flagship UEFA Champions League, the Board noted the vital funds already going to all clubs in medium to small leagues thanks to ECA and UEFA – but with work to be done."

PSG all-stars held
Paris Saint-Germain were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Monaco. In an often bad tempered game, monaco took a 19th minute lead through Kevin Volland, but Neymar levelled from the penalty spot with 20 minutes remaining. PSG pushed hard for a second goal and struck the woodwork through Achraf Hakimi and Kylian Mbappe was denied by Monaco keeper Nubel, but Monaco held on. PSG dropped their first points of the season after scoring 17 goals in their first three games.


City to face Chelsea in EFL Cup
There are no fewer than seven all-Premier ties in the third round of the Football League (EFL) Cup, which was drawn on Wednesday August 24. The tie of the round is undoubtedly Manchester City versus Chelsea, but there are other intriguing pairings, including Nottingham Forest v Tottenham, Newcastle v Crystal Palace and Stevenage v Charlton Athletic. Liverpool, the holders, will host Derby County, while Crawley, who beat Fulham in the second round, will travel to Burnley. The third round takes place between November 8 and 10. 

Stoke sack O’Neill
Stoke City have sacked manager Michael O'Neill after one win in their first five games. The 53-year-old was appointed by the Potters in November 2019, replacing Nathan Jones. O’Neill is the first Championship manager to be sacked this season. In a statement, chairman John Coates said: "Michael joined us in November 2019 when the club was in a difficult situation and the job he did in stabilising our position in the Championship should not be underestimated.Michael has worked tirelessly and with extreme professionalism, in particular in reshaping our squad and developing young players."

More reasons to boycott Qatar
Qatar have just deported 60 migrant workers after they staged a protest about unpaid wages. The workers, some of whom have not been paid for seven months, staged a rally outside the Doha offices of the Al Bandary construction company in mid-August. The government said the workers breached security laws but insisted all delayed salaries would be paid. The incident was highlighted by Equidem, a human rights organisation that focuses on labour rights and conditions. According to media reports, over 6,500 migrant workers have lost their lives during the construction of World Cup 2022 sites.


Ukraine kicks off
Against a backdrop of an empty stadium and with a significant military presence, football in Ukraine restarted on the six month anniversary of the Russian invasion of their country. Shakhtar Donetsk and Metallist Kharkiv played out a 0-0 draw in a fixture endorsed by President Zelensky. A Ukrainian soldier kicked off the game, the first in a 16-team league. “We are living for the moment,” said an official of Shakhtar.

No Kirby, Kelly or Houghton
In a week in which two England stalwarts announced their retirement, England women’s coach Sarina Wiegman unveiled her first squad since the Lionesses won the European Championship. There was no place for former captain Steph Houghton, which arguably signals the end of the 34 year-old’s international career, and two members of the victorious team, Fran Kirby and Chloe Kelly are both injured. Wiegman called up Manchester United’s Katie Zelem, Arsenal’s Jordan Nobbs, Chelsea striker Lauren James and Ebony Salmon of Houston Dash. 

German league looks to private equity again
The German Football League (DFL) is exploring possibilities with the private equity market and, according to media reports, has engaged the country’s biggest bank, Deutsche Bank, as a lead advisor. The league considered such a move in 2021, but broke-off talks on a deal that could have raised US$ 500 million from the sale of 25% of broadcasting rights. This time, the possible deal involves the sale of a stake in a new subsidiary that would hold domestic and international broadcast rights of the top two German leagues. Around 10 investors have shown interest, including CVC Capital Partners and KKK.


United bounce back
Manchester United secured their first points of the season with a 2-1 win against Liverpool at Old Trafford. Their performance was a marked contrast to their displays earlier this season and the victory was richoly deserved, even though Liverpool could have easily snatched a draw. Jadon Sancho gave United a 16th minute lead with some clever footwork inside the area and Marcus Rashford made it 2-0 when he broke clear of the Liverpool defence in the 52nd minute. Liverpool pulled a goal back in the 80th minute through Mo Salah, who headed home from close range. Erik Ten Hag's reshaped team did not include Cristiano Ronaldo or Harry Maguire in the starting line-up.

Ukraine restarts football
Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist 1925 will kick off the new season of the Ukrainian Premier League tonight (Tuesday) despite the ongoing aggression from their Russian invaders.August 23 marks Ukraine’s national flag day and precedes independence day on August 24. “This will be a unique competition: It will happen during a war, during military aggression, during bombardments,” said Andriy Pavelko, head of the Ukrainian Association of Football, in an interview with Reuters. Pavelko is hardly exaggerating. All stadiums will have bomb shelters and as soon as air raid sirens sound matches will be interrupted with players walking off and not returning until they get an all-clear.Matches will be played behind closed doors because of the danger and risk of bombs and missiles. 

UEFA investigates top clubs
Twenty clubs are being investigated by UEFA for failing to comply with Financial Fair Play for the 2020-21 season. Sanctions are expected and there is already talk of issues for 10 clubs including Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille, Inter, Roma, Juventus and Barcelona. The sanctions for PSG and Marseille could be of a financial nature, while the Italian clubs and Barcelona could suffer possible bans on competing or completing transfers. This season will be the last under the existing FFP rules, from 2023, UEFA will bring in a new system, with clubs limited to spending a percentage of their income on player salaries, transfers and agents' fees.


First classico goes to Porto
Porto won the first Portuguese classic of the season when they beat Sporting Lisbon 3-0. After a cagey first period, which saw few genuine chances, Evanilson gave Porto the lead in the 42nd minute after Sporting's defence slipped up. The visitors had Porro sent off after 75 minutes for a handball offence and fgrrom the penalty spot, Mateus Uribe made it 2-0. Porto were awarded another penalty with four minutes to go after Gateno was brought down. Gateno got up and took the kick himself togive Porto an emphatic scoreline.

Rooney's men humbled
DC United, who are managed by former England star Wayne Rooney, were beaten 6-0 on their own turf by Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer. The defeat was DC United's fifth consecutive loss and posed questions about Rooney's abuility to manage the club. Rooney said he was frsutrated, disappointed and embarrassed by the scoreline and admitted he needed more players. "I hope it hurts the players," he said. DC United, who are bottom of the pile in the MLS table, have signed Christian Benteke but are waiting for clearance in order to include him in their team.

Dortmund collapse in final minutes
Borussia Dortmund conceded three goals in the dying minutes of the game to lose 2-3 at home to Werder Bremen. Although BVB went two-up with goals from Julian Brandt (45) and Rapha Guerreiro (77), Bremen looked the better side throughout the game. Bremen certainly looked more lively and enterprising. In the 89th minute, Lee Buchanan pulled one back and in the third minute of added time, Niklas Schmidt made it 2-2. Two minutes on, former Sheffield United winger, Oliver Burke went on a run and rode two challenges before scoring a third goal for Bremen.

Arsenal go top
Arsenal went to the summit of the Premier after their convincing 3-0 victory at Bournemouth. Michael Ødegaard scored twice in the first 11 minutes to give the Gunners a commanding. Mikel Arteta's team was brimming with confidence and continued to pepper the home goal. Gabriel Jesus almost added to his goal tally when he scored, but his effort was ruled out. Although Bournemouth opeted for a physical approach, it was Arsenal's slick passing that caught the eye. Nine minutes into the second half, French central defender William Saliba netted a spectacular third goal.

Leeds crush Chelsea
A disastrous afternoon for Chelsea at Elland Road was underlined by the sending off of summer signing Kalidou Koulibaly in the second half. Chelsea looked woefully weak in attack and made mistakes at the back. The first of those was goalkeeper Mendy's slip-up when he tried to dribble the ball out, only for Brenden Aaronsen to easily score on 33 minutes. Four minutes later, Leeds extended their lead when Rodrigo headed home from a free kick.Leeds third goal came after 69 minutes, across being knocked on by Rodrigo and Jack Harrison prodded past Mendy from close range. In the 84th minute, Koulibaly was dismissed for a second booking.

Six-goal thriller at St. James's Park
Manchester City came back from 3-1 down to earn a point at Newcastle United. City took an early lead through Gundogan, but Newcastle recovered and by half-time, they were 2-1 ahead through goals by Almiron and Wilson. Nine minutes into the restart, Tripper added a third for Newcastle with a superbly-taken free kick. Haaland pulled a goal back in the 60th minute and the Norwegian also hit the woodwork. City levelled through the impressive Bernardo Silva on 64 minutes. Although the game ended 3-3, Newcastle could be pleased with their performance, notably Allan Saint-Maximin, who was ahandful for the City defence.


Book review: Reffing Hell by Ian Plenderleith
Frankfurt-based Ian Plenderleith’s latest book is somewhat unique, telling the story of his experiences as a referee in amateur and youth football in Germany. It’s a brave move these days to become a ref in your own country, let alone a foreign land. As it turns out, the challenges facing referees are similar – “the stupid referee, that lonely faceless neutral, is of course almost always to blame”. Plenderleith’s conclusion won’t surprise anyone: “In short, without the feeling that abusive players are going to be properly disciplined, referees are faced with three choices: 1. Pack it in. 2. Take the time and trouble to prosecute violent players via the legal system, given that football’s internal disciplinary system ranges from lenient to impotent. 3. Develop an even thicker skin. Option 1 is tempting, and often considered. Its time will surely come. Option 2 requires time, a tough constitution and a support network that’s rarely available. Option 3 is an ongoing process and tends to work with practice, while hardly enhancing any pleasure taken from the job. The longer I ref, the more often I’m forced to behave like the mean bastard ref of stereotypical repute. Still, some teams get the ref they deserve.” If you’ve read any of Ian’s work, you’ll be aware that he tells a good story, so “Reffing Hell” should find its way onto many bookshelves. Published by Halcyon

UEFA upbeat about women's game
UEFA believes that women's football in Europe could have a commercial value of £578m a year by 2033. New research forecasts a potential 6x increase during the next decade. The fanbase for the game could rise to 328 million.
Nadine Kessler, UEFA's head of women's football, commented:"The potential of the women's game is limitless. We believe we are on course to take women's football to heights that were unimaginable just a few years ago." UEFA has consulted 42 leagues, 162 clubs, the European Club Association and commercial partners, as well as leading executives about the game's growth.

