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Sir David Brailsford & Manchester United: What role will he have when Sir Jim Ratcliffe completes investment?



Sir David Brailsford, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Jean-Claude Blanc
Sir David Brailsford (middle) with Sir Jim Ratcliffe (right) and Ineos chief executive Jean-Claude Blanc (left)

One of the most intriguing elements of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s imminent acquisition of 25% of Manchester United is the key role Sir David Brailsford is set to play at Old Trafford.

The Ineos director of sport is best known to a wider audience for having led the revival of British cycling.

But having overseen the petro-chemical company’s sports portfolio since 2021, Brailsford is now set to sit on a powerful three-person committee running the football operations of one of the world’s biggest clubs.

It is the latest remarkable twist in a career that has featured much success, but also considerable controversy.

So how did Brailsford, 59, come to be in this position? Can he overhaul the way United is run? Will it work? And is it a risk?


The ‘marginal gains’ man

Sir Bradley Wiggins and Sir David Brailsford in Beijing 2008
Brailsford was British Cycling’s director of performance during the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, which featured Sir Bradley Wiggins as a multiple medal winner

According to one of the most highly respected figures in English football, Newcastle United’s sporting director Dan Ashworth, Brailsford has what it takes to succeed in the sport.

“I’ve known Sir Dave for a number of years, working across various different sports and he is without doubt the best in world sport at creating high-performance culture and turning that into winning,” Ashworth said, after inviting him to speak to his Newcastle squad last season.

So where did Brailsford’s journey begin?

The Derbyshire-born coach started building his reputation as a high-performance specialist at British Cycling 20 years ago, credited with helping to transform it into a team of serial winners thanks to the concept of ‘marginal gains’.

“If you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together,” Brailsford told the BBC in 2012.

“There’s fitness and conditioning, of course, but there are other things that might seem on the periphery, like sleeping in the right position, having the same pillow when you are away. They’re tiny things but together it makes a big difference.”


Not everyone believed in the theory.

In fact, Sir Bradley Wiggins has since described ‘marginal gains’ as “a load of rubbish”.

But for many years it seemed to work spectacularly. Team GB cyclists won eight cycling golds at the London Olympics, matching the eight they had won four years earlier in Beijing.

Three cyclists won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year gong in five years, and Brailsford was seen as a genius, helping to turn Britain into a cycling nation.

In 2013, Brailsford left British Cycling to concentrate full-time on his leadership role at Team Sky, the British professional cycling team he had helped to found.


They became dominant, winning a staggering six of seven Tour de France titles between 2012 and 2018, with wins for team riders Chris Froome (four), Wiggins, and Geraint Thomas continuing the success Brailsford had enjoyed at the national governing body.

Since Ratcliffe took over Team Sky in 2019, such success has proved elusive, the Ineos Grenadiers failing to win a single Grand Tour since the Giro d’Italia in 2021.

That was the year Brailsford was asked to take on an elevated role overseeing the operations of the various sports teams Ineos either owned or sponsored.

In addition to acquiring one-third of Formula 1 team Mercedes, Ineos also owns French Ligue 1 football club Nice and Swiss team FC Lausanne, as well as the Ineos Britannia sailing team headed by Ben Ainslie. There is also a performance partnership with the New Zealand rugby team.

This summer, in a rare appearance during the Tour de France, Brailsford hinted at a new version of ‘marginal gains’, one which borrowed approaches from the various sports under the Ineos umbrella to improve performances.


“Take nutrition,” he told ITV Sport. “You can take the best learnings from that, and shift it across into football or into the sailing team…

“It could be the data and analytics or strategic planning of the F1 team and bring it here [to cycling]. So there’s a ‘cross-pollination’ of ideas… British Olympic sports, when I was part of that, did that ever so well. So to do that in a professional group of sports is exciting. I’ve been involved in that quite a lot.”

When asked about the prospect of getting involved at Old Trafford, Brailsford said, “We’d very much like to do it. To be custodians of one of the biggest sporting teams and brands in the world, and try to support the team and fanbase.

“I know Manchester really well, and you get a sense of what the culture’s all about and what the fans want.”

Controversy, but Ratcliffe’s ‘full backing’

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, left, with Sir Dave Brailsford
Ratcliffe (left) and his Ineos Group have partnerships with several successful sports leaders, including Brailsford

But for many, the ‘marginal gains’ theory Brailsford became synonymous with is now tainted.

