Holyfield reveals what happened when he sparred a 17-year-old Mike Tyson

Evander Holyfield has stoked the fire ahead of a potential rematch against Mike Tyson by claiming the pair’s first ever sparring session had to be stopped because he had Iron Mike ‘in the corner and he couldn’t get out’.

The pair are in talks over an exhibition fight later this year that would see the duo come head-to-head for the first time since their infamous 1997 bout.

While Tyson’s training videos have captured attention, Holyfield’s whet the appetite with a string of his own sparring sessions and he looks in incredible shape for a 57-year-old.

Holyfield is Tyson’s senior by four years but the pair came through the ranks together and the Alabama-born fighter said his first ever sparring session against Tyson had to be stopped because ‘somebody was going to get hurt’.

‘[We were] very close, Mike and I were friends, we did spar one time. The difference was he was 17 and I was 21, that’s a big difference for confidence and knowledge’ Holyfield told Chris Mannix.

Asked what he thought when he sparred Tyson at 17, Holyfield replied: ‘I definitely knew he was a good puncher because he was knocking everybody out.

‘Mike was the only person who had to pay people to come in and spar with him.

‘The fact of the matter he had to pay people to come in, we didn’t have to pay nobody because we weren’t nobody.But somehow he was knocking sparring partners out with 16oz gloves.

‘That’s the difference, he was a puncher, he was very aggressive. But I’m a guy who tended to fight aggressive people very well.

Asked if Tyson tried to knock him out in sparring, Holyfield replied: ‘He did what he did but they stopped it because they said somebody was gonna get hurt. An Olympic coach came in and stopped it and Mike was telling people, ‘wow, he’s skinny but he’s strong’.

‘I used to spar the heavyweights and the super-heavyweights all the time anyway. I was the guy who sparred with Henry Tillman, Tyrell Biggs, I sparred with all the big guys, I never sparred with people in my same weight division.

‘They stopped it at about a minute and 30 seconds, they said someone was going to get hurt. At that time I had him in the corner and he couldn’t get out.

‘I was 21, he was 17, he was very good back then. But the point is that it was nothing to talk about, it was sparring. The Olympic coach stopped it but I knew I wasn’t going to get hurt. There wasn’t anybody hurt but I had him in the corner.’

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Gary Neville reveals Ryan Giggs's marginal gains secret

Gary Neville reveals Ryan Giggs used to eat his toast without butter ‘to get that extra 0.01 per cent’ when out of form at Manchester United

  • Giggs would make small changes like removing the butter when out of form
  • Neville revealed how Glenn Hoddle believes in such small detail as England boss 
  • Hoddle managed the national team at a time when nutrition wasn’t as important
  • But some of Hoddle’s rules removed the fun of spending time away with England 

Gary Neville has revealed how former Manchester United team-mate Ryan Giggs used to eat his toast without butter ‘to get that extra 0.01 per cent’ when he felt he wasn’t in form.

The pair were both members of United’s famous Class of 92 and would become stalwarts in Sir Alex Ferguson’s highly successful team for over 15 years.

Neville was reflecting on how Glenn Hoddle changed the culture of the England squad when he replaced Terry Venables as manager in 1996 and was years ahead of the curve when it came to such details as diet and nutrition.

Gary Neville (left) has revealed how Ryan Giggs (right) would eat his toast without butter to ‘get that extra 0.01 per cent’ when he was out of form for Manchester United

Both members of the famous Class of 92, Neville and Giggs played together for over 15 years

Speaking on The Football Show on Sky Sports, Neville said: ‘With Glenn, you weren’t allowed butter on your toast, weren’t allowed milk with your cereal in the morning, things like that.

‘I remember Giggsy later in his career, when we were starting to learn about nutrition, and I asked him, ‘what would you do if you were in bad form?’

‘He said, ‘I’d take the butter off my toast to get that extra 0.01 per cent.’