Death threats for Palace defender
Crystal Palace defender Joachim Andersen has said death threats have been directed at him after he was head-butted by Liverpool’s Darwin Núñez, who was then sent off during Monday’s Premier League 1-1 draw at Anfield. Núñez was shown a red card just before the hour mark when he squared up with Andersen to head-butt the Denmark defender. Andersen said he received between 300 and 400 messages and shared some of them with his social media audience. "I understand you support a team, but have some respect and stop acting tough online," he said.

Hitchin Town 0 Rushall Olympic 0
A game that questioned the logic of playing in 35 degrees of heat ended goalless at Southern League Hitchin Town. Not even the presence of an ice-cream stand could cool down the 400-plus crowd as the sun played its part in a dull 90 minutes. Although drinks breaks were included, the weather clearly got the better of the two teams, although Rushall could count themselves unlucky not to have come away with three points, striking the woodwork in the second half. Hitchin maintained their unbeaten record, but the winner on the day was the "fat old sun".

AC Milan 4 Udinese 2
Serie A champions Milan got off to a winning start with a 4-2 victory against Udinese. But the San Siro was silenced when Rodrigo Becao headed the visitors in front. Milan equalised through a Hernandez penalty, before Rebic put them ahead, but Udinese were back on level terms thanks to Masina's powerful header. Milan led once more when slack defending allowed Diaz an easy tap in.
Rebic scored his second goal from close range after good work from Diaz.

Chelsea 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2
Despite a riveting clash between two of London's top clubs, the headline stealer was the off-pitch antics of the two coaches, Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte. They clashed twice, setting a bad example for the players, who had put on an exciting game in the Stamford Bridge furnace. Chelsea led twice, with Koulibaly netting a terrific volley after 19 minutes to give the Blues a half-time advantage. Højbjerg levelled with a controversial drive in the 68th minute, but James made it 2-1 almost immediately afterwards. It was not until added time that Tottenham equalised through Kane's glancing header. At the final whistle, some unpleasant scenes marred what was an excellent contest.

Brentford 4 Manchester United 0
Dire defending contributed to Manchester United's downfall at Brentford, who scored all four of their goals in the first half to add severe pressure to Erik Ten Hag's week of the season. Dasilva put the hosts ahead on 10 minutes when his strike from distance somehow went past De Gea. Jensen doubled the lead after dispossessing Eriksen, with Mee and Mbeumo putting Thomas Frank's side 4-0 up. The defeat was United's seventh in a row on the road - their worst run since 1936.

Barcelona 0 Rayo Vallecano 0
New-look Barcelona fielded some of their new signings but failed to find a way past Rayo Vallecanio at the Camp Nou in front of 81,000 people. Robert Lewandowski was among the summer recruits making their debuts as Barca registered their summer captures just 24 hours earlier. The Poland striker thought he had scored a debut goal but was flagged offside with a first-half effort. Barca had 21 shots to Vallecano's four, but as the game wore on, the home side's tension, as well as their fans' frustration, was very evident.


Werner goes home
RB Leipzig have re-signed Chelsea's Timo Werner, two years after he left the club. Chelsea met the German international's £45 million release clause in 2020 but will make a loss with Werner returning in a £25 million deal. Werner has signed a four-year deal to 2026 with his former club. He scored 23 goals in 89 games in all competitions for Chelsea, winning the Champions League in 2021.

Support lacking for African Super League
This week, CAF president Patrice Motsepe is due to unveil plans for an African Super League, to launch in August 2023, with prize money of US$ 100 million. The proposals have been criticised for potentially threatening the whole structure of the professional game on the continent. The South Afircan players' union, for example, said: “Professional football in South Africa and Africa could be at risk if the resolution to commence with the Super League is implemented and there may be no return from the wreckage that a Super League can become.”


Fulham push Liverpool
Aleksandar Mitrovic announced his return to the Premier League with two goals as newly-promoted Fulham drew 2-2 with Liverpool at Craven Cottage. "Mitro" gave Fulham the lead in the 32nd minute with a header but Liverpool levelled through Darwin Núñez in the 64th with a clever finish. Mitrovic restored Fulham's lead from the penalty spot with 18 minutes remaining, but in the 80th, Núñez set-up Mo Salah for a second Liverpool equaliser. Mitrovic gave the Liverpool a tough afternoon, notably Virgil van Dijk, who struggled to handle the Serbian striker.

Spurs on fire
Tottenham came back from an early setback to underline their potential for 2022-23 and posing questions marks about Southampton's defensive frailty. James Ward-Prowse volleyed the Saints ahaead after 12 minutes, but nine minutes later, Ryan Sessegnon restored parity. Eric Dier's crouching header on the half hour put Spurs in front and in a one-sided second period, an own goal from Salisu and a neat finish from the impressive Dejan Kulusevski gabe Antonio Conte's men a 4-1 victory.

Messi and Neymar run Clermont ragged
Neymar scored one and created three goals as Paris Saint-Germain won 5-0 at Clermont. The mercurial Brazilian, who was expected to leave Paris in the close season, was in excellent form, while Lionel Messi scored two late goals to add some gloss on the scoreline. PSG were without Kylian Mbappe, who was  injured. The other goals came from Marquinhos and Hakimi. PSG's win was a timely response to the rumours of discontent within the squad, notably among the triumvirate of Neymar, Messi and Mbappe.

Union win Berlin derby
Union Berlin beat Hertha Berlin 3-1 to continue their dominance over their local rivals. Jordan Siebatcheu opened the scoring with a glancing header past Hertha keeper Oliver Christensen. Union struck again five minutes after the restart when Sheraldo Becker charged into the box and flicked the ball into the net. It got worse for Hertha when Robin Knoche headed a third for Union in the 54th. Hertha pulled a goal back in the 84th through Dodi Lukebakio.

Stevenage's late rally
In League Two, Stevenage continued their good start to the season with a 2-1 win against promoted Stockport County.A tame first half, which was fairly even, failed to excite the 3,000 crowd, but Stockport opened the scoring in the 58th minute through Callum Camps, who shot low into the net after a cross was only partially cleared. It looked ominous for Stevenage until the 88th minute when Ash Palmer upended Saxon Earley and Luke Norris netted from the penalty spot. There was more drama to come in the 95th minute when Earley created a chance for Jamie Rei, who scrambled the ball over the line.


Lionesses up to four

England’s triumphant women are now ranked fourth in FIFA’s world rankings, a jump of four places. Germany, the team they beat in the EURO 2022 final, are up to second, behind the USA, the world champions. England are way ahead of the other UK and Irish teams – Scotland are 23rd, Wales 30th, Northern Ireland 50th and Republic of Ireland 26th. 

Napoli owner’s bizarre view of African players

The outspoken president of Napoli, Aurelio de Laurentiis, has criticised the timing of the African Cup of Nations and insisted his club will not sign any more Africans unless they turn their back on the tournament. “Enough of African players, or they should give up playing in the African Cup of Nations. I won’t be buying them any more otherwise,” De Laurentiis (pictured) told a Wall Street Italia show. Former Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, now at Chelsea, responded: “You cannot speak about African national teams like this,” he told the BBC.“If he thinks that the team can play without African players, it’s up to him. But I think not everybody has the same idea as him.”

Corinthians want CR7

The ongoing and somewhat tedious drama around Cristiano Ronaldo continues, with Brazil’s Corinthians expressing an interest in accommodating the veteran striker. With no European club willing to pay the price or disrupt their plans by taking Ronaldo off the hands of Manchester United, the president of Corinthians has reached out to the Portuguese icon. "It's true, I'm dreaming big. This is Corinthians! Aren't Willian and Renato Augusto here?,” Duilio Monteiro Alves told the media. Ronaldo doesn’t fancy a Europa League campaign and has been very public about his desire to leave United, but aside from a multi-million bid from Qatar, there have not been many takers for his services.


No more knees
Premier League players will no longer be obliged to take a knee before kick-off at games this season. A meeting of managers and captains resulted in an agreement to only occasionally adopt the stance, with the general feeling that the message had been diluted over the past season. Some players and clubs, such as Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha, had already stopped the gesture. The widespread belief was that taking the knee had lost some of its power and momentum.

Hammers in the market
West Ham have had a bid worth up €40m (£33.5m) accepted for Lille midfielder Amadou Onana. David Moyes was keen to bolster his midfield and hopes to add Onana to Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek in central midfield after Mark Noble's retirement. Moyes has eyed Onana for some time and will discuss personal terms with the 20-year-old. Lille have been holding out for €40m for the Belgian and West Ham have agreed to pay an initial €35m plus €5m in add-ons.

Belgian blow for the Gers
Rangers saw their hopes of returning to the Champions League group stage suffer as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat away to Belgium's Union Saint-Gilloise in the first leg of their third qualifying round tie. Maltese international Teddy Teuma gave USG the lead in the 29th minute, and the Brussels-based side grabbed a crucial second goal with a disputed penalty with 14 minutes remaining.


Ipswich held by Bolton

A lively meeting of two clubs desperate to get out of League One ended in stalemate at Portman road. Bolton started well and went ahead from the penalty spot after 25 minutes through Aaron Morley after Conor Bradley was brought down by Leif Davis. A well-drilled corner saw Ipswich level in the 38th minute when Conor Chaplin created a chance for Lee Evans, who shot home at the near post. Ipswich pressured right to the end, but Bolton held out.

Heads, it’s Charlie – twice for Millwall

Over 15,000 people saw Millwall beat Stoke City 2-0 at the Den, thanks to two goals from debutant defender Charlie Cresswell. The 19 year-old is on loan from Leeds United and is the son of former Stoke forward Richard Cresswell. Cresswell opened the scoring in the 12th minute when he powerfully headed home from a George Honeyman corner. Twenty minutes into the second half, Cresswell did it again, nodding into the net from Scott Malone’s corner.

