Premier League Agrees New Broadcast Deal In China

In this file photo taken on August 07, 2020 The headquarters of Tencent, the parent company of Chinese social media company WeChat, are seen in Beijing. The Premier League announced on September 17, 2020, that it had agreed to a new broadcast deal in China for the rest of the season with Tencent Sports. / AFP / GREG BAKER

 

The Premier League announced on Thursday that it had agreed to a new broadcast deal in China for the rest of the season with Tencent Sports.

The previous agreement with PPTV was terminated after a dispute over a missed payment.

Viewers in China will have access to all the remaining 372 matches of England’s top-flight football league from this weekend, the league said.

“We are excited to have agreed this partnership with Tencent ensuring our supporters in China can enjoy following Premier League action throughout this season,” said Premier League chief executive Richard Masters.

Tencent Sports general manager Ewell Zhao said: “The Premier League is one of the world’s most popular sports competitions and has many fans in China.

“In collaboration with the Premier League, Tencent Sports hopes to leverage its platforms and technology to bring the drama of Premier League matches to fans and share with them the passion and excitement of football.”

AFP

Vardy Nets Brace As Leicester Start Season On Winning Note

Vardy has scored in all five of his away Premier League appearances against West Brom. Photo: [email protected] League.

 

 

Leicester bounced back from a disappointing end to last season to get their new campaign off to a winning start as Jamie Vardy scored two penalties in a 3-0 win at West Brom.

Belgian international Timothy Castagne opened the scoring on his debut as West Brom were given a harsh lesson on the step-up in quality they face on their return to the Premier League.

Leicester won just two of their last 10 games to miss out on a place in the Champions League on the last day of last season and Brendan Rodgers had voiced his frustration at a lack of funds to help their chances of success in four competitions this season.

But the one new signing the Foxes have added made a big impact as Castagne’s towering header from Dennis Praet’s cross opened the floodgates 11 minutes into the second half.

Despite Leicester’s drop-off in the second half of the campaign, Vardy still won the Premier League’s golden boot last season and the 33-year-old launched his challenge to be top scorer once more with two expertly taken spot-kicks in the final 16 minutes after he and James Justin had been felled inside the area.

AFP

Rampant Arsenal Devour Fulham In Premier League Opener

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2L) scores their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020. Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2L) scores their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020. Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP

 

Arsenal made a flying start to the new Premier League season as Gabriel Magalhaes grabbed a debut goal and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a stunner in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Fulham.

Just 48 days after last season’s delayed conclusion, the Premier League is back and Arsenal hit the ground running with the kind of confident display that has become their hallmark since Mikel Arteta took charge.

Arsenal’s free-flowing attack was too incisive for promoted Fulham and Alexandre Lacazette gave the visitors an early lead at Craven Cottage.

Brazilian defender Gabriel scored Arsenal’s second after the break in his first appearance since his close-season move from Lille.

Aubameyang added the final flourish with a typically eye-catching strike that emphasised why Arsenal are so desperate for the Gabon forward to sign an extension to the contract which expires at the end of the season.

Arteta has said that fans concerned Aubameyang will leave can “relax” because he is “very optimistic” his captain will agree a new deal soon.

With former Chelsea winger Willian providing a pair of assists on his debut, it was the ideal way for Arsenal to start a season that appears full of promise after last season’s FA Cup triumph.

Although their eighth-placed finish in the Premier League ranked as Arsenal’s lowest final position since 1995, Arteta had little to do with that after taking charge in December following the dismal reign of Unai Emery.

The former Manchester City assistant coach has been a much-needed breath of fresh air for Arsenal and pushing for a place in the top four should not be beyond his revitalised team this term.

While the continued absence of fans due to the coronavirus and shorter than usual break has taken a little anticipation away from the new campaign, Arsenal were keener than most to get back in action after beating Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

The Gunners had underlined their rapid improvement by defeating Premier League champions Liverpool on penalties in the Community Shield last month and Fulham were no match for them.

Crumbling Fulham

The only dark cloud for Arteta was a pre-match spat between Dani Ceballos and Eddie Nketiah.

The pair had to be separated by Arsenal team-mates after Nketiah reacted to an aggressive challenge from Ceballos while a group of players were exchanging passes in the warm-up.