‘Glenn was doing that in 1997 and 1998, he was prescribing what we would eat, how we would train. It was really, really detailed. He was prescribing every detail.’

Such strict rules on diet and nutrition to acquire marginal gains in performance have become a major part of the game nowadays, but were rare in the 1990s.

England boss Glenn Hoddle’s attention to detail in matters of nutrition was ahead of its time 

Hoddle keeps tabs on Neville during an England training session during the 1998 World Cup

However, Neville was less keen on some of Hoddle’s other rules in the England camp, which were in stark contrast to the more relaxed attitude of his predecessor Venables.

He added: ‘The bar of chocolate that Doctor [John] Crane used to bring round under Terry, all of a sudden went, all the little things and you missed those things.

‘You couldn’t go to the shop, the masseur had to go for you and get a magazine or a book, and it felt quite claustrophobic at times compared to what I’d experienced with Terry.

‘Glenn was almost like an Italian-like coach. [Fabio] Capello was apparently the same when he came in.

Terry Venables, England’s manager during Euro 96, was more trusting of his players 

‘Glenn had worked in Monaco, had an eye for detail and his coaching sessions were outstanding and the way he wanted his team to play was fantastic, we passed the ball brilliantly, kept possession but it was that off the pitch bit I found difficult compared to Sir Alex and Terry previously.’

Giggs, now coach of Wales, enjoyed an astonishingly long career, making 963 appearances for United between 1991 and 2014.




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Pochettino reveals coffee meeting with Emery after losing Spurs and Arsenal jobs

Mauricio Pochettino met up with Unai Emery for coffer and to chat about their times in north London after they lost their jobs at Tottenham and Arsenal, respectively, last year.

Pochettino and Emery were sacked within 10 days of each other from their Premier League roles after poor starts to the season for both.

It was a sad end to a successful time in charge of Spurs for the Argentine, while the Spaniard’s regime at Arsenal never really got off the ground.

They had very different times on either side of the north London divide and Pochettino has revealed that he and his assistant, Jesus Perez, met with Emery after their dismissals to talk things over – much to the surprise of onlookers in the capital.

‘Before the pandemic, me and Jesús met with Unai for a coffee, to talk and share our experiences,’ Pochettino told the Guardian.

‘We were working in different clubs, we were at the enemy, and people were walking past and saying: “Unai and Pochettino and Jesús are now sharing a coffee!”

‘It was in Cockfosters [in north London]. It was very funny.

‘It has been an amazing time to review and analyse everything: training sessions, games, our methodology, our models of training … to design specific and collective works. And, of course, to try to adapt for the new normality, to be ready for any eventuality, because the demands are going to be completely different.’

Pochettino’s family is still settled in London and a Premier League return remains a possibility for him, although he is keeping his options open as he looks for the ideal return to football.

‘We are looking forward for the next job,’ said the 48-year-old. ‘Football is very dynamic and you need to be ready for the moment when the offer appears. We are ready. After six months, our tanks are completely full.

‘It’s about the club and, of course, the people, the human dimension. We are so open. Of course, we love England and the Premier League.’

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Troy Deeney reveals he has REFUSED to return to Watford training

‘My son is five months and he’s had breathing difficulties… I don’t want to put him in danger’: Troy Deeney reveals he has REFUSED to return to Watford training… before blasting the Premier League’s Project Restart AGAIN over lack of BAME screening

  • Troy Deeney blasted Premier League’s Project Restart on Good Morning Britain
  • Premier League clubs were given green light to return to training from Tuesday
  • But Deeney has revealed he has told Watford he won’t be turning up to train
  • The striker said: ‘It only takes one to get infected. I don’t want to bring that home
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Troy Deeney has revealed he has refused to return to Watford training amid fears of compromising the health of his five-month old son.

The Watford striker has been vocal in his opposition against the Premier League’s Project Restart plans and also raised concerns this week over a lack of screening for BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) players.

