Premier League Clubs Vote To Block Sponsorship Deals Linked To Owners

Manchester City’s Spanish midfielder Ferran Torres (C) scores his team’s fifth goal during the English Premier League football match against Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on August 28, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Premier League clubs have voted to temporarily block teams from striking lucrative deals with businesses that have links to their club’s owners after the Saudi Arabia-backed takeover of Newcastle.

The Guardian newspaper reported 18 clubs voted in favour of the ban at an emergency meeting on Monday, with Newcastle voting against and Manchester City abstaining. It is understood that both questioned the legality of the move.

A temporary month-long ban on such deals will be put in place while the possibility of a permanent ban is debated.

Many clubs in the English top-flight fear Newcastle’s wealthy Saudi owners could conclude agreements in the oil-rich kingdom that could give them an advantage.

Last week, Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani said Financial Fair Play rules must be enforced to ensure the 20 Premier League clubs are “playing the same game”.

Premier League champions City, who are owned by the Abu Dhabi United Group, have struck deals that are known as related party transactions, for example sponsorship from Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi government-owned carrier.

The Newcastle takeover was rubber-stamped by the Premier League earlier this month after it received legally binding assurances that the Saudi state would not control the club.

That was despite the fact that Saudi Arabia’s state sovereign wealth fund — the Public Investment Fund (PIF) — owns 80 percent of the club and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is listed as the PIF board’s chairman.

PIF governor and new Newcastle chairman Yassir Al-Rumayyan was in attendance for the club’s first match since the takeover on Sunday, which they lost 3-2 to Tottenham.

Newcastle are currently second from bottom of the Premier League, without a win in their first eight games.

African Players In Europe: In-Form Salah Equals Drogba Record

File Photo of Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah. (Photo by Peter Byrne / POOL / AFP)

 

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah equalled the Premier League goals record for an African when he scored in a 5-0 rout of Watford at the weekend.

The Egypt forward has netted 104 times in the world’s most watched domestic league, matching the total of former Ivory Coast attacker Didier Drogba during two spells with Chelsea.

Salah showed why he is one of the most in-form players in the world with a stunning solo effort as he danced between four defenders to score for the eighth consecutive game.

Here, AFP Sport highlights Africans who starred in the major European leagues.

ENGLAND

SADIO MANE, MOHAMED SALAH (Liverpool)

Mane became just the third African player to score 100 Premier League goals after Drogba and Salah as Liverpool overwhelmed Watford. Salah was the provider for Mane’s landmark effort with a brilliant pass for the Senegal attacker to slot home his sixth goal of the season.

PATSON DAKA (Leicester)

Zambia forward Daka grabbed his first Leicester goal as the Foxes inflicted more misery on Manchester United with a 4-2 win. Daka has played just 39 minutes of Premier League football since his mid-year move from Salzburg, but made his mark off the bench with the final goal of the game in stoppage time as he tapped home at the back post from a free-kick.

EDOUARD MENDY (Chelsea)

The Senegal goalkeeper repelled a late Brentford barrage to secure a 1-0 win. The European champions needed Mendy to make three stunning saves to hold out for a victory to take them back to the top of the table. “He’s a world-class goalkeeper and is the one we’ve got to thank,” said Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.

ITALY

VICTOR OSIMHEN (Napoli)

The Nigeria forward scored his fifth Serie A goal of the season as Napoli defeated Torino 1-0 to maintain their perfect start to the season. Osimhen headed in after 81 minutes, making the most of an attempted clearance that ricocheted off team-mate Eljif Elmas. “It was the most important goal of my career,” said Osimhen. “The atmosphere at the stadium was incredible. The fans pushed us forward and we managed to get the three points.”

GERMANY

TAIWO AWONIYI (Union Berlin)

Fresh from his international debut, the Nigeria forward bagged his fourth goal in three games to hand Union a surprise 2-0 win over Wolfsburg. The home crowd sang Awoniyi’s name after he put Union ahead just after half-time by scoring his sixth league goal this season. “He is our life insurance”, said goalkeeper Andreas Luthe.

IHLAS BEBOU (Hoffenheim)

Togo striker Bebou opened his Bundesliga account for the season with two goals in Hoffenheim’s 5-0 thrashing of Cologne. Bebou scored in the first half and doubled the lead after the break with a neat backheel to send Hoffenheim on the way to their second-highest Bundesliga victory.

