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Sir Jim Ratcliffe: Man Utd co-owner says football regulator ‘won’t be good’

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Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe is opposed to the introduction of a football regulator and says he can understand why Manchester City are challenging the Premier League’s rules.

Ratcliffe has taken a 27.7% stake in United but has effectively been allowed to control day-to-day operations by the Glazer family.

He has appointed a new technical director in Jason Wilcox, with Omar Berrada set to take over as chief executive next month. United will install Dan Ashworth as sporting director once a compensation deal is agreed with Newcastle.

Ratcliffe also oversaw the decision to stick with manager Erik ten Hag, even though United spoke to a number of potential replacements.

In addition, he has signed off on a £50m upgrade of the club’s Carrington training complex, with work under way that will force the first-team out of the main building for large parts of next season.

However, while he is concentrating on issues at United, Ratcliffe is also aware of wider problems facing the game, with a new government-backed football regulator top of the list.

“If you’ve got a government regulator, at the end of the day they will regulate and that won’t be good,” Ratcliffe said in an extensive interview with Bloomberg, external.

The plans were part of the Football Governance Bill, which was halted when the General Election was called but both Conservative and Labour parties have committed to it if they form the next government.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has previously warned of the potential for ‘unintended consequences’ resulting from the introduction of a regulator, which he has said could threaten the league’s status as the most lucrative in the world.

It is one of a number of regulatory issues facing Premier League clubs, who must comply with current profit and sustainability rules for at least another season.

City are currently challenging the legality of the league’s associated party transaction (APT) rules, which determine whether sponsorship deals are financially ‘fair’.

The Premier League champions City are not on their own in believing those rules should be scrapped.

“I can understand why they are challenging it,” said Ratcliffe. “You can understand why they would say that they want an open market, a free market.”

The Premier League has put talks with the Football League over a ‘New Deal’ for funding on hold until it had sorted its own revised financial regulation. Many top-flight clubs are against the concept of handing out additional funds to what in some instances could be viewed as rivals.

At its annual meeting earlier this month, clubs agreed to trial an ‘anchoring’ plan, which would link spending to the revenues of the club that finishes at the bottom of the table.

Ratcliffe is not a fan, and feels there is too much regulation generally.

“What would anchoring do?” he said. “The last thing you want in the Premier League is for the top clubs not to be able to compete with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and PSG.

“We’ve got more accountants than we’ve got sporting people at Manchester United. If you’re not careful, the Premier League is going to finish up spending more time in court than it is thinking about what’s good for the league.”

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Como: Cesc Fabregas becomes head coach of Serie A side

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Cesc Fabregas has become the head coach of Serie A club Como, having previously worked as their assistant head coach.

Fabregas, 37, has signed a four-year deal with Como, who last season got promoted back to Italy’s top flight after a 21-year absence.

The Spaniard, who ended his playing career at Como last year, has been promoted to head coach, his first full managerial role. He previously managed five matches as Como’s caretaker boss between November and December 2023.

“I am so happy to be starting this season as head coach and I thank the ownership group for trusting me with this position,” said ex-Arsenal, Chelsea and Barcelona midfielder Fabregas.

“I share the ambitions of the group and believe this is just the start of where this club can go.

“It’s going to be a tough and important season but myself and the rest of the coaching staff are ready and we all believe.”

Fabregas, who won the World Cup with Spain in 2010, spent the second half of last season working as an assistant to Welsh caretaker boss Osian Roberts, who has now become Como’s head of development.

They face 36-time Serie A winners Juventus on their return to the top flight on 19 August.

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Football gossip: Antony, Roberto, Sarr, Madueke, Huijsen, Gruda

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Leicester have made an improved £21m bid for Juventus winger Matias Soule, 21, and hope to wrap up a deal for the Argentine next week. (Telegraph), external

Newcastle are hoping to beat West Ham and Juventus to the signing of France defender Jean-Clair Todibo, 24, after holding talks with Nice. (HITC), external

Chelsea have not given up in their pursuit of Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, 25, despite Paris St-Germain being the frontrunners for the Nigeria striker. (CaughtOffside), external

Crystal Palace have held initial talks with Marseille over the possibility of signing 26-year-old Senegal winger Ismaila Sarr. (Athletic – subscription required), external