As recently as August, doctor Richard Freeman – the former chief medic at both British Cycling and Team Sky – was banned from all sport for four years for violating anti-doping rules, in one of the most significant cheating scandals in British sporting history.


Brailsford, British Cycling, Team Sky and Team Ineos have always denied any wrongdoing, with Freeman described as having fallen short of the ethical standards required of him, but having acted alone. But this was merely the latest twist in a period of intense questions, suspicion and intrigue.

In 2018, Brailsford appeared before a parliamentary committee to answer questions on the contents of a mystery “jiffy bag” Freeman had instructed be delivered to Wiggins before a 2011 race, amid an allegation it contained the banned anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone.

This followed the revelation Wiggins received therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for triamcinolone to treat asthma and allergies shortly before three major races.

Freeman and Brailsford maintained the bag contained legal flu medication, and ultimately a parliamentary committee said it was unable to determine what was inside the jiffy bag.

Brailsford admitted “badly” handling the crisis after providing initial explanations for the delivery to the Daily Mail that later turned out to be wrong. And his evidence to the select committee was described as “extraordinary” by the chair of UK Anti-Doping.


But in a final report in 2018, the MPs accused Team Sky of “crossing an ethical line” in its use of TUEs more broadly.

“Contrary to the testimony of David Brailsford in front of the committee, we believe that drugs were being used by Team Sky, within World Anti-Doping Agency rules, to enhance the performance of riders, and not just to treat medical need,” its report concluded.

Team Sky issued a firm denial in response, along with Wiggins and Freeman, and reiterated their commitment to clean cycling.

But British Cycling, for so long the country’s best-funded and respected sports governing body, was accused of a “serious failure” to keep basic medical records, a failure the report deemed “unprofessional and inexcusable”. How did that tally with the sport’s fabled attention to detail?

In 2021, Freeman was found guilty by a medical tribunal of ordering banned testosterone in 2011 “knowing or believing” it was to help dope an unnamed rider.


In her summing up, Freeman’s lawyer had described Brailsford as “the spectre missing at these proceedings”. The former Team Sky technical director Shane Sutton told the BBC it was “absolutely ludicrous” that “people are calling for Dave’s head”, and insisted neither he nor Brailsford had known anything about the testosterone.

But that did not stop the former shadow sports minister Clive Efford MP calling for Brailsford to be suspended, pending an investigation.

Such criticism has not deterred Ratcliffe, who said Brailsford retained his “full support.”

“Your antenna starts pinging if you’re uncomfortable about something” Ratcliffe told the Telegraph in 2021. “My antenna doesn’t start pinging when I’m chatting to Dave. Quite the opposite.”

Can he restore United after a decade of decline?

Sir David Brailsford and Sir Jim Ratcliffe
Ratcliffe will be hoping that Brailsford (right) can build on his experience with other teams to bring fresh ideas to Manchester United

Since then, Brailsford has become a familiar presence alongside British billionaire Ratcliffe. In March, the pair were part of the Ineos delegation that toured Old Traffordexternal-link during United’s year-long takeover saga.

For some fans, the prospect of Brailsford’s prospective role at United has echoes of former England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward’s infamous spellexternal-link as technical director at Southampton in 2005-06.


More recently, Todd Boehly’s struggles as co-owner of Chelsea, despite his stellar reputation in US baseball, serve as another reminder of the unique challenge English football can pose to outsiders.

But others will be excited to see what difference Brailsford can make to recruitment and scouting, strategy, culture and sports science at a club regarded as under-performing, especially as there are signs of the difference he can make in the sport.

Brailsford conducted an audit at Nice in 2021, which was followed shortly after by the departure of the club’s director of football Julien Fournier and CEO Bob Ratcliffe, Sir Jim’s brother.

This led to Brailsford having a greater hand in recruitment than originally anticipated, with former Premier League players Aaron Ramsey, Ross Barkley and Nicolas Pepe among those he helped bring to the club in 2022 having hired controversial former Cardiff City and Crystal Palace director Iain Moody as a transfer consultant.

The following season, the club dropped to ninth place in the league, down from fifth the year before. However, there are signs this season that Nice are on track to achieve Champions League football – one of the main aims expressed by Ineos.


