Posts from category "The Weekend"

European Super League: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City officials did not discuss breakaway league at meeting

Officials from leading Barclays Premier League clubs did not discuss the possibility of a breakaway European Super League in London on Tuesday, Press Association Sport understands.

Reports have emerged that officials from Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United held a meeting with American billionaire Stephen Ross - the owner of Miami Dolphins NFL team.

Ross' organisation is behind the International Champions Cup series, which sees a number of Barclays Premier League clubs take on other leading sides from across Europe in showpiece matches, often held as pre-season tournaments around the globe.

Photographs of club officials leaving a meeting at the Dorchester Hotel together prompted speculation that another attempt could be made to form a continental league competition but an Arsenal spokesman, while confirming a meeting took place, told Press Association Sport: "We are strongly opposed to any breakaway.

"Not Arsenal, nor any clubs at the meeting, are seeking changes to the Premier League and European landscape and no conversations surrounding displacing the Premier League or starting a European Super League took place.

"Discussions were primarily around the ICC and formats of European competitions that would compliment the existing Premier League."

UEFA confirmed it has no concrete proposals on the table to change the format of its European competitions, but is constantly reviewing the situation.

A lucrative new broadcasting deal is set to kick in from the start of the 2016/2017 Premier League season, which will dwarf the current financial rewards on offer for a successful European campaign.

When contacted by Press Association Sport on Wednesday, UEFA confirmed they were aware of the latest reports, but had no specific comment to make on the claims.

A spokesman said: "We are constantly reviewing the formats of our competitions in consultations with stakeholders and also with the ECA (European Club Association).

"At the moment, there are no concrete proposals on the table. We have just gone into a new three-year cycle for Champions League and Europa League, so we cannot offer any further comment at this stage."

The Premier League said they had no comment to make when contacted on Wednesday.

Welbeck: Rashford has great potential for Manchester United

Danny Welbeck has hailed Marcus Rashford following the 18-year-old’s stunning introduction to the Manchester United first team.

Rashford struck twice during his senior debut for United in last Thursday’s 5-1 victory over FC Midtjylland in the Europa League, and he followed that up with another double in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford.

Rashford was scouted during his time at Fletcher Moss Rangers - the same youth club Welbeck was at - and the Arsenal forward believes United have a player with “great potential”.

“He’s done brilliantly well. Individually I was really pleased for him, obviously to make a great debut like that in the Europa League and then into the weekend he did well,” Welbeck told the Daily Mirror.

“It was disappointing [for us] on the day. I was down when we lost that match. I’m pleased for Marcus but disappointed to lose that game.

“My brother is very close with his family. He’s known his family for a very long time and Marcus was coming through the ranks at United when I was playing in the first team and I would see him all of the time.

“He’s someone that I always spoke to. He’s a great kid. He’s very level headed. He’s got great potential and I hope he does very well. I’ve spoken to him a couple of times.

“Fletcher Moss was where it started for me and a lot of other players as well. It’s vital that they get the stature back up again, get everything running smoothly again.

“There’s a lot of talent in Manchester that grows up in and around that club. Hopefully it can keep going for many more years.”

Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos 'hand in' transfer requests at Real Madrid - Manchester United on red alert

A massive story has emerged from Spain today which could pave way for potentially the two biggest transfers this summer.

News outlet Sport have reported that Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos have handed in their transfer requests at Real Madrid, delivering the news in person to Real president Florentino Perez.

Both players have been strongly linked with a move to Manchester United in recent seasons.

The original story, that Ronaldo and Ramos had gone to meet Perez and tell him they wanted to leave, was first brought to light on Spanish TV programme El Chiringuito last night.

The incident reportedly happened after Real's1-0 defeat by neighbours Atletico Madrid last weekend. Real are now 12 points behind leaders Barcelona in third place in La Liga.

Ronaldo of course played for United between 2003 and 2009 before his then-world record £80m move to Real. The Portuguese scored 118 goals in 292 appearances for the Old Trafford side, and won three Premier League titles, three League Cups, one FA Cup and one Champions League in a trophy-laden spell with the club.

Premier League clubs' spending reaches £1bn this season

Premier League clubs have spent more than £1bn on transfers in a season for the first time, new figures reveal.

A record £965m was spent in 2014-15, but that figure has already been beaten, with clubs having until 23:00 GMT on Monday to sign further players.

