La Liga hoping for fans in stadiums to start next season, Spanish government insists

Spain’s top sports government official says fans may be back in football stadiums beginning next season.

Irene Lozano, president of the Spanish Sports Council, believes that conditions could be in place by the fall to allow fans back, with some restrictions.

“We haven’t ruled that out,” she said on Tuesday. “Depending on how the epidemic progresses and how the situation progresses, we can start looking into putting a certain number of fans into the stadiums next season.”

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La Liga is expected to resume — without fans — on the second weekend of June, nearly three months after it was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Right now, the main goal is to be able to finish this season,” she said. “And it is clear that the best option now is to do it with matches behind closed doors. But we have to take into consideration that as we return to a new normality, having fans back in the stadiums can be done, as long as we follow the health safety measures in place.”

Lozano said she expects only parts of stadiums to be filled at first, with social distancing guidelines and protective materials such as gloves and masks likely still required.

She said Spain wants to be seen as a model on how organise sports events after the pandemic.

“Internationally speaking, Spain has led the way in safely organising sports events,” Lozano said. “We want to be at the forefront and export a model for this new era of safe sports. This will not be something difficult to do. We will find this model, which now will need to take into account a lot of safety measures and guarantees, and which will obviously have to account for having fans in the stadiums.”

Lozano said the government is considering allowing the media to cover matches on site this season.

“I’m aware that the league is a relevant event that has to be covered by all the media,” she said. “We are looking into everyone that needs to be in the matches, almost to try to create a capsule and guarantee that the epidemic won’t spread, and we are seriously considering allowing journalists to be in the league matches. Technically, we think it’s possible to do that maintaining distancing guidelines.”

Lozano said all Spanish league clubs are expected to be allowed to resume full squad training sessions beginning next week even though not all parts of the country will be under the same confinement restrictions.

“That was solved from the start, when Madrid and Barcelona were stuck behind,” she said. “The first thing was to guarantee everyone’s health, then the priority was to guarantee the integrity of the competition.”

Lozano also said it was important that the Sevilla players who broke confinement rules in a gathering with a large group of people last week promptly apologised.

“They know they made a mistake,” she said. “We can’t allow for a careless attitude to put everyone’s health at risk. The players have to be aware that they are a model to everyone.”

The Spanish football federation says it will allow games to be played on Mondays and Fridays until the end of the season even though a judge denied the league’s official request to play on those days.

League president Javier Tebas has said he wanted matches to be played every day, but the federation had been against the idea.

The federation said it “wants to clearly show its good will” and is also willing to extend the exception into the beginning of next season depending on how the pandemic progresses and if games will continue to be played without fans.

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David Luiz set to leave Arsenal with his contract up next month

David Luiz set to leave Arsenal after just one season with his contract up next month and with Gunners yet to activate option to extend his huge £125,000-a-week deal

  • David Luiz could be set to leave Arsenal at the end of his contract next month 
  • The defender was understood to have signed a two-year deal last summer
  • But reports claim that agreement was only reached on an initial 12-month stay 
  • Arsenal are yet to exercise their right to extend his £125,000-a-week contract

David Luiz’s short spell at Arsenal could be set to come to an end with the Brazilian reportedly out of contract next month.

It was thought the defender had joined the club on a two-year deal from Chelsea last summer, but Sky Sports claim that agreement was only reached on an initial 12-month stay. 

According to journalist James Benge, Arsenal have a one year option to extend his deal which they are yet to activate. But huge wages of £125,000 could be an issue in potential negotiations. 

David Luiz could be set to leave Arsenal next month with the defender set to be out of contract

The defender made the switch from Stamford Bridge to the Emirates on transfer deadline day

The defender made the shock switch from Stamford Bridge to the Emirates on transfer deadline day for a fee of £8million after Laurent Koscielny left for Bordeaux. 

Manager Mikel Arteta is thought to be desperate to hold on to the 33-year-old who is also keen to remain in London.

But the Gunners will be working on a restricted financial budget due to the coronavirus pandemic which could jeopardise agreeing a deal for the high earner.

Mikel Arteta is thought to be desperate to hold on to the 33-year-old who is also keen to stay

Luiz has been a central figure for Arsenal this season with 32 appearances in all competitions.

Clubs have until the June 23 to negotiate short-term extensions with players who are out of contract on June 30 after the Premier League issued special guidelines. 

Top-flight teams have been stepping up preparations for Project Restart next month and Luiz has been back at the club’s training ground and looked to be in high spirits with the rest of his team-mates. 