Chelsea have received contact from Newcastle about the availability of 22-year-old English winger Noni Madueke. (Football Insider), external

Liverpool and Newcastle are among the clubs interested in Dutch defender Dean Huijsen, 19, but Juventus’ £25.3m valuation could be a stumbling block. (Tuttosport – in Italian), external

Brighton are looking to advance negotiations over a deal for 20-year-old German winger Brajan Gruda from Mainz. (Fabrizio Romano), external

Sheffield United midfielder Gustavo Hamer, 27, has a relegation release clause in his contract and the Brazilian is on the radar of several clubs in the Premier League and Serie A. (Teamtalk), external

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PSG threaten legal action against Lyon owner John Textor

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Paris St-Germain have threatened Lyon owner John Textor with legal action unless he stops what the French champions feel are “defamatory and damaging statements” about the club.

PSG believe they have been left with no alternative other than to respond to Textor’s interview this week with Brazilian publication Globo.

In it, Textor, who through his Eagle Football Holdings group is a majority shareholder in Lyon and the biggest shareholder in Premier League club Crystal Palace, said he was competing against “a country, not an owner” and that PSG were a “model of unbridled spending, without restrictions”.

PSG have been majority owned since 2011 by Qatar Sports Investments, which has links with the Qatar Investment Authority – the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

In a letter signed by PSG’s general secretary Victoriano Melero, seen by BBC Sport, the club has called Textor’s comments “false, incendiary, undignified and nonsensical”.

They add: “We would like to respond to a few of your most unwarranted smears that are particularly false, hypocritical, and disrespectful not only to PSG but the wider French football family.

“You falsely state PSG has ‘a model of unbridled spending without restrictions’ while ignoring the fact your own club has had significant issues with Uefa and DNCG restrictions under your management.”

French football’s financial watchdog, the DNCG, announced in July last year it would monitor Lyon’s transfers and wage bill, external for the 2023-24 season after ruling the Ligue 1 club did not provide sufficient financial guarantees.

The measures were lifted in December after the DNCG approved Lyon’s new budget., external

In the letter, PSG also highlighted that American Textor criticised the Premier League’s spending rules, external in February.

They added: “You mention you are competing ‘against a country’ with PSG, ignorant of the fact that a significant portion of our club today is owned by US investor Arctos – which we thought you might be aware of, coming from the US.

“Less than 20% of PSG’s commercial revenue comes from Qatar companies, while PSG has signed 50 new partners in the last six years and only one of these was a Qatari brand.”

PSG end the letter by stating if Textor continues his “defamatory and damaging statements” they “will be forced to add to your growing number of lawsuits in Brazil with additional action in France”.

Textor is the largest shareholder of Brazilian top-flight club Botafogo.

A legal case has been brought against him in Brazil by parties he accused of being involved in corruption and match-fixing, comments which were subsequently dismissed by the domestic football authorities, but which he refused to back down from in his Globo interview.

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Southend United: Consortium led by Justin Rees completes takeover

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Rees is expected to be the new chairman, though much of the day-to-day running of the club will continue to be done by chief executive Tom Lawrence.

He has been in post since May 2021 and said at the start of the 2023 that financial problems had left the club with an annual funding gap of about £2m.

The other consortium members are John Watson, Gary Lockett, Tom Arnold, David Kreyling, Paul Redbourn, Ian Redbourn, George Taylor – the son of former Southend East MP Sir Teddy Taylor – Jason Brown and Lawrence.

“The news we’ve all been waiting for. Proud to have played a small part in this,” Southend-On-Sea Council leader Daniel Cowan said on X,, external formerly Twitter.

In a statement, the Shrimpers Trust supporters’ group – who have in the past loaned money to pay staff wages – said: “There are still matters to resolve, but they can now be completed in a place where the existential threat towards Southend United has been removed.”

The statement added: “Southend United Football Club has the chance to thrive and rise again on a sustainable and collaborative foundation, and we look forward to playing our part.”

They also thanked fans of Blackpool, Crewe, Reading, Scarborough Athletic, Scunthorpe and Torquay – who have also experienced major financial problems – for the “amazing support” provided as the Trust “sought to safeguard the future of our club”.