Premier League clubs will return to training on Tuesday with the aim of the season getting back up and running behind closed doors next month, but Deeney has insisted he will not be taking part.

Troy Deeney told Eddie Hearn (L) and Tony Bellew (R) he has refused to train with Watford

The 31-year-old says the Premier League still need to answer a number of ‘simple’ questions 

Speaking to Eddie Hearn and Tony Bellew on Talk the Talk YouTube show, Deeney said: ‘We’re due back in this week. I’ve said I’m not going.

‘It only takes one to get infected. I don’t want to bring that home — my son is five months and he’s had breathing difficulties.

‘I don’t want to put him in more danger. You’ve got to drive back in the same dirty kit.

‘If I’m putting my clothing in with my son’s or my missus’ it’s more likely to be in the house. 

Premier League side Watford will open the doors up to their training ground again on Tuesday

Watford ace (pictured with family) said he’s concerned of catching virus and bringing it home

‘I’ve lost my Dad, my Gran, my Grandad… I’ve more or less everyone that I care about.

‘So that, to me, is more important than a few quid in my back pocket.’

The 31-year-old added: ‘Within the meeting I asked very simple questions.

‘For Black, Asian and mixed ethnicities they are four times more likely to get the illness and twice as likely to have long lasting illness.

‘Is there any additional screening? Heart stuff to see if anyone has a problem?

‘I just said “If you don’t know the information, why would I put myself at risk?”‘

Deeney (right) pictured in action for Watford against Crystal Palace back in March




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Raiola reveals Juventus 'would have put Haaland in Under-23 squad'

Erling Haaland’s agent Mino Raiola reveals Borussia Dortmund striker turned down a move to Juventus in January as they ‘wanted to put him in their UNDER-23 squad’

  • Erling Haaland signed for Borussia Dortmund from RB Salzburg in January
  • The Norwegian 19-year-old scored as the Bundesliga returned on Saturday
  • He has now scored a prolific 13 goals in 12 appearances for his new club
  • Juve were interested in signing him but had different plans for his development

Mino Raiola has claimed his client Erling Haaland didn’t move to Juventus in January because the Serie A champions ‘would have put him in the Under-23 squad’.

After impressing in the Champions League with Red Bull Salzburg in the first half of the 2019-20 season, 19-year-old Haaland moved to Dortmund in January for £17m. 

However, Juve were also interested in the Norwegian striker, who has gone on to score 13 goals in 12 appearances for Dortmund, but his agent Raiola has revealed why Haaland opted against a move to Turin. 

Erling Haaland scored on the Bundesliga’s return and has been prolific for Borussia Dortmund

Mino Raiola has revealed Juventus wanted to place Haaland in their Under-23 squad

Statistics in all competitions according to Transfermarkt 

‘Why Haaland didn’t move to Juventus? They would have put him in the Under-23 squad,’ Raiola told Italian outlet La Repubblica

The Old Lady may well be regretting not signing Haaland, who is one of the most in-form strikers in Europe’s top leagues. 

The 19-year-old has a prolific strike-rate for Dortmund, and scored on Saturday as Dortmund beat rivals Schalke 4-0, as the Bundesliga restarted at the weekend. 

The result put Dortmund a point behind leaders Bayern Munich in the table, before the champions beat Union Berlin 2-0 on Sunday to extend their lead back to four points. 

Juventus were interested in the 19-year-old but Haaland opted to move to the Bundesliga

Haaland cooly slots in the opening goal on Saturday during Dortmund’s 4-0 win over Schalke

He has now scored 41 goals in 34 competitive games this season, showing why he favoured first-team minutes over progressing in a youth setup. 

Haaland’s deal with Dortmund includes a £63m release clause which can be activated in July 2021.  

Former England manager Fabio Capello has suggested Haaland would be an ‘ideal’ fit for Premier League leaders and European champions Liverpool.  




