Iran’s Zarif Accuses Europe Of Violating Nuclear Deal

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gestures during a press conference in Tehran.  ATTA KENARE / AFP

 

European powers have violated a 2015 international nuclear deal, Iran’s foreign minister told a conference in India on Wednesday, a day after Britain, France and Germany launched a complaint against Tehran for non-compliance.

The European states initiated a so-called dispute mechanism process, saying Iran had progressively scaled back its commitments under the agreement.

The move, which came at a time of red-hot tensions between Iran and the United States, sparked anger in Tehran and on Wednesday Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif said Europe was being “bullied” by Washington.

“They are not buying oil from us, all of their companies have withdrawn from Iran. So Europe is in violation,” Zarif told a conference in New Delhi, saying the future of the deal now “depends on Europe”.

He added that the European Union “is the largest global economy. So why do you allow the United States to bully you around?”

The accord, which makes it significantly more difficult for Iran to develop nuclear weapons undetected, was struck in Vienna by Iran, the three European nations, the United States, China and Russia.

The agreement allows a party to claim significant non-compliance by another party before a joint commission.

If the issue is not resolved by the commission, it then goes to an advisory board and eventually to the UN Security Council, which could reimpose sanctions that were lifted under the accord.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018. Since then Iran has walked back on its commitments including on processing uranium, which can be used in nuclear weapons.

Tehran’s latest step in January to forgo the limit on the number of machines used to make uranium more potent prompted the Europeans to trigger the mechanism.

But the three powers said they “once again express our commitment” to the deal and expressed “determination to work with all participants to preserve it.”

Iran’s foreign ministry said in response on Tuesday that “if the Europeans… seek to abuse (this process), they must also be prepared to accept the consequences”.

 ‘Thoughtless’ 

Russia condemned the “thoughtless” European move, warning it risked causing a “new escalation”.

A US State Department spokesperson said Washington fully supported the three countries, adding “further diplomatic and economic pressure is warranted”.

Zarif also said that the US killing on January 3 of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq had served only to strengthen the Islamic State group.

“I think the war against Daesh (ISIS) just suffered a major setback, and Daesh just won a major victory,” he said.

He also implied that the crisis sparked by the killing of Soleimani had contributed to Iran’s accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner on January 8, killing all 176 people on board.

“Why did it happen? Because there was a crisis. People make mistakes, unforgivable mistakes, but it happened in the time of the crisis,” Zarif said.

AFP

London Heads European Investment In Tech Sector

UK To Boost African Partnership With £30m

 

Investment in tech across Europe reached a record level in 2019, according to a study published on Wednesday, with London maintaining the number one spot despite Brexit uncertainties.

About a quarter of the $39.8 billion (£31 billion, 36 billion euros) that was pumped into fledgling firms was in the British capital.

The $9.7 billion London attracted in 2019 was more than twice the amount in Berlin ($4.5 billion) and nearly three times more than Paris ($3.3 billion).

The study, for London & Partners which promotes the city, said the top three cities were now competing for investment with places such as New York, Beijing and the San Francisco region.

Financial sector start-ups were seen as driving the growth in investment as well as those in artificial energy and clean energy.

British financial firms that have raised funds include online banks Monzo and Starling, as well as money transfer specialist WorldRemit.

London has now been in the top spot for venture capital investment in European tech firms for the last four years.

It was also the European city that has seen the biggest number of “high growth unicorn tech businesses” — new firms valued at more than $1 billion.

A total of 46 have been created in London since 1990, according to the study.

“Tech cities such as London, Paris and Berlin have helped to put Europe’s tech sector on the map because they are home to world-class talent and are increasingly creating game-changing companies,” said London & Partners chief executive Laura Citron.

The figures indicate that Britain is still an attractive destination for investors and entrepreneurs, despite the uncertainties of Brexit, which will finally take place this month.

France last year wanted to leapfrog Britain to become the European number one.

President Emmanuel Macron has promised more investment in financial institutions and to help grow tech sector businesses.

AFP

Ancelotti Seeks Everton’s Return To Europe

Everton’s Italian head coach Carlo Ancelotti (R) chats to Everton’s English chairman Bill Kenwright at the English Premier League football match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on December 21, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Carlo Ancelotti has set his sights on taking Everton back into European competition after the Italian was appointed manager of “one of the greatest clubs in England”.

Saturday saw the Merseyside team announce that Ancelotti had become their new permanent manager on a four-and-a-half year contract.