Red cards as Cardiff beat Norwich

Cardiff and Norwich ended the game with 10 men apiece in a robust game settled by a 49th minute goals from Cardiff’s Romaine Sawyers. Following a tame first half, the game livened up after the break and debutant Sawyers grabbed his vital goal with a shot from outside the area, shooting past Tim Krul. Norwich, relegated from the Premier in 2021-22, almost equalised in the 56th minute, but Kenny McLean’s effort struck the woodwork. Cardiff’s Perry Ng was sent off for a rash tackle on Todd Cantwell and Norwich’s Grant Hanley followed him after a second yellow.

Stockport lose by odd goal in five

After waiting 11 years to get back to the Football League, Stockport were beaten 3-2 at Edgley Park by Barrow, despite a brave second half comeback. Barrow went into a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Josh Gordon (six minutes) and Ben Whitfield (20 mins). By half-time it was 3-0 as Billy Waters took advantage of sloppy defensive work and netted on 34 minutes.  Stockport came out fighting in the second half and Antoni Sarcevic pulled a goal back on 49 minutes. Paddy Madden narrowed the deficit with a header with 20 minutes to go. There was a hint of controversy in the final minutes when Stockport seemed to be awarded a penalty but the referee changed his mind due to an offside flag being waved. 


Obituary: Terry Neill

Former Arsenal manager Terry Neill has died aged 80. Neill, who won the FA Cup with Arsenal in 1979, took the club to three successive FA Cup finals between 1978 and 1980.  Born in Belfast in 1942, Neill joined the Gunners in 1960 and went on to play around 300 games for the club. He captained Arsenal as a 20 year-old. Neill left in 1970 to join Hull City as player-manager and filled a similar role for Northern Ireland. He won 59 caps for his country, scoring two goals, one of which beat England at Wembley. Neill went on to manage Tottenham before returning to Arsenal where he spent seven years in the dugout. Neill later had a connection with Hendon FC.

Oldham see light at end of tunnel

Oldham Athletic, who suffered relegation from the Football League at the end of 2021-22, have been taken over by the Oldham-based Rothwell family. Frank Rothwell, the founded of Manchester Cabins, is the club’s new chairman. The club announced that negotiations with previous owner, Abdallah Lemsagam had been concluded and also the purchase of Boundary Park, Oldham’s stadium, is an advanced stage. Oldham Athletic called the deal a “significant and hugely exciting development in the proud history of the club.

UEFA to trial safe-standing

UEFA is to allow safe-standing on a trial basis in all European club games involving clubs from England, Germany and France in 2022-23. UEFA commented: “The programme will be carried out during the group stage and knockout phases up to and including the semi-finals of the 2022-23 UEFA men’s club competitions. The finals are excluded.” The trials will be welcomed in Germany where Borussia Dortmund, which has a standing area known as the “Yellow Wall”, will now be able to host Champions League games at the Westfalenstadion’s full 81,365 capacity for the first time.


United sign Ajax defender

Manchester United have finally signed Argentinian defender Lisandro Martinez from Ajax for a deal worth £ 57 million. The 24 year-old has agreed a five-year deal with United, reuniting with his old boss, Erik Ten Hag. Martinez, a robust, left-footed player, has won seven caps for Argentina and was Ajax’s player of the year in 2021-22. Ten Hag is, needless to say, delighted with his acquisition.

TV figures up

UEFA has seen a 58% increase in TV viewing figures for the Women’s EURO 2022 up to the quarter final stage, compared to the last edition in the Netherlands. UEFA said the previous cumulative total audience record, of 164 million, was surpassed following England’s quarter-final victory against Spain. “Across the group stage, 54% of the audience was driven by neutral followers with 46% coming from those who are supporting one of the two teams playing,” said UEFA. Social media has also been recording big numbers with a total of 152.4 million interactions generated during the group stage.

Germany pop through

Alexandra Popp netted twice for Germany as the eight-time European champions beat France 2-1 in the Euro 2022 semi-final in Milton Keynes. Popp put Germany ahead in the 40th minute with a volley from Svenja Huth's cross from the right side of the penalty area for her fifth goal in five games.Their lead only lasted four minutes before Kadidiatou Diani broke free and shot from outside the penalty area, with her effort hitting the post and bouncing in off unfortunate goalkeeper Merle Frohms. The Germany keeper made some vital before Popp headed in her sixth goal of the tournament in the 76th minute.


Pitch invaders to get banned

Pitch invaders at Premier League and English Football League matches will receive an automatic club ban in 2022-23. Concerns were raised about safety at grounds after a glut of pitch invasions in 2021-22. Fans carrying flares and smoke bombs will also incur a ban from stadiums. It is an offence for fans to enter the pitch under the Football Offences Act 1991 - but offenders have not always been prosecuted. There have also been cases of pitch invaders during Euro 2022.

Clubs face delays in replica kits

Less than 50% of the 92 English Premier League and Football League clubs have received their home and away kits available to buy online ahead of the season because of supply chain issues. Crystal Palace and Leeds United are among the Premier League clubs affected. One English Football League chief executive, told the BBC his club had signed off kit designs in October, with orders placed shortly afterwards, but Covid disruption has hit factories in Asia.


Chelsea hammered in Orlando

Chelsea were beaten 4-0 by London rivals Arsenal in a friendly in Orlando, leaving coach Thomas Tuchel fuming about his team's performance. Tuchel watched as Jesus, Odegaard, Saka and Lokonga scored against his lack-lustre side. There was some consolation in the brief appearance of new signing Kalidou Koulibaly, who came onto the field near the end of the game. A crowd of 64,000 saw the game in Orlando.

France edge past the Dutch 

France won through to the Euro 2022 semi-finals to face Germany with a 1-0 victory against holders Netherlands in Rotherham. A crowd of 9,700 saw a one-sided contest that went into extra time. France dominated throughout but were denied by the very impressive Dutch goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar, who pulled off save after save to prevent the French from scoring. Finally, she was beaten from the penalty spot in the 102nd minute, scored by Eve Perisset.
The two semi-finals are: England v Sweden, France v Germany.

South Africa win women's AFCON

South Africa won the Women's Africa Cup of Nations in Rabat, beating the host nation Morocco 2-1 at the Prine Moulay Abdellah Stadium. After a tense first period, all three goals were scored in the second half, with Hildah Magaia netting twice for South Africa. Both sides appeared to be affected by the 52,000 crowd. Magaia opened the scoring for South Africa after 63 minutes, and nine minutes later, she doubled the lead. Ayana scored for Morocco after 80 minutes to make it a nervous finale.


Palmeiras go clear in Brazil

Copa Libertadores holders Palmeiras have gone four points clear in Brazil after beating America Mineiro 1-0 in the latest round of matches in Serie A. The winning goal was scored by substitute Gustavo Scarpa in the 65th minute. The victory gives Palmeiras 36 points from 18 games, with Corinthians and Atlético Mineiro in second and third place respectively. Palmeiras and Atlético meet at the beginning of August in the Libertadores Cup quarter-final. Meanwhile, Palmeiras are being bombarded with enquiries for their much talked-about striker Endrick, who turned 16 this week. European clubs are queuing up for the youngster, including Barcelona.

Barca – boys crying wolf?

Barcelona, around € 1 billion in debt, have been criticised for their spending spree just a few weeks after claiming they needed € 500 million to save the club. Since then, they have spent heavily on Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski and have a number of other expensive players in their sights. Barca’s president got the go ahead to put into plan some exceptional measures to raise money. This started with the club sell 10% of its domestic television rights over the next 25 years to US investment fund Sixth Street, in return for an immediate payment of around £200m – enough to fund the summer’s transfer war chest. Furthermore, the club has announced that they had sold a further 15% of the rights to Sixth Street, bringing in a reported extra £300m. There are also plans to sell 49.9% of the club's merchandising operation in the near future.

Mane’s the man 

Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mané has been named African footballer of the year for the second time in a ceremony in Morocco. The Senegal striker scored the decisive penalty as his country beat Egypt in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations. Mané finished ahead of his old Liverpool team-mate Mo Salah and Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy in the voting. He moved to Bayern Munich at the end of 2021-22. The women’s award went to Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala.


Morocco to face South Africa in women’s AFCON final

On July 23, Morocco will play South Africa in the final of the women’s Africa Cup of Nations final in Rabat. The competition, which has been overshadowed by the Euros in England, has been a success, with Morocco being praised for the organisation and high level of facilities. In the semi-final, 46,000 saw the host nation win through against 11-time champions Nigeria on penalties. South Africa won their semi-final 1-0 with a penalty from Linda Motihalo in added time. This year’s AFCON comprises 12 teams for the first time and prize money for the winners has increased to US$ 500,000. The general consensus seems to be that the football has been of a good quality.

England scrape through

A riveting Euro 2022 quarter-final saw England win 2-1 against Spain after 120 minutes. Over 28,000 saw England come from behind to beat the skilful Spanish, who took the lead in the 54th minute through Esther Gonzalez. Spain were six minutes away from winning the game, but Ella Toone equalised with a mis-hit close range effort, sending the tie to extra time. England went ahead in the 96th minute with a spectacular strike from Georgia Stanway, and then they held out in the face of intense pressure from Spain. England will play Sweden or Belgium in the semi-final.

Problems for Everton

Everton are having a rough pre-season campaign, as evidenced by their surprise 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Minnesota United. This was the second defeat on their tour of North America, coming just a few days after they were beaten 2-0 by Arsenal in Baltimore. Although pre-season is pre-season, Everton need to go into 2022-23 in a better frame of mind after their narrow escape from relegation. Frank Lampard is already calling for his squad to do better: “If we don’t improve, we may face the same scenario.” Everton start with a tough home game on August 6 against Chelsea.

Paris police chief replaced

The police chief responsible for the Champions League final operation at the end of May has been replaced. Didier Lallement was heavily criticised for a tough approach to policing after the final in Paris. The heavy-handed use of tear gas and pepper spray against Liverpool fans shocked the football world and could have caused a crowd disaster. Emmanuel Macron has commented that Lallement’s departure is not linked to the events at the Champions League final. Meanwhile, the inquest goes on, but Liverpool fans claim they have not been consulted.