After a period of upheaval, they are currently second in the league under young coach Francesco Farioli – who Brailsford helped to recruit – one point behind Paris St-Germain and unbeaten after 12 games played.

Despite the controversy attached to his time in cycling, Brailsford continues to command significant respect as a guru of performance and innovation, and remains in demand.

Last year it emerged he was under consideration for a role in the ECB’s high-performance team.

“One of the greatest winners of our generation” was how he was introduced during an appearance on the ‘Diary of a CEO’ podcast in January 2022.

During the interview, Brailsford spoke about how he got “super-excited about wanting to do big, bold ambitious things. And then afterwards I think ‘ah, wow, what have I done? Now I’ve got to make it happen…let’s get after it’. That drives me.”


It does not get much more ambitious than trying to restore the fortunes of Manchester United after a decade of decline.

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Premier League agrees record £6.7bn domestic TV rights deal



Man City's Erling Haaland points at TV camera
The previous TV deal which runs until 2025 was worth around £5bn

The Premier League has agreed a new record £6.7bn domestic television deal for Sky and TNT to show up to 270 live games a season.

The deal includes the BBC continuing to show highlights on Match of the Day.

The top flight said the deal, which covers the four years from the 2025-26 season, is the “largest sports media rights deal ever concluded in the UK”.

The Saturday 3pm blackout will remain in place, but every 2pm Sunday kick-off will be televised.

The BBC’s deal includes MOTD2 and Football Focus plus additional digital rights for its online platforms.


Sky has been awarded four of the five packages and will show a minimum of 215 matches a season including Saturday 5.30pm kick-offs, Sunday 2pm and 4.30pm kick-offs, plus evening games on Mondays and Fridays and three midweek rounds.

TNT will show a minimum of 52 matches a season including all 12.30pm kick-offs on Saturdays and two midweek match rounds.

Sky Sports will also broadcast all 10 matches on the final day of each season.

Amazon, which shows 20 matches per season under the league’s current deal, has not secured rights in the new agreement.

This is the first time the Premier League has been through a tender process for its rights since 2018.


The current £5bn domestic TV rights deal, which expires at the end of the 2024-25 season, was allowed to be extended because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Premier League said the new deal will “provide financial certainty for clubs throughout professional football until at least 2029”.

“The outcome of this process underlines the strength of the Premier League and is testament to our clubs, players and managers who continue to deliver the world’s most competitive football in full stadiums, and to supporters, who create an unrivalled atmosphere every week,” said Premier League chief executive Richard Masters.

Barbara Slater, Director, BBC Sport, said: “Match Of The Day remains enduringly popular with audiences and this new agreement with the Premier League is brilliant news for football fans all over the UK.

“For almost 60 years it has been the UK’s most discussed football programme, delivering a complete digest of the weekend’s action and this enhanced deal with more digital content means we can tell the story of the Premier League every day across BBC Sport platforms.”



BBC Sport’s Simon Stone

Even though they are selling significantly more games for marginally more money, the Premier League will be privately satisfied with the figures given they believe additional growth in TV revenues over the medium term will come from the overseas market.

This announcement solidifies Sky’s position as the main Premier League broadcaster partner, keeps TNT in the mix and will deliver more digital content to BBC Sport, which is part of its overall strategy in a period when it will also show highlights of the Champions League.

We are still to see the true emergence of streaming platforms as a player in the market for weekly content, with Amazon – who this week will screen 10 matches – dropping out after the Premier League opted to put its five midweek rounds into their packages, rather than selling them off individually, as was the case when they last properly negotiated its domestic TV rights in 2018.

The Premier League has confirmed the intention to screen all Sunday 2pm games, most of which involve clubs playing in either the Europa League or Europa Conference League the previous Thursday.


There is no wholesale switch to Saturday or Sunday nights, which had been feared, although there are some weekend matches that have been sold as part of the packages that do not have timeslots. It remains to be seen what happens with them. In Italy, two matches are routinely played with different kick-off times on Fridays and Mondays.

TNT retaining the 12:30pm kick-off slot on a Saturday points towards Sky continuing the current trend of screening EFL matches at that time.

However, there is no additional space created for the Women’s Super League, which is why there have been suggestions it might benefit from using the 3pm ‘blackout’ slot.

