Premier League club Newcastle United has introduced a handshake ban to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, manager Steve Bruce said on Friday.
“There’s a ritual here that everybody shakes hands with everybody as soon as we see each other every morning — we’ve stopped that on the advice of the doctor,” Bruce said.
“We are like everybody else. Thankfully, we’ve got a superb doctor here and he will keep us informed of what we have to do.
“We’re like everybody else, we’re glued to the TV for where it’s going to go next and let’s hope it doesn’t get any worse in this country.”
Sports events across the world are increasingly being affected by the spread of the virus.
The clash between Juventus and title rivals Inter Milan is among five Serie A games that will be played behind closed doors this weekend because of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.
The Swiss government on Friday said it was suspending all events in the country involving more than 1,000 participants.
In cycling, the UAE Tour was abandoned on Thursday after two Italian staff members of one of the teams taking part tested positive for the coronavirus.
The virus has proliferated around the globe over the past week, emerging in every continent except Antarctica, prompting many governments and businesses to try to stop people travelling or gathering in crowded places.
It has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 83,000 worldwide — the vast majority in China — since it emerged apparently from an animal market in a central Chinese city in late December.
There were even isolated chants against hated club owner Mike Ashley during the Wolves loss.
Federico Fernandez, the Newcastle defender, called on fans angry with Bruce’s arrival to get behind the new man.
“We are looking forward to working with him, he is a man of great experience, we are thinking positive,” said the Argentine.
“I understand the fans’ situation,” he said, addressing supporters’ negative reaction to the 58-year-old Bruce, a lifelong Newcastle fan.
“For us, we want to work, we want to do better as a team… to show the fans and everyone that we can compete.”
In a statement, Bruce, who resigned from Championship side Sheffield Wednesday to join Newcastle, called it “a very special moment for me and my family”.
“This is my boyhood club and it was my dad’s club.”
Bruce might be a local boy, but his two-year spell as coach of Newcastle’s fierce rivals Sunderland and a mediocre record as a Premier League manager are major black marks for an already infuriated fan base.
Bruce, who has won four promotions from the second tier of English football, has suffered relegation from the Premier League twice.
His highest finish was 10th with Birmingham in 2003-04 and Sunderland in 2010-11.
Bruce has his work cut out at Newcastle, who have lost their leading forwards from last season — Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez — and are the only Premier League club yet to make a summer signing.
The transfer window closes in less than a month, adding to the pressure on Bruce and Ashley as they try to win over disillusioned fans.
There have been calls for a boycott of St James’ Park until Ashley sells the crisis club.
If Bruce was watching on television, he would have been exasperated by what he saw from his side in China, who were under the interim stewardship of academy coach Ben Dawson.
Diogo Jota struck twice in the first half for Chinese-owned Wolves as demoralised Newcastle wilted alarmingly in the Nanjing heat.
Champions Manchester City were to play West Ham United in the next match in the Premier League Asia Trophy.
Newcastle United announced on Wednesday that Steve Bruce has been appointed head coach following the departure of Rafael Benitez from the Premier League club.
“Newcastle United can now announce that Steve Bruce has been appointed as the club’s new head coach,” the club said on its website, adding that the former Manchester United player had signed an initial three-year contract.
The 58-year-old Bruce, who grew up in Tyneside and is a former coach of Newcastle’s fierce rivals Sunderland, will be joined at St. James’ Park by coaches Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence, the club added.
Bruce, who resigned from Sheffield Wednesday prior to signing with Newcastle, told the club website: “I’m delighted and incredibly proud to be appointed as head coach of Newcastle United.
“This is my boyhood club and it was my dad’s club, so this is a very special moment for me and my family.”
Lee Charnley, managing director at Newcastle United, said the club was pleased to appoint a coach of Bruce’s “vast experience and connections…”
“The hard work for Steve and his team starts immediately and we will be fully prepared for the challenge of a new Premier League season,” he added.
The Newcastle squad are currently on a pre-season tour in China and Bruce and his staff are scheduled to travel to join them there following Wednesday’s match in Nanjing against Wolves.
Jose Mourinho accused his critics of staging a “manhunt” to get him sacked after Manchester United rescued their under-fire manager with a dramatic 3-2 win over Newcastle on Saturday.
Just hours after a report emerged that Mourinho would be sacked regardless of United’s result against Newcastle, his team were rocked at Old Trafford as they conceded two goals in the opening 10 minutes.
But after being booed off at half-time, United avoided going five games without a win thanks to a thrilling second-half fightback.
Juan Mata’s free-kick was followed by Anthony Martial’s equaliser, setting the stage for a 90th-minute winner from Alexis Sanchez, who had been dropped by Mourinho before coming off the bench in the second half.