He has previously hinted he would leave Arsenal and admitted he would like to re-join Benfica

But he has previously hinted he would leave Arsenal in the future and admitted he would like to finish his career at Benfica.

He told the Portuguese club’s official website: ‘I always said that I would like to end my career at Benfica.

‘In football everything changes, what is true today, tomorrow is a lie, but my feeling is not! 

‘I love Benfica. My dream is to step on the pitch of Estadio da Luz in their colours.

‘For all that I lived and felt, for what Benfica is in my life and in my history, for everything, Benfica is bigger than any player.’ 




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Sharpe recalls legendary telling off from Ferguson to him and Giggs

‘You’ll never guess what… the manager’s downstairs’: Sir Alex Ferguson turned up at Lee Sharpe’s house to rip into former Manchester United winger and Ryan Giggs for going on an unsanctioned night out BEFORE they had even got in the taxi

  • Lee Sharpe and Ryan Giggs planned on going for unsanctioned night out 
  • They were teenagers had broken into the Manchester United first team  
  • Sir Alex Ferguson caught wind and turned up at their house to give telling off 
  • Sharpe recalled: ‘The manager’s got the face on with bits of froth at the corners’

Lee Sharpe has recalled a brutal telling off from Sir Alex Ferguson for himself and Ryan Giggs when they were caught about to go on a mid-week night out. 

Both players were burgeoning teenage talents at the time trying to make a name for themselves in the Manchester United first team. 

Sharpe and Giggs shared a house and had planned on going out in Stockport on a Thursday ahead of a game on a Sunday, but Ferguson caught wind and tore into them. 

Sir Alex Ferguson arrived at the house and gave Lee Sharpe and Ryan Giggs both barrels

Giggs (left) and Sharpe (right)  had been planning a night out but never made it out of the door

Sharpe told the UTD Podcast: ‘That was Giggs getting me into trouble again, he always got me into trouble.

‘I’ve bought a new build house in Altrincham, Giggy’s still living at home with his mum, there’s a few apprentices, Giggsy rings me up, “Oh, we’ll go out in Stockport, it’s Thursday night, we don’t play till Sunday, we’re fine”.

‘I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, come down’. So about 10 o clock, the manager knocks on the door we’re thinking it’s a taxi driver. Giggsy’s mate answers the door with the only two bottles of beer I’ve got left in the house from the weekend before.

‘And one of the lads runs upstairs to me and says, ‘You’ll never guess what, the manager’s downstairs’. I’m like, ‘No he’s not, no he’s not’.

‘So, I’m putting the final touches on my barnet, so I peer over the stairs, manager’s got the face on with bits of froth at the corners of his mouth, “Get these out the house I want a word with you and Giggs, get in that living room”.

‘So he’s getting everybody out the door, kicking them up the backside, smacking them round the back of the head, absolutely ripped into me and Giggsy. He said “You’re finished at this club, you can’t head it, you can’t pass it, you can’t run, letting your team-mates down, letting your mum and dad down, letting your family down”.

Sharpe, who played 193 times for Manchester United, couldn’t believe Ferguson turned up 

Sharpe went on: ‘And then he’s over to Giggsy doing the same, “And you, you’re letting your mum down, letting your family down, a married man out there with kids, supporting kids and you’re not bothered”.

“And as he’s doing this I’ve got big double doors into the dining room and big sparkling drums that fill the dining room and a big St Bernard dog that’s trying to mount the gaffer for telling me off and he looks up and goes ‘What the f*** are they? Drums. I’ll give you f****** drums’.”

Ferguson’s management of his youngsters ended up paying dividends as Sharpe went on to play 193 games before moving to Leeds and club legend Giggs a whopping 672.

Ferguson’s watchful eye over the young talents reaped rewards as they became key players




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LTA announces four new British Tour events to take place in July

The Lawn Tennis Association have confirmed they hope to stage a series of new British Tour events for professional players in July, subject to government confirmation.

Four new competitions, aimed to provide a pathway back into competitive tennis for players, are set to take place over consecutive weeks between July 3 and July 26.

All four tournaments are planned to be held at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, south west London.

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LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd said: “Since the coronavirus crisis, we have been working incredibly hard to support all our players, venues, coaches and officials through this very challenging time.

“I’m delighted to announce today the next stage of elite tennis’ return to competing safely behind closed doors as part of a five-phase plan coordinated by UK Sport with Government.

“The LTA is actively engaged in developing the necessary guidelines for behind closed doors events, which we hope will be determined by the Government in the coming weeks to ensure the safest environment for anyone involved in returning to competition and look forward to bringing tennis back into people’s lives this summer.”