Arteta must have been alarmed when Ainsley Maitland-Niles hit a weak back pass that caused confusion between Gabriel and recalled keeper Bernd Leno early on.

Aboubakar Kamara nipped in but Leno managed to save at his feet before the Fulham forward could get a shot away.

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (C) celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020. Clive Rose / POOL / AFP
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (C) celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020.
Clive Rose / POOL / AFP

 

Arteta’s worries were eased when Lacazette netted in the ninth minute.

Granit Xkaha’s strike forced a miscued clearance from Tim Ream and Willian pounced with a close-range shot that Fulham keeper Marek Rodak could only push out to Lacazette, who slotted home from virtually on the goalline.

It made Lacazette the first player to score the opening goal of a Premier League campaign twice after the French striker also bagged the opener in 2017-18.

Willian was denied a debut goal when his low free-kick cannoned off the base of the post.

Gabriel was enjoying a composed debut and the 22-year-old showed he can be a goal threat as well when he doubled Arsenal’s lead in the 49th minute.

Willian swung over the corner and Gabriel showed his desire as he rose above Michael Hector for an attempted header that hit his shoulder as it flashed into the net.

Fulham’s defence was crumbling like the recently demolished Craven Cottage stand and Aubameyang finished them off in the 57th minute with a carbon copy of his Community Shield goal against Liverpool.

Just as at Wembley, Willian’s superb cross-field pass picked out Aubameyang and he was allowed to advance unchecked into the area before bending a fine finish into the far corner.

 

AFP

Premier League Hit Back Over Newcastle Takeover Bid Claim

premier-league-fixtures-today
The Premier League was put on hold since mid-March due to COVID-19 outbreak. Photo: Twitter/Premier League.

 

The Premier League have slammed Newcastle’s claim that the organisation rejected a Saudi Arabia-backed bid to buy the troubled club.

Newcastle released a statement on Wednesday that said Premier League chief executive Richard Masters had blocked the takeover and did not “act appropriately”.

But the Premier League delivered a strongly worded response on Thursday that made it clear they had not pulled the plug on the deal.

“The Premier League was disappointed and surprised by the Newcastle United Football Club statement regarding its potential takeover by PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF),” a statement read.

“The club’s assertion that the Premier League has rejected the takeover is incorrect.

“The Premier League Board has, on a number of occasions, given its opinion about which entities it believes would have control over the club should the consortium proceed with the acquisition. That opinion is based on legal advice.

“This means the potential takeover could proceed to the next stage should the relevant entities provide all appropriate information. They would then be subject to a suitability assessment by the Board. As an alternative, the Board has repeatedly offered independent arbitration as a way forward since June.

“It is also incorrect to suggest these decisions were taken by any individual; they were agreed unanimously by all Premier League Board members.”

The investment group, which included the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and billionaire brothers David and Simon Reuben, said they withdrew their bid in July after waiting months for the English top-flight’s approval.

A £300 million ($391 million) deal to buy the side from owner Mike Ashley had been agreed in April.

However, the bid had attracted scrutiny due to the piracy of sports broadcast rights, including Premier League matches, in Saudi and the state’s human rights record.

Amanda Staveley of PCP Capital Partners said when the bid was withdrawn that the Premier League wanted the Saudi state to become a director of the club as the PIF was not deemed to be an arm of the government.

Supporters have long campaigned for Ashley to sell the club as they have been disillusioned with his 13-year spell as owner, which has included two relegations from the Premier League.

Newcastle begin the new Premier League season away to West Ham on Saturday.

AFP

Premier League Cancels China Broadcast Deal

premier-league-fixtures-today
The Premier League was put on hold mid-March due to COVID-19 outbreak. Photo: Twitter/Premier League.

 

 

The Premier League terminated a lucrative broadcasting contract with its licensee in China on Thursday, dealing a further blow to the English top-flight as clubs adjust to heavy losses as a result of the coronavirus.

Streaming service PPTV agreed a reported $700 million (£524 million) deal for the right to broadcast all 380 Premier League matches per season from 2019 to 2022.

However, the first season of that deal was hit by the coronavirus pandemic with a three-month shutdown between March and June before the season was completed behind closed doors.

PPTV reportedly failed to make a £160 million payment due in March for coverage of the 2019/20 season.

