Premier League worried Brexit will harm league’s global popularity and damage competitive nature

5 Sep

Premier League bosses are becoming increasingly concerned Brexit will seriously impact the league’s competitiveness and global popularity.

The government has been urged to abolish all restrictions on signing foreign players, or risk missing out on some of the best talent in Europe.

The Premier League is worried about the effect of Brexit

An exclusive by The Daily Telegraph has revealed the Premier League fear the next N’Golo Kante would not be granted a work permit after Brexit.

With just over six months until the UK leaves the European Union, the Premier League hierarchy are still waiting for clarification on a number of key issues.

Namely, they want to know if there will be a restriction on signing European players after Brexit and if clubs will have to fill a homegrown-player quota.

There are fears the Football Association will use Brexit as an opportunity to increase the opportunities for young English talent – made more prevalent after Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate bemoaned a lack of English talent at his disposal.

Premier League clubs will not be allowed to sign European players under the age of 18 – like Arsenal did with Fabregas

It has been accepted there it will be almost impossible for clubs to sign European players under the age of 18 like Arsenal did with Hector Bellerin and Cesc Fabregas, or how Manchester United did with Paul Pogba and Gerard Pique.

Their case is supported by statistics proving football should be treated as a special case; the Premier League generates over £3billion in tax for the Treasury and directly employs over 12,000 people.

The main of contention lies in the acquiring of work permits for top players.

According to a study by Harvard data scientist Laurie Shaw, 591 of the 1,022 players signed by top-flight clubs in Premire League history with passports for a country in the EEA would not have qualified for a work permit.

N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez joined Leicester City for relatively low transfer fees and helped the team to a Premier League win in 2016. But Brexit terms may mean they struggle to compete for top-level signings

Shaw’s research shows that less wealthy clubs would suffer the most. Players like Kante and Riyad Mahrez would not have qualified for a work permit according to Shaw.

Most players at clubs such as Leicester City do not feature regularly for top-60 international teams – meaning the competitive balance would skew in favour of far wealthier clubs who can afford to pay bigger transfer fees for players.

John Motson believes lure of overseas riches will see clubs like Manchester United play Premier League games abroad

18 Aug

John Motson has conceded the Premier League could emulate LaLiga by playing a selection of games abroad because of the lure of the huge riches.

It was announced on Friday that LaLiga officials have entered a 15-year deal with American company Relevant to bring soccer to North America.

A billboard in New York City shows former Spurs hero Gareth Bale

As a result, an official LaLiga game could be played on US shores as soon as this season.

For fans of the English game, it invokes memories of the infamous ‘39th game’ proposed by Richard Scudamore during his tenure as Premier League chief.

And while it may not happen soon, Motson believes it is a very real possibility in the future.

He told MatchDay Live on talkSPORT: “If Manchester United were to play, say Tottenham, and decided to play the home game in China and the away game in the United States and those games counted as part of the league programme – well I can just about envisage that.

Manchester United faced Real Madrid at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami in pre-season

“I don’t necessarily think it’s going to happen, I don’t think it’s going to happen in the next couple of seasons maybe, but that’s the kind of reach we’re talking about.

“What you have to remember; most of the Premier League television money is coming from overseas and most of the clubs (the big clubs this is) their commercial income; shirt sales and all that sort of stuff is growing day-by-day in the 200 territories that the Premier League now covers.

“So it would be a PR exercise and a money-making exercise commercially, rather than just necessarily drag all our fans over there.

“But all I’m saying to you today is the LaLiga decision, which sounds to me to be pretty definite, I think it has re-opened the debate.”

Former Premier League referee slams Mike Riley and the standard of Premier League referees after Bobby Madley’s shock departure

17 Aug

Keith Hackett has slammed referee’s chief Mike Riley and blamed him for the departures of several leading English referees.

The former Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) managing director was speaking in the wake of the departure of Bobby Madley and questioned Riley’s role.

Madley decided to quit aged just 32

The PGMOL is responsible for overseeing all Premier League matches, with Riley operating as Hackett’s successor.