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Robin van Persie reveals his 'crucial' warning from Arsene Wenger at Arsenal

Robin van Persie has revealed that some words of wisdom from Arsene Wenger were ‘crucial’ at the start of his Arsenal career.

The Dutch striker joined the Gunners at the age of 20 in a £3 million deal from Feyenoord in 2004.

Van Persie was competing for a place with Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp after arriving at Arsenal.

But Wenger warned Van Persie that he would need to accept a bit-part role for his first two seasons at Arsenal.

‘Sometimes you have the feeling you’re in the right place. Just to be able to train with the likes of Henry, Bergkamp, Pires,’ Van Persie said in an interview with DAZN.

‘To compete in training with Campbell, Toure…. even then in training was a dream for me.

‘I could earn more at PSV, because the deal at Arsenal was my worst deal in my career but it didn’t matter because I believed Arsene and myself that I was at the right club.

‘Arsene told me, ‘Robin you’re not here to be a starter in next two seasons so take your time, believe the process and learn. Ask as many questions as you want. Express yourself and be open and patient’.

‘Those words were crucial to me, I believed him. I took my time, he said, ‘you’ll make your minutes in Carling Cup and FA Cup and the process will make you a starter at Arsenal’. And that’s exactly what happened.’

Van Persie also revealed that Arsenal’s former chief scout, Steve Rowley, played a major role in convincing Arsene Wenger to agree to his transfer from Feyenoord.

‘That was six months prior to when I actually went to Arsenal. In that period I wasn’t playing anymore, I was on the bench, I wasn’t happy. I was playing my games in the reserves, the second team, in that period,’ said Van Persie.

‘Actually we had to play against Ajax and it was a bad experience for me because the fans came to the pitch and it wasn’t very nice but actually from a bad day something really good happened because the chief scout of Arsenal, Steve Rowley, was there watching the game.

‘I had beer thrown at me, spit at me when I was taking a corner, it was a bad day.

‘But I kept my cool and I was mature, scored a goal, played really well but I was about to sign for PSV, I was close to PSV.

‘My dad and a couple of friends were there [at the game] went to get a beer close to the hotel in Amsterdam.

‘In the same hotel, Rowley was staying and he heard about the news – this is 100 per cent true this is not a fairytale – he went to have a beer at the bar and they sat next to each other. They started talking because they knew each other from before.

‘My dad said, ‘listen if you want something, if Arsenal want to buy Robin, you have to be quick because he’s about to sign for PSV in the next few days’.

‘Steve got on the phone to Arsene and Steve made sure he said, ‘listen I know it’s a gamble’, but I wasn’t expensive, I was like €4 million back then.

‘Steve told Arsene, ‘listen take the gamble, it’s on me. He’s good, he played in a difficult game and he’s ready for his chance’.

‘The following day I wasn’t on my way to Eindhoven but I booked my trip to London and within a couple of days I signed and everything was done.’

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Paul Merson reveals depths of his alcoholism and gambling addictions

‘I’m powerless over alcohol, I’m an alcoholic… it’s quite sad really, the waste of life’: Paul Merson reveals the depths of his alcoholism and gambling addictions including 35 pints a WEEK that saw him hit rock bottom

  • Paul Merson revealed the depths of his alcohol and gambling addiction last year 
  • He’s credited appearing on Harry’s Heroes with helping him turn his life around 
  • The 52-year-old has opened up on significance of taking part in the documentary

Former Arsenal and England star Paul Merson has revealed the depths of his alcohol and gambling addiction last year as he’s credited appearing on Harry’s Heroes with helping him turn his life around.

Merson features in the second series of the ITV programme, which airs next week.

The 52-year-old, who left viewers in tears during the first series, has opened up on the significance of taking part in the documentary.

Paul Merson has revealed the depths of his alcohol and gambling addiction last year

Former Arsenal star credited appearing on Harry’s Heroes with helping him turn his life around

‘This show saved my life no question, 100 per cent,’ he said. 