“The Premier League confirms that it has today terminated its agreements for Premier League coverage in China with its licensee in that territory,” the Premier League said in a statement.

“The Premier League will not be commenting further on the matter at this stage.”

The English top-flight is already facing huge losses due to coronavirus.

The new season is set to start on September 12 in empty stadiums, while domestic and international broadcasters were due rebates because of the disruption to the 2019/20 season.

PP said in a statement that after many rounds of talks disagreements remained on the value of the rights.

“Regrettably, we have not reached an agreement with the Premier League,” it said.

“Despite PP paying more than the copyright cycle fee to Premier League in advance, as agreed, PP will terminate its cooperation with the Premier League.”

It remains to be seen whether the Premier League will be able to negotiate a new rights deal in China on similar terms due to challenging economic and political conditions.

Last season was marked by political tensions between Britain and China.

In December, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV pulled a game between Arsenal and Manchester City from its programme after Gunners midfielder Mesut Ozil expressed support for mainly Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Relations between the two countries have also soured as the British government has ordered the phased removal of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei from its 5G network.

It also offered citizenship to millions of Hong Kong nationals in response to a sweeping new security law that Beijing has imposed on the former British colony.

AFP

Tottenham Sign Defender Doherty From Wolves

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 1, 2020, Matt Doherty celebrates after setting up Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Portuguese midfielder Diogo Jota (R) for their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP.

 

Tottenham on Sunday announced the signing of defender Matt Doherty from Premier League rivals Wolves for an undisclosed fee reported to be £15 million ($20 million).

The 28-year-old Ireland right-back has signed a four-year deal with Spurs and becomes Jose Mourinho’s third signing of the transfer window following the arrivals of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Joe Hart.

“We are delighted to announce the signing of Matt Doherty from Wolverhampton Wanderers,” Tottenham said on their official website.

Mourinho hailed his new signing: “I hate to play him so I’m so, so happy that I don’t play against him again. I’m so happy that we have him — incredible career for Wolves.”

“We want to have the best players, the best possible squad,” he added. “We are going to have months of competition non-stop and we need a better squad than we had last season.”

Doherty played youth football in Ireland before joining Wolves in 2010, where he made more than 300 appearances.

He helped Nuno Espirito Santo’s men to back-to-back seventh-place finishes and a Europa League quarter-final last season.

“I’m very proud to be joining such a big club,” Doherty said.

“(They have) the best stadium in the world and possibly the best training ground in the world from what I’ve seen. My time at Wolves was fantastic, I haven’t got a bad word to say about the whole club at all.”

Spurs finished sixth in the Premier League last season, ahead of Wolves on goal difference, and reached the last 16 of the Champions League.

AFP

Premier League Release Fixtures List For 2020/2021 Season

The finished new mural of Liverpool's English midfielder Jordan Henderson lifting the Premier League trophy created by graffiti artists MurWalls in collaboration with The Redmen TV, independent Liverpool FC media, is seen on the side of a house outside Anfield stadium in Liverpool, northwest England, on July 25, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP
The finished new mural of Liverpool’s English midfielder Jordan Henderson lifting the Premier League trophy created by graffiti artists MurWalls in collaboration with The Redmen TV, independent Liverpool FC media, is seen on the side of a house outside Anfield stadium in Liverpool, northwest England, on July 25, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Leeds’ first Premier League game for 16 years will see Marcelo Bielsa’s men travel to defending champions Liverpool, while Manchester City and Manchester United will miss the opening weekend to give them extra time to recover from a late end to the 2019/20 season.

All sides were guaranteed by the football authorities to have at least 30 days off between the two seasons after the late finish to the campaign caused by a three-month stoppage due to the coronavirus pandemic.

City and United were eliminated from the Champions League and Europa League respectively last weekend, three weeks after the end of the Premier League season.

Chelsea and Wolves will start their seasons on Monday September 14th after they too were involved in European competition into August.

Leeds are back in the top-flight for the first time since 2003/04, but could not have asked for a tougher start, on September 12 against the champions who have not lost a league game at Anfield in more than three years.

Tottenham host Everton, Arsenal travel to newly-promoted Fulham and Chelsea are away to Brighton on the opening weekend.

City and Liverpool are scheduled to meet on the weekends of November 7 at the Etihad and February 6 at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s men do not face traditional rivals Manchester United until 2021 with the Red Devils visiting Anfield on January 16 and Liverpool heading to Old Trafford on May 1.