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Premier League predictions: Chris Sutton v CBeebies presenter and Robin Hood star Rhys Stephenson



Sutton's Predictions

Aston Villa have won their past 13 Premier League home games, but will they make it 14 in a row against defending champions Manchester City on Wednesday?

BBC Sport football expert Chris Sutton said: “Villa just seem to be a different proposition at home, but I think you write City off at your peril.

“They were sloppy defensively against Tottenham on Sunday, but they are still extremely dangerous when they attack.”

Sutton is making predictions for all 380 Premier League matches again this season, against a variety of guests.


For this week’s midweek games, he takes on CBeebies presenter Rhys Stephenson, who supports Arsenal.

You can see Rhys on the big screen in the new CBeebies Christmas Panto, Robin Hood, which is in UK cinemas now and features your favourite CBeebies stars.

CBeebies Robin Hood
Stephenson plays Robin Hood in the CBeebies Christmas show. It was filmed live at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, north Wales, and includes original extra scenes and fun added in too just for cinema audiences

Stephenson grew up supporting Arsenal but it would have been a different story if he had followed in his father’s footsteps.

He told BBC Sport: “I was indoctrinated as a kid. My friends told me I supported Arsenal and I just took it with me for the rest of my life.

“My dad is actually Chelsea fan but ne never pushed on me who I should support so my friends got there first. I came home one day and told him I was an Arsenal fan now, and have been ever since.

“Now I live in Salford and I am used to being asked who I support. I’ve learned to say ‘I’m a Red… but the wrong kind of Red’… and they usually say something along the lines of ‘well, as long as you’re not a City fan, that’s fine.


“We’re doing well at the moment but I think the end of last season, when we played City and things went wrong after that, showed why we shouldn’t get carried away just yet.

“It’s great to be top of the table but I think the attitude of most Arsenal fans is very British in that we won’t get excited about anything until it is over. It’s a case of so far, so good… but I am just going to wait to see how things work out.”

CBeebies Robin Hood
The Cbeebies show sees Robin Hood and his Merry Band protect Sherwood Forest and its animal inhabitants from the Sheriff of Nottingham, who has a very naughty plan to destroy the wood of its riches for her own benefit

Chris Sutton and Rhys Stephenson were speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

When? Result Sutton Rhys
Wolves v Burnley x-x 2-0 1-0
Luton v Arsenal x-x 0-2 1-3
Brighton v Brentford x-x 2-2 2-1
Crystal Palace v Bournemouth x-x 1-0 1-1
Fulham v Nott’m Forest x-x 1-1 1-0
Sheff Utd v Liverpool x-x 0-3 0-3
Aston Villa v Man City x-x 1-2 2-2
Man Utd v Chelsea x-x 1-2 3-4
Everton v Newcastle x-x 1-2 0-2
Tottenham v West Ham x-x 3-2 0-1

A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.



Wolves v Burnley

Wolves v Burnley (19:30)

Burnley will be full of confidence after their brilliant – and much-needed – win over relegation rivals Sheffield United.

They will be looking to bring Wolves into the battle at the bottom too, but Gary O’Neil’s side still have some breathing space over the drop zone despite three defeats in their past four games.


I also think Wolves will be too streetwise for the Clarets, especially at Molineux, which is why I am going for a home win.

Sutton’s prediction: 2-0

Rhys’ prediction: 1-0

Luton v Arsenal

Luton v Arsenal (20:15)

Arsenal have been much more pragmatic so far than they were last season and have not hit the same heights with their attacking play, but it is working for them.

We know how spirited Luton are at home but the way Mikel Arteta’s side are playing at the moment, I just expect them to find a way to win.

Historically, the Gunners used to struggle at Kenilworth Road when Luton were in the top-flight in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and they have not won there since January 1984, but that long wait for a victory should soon be over.

Sutton’s prediction: 0-2

Rhys’ prediction: Of course I am going to back my team here… but Luton might be in the game for a little while though, so it’s not going to be easy for us. 1-3



Brighton v Brentford

Brighton v Brentford (19:30)

Brighton have only won won of their eight league matches and Sunday’s defeat by Chelsea must have been very frustrating after the Blues went down to 10 men just before half-time.