‘I went into treatment twice and it never helped because people made me go in, the club made me go in or the FA made me go in. This is the time I done it for me, you know what, I’m fed up…I wanted to do it.’

In the last series Merson, who notoriously lost £7million on alcohol, drugs and gambling in the 1990s, revealed he was ‘struggling badly’ with a relapse of his gambling addiction.

Ahead of the second series, which runs on three consecutive nights from Monday, Merson has revealed the positive impact the show has had on his health.

‘From last time, I’m 100 times better, my life’s changed around. Where I was last year compared to now I can’t explain. 

‘The impact of being in the team, it saved my life. I was drinking at least 35 pints a week and gambling. But I’m sober and bet free now. As soon as I addressed the drinking I didn’t gamble. 

Merson features in the second series of the ITV programme, which airs next week

Merson at a 1995 press conference at London’s Park Court Hotel where he confessed to his addictions. On the right is FA spokesman David Davies

‘I’ve come to realise I’m powerless over alcohol- I’m an alcoholic.

‘I have a disease and it is a disease. My drinking and gambling left a lot of wreckage.

‘As an alcoholic, recovering now those things are hard for me. It’s quite sad really because you look now and think what a waste of a life, some of it.’

Merson, who is most famous for his time with Arsenal where he scored 78 goals in 327 league games, placed his first bet at the age of 16 with his Gunners pay packet.

The ITV show tracks a team of former England internationals managed by Harry Redknapp – (left to right) Rob Lee, Lee Sharpe, Ray Parlour, Lee Hendrie, Redknapp, Mark Wright, Matt Le Tissier Paul Merson and Mark Chamberlain

Harry’s Heroes: Euro Having A Laugh tracks a team of former England internationals, including David Seaman, Merson, Matt Le Tissier, Rob Lee, Ray Parlour, Lee Sharpe, Mark Chamberlain, Mark Wright, Razor Ruddock and Lee Hendrie, managed by former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp and his assistant John Barnes.

Last year the side overcame a Germany Legends team after building up their fitness by increasing their exercise regimes and improving their diets.

This time around Redknapp’s outfit, who lost almost eight stone between them in 2019, embark on a tour of Europe, taking on sides in France and Italy before the rematch against Germany.

The former Arsenal player has had a host of addictions. He is pictured doing a drinking celebration after an FA Cup win against Tottenham on April 4, 1993

How Paul Merson has fought addictions for three decades

Paul Merson enjoyed a glittering football career and is still admired by Arsenal fans after scoring 78 goals in 327 games for the club.

But he has faced a troubled personal life, fighting a well-documented addiction to gambling, alcohol and drugs for three decades which drove him to brink of suicide.

Merson, who has been married three times and has six children, had claimed in 2003 to have won his battles with alcohol and cocaine.

But he admitted he was still plagued by his gambling problem, and narrowly avoided losing his home five years later after falling behind with his mortgage payments.

In his 2012 memoir, How Not To Be A Professional Footballer, revealed he had lost some £7million to bookmakers over the years.

In the 1989-90 season at Arsenal, he was banned from Highbury for two weeks amid reports of drinking and gambling debts.

In November 1994, he confessed he had a cocaine habit. He entered an addiction unit and was released six weeks later on the condition he attended outpatient therapy and support groups.

The Football Association later said cocaine was not his main problem – it was drinking and gambling.

In February 2012, he was given a 14-month-driving ban after pleading guilty to drink-driving following a motorway crash.

Merson crashed his Mercedes ML350 into a 38-tonne lorry after falling asleep at the wheel on the M40 near Warwick in October 2011.

The attacking midfielder made 21 appearances for England and represented his country at Euro 1992 and World Cup 1998.

He also played domestically for Brentford, Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, Portsmouth and Walsall.