The 20 clubs have already spent £130m in the January transfer window alone, with Newcastle spending £29m.


They have signed Jonjo Shelvey, Andros Townsend and Henri Saivet, and bid £21m for West Brom striker Saido Berahino.

Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: "We've seen Premier League clubs again use the January window to invest significantly in playing talent.

"With a day left, the total gross spending this season has already reached £1bn for the first time." 

Premier League spending since 2003-04 SeasonSummer transfer windowJanuary transfer windowTotal *2015-16 January transfer window figures as at 09:00 GMT on 1 February 2003-04 £215m £50m £265m 2004-05 £215m £50m £265m 2005-06 £235m £70m £305m 2006-07 £260m £60m £320m 2007-08 £470m £175m £645m 2008-09 £500m £170m £670m 2009-10 £450m £30m £480m 2010-11 £365m £225m £590m 2011-12 £485m £60m £545m 2012-13 £490m £120m £610m 2013-14 £630m £130m £760m 2014-15 £835m £130m £965m 2015-16 £870m £130m so far £1bn so far


Gareth Bale fires hat-trick to give Zinedine Zidane dream start as Real Madrid boss in rampant win

Karim Benzema got the Zidane era off to an ideal start by scoring after just 15 minutes and then Bale netted either side of the break before scoring a second header to complete his treble.   

Benzema added a fifth in stoppage-time as Real ensured the gap to Barcelona at the top remains at two points, albeit with Los Merengues having played one game more.

Earlier in the week Zidane confirmed reports that Bale was irritated by the sacking of Rafael Benitez, but the Wales international quickly showed he can work just as well under the Frenchman with a dominant performance.

After a stop-start season under Benitez, Madrid looked liberated under Zidane, once the club's record signing and still an idol thanks to his stunning winning goal in the 2002 Champions League final.

The 43-year-old's name was cheered heartily before the game by the same supporters who had booed Benitez just 10 days earlier, and they were also delighted at the sight of Isco, who was given his first start in exactly two months. The Frenchman's only other change to the team that drew 2-2 in Benitez's last game was homegrown defender Dani Carvajal coming in for Danilo, who has been inconsistent since signing from Porto last year for 30 million euros.

Zidane announced in his press briefings that he would stick with the usual front three of Bale, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, saving special praise for the Portuguese, who he called "the soul of the team".

Although Ronaldo failed to get on the scoresheet, he was much livelier than at the Mestalla during Benitez's last game in charge, taking nine shots on goal and providing the assist for Bale's second goal.

Madrid made a nervy start to the game, however, with Deportivo's Luis Alberto firing over in the opening minutes and then Faycal Fajr forced Keylor Navas to tip away his shot from wide. The goalkeeper was alert again a couple of minutes later to thwart Lucas Perez in a one-on-one, and the same doubts that pervaded Benitez's side were looking all too evident.

But just a few moments later Benzema struck at the other end to put Madrid on their way to a huge win. Depor failed to clear a corner and Sergio Ramos sent the ball back into the danger area, and Benzema helped it into the net with a flick of the back heel to score his 100th Primera Division goal. The goal angered Depor as Gareth Bale was offside, and although he did not touch the ball, he may have obstructed the view of goalkeeper German Lux.

Bale got the better of the goalkeeper just seven minutes later, heading home a cross from Carvajal from six yards out.

The former Tottenham man got his second of the evening four minutes after the break, tapping in Ronaldo's low cross, and then grabbed his second hat-trick of the season by heading in a Toni Kroos corner, netting his 50th goal for Madrid in 108 games, one more than Zidane managed in 231 games in a white shirt.

Benzema rounded off the victory with a thumping shot that bounced in off the crossbar as Zidane enjoyed a comfortable start to life in the Bernabeu dugout.

Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United: Everton striker would prefer Paris Saint Germain switch

Everton striker Romelu Lukaku reportedly prefers the prospect of joining Paris Saint German next summer - rather than Manchester United.    

The 22-year-old Belgium international is the joint Premier League top goalscorer this season and has been linked with a £50m switch to Old Trafford at the end of the campaign.

But, according to the Sun on Sunday, Lukaku would prefer to join the Parisian giants if they follow up their interest with a bid.