ODILON KOSSOUNOU (Bayer Leverkusen)

Ivory Coast defender endured a torrid afternoon at the back as a young Leverkusen side were put to the sword by league leaders and reigning champions Bayern Munich. Kossounou and his teammates were powerless to stop Bayern’s marauding front line in the first half, as Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Mueller and Serge Gnabry smashed in four goals in seven minutes. The 5-1 win sent Bayern back to the top of the table.

FRANCE

KAMALDEEN SULEMANA (Rennes)

The Ghanaian teenager scored a magnificent solo goal to take his haul for the season to four in a 3-0 victory at Metz. Sulemana, who started both World Cup qualifying wins over Zimbabwe, poked the ball through the legs of a defender before smashing in via the crossbar as Rennes put the game out of reach by half-time.

VITAL N’SIMBA (Clermont)

The Angola-born Democratic Republic of Congo defender bagged his first Ligue 1 goal to give promoted Clermont a memorable 1-0 win over reigning champions Lille. N’Simba crashed home a powerful low drive from 20 metres to end a run of seven games without a victory for his side.

Newcastle Begin New Dawn With Defeat

Newcastle United fans stand behind a banner as they arrive at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, northeast England on October 17, 2021, for the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle’s first match since the club was taken over by a wealthy Saudi-led consortium. PHOTO: Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Newcastle’s new dawn under the ownership of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund got off to a disappointing start as Tottenham silenced St James’ Park with a 3-2 win on Sunday.

The defeat leaves Newcastle still in the relegation zone without a Premier League win this season.

Expectations on Tyneside are high for a huge injection of funding by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) to transform Newcastle’s fortunes on the field.

PIF governor Yassir Al-Rumayyan was given a hero’s welcome by the 55,000 crowd when he was presented before kick-off.

READ ALSO: Bayern Crush Leverkusen To Return To Top Of Bundesliga

A jubilant atmosphere was matched by the perfect start for the home side when Callum Wilson headed home Javier Manquillo’s cross inside two minutes.

Al-Rumayyan celebrated wildly in the stands alongside co-owner Amanda Staveley, who has bought a 10 percent stake in the club and been the face of the takeover bid for well over a year.

Staveley said this week her ambition is for the Magpies to become champions of England within the next 10 years.

However, the gulf between where Newcastle are and where the new owners want them to go was exposed after their flying start.

Spurs have had a far from ideal start to the season under new boss Nuno Espirito Santo but in Harry Kane and Son Heung-min they have the star quality Newcastle hope to have in years to come.

Tanguy Ndombele smashed home an equaliser on 17 minutes from Sergio Reguilon’s cross to get the Tottenham revival started.

Kane then ended his wait for a Premier League goal this season with a deft lob over Karl Darlow.

The England captain was intially flagged offside, but a VAR review proved Kane was onside from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s ball over the top.

“I know there’s been a lot of talk and a lot of noise around me and I know that’s always the case when you’re used to scoring goals and the ball just doesn’t drop to you sometimes,” said Kane.

“I’ll always back myself to put the next chance away.”

– Spotlight turns on Bruce –

The game was then stopped for 20 minutes due to a medical emergency for a Newcastle fan.

Tottenham’s Reguilon and Eric Dier alerted the need for a defibrillator and the players were taken off the pitch by referee Andre Marriner.

“We want to say best wishes to the guy in the stands, it was not a good sight to see,” added Kane. “We hear that he might be stable now, so we’re thankful to the medical teams and the fans who were doing the CPR.”

The flow of the game remained the same when it resumed for seven minutes of first-half stoppage time.

Kane turned provider for Spurs’ third as his low cross was converted by Son sliding in at the far post.

Many expected Newcastle’s consortium of owners to dispense with the services of manager Steve Bruce as one of their first points of business.

The former Manchester United captain was handed a reprieve to take charge of his 1,000th game of his managerial career.

But the 60-year-old is deeply unpopular among the Newcastle support and was met with persistent chants of “we want Brucey out” and “you’re getting sacked in the morning” during the second half as Spurs continued to dominate.

“If I was believing everything I saw last week, I might not have been here today,” said Bruce. “My job is to get a few results. Unfortunately, this year, if you’re a manager in the Premier League and you haven’t won in seven or eight, you come under pressure.”

A red card for Jonjo Shelvey seven minutes from time rounded off a miserable day on the field for Newcastle.

Dier’s comical own goal in the final minute gave the 10 men hope.