Harry’s Heroes: Euro Having A Laugh airs on ITV on 18-20 May at 9pm. 




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Kieran Tierney reveals why he had doubts about Arsenal transfer

Arsenal star Kieran Tierney admits he was in two minds over a move to the Emirates last summer.

The Scot completed a £25million move to north London on deadline day in August after months of protracted talks with Celtic.

Tierney, a boyhood Celtic fan, was captain of the Bhoys and envisioned spending his career in Glasgow.

Celtic drove a hard bargain for the defender but Neil Lennon made it clear all along that the Bhoys were willing to sell at the right price, meaning Tierney was prepared to make the move from the end of last season.

However, Tierney’s revealed that he did not consider the move to be a foregone conclusion as he had doubts to overcome regarding a move to Arsenal.

‘I had sleepless nights. It was a hard decision,’ said Tierney.

‘I knew how big Arsenal were. They are a massive club in a massive league. I’m coming down here and I’m playing in training against [Nicolas] Pepe, [Mesut] Ozil, [Alexandre] Lacazette and [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang every day. You’re playing against the world’s best players.

‘It was obviously a great offer [from Arsenal], but I still had sleepless nights thinking ‘what’s the best thing to do here?’. It went on for ages.

‘The first bid came in and I then signed on deadline day. At the same time, I was just coming back from my injury. I was like, “Don’t even focus on what’s going to happen, just work hard and get fit, everything happens for a reason”. Arsenal are a massive, massive club and when I came I realised that.’

Arteta is to be able to select Tierney as the defender has been recovering from a shoulder injury that he sustained in December.

Nevertheless, Arteta has seen enough of Tierney to claim that he can become a ‘special’ player under him at the Emirates.

‘I am really looking forward to working with him and giving him the opportunity to play,’ said Arteta.

‘His attitude, his commitment, his willingness it’s incredible. I think he’s going to bring something special to us.

‘It’s a shame [about his injury] but always it’s part of his development. In your career you go through these moments. I challenge him to say ‘Kieran how are you going to react to that?

‘You cannot feel sorry for yourself, the level of pressure now is a bit higher but you have to deal with it. ‘You are playing with a top club, with expectations, deal with it! ‘You have everything to be successful here, you have the best possible attitude that I know from a player go and enjoy it.’

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Agent reveals the problems facing footballers amid coronavirus crisis

Pay cuts, valuations slashed by HALF and uncertainty for those whose contracts end in June… one agent reveals the problems facing footballers as the transfer market hangs in the balance

  • Clubs all over the country on the brink as coronavirus crisis halts football
  • Hundreds of players are out of contract in the summer with uncertain futures
  • The transfer market is also in danger of collapsing due to the crisis
  • A top football agent reveals the problems facing footballers
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

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With so much uncertainty surrounding football while the coronavirus crisis halts play and potentially cripples clubs up and down the country, football agents are caught in the middle of it all more than ever as they try to look after their players’ interests. Here, an agent with players in all four of England’s top divisions gives Sportsmail his opinion on how the the crisis will affect football in the short and long term.

There is a saying in football that many live a champagne lifestyle on a Coca Cola budget. There is a lot of anxiety at the moment. This is the most nervous many players have been because you can’t even guarantee that clubs will survive to the end of it. 

If you are under contract you are protected but those who are at the end of their deals are facing worrying times. 

Liverpool’s Anfield stadium is deserted while football remains suspended in lockdown

If you are in the Championship and earning £10,000 a week then you should be able to save, you must be doing something stupid if you haven’t got something put aside, but if you’re on £1,000 or even £2,000 then once you’ve paid your mortgage, car and other outgoings, there isn’t much left to fall back on once you stop earning. To then face the prospect of not earning for three or four months, that’s a worry in any walk of life, even though there is not much sympathy for footballers. 

Players contracts run until June 30 then they get paid a month’s severance. I know chairmen have been writing to players asking ‘would you mind playing through your month of severance so I can ascertain how many players are available should we return?’ 