Whether Mourinho keeps his job remains to be seen, but the former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss came out fighting following weeks of criticism of his handling of United’s squad, sparked by his fall-out with star midfielder Paul Pogba and other key players.
“As a friend of mine was saying to me this morning, if it rains in London tomorrow, it’s my fault. Brexit, it’s my fault. I have to be ready for this. There is a lot of wickedness and a clear manhunt,” Mourinho said.
“In the end, we won the match and I think we deserved to win. I think the fans deserved to win. At 2-0 at half-time, with all the dynamic of the man-hunting, I think they behaved amazingly well for the team. This is what a football club is.
“The industry I work in is different, a lot of wickedness, too much wickedness in something that should be beautiful.
“For me, it’s not easy but I think life is made of experiences and some are new and some are deja vu. This is new but I think it makes me a better manager and a better person because I understand things in human nature.”
‘I can cope’
Mourinho insisted he wouldn’t be affected by the doubters claiming he has lost control of his club and is destined for the axe.
Instead, he claimed the criticism was more of a problem for players who froze under the spotlight.
“In the biggest clubs in the world there are periods with a lot of meat and periods with a lot of bones,” he said.
“I am 55 years old, I am mature, I can cope with it and live with being hunted. I think some of the boys are not coping well with it.
“The way they started the game was panicking. I thought at some moments we could score in our own goal. It’s not easy for them.
“I cope with it, with some sadness, but I’m a big boy. Clearly some of the boys, Marcus Rashford was sad on the pitch, Scott McTominay was scared on the pitch. All the players committed mistakes that were not normal.”
Amid all the talk of shattered relationships with Pogba, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia, who was left out of the squad, Mourinho was adamant the fightback showed he retains the squad’s support.
“It’s ridiculous talk to say they don’t play for the manager, they play for the club. It’s not about that,” he said.
“What I asked the players is to give absolutely everything.
“This is not about me, this is not about the players, this is about the club, and in the second half the players gave absolutely everything. Nothing more to give.”
Former Newcastle United youth team coach George Ormond was on Tuesday found guilty of 36 sexual offences against young men and boys between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s.
Ormond, who was a coach at the Montagu and North Fenham boys’ club which fed players to the Premier League club, was found guilty after a five-week trial at Newcastle Crown Court of abuse against 18 victims.
All the victims were under the age of 18.
“To many of his victims he was a figure of authority, trust and influence,” said Gary Buckley of the Crown Prosecution Service.
“Instead of nurturing and supporting them, he exploited his role to subject them to sexual abuse,” he added.
The jury convicted Ormond, 62, of 35 counts of indecent assault and one of indecency against a child, but cleared him of one charge of buggery.
He will be sentenced at a later date.
Ormond was the first person to be charged as part of Operation Tide, a police investigation set up late last year to look into allegations of historic child sex abuse at football clubs in the northeast of England.
The scale of abuse among youth football teams came to light in 2016, when a string of ex-footballers, including England internationals, told of the crimes inflicted upon them, including years of being repeatedly raped.
Former football trainer Barry Bennell was in February sentenced to 30 years in prison for abusing 12 boys he coached between 1979 and 1991, with the judge branding him “sheer evil”.
English soccer clubs West Ham United and Newcastle United were raided on Wednesday morning by tax officials as part of a wide-sweeping probe, with several men arrested for suspected Income Tax and National Insurance fraud.
French authorities which are assisting in the investigation, said in a statement that secret payments made to players and agents are the focus of HMRC’s investigation.
A West Ham spokesperson said, “The Club is cooperating fully with HMRC to assist their enquiries.”
Newcastle initially made no comment but subsequently posted a brief statement on their website.
It said, “Newcastle United can confirm that a member of its staff has this morning been assisting HMRC with their inquiries. The club will be making no further comment at this time.”
A source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters that no West Ham staff or representatives of the club had been arrested.
HMRC, the body responsible for the United Kingdom’s tax collection, said, “180 HMRC officers have been deployed across the UK and France today.
“Investigators have searched a number of premises in the North East and South East of England and arrested the men and also seized business records, financial records, computers and mobile phones.
“This criminal investigation sends a clear message that, whoever you are, if you commit tax fraud you can expect to face the consequences.”
HMRC said French authorities were assisting the UK investigation, that they have made arrests and that several locations have been searched in France.
France’s financial prosecutor’s office said that 10 searches had been conducted there, four people had been detained and that documents had been seized.
It said in a statement that British authorities suspected that secret payments had been made to certain players, their agents or third parties to evade taxes during the transfer of players between French and Premier League clubs.