The body announced the departure of Madley on Thursday evening, despite the 32-year-old recently being promoted to the list of FIFA officials.

Hackett told Press Association Sport: “It’s on him (Riley). And I’ve got to ask why did (Mark) Clattenburg leave? Why did (Howard) Webb leave? Why did Mark Halsey leave? All early.”

The PGMOL on Thursday said Madley had “decided to relocate due to a change in his personal circumstances”.

Former referee Mike Riley is now the managing director of PGMOL

Hackett expressed disappointment at Madley’s move and suggested PGMOL, now with 17 top-tier match officials, could be forced to look abroad for referees of the desired standard.

Hackett added: “A few years ago I looked very carefully, when I was the boss of PGMOL, to bring in some overseas referees. I think he (Riley) is going to have to do that.

“If any referee sustains a long-term injury, then they’re down to the bare bones.

“Do we question the ability of bringing in foreign players? What is different to refereeing?

“Exchange programmes exist. I’m thinking for a short-term plan, in the event someone gets injured, rather than exposing our young referees coming into the system.”

It is understood utilising foreign officials is not something being considered by PGMOL. There is a secondary group of referees who could be called upon if required.

Hackett says it takes two to three years for referees to be established and believes Riley is stifling the progress of officials.

Keith Hackett sends off Tony Gale in an FA Cup semi-final tie against Nottingham Forest

He also questioned Premier League clubs’ decision not to use VAR this season.

Hackett said: “I think there is a block in the system that prevents the referees getting appointed out of the Football League and into the Premier League. And that’s down to the management of the PGMOL.”

Arsenal news: Fans fear Stan Kroenke could take club private as Alisher Usmanov looks to sell stake

24 Jul

Stan Kroenke could be set to take full control of Arsenal after Alisher Usmanov began actively looking to sell his 30.4 per cent stake in the club.

The American owner, hugely unpopular with fans since his 2011 takeover, currently owns 67 per cent of shares, and Usmanov has finally admitted defeat as he recognises Kroenke will never let him control the club.

Kroenke is the 183rd-richest person in the world

Kroenke, a Missouri-born real estate entrepreneur and nicknamed ‘Silent Stan’ by Arsenal fans for his avoidance of public appearances, offered Usmanov £525million for his block of shares in October 2017, after the Uzbek made his own £1bn offer last May.

Nine months after rejecting Kroenke’s offer, the Financial Times report that the Uzbek has now decided to sell up as he concedes Kroenke will never allow him to control Arsenal.

Should Kroenke purchase the shares, he would likely go on to buy up the remaining 2.6 per cent of shares as well, giving him full ownership of the club.

It is a move which has outraged the club’s fans.

A banner signalling Arsenal fans’ displeasure with Kroenke was flown over Arsene Wenger’s final game as Arsenal boss in May 2018
Kroenke rarely appears at Arsenal games, but generally makes exceptions for big occasions such as FA Cup finals

An Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) spokesman told the Evening Standard: “The AST would be very concerned at any outcome that saw the club wholly owned by Stan Kroenke.

“If he bought Alisher Usmanov‘s shares, the likelihood is he would take the club private, forcing out the remaining custodian shareholders.

“This would reduce scrutiny in how Arsenal operate and allow its corporate structure to be moved to the United States.

“It would not be good for those who care about Arsenal being run the right way.

Usmanov has been a shareholder at Arsenal since August 2007, four months after Kroenke’s first purchase

“Arsenal is too important to be owned by any one person and there should be a plurality of ownership, including supporters, involved in the club.

“There would be concern at the idea that Stan Kroenke has absolute control of Arsenal Football Club and the likelihood that its legal status would be transferred to the United States.

“The AST believe that Usmanov’s holding is important for maintaining plurality and have always called for the board to work with Usmanov to make Arsenal stronger.

“Stan Kroenke’s refusal to engage with supporters, including breaking a pledge he made at the time of his takeover, demonstrates why this would alarm all Arsenal fans who care how the club is run.”