 

AFP

Singaporean Investors In ‘Advanced’ Talks To Buy Newcastle United

Championship: Newcastle Close Gap On Brighton With Cardiff Win

 

Three Singaporean entrepreneurs behind a Paris-based congolomerate are in “advanced” talks to buy English Premier League football club Newcastle United, the company said Monday, just weeks after a Saudi-backed bid was withdrawn.

Bellagraph Nova Group, which operates across 100 countries in fields ranging from finance to sport, healthcare and luxury goods, said it has given Newcastle a letter of intent and proof it has funds for the purchase.

The company also said it had “enlisted the help” of former England captain and Newcastle legend Alan Shearer, along with fellow former player Michael Chopra.

The bid was announced after a Saudi-backed consortium withdrew its offer to buy Newcastle in late July, after months of waiting for Premier League approval.

“We are already negotiating the term of our acquisition of Newcastle Football Club. We are at the advanced stage of the purchasing,” a Bellagraph Nova Group spokesman told AFP.

Bellagraph Nova Group was co-founded by Singaporean cousins Nelson and Terence Loh and their business partner Evangeline Shen in 2008.

The Lohs are former investment bankers at JP Morgan, and are known to be keen sports fans who sponsored Singaporean racing driver Yuey Tan as well as the national muay thai team, the Straits Times newspaper said.

Singaporean businessman Peter Lim already owns Spain’s six-time La Liga champions Valencia.

Bellagraph Nova said it sent a letter of intent and “proof of funds” to Newcastle on August 10.

The company’s founders “have declared their willingness to massively contribute to the development of the club through their solid and international structure and a combined business/sport devoting mindset”, it added.

Bellagraph Nova Group said it oversees 31 business “entities” worldwide, with a group revenue of $12 billion in 2019 and 23,000 employees.

In its proposal, the company said it has “the necessary experience and resources to accelerate Newcastle United’s growth and realise its full potential”.

The Saudi-backed consortium, which included the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and billionaire brothers David and Simon Reuben, had reportedly struck a £300 million ($391 million) deal to buy the club from unpopular owner Mike Ashley in April.

The PIF, chaired by Prince Mohammad bin Salman, had been set to take an 80 percent stake under the proposed deal, which was criticised by human rights groups.

AFP

Premier League Clubs Vote Against Retaining Five Subs Rule

premier-league-fixtures-today
The Premier League was put on hold since mid-March due to COVID-19 outbreak. Photo: Twitter/Premier League.

 

 

Premier League clubs voted against continuing to allow five substitutes for the 2020/21 season on Thursday.

Following the resumption of the 2019/20 campaign after the coronavirus shutdown, clubs were allowed to name nine substitutes and make five changes during matches to support player welfare.

Some clubs wanted the new regulation carried over but the Premier League confirmed they were voted down at Thursday’s annual general meeting, held virtually.

All 20 members also backed changes to the video assistant referee as the system is to fall in line with FIFA protocol.

“At the Premier League’s annual general meeting today, shareholders agreed to rules relating to VAR and substitute players for the 2020/21 season,” the statement said.

“Shareholders unanimously approved the implementation of VAR, in line with the full FIFA VAR protocol.

“Clubs also agreed to revert back to using up to three substitute players per match, with a maximum of seven substitutes on the bench.”

The VAR changes come as FIFA aims to have a unified approach to its implementation.

There was controversy in several Premier League games during the season, with the new protocols agreed upon unanimously.

The changes will see referees use the pitch-side review area more often, with the Premier League now also using VAR to spot goalkeeper encroachment on penalties, while assistant referees have been told to keep their flag down for marginal offside calls until the attacking move has played out.

AFP

Saudi-Backed Bid For Newcastle Withdrawn As ‘No Longer Commercially Viable’

File photo: Newcastle players react after Newcastle United’s US defender DeAndre Yedlin (L) scored an own goal for Chelsea’s second during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Chelsea at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on August 26, 2018. Lindsey PARNABY / AFP

 

 

A takeover bid for Newcastle United by a consortium backed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund has been withdrawn after weeks of waiting for the Premier League’s approval, the group said on Thursday.