Real Madrid have also been suggested as possible suitors should the Everton striker be allowed to leave Goodison Park.

Toffees manager Roberto Martinez has repeatedly quashed speculation about Lukaku’s future but today’s report casts fresh doubt.

When asked if the club have an agreement with Lukaku to sell him eventually, the Spaniard said: "That is not true, I would never do that. I think that would be very negative. If you do that could you imagine the last two months for that player?

"He would never put a leg in or never challenge for the ball. I don't agree with doing that. I know you can do that to keep a player for another 12 months.

"But if you're not going to have a player 12 months down the line you need to start replacing him to have a stronger team."

Diego Costa and Ruben Loftus-Cheek see off dogged League One visitors

Teenage midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek's first senior goal settled a niggly FA Cup third round tie as Chelsea ground past Scunthorpe 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.    

Diego Costa's fourth goal in three games handed Chelsea the perfect start, only for Guus Hiddink's men to drift off and allow League One side Scunthorpe to turn the tie into a scrap.

The 19-year-old Loftus-Cheek's composed finish secured Chelsea safe passage to the fourth round, though, after Scunthorpe were denied a second-half penalty.

Chelsea will hope England Under-21 star Loftus-Cheek's tidy performance points to a coming of age, after limited past opportunities.

And interim Blues boss Hiddink will be heartened by hit man Costa taking another step forward in his fight for top form.

Total first-half control caused Chelsea to switch off and coast to a 1-0 advantage at the break.

Costa sneaked goal-side of the defence to turn home Branislav Ivavonic's cross and hand the hosts the perfect opening.

Oscar curled wide from 16 yards instead of doubling the lead, doing an injustice to his step-over and link return ball from Costa - the pair combining well after their set-to in training this week.

Pedro then spurned another fine Chelsea chance, scuffing his finish after a lose first touch. Willian's smart step-over drew the defence after Fabregas' raking pass set Ivanovic away down the right.

Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta's tangle set Williams tearing away down the right, but Kurt Zouma pulled off the perfect sliding cover tackle to deny the winger a one-on-one.

Suddenly emboldened, Scunthorpe pressed again, only for Kevin Van Neen's cross to evade Neal Bishop.

Hiddink took off Oscar at half-time in favour of youngster Loftus-Cheek, but still the craved impetus failed to arrive.

Chelsea were handed another let-off when referee Craig Pawson denied Scunthorpe a penalty despite Ramires tangling with Van Neen in the box.

Ramires appeared to tread on the Scunthorpe forward's foot, but the appeals went unanswered.

Bishop and Stephen Dawson hounded Costa into losing possesion in his own half, only to be hauled back for a foul on the Spain striker.

Finally Chelsea killed the tie, the long-overdue second goal courtesy of the highly-rated Loftus-Cheek.

Ramires broke up play and fed Willian, who set Azpilicueta free on the overlap. Costa's selfless near-post run drew the defence and Loftus-Cheek swept home.

Van Neen dragged a free-kick just wide in a bid to catch Begovic cold at his near post, before Scunthorpe were lucky not to concede a penalty of their own, Loftus-Cheek's progress in the box seemingly stopped by a stray hand.

Jordan Clarke's pile driver shot then forced Begovic into a first-class reaction save to tip onto the angle of post and bar, but by that stage Chelsea were home and hosed.

Gary Neville still searching for La Liga win after Valencia lose to Real Sociedad

Gary Neville suffered his third defeat in all competitions as Valencia manager as Real Sociedad saw off Los Che 2-0 thanks to two second half strikes from Jonathas de Jesus.   

The Brazilian forward took advantage of an error from Valencia goalkeeper Jaume Domenech to knock in the first goal after 78 minutes, and four minutes later headed home the second, again taking making the most of a good cross from Carlos Martinez.

Although he has impressed onlookers at Valencia since taking charge, Neville's record after five league games does not make for encouraging reading, losing two, drawing three and winning none. His team have also been beaten in the Champions League since he took over, losing 2-0 to Lyon.

His side are 10th in the Primera Division, just three points better off than Real Sociedad, who moved up to 14th as a result of the victory.

Neville was boosted by the return of Shkodran Mustafi at centre-back, while Enzo Perez made his first league start in over a month.

Alvaro Negredo, who had scored a hat-trick in the 4-0 Copa del Rey win over Granada, dropped back to the bench, replaced by 20-year-old Santi Mina.