But Spurs held out to move up to fifth and level on points with fourth-placed Brighton.

Newcastle remain three points adrift of safety and much further from matching the ambitions of their wealthy new owners.

AFP

Premier League Approves Saudi-Led Takeover Of Newcastle United

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 21, 2020. A general view of the stadium during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Sheffield United at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north-east England on June 21, 2020. (Photo by OWEN HUMPHREYS / POOL / AFP)

 

The Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle United has been approved, the Premier League announced on Thursday.

“The Premier League, Newcastle United Football Club and St James Holdings Limited have today settled the dispute over the takeover of the club by the consortium of PIF, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media,” the Premier League said in a statement.

“Following the completion of the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ Test, the club has been sold to the consortium with immediate effect.”

The deal went ahead despite warnings from Amnesty International that it represents “sportswashing” of the Gulf kingdom’s human rights record.

It brings to an end Newcastle’s 14 years of ownership under Mike Ashley.

Public Investment Fund (PIF) governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan said: “We are extremely proud to become the new owners of Newcastle United, one of the most famous clubs in English football.

“We thank the Newcastle fans for their tremendously loyal support over the years and we are excited to work together with them.”

Amanda Staveley, chief executive officer of PCP Capital Partners, said: “This is a long-term investment. We are excited about the future prospects for Newcastle United.”

AFP

Premier League Scrambles To Convince Stars To Get Vaccinated

File Photo of an empty stadium ahead of the English Premier League football  Glyn KIRK / POOL / AFP

 

Premier League matches are once again being played in packed stadiums after Britain’s successful coronavirus vaccine rollout — but the reluctance of many players to get jabbed is proving a headache for football authorities.

The UK has one of the highest overall virus death tolls in the world, at more than 137,000, but more than 82 percent of over-16s have had two doses of the vaccine, according to the latest government figures.

The rapid rollout has enabled the easing of restrictions on large gatherings, with a welcome return of supporters to football grounds.

However, although no official figures have been offered by the Premier League, reports suggest only seven of England’s 20 top-flight clubs have more than 50 percent of their squad fully vaccinated.

“It’s low, not just in the Premier League but in the Football League as well. It’s very low,” said former Manchester United captain Gary Neville, who has an ownership stake in League Two club Salford City.

“We have to accept and understand why that is, but I think it is also time for the players or the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) to come out and explain what the concerns are that the players have and why they are not taking these vaccinations.”

Incentives have been discussed as an option by clubs to get more players to come forward to have the jab, including a potential relaxing of stringent coronavirus protocols.

A bespoke quarantine exemption has been granted by the government to allow players to represent their nations in countries on Britain’s travel red-list, leaving them able to return to train and play with their clubs — but only if they have been fully vaccinated.

– Hesitancy –

The most prominent reasons put forward for the hesitancy are that players are young, healthy individuals less likely to suffer the worst effects of Covid-19, and the influence of anti-vaccination propaganda on social media.

Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow encouraged his team-mates to get jabbed after he was hospitalised by the virus in July.

“It felt worse than razor blades. It was like someone had just shut my throat off,” the 30-year-old told The Times.

Newcastle pair Jamaal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin were also sidelined for weeks by the long-term effects of Covid last season.

Yet Magpies manager Steve Bruce confirmed that had not been enough to convince all of his players.

“We’ve got a lot of players who haven’t had the jab. It’s their prerogative,” Bruce said in August.

“We’ve had two or three players really sick with Covid here and Karl Darlow spent the best part of a week in hospital with it, so we’ve seen the severity of it first-hand. But there are a lot of conspiracy theories out there.”

British Health Secretary Sajid Javid has expressed his “disappointment” and concern at the potential impact of vaccine hesitancy among Premier League stars on children and young people.

And England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam has addressed Premier League captains in a bid to reassure them on any health concerns.

Footballing authorities have so far allowed for personal choice, without any sanctions for the unvaccinated.

By contrast, NBA stars in the United States face docked pay and missing matches if they are not vaccinated in states where indoor events require full vaccination.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp came out strongly in favour of vaccination last week, comparing not getting vaccinated to drink-driving.

The German boss, who said his squad were “99 percent” vaccinated, said: “I don’t understand how that is a limitation of freedom.”

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock branded his own players who refuse to get jabbed “irresponsible”.

However, Neville believes education and encouragement are a better solution than a hard-line stance.