The 60-year-old then watched from the stands at Goodison Park as Everton played out a goalless draw with Arsenal, who have appointed former Toffees favourite Mikel Arteta as their new manager.

“I’m excited to be here at one of the greatest clubs in England,” Ancelotti told the club’s in-house TV channel in his first interview since his appointment.

The draw with Arsenal left Everton 15th in the Premier League and just four points above the relegation zone.

Nevertheless Ancelotti, a three-time Champions League winning coach who was sacked by Napoli this month, said Everton should aim high.

“The ambition is for us to try to win and be competitive,” he added.

“The goal is there to reach the Champions League or Europa League. Winning honours has to be the dream for this club and for the supporters. I am here to try to do this.”

Ancelotti guided Chelsea to a league and FA Cup double in 2010 in his first spell in England.

“Our goal is to be competitive in the Premier League, to be towards the top of the table, to be competitive in Europe,” he said.

“It’s not going to happen straight away, but we have to work for this.

“To Evertonians I would like to say, stay with the team as you always do because it’s really important for the players to have your support.

“I would like to work together with the supporters. My dream is to bring success to this club.”

Ferguson to stay at club

Meanwhile Everton chairman Bill Kenwright congratulated the club’s majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, for bringing in a manager of Ancelotti’s standing.

The Italian’s trophy-laden CV includes stints at a clutch of Europe’s top clubs, including Juventus, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

“I have to take my hat off to Farhad,” said Kenwright.

“We interviewed a lot of people and Farhad was pushing for a world-class manager.

“He wants this team to be where he’s wanted it to be for three-and-a-half years. He wants this club to be winning trophies.”

Caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson will remain on Ancelotti’s staff.

The former Everton striker oversaw a win over Chelsea, draws with Manchester United and Arsenal and a League Cup loss on penalties to Leicester in his four-game spell at the helm following the sacking of Marco Silva.

Ancelotti’s first game in charge of Everton is set to be the Boxing Day clash at home to Burnley.

 

AFP

US Congress Approves Sanctions To Halt Russia-Europe Gas Pipeline

In this file photo taken on March 26, 2019, a man works at the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Lubmin, northeastern Germany. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

 

The US Senate voted Tuesday to slap sanctions on companies working on Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline, sending a bill to President Donald Trump that is sure to antagonize European nations counting on the project’s natural gas.

The measure, inserted into a huge annual defense spending bill, passed 86 to eight after easily clearing the House of Representatives last week.

It aims to halt further construction of the $10.6 billion pipeline being built under the Baltic Sea and is set to double shipments of Russian natural gas to Germany.

The German-Russian Chamber of Commerce said last week the pipeline was important for the energy security of Europe and called for retaliatory sanctions on the US if the bill passes.

But US lawmakers have warned it would send billions of dollars to Moscow and vastly increase President Vladimir Putin’s influence in Europe at a time of heightened tension.

The National Defense Authorization Act, a $738 billion package for 2020 that includes the sanctions, now heads to the White House, where Trump is expected to sign it.

The sanctions target pipe-laying vessels for Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream, a Russia-Turkey pipeline, and include asset freezes and revocation of US visas for the contractors.

One major contractor that could be hit is Swiss-based Allseas, which has been hired by Russia’s Gazprom to build the offshore section.

The power of Gazprom and therefore the Russian state is at the center of concerns about the pipeline in the US and in eastern and central Europe.

Senator Ted Cruz has said halting Nord Stream 2 should be a major security priority for the United States and Europe alike.

“It’s far better for Europe to be relying on energy from the United States than to be fueling Putin and Russia and dependent on Russia and subject to economic blackmail,” he told the Senate last week.

But Senator Rand Paul, a fellow Republican, voted against the bill, objecting to its bid to “sanction NATO allies and potentially American energy companies.,” Paul said of the project.

“The pipeline will be completed, and yet we want to jeopardize our relationship with our allies and with businesses both in Europe and America,” Paul said of the project.

 

AFP

Dozens Of Migrants Drown As Boat Sinks Off Mauritania

 

 

 

At least 58 migrants drowned as their boat sank near the Mauritanian coast after a week at sea, the International Organization for Migration said Thursday.

The UN agency said another 83 people swam to shore, while survivors said at least 150 people including women and children were aboard the vessel, which had set sail from The Gambia on November 27.

They said the boat was running low on fuel as it was nearing the coast of the northwestern African nation.

“The Mauritanian authorities are very efficiently coordinating the response with the agencies currently present in Nouadhibou,” said Laura Lungarotti, IOM’s chief of mission in Mauritania.

