It is the kind of trope dished out in self help books. When at your lowest look back at the best times of your life. Think about your successes. Try and remember how you got them. After the implosion came, the explosion and then debris. Josep Maria Bartomeu is gone — his last act as president was to sign FC Barcelona up for a competition that is in its very intention against everything football — and if anyone believed calmer times would return, they were obviously mistaken. We are in Alice’s world now.
Except, unlike Alice who doesn’t want to go back to yesterday, because she was a different person then, Barcelona desperately does. Enter Victor Font, the man primed for many months to challenge Bartomeu, now among the favourites to take over. Right after Quique Setien’s sacking, when asked about his choice of coach, Font had earmarked Xavi. Now, a few months later, his mood has turned. This time he wants to go further back, bring back the man who started it all for the club this century.
“Most of the best professionals who know about this style are also fans and love the club, like Pep Guardiola, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Carles Puyol,” Font told Sky Sports News. “They are all legends that love Barcelona but do not work for Barça today – we need to bring them back to ensure we will have a very competitive project.”
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Font believes the best way to keep Lionel Messi (whose contract expires next summer) at the club, is to bring back the coach he has won the most with.
The only thing Messi needs is to know he is part of a competitive project that aspires to win the next Champions League. We have no doubt that if we basically have the honour to take the helm of FC Barcelona we will be able to achieve that [Messi staying],” he said. Which is all a great way of making Ronald Koeman feel secure about his job.
Sevilla Eye India Connection
The owners and keepers of Indian football, over the years, across the various eras of administrators to be exact, have always sold this idea or dream to the fans. An idea that the country is rich in talent and potential and on the verge of breaking into the top echelons of the game.
Just that, India has always been ranked around or over the 100 mark in the world list. Even when we used a cheat code of sorts, bringing the rankings up with some winnable fixtures during the previous national coach’s tenure, we never really managed to climb up the pecking order, and leave the not-so elite group of national sides ranked around the century mark in the world. Indian clubs hardly register among the elites in the continent, forget the world. Barring, of course the presence of Praful Patel in the FIFA Council, Indian presence on the global football map is zilch. Except if we look at the market idea of football that is.
When European sides come to India seeking an El Dorado of football, a treasure trove of talented footballers to unearth -- like many of the academies claim when they launch in the country -- it is important to ask them why they believe this. How have they been sold this claim?
The latest side from Europe trying to set up a base in India happenes to be Spain’s Sevilla. Now, La Liga has a sizable presence in India as far as operations are concerned. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid have equal if not more annoying football-loving fans than Manchester United has in the country. Sevilla are not exactly a fan favourite here. But the record six-time Europa League champions have always had a dream of setting up operations here, it seems. At least that’s what the CEO spoke about with the Indian Express.
“We have always been a small club with limited resources but now we want to start growing internationally. We want to define who we are and India is the main objective for us,” Jose Maria Cruz, the CEO, said.
“Previously, we had our focus on the likes of the USA, Mexico, Japan, China, and a few African countries, but India and its market demand most of our efforts and resources for at least the next three years.”
Sevilla, in fact, had attempted an entry with an Indian Super League (ISL) club earlier. But the side they were trying to partner with, joined hands with another European club, possibly a bigger club. Typical ISL behaviour, but of course!
After having burnt the fingers once, Sevilla are understandably cautious this time. They are tight-lipped about the Indian side, and are not ready to divulge any details other than the fact that there would be technical collaboration, and at some point they will send the Sevilla B side to play some exhibition games here.
An indication of Indian football’s position in the pecking order indeed. A European club which is planning a major entry into the Indian market is not even willing to send its A team to play some games here.
UK-Egyptian Group in Burnley Race
Burnley are third-bottom of the Premier League this season. They have scored goals at home, and have earned a single point in the five games played and yet their value is such that two separate consortiums are vying to take over the club’s ownership. If this isn’t an advertisement for what the Premier League means, then nothing is.
Interest from the US based finance group ALK Capital LLC surfaced a couple of weeks ago. And now it has come to light that a rival group, led by the Cheshire-based sports lawyer Chris Farnell and funded by the Egyptian food magnate Mohamed El Kashashy has also been in touch with the club over a proposed £200m takeover.
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Farnell has history with trying to buy a club in the UK. When trying to buy into Charlton Athletic earlier this year, he was briefly subject to an English Football League (EFL) ban for a technical irregularity. He successfully overturned the sanction on appeal and the league has confirmed he is free to talk to other clubs.
The Athletic has reported that Burnley’s main shareholder, Mike Garlick, who owns 49.24 per cent of the club’s shares, has been talking to Farnell and El Kashashy for close to a year. Burnley have been valued at £200 million on account of being in the Premier League, and have been long considered to be a well-run club, whose modest budgets are frequently outdone by their league position. They are prime contenders for relegation this season though, and a drop to the Championship would undoubtedly make them unattractive.
Newcastle to Refund Tickets
Newcastle United have agreed to refund season ticket holders for the matches which were staged behind closed doors. Thanks in large part to pressure from the fans.
Many supporters -- who had opted for autopay via their bank accounts for the season tickets as per existing long-term deals, had money debited despite being unable to enter the stadium for the matches. The club said that it will reimburse the fans in three stages through the course of the season. The first refund -- for the first five home league matches of the season -- will be handed out by the middle of December according to the club. The other option for the fans is to opt to use the money to purchase the season tickets for the 2021-22 season.
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"Despite months of work to plan for a safe, socially distanced return of supporters, clubs across the country have not yet been given the go-ahead by authorities and an outline date for the return of spectators has yet to be confirmed by the government," said Newcastle in a statement.
"In an online meeting with supporters and supporter groups to discuss a potential safe return to matches last month, the club made a broad commitment to refunding season ticket holders at designated stages throughout the season."
Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) lauded the move.
"Now, thanks to fan pressure, we have the information the fans deserve," added NUST chairman Alex Hurst.
"It is instances like this where we are reminded why fan pressure is absolutely vital. At a time when the game is being brought into disrepute, fans are left to fight for what we know is right."
French Cup Suspended Until December 1
The French Cup fixtures for both men and women have been suspended until December 1, following national lockdown. French President Emmanuel Macron announced a second national lockdown until at least the end of November. France has witnessed a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths. In fact, a winter wave of fresh cases looks imminent in Europe and that could mean lockdowns and possibly temporary suspension of football action across the continent.
The French Football Federation (FFF) has suspended all types of amateur football, while the top three tiers of men's football and the women's top flight will continue, along with international football matches.
"The FFF decided to suspend all leagues, districts and national championships competitions National 3, National 2, Women's D2, the French Cup for men and women, and national youth championships (male and female) until Tuesday, 1 December," the federation said in a statement.
"All matches that cannot be played during this period will be postponed to later dates, depending on the evolution of the health situation."
Covid daily deaths in France have peaked once again, reaching their highest since April. On Wednesday, 36,437 new cases were recorded and 244 deaths confirmed.
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