“I don’t agree with forced vaccination and the idea of taking wages off players who aren’t vaccinated is beyond a step too far, it’s absolutely wrong,” he said.

“We can encourage players to be vaccinated but we can’t force them in my opinion.”

Jimenez Strikes As Wolves Sink Southampton

Southampton’s English midfielder James Ward-Prowse (R) vies with Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Mexican striker Raul Jimenez during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, southern England on September 26, 2021. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Raul Jimenez scored an emotional first goal since his horrific head injury in November 2020 as Wolves earned a 1-0 win over Southampton on Sunday.

Jimenez feared he would never play again after suffering a fractured skull in a clash with David Luiz at Arsenal last autumn.

The Mexico striker only returned to action at the start of this season and had gone without a goal in his first five games.

Jimenez had shown signs of frustration with the supportive headband he now wears to protect himself, even angrily removing it after a missing a headed chance against Brentford last weekend.

But 30-year-old enjoyed a cathartic moment as his second-half strike fired Bruno Lage’s men to their second Premier League win this season.

Jimenez had never gone six Premier League games without a goal since he arrived at Molineux in 2018.

In the 61st minute, he danced through the Southampton defence, twice eluding Jan Bednarek and leaving Mohammed Salisu bewildered on the turf, before calmly slotting past Alex McCarthy.

The end of Jimenez’s 336-day wait to score sparked a joyous celebration with his teammates.

He was also embraced by the club’s travelling fans in one corner of St Mary’s after the final whistle.

The uplifting scenes that greeted Jimenez’s decisive contribution were a stark contrast to the mood among Southampton supporters.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side remain winless after six league matches and were booed off at full-time.

The scoreline could have been even worse for listless Southampton if McCarthy hadn’t denied Jimenez a second goal with a fine save in stoppage-time.

Arteta Hails Odegaard’s Leadership In Arsenal Revival

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta speaks to the media after the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, northeast England on May 2, 2021.
LEE SMITH / POOL / AFP

 

Mikel Arteta hailed Martin Odegaard’s leadership qualities on Tuesday after the Norway midfielder was instrumental in leading Arsenal’s recovery from a poor start to their Premier League campaign.

Odegaard’s pin-point free-kick handed the Gunners a 1-0 victory at Burnley last weekend as Arsenal responded to losing their first three games in the league with back-to-back wins.

Odegaard, 22, joined Arsenal permanently from Real Madrid in August for £30 million ($41 million) after impressing during a loan spell last season, making 20 appearances in all competitions.

“We are building some leadership in the group,” said Arteta before Wednesday’s tie against third-tier AFC Wimbledon in the third round of the League Cup.

“Martin has this capacity to do that with his talent, taking the ball where others probably refuse to, but as well with his attitude, rhythm and the way he presses.”

Arsenal have also kept two consecutive clean-sheets after conceding nine goals in their three defeats, shutting out Norwich in a 1-0 win at the Emirates before withstanding Burnley’s physicality.

Arteta credited Odegaard — who captains his country — with leading by example.

Reflecting on Arsenal’s defensive work, the Spaniard added: “He is probably the first to do it.

“It was a real commitment and purpose. You can tell when you are really doing it or when you’ve been told to do it. There was a big meaning behind it.”

Arteta is under pressure to deliver after Arsenal finished a disappointing eighth in the Premier League in 2020/21 and endured their worst start to a league campaign in 67 years this season.

Fan discontent had been brewing after the club’s slow start to the season, with boos echoing around the Emirates Stadium after a 2-0 loss to Chelsea.

But Arteta — who had reportedly been given four games to save his job after the last international window — recognised the bond between the players and supporters after the Burnley game.

“There was some connection building. The players have to show that appreciation and gratitude,” Arteta said.

“That only brings more cohesion, more connection and closer relationships — that will strengthen the team for sure.”

AFP

English Premiership To Have First Female Referee

 

The English Premiership will have its first female referee on Saturday when Sara Cox takes charge of reigning champions Harlequins’ clash with Worcester at London’s Twickenham Stoop stadium.

“Huge congratulations to @SaraCoxRef,” Premiership Rugby tweeted on Monday.

“She’ll become the first woman to referee a #GallagherPrem league game on Saturday. Continually making history.”

Cox became the world’s first professional female rugby referee in 2016 after receiving a central contract from England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU).

She became the first female assistant referee in Premiership history in August 2020 when she officiated a fixture between Bath and Wasps.