“Our common priority is to take care of all those who survived and bring them the support they need,” she added.

READ ALSO: Six Dead, Two Missing After Gas Explosion In Poland

The injured are being treated in hospital in Nouadhibou, Mauritania’s westernmost town on the Atlantic coast, the IOM statement said.

Mauritanian authorities are in contact with Gambian consular services “to ensure that the necessary support is provided to the migrants”, the statement said.

The Gambian Ambassador to Mauritania is headed to Nouadhibou, it added.

Fragment Of Jesus’ Manger Arrives In Bethlehem From Europe

The Custos of the Holy Land Francesco Patton (C-L), carries the Relic of the Holy Crib of the Child Jesus, during a procession at the Church of the Nativity compound in Bethlehem on November 30, 2019, initiating celebrations for the arrival of the relic, a gift from the Pope Francis to the Custody of the Holy Land. Musa Al SHAER / AFP

 

 

A wooden fragment believed to be from the manger of Jesus arrived in his birthplace of Bethlehem on Saturday amid great ceremony after more than 1,300 years in Europe.

A Palestinian scout band playing bagpipes, drums and saxophones accompanied the relic as it arrived in Manger Square, an AFP reporter said.

Housed in Rome since the seventh century, the relic had been presented to the Franciscan custodians of the Holy Land as a gift from the Vatican.

Worshippers thronged the square as the chief custodian for the Holy Land, Francesco Patton, carried the ornate reliquary housing the relic into the Saint Catherine Church next to the Church of the Nativity, where he led mass.

On Friday Patton told AFP that the seventh-century Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius, had sent the relic to Rome in around 640 as a gift to Pope Theodore I.

Now the item, about a centimetre wide by 2.5 centimetres (an inch) long, is to be installed “for ever” in Bethlehem, he said.

“We venerate the relic because (it) reminds us of the mystery of incarnation, to the fact that the son of God was born of Mary in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago,” Patton said.

Bethlehem has planned celebrations stretching until Christmas for the homecoming.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas had asked Pope Francis to repatriate the crib fragment during his visit to the Vatican for Middle East peace talks in December 2018, said Palestinian envoy to the Holy See, Issa Kassissieh.

AFP

Europe’s Prisons Not Monitoring Inmates’ Health, Says WHO

 

Prison authorities in Europe are not doing enough to monitor the health of inmates, meaning prisoners are more likely to suffer untreated conditions and are released without adequate support, the World Health Organisation said Thursday.

The UN body warned that such failings will come at a “high cost” for society at large as they add to the public health burden.

The WHO collected the data of 39 European countries between 2016 and 2017 and recommended that prisons test for tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, mental health problems, and addictions.

“A prison sentence takes away a person’s liberty; it should not also take away their health and their right to health,” said Dr Bente Mikkelsen of WHO’s Europe branch, according to a statement from the body.

She said the prison population has a “disproportionate disease burden”.

“To achieve universal health coverage and better health and well-being for all, as in WHO’s vision, it is vital that prisons are seen as a window of opportunity to change lifestyles and ensure that no one is left behind,” she said.

The WHO said in a statement on its report that it found “the general state of monitoring and surveillance systems for health in prisons is poor”.

It warned prisoners with undiagnosed and untreated health conditions will “add to the public health burden in the outside community after their release”.

The report said that mental health was a key issue, especially after release, when prisoners are most at risk of suicide, self-harm and drug overdoses.

WHO said this meant care during the transition phase was “critical”.

The report found that 13.5 percent of deaths in prison were caused by suicide and that 14 percent of EU states do not screen for severe mental health disorders on arrival in prison.

Europe’s prisons also have a reoccurring problem of overcrowding, which can affect the health of detainees.

An estimated 6 million people are being incarcerated each year in the region, according to WHO.

Eight countries including France, Italy, and Portugal have “a serious overall problem” with overcrowding, according to a 2018 study by the Council of Europe.

AFP

Bored And Broke, Vietnam Migrants Risk Lives For Riches In Europe

 

Young, aspirational and poor Vietnamese are risking their lives to travel to Europe, taking on large debts to join well-worn trafficking routes in the hope of a better future thousands of miles from their rural homes.

The dangers of illegal crossings into Europe were laid bare this week when 31 men and eight women were found dead in a refrigerated truck in Britain.

British police initially said the victims were Chinese, but it is now feared most were from Vietnam.

Many Vietnamese migrants come from just a handful of central provinces, where smugglers prey on disaffected youth lured by the prospect of overseas work.