Both sides hit the woodwork in the first half, Martinez striking the post after a quarter of an hour, then Rodrigo Moreno smashing the crossbar from close range following a flick on from Mustafi.

Real Sociedad were much more dominant after the break and it took a top save from Domenech to keep the game goalless, tipping away a stinging effort from Ruben Pardo.

But the goalkeeper was at fault for the Basque side's opener, failing in his attempt to punch away Martinez's cross, and Jonathas got there first to bundle the ball in.

Just a few minutes later Martinez and Jonathas combined again, the right-back getting the better of Lucas Orban to sail in a cross towards the Brazilian, who powered a header into the far corner.

Kemar raises the Roofe as Oxford dump Swansea out of the FA Cup

Kemar Roofe was Oxford's two-goal hero as Swansea found themselves on the wrong end of the first major upset of the FA Cup third round.    

Former West Brom youngster Roofe scored twice in the second half as the League Two Us came from behind to stun the Premier League side 3-2.

Alan Curtis made 10 changes for his first match since being named Swans manager until the end of the season - then watched in horror from the touchline as the decision backfired spectacularly. 

There was little sign of the drama to come when Swansea took the lead, albeit against the run of play, thanks to a stylish goal by Jefferson Montero.

Oxford deservedly hit back through Liam Sercombe's penalty before half-time, and then Roofe blew the Swans away with his quickfire double after the break.

Bafetimbi Gomis pulled one back but the visitors could not find an equaliser and slipped to a chastening defeat.

United boss Michael Appleton vowed not to change his side's passing style - despite taking on one of the Premier League's pass masters - and at times it was hard to tell which side was 54 league places above the other.

Certainly Oxford carved out the better chances in the opening half an hour, while Swansea seemed to be relying on the scattergun approach to shooting favoured by Jonjo Shelvey, with predictably dire results.

Roofe headed George Baldock's cross narrowly over before Ryan Taylor's header was only kept out by a fingertip save from Swans keeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt.

Yet just as Oxford were building up a head of steam, the Swans brought a genuine touch of top-flight class to the proceedings.

A swift counter-attack saw Montero charge into the area, play a neat one-two with Marvin Emnes and impudently back-heel the ball past United goalkeeper Sam Slocombe.

But with half-time approaching Oxford were gifted a way back into the game by stand-in Swans skipper Kyle Bartley.

Nordfelt had pulled off a fine save to keep out Jake Wright's shot, but when the rebound eventually fell to Alex McDonald, Bartley inadvisedly slid into the midfielder.

Contact may have been minimal but it was a ridiculous challenge in the area and referee Kevin Friend pointed to the spot, allowing Sercombe to crash home the penalty.  

Then after the break Roofe took over, first when he picked up the ball on the corner of the penalty area.

The 23-year-old skipped inside his marker and took a couple of steps forward before guiding an unstoppable curler across Nordfeldt and into the far corner.

And worse was to follow for the Swans when they conceded a goal from their own corner just before the hour mark, Chris Maguire racing clear before feeding Roofe, whose shot hit Nordfeldt but looped up and bounced into the net.

Gomis pulled one back in the 66th minute with an angled finish after Jack Cork found him in the penalty area, but Swansea went back into their shell and Oxford were able to see out the game without any further drama to register a famous victory.

Jerusalem to replace God Save The Queen? MPs to present bill for new England sports teams anthem

A cross-party group of MPs are to present a new bill proposing that England's sports teams have their own anthem in a similar way to Scotland and Wales, rather than singing God Save The Queen.   

Some MPs have suggested Jerusalem should take the national anthem's place but others have called for a public consultation.

Jerusalem is taken from William Blake's preface to his epic poem, Milton, and was set to music by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916.

During sporting events, players and fans from Wales sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Lands Of Our Fathers) and Scotland sign Flower Of Scotland.

Labour MP Toby Perkins, himself a former rugby player, is leading the group.

He has said it is inappropriate for England to sing God Save The Queen, especially when playing Wales or Scotland.

In the 2016 European Championship group stages, England will face Wales.

England has used Jerusalem as a walk-in anthem for Test cricket since 2003 and as a victory anthem at the Commonwealth Games.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he supports the idea and backs Jerusalem as the English anthem.