The question then comes, does that chairman intend to offer the player a new contract? If he can’t give that assurance the player has to consider the risks. If he picks up an injury and is out for eight to 12 weeks from the end of July then he is not going to be well placed to be picked up by a new club, especially if the next season starts in August. 

But again that’s another point of concern as we don’t know when the next season will start. It could mean a player going even longer without wages if they put it back to October for example. 

Some clubs had a budget for wages of up to £3.6million but now need to slash it down to £1.25m or even less. Clubs such as Colchester United and Scunthorpe are releasing a lot of players because they can’t afford to keep them on but then they will need players to play if they are required to finish the games. 

A few of the clubs I have spoken to in League One and League Two do not think they will finish the season, so if players are left without pay for three or four months, do the PFA then step in with a relief fund?  

I can see a lot of smaller agencies going to the wall if the season is cancelled and teams are relegated with no further games played. 

Generally, in the lower leagues, there is a 20 per cent cut in salary if teams are relegated so as a consequence an agent’s commission is minimal but would drop accordingly. 

A lot of agencies only have players in League One, League Two and non-League so this could hit them hard, particularly as some of the clubs will say ‘we can’t afford to pay agents’. 

League One leaders Coventry are having to wait to secure promotion to the Championship

I might have to let staff go from our agency if they aren’t able to bring in revenue from those players and if there is no capacity for growth. 

Ninety per cent or more of players’ contracts will have clauses in related to relegation or promotion. However, I think what you will also see from future contract negotiations is a ‘pandemic clause’. One where should this happen again then maybe up to 50 per cent of wages is cut or deferred.  

Players are also worried about being released and not having a club to go to. There has been a lot of time now to consider the implications and that can be tough mentally, increasing the anxiety. Unless you are a very good player then clubs can’t commit to saying they will take you on next season. 

Budgets are being slashed, players will be released, younger players brought in, as they will be paid less, and wages will come down. There will a knock-on effect to supply and demand because clubs will want smaller squads. A lot of players will be out of contract but there will be less places for them to go to. Clubs will then have the upper hand. Whereas before you may have been on £1,500 a week and demand that, a club will say ‘sorry, you’ll have to take £1,000’ because they know they can find another player from the pile. 

Primarily though we need to save the clubs. No-one has asked my players to take a cut yet but if they need to take a deferral to save the club then I believe we need to for the benefit of the game long-term.  

In terms of the summer transfer window, League One players such as Ivan Toney at Peterborough United were valued at £10million in January, what price will they be this summer? 

Perhaps £5m? Quality players will still command a good price but it depends how well the club has survived this. 

Many are waiting to see the first deal to determine whether that price sets the tone but for many it’s going to be very different to what they had planned for. 

As Rick Parry has been pushing for, the sensible solution will be to keep the window open for as long as possible. If they put a deadline on it then we will end up with rash decisions as people rush in late on. That will leave hundreds of players on the scrapheap. 

EFL chief Rick Parry has been pushing to keep the transfer window open as long as possible

Clubs need to have a freedom at this time to sell if they need to and pick up players further down the line. Talking to many they are looking at maybe swapping players or using as makeweights because the cash just won’t be there. 

Foreign clubs may be harder hit so there may be better bargains there while the guidelines we feared over Brexit and work permits may be bypassed for now. 

I think it will take another two or three windows beyond this before football returns to normal but it’s important certainly for the lower leagues that this summer’s window is left open for as long as possible.

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Howard Webb reveals the WORST mistake of his career

‘I was just hoping that Ronaldo would miss the penalty – but he didn’t’: Howard Webb reveals the WORST mistake of his career was awarding a spot-kick to Man United against Tottenham at Old Trafford in 2009

  • Howard Webb was accused of being biased to Man United throughout his career
  • Webb admits his decision to award a penalty to Utd in 2009 is his biggest regret 
  • He says goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes’ challenge on Michael Carrick was fair
  • The highly-regarded official says he hoped Cristiano Ronaldo would miss

Former referee Howard Webb has admitted that he wanted to see Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo miss a penalty during their home game against Tottenham Hotspur in 2009 after he realised he made the wrong decision.