Usmanov has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin
Kroenke also owns NFL franchise the Los Angeles Rams, who he moved from St Louis in 2016

Kroenke, who also owns six sports franchises in his homeland, first became a shareholder at Arsenal in 2007 and joined the board of directors a year later when his stake grew to 29 per cent.

His 2011 takeover gave him 62.9 per cent of voting rights at the club as he bought the shares held by Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and the late Danny Fiszman.

In addition to Arsenal, his firm Kroenke Sports & Entertainment also have a controlling stake in the Los Angeles Rams (NFL), the Colorado Rapids (MLS), the Denver Nuggets (NBA) and the Colorado Avalanche (NHL), as well as lacrosse team the Colorado Mammoth.

Forbes estimate Kroenke’s net worth to be $8.3bn (£6.3bn), making him the 183rd-richest person in the world, while Usmanov is valued at $12.7bn (£9.7bn), placing him 118th.

Arsenal fans have long campaigned for Kroenke to end his involvement with the club, blaming him for a lack of transfer activity and remaining unaccountable to them at AGMs

His son Josh is gaining a growing influence at Arsenal, and was said to have been instrumental in the club’s recent governance changes, which included the departure of Arsene Wenger as manager after 22 years at the club.

Father Stan is a very infrequent visitor to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, instead spending the vast majority of his year in the US where he was ranked as the country’s ninth-biggest landowner in 2015.

This absence from British soil has riled Gunners fans in the past, as has his reluctance to give interviews or answer questions at the club’s Annual General Meetings, which he does usually attend.

He also drew criticism in August last year for launching a new sports TV channel which includes shows that involve big game hunting, with elephants and lions being killed in the making of programmes, which he then ordered to be removed from the channel.

Chelsea consider Barcelona’s £65m Willian bid and are desperate not to sell to Manchester United

23 Jul

Chelsea will consider a £65million bid for Willian from Barcelona as they look to sell him abroad rather than risk him moving to rivals Manchester United, according to reports.

The Brazil star, 29, appears headed for the exit door at Stamford Bridge as the Spanish giants launch a third offer and United continue to chase his signature.

Willian looks set to leave Chelsea after five years at the club

Chelsea are said to have rejected two bids from Barcelona already for Willian, but the Mail report that the latest proposal could be accepted by the club’s hierarchy as new boss Maurizio Sarri looks to finance moves for Juventus duo Gonzalo Higuain and Daniele Rugani.

Sarri, 59, managed Higuain at former club Napoli and would look to add him to ex-clubmate Jorginho, his first signing with Chelsea.

The new manager is not the only key figure demanding arrivals at the club, with Eden Hazard also said to be on his way out if they do not spend big this summer.

After a disastrous league campaign under Antonio Conte saw them finish fifth in 2017/18, big-name signings will be crucial to keeping Chelsea’s stars, but with no Champions League to offer this may prove difficult.

Sarri finally completed his switch to Chelsea after Antonio Conte’s sacking
Higuain could be reunited with Sarri at Stamford Bridge after the pair first worked together at Napoli

Higuain has been linked with a Stamford Bridge switch ever since Sarri was lined up for the head coach role at Chelsea, with Sarri hoping the Argentinian can solve the club’s striker woes.

Last summer’s £60m signing Alvaro Morata failed to impress after a club-record move, while January signing Olivier Giroud has been linked with Atletico Madrid.

Centre-back Rugani, 23, has reportedly agreed terms with Chelsea that would triple his current wages, but Juventus are said to be holding out for up to £40m for him.

Chelsea are also weighing up a bid for United’s Anthony Martial, although the Red Devils could demand Willian in exchange for the French forward.

Sarri is said to be chasing Juventus duo Higuain and Rugani, but will need to raise funds first to complete the deals

Arsenal close in on Aaron Ramsey contract extension with Lucas Torreira deal on brink of completion

29 Jun

Arsenal are nearing a new long-term deal for Aaron Ramsey, with the signing of his incoming midfield partner Lucas Torreira set to be announced imminently.

Ramsey, 27, has just a year left to run on his current contract but is said to be keen to work with new Gunners boss Unai Emery, who sees the Welshman as the team’s key player.