Newcastle United started a promotion party on Monday by beating 10-man Preston North 4-1 at St James’ Park.
The victory means a return to the English Premier League for Rafa Benitez’s side.
Exactly 348 days after being relegated, Newcastle overcame their obvious nerves to bag a prize worth more than 100 million pounds and retain an outside chance of pipping Brighton & Hove Albion to the championship title.
The club has spent just one season outside the Premier League, and their return to the highest level of English football was a welcome sight for the historic club.
However, in order to avoid another relegation battle, the club’s manager, Rafa Benitez, will need to get his new additions spot on.
Rafael Benitez earned his first win as Newcastle United manager and boosted their hopes of staying in the Barclays Premier League with a 3-0 victory over Swansea City on Saturday.
Benitez made five changes to the starting XI in response to last weekend’s defeat by Southampton and the Spaniard’s team selection was vindicated on his birthday, with Newcastle earning their reward for a much-improved showing.
Jamaal Lascelles, who came in for Steven Taylor in the back four, opened the scoring in the 40th minute, heading in only his second goal for the club from Andros Townsend’s corner.
Jefferson Montero and Bafetimbi Gomis both spurned big chances for Swansea before Moussa Sissoko’s first goal of the campaign and Townsend’s late third sealed a result that, combined with Sunderland’s 3-0 win at Norwich City, moves Newcastle within three points of safety with five matches to play.
Newcastle United boss, Rafael Benitez, praised the “passion and commitment” shown by his players in their victory over Swansea City.
“I have to say congratulations to the players,” Benitez told BBC Sport. “They showed passion and commitment. Thank you to the fans. If we stick together then it’s easier for us to approach the game and gives us the chance to win. The players that started were really good. And the other players who came on helped the team.
“Striker Papiss Cisse was fantastic up front and Aleksandar Mitrovic was good too when he came on. When you win games everybody is happy. Today we saw what we expect from this team.
“We have to show the same in the other games. We were not thinking about the earlier win for Sunderland over Norwich. Now we can see the table but before the game it was about focusing on the game.”
The North-East outfit are now three points within safety with five games left to play.
Harry Kane and Claudio Ranieri have won the March Barclays Premier League awards for Player and Manager of the Month respectively.
Ranieri guided Leicester City to a draw and three 1-0 wins over Watford, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace, to maintain their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
He was voted for the award ahead of a managerial shortlist that featured AFC Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe (W3 L1), West Ham’s Slaven Bilic (W2 D1) and Swansea City’s Francesco Guidolin (W3 L1).
It is the fourth time Ranieri has claimed the Barclays manager award, the joint-most for an Italian alongside former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti. Ranieri is the 15th manager to have won the award four times.
Ranieri won the award in November this season and also was awarded it twice during the 2003/04 campaign when with Chelsea.
No Leicester manager has won the award more than once in one season, although Martin O’Neill claimed it three times in a three-year period from September 1997.
Ranieri has the chance to join Joe Kinnear (1993/94 with Wimbledon) and Sir Alex Ferguson (1999/00 with Manchester United) and Ancelotti (2010/11) to have won the award three times in one season. That feat is also possible for Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino, who was named manager of the month in August and February.
Five goals in four matches won the Barclays Player of the Month award for Kane, a tally that has taken him to the top of the race for the Barclays Golden Boot with 22 goals so far.
He beat a shortlist that also included Southampton’s Graziano Pelle, Swansea City’s Ashley Williams, Leicester duo Wes Morgan and Riyad Mahrez, and West Ham United’s Dimitri Payet.
It is the third time Kane has claimed the award, after winning it in January and February last year.
Harry Kane’s 63rd minute equaliser for Premier League title contenders Tottenham Hotspurs against Liverpool rescued his team from defeat at Anfield and gave them a share of the spoils.
Elsewhere Super Eagles forward Alex Iwobi helped Arsenal beat Odion Ighalo’s Watford 4-0 at the Emirates.
The 19-year-old set up Alexis Sanchez for the gunners first in the 4th minute, before adding his second EPL strike in his second start on 38 minutes. Hector Bellerin and Theo Walcott scored Arsenal’s 3rd and 4th goals.
In other matches, Manchester City maintain 4th spot on the log with a 4-0 win over Bournemouth, while West Ham’s push for a top 4 finish was slowed by Crystal Palace in a 2-2 draw at the Boleyn ground.
Norwich City also edged Newcastle United 3-2 to boost their chances of avoiding relegation. Stoke City and Swansea City battled to a 2-2 draw, while Sunderland and West Brom played goalless.