Prize money at each tournament has risen by 50 per cent, for the first time at a British Tour event.

It is then hoped that other venues will get the seal of approval to host competitions.

Each of the events will play host to 32 singles players (16 men and 16 women) and will be open to the highest ranked players with an LTA Membership number who wish to enter.

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The tournaments will largely take place over three days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a one day doubles-only event.

An LTA statement added: “Throughout this process, the LTA has been working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), UK Sport and other sports governing bodies in carefully planning the return to training for elite level athletes.

“The LTA remains in close consultation with the ATP, WTA and the ITF regarding the future of international events this year, following the suspension of the professional Tours.

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Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho predicts different transfer market in wake of coronavirus

Jose Mourinho believes the transfer market will look a lot different in a post-coronavirus world.

Football has been suspended indefinitely since March in the wake of the global pandemic.

Premier League clubs are moving closer to agreeing upon a restart date with key votes on return to training protocols expected on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

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How the summer transfer window will play out is a lot less clear with the financial impact of the crisis significant even in the top flight.

While admitting that other aspects are rightly taking precedence, Mourinho believes that clubs are going to have show prudence.

“It is normal you are going to have a different market, I don’t see the world – especially the football world – ready for some crazy numbers we used to have,” he told Sky Sports.

“The first questions after that will be when will be the transfer window? I don’t think it will be in July or August anymore, it has to go further than that.

“I would like my club to be what I know what we will be, sensible, balanced and not going to spend rivers of money. We are trying to respect the situation, not just the football but the situation in the world and society overall.

“But it is the last thing we are thinking, we are not thinking about it. There are no talks about it. We think about safety and following every rule.”

Tottenham Hotspur are one of the teams who have returned to training after the enforced hiatus with Mourinho forced to use a bicycle to help divide his time between all of his groups of players.

The Portuguese is delighted to be back on the field with his team and can’t wait to do so for real sooner rather than later.

He added: “Honestly, since the moment Bundesliga started, the Portuguese league and Spanish league announced a date to start, I think it is the most difficult moment for us, because we want to play. It is hard to see other countries playing football and we don’t do it.

“I always loved, and always tried to make my players love the Christmas period, where instead of being sad, we were always happy to give people what people love. In this moment we are feeling a bit of the opposite.

“German professionals are giving the world something that they love, and we are not, and we want to play, but of course we are respectful of the authorities and we trust them and the Premier League. We just have to wait for the decision; when they tell us the moment to start, we want very much to do it.

“Obviously it was an amazing feeling for everybody to be back on the green carpet, because I think we all miss even the smell of it!

“There was a period where we were starting training and 9am and finishing at 5pm, because by having players train individually, we had to have different slots. Some people were coming at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm.

“To be honest, my boys in the staff were really, really tired for a certain period. You could find a funny picture of me riding a bike, because we had the pitches at a huge distance, and without a bike I couldn’t control every training session at the same time!”

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Mourinho: Transfer market is 'last thing' Tottenham are thinking about

‘We are not going to spend rivers of money’: Jose Mourinho insists transfer market is the ‘last thing’ Tottenham are thinking about right now as Premier League clubs look to deal with the financial fall-out of coronavirus crisis

  • The coronavirus crisis is set to have a detrimental effect on the transfer market
  • Premier League clubs will have to be much more sensible in the transfer window
  • Jose Mourinho insists that Tottenham will not splash the cash in the summer 
  • Spurs boss Mourinho insists health and safety remains paramount at the club 
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Jose Mourinho insists Tottenham will be ‘sensible’ in the transfer market as he claims the summer window is the last thing on the club’s mind at the moment.

The season has been decimated due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the Premier League are desperately trying to finalise arrangements to get the campaign up and running again.

The coronavirus crisis is set to have a long-lasting detrimental effect on finances within football, and the upcoming summer transfer market is up in the air.

Jose Mourinho insists Tottenham are not thinking about the transfer market at the moment

And Mourinho insists that Spurs, who sat eighth in the Premier League before its suspension, will ‘not spend rivers of money’. 

When asked on Sky Sports’ The Football Show on Wednesday morning, what will the transfer window look like, Mourinho replied: ‘To be honest, I think in this moment it is the last thing we are thinking. There are no talks about it.

‘In this moment, we think about safety, following every rule inside the training ground. We are trying to be perfect inside the club and we don’t think about it. 