Cox was also the first woman to referee a match in the domestic Premiership Rugby Cup knockout competition in 2018.

She took charge of the women’s rugby sevens Olympic gold medal match between New Zealand and France in Tokyo in July and has officiated at two Women’s Rugby World Cups.

AFP

Premier League Fans To Be Subjected To COVID-19 Spot-Checks

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 has announced fans will be subject to random spot-checks of their Covid-19 status in the opening weeks of the new season.

The 2021-22 campaign kicks off on Friday when newly-promoted Brentford host Arsenal with national government restrictions on crowd capacity now eased.

Any limits on attendances are agreed with local authorities and the Premier League clubs hope their protocols will ensure a return to full stadiums across the country.

In a statement, the Premier League said fans going to games should be prepared to show they have been fully vaccinated or have received a negative lateral flow test in the previous 48 hours.

The UK government has so far refused to introduce a mandatory vaccine passport system, but the English top-flight clubs are preparing in case that changes in the coming months.

“Initially, in the first few matchdays of the season, supporters can expect the introduction of random spot-checks for ticket holders at some grounds as we establish the required processes so clubs and fans are prepared for all match attenders to have their Covid-19 status checked upon arrival, should it become mandatory,” the Premier League statement added.

READ ALSO: Post-Olympics: Spotlight Shifts To Qatar 2022 World Cup

Fans must also comply with a supporter code of conduct, which stresses the importance of wearing masks in indoor areas, avoiding close contact with people they do not know and following one-way signs around stadiums.

Meanwhile, nine Premier League players or members of staff were positive for coronavirus in the latest round of testing.

AFP

Kane Skips Spurs Return Amid City Transfer Talk

Fil photo of Harry Kane during a training session at St George’s Park in Burton-on-Trent. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Harry Kane reportedly failed to turn up for his scheduled pre-season tests with Tottenham on Monday amid mounting speculation the striker wants to force a move to Manchester City.

England captain Kane was due back at Tottenham’s training headquarters for a coronavirus test and a fitness assessment following his three-week holiday after Euro 2020.

However, it was widely reported Kane did not make an appearance at Tottenham’s Enfield base, sparking fresh talk that he is determined to engineer a transfer to Premier League champions Manchester City.

Tottenham, who ironically face Pep Guardiola’s team on the opening weekend of the new Premier League season, have declined to comment about Kane’s absence.

The 28-year-old went public with his desire to leave Tottenham at the end of last season.

Kane has grown frustrated at Tottenham’s failure to win a major trophy since 2008, with their latest letdown coming in last season’s League Cup final defeat against Manchester City.

He believes he has a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with Tottenham which allows him to move this year.

But with three years left on his contract, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has no intention of selling his club’s prized asset, who is valued at around £150 million ($208 million).

Kane has been in the Bahamas following England’s Euro 2020 final loss to Italy.

With the top-flight season due to start on August 13, Kane appears to intend to push for a move.

It could be a rocky road for Kane if he steps up his demand to leave, with some Tottenham fans expressing their anger at his training ground snub on social media.

New Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo was reportedly assured Kane would not be sold during discussions before he took charge.

Nuno said last month that Kane could be “counted on” next season.

AFP

Crystal Palace Appoint Vieira As New Manager

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 22, 2020 Nice’s French coach Patrick Vieira is seen prior the UEFA Europa League Group C football match Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Nice at the BayArena stadium in Leverkusen, western Germany. (Photo by Marius Becker / POOL / AFP)

 

Crystal Palace announced former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira as the club’s new manager on Sunday, following a prolonged search for a successor to Roy Hodgson.

Vieira, who won three Premier League titles as a player with the Gunners, has had mixed results in charge of New York City and Nice in his two previous managerial jobs.

The Frenchman, who also won the World Cup and European Championship with his country, is highly regarded in England for his stellar playing career under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

“Crystal Palace Football Club are delighted to confirm the appointment of Patrick Vieira as its new manager for the next three seasons,” Palace said in a statement.

The Eagles have been searching for a new boss since Hodgson announced in May he would step down at the end of last season when his contract expired.

Vieira has a busy few weeks ahead, with a host of Palace players also out of contract and just six weeks until the Premier League season starts with a trip to European champions Chelsea.

READ ALSO: Saudi Suspends UAE Flights Due To COVID-19 Variant

“I am really excited to have this opportunity to return to the Premier League, and manage this great football club, as we begin a new chapter together,” said Vieira.