Ramsey is set to end months of speculation by committing his future to Arsenal

With Jack Wilshere departing the club when his deal expires in June, Ramsey will be among the first names on the teamsheet, likely alongside £26million Sampdoria man Torreira.

The Uruguayan is set to become Arsenal‘s third signing of the summer after Stephan Lichtsteiner and Bernd Leno, with Borussia Dortmund centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos not far behind.

The deal for Ramsey is reportedly five years according to the Telegraph, following on from long-term contracts signed by fellow midfielders Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles this summer.

Torreira could line up in a central midfield trio alongside Xhaka and Ramsey in a new-look Arsenal side, although that could mean one of Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan or Alexandre Lacazette missing out.

Lucas Torreira, 22, will join in a £26m deal from Sampdoria

One player certain of his spot in the team is club-record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who signed in a £56m deal from Dortmund in January.

Aubameyang, is thought to be one of two players, Ramsey being the other, who Emery sees as indispensable.

Arsenal finished outside the Champions League places for a second consecutive season in 2017/18, leading to Arsene Wenger’s 22-year reign coming to an end.

Emery is keen to bring them back to Europe’s top tier as soon as possible, with the raft of new deals and incomings already putting his mark on the club.

Unai Emery has already made a major impact at Arsenal in his short time in charge of the club

Speaking to fans on Wednesday night, Emery outlined his intentions to play an attacking style, saying: “I prefer to win 5-4 than 1-0 because football is about emotion and what is the best feeling in football? When you score.”

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis heralded a new era for the club with a first managerial appointment since 1996.

He said: “We really have a collective effort now, in terms of how we identify players and then how we take forward our interest, and of course Unai is a huge part of that.

“This is now a different way of doing things, one with a very, very accomplished team of professionals who we have spent time bedding into the club.”

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey reveals he booked a player who asked for it as England prepare to face Belgium

28 Jun

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey has revealed he booked a Premier League player who deliberately asked for a yellow card.

The player, who Halsey did not name, wanted to be suspended before a big derby game in 2011 so he could remain fresh.

John Terry speaks to Mark Halsey in 2011

Halsey’s shocking revelation comes just hours before England face Belgium in a crucial World Cup group game where the winner will top the group.

With both sides level on points, goals scored and goal difference, bookings could play an important role in deciding who tops the table.

And when asked if he had ever deliberately booked a player, Halsey was more than happy to divulge.

Speaking to American news channel CNN, he recalled how the player said: “He’s just said ‘listen, look, we’ve got a game Tuesday. If I don’t get cautioned now and get one Tuesday, I’ll miss the big derby on the Saturday.

“So he just asked me if I could show a yellow. And I did actually.
“I said to him, ‘Alright, we’ve got 10 minutes to go, when I give a free-kick against you’ — and I knew I would because he’s that sort of player — ‘just leather the ball 50 yards away and I can caution you for dissent.’
“If you’ve got big games coming up and you’re on four yellow cards, one more means you get suspended. I just said to him, ‘Don’t do nothing stupid.’
“He came up to me at the end of the game and said, ‘Thanks for that Mark.'”
The nation who finishes second in Group G has arguably got an easier run to the semi-final.
A round of 16 tie against Senegal, Colombia or Japan would be followed by a quarter-final clash with either Sweden or Switzerland.

Fenerbahce enter talks with Chelsea over Marco van Ginkel

21 Jun

Fenerbahce have kicked off talks with Chelsea over a deal for Marco van Ginkel.
As talkSPORT told you on Wednesday, the Turkish club are interested in the midfielder.

Van Ginkel has spent the last two and a half years on loan at PSV, scoring 31 times in 64 games

The 25-year-old spent last season on loan at PSV Eindhoven and he impressed with a number of strong performances.
Van Ginkel’s manager for his time at the Dutch club was former midfielder Phillip Cocu, who is now set to takeover at Fenerbahce.
The Turkish giants are in talks with 47-year-old coach and as part of negotiations they have asked him who he wants to sign.