This could be another awkward game for the Seagulls too. Brentford took four points from Brighton last season and I can see them making life difficult for Roberto de Zerbi’s team again.

The Bees will sit in and counter-attack well, and I can see them getting some reward.


Sutton’s prediction: 2-2

Rhys’ prediction: This could be a really good game, because both teams might think they can win it and go for it a bit more. My head says a draw, but my heart says it will be a bit more exciting than that, with Brighton scoring a late winner. 2-1

Crystal Palace v Bournemouth

Crystal Palace v Bournemouth (19:30)

The way Bournemouth have picked up has surprised me a little bit, but they are carrying more of an attacking threat and it is paying off.


I am tempted to say the Cherries can keep their run going with a point at Selhurst Park, but I have a feeling Crystal Palace will end their poor run, and edge what should be a very tight game. I am just not 100% sure why.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-0

Rhys’ prediction: This one feels like a draw to me, which would be a better result for Bournemouth. 1-1

Fulham v Nottingham Forest

Fulham v Nottingham Forest (19:30)

Fulham were unlucky to leave Anfield empty-handed on Sunday after being ahead so late on, and they looked much brighter up front. Maybe they have finally come to terms with Aleksandar Mitrovic’s departure, because they have started to score goals again.

It is three defeats in a row now for Nottingham Forest and the noise around the future of their manager Steve Cooper won’t go away until their results improve, no matter how unfair that seems.

These two teams are next to each other in the bottom half of the table, so you would expect this game to be close and I actually think they will end up sharing the points.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-1

Rhys’ prediction: I am going to give this one to Fulham. It’s a bit like Brighton v Brentford with two teams near each other in the table, but both these sides are closer to the relegation zone so things might be a bit more tense. 1-0


Sheff Utd v Liverpool

Sheff Utd v Liverpool (19:30)

Paul Heckingbottom’s departure as Sheffield United manager appears to be imminent, and it will not exactly be surprising to see him go after their past couple of results against Bournemouth and Burnley.

A new voice always makes the first game after a change of manager really interesting but, whether or not Chris Wilder gets the job, I don’t see it making much difference for the Blades here, because what worries me is how brittle they are at the back.

Liverpool did amazingly well to come back to beat Fulham on Sunday and they are right in the thick of the title race now. This should be a much more straightforward victory for Jurgen Klopp’s side, who have got the firepower to win comfortably.


Sutton’s prediction: 0-3

Rhys’ prediction: Liverpool’s away form isn’t always that convincing but I don’t see them struggling here. 0-3

Aston Villa v Man City

Aston Villa v Manchester City (20:15)

It has been surprising to see Manchester City conceding so many goals recently – they have shipped 10 in their past four games – and I do think Villa will score here, but I’d still back Pep Guardiola’s side to score more.


It’s a blow for City to be without suspended duo Rodri and Jack Grealish, but I am certainly not going to start doubting them.

They might be playing with a bit of anger after feeling wronged by the decision not to let them play an advantage right at the end of Sunday’s draw with Tottenham, even if I do think too much was made out of that incident.

The referee was wrong to stop play, but I think the Spurs defence would have caught Grealish anyway.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-2

Rhys’ prediction: Villa have been awesome at home and I think they will really push City here. 2-2


Man Utd v Chelsea

Manchester United v Chelsea (20:15)

Manchester United were woeful at St James’ Park on Saturday and it looked like some of their players couldn’t be bothered.

Before the game, Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag was saying how Newcastle United had an extra day to prepare after their Champions League game in midweek, which I don’t think was a great message to put out, but he ended up being let down badly by some of his players.

They weren’t prepared to run, while Newcastle ran all over them and should have won by more than 1-0.


I am sure we will see more effort here, in front of their own fans, but I think we have to remember where Manchester United are at – they are seventh, but none of their eight league wins this season have come against sides in the top half of the table.

So, I think this game is definitely winnable for Chelsea, even though they remain very inconsistent. They looked a bit better organised in their win over Brighton and I can see them causing Ten Hag’s problems at the back.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-2

Rhys’ prediction: I am going with some goals here. You can never be too sure whether Chelsea will turn up but I think they will be good in this one – they’ve done pretty well against the bigger sides. 3-4


Everton v Newcastle

Everton v Newcastle (19:30)

This should be a really good game. between two teams who will throw everything at it.