The investment group of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and billionaire brothers, David and Simon Reuben, cited the long period since a deal was struck with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley in April and the impact of coronavirus for pulling out.

“With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club,” the investment group said in a statement reported by Sky Sports.

“Unfortunately, the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable.”

The statement added: “Ultimately, during the unforeseeably prolonged process, the commercial agreement between the Investment Group and the club’s owners expired and our investment thesis could not be sustained, particularly with no clarity as to the circumstances under which the next season will start and the new norms that will arise for matches, training and other activities.”

The takeover bid had attracted condemnation from Amnesty International and the wife of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi over Saudi’s human rights record, putting pressure on the Premier League not to give it the green light in its owners’ and directors’ test.

AFP

 

CAS Reveals Man City Ignored UEFA Investigation But Did Not Breach FFP

File photo: Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on February 19, 2020.
Anthony Devlin / AFP

 

 

 

Manchester City showed a “blatant disregard” for UEFA’s investigation into alleged Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches, according to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but European football’s governing body failed to prove City had disguised funding from the club’s owners as sponsorship income.

Earlier this month, CAS overturned a two-year ban from European competitions imposed on City by UEFA and reduced a fine of 30 million euros (£27 million, $35 million) to 10 million euros.

The full reasoned judgement by CAS released on Tuesday showed that the fine was to reflect “a severe breach” in City’s unwillingness to cooperate with UEFA’s investigation.

But that the charges of alleged concealment of equity funding were more significant violations and that “based on the evidence the panel cannot reach the conclusion that disguised funding was paid to City.”

City’s fortunes on the field have been transformed since a takeover from Shiekh Mansour, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, in 2008.

The club were accused of deliberately inflating the value of income from Emirati sponsors Etisalat and Etihad Airways to meet UEFA’s FFP regulations, which limits the losses clubs can make to spend on player transfer fees and wages.

UEFA launched an investigation after German magazine Der Spiegel published a series of leaked emails relating to City’s finances in 2018.

CAS indicated that witness statements from senior City executives as well as a letter from Sheikh Mansour – all provided to CAS but not to UEFA during the first process – could have swung the original verdict in City’s favour.

“The appealed decision is therefore not per se wrong but, at least to a certain extent, is a consequence of MCFC’s decision to produce the most relevant evidence at its disposal only in the present appeal proceedings before CAS,” said the court.

The judgement also found that UEFA’s case was hamstrung by the necessity to finalise the appeal before the start of the 2020/2021 Champions League as it relinquished a request for more evidence to be provided from City’s emails.

“UEFA’s approach in this regard is understood, because it was faced with a dilemma between trying to obtain additional evidence and having an award issued before the start of the 2020/2021 UEFA club competitions season,” added the CAS panel.

Nine Premier League clubs — Arsenal, Burnley, Chelsea, Leicester, Liverpool, Man United, Newcastle, Tottenham and Wolves — filed an application to UEFA for City not to be allowed to compete in European competition if a verdict was not reached before the start of the 2020/21 season.

AFP

Premier League: Chelsea Drop Kepa In Crucial Wolves Clash

Chelsea’s Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga reacts after saving the penalty of Manchester City’s German midfielder Leroy Sane in the penalty shootout at the end of the English League Cup final football match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Wembley stadium in north London on February 24, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was dropped for his side’s crucial final game of the Premier League season against Wolves on Sunday.

Blues boss Frank Lampard opted to start with Argentine veteran Willy Caballero instead of the error-prone Kepa.

Lampard’s side need a draw or win at Stamford Bridge to ensure they finish in the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Spain international Kepa has struggled to live up to his price tag as the world’s most expensive keeper since his £71.6 million ($91.5 million) move from Athletic Bilbao in 2018.

Kepa was dropped for four successive league games earlier this season and was also among the substitutes for the 3-0 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

The 25-year-old eventually regained his place but doubts have persisted and he endured another frustrating game in the 5-3 defeat at Liverpool on Wednesday.

He also infamously fell out with Lampard’s predecessor Maurizio Sarri last season when he refused to be substituted after suffering an injury in the League Cup final defeat against Manchester City.

Kepa has been linked with a move away from Chelsea after claims Lampard is looking at potential replacements, including Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak.

Reports on Sunday said Kepa was willing to take a pay cut to facilitate a transfer to Atletico or Sevilla in time for next season.

AFP