“It is a project that is really appealing to me, having spoken a lot with the chairman and sporting director about their ambition and plans for the whole club, including the academy.

“The club has fantastic foundations in place after many years in the Premier League, and I hope we can make further improvements and continue to drive the club forward.”

In his four seasons in charge, former England boss Hodgson managed to keep Palace out of the relegation battle.

However, there was a desire at the club to freshen up the ageing squad he had assembled with a younger manager.

“I’m delighted and excited that Patrick has agreed to join Crystal Palace as our manager following successfully learning his trade at the City Group, and experiencing positive managerial spells at New York City and then Nice, who he led to the Europa League,” said Palace chairman Steve Parish.

“We have a lot to do to prepare in the coming weeks and I look forward to working closely with Patrick and (sporting director) Dougie (Freedman) in bringing in some new faces to help us all to a successful season.”

AFP

Brentford Promoted To Premier League For First Time In 74 Years

Brentford won promotion to the Premier League for the first time in 74 years on May 29, 2021.
Brentford won promotion to the Premier League for the first time in 74 years on May 29, 2021.

 

Brentford were promoted to the Premier League for the first time in 74 years on Saturday as they beat Swansea 2-0 in a Championship play-off final worth around £180 million ($255 million) to the winners.

Thomas Frank’s side completed their fairytale rise thanks to first-half goals from Ivan Toney and Emiliano Marcondes at Wembley.

Swansea’s Jay Fulton was sent off midway through the second half to put the result beyond doubt in what is widely regarded as football’s single most lucrative game.

After decades stuck in lower league obscurity, unfashionable Brentford will be one of the smallest clubs ever to play in the top tier.

In just their second season at the new Brentford Community Stadium, the Bees will welcome the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool to west London.

The riches earned from the victory will be transformative for Brentford, who have finally erased the painful memories of their wretched play-off past.

Beaten by Fulham in last season’s Championship final, Brentford had failed to earn promotion in all nine of their play-off appearances before this term.

No team had lost more play-off finals than Brentford’s four, but Frank had insisted the bad omens would count for nothing.

The Bees boss was proved right as he became the first Danish coach to win a Football League promotion.

“It’s unbelievable, I’m so proud,” Brentford’s Swedish captain Pontus Jansson said.

“It’s been a hard year but we’re finally there. This year we had a very strong group and we believed in it from day one.”

Brentford’s rise has captured the imagination of neutrals after they spent 59 out of 60 seasons in the third or fourth tiers before reaching the Championship in 2014.

They have climbed well above their traditional status thanks to innovative owner Matthew Benham.

Benham has introduced an analytics-influenced approach overseen by two directors of football, ensuring the club make the most of their resources, which are meagre in comparison with the Championship’s wealthier teams.

Prolific Toney

Fittingly, it was Championship top scorer Toney who put Brentford on course for the top-flight for the first time since 1947.

Toney, signed from third tier Peterborough last year, fired Brentford to a third-place finish despite the close-season sales of star forwards Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma to Aston Villa and West Ham respectively.

Now the 25-year-old, rejected by Newcastle as a youngster, will get the chance to show he can thrive in the Premier League.

Six of Brentford’s team started last season’s final and they quickly seized the initiative in their bid for redemption.

In front of a crowd of 11,689, including with 5,000 fans admitted from each club following the easing of lockdown restrictions, Brentford took the lead in the 10th minute.

Bryan Mbeumo made a clever run behind the Swansea defence to reach Sergi Canos’s superb pass into the penalty area, prompting Freddie Woodman to race off his line and crash into the Brentford striker.

Referee Chris Kavanagh pointed to the spot and Toney stepped up to slot the penalty past Woodman for his 33rd goal of the season.

Brentford weren’t going to sit on their lead and a blistering counter-attack produced their second goal in the 20th minute.

Breaking from their own penalty area, Frank’s men caught Swansea out of position as Mbeumo picked out the over-lapping Mads Roerslev.

Roerslev’s cross was perfectly measured for Marcondes and he guided a clinical finish past Woodman from 12 yards.

Toney was inches away from his second goal moments later when his dipping volley hit the bar and bounced clear off the line.

Shell-shocked Swansea were so out of sorts they didn’t manage a single shot on target in the entire game.

And when Fulton saw red in the 65th minute for a crude foul on Mathias Jensen, it was only a matter of time before Brentford could start their promotion party.

AFP