‘But you ask me and I am not going to run away. It’s normal that we are going to have a different market. I don’t see the world and especially the football world, ready for crazy numbers that we are used to and crazy investments that some clubs and leagues are used to doing. 

Tottenham were struggling before the coronavirus crisis stopped football in its tracks

‘But to be honest, the first question after that will be when will the transfer window be? Of course I don’t think it will be anymore in July or August. It has to go further than that.

‘But I can imagine clubs… if you ask me what I would like at my club, I would like my club to be what I know that it is going to be. 

‘It is going to be sensible, balanced, it is not going to spend rivers of money and we are trying to respect the situation. Not just the football, but the situation of the world and society overall.’

Tottenham were struggling before the coronavirus crisis stopped football in its tracks.

Spurs had crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage against RB Leipzig

They had been dumped out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage by RB Leipzig and were sitting a lowly eighth in the Premier League, seven points off fourth with just nine matches remaining.  

Many may have assumed Mourinho would spend big in the summer window – just like he has done at his previous clubs like Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United – to close the gap with Tottenham’s top four rivals.

However, as for any club right now, the coronavirus pandemic is set to scupper transfer plans for Tottenham. 




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Premier League Project Restart boost as clubs unanimously vote to resume contact training

Premier League clubs have approved the resumption of close-contact training. It forms ‘Phase Two’ of the top flight’s return to training protocols as part of Project Restart. The 20 teams made a tentative return to their training grounds practising social distancing last week. 

The successful vote follows lengthy talks between club doctors, players, managers and relevant bodies on Tuesday. The Premier League was recently given the green light to step up the intensity of training, while matches behind closed doors are permissible from June 1.

A statement from the top flight read: “Premier League Shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training, marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so.

“Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact.

“The Premier League’s priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants.

“Strict medical protocols are in place to ensure the training ground is the safest environment possible and players and staff will continue to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week.

“Stage Two of the Return to Training protocol has been agreed following consultation with clubs, players, managers, the PFA, LMA and the Government.

“Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season, when conditions allow.”

Premier League bosses have earmarked June 12 as the date they want play to resume, although players and managers are looking for a later restart to ensure players’ fitness levels are back up to scratch. Tottenham vs Manchester United has been pencilled in as the game top-flight chiefs would like to kick off the return to action.

We’ll be bringing you the very latest updates, pictures and video on this breaking news story.

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Gary Neville reveals why coronavirus lockdown ‘helps’ Man Utd and Tottenham

Gary Neville believes Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have benefitted from the Premier League’s suspension due to the coronavirus crisis. The top flight has been paused since Leicester City’s 4-0 thrashing of relegation strugglers Aston Villa at the King Power Stadium.

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Manchester United – one of the form teams since the turn of the year – were expected to be without Paul Pogba (ankle) and Marcus Rashford (back) for the bulk of the remaining games but the break in play means they will now be available when play resumes.

Tottenham, meanwhile, will have Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min available after their recoveries from a hamstring injury and a fractured arm respectively.

And Neville believes the availability of those key players means the Premier League suspension has been a positive for the two clubs.

“I think the lockdown helps Tottenham because they get Kane and Son back,” the former England international said on Sky Sports‘ The Football Show. “I think it helps Manchester United because they get Pogba and Rashford back.

“I know we say that these clubs have squads because they’re the big clubs but, particularly at Tottenham, you cannot lose Harry Kane and be impacted greatly.

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“Son, I think is a player that can go into any team in the world. His style of play is so modern, he’s a modern forward, he can play left, he can play right, he can play off the front.

“I think in some ways he’s as important to Tottenham as Harry Kane, I think with Harry Kane you need Son playing alongside him. He makes the runs past that creates the space.”

Pogba and Rashford’s return to fitness means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should have a wealth of options at his disposal as the Red Devils hunt down Chelsea for fourth place.

“They’re looking good, they’ve joined training now and they’ve done everything the other boys have been doing. No reaction so far, touch wood,” Solskjaer said.

“When we get started, it looks like we can have a full squad to choose from.”

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Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho, who will also have Steven Bergwijn and Moussa Sissoko available after injury, is unsure whether his fit-again stars will be ready to play, however.

“I cannot say in this moment they are ready to play because one thing is to recover from an injury, and another is to be ready to play football,” he said.

“In Harry’s case, I think for about five months he hasn’t played, but all of them are not injured any more. They are training, and training is what it is at the moment, training has a lot of limitations. We cannot compete, we cannot do one versus one, we have to keep a certain distance, we cannot compete.