Webb, who was a highly-regarded official and took charge of more than 500 Premier League and Football League matches, was accused by rival supporters of being a secret Manchester United fan due to some of his decisions involving the Premier League giants.

His decision to award Michael Carrick a penalty in 2009 for what was a fair challenge by Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes has proved to be one of his biggest career regrets.

Howard Webb admits his decision to award Manchester United a penalty was his worst mistake

Webb has taken charge of more than 500 Barclays Premier League and Football League games

He told The Athletic: ‘The one that stands out is one where in the game I knew I got it wrong.

‘It was a Premier League game at Old Trafford — Manchester United versus Tottenham Hotspur in 2009.’

United were 2-0 down until Wayne Rooney played Michael Carrick a penetrative pass that saw him sidestep goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes before going to ground.

Webb says it was the wrong decision as Gomes got his hand on the ball to clear it from Carrick

Webb gave a penalty but now criticises his decision, saying: ‘I could see Carrick got there first and then the goalkeeper clattered into him. It was really an easy penalty award.

‘I was expecting the usual cursory appeal that you get from the players, not the huge look of absolute astonishment and amazement and incredulousness on the look of Gomes.’

Webb says it was obvious he made the wrong decision as Gomes got his hand on the ball to push out of the path of Carrick before the midfielder took a tumble.

He said: ‘It was obvious within seconds I’d got the decision wrong. There was something more to this.

‘I was left with the decision I had taken with no independent evidence that I’d got it wrong other than a gut feeling, and I was just hoping that Ronaldo would miss the penalty. But he didn’t.’

Ronaldo stepped up to the penalty spot and scored, sending the ball straight down the middle to make the score 2-1, before United then went on to win the clash 5-2 at Old Trafford.

Webb has admitted that he wanted to see Cristiano Ronaldo miss the wrongly-awarded penalty

Ronaldo scored the penalty by sending the ball straight down the middle to make the score 2-1

Webb, meanwhile, went on to officiate two World Cups, two European Championships and the Champions League.

But that did not stop English fans questioning his integrity throughout his career. 

Rival fans constantly called into question Webb’s professionalism and Liverpool’s Ryan Babel was even fined £10,000 for linking to a picture of him mocked up in a United shirt on Twitter following their FA Cup defeat in 2011. 

When previously questioned on his supposed preference towards United, Webb said: ‘There’s no element of truth in it.

‘It’s not something that affected me or played on my mind at all. It wasn’t hurtful. Much of it is tongue-in-cheek, of course.

A Photoshopped image that was released on social media of Webb wearing a United shirt

‘What does play on my mind is when I’ve made a mistake, particularly an influential one that has affected the outcome of a game. I’d be dishonest if I said it didn’t bother me.’ 

Speaking of how he felt after the controversial penalty decision in 2009, said his reaction was: ‘Just “Oh s***”, really.

‘You just know. You can tell as a ref. You can see the momentum shift. You can see the way the game is going.

‘At 2-1, you never know. At 2-2, you can see the way this game is going.

‘When [the camera] misses all those players and runs up to you [at full-time], as a ref, it’s not a good feeling. 

Webb says it isn’t a good feeling when cameras bypass the players and come to you at full-time

‘You just know you have a world of pain coming your way.’

After the game, Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp made it clear he felt frustrated by Webb’s mistake, saying: ‘It was a gift which wasn’t deserved. It was a terrible decision.

‘Howard is supposed to be our best ref, but if he’s the best I’d hate to see the worst.’

While Sir Alex Ferguson said his team’s first goal was ‘a bit fortunate’.  




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