Jobs for the right boys

Barcelona thrashed David Beckham’s Inter Miami 6-0 in a pre-season friendly as Barca’s new-look side outplayed the MLS team. Barca scored three goals in each half with Aubameyang, Raphinha, Fati, Gavi, Depay and Dembele finding the back of the net. Late in the game, Miami fielded the sons of club president Beckham and coach Phil Neville. Harvey Neville came on after the interval and Romeo Beckham played five minutes against the Catalans. The crowd of 19,000 was well above Miami’s usual attendance. Inter Miami are currently ninth in the Eastern Conference this season.

Slim advantage for Linfield

Linfield grabbed a 1-0 win in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League tie with Norwegian champions Bodø/Glimt in Belfast. The winning goal was scored by Kirk Miller, who netted with an audacious lob in the 87th minute. Bodø/Glimt know all about European competition having beaten Celtic and AS Roma last season in the Europa League. If Linfield get through, they will face FK Zalgiris of Lithuania or Sweden’s Malmo. If they lose, they go into the Europa League.

Roma sign Dybala

Argentinian striker Pablo Dybala has joined AS Roma on a free transfer, linking up with José Mourinho and declaring that playing for him will be a great honour. Dybala left Juventus after 293 games in which he scored 115 goals. He won five Serie A titles with Juve. He has signed a three year deal with Roma, whom he believes are a club on the way up and will wear the number 21 shirt. Both Manchester United and Tottenham were interested in signing the 28 year-old.


Egri Erbstein Tournament

Game of the People will be present at Corinthian Casuals FC for the Egri Erbstein Tournament, a competition that commemorates one of the great innovators of European football before and after the second world war. Erbstein was born in 1898 and his life was quite remarkable, including a spell in a Nazi forced labour camp. He escaped, along with the legendary Benfica manager, Béla Guttmann, and after the war was manager and technical director at Torino, where he helped shape the famed Grande Torino side. Sadly, Erbstein died in the Superga crash on the hills above Turin in May 1949 and for a long time, he was something of a forgotten man. Thanks to people like UK journalist Dominic Bliss – who wrote the biography of Erbstein – John Forrest of Corinthian Casuals and Budapesti Atlétikai Klub president Bertalan Molnár, Erbstein’s name lives on. This year’s tournament will feature four clubs: Corinthian Casuals (winners of the inaugural competition in 2019), Budapesti AK, Sheffield and Hilltop. July 23-24, first game midday on both days.

Rangers bound for Brussels

The draw for the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League has been made and last season’s Europa League finalists, Rangers, will meet Union Saint-Gilloise of Belgium, the little club that almost won the Belgian title in 2021-22. USG, from the Brussels neighbourhood of Forest, were a big name in the inter-war years, but they have risen from non-league football to the top flight. They are owned by Tony Bloom, the Brighton & Hove Albion owner. Other interesting ties include Monaco versus PSV Eindhoven and Dynamo Kyiv or Fenerbahce against Sturm Graz. 

Swedes looking strong

Sweden thrashed Portugal 5-0 in the final round of games in Euro 2022 group C, qualifying for the last eight as top-placed team in their section. Sweden are ranked second in the world and underlined their credentials with a powerful display.  Filippa Angeldal fired Sweden ahead after a weak clearance by Portugal keeper Patricia Morais. Angeldal doubled the lead with a first-time shot following another set-piece, and Carole Costa headed into her own net from a corner to make it 3-0. Kosovare Asllani scored from the penalty spot for 4-0 from the penalty spot before Stina Blackstenius, who had two goals ruled out, added the fifth.

PSG pressing flesh in Japan

Paris Saint-Germain have arrived in Japan for a brief tour that will be new manager Christophe Galtier’s first games in charge of the French champions. PSG will play Kawasaki Frontale, Urawa Reds and Gamba Osaka during their 10-day stay. “We have three games against very good opposition. Japanese football is at a very high level with players possessing good technique and speed.” PSG took 25 players to Japan and  will also hold soccer clinics and open a new academy. After Japan, they will link up with Nantes in Tel Aviv for the French Super Cup.


Russia ban goes on

Russia’s hopes of having the bans on their national team and clubs lifted have been rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas). Six appeals were launched but they were all dismissed. The Russian football federation could appeal to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland. The Cas statement said: "The panel determined that the escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the public and government responses worldwide, created unforeseen and unprecedented circumstances to which Fifa and Uefa had to respond. In determining that Russian teams and clubs should not participate in competitions under their aegis while such circumstances persisted, the panel held that both parties acted within the scope of the discretion granted to them under their respective statutes and regulations."

Another Leeds player sold

Leeds United have lost another star player in the form of Raphinha, who has joined Barcelona in a £ 55 million deal. The 25 year-old was signed by Leeds from Rennes for £ 17 million in 2020. He was involved in 28% of Leeds’ league goals in his two seasons at Elland Road. His 17 goals were bettered only by Patrick Bamford. The departure of Raphinha comes just a couple of weeks after Kalvin Phillips was sold to Manchester City for £ 42 million. Around half a dozen new players have been signed, but there will be concerns that Leeds have offloaded two of their best players after only narrowly avoiding relegation in 2021-22. 

Everton crypto crash a concern

Everton’s fans are up in arms over the club’s links with, a crypto current casino. The company’s logo will appear on both the men’s and women’s shirts. With crypto currencies crashing in recent weeks, fans have signed a petititon calling for Everton to drop its sponsor. The petition was launched by season ticket holder ben Melvin who lost substantial sums through gambling. He told the media: “Everton are the people’s club… it is a club that cares deeply for the people…we have set very high standards and trends for others to follow. We have to maintain these high standards.”

De Jong heading to United

Barcalona appear to have reached an agreement with Manchester United for Frenkie de Jong, with United prepared to pay € 75 million for the Dutch midfielder. De Jong is under contract until 2026, but the player may be keen to go as Barca coach Xavi has apparently told him he does not figure in his plans. De Jong joined Barca in 2019 for £ 75 million from Ajax. He has made 140 appearances for the club. The proceeds of any sale will relieve some of the pressure Barca are experiencing around their finances and indebtedness.

Shamrock off to Bulgaria

Shamrock Rovers won through to the next stage of the Champions League but will face a challenging tie against Bulgarian champions Ludogorets after disposing of Maltese club Hibernians. The Hoops drew 0-0 in the second leg against Hibernians but already had a 3-0 lead from the first meeting. Ludogorets have dominated Bulgarian football for the past decade and Shamrock Rovers coach Stephen Bradley is expecting a tricky couple of games: “They are definitely a team that will really test us, but this is what we want. We want to be playing at that level.” The two games are on July 19 in Bulgaria and July 26 in Dublin.


Mbappé the most valuable player

Football Benchmark’s latest report has revealed that Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappé is the most valuable player in world football. Mbappé’s return to the top is a result of his recent contract renewal with Paris Saint-Germain until 2025. The 23 year-old’s value - € 220 million - is driven by his excellent performance metrics. Manchester City’s new signing, Erling Haaland is in second place, while another City player, Phil Foden is in third place – he won the Premier League Young Player of the Year award two seasons in a row (2020/21 and 2021/22) and had a pivotal role in the team winning yet another league title. Football Benchmark calculates Manchester City have the most valuable squad, with a value of € 1.2 billion. Liverpool are the only other € 1 billion-plus squad, with Real Madrid coming in at € 976 million.

Linfield come back to win Champions League tie

Despite losing their first leg tie in Wales, Linfield won their first qualifying round tie against the New Saints in Belfast. Jamie Mulgrew and Ethan Devine were the heroes, Mulgrew hitting a spectacular long-range effort in added time to take the game into extra time. Mulgrew, 34, was a late addition to the Linfield bench and came onto the field as substitute in the 78th minute. Five minutes into extra time, Ethan Devine, another substitute, scored in the 95th minute, netting from close range after a cross from Chris McKee. Linfield won 2-1 on aggregate and face Bodo/Glimt of Norway in the next round.

Spurs beat Korean select side

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte was pleased with his side’s 6-3 victory over a K- League select team in Seoul, a game that forms part of the Coupang Play Series. Over 63,000 people watched the game, with Heung-Min Son scoring twice in front of his compatriots. Harry Kane also scored twice for Spurs. Eric Dier scored a spectacular 25 yard goal and there was also an own goal to add to Spurs’ tally. Conte was very upbeat about new signing Richarlison. “What’s impressive is his attitude, his will, his desire. I like him in both roles, number nine, but also like a number 10.”

Vidal joins Flamengo

Chilean international Arturo Vidal has joined Flamengo of Brazil on a free transfer after being released by Inter Milan on a free transfer. The 35 year-old will sign a contract that will run until December 2023. Vidal, who can be a very mercurial figure, started his career in Chile with Colo-Colo in 2005. Two years later, he joined Bayer Leverkusen and subsequently played for Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Inter. He won titles in Italy, Germany and Spain. He has won two Copa America titles in 2015 and 2016 with Chile.

How much for Everton?

Football finance expert Daniel Plumley of Sheffield Hallam University, suggests Everton is being overpriced by the club’s owners. Farhad Moshiri, who injected £ 100 million into the club earlier this year, has said he wants more than £ 500 million for the club, but Plumley would estimate a fairer price as between £ 250 and £ 300 million. A consortium involving former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon and US investor Maciek Kaminski is said to be willing to pay no more than £ 380 million. Everton have made cumulative losses of £ 370 million over the past few years. 


Liverpool were smeared claims mayor

The mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, believes Liverpool fans were victims of a smear campaign that had sinister echoes of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. The French authorities blamed the Reds’ supporters  and a wave of fake tickets for the shambolic Champions League final at the Stade de France. “We now know the truth and this negative stereotyping of Liverpool fans has to stop,” she said. A report produced as part of the enquiry into the events surrounding the final revealed a number of issues caused the problems in Paris and that France blamed Liverpool fans unfairly. 