“Harry Kane, Son, Bergwijn, Sissoko, all of them are fine. I think with a couple of weeks of normal training, when the authorities tell us we can train normally I think in a couple of weeks, the boys will be ready to play, of course not in the maximum of their potential, I think nobody can do that in this moment.

“For us, of course, it is a great feeling, because we finished the period with that defeat at Leipzig, where we were really, really in trouble to have 11 players, including attacking players, and in this moment (Erik) Lamela, Son, Dele (Alli), Harry Kane, Bergwijn, everybody is fit now.”

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Manchester United's 2020-21 home kit is 'leaked'

Manchester United’s new home kit for next season is ‘leaked’ online… with fans relieved to see the horrific mooted ‘bus seat design’ ISN’T being lined up for 2020-21

  • Manchester United’s new home kit for 2020-21 season was ‘leaked’ online 
  • The shirt is much less outlandish than first feared with stripe design over red top
  • The shorts and socks are both set to be white, although socks could be black
  • Fans took to Twitter to praise the new design and draw resemblances to 17/18 

Manchester United’s supposed new home kit for the 2020-21 season has been leaked with kit creator’s Adidas opting for a rather simple design. 

The infamous red strip was feared to be much more outlandish after original plans and sketches were also leaked online. 

The home kit, leaked by FootyHeadlines, is mostly red with a white adidas logo and three white strips down the shoulders with a stripe graphic subtly added across the shirt. 

Manchester United’s 2020-21 new home kit was ‘leaked’ online with new subtle design

The infamous red top is covered by black and yellow stripe design after fears it wouldn’t work

The black and yellow stripes are aligned horizontally all over the top and compliment the infamous Manchester United red rather nicely, after fears that the stripe design would be too garish. 

It is reported that the shorts and socks combination will both be white, in class United fashion, however the club could still opt for black socks as they have done in the past.

The official launch of Manchester United’s 2020-21 kit is set to happen in July, after the away kit is set to launch next month in June. 

Fans took to Twitter as they reacted to the leaked designs of United’s new home kit. 

One fan said the 2020-21 design was ‘fire’ whilst another alluded to the fact that ‘someone had been listening’ after earlier designs were critiqued. 

Fans also drew a resemblance between the leaked home shirt and the 2017-18 Manchester United shirt, which do look fairly similar. 

Manchester United are currently in the middle of a ten-year deal with Adidas as kit sponsor

The Red Devils are currently five years into a ten year-deal with the sporting brand giants Adidas after putting pen to paper in 2015 that saw them earn roughly £75million-a-year from the sponsorship. 

However, United are set to lose out on some of that money next season if they fail to qualify for the Champions League again, with rivals Manchester City’s two-year ban from the competition still up in the air. 

If they do not qualify for next season’s Champions League, United will lose out on £4.5million-a-year for the remaining five years of their deal, as revealed by The Athletic. 




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Kylian Mbappe: Jurgen Klopp behind ‘ruthless Liverpool machine’

Kylian Mbappe has revealed how impressed he has been by Liverpool this season, saying Jurgen Klopp has turned them into a “ruthless machine”.

The Reds have dominated the 2019/20 Premier League, and sat 25 points ahead of second-placed Manchester City when the competition was halted due to coronavirus in March.

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Liverpool’s success has impressed Mbappe, who has been taking note from France, where his PSG side were declared champions for the seventh time in eight years after the season was curtailed.

He told The Mirror: “This season Liverpool have been a machine in the Premier League. They have made winning look easy – but the truth is that is never easy.

“To be as ruthless as they have been would come from having a very good manager and lots of hard work in training. Performances like they have been having don’t just happen.”

The 21-year-old is no stranger to success himself, having already won four French titles, a French Cup, a French League Cup, as well as the World Cup with France in 2018.

Mbappe finished fourth in the vote for the Ballon d’Or that year, but he says climbing to the top of that podium to claim football’s biggest individual honour is not one of his priorities.

“It would be nice to win – but it is not something that keeps me awake at night,” he said. “I don’t think I have to win it next season or the season after – there is no time limit I have put on it.

“Always I will put PSG and the national team as my priority – then if personal honours come from my performances then it is a bonus.”

Analysis: How can Liverpool improve?

Sky Sports’ Adam Bate…

‘Liverpool have not even had the chance to wrap up that first league title in 30 years yet but such is the capacity for football to throw things forward – even when at a standstill – that it feels natural for thoughts to turn to how Jurgen Klopp’s side might be able to improve.

‘Not easy with a team that was on course to break the Premier League points record…’

Read more here

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