Bored by village life and fed up with a lack of opportunity, the allure of overseas riches is enough to tempt many to embark on the risky trips.

Many belong to Vietnam’s booming, social-media obsessed population of under 30s, often following relatives or friends to the UK, France and Germany — Facebook posts from abroad and money sent home are often proof enough that the journey is worth it.

Greased by smuggling networks with links in remote Vietnamese towns and throughout eastern Europe, migrants can pay up to $40,000 for a ticket out of poverty, borrowing from relatives or taking huge loans.

“Smugglers are really saying that the UK is the ‘El Dorado’,” Paris-based migration expert Nadia Sebtaoui told AFP.

They are often promised princely salaries of up to £3,000 pounds ($3,800) a month, around three times the annual income in Vietnam’s poorest provinces.

But the reality is often far different.

Some end up owing thousands of dollars to smugglers and money lenders who front cash for the treacherous journeys. Saddled by huge debts, many face the risk of exploitation along the way.

“They really have a lack of awareness on the reality of working in Europe,” said Sebtaoui, adding that many take under-the-table jobs as manicurists or cannabis farmers, or even sex workers.

A town transformed 

Just a few provinces in central Vietnam — Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh — supply most illegal migrants, according to a report by Anti-Slavery International, ECPAT UK and Pacific Links Foundation.

The region has been largely overlooked by Vietnam’s breakneck economic growth of the past decade, and for most young people the only jobs on offer are in factories, construction or on the fields.

Meanwhile, migrant success stories ricochet across many small towns, where remittances have transformed the homes and aspirations of many.

“We live on money sent from our people abroad,” said the uncle of Nguyen Dinh Tu, a 27-year-old man feared to have died in the ill-fated truck.

In his village Phu Xuan, once a poor farming community in Nghe An province, signs of that wealth abound.

Newly-renovated brick homes have replaced shacks. Bicycles have been upgraded for motorbikes and cars, and a trendy bubble tea shop recently opened along the main road.

“The money sent from our people abroad has changed the face of this village. That’s why young ones just leave,” said Tu’s uncle, sitting in the new home his missing nephew helped to finance at a cost of nearly $13,000.

That’s a huge sum in Nghe An province, where the average annual per capita income is around $1,200, well below the national average of about $2,400.

 ‘I’ll be lucky’ 

In this part of Vietnam, it’s not hard to find someone who can help you get to Europe — for a price.

Russia is easy enough to get to — a tourist visa or fake passport often does the trick — and then criminal networks dotted across eastern Europe help migrants along, often for additional fees.

Vietnamese communities took root in eastern Europe after the Vietnam War, some moving over as part of a Soviet labour scheme, others as war refugees.

Most migrants continue their westwards journey overland, with those headed for the UK waiting in makeshift camps in northern France for truck to take them across.

For that they pay smugglers for a “VIP transfer” — a guaranteed spot on a truck billed as the more comfortable route, said Sebtaoui, who has worked with Vietnamese migrants in France.

The migrants on the ill-fated truck found this week might have paid thousands of dollars for a spot in the refrigerated trailer.

Others try their luck by squeezing themselves in the arches above truck wheels, an extremely risky passage.

But tragedy is often not a deterrent. Even if many of the 39 dead are confirmed to be Vietnamese, it might not be enough to stop future migrants from taking the same journey.

“If someone’s really desperate and if their life seems hopeless… they may still think ‘I’ll be lucky,'” said Michael Brosowski, founder of Vietnam-based anti-trafficking NGO Blue Dragon.

Three Suspects Arrested For Kidnapping, Torturing Migrants

A Libyan coast guardsman stands on a boat during the rescue of 147 illegal immigrants attempting to reach Europe off the coastal town of Zawiyah, 45 kilometres west of the capital Tripoli, on June 27, 2017. PHOTO: Taha JAWASHI / AFP

 

Italian police arrested three people on Monday accused of the kidnap, torture and trafficking of migrants hoping to set sail from Libya to Europe.

Their accusers described a catalogue of abuse including the systematic rape of women and the murder of some migrants.

A 27-year old man from Guinea and two Egyptians, aged 24 and 26, were taken into custody in a detention centre in Messina, Sicily, after police gathered testimony against them from other migrants.

The arrested men had crossed the Mediterranean themselves, landing in Lampedusa before being transferred to Sicily.

Witnesses said the three ran a prisoners’ camp in a former military base in Zawyia in Libya, where those ready to attempt the perilous sea crossing were forcibly held until they could pay a ransom.

