Celtic Crowned Scottish Champions Amid COVID-19 Interruption

 In this file photo taken on November 28, 2019 Celtic's Scottish head coach Neil Lennon (L) congratulates Celtic's Scottish midfielder Scott Brown (R) as he comes off during the UEFA Europa League group E football match between Celtic and Rennes at Celtic Park stadium in Glasgow, Scotland. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP
In this file photo taken on November 28, 2019, Celtic’s Scottish head coach Neil Lennon (L) congratulates Celtic’s Scottish midfielder Scott Brown (R) as he comes off during the UEFA Europa League group E football match between Celtic and Rennes at Celtic Park stadium in Glasgow, Scotland. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

 

Celtic were crowned champions for a record-equalling ninth consecutive season as the Scottish Premiership campaign was declared over on Monday.

Neil Lennon’s men were 13 points clear at the top of the table when the season was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic in March with eight games remaining for the majority of clubs.

Second-placed Rangers had a game in hand to try and cut that gap and were due to face Celtic twice more before the end of the season.

A points-per-game formula for determining final league placings also sees bottom club Hearts relegated unless there is any progress in talks over league reconstruction.

“It is, of course, a real shame that we were not able to see out the league in front of our fans. However, no one can deny how deserved this title is,” said Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell.

“While we rightly celebrate this fantastic, deserved achievement we must take time to consider the wider circumstances we have all been experiencing and remember those who have helped us through these unique and challenging times with such bravery and selflessness.

“We dedicate this title to everyone who has cared for us and all those who have been affected by these times of challenge and difficulty.”

The three leagues below the Premiership were ended over a month ago when clubs passed a controversial resolution that allowed the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) board to also bring the top flight to a halt if it deemed the games could no longer be played.

Last week Rangers failed to gain the support of the 42 member clubs for an independent inquiry into how the vote on the resolution was passed.

Prize money to be released

Premiership clubs agreed on Friday that finishing the season was no longer a realistic option.

Scottish clubs will not be allowed to return to training until June 10 at the earliest.

The cost of testing and the fact a high percentage of players will be out of contract in May and June were also highlighted by clubs as reasons why making a return to finishing the campaign was impractical.

“The SPFL has today announced that, following consultation with all 12 top-flight clubs, the Board of the SPFL has determined that the 2019/20 Premiership has been concluded with immediate effect,” the league said in a statement.

By calling the season to an end, the SPFL can now release a final instalment of prize money to clubs based on their league position.

“On Friday, Premiership clubs expressed their clear and unanimous view that there was no realistic prospect of completing the outstanding fixtures from season 2019/20,” said SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster.

“The SPFL board met this morning and in line with the express agreement of member clubs in April, the board determined that League season 2019/20 and the Premiership be brought to an end.

“This decision now enables us to pay out around £7 million ($8.5 million) in fees to help clubs stay afloat during this incredibly difficult time.”

Leagues in France, Belgium and the Netherlands have also called their seasons to a premature end.

However, many more across Europe are hoping to follow the example of Germany’s Bundesliga, which has already returned behind closed doors and with a series of strict safety measures in place to protect players and staff.

Lampard Retires From Professional Football

Lampard Retires From Professional FootballThe former Chelsea and England midfielder, Frank Lampard, has retired from professional football after 21 years in the game.

The 38-year-old, who spent 2016 with New York City in Major League Soccer in the US, announced his decision on social media on Thursday.

Lampard made more than 600 appearances for Chelsea and won 106 caps for the Three Lions.

He scored more than 300 career goals with 211 of them for Chelsea during a 13-year spell that saw him become the club’s record scorer.

According to his retirement statement, He said: “While I have received a number of exciting offers to continue playing, at 38, I feel now is the time to begin the next chapter in my life.

“I’m grateful to the Football Association (FA), for the opportunity to study for my coaching qualifications and I look forward to pursuing the off-field opportunities that this decision opens.”

AFCON 2017: Ghana Defeat DR Congo, Advance To Semi-Final 

footballBrothers, Andre and Jordan Ayew, have led the black stars to reach the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Sunday in Gabon.

The brothers grabbed a goal each to beat Dr Congo 2-1 in the Gabonese city, Oyem.

The Ayews, are the sons of Ghana football legend, Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew, ranked among the greatest African footballers of all time.

Aston Villa’s Jordan Ayew, opened the scoring on 62 minutes, curling the ball past Ley Matampi in the Leopards goal.

Paul-Jose M’poku, equalized for DR Congo with a sensational curling long-range effort from outside the box, while West Ham’s Andre Ayew, then coolly dispatched a winning penalty, to seal the win.

However, Ghana runner-up in the last competition, is seeking a first Cup of Nations title since 1982.

Rugby: Dylan Hartley Named England Captain For Six Nations

Hartley Named England Captain For Six NationsDylan Hartley, the 30-year-old, will continue as England captain for the Six Nations after Coach Eddie Jones confirmed the news at the launch of the tournament on Wednesday.

Hartley, who led England to the grand slam last year, was banned for hitting Sean O’brien in December.

The subsequent suspension took the total number of weeks he has been unavailable during his career to 60.

The captain will not have played for nine weeks before England’s opening game against France on February 4th at Twickenham.

Sunderland Confirm Anichebe Out For Ten Weeks With Knee Injury

sunderlandNigerian forward, Victor Anichebe, has been ruled out of action for three months after sustaining a knee injury in Sunderland’s 2-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion at the weekend.

Anichebe, who just returned from a hamstring injury, was brought on as a second half substitute but later went down clutching his right knee.

Sunderland manager, David Moyes, confirmed that the 28-year-old will be out until April.

Anichebe’s latest injury will be a big blow to the Black Cats who already have Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff, Paddy Mcnair, Jordan Pickford and Duncan Watmore all out with long-term injuries.

We Gave Game Away, Klopp Says After Bournemouth Beat Liverpool

Liverpool, Manchester United, man United, Jurgen Klopp, Jose MourinhoLiverpool manager, Jürgen Klopp, on Sunday admitted his side “gave it away”, as Bournemouth’s late comeback condemned his side to a first defeat since August.

Mr Klopp, however, insisted that he had no concerns over his goalkeeper, Loris Karius, despite the errors that contributed the hosts’ dramatic win.

Karius, who looked nervous throughout, spilled Steve Cook’s shot for Nathan Aké to convert from close range to complete a remarkable turnaround, as Bournemouth, inspired by their substitute Ryan Fraser, secured their first victory against Liverpool.

“We gave the game away, and the boys know that.

“Only because of us Bournemouth came back. It was our mistake to let them back in the game but, even when we were 2-0 up at half-time, I wasn’t happy because we weren’t playing too well.

“We were too static in our play and I didn’t like what I was seeing too much, so I told the boys that the game wasn’t over. We kept the ball too long at the wrong moments, passing it late, and, eventually, everything changed,” Klopp said.

Bournemouth had trailed 3-1 after 76 minutes with the visitors apparently in complete control, only for their defensive frailties to be exposed.

The victory had pushed the Merseyside club to third place, four points off the leaders, Chelsea, from whom Ake is on loan.

In other Premiership games, Everton got late equaliser to hold Manchester United to a 1-1 draw.