Everton’s home form is not great, but they have total belief in their approach under Sean Dyche and they play like they share the same cause.

But Newcastle’s unity is also great to see – they are all in with Eddie Howe and fully invested in his playing style as well.

I was tempted to go for a draw but with former Everton winger Anthony Gordon going back to Goodison Park, I have a sneaky feeling he might make the difference.


Sutton’s prediction: 1-2

Rhys’ prediction: Everton will be up for this but Newcastle are playing really well. 0-2

Tottenham v West Ham

Tottenham v West Ham (20:15)

This is a tricky game for Spurs because their manager Ange Postecoglou likes going toe to toe with teams and West Ham boss David Moyes just won’t let that happen.


The Hammers beat Brighton in September with only 22% possession and they would obviously be very happy to try for a repeat of that here. They will defend very deep, and look to spring forward.

There will come a time when Spurs blow away a team or two with the way that they play, but I am not convinced that will happen here. I do think they will beat West Ham, but I don’t think it will be a straightforward victory.

Sutton’s prediction: 3-2

Rhys’ prediction: I just have a feeling that West Ham can do this. Their defence can keep Spurs at bay, and then nick a winner. 0-1

How did Sutton do last time?

A strong week for Chris, who overpowered wrestler AEW wrestler Claudio Castagnoli.

Chris got eight correct results from 10 matches in week 14, with three exact scores, giving him a total of 170 points.

Claudio managed four correct results, with no exact scores, giving him 40 points.

Anthony Joshua 150
Eddie Hearn 130
Barry Can’t Swim 110
Anish Kumar 100
Fabian Edwards, Joelah from 1Xtra, KSI, Midas the Jagaban 90
Chris Sutton 88 (average after 14 weeks)
David Earl, Keke from 1Xtra, Jazzie Zonzolo 70
Tommy Fury, Joe from Nothing But Thieves 60
Gabe of Jamie Johnson FC, Tash from The Football Academy 50
AEW wrestler Claudio Castagnoli. Tom Ogden and Joe Donovan from Blossoms 40
Willie J Healey 20
Suggs 10
Chris Sutton 1,230
Guests 1,070

How did you get on?

Tottenham’s draw at Etihad Stadium was one of the results that caught you out – 76% of you went for a City win – and so was Everton’s victory at Nottingham Forest, although that was much closer.


While 30% of you did go for a Toffees success, 40% of you backed Forest to triumph.

1. Chris 8/10
2. You 6/10
3. Guest 4/10

*Win, draw, loss prediction based on highest % of vote for each match.

1. You 81/140
2. Chris 78/140
3. Guests 71/140

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Manchester City: FA charges champions with failing to control players in Tottenham game



Manchester City have been charged by the Football Association with failing to control their players in Sunday’s 3-3 Premier League draw with Tottenham.

Players surrounded referee Simon Hooper when he awarded a free-kick to City late in stoppage time after it looked like Jack Grealish was through on goal.

Hooper initially indicated City had the advantage and waved play on, but halted the match once the pass was played.

City have until Thursday, 7 December to respond to the charge.


An FA statement said the defending champions “failed to ensure their players do not behave in a way which is improper.”

Striker Erling Haaland was one of several City players to remonstrate with the official and he continued his protests after the game by reposting a clip of the incident on X, formerly Twitter, with the comment “Wtf”, which is offensive slang.

However, the FA will not be handing out any further charges relating to the fixture, so Haaland is not facing an individual punishment.

It is the third Premier League game in succession that City have drawn, having also been held by Liverpool and Chelsea, and they sit third in the Premier League with a three-point gap to leaders Arsenal.

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Jonny Otto: Wolves defender unavailable following ‘training ground incident’



Jonny Otto playing for Wolves
Jonny has made 134 appearances for Wolves

Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Gary O’Neil says defender Jonny Otto is unavailable for Tuesday’s Premier League match against Burnley after a “training ground incident”.

He was omitted from the squad for Saturday’s defeat at Arsenal.

“There was a training ground incident last week that’s being dealt with by the club,” O’Neil said.

“Jonny won’t be in the squad tomorrow. If and when he’s back available we’ll let everyone know.

“At this moment he won’t be available for the coming games. I’d rather not go into details in public – the club is dealing with it.”