Southend were formed in May 1906 and in their 118-year history have been as high as the second tier of English football in the 1990s and again in 2006-07, a season which also saw them reach the League Cup quarter-finals.

They missed out on a play-off place last season because of a 10-point penalty imposed by the National League because of their financial issues.

COSU have been effectively running the club since the contracts were exchanged and Rees told BBC Essex in May that they had already spent £3.5m.

The following month, however, they were ordered to provide a £1m bond by the league who were concerned about Southend’s “ability to fulfil its financial obligations” for the coming season.

But the latest in a series of winding-up petitions the club has faced was dismissed on 26 June leading to the lifting of a second transfer embargo, external imposed in May, just five months after the previous one ended, having been in place for over a year.

The Fossetts Farm development is now subject to a second due diligence exercise by Southend-On-Sea Council.

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Belgium to face Israel behind closed doors in Hungary in Nations League

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Belgium’s home match against Israel in the Nations League will take place behind closed doors in Debrecen, Hungary on 6 September.

The Belgian Football Federation (RBFA) had been searching for a new venue after the city of Brussels said it was “impossible” to host the fixture because of security fears.

Other Belgian cities also refused to host the match.

The Israel-Gaza conflict has sparked global demonstrations, including in Belgium.

“Given that in Belgium, no local authority considered it possible to organise the home match of the Red Devils against Israel, the RBFA had to look for a solution abroad,” the federation said.

Most of the home fixtures for the Belgian national team are played at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.

In October, a gunman killed two Swedish people before a Euro 2024 qualifier between Belgium and Sweden at the stadium.

The fixture was later abandoned at half-time for security reasons.

Belgian prosecutors initially said there did not appear to be any link between the attack and the Israel-Gaza war, but later said they could not exclude that possibility.

France and Italy are in the same Nations League Group A2 as Belgium and Israel.

Fifa is currently considering a proposal from the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) to suspend Israel from competing on the international stage.

The PFA submitted its case in May but Fifa will not make a final decision until after the Paris Olympics, which run between 26 July and 11 August.

Football’s world governing body said the legal discussions surrounding the case will be shared with its council on 31 August.

“Following requests for extension from both parties to submit their respective positions, duly granted by Fifa, more time is needed to conclude this process with due care and completeness,” Fifa said on X.

Israel will play Mali, Paraguay and Japan in the group phase of the 2024 Olympics.

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Hwang Hee-chan: Korean FA writes to Fifa after alleged racist abuse of Wolves player

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The Korean Football Association has written to Fifa to express “serious concerns” after Wolves’ Hwang Hee-chan was the target of an alleged racist remark by a Como player in a pre-season friendly.

South Korea forward Hwang reported the remark during Monday’s friendly in Marbella, Spain.

Como said one of their players made a reference surrounding Hwang’s name.

The Italian club said they did not consider the remark racist, adding “the reaction of certain Wolves players has seen the incident blown out of proportion”.

Wolves and Hwang insist it was racist and are working with the English Football Association to formalise their complaint, which will be sent to Uefa and the Italian FA.

European football’s governing body Uefa previously claimed it had no power to investigate because it was not a Uefa competition match.

The KFA has now taken the matter to world football’s governing body, Fifa.

The KFA said: “In an official letter sent to Fifa on July 18, the Korea Football Association expressed serious concern about the racist behaviour suffered by Hwang Hee-chan from an opposing team player during a recent practice match, and issued a call to prevent racial discrimination occurring on the soccer field.

“In order to eradicate it, we asked Fifa to further strengthen sanctions against perpetrators.”

Wolves said the incident took place midway through the second half, with forward Daniel Podence sent off for throwing a punch in the aftermath.

Boss Gary O’Neil asked Hwang if he wanted to abandon the game but the 28-year-old declined, with Wolves going on to win 1-0.

Hwang subsequently posted on his Instagram:, external “Racism is intolerable in sports and in all aspects of life.

“After the incident, the coaching staff and my team-mates immediately told me that they would leave the field with me if needed, and they kept checking on my wellbeing.

“I am very grateful to my team-mates once again.”

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Play-off experience aids ‘very tough’ Scotland

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In-form Scotland are the team “probably nobody wanted to draw” in the Euro 2025 play-offs, reckons head coach Pedro Martinez Losa.