Rooney’s return to MLS criticised

Wayne Rooney has hit back at negative comments about his return to DC United as head coach, the MLS club he played for between 2018 and 2019. Rooney recently departed from crisis club Derby County after 18 months in charge. Some observers have called his move to the US as a backward step, but Rooney disagrees: “I really find these comments a bit disrespectful to this league. Coming back to the MLS is an exciting challenge for me, something that can help me develop as a coach.” DC United are currently second from bottom in the MLS Eastern Conference and were beaten 7-0 in their last game.

Euro 2022: Holders win a thriller against Portugal

Netherlands, the European champions, beat Portugal at Leigh by three goals to two to record their first win of the 2022 competition. Danielle van de Donk scored the winner with a tremendous effort in the 62nd minute.  The Dutch went 2-0 ahead thanks to goals from Damaris Egurrola and Stefanie van der Gragt, but Portugal came back strongly and by the 47th minute, they were level. The Portuguese netted in the 38th minute from the penalty spot through Carole Costa and then two minutes into the second half, Diane Silva headed the equaliser. Van de Donk’s winner was a dipping drive from outside the penalty area. The crowd was just under 7,000.


England arrive in style

England’s women beat Norway 8-0 in EURO 2022 in front of 29,000 people in Brighton. The Lionesses took an early lead with a debatable penalty and by half-time, were 6-0 ahead. Beth Mead scored a hat-trick and Ellen White netted twice and the other goals were scored by Georgia Stanway (penalty), Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo. Norway’s defence was in tatters and made mistake-after-mistake as England tore them apart. England have one group game left against Northern Ireland.

Bale looking beyond World Cup

Gareth Bale, who recently joined MLS side Los Angeles FC, does not plan to retire after the 2022 World Cup. Bale has stressed that the move to Los Angeles is designed to keep him fit for Qatar. “I still have many years to come,” he insisted. “I have come here to try and be here as long as possible.” Bale added he has not joined LA for the short term and that he believes in the future of Major League Soccer. “It’s a league on the rise,” he said.

Chelsea eye defenders – Koulibaly next?

Chelsea look set to sign Napoli central defender Kalidou Koulibaly for € 40 million as the club rebuilds its squad after losing Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen. The Blues appear to have made defence a priority and have also looked at Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Presenel Kimpembe (PSG) and Jules Kounde (Sevilla). Koulibaly, who is 31, has been on Chelsea’s shopping list before.


City go Crypto

Manchester City is entering into a new crypto currency partnership just six months after severing ties with a crypto sponsor.  City have announced that OKX, a cryptocurrency platform, will bethe club’s training kit partner for the 2022-23 season. This comes as the crypto industry has been shaken by a significant crash in recent weeks. OKX signed a deal with City in March 2022, not long after relations with 3Key Technologies were cut off. The current climate does not seem to have deterred City, whose COO, Roel de Vries, said: “OKX and Manchester City are aligned on values such as innovation and success and for both parties, everything starts with training and education.”

EURO 2022: France looking good

France underlined their position as one of the competition’s favourites by thrashing Italy 5-1 in Rotherham in front of 8,000 people. Grace Geyoro scored a hat-trick for France in the first half as Corinne Diacre’s team went in at the interval 5-0 ahead. At times they played some exhilarating football. The other France goals came from Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Delphine Cascarino. Diacre commented that France wanted to “show what we are made of”. Geyoro, 25, was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and plays for Paris Saint-Germain.

Pogba returns to Juventus

Juventus seem delighted to have finally captured Paul Pogba after the France international left Manchester United when his contract expired. The 29 year-old has returned to Turin and along with the signing of Angel Di Maria, marks a busy close season for Juve. Pogba left Juve in 2016 for Manchester United and although there were flashes of brilliance, his time at Old Trafford was frustrating as he went from being a promising youngster to an underperforming player at his peak. Pogba has signed a four-year contract with Juve.

PSG wielding the axe

With new manager Christoph Galtier installed, Paris Saint-Germain have placed 11 players on the transfer list. But offloading members of the squad who no longer figure in the club’s plans is not an easy task due to the transfer fees being asked and the high wages. Among the 11 are Leandro Paredes, Abdou Diallo, Georginio Wijnaldum, Mauro Icardi, Ander Herrera and Julian Draxler. Despite talk of Neymar moving on, Galtier has expressed his hope for the player to stay in Paris.


Brazil dominate Libertadores last eight

The Copa Libertadores has reached the quarter-final stage and five Brazilian sides and three from Argentina still remain in the competition. Last season’s finalists, Palmeiras (winners for the past two seasons) and Flamengo are still left, joined by fellow Brazilians Atletico Mineiro, Athletico Paranaense and Corinthians. Argentina’s big two, Boca Juniors and River Plate, were both knocked out in the last 16, but Velez Sarsfield, Talleres and four times winners Estaudiantes, are will involved. The draw for the last eight has been made and there are two all-Brazilian ties – Palmeiras versus Atletico Mineiro and Flamengo against Corinthians. There is one all-Argentina quarter-final, Velez Sarsfield versus Talleres, and one Argentina-Brazil tie, Estudiantes meeting Athletico PR. The games will be played over the first two weeks of August.

Chelsea agree Sterling deal

The new regime at Chelsea appears to have made its first big signing in the form of Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling. The England winger will cost Chelsea £ 50 million, including adds-on, just one million more than the amount City paid Liverpool in 2015. Sterling, who is now 27, scored 131 goals in 339 games for City but was no longer a guaranteed starter for Pep Guardiola’s side. He has won 77 caps for England. Sterling has said he is looking for a fresh challenge and his arrival at Stamford Bridge is a curious decision by the player given the problems he had at Chelsea with a section of the club’s support.


Richarlison moves to Spurs

Tottenham continued their summer spending programme with the £ 60 million acquisition of Brazilian striker Richarlison from Everton. Richarlison made 152 appearances and scored 53 goals for Everton, whom he joined in 2018. He was previously with Watford for one year, who signed him from Fluminense for £ 11.2 million but made a handsome profit when selling him to Everton for £ 35 million. Richardlison has won 36 caps for brazil, scoring 14 goals. He joins Ivan Perišić and Yves Bissouma as Spurs’ major close season captures so far.

England face Israel in under-19 final

The UEFA Under-19 European Championship takes place tonight in Trnava, with England facing Israel for the second time in the eight-team tournament. The two sides were in the same first phase group and England won 1-0. Israel beat France 2-1 in the semi-finals, while England won by the same scoreline against Italy after coming from a goal down. Crowds for the championship, being hosted in Slovakia, have been quite poor, with less than a thousand seeing England beat Italy.


Serie A clubs way behind European rivals

Italian clubs are lagging behind the rest of Europe when it comes to revenues from kit suppliers. Juventus get more than any other Serie A club, some € 51 million per season from Adidas, with AC Milan now receiving € 30 million a season from PUMA. Inter, unsurprisingly, are third in the list, with just € 12.5 million. While there have been some improvements in the revenue derived from kit providers, Europe’s big clubs get multiples of the Serie A income. Real Madrid are paid € 120 million by Adidas each season, while Barcelona get € 105 million from Nike. The top English Premier clubs earn from € 35 million to € 75 million.

Shamrock shame

Ahead of their UEFA Champions League tie with Hibernians of Malta, Shamrock Rovers have warned their fans about causing trouble at home and away games. Shamrock beat Bohemians 1-0 last Friday (June 24) in a game played against a backdrop of an intense but trouble-free atmosphere, but a couple of days later, Shamrock won 2-1 at St. Patrick’s Athletic and a bottle was thrown onto the pitch. With the European game in mind and the heavy penalties UEFA can inflict, the club said: “Unfortunately the club and the vast majority of our supporters, continue to be let down by a small number of individuals who cause trouble, often on our travels. This casts an unnecessary shadow on the reputation of the club and our fanbase. Whether it is pitch encroachment, missiles being thrown onto the pitch, flares and smoke bombs in the stands or flares thrown onto the pitch, the fines associated with this behaviour have already been costly for the club this year with approx € 6,000 in fines.”

United going Dutch

Manchester United’s dogged pursuit of Dutch talent looks set to yield some fruit in the coming days. They have agreed in principle to sign Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona and Feyenoord full-back Tyrell Malacia. United have been chasing De Jong for a couple of months and the fee is expected to be € 65 million plus add-ons. Malacia will cost just € 15 million after they beat-off interest from Lyon, who thought they had signed the 22 year-old. Both deals are subject to medicals. New coach Erik ten Hag appears to be following a strategy of going after players with a link to Ajax or Dutch football.


Watford cancel Qatar game

Watford have cancelled a friendly against the Qatar national side after fans expressed concerned about human rights. Rob Edwards' side were due to face the World Cup hosts on the final day of a pre-season camp in Austria.The country has also been heavily criticised over its treatment of migrant workers building stadiums for the World Cup, to be held in the country later this year. A club spokesman said: "The game was never finalised and it became abundantly clear this was a game not to play; as such, the schedule was revised."

UEFA believe Super League is dead

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has discussed the ongoing feud between European football's governing body and the clubs that were advocating the Super League's formation. He expressed his belief that no team, apart from Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, are willing to participate in aborted project."I will UEFA is not a monopoly," Ceferin told La Gazzetta dello Sport."You are free to be in it or not. You can participate in our cups or organise your own. But then, it's logical that you don't play in ours, isn't it? "Whatever the decision of the court, nothing changes - the Super League is dead because nobody wants to participate."


Red Star Belgrade v Zenit – a Gazprom cup?

Most of the world has condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, but Serbia has so far rejected any opportunity to implement its own sanctions. Russian sports teams have been banned, notably their football clubs from UEFA competitions. However, on July 3, Red Star Belgrade, Serbia’s champions, will meet Zenit St. Petersburg in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in what is being billed as “the clash of champions”. Both clubs are sponsored by Gazprom, the Russian energy company, in fact Red Star arguably owe their continued existence to the backing of Gazprom. Serbia relies almost totally on Russian oil and gas and their own energy company, NIS is majority-owned by Gazprom. The match seems sure to bring consequences for Serbia from UEFA.