Those interviewed said they had been “beaten with sticks, rifle butts, rubber pipes, whipped or given electric shocks”, and had seen other prisoners die, police said.

They had also been refused water or medical attention for their wounds or for diseases contracted in the camp, they said.

Anyone unable to pay up was passed on to other traffickers “for sexual and/or work exploitation”, or was killed.

The testimonies were gathered from migrants spread in reception centres across Sicily and on the island of Lampedusa.

“All the women who were with us… were systematically and repeatedly raped,” one witness was quoted as saying.

“They gave us seawater to drink and, sometimes, hard bread to eat. We men were beaten to get our relatives to pay sums of money in exchange for our release,” he said.

“I saw the organisers shoot two migrants who had tried to escape”.

 ‘Shot for bread’

Another said he was “whipped by electrical wires. Other times I was beaten, even around the head”.

One survivor described how the electric shocks “made you fall to the ground unconscious”, adding that he had “personally witnessed many murders by electric shock”.

Some migrants died of hunger, according to another cited witness, who described seeing a jailer “shoot a Nigerian in the legs for having taken a piece of bread”.

Libya, despite being wracked by chaos and conflict since the 2011 uprising that killed the dictator Moamer Kadhafi, has remained a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa.

According to figures from the International Organization for Migration in July, at least 5,200 people are currently trapped in official detention centres in Libya, often in appalling conditions.

There are no figures for the number of people held in illegal centres run by human traffickers, who brutally torture them to try to extort money from their families.

Italy’s tough line on migrants arriving from North Africa, and European Union cooperation with the Libyan coastguard, has seen some of those attempting the crossing picked up at sea and returned to the chaos-wracked country.

The UN and aid groups have warned those returned face rampant human rights abuses in both official and illegal centres.

AFP

Libya Buries Bodies Of 46 Migrants After Deadly Shipwreck

Workers bury the bodies of migrants, who died in a shipwreck off the coast of Khoms, at a communal cemetery in Libya’s capital suburb of Tajoura on July 28, 2019. Credit: AFP

 

Libyan authorities buried the bodies of 46 migrants Sunday after they were plucked from the sea following one of deadliest shipwrecks in the Mediterranean so far this year.

Rescue workers said Friday they had recovered the bodies of 62 migrants from waters off Libya after the overloaded boat went down off the city of Khoms, east of the capital.

Authorities said the bodies of the remaining 16 would be buried later.

Seven migrants rescued from the wreck helped lay their companions to rest.

“We were saved and here we are today to bury 46 of our brothers, children and women,” Anwar, a young Eritrean survivor, told AFP.

It is unknown exactly how many were on the boat when it went down around 90 minutes after setting off from Libyan shores on Wednesday evening in a desperate bid to reach Europe.

Survivors said some 400 people were aboard the vessel when it sank, according to global charity Doctors Without Borders.

UN refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi called the wreck “the worst Mediterranean tragedy of this year”.

Some 145 people were rescued, according to International Organization for Migration, which reported more than 110 missing after the sinking.

Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that killed president Moamer Kadhafi, has long been a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, hoping to reach Europe.

Authorities on Saturday attempted to transport the bodies to a cemetery in the Tripoli suburb of Tajoura, but fighting in the area forced them to turn back.

They succeeded a day later, finally reaching the small plot of land surrounded by rocks and trees reserved for the bodies of those that have perished in bids to reach Europe by sea.

Many of the graves bear numbers instead of names.

Before the latest shipwreck, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the IOM said 426 migrants had perished in the Mediterranean this year.

AFP

Bodies Of 62 Migrants Retrieved Off Libya Coast – Red Crescent

Members of the Libyan Red Crescent inspect the washed up body of a migrant on the beach in the al-Khums, 130 kms east of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on July 26, 2019. AL KHUMS, LIBYA

 

Libya’s Red Crescent said Friday its rescue workers had recovered the bodies of 62 migrants a day after one of the deadliest shipwrecks this year in the Mediterranean.

“Our Red Crescent teams have pulled 62 migrants” from the water since Thursday evening, the head of the unit Abdelmoneim Abu Sbeih said.

Aid agencies on Thursday said more than 100 migrants were missing after an overloaded boat sank off the Libyan coast east of the capital near the port city of Khoms.

About 145 migrants were rescued by the Libyan coastguard, and fishermen said the waters were full of floating bodies.