Having topped their qualifying group with five wins and a draw, the Scots meet Hungary next and will take on Montenegro or Finland should they progress.

A strong campaign in the B section has lifted spirits following a winless experience against the A-listers of the Nations League last year.

“We are confident that we can be competitive against any opponent,” said Martinez Losa, reacting to the possible pathway to Euro 2025.

“We have had five wins in a row and, while at some moment this run will finish, we want to keep it going as long as we can.

“Momentum is very important. Life is about momentum. Football is about using the energy of the fans and being able to impact the opponent as much as we can.”

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Uefa launches disciplinary investigation into ‘Gibraltar is Spanish’ chant during Euro 2024 celebrations

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Uefa has appointed a disciplinary inspector after Spain captain Alvaro Morata and team-mate Rodri chanted “Gibraltar is Spanish” during their Euro 2024 victory celebrations.

The Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) made an official complaint about the celebrations to Uefa on Tuesday.

The inspector will “evaluate a potential violation of the Uefa disciplinary regulations”, the European football governing body said.

Gibraltar is an enclave at Spain’s southern tip that has been under British rule since the 18th Century, but Spain has long called for its return.

The chanting took place in front of tens of thousands of Spain fans in Cibeles Square, Madrid on 15 July as players celebrated their 2-1 Euro 2024 final success against England.

Manchester City midfielder Rodri, 28, could be seen chanting “Gibraltar is Spanish” on the stage, and AC Milan striker Morata, 31, later encouraged the crowd to join in with the same chant.

The Gibraltar FA complained about Spain’s behaviour, saying it had “noted the extremely provocative and insulting nature of the celebrations around the Spanish Men’s national team winning Euro 2024”.

“Football has no place for behaviour of this nature,” it added.

Gibraltar has been a full member of Uefa since 2013.

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Euro 2025 play-offs: NI manager Oxtoby hoping to build on ‘momentum and positivity’

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Oxtoby told BBC Sport NI that her preparations for the encounters with Croatia would include speaking with her Wales counterpart Rhian Wilkinson, after the Welsh finished top of the qualifying group which included the Croatians.

“I’ll be in touch [with the Wales head coach] for some tips, but we’re getting to work right now in terms of what we need to know,” explained the Australian former Chelsea assistant coach.

“We have a pretty stringent process we go through in terms of our opposition analysis so the guys will be working away to make sure we’ve got all the information we need to give ourselves every opportunity we need to be successful.

“Playing away from home first is always a challenge so we’ll try and get ourselves based where we can get some good work in beforehand and focus on us and be ready for the game.”

Oxtoby’s team sit 48th in the Fifa rankings, eight places above Croatia, while 16th-ranked Norway will be favourites to overcome Albania and stand in the way of Northern Ireland potentially reaching a second Euros tournament should they advance at the expense of the Croatians.

“The pressure of a play-off and all that comes with it, I don’t think rankings really come into it,” said Oxtoby.

“It’s about making sure you can execute on the day across the two ties so that’s what we need to be focused on, and ourselves more importantly, continuing our journey.

“We’ll focus on this first round and then concentrate on the next round if we get there.”

The round two play-offs will be played on 27 November and 3 December.

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Rachel Furness: Northern Ireland midfielder returns to Newcastle United

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Northern Ireland midfielder Rachel Furness has returned to Newcastle United after leaving Bristol City.

Furness, Northern Ireland’s record goalscorer, helped Bristol City win the Women’s Championship title after signing in January 2023.

She also won the Championship with Liverpool.

Furness, who has also played for Sunderland, Reading and Icelandic side Grindavik, said signing for the club she has supported her whole life is a “very proud moment”.

“I have watched from afar over the years and the ambitions of the club on and off the pitch are something I can’t wait to be a part of,” said the 36-year-old, who previously played for Newcastle between 2006 and 2010.

“I’m excited to meet the team and bring my experience to an already very talented squad.”

Manager Becky Langley said: “Rachel has had an excellent career and she will undoubtedly add very good experience to the team. She’s a winner and I love that about her.

“She’s excellent in the air and an all-round good footballer. We can’t wait to see her flourish back at her hometown club.”

Newcastle will compete in the 2024-25 Championship after winning the Women’s National League North title.

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