Jonny joined Wolves on loan from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2018 and signed a permanent deal in January 2019.

The 29-year-old, who is under contract until 2025, has only made three appearances this season – two in the Carabao Cup and one in the Premier League.

Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Emirates Stadium followed last Monday’s defeat at Fulham and leaves Wolves 13th in the table, with an eight-point cushion to the bottom three.

Asked if training ground ‘incidents’ are healthy for a team’s fight and spirit, O’Neil added: “They can be healthy but those ones generally aren’t dealt with. Anything beyond that is dealt with by myself and the club.

“We’re working hard to shift the club in a certain direction. The Jonny incident has been dealt with and will continue to do so. My 100% focus is on Burnley tomorrow.”


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Paul Heckingbottom: Vincent Kompany surprised to hear Sheffield United are set to sack boss



Burnley boss Vincent Kompany is surprised to hear Sheffield United are set to sack manager Paul Heckingbottom who was “one of the best” managers in the Championship last year.

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Footballer Ravel Morrison admits using dead person’s Blue Badge



Ravel Morrison told magistrates he bought the permit for £50 from “someone in Old Trafford”.

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Chelsea 3-2 Brighton & Hove Albion: Roberto de Zerbi says Seagulls were the better side



Brighton head coach Roberto de Zerbi says his side were much better than Chelsea in their 3-2 Premier League defeat at Stamford Bridge.

MATCH REPORT: Chelsea 3-2 Brighton & Hove Albion

Watch Premier League highlights and analysis on Match of the Day 2 on BBC One 22:30 GMT.

Available to UK users only.

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Lucy Quinn and Rebecca Holloway: ‘Funny first impressions, opposing sides & mental health’



Republic of Ireland winger Lucy Quinn and Northern Ireland’s Rebecca Holloway discuss being footballers in a relationship, first impressions, playing against each other and dealing with mental health.

READ MORE: ‘I just shut down’ – Holloway on mental health struggles

Watch Northern Ireland v Republic of Ireland on BBC Two NI & BBC iPlayer from 17:45 GMT on Tuesday, 5 December.

If you have been affected by issues raised in this video, there is information and support available via BBC Action Line.

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Rebecca Holloway: ‘I just shut down’ – Northern Ireland defender on mental health struggles



Venue: Windsor Park, Belfast Date: Tuesday, 5 December Kick-off: 18:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Two NI & BBC iPlayer; live text commentary and match report on the BBC Sport website

“I felt it in myself. There was moments in games where I would get pains in my stomach. I think it was all the stress and everything.

“I just knew I couldn’t carry on. I knew I had to step away and take that break.

“I do think more players need to feel not like it’s a bad thing to feel the way they feel.”

Short presentational grey line

Athletes face spells on the sidelines with physical injuries all the time. It’s part and parcel of any sport.


But to take a step back to look after your mental health? That’s a brave move that many athletes would try to suppress.

However, Northern Ireland defender Rebecca Holloway knew it was something she had to do.

In an interview for BBC Sport with her partner Lucy Quinn, who plays for the Republic of Ireland and will face off against Holloway at Windsor Park on Tuesday, the 28-year-old opened up about her mental struggles.

The pair met at Birmingham City, and it was while at the Blues that she realised she needed to address her mental health.

She took time away from Northern Ireland duty so she could get herself in the right headspace and another short spell away from the Blues followed.


“Mentally I just shut down,” Holloway said. “My mum also had a big influence. She knew I probably wasn’t in any fit state to carry on.

“She was able to push me and say ‘Becks, it’s fine’. I needed a break, my body was telling me, my mind was telling me. I wasn’t in any fit state to go out and compete.”

Republic winger Quinn, who is still at Birmingham, added: “I know you didn’t want to miss any games or feel like you were letting the girls down, but it’s something you felt you had to do.

“I think it was a really sensible decision at the time and really brave. Credit to the club, the staff were completely understanding and allowed that. I wanted what was best for you and so did the girls.”

‘You don’t want to be a burden on your team-mates’

Holloway earned a move to Racing Louisville in the United States in March 2022, and she took another break before leaving Birmingham “to look after myself”.


“As athletes you always want to be the best. Even at Blues, I obviously struggled when we weren’t winning and I’m someone who loves to win.