READ ALSO: Over 400,000 Displaced In Northwest Syria In Three Months – UN

“The bodies are still floating onto the shore continuously, it’s not possible to give a total number,” Abu Sbeih added.

Local authorities were gathering and storing the bodies until burial places could be found, a municipal source in Khoms said.

The migrants had apparently been headed out to sea on three boats lashed together, according to the charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Survivors had reported a total of almost 400 people on board, MSF mission chief Julien Raickman told AFP.

The head of the UN refugee agency Filippo Grandi called the wreck “the worst Mediterranean tragedy of this year”.

The capsize came only a few weeks after some 68 migrants died when an Italy-bound boat sank off Tunisia.

Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that killed president Moamer Kadhafi, has long been a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, desperate to reach Europe.

AFP

Europe In Premier League’s Grip Once Again

Liverpool players cheer the fans during an open-top bus parade around Liverpool, north-west England on June 2, 2019, after winning the UEFA Champions League final. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Liverpool’s victory in the Champions League could usher in a new era of English dominance of European competition — but titans Real Madrid will not take the challenge lying down.

The 2-0 win for Jurgen Klopp’s side over Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid on Saturday was the culmination of a week of all-English European finals after Chelsea had thrashed Arsenal 4-1 in Baku to lift the Europa League trophy.

The Premier League’s European rivals have taken note of the English dominance this season, with many seeing it as evidence of the Premier League’s overwhelming financial power created by TV contract receipts that put other leagues in the shade.

A report from accountants KPMG last month underlined that financial muscle, with six English teams, ranked among the top 10 European clubs that generate the greatest revenue.

Manchester United were runners-up to top-placed Real Madrid. Abu Dhabi-backed Manchester City, the newly crowned Premier League champions, were in fifth place, ahead of Russian-owned Chelsea, US-backed Liverpool, and Arsenal, with Tottenham in ninth spot.

The looming prospect of Brexit does not yet seem to have had a detrimental effect on the growing incomes of the top English clubs.

For Tottenham, who reached the Champions League final after miraculous escapes in the group stage, quarter-finals and semi-finals, the question is whether their achievement shows mounting momentum or is merely a lucky high water-mark.

– Glittering new stadium –

The London club opened a glittering, 1 billion ($1.26 billion) 62,000-capacity stadium to rave reviews in April. It holds 26,000 more than the old White Hart Lane and the club has landed a 10-year deal to host NFL games.

How much of that increase in revenue will be available to strengthen the squad is not clear. The club reportedly took out more than 600 million in loans to pay for the stadium.

Tottenham’s dynamic Argentinian coach Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with jobs at Bayern Munich and Juventus. An emotional man, he sent conflicting messages in the run-up to the Champions League final.

While Spurs face immediate challenges to make the leap to Premier League contenders, Liverpool and their coach Jurgen Klopp appear to stand a good chance of dethroning City and winning their first Premier League title for 29 years next season.

Liverpool lost out to City by a single point in a thrilling race this season.

– Madrid spending spree –

The Daily Mail’s football editor Ian Ladyman said he expects Liverpool “will only get stronger from here”, tweeting that the “only feasible threat is the big Spanish clubs coming for the front three, which will happen at some stage I am sure”.

He was referring to envious glances aimed at Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah, Senegalese striker Sadio Mane and Brazilian Roberto Firmino.

Thirteen-time European champions Real, and Barcelona, who have won the Champions League five times, have had poor seasons by their high standards, and the response has been swift.

The Madrid club are widely expected to announce the signing of Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard from Chelsea within weeks. A host of star names are expected to follow.

Barcelona have raided Ajax’s precocious lineup, snapping up 22-year-old midfielder Frenkie de Jong. His Ajax teammate Matthijs de Ligt could join him in Catalonia, although Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United are also reportedly interested.

France’s World Cup-winning striker Antoine Griezmann is expected to move from Atletico Madrid to Barcelona too, to bolster the ageing attack of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

United’s wealth has rarely been matched in recent years by the same success on the pitch as they enjoyed under former manager Alex Ferguson. The Old Trafford club are expected to spend big to attempt to regain the Champions League qualification they missed out on in a calamitous season.

Perennial German champions Bayern Munich have also splashed the cash to begin rebuilding their squad, investing in French defender Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez from Atletico Madrid.

The problem for the Premier League’s rivals is that success is attracting ever more foreign investment.

Evidence of that was provided this week when Qatari investors linked to Paris Saint-Germain were revealed to be in talks with the owners of one of England’s sleeping giants, Newcastle United, about a possible takeover.

AFP