Rapinoe speaks out

Megan Rapinoe, the US women’s soccer star, has responded to the controversial anti-abortion case and Roe v Wade. Rapinhoe has long been a leading voice on human rights issues and said: “The cruelty is the point…Pro-choice means that you get a choice…pro-life doesn’t allow anybody to make a choice.” She added: “It’s hard to out into words how sad a day this is for me personally, for my teammates, for all the people out there this is going to affect.” As it stands, abortion is will be banned on half the US states.


Real switch to BMW

Real Madrid, who have enjoyed the sponsorship of Audi since 2003, will be switching to BMW with effect from July1. Although Real have been in negotiations with the prestige brand for some time, they have been unable to reach an agreement, and so the contract, which expires at the end of June, will not be renewed. At the same time, Audi are reducing their involvement in football and will focus more on Bayern Munich. BMW will be one of the club’s primary sponsors and will also provide cars to the Real Madrid players.

UEFA aim to fuel more fixture congestion

UEFA are preparing to create yet another new competition that would kick-off the new season and prelude the start of the Champions League campaign. It will begin in 2024, the same year in which the revised Champions League format also gets underway. The tournament would feature four clubs, including the winner of the previous Champions League, in a Final Four format, and for some reason, would most likely take place in the United States. UEFA have been interested in a Final Four format for the Champions League, but that seems to have failed. It's almost certain the reigning European championswould take part, while the other three would be selected for their record over a period of time. Just why UEFA need another tournament is a mystery and why the US is involved is very unclear.


Lukaku goes home

Romelu Lukaku has returned to Inter Milan on a season-long loan with Chelsea receiving a loan fee of £ 8 million. Lukaku joined Chelsea a year ago for almost £ 100 million, but his time back at Stamford Bridge was largely frustratingly unsuccessful. Lukaku also seems to have upset the management at the club with a TV interview that suggested he would like to return to Italy. In some ways, the Lukaku transfer was indicative of so many under-performing transfer acquisitions at Chelsea during the Abramovich era. The Belgium international has said he didn't want to leave Inter, but was forced to go as a result of the club's financial problems.

Neymar stuck in Paris

Paris Saint-Germain are trying to change their identity and are looking to fill their team with young players with a winning mentality, according to their president Nasser Al-Khelaifi. PSG have to cut some costs, which may mean unloading some of their expensive, high-profile players, but this will not include the sale of Neymar. PSG are experiencing financial tension following the renewal of Kylian Mbappé’s contract. Marca said Neymar may have become something of a burden and PSG may want to end their relationship but his high price tag and wages make any move almost impossible. Khelaifi would not be drawn on the subject: “We can’t talk about it in the media, these are private negotiations.” Neymar’s wages are said to be almost € 50 million gross.


Giggs resigns at last

Former Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs has resigned as Wales manager. The troubled 48 year-old walked away from his role in November 2020 after being arrested. He was later charged with using controlling behaviour and assaulting his girlfriend, charges he has denied. Robert Page became interim manager and has taken them to the 2022 World Cup. The Welsh FA has thanked Giggs for his time as manager but admitted his decision is in the best interests of Welsh football. 

Marina next to leave

Chelsea’s Marina Granovskaia is leaving the club as the shake-up of the club under new ownership gathers momentum. Granovskaia, who is Canadian-Russian, joined Chelsea as part of the Roman Abramovich regime and became indispensable to the owner, managing transfers and contracts. She previously worked with Abramovich at Sibneft. Chelsea are now looking for a director of football and have been linked with Andrea Berta of Atlético Madrid.

Polish international pays for Russia link

Poland’s national team have excluded Maciej Rybus, a player who has been employed in Russia with Lokomotiv Moscow and has since moved to Spartak. Rybus, who is a 32 year-old full back, has been told he will not be part of Poland’s national team training camp and will not be considered for the World Cup. He has won 66 caps in his career. A lot of foreign players have left Russia since the war started in February, some permanently, some on temporary loans elsewhere. Poland is a staunch ally of Ukraine.

Buck stops here at Chelsea

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck is stepping down as chairman of Chelsea after almost 20 years in the role. Apparently, he will retain some sort of advisory position. “I am proud to have helped Chelsea realise great success on the pitch and make a positive impact in the community,” said Buck. “Now is the right time to step down and let new ownership build on the strong foundations we have in place.” Buck, 76, was appointed in 2003 by Roman Abramovich and presided over the most successful era in the club’s history. 

Pochettino exit getting dirty

The proposed departure of Mauricio Pochettino from Paris Saint-Germain is not going as smoothly as the Parisians hoped. According to media reports, discussions between Poch and PSG have not bee easy and he is loking for a compensation figure of £ 17 million. PSG are eager to cut that fee, possibly because they are aware that Pochettino’s possible replacement, Nice’s Christoph Galtier will cost them money. Nice want around € 10 million to let their coach go, but PSG don’t want to pay more than € 5 million. Meanwhile, Pochettino will not be short of options and Athletic Bilbao have been linked with the Argentinian.

United spurned by Ajax star

Manchester United received a setback when Ajax’s Jurrien Timber rejected a chance to move to Old Trafford. It was a blow to new manager Erik ten Hag, who gave the player his debut at Ajax. The Dutch international defender fears his World Cup chances will be negatively affected by a move to United as he’s unlikely to be first choice. Louis van Gaal has said publicly that to be considered for the Netherlands squad, players have to be playing “week-in, week-out” and this appeared to influence Timber’s decision. Ten Hag is said to be very disappointed as he was confident of landing Timber.


England 3 Belgium 0

England’s Women began their preparations for Euro 2022 with a 3-0 victory over Belgium at Molineux in front of a crowd of 9,600.  Manchester City’s Chloe Kelly impressed on her return to the side after a serious knee injury. Kelly came off the bench and had a shot deflected in for the first goal on 62 minutes. The second goal came from a Rachel Daly volley four minutes later and a late own goal clinched a solid victory.

Azteca again – the great World Cup stadium selected again

Mexico City’s iconic Azteca Stadium has been named among 16 venues to stage games at the 2026 World Cup being held across the US, Canada and Mexico. Around US$ 29 billion is being spent on remodelling the stadium that stunned the world when it was first constructed in 1966. The Azteca has hosted two World Cup finals, 1970 and 1986. However, it would seem unlikely that the 2026 final will be held there as Mexico (and Canada) are only staging 10 games in a competition that is effectively a US-hosted event. The modernisation of the Azteca has just got underway and will take two years. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has described the stadium as  “the Vatican of football” and “the cathedral of football”.

Bordeaux penalised 

It isn’t just French police that take a hard line, French football’s regulator, DNCG can also flex its muscles when required. Bordeaux, who were relegated to Ligue 2 at the end of 2021-22, have been taken down another level over financial problems at the club. They will start 2022-23 in the Championnat National. It’s not the first time DNCG have sought to penalise Bordeaux, they tried to relegate them a year ago, but the club’s new owner, Gerard Lopez, persuaded them to reverse the decision. Lopez arrived after majority shareholder, King Street, decided to withdraw funding for Bordeaux after investing more than € 46 million. At that time, the club’s losses were running beyond € 80 million.

Houghton excluded from squad

Former England captain Steph Houghton has been excluded from the squad for the women’s Euros by coach Sarina Wiegman. Houghton has been recovering from an achilles tendon injury for the past few months and hasn’t played since January 2022. Wiegman said it was a hard decision, but insisted Houghton is not ready to compete. “It was a matter of time, and we don’t have that time,” said Wiegman. Houghton, 34, has made 121 appearances for England and played in five major tournaments.

Boycott Qatar gathers momentum

The German soccer federation will not take action against people displaying a banner calling for a boycott of the World Cup in Qatar during Germany’s Nations League match against Italy. The DFB, referred to a police statement on Wednesday that says the demonstrators’ action is covered by freedom of expression and “not criminally relevant.” Shortly after the start of the match, a group of demonstrators held a huge banner saying “15,000 dead for big venues — FIFA and Co. without a conscience! Boycott Qatar.”


England humbled

England suffered their worst home defeat since 1928 when they were beaten by the Wembley Wizards of Scotland, losing 4-0 at Molineux to Hungary. This latest UEFA Nations League setback has prompted a wave of criticism of coach Gareth Southgate and his team. Hungary were a goal ahead through Roland Sallai’s 19th minute strike at half-time, but England capitulated in the second half, conceding three goals in 19 minutes through Sallai (70), Zsolt Nagy (80) and Dániel Gazdag (89). There was a further blow near the end when John Stones was red carded. Southgate has taken responsibility for the defeat, but the facts are his side are on the brink of elimination from the Nations League and relegation.

Costa Rica qualify

The last team to qualify for the 2022 World Cup is Costa Rica after their 1-0 victory over New Zealand in the intercontinental play-off in Doha. Costa Rica took a third-minute lead when Joel Campbell shot low into the bottom corner. New Zealand ended the match with 10 men after Kosta Barbarouses was sent off for fouling Francisco Calvo. Luis Fernando Suarez's side go into Group E, which includes Spain, Germany and Japan. Costa Rica have now qualified for the World Cup six times and 2022 will be their third successive appearance.

Good Kompany

Vincent Kompany has been appointed as the new manager at Burnley. The 36 year-old arrived at Turf Moor after leaving Anderlecht where he spent three years. Last season, he led Anderlecht to third place in the Belgian League and the cup final. But the former Manchester City captain was keen to return to the North-West of England. “Burnley is a truly historic club and it is an honour to be appointed first team manager. I’ve been impressed by the Board’s vision for the club which aligns with my own and I look forward to playing my part as we enter an important season,” said Kompany.