“That was tough. Always being in a relegation battle, putting your body on the line for 90 minutes week in, week out – it takes a toll on you.”

The move to the NWSL brought its own challenges as she had to live away from her family and Quinn, who she had started dating the previous year.

“The experiences I had playing in England were completely different to playing in America,” Holloway said.

“I was faced with not playing as regularly and dealing with those emotions.


“Dealing with living away from my family and you. As much as my team-mates and the girls were great, they helped me through, you still struggle to talk about it because you don’t want to be a burden on your team-mates.

“You don’t want to be that negative person coming to training and talking about those things. It’s then finding ways away from football to deal with it, whether that is speaking to a psychologist or journaling.

“Even speaking to those closest to you, like your family. Then again I found it hard speaking to you because you are also in football and I didn’t want to come across as negative all the time with you as you have to deal with your playing.”

In an open and honest conversation, Quinn said: “that’s what friends and family and loved ones are for”.

“One thing we have learnt is that you addressed how you were feeling and did things to help yourself.


“I think that is the most important thing because everyone is going to have those moments and it is an ongoing thing. You have learnt how you work and how you cope, so that is a massively important thing.

“You needed to prioritise yourself.”

‘My support system’

Lucy Quinn hugs Rebecca Holloway
A year after supporting Holloway at Euro 2022, Quinn lined out at the World Cup with the Republic of Ireland

Despite only being together two years, Quinn and Holloway have both played at major tournaments and the Republic of Ireland winger scored the first women’s international goal at the Aviva Stadium when the Irish neighbours met in the Nations League opener in September.

Quinn was present at St Mary’s as Holloway featured in all three group matches in Southampton after helping Northern Ireland qualify for Euro 2022,

A year on, Quinn was playing for the Republic at their first World Cup in Australia. Not many couples can say they have achieved that.

“We’ve both done things that are massive in our careers,” said Quinn. “It’s been really nice to have you as my support system, being with you in those times.


“That day at the Aviva we were both involved, which was great, and then there was the Euros. I was really proud watching you walk out. I was very jealous, but that’s just one of those things.

“It made me want to go out and do something similar. When we reached the World Cup you were so happy for me. I think that is something really unique, being with someone in the same job.

“It was cool to have you with me, support me and understand what that meant. I think that is something really special and something we’ll definitely look back on.

Holloway added: “The fact it was so close together in the space of a year.

“We’ve only been together two years as well, so the fact we have achieved those things in that space of time is crazy.”


If you have been affected by issues raised in this article, there is information and support available via BBC Action Line.

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Paul Heckingbottom: Sheffield United set to sack manager



Paul Heckingbottom shouts angrily while coaching Sheffield United in the Premier League
Heckingbottom has also managed Barnsley, Leeds United and Hibernian

Paul Heckingbottom is set to be sacked as Sheffield United manager within the next 24 hours.

The Blades, who lost 5-0 at Burnley on Saturday, are bottom of the Premier League with five points after losing 11 of their opening 14 games.

Appointed permanent manager in November 2021, Heckingbottom guided United to the top flight with a second-place Championship finish last season.

Former manager Chris Wilder is among the leading contenders to take over.

Following the defeat at Burnley, Heckingbottom criticised the club for making “financial rather than football decisions” by selling key players in the summer.


The 46-year-old said United were “let down” by the players at Burnley, who had never won a Premier League game by five goals. Victory lifted them off the bottom of the table at United’s expense.

United are four points from safety, have won only once this season and have a goal difference of minus 28.

They host second-placed Liverpool at Bramall Lane on Wednesday.

Unhappy return to top flight for Blades

United lost their opening three games on their return to the Premier League and rounded off an unhappy August with a home defeat by League One Lincoln City in the Carabao Cup second round.

After earning their first league point in a 2-2 draw with Everton in early September, United lost their next six league games, which included a humiliating 8-0 home defeat by Newcastle and a 5-0 loss at Arsenal.


They hinted at an improvement in form before November’s international break, with Oliver Norwood’s stoppage-time penalty earning a first win of the season against Wolves, which was followed by a 1-1 draw at Brighton.

But a 3-1 defeat at Bournemouth, after which Heckingbottom said his players fell below the standard required, added greater importance to the meeting with Burnley.

More to follow.

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