Dutchman Cocu is set to quit PSV for Fenerbahce this summer

And, according to Milliyet, Cocu has pressed so hard for van Ginkel that Fenerbahce are now in talks with Chelsea.
The two clubs have kicked off negotiations and there is hope a deal could be struck quickly.
Chelsea are currently deciding whether to loan van Ginkel out again – or let him leave permanently.

New Arsenal boss Unai Emery ousts Jens Lehmann, but did the former Invincible have a cheeky dig on his way out?

19 Jun

Former Arsenal assistant coach Jens Lehmann has left the club as new boss Unai Emery named his backroom staff ahead of the upcoming Premier League season.

While Arsene Wenger’s deputy Steve Bould will remain at the club, the ex-Germany international will depart.

Lehmann played for Arsenal across two spells between 2003 and 2011

But did he take to Twitter to have cheeky dig at his former employers?

The former assistant coach addressed Arsenal fans following his dismissal on the social media site, suggesting the attitude from the Invincibles era is no longer needed at the club.

He wrote: “Dear Arsenal Fans, I am sorry to leave the club after only one year again.

“It was a good experience working with the players as one of the assistant-coaches.

“But the attitude from our 2004-group is not needed there anymore.”

Bould was named assistant to Wenger in May 2012, after the retirement of the long-serving Pat Rice, and continues as one of two assistant head coaches under Emery.

Juan Carlos Carcedo, Emery’s long-time assistant, will be alongside him in the dugout.

Director of high performance Darren Burgess and goalkeeping coach Sal Bibbo, both of whom were appointed in July 2017, remain in place.

First-team coach Pablo Villanueva, strength and conditioning coach Julen Masach, goalkeeping coach Javi Garcia and data/video analyst Victor Manas complete Emery’s staff.

Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Unai Emery has replaced Arsene Wenger at the Emirates

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said: “Unai has a very strong and talented team and I’m delighted that they are joining us.

“I’m also pleased that Steve Bould, Sal Bibbo and Darren Burgess will continue their work with us.

“As we go through this period of change, we need to retain some continuity and they have an important role to play.”

Lehmann joined Arsenal in the summer of 2003 and was brought in to replace David Seaman.

He helped the club to win the Premier League in his first season between the sticks, going the entirety of the season without tasting defeat in the league.

He left in 2008 to return to his home country to play for Stuttgart, briefly coming out of retirement to feature for the Gunners in 2011 when they had an injury crisis.

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka signs new ‘long-term’ deal to keep him at the Emirates

15 Jun

Midfielder Granit Xhaka has signed a new “long-term” contract with Arsenal.

The 25-year-old Switzerland international, currently away at the World Cup, featured in all 38 Premier League matches last season.

In a message on Arsenal’s Twitter feed, Xhaka said: “Hi Gunners, here is the Granit.

“I am happy and I am proud to sign a new contract here for Arsenal and I hope for good results in the future.”

Arsenal did not disclose the length of his new deal.

Xhaka joined Arsenal from German side Borussia Monchengladbach in May 2016, and went on to win the FA Cup in his first season.

Xhaka has always struggled with a disciplinary problem during his time at the Emirates

New Arsenal head coach Unai Emery said on the club’s website: “I’m delighted that Granit has extended his contract with us.

“He’s an important member of the squad and is still young so will be able to develop even more.

“I hope he has a successful World Cup with Switzerland and comes back fit and ready for the new season.”

Emery is preparing to take Arsenal forward following the departure of long-serving manager Arsene Wenger.

The Spaniard’s first competitive match in charge will see champions Manchester City visit the Emirates Stadium on the opening weekend.

By then, Arsenal are expected to have brought in more fresh talent.

Swiss defender Stephan Lichtsteiner has arrived on a free from Juventus, while a potential Ł27million deal for Sampdoria midfielder Lucas Torreira, who was a late substitute as Uruguay opened their World Cup campaign with a 1-0 win over Egypt, is understood to be in the pipeline.

Confirmation of a move for centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund is expected at the start of July, while Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno is another reported target as Arsenal plot their way back into the Premier League’s top four.