Aussie win through to Qatar

Australia sealed a place at the 2022 World Cup after winning the intercontinental playoff against Peru in Qatar. Australia won 5-4 on penalties after a 0-0 draw. The hero was goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne, who dived to his right to deny Alex Valera from the spot.More than 10,000 Peruvian fans were in the stadium, some having flown halfway across the world for the game the Peru coach described as “the match of our lives”. Peruvian fans were singing and dancing during the match. A small portion of the crowd stayed back well after the game to show their appreciation for the players despite the loss. Australia have played in five past World Cups, winning just two of 16 games.

Kirchner bid for Derby flounders

US businessman Chris Kirchner has formally withdrawn his bid to buy Derby County, despite providing proof of funding on more than one occasion. The EFL have intervened in the takeover process. Mike Ashley and former Derby chairman Andy Appleby are now among the favourites to rescue the Rams. Kirchner was the club’s preferred bidder, but his apparent failure to produce the funding on time has laid the way open for other potential buyers. Derby have been in administration since last September when ex-owner Mel Morris appointed Quantuma to handle the club’s business.


Pochettino leaving PSG

Inevitably, Mauricio Pochettino will be leaving Paris Saint-Germain and will not be seeing-out the last year of his contract with the French champions. The 50 year-old won Ligue 1 in 2021-22 and the Coupe de France in 2020-21, but capitulation in the UEFA Champions League was arguably his downfall, as it has been for his predecessors. Pochettino had a 65.48% with PSG but the job of managing a squad that included Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé was never going to be an easy one. Already, names like Zinedine Zidane, José Mourinho and Christoph Galtier are being linked to the job.  

United’s decline impacting England careers

England manager Gareth Southgate has issued a warning to Manchester United players Luke Shaw, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, saying they have a lot of work to do to get back into the squad. Rashford hasn’t played since the Euro 2020 final and Sancho has managed just one appearance in a very subdued start to his United career. The club’s relatively poor season has also taken its toll on centre half Harry Maguire, who is no longer guaranteed a place in the England side. Furthermore, Mason Greenwood, whose future is uncertain even after being cleared of the assault charges levelled against him, is also out of the reckoning.

No more big signings for Atléti

Atlético Madrid’s sporting director, Andrea Berta, says the years of big signings at the club are over. “The important thing is to continue with this squad, which has value, with players who have a great future. We will have to wait for the market to get underway,” he commented at an award ceremony in the Spanish capital. Over the past five years, Atléti have spent € 679 million gross, resulting in a net outflow of € 101 million. Only Barcelona have spent more.

Chiellini heads to LA

Former Juventus and Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini has joined Loa Angeles FC just days after ending his career in his homeland. Chiellini has been linked with a move to Major League Soccer since 2021 after helping Italy win EURO 2020. At the time, Chiellini was a free agent and had an interest in continuing his career in the United States. Details of his contract have not been announced, but Chiellini was signed using targeted allocation money, meaning his salary must be above the maximum MLS budget charge of US$ 612,500 but less than the US$ 1,612,500 that would demand a designated player tag.

Japanese fans can cheer again

For the first time in two years, Japanese fans have been given almost free rein to root for their teams at J-League matches. The match between Kashima Antlers and Avispa Fukuoka at the Kashima Stadium was the first in which spectators were allowed to behave like they did in pre-pandemic times. Typically, precautions are still in place. When cheering, they must face forward and wear masks of unwoven cloth. They are not permitted to eat or drink while cheering.“Cheer loudly” areas were set up behind the goals, comprising 1,700 seats in total. Every alternate row and every other seat had to remain vacant in these areas. The J-League plans to introduce the “cheer loudly” concept to other games.


Another dull performance by England
England were held to a 0-0 draw by Italy in their third UEFA Europa League game at a near empty Molineux. Manager Gareth Southgate admitted England have become over-reliant on Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling and it showed in a tepid game of few chances.  In fact, England have failed to score from open play in their last three games and they are halfway through their Nations League games and are without a win. “We’re very, very reliant on Harry and Raheem at the moment and that is a concern. We keep working on getting balls into the right areas, but there’s been a little bit of a lack of sharpness in those areas across the three matches, really. I think we had the players on the pitch today, we made the changes that we hoped would refresh the team as well, but we also played an Italian team that was very well organised.” 

Ireland trounce poor Scots 

The Republic of Ireland comfortably beat Scotland 3-0 in Dublin for their first ever Nations League win. Desperate for points after defeats by Armenia and Ukraine in their first two games, the Republic took a 20th-minute lead through Alan Browne with Troy Parrott doubling the advantage after being teed up by Michael Obafemi. Obafemi then capped an outstanding individual display by scoringhome the Republic's third from distance. The win lifts the Republic up to second in Group B1, ahead of the third-placed Scots. 

Frenkie goes to Salford? 

The Manchester Evening News has reported that Manchester United are considering a £ 75 million bid for Frenkie De Jong of Barcelona. New coach Erik ten Hag has identified the Dutch international as a priority target and the club’s interest has intensified in the past few weeks. Barca are said to be keen to unload De Jong to raise some capital for team rebuilding. 

Núñez bound for Anfield, at a cost

Liverpool seem certain to sign Darwin Núñez from Benfica and the fee is going to top € 100 million, says the Portuguese media. Both A Bola and Record in Portugal have broken down every aspect of the deal the Uruguayan striker will sign with Liverpool, explaining how Benfica will be compensated. Liverpool will initially pay € 75 million and the remaining 25 million euros will come from add-ons. Liverpool will pay five million euros when he plays 10 games, and another 10 million euros when he reaches 60 games. Núñez’s individual and collective achievements with Liverpool will be rewarded with an additional 10 million under the terms of the deal. According to A Bola, the deal will be for five seasons at a salary of € 12 million gross per season.  

Getting messier in Brazil 

Brazilian football’s bid to create a breakaway super league has hit a huge snag as 25 clubs have now decided to set up their own league. This latest rift is a setback for plans that have gained considerable momentum since 2021. But 25 clubs disagree about the distribution of TV revenue with members of the Libra ((Liga Brasileira) group. The new idea among the 25 proposes 45% guaranteed TV income for all clubs and 30% depending on performance and another 25% depending on fan engagement. Seven clubs had signed up for the project Libra with Codajas Sports Kapital, but there were still differences over the distribution of revenues from TV. The negotiations continue.


Derby takeover doubtful

Derby County’s takeover by Chris Kirchner is expected to flounder after problems emerged in closing the deal. The US businessman was named as the preferred bidder to take the Rams out of administration, but according to media reports, the acquiring team failed to execute. It is believed the funds promised by the potential new owners may not have arrived.  BBC Radio Derby’s Ed Dawes commented: “I’ve been up all night taking to various people who are closely involved in this, and it’s my understanding the deal will most likely collapse today. There is a serious problem with closing it.”

Germany 1 England 1

Enlgland got a very fortunate draw in Munich thanks to a late and very dubious penalty that was converted by Harry Kane for his 50th goal for his country. A young Germany side were the better team for most of the 90 minutes and England looked decidedly jaded, as they did in Budapest in their first Nations League game. Germany took the lead through Jonas Hoffman’s 50th minute striker but in the 88th minute, Nico Schlotterbeck collided in the area and after a VAR check, a penalty was awarded. Kane levelled with a confident spot kick past Manny Neuer.

Blatter and Platini in the dock

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, two of the most powerful men in world football just a few years ago, are on trial in Switzerland accused of fraud. Swiss prosecutors claim a 2011 payment of CHF 2m (£1.6m) made by Blatter, former president of FIFA, to Platini, ex-president of UEFA, was unlawful. Blatter and Platini, who were both banned from football in 2015 say the transfer was belated payment for Frenchman Platini's advisory work for FIFA. After a lengthy investigation, Blatter has been accused of "fraud, in the alternative of misappropriation, in the further alternative of criminal mismanagement as well as of forgery of a document". Platini, meanwhile, is accused of fraud, misappropriation, participating in criminal mismanagement as an accomplice, and forgery of a document.

Benfica to launch fan tokens

Benfica are the latest club to embrace fan tokens and are set to launch on the blockchain-powered platform. has more than 150 clubs and leagues signed up to its platform, including Manchester City, Barcelona and Paris St Germain. The date for the Benfica Fan Token launch has yet to be announced. “We have been paying very close attention to Digital Assets,” said the club’s CEO Domingos Soares de Oliveira. “Benfica is constantly focused on searching for and delivering a positive experience to our fanbase. We are delighted to be partnering with Socios.”

Mbappe tops the list of valuable players

CIES Football Observatory have issued their latest list of the 100 most valuable players and Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappé tops the table at € 206 million, ahead of Real Madrid’s Vinícius Júnior at € 185 million. In third place, Manchester City’s new signing, Erling Haaland, is valued at € 153 million. The highest valued goalkeeper is Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG) at € 74 million and Rúben Dias of Manchester City is the most valuable central defender at € 110 million. Kevin de Bruyne (30) is the oldest player in top 100, valued at € 57 million. The Premier League is the most represented league with 41 players.

Obituary: Bobby Hope

A member of the last West Bromwich Albion side to win a trophy, Bobby Hope, has died aged 78. Hope was born in Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire on September 28 1943 and made 336 Football League appearances for Albion. He won the FA Cup in 1968 with the club, two years after winning the Football League Cup. A tenacious midfielder, Hope won seven caps for Scotland and later played for Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City.

Big clubs missing out on commercial opportunities

According to The Fan Relationship Index (FRI) from the CLV Group, the big six Premier League clubs are missing out on £700 million of revenue from commercial deals. The CLV Group says clubs are falling short “because they don’t have or use data which allows them to understand their specific strengths as a club – and sell deals accordingly.” The FRI estimates they are missing up to £345 million in potential content subscriptions. Neil Joyce, CEO of CLV Group, commented: “Most clubs own the ability to create content – they have apps, websites and in some cases TV channels. What they need is more data capability, technical capability and global resources to help them convert (content) to a subscription model.”


Messi goes nap

Lionel Messi netted all five of Argentina’s goals in their 5-0 victory against Estonia in Pamplona. The 34 year-old created a career best playing for his country and in doing so, passed the number of goals scored by Ferenc Puskás for Hungary. Messi has now scored 86 goals in 162 internationals for Argentina. His performance also underlined his return to form for the national team and followed his two-goal salvo for Argentina against Italy at Wembley in their 3-0 win in the Finalissima.

Orange protest by USA

The United States men’s team drew 0-0 with Uruguay in Kansas City in a warm-up for the CONCACAF Nations League. The US team demonstrated their support for greater control around guns in America following a spate of mass shootings. They wore orange arm bands and also sent a letter of protest. Coach Gregg Berhalter commented that he was proud of his players. The letter to Congress said: “There are those who say athletes shouldn’t get involved in issues that are deemed political. Certainly, we can all agree that the safety of the children in our country is a sacred responsibility that is shared by all of us.” America, are you listening?

Grimsby Town back in the EFL

Grimsby Town, just a year after being relegated, won back their place in the EFL League Two after beating Solihull Moors 2-1 in the play-off final at the London Stadium in front of 22,000 people. Solihull took the lead, but the game went to extra time and substitute Jordan Maguire-Drew scored the winning goal. Grimsby finished sixth in the league and went through play-offs against Notts County (2-1) Wrexham (5-4). All of their games went to extra time. Solihull had finished third in the league and had won against Chesterfield in the semi-final. Grimsby will join National League champions Stockport County in League Two in 2022-23.

Wales 1 Ukraine 0

Wales have qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar for their first finals since 1958. The Welsh beat Ukraine 1-0 in Cardiff. Ukraine tried desperately to equalise after Gareth Bale’s free kick was unluckily deflected into the net by Andriy Yarmolenko, who tried desperately to retrieve the situation. The goal, scored in the 34th minute, came against the run of play. Wales had to thank a superb performance from goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey. Bale called the win the greatest result ever achieved by Wales and if Cardiff City get their way, he will be playing in the Welsh capital next season. Wales, meanwhile, will come up against England, USA and Iran in Qatar.


Nine double winners in Europe

The 2021-22 season saw nine clubs win their domestic doubles, although Liverpool and Manchester City were both denied the chance of completing the feat. Not one of the big five European countries saw one team win the league title and domestic cup competition in 2022, the last time it was achieved in France and Germany was in 2020, while in England it was 2019 and Italy and Spain, 2018. The most prominent side to pull off the double was Porto in Portugal. The others include: Red Bull Salzburg (Austria); Red Star Belgrade (Serbia), Ferencvaros (Hungary), Lincoln Red Imps (Gibraltar), Qarabag (Azerbaijan), Sheriff (Moldova), La Fiorita (San Marino) and New Saints (Wales).

Hungary 1 England 0

England lost their opening UEFA Europa League game in Budapest in a game played in front of 35,000 youngsters. Gareth Southgate’s side were jeered by the crowd when they took the knee as part of the ongoing anti-racism initiative. Once the game started, a jaded England side were disappointing, losing to a 66th minute penalty from RB Leipzig’s Dominik Szoboszlai. England were fortunate that Conor Coady cleared an early effort from Szoboszlai off the line and Jordan Pickford was at his best to save from Zsolt Nagy. Coady had a glancing header just wide in the second half, but András Schäfer missed a sitter late in the game which would have sealed victory. Harry Kane almost levelled in the closing minutes with a fierce shot that flew into the side-netting. Overall, a poor display by England, who face significant hurdles against Italy and Germany in the Nations League group stage.

Wydad the champions of Africa

Morocco’s Wydad AC are the new CAF Champions League winners after beating Al-Ahly of Egypt 2-0 in the final in Casablanca. A crowd of 45,000 saw Wydad clinch their third CAF Champions League title, thanks to two goals from Zouhair El Moutaraji, one in each half. Wydad’s victory deprived Al-Ahly a hat-trick of wins in the competition, but there has been a hint of controversy since the final. CAF decided to host the game in Morocco even though Wydad had made it through to the final. This upset Al-Ahly, whose coach, Pitso Mosimane claimed that at any other venue, his team would have been champions. North African clubs have dominated the competition in recent years and there is intense rivalry between Moroccan and Egyptian teams. Mosimane, who was bitter in defeat, said the CAF Champions League is 50 years away from the standards set by UEFA’s equivalent.

French government defiant

The French authorities are still adamant the problems at the UEFA Champions League final were caused by a huge number of counterfeit tickets to the tune of more than 50%. Instead of discussing the poor organisation at the world’s biggest club game, the pair doubled down. Frrench interior minister, Gérald Darmanin spoke of “massive fraud to an industrial level and organisation of fake tickets”. Darmanin also blamed the RER B strike and Liverpool fans at a hearing. He went on to defend how French authorities and police had handled the situation on Saturday. He said that decisions by the public authorities had saved lives. The tear-gassing, he claimed, prevented supporters from getting crushed. He repeatedly stated there were no problems for Real Madrid fans, a version of events that fails to correspond with various media reports.


Champions League shambles goes on

Real Madrid are now challenging UEFA over the Champions League final debacle on May 28. The European champions want to know why the Stade de France was chosen for the game and who was responsible for leaving the fans defenceless. "Football has transmitted an image to the world which is far away from the values and goals which it should pursue," said Real Madrid in a statement. French authorities have tied to blame ticket fraud among Liverpool fans but it has emerged that supporters were subject to attacks from local gangs. "We believe something which should have been a wonderful festival of football for all fans who attended the game, quickly turned into a series of unfortunate events which have caused a sense of outrage around the world," said Real Madrid. "As was evident in the revealing images published by the media, several fans were attacked, harassed, assaulted and robbed in violent fashion.

Barcelona the most innovative club

Barcelona have been named the most innovative club in the world, according to Sport Innovation Lab. Barca are ahead of their rivals Real Madrid and a cluster of English clubs.The list takes into account revenue diversification, technological adaptation and how clubs are building their business through innovative approaches and digital initiatives. Key for Barca was its investment in the fan experience such as its partnership with, as well as its multilingual social media profiles, its eSports teams, its data-driven amateur membership program and its Innovation Hub. After the Spanish duo, Arsenal and Manchester City were in third and fourth place respectively.

Juventus busy in the market

Juventus, keen to recapture the Serie A title in 2022-23, have targeted a number of players for their summer shopping. Chelsea’s Timo Werner, old boy Paul Pogba, Frankfurt’s Filip Kostic and Paris Saint-Germain’s Angel Di Maria are all being linked to the old lady from Turin. At the same time, Paulo Dybala looks set to leave Juve, with Premier League clubs interested in the Argentinian striker. Juve manager Max Allegri has had a swipe at Dybala, claiming he had rarely been the same since being dubbed “the new Messi”. Dybala, now 28, has scored 115 goals in 293 appearanced for Juventus.

Son’s the man

Tottenham’s golden boot winning striker Son Heung-Min has been honoured by his country in the form of the Cheongnyong medal, the highest sports merit award in South Korea. He was given the accolade by South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol on the pitch before the international friendly with Brazil in Seoul. Brazil beat their hosts 4-1. Son remains immensely popular in South Korea, looked upon with the a level of idolation usually reserved for actors and K-pop stars. Tottenham are planning a pre-season tour to South Korea in July.

Lewandowski urged to go to Liverpool

Poland coach and Liverpool fan Czeslaw Michniewicz hopes Robert Lewandowski will join his favourite club after the prolific striker announced he intends to leave Bayern Munich. Michniewicz. Lewandowski has more Poland caps and goals than any player in Polish football history and score 50 time for Bayern in 2021-22. Little wonder that Lewandowski believes he has achieved all he can in Bavaria. He is looking for one last lucrative deal as a player and has eyed a possible move to Barcelona, apparently making a three-year verbal agreement with the Catalans.


Ukraine victory

Scotland, who last qualified for the World Cup in 1998, were beaten 3-1 by Ukraine amid emotional scenes at Hampden Park in the World Cup 2022 play-off. Scotland were on a hiding to nothing as the neutral vote was for Ukraine to win through to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. They were comfortably beaten, with goals from Yarmolenko (33 mins),Yaremchuk (49) and Dovbyk (90), while Scotland’s solitary response was a goal from Callum McGregor (79). Scotland manager Steve Clarke admitted the better team won. Ukraine move on to face Wales for a place in the finals later this year.

Pardew makes a stand

Alan Pardew has left Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia after racist behaviour among some of their fans. Pardew was appointed technical director of CSKA in November 2020, but the recent outburst of racism at a game with Botev prompted him to call it a day. His assistant, Alex Dyer, has also left the club. CSKA were runners-up in both the Bulgarian league and cup in 2021-22. The Botev game was just a few days after CSKA lost 1-0 to local rivals Levski in the cup final.

Milan takeover

AC Milan, the new Italian champions, have been taken over by RedBird Capital, who bought the Rossoneri from Elliott Management in a € 1.2 billion deal. Elliott, who took on Milan four years ago, have turned the club around after some horrendous financial result. The club has also returned to prominence by winning Serie A in 2021-22. Redbird are led by former Goldman Sachs banker Gerry Cardinale, the company bought 10% stake in Fenway Sports Group, the holding company that owns Liverpool. The transaction represents another investment by the private equity sector and is the latest involving US investors.

Chinese league gets underway

The beleaguered Chinese Super League (another club bit the dust recently) starts on June 3 with the slogan, “Together for a new future”. A record 18 clubs will kick-off, with the competition being played in three biuo-secure hubds: Meizhou, Dalian and Haikou. The first 10 rounds of the league will be played in these locations, mostly behind closed doors. Some clubs, such as Guangzhou, are in financial difficulties and Chongqing folded because they could not attract new investors. Champions Shandong Taishan are favourites to retain their title.

Argentina win debatable showdown

Lionel Messi was named man of the match as Argentina beat Italy 3-0 in the Finalissima at Wembley in front of 87,000 people. The game, a clash between reigning European Champions and Copa America winners, was reintroduced by UEFA. Argentina played superbly, with goals from Martinez, Di Maria and Dybala. For Italy, Chiellini played his last game of a 117-cap career on the international stage. Messi’s performance was hailed by commentators, who considered he had put on a masterclass after his disappointing season in Paris.