When the men drawing the schedule for the I-League Qualifiers sat down to finalise the fixtures for this five team tournament, they probably had one thought on their mind. Keep the important clashes for the last. From a scheduling, advertising, broadcasting and narrative perspective it makes sense. If the favourites face each other for the first time at the end of a round-robin tournament, and if they are locked on points (and other variables), then that clash becomes a virtual final. A gunfight in the middle of the square at the end of a long day’s work.
Predicted narratives mean nothing. It is the journey of the hero that makes the story. That climax is often reached much before it is cinematically designed. And so it is for the fixtures to be played tomorrow. Mohammedan Sporting take on Bhawanipore FC in what is surely the shoot off for a place in the I-League. Math be damned.
“It would not be inaccurate to call this a virtual final of sorts,” Bhawanipore coach Sankarlal Chakraborty said in the lead up to the game yesterday. “Of course, it would be a high-voltage game and we are all charged up for it.”
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The two clubs are locked on six points from two games each, Mohammedan ahead on goal difference. The game is technically a Kolkata Derby and almost eleven months ago in this exact same fixture, against a Mohammedan in turmoil suffering a depleted squad, Bhawanipore ran out 3-0 winners.
Eleven months have changed a lot, but also changed very little. Mohammedan go into this game again depleted, and in turmoil. Their coach has gone two matches into a cup style competition. This is the closest they have come to getting back to the I-League and yet they’d prefer it any other way than this.
“There are a lot of changes that happen in football,” Saheed Roamon, the assistant coach who will take charge said yesterday. “A coach may be there before and then he may suddenly not be there. But the motivation of the team is still quite high.”
But is motivation enough? Are they motivated enough? Bhawanipore will test that to the maximum.
Premier League’s ‘Obligation’
Premier League clubs have a responsibility to protect lower ranked clubs in the English football pyramid, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said in response to the fallout of Project Big Picture.
Backed by the American owners of Liverpool and Manchester United, the plan called for the Premier League's six biggest clubs, along with long-term members, to have “special voting rights” that would give them more power in the Premier League.
“I think we have to protect the lower leagues as well, this is our obligation,” Arteta told reporters adding that clubs should help each other and "make football more sustainable" for every low ranked club.
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl emphasised that the plan will take the fun out of the league and make it "boring". "We have to find a way that works for everybody," Arteta said.
Juventus Lose €89.7 Million
Juventus sustained a loss of €89.7 million ($105 million) in the financial year that ended on June 30, the club announced.
"The Ordinary Shareholders' meeting approved the financial statements as of 30 June 2020, reporting a loss of €89.7 million (compared to a loss of 39.9 million euros in 2018/2019), which was covered by using the share premium reserve," Juventus said in a statement.
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Juventus also talked about having a new organisational structure, and will have a new football director in the form of Federico Cherubini.
Juventus said that the "new organisational structure envisages the concentration of the club’s activities in two macro-structures: the Football Area and the Business Area".
"Federico Cherubini assumes the role of Football Director, directly reporting to Fabio Paratici, who maintains the direct responsibility of the First Team."
PSG-Man U clash to go ahead
Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League opener against Manchester United will be played scheduled but without spectators, even when the French government has imposed a certain curfew for night time, the country's sports ministry said.
"Exemptions will be possible, with or without spectators depending on the time," the Ministry said after President Emmanuel Macron announced the curfew.
People staying in Paris and areas surrounding the Ile-de-France region, along with eight other French cities, will have to adhere to a curfew after 9:00 pm (1900 GMT) and 6:00 am (0400 GMT) from Saturday. The measures were announced keeping in mind the Covid-19 situation in the country.
The curfew is not likely to be a hindrance for the Champions League game at the Parc des Princes. Recent sporting events in and around Paris have had the permission to allow 1,000 spectators in the stadium, but the Champions League encounter will be played to an empty stadium..
Newcastle fans demand refund
A group of Newcastle supporters have asked the club to refund the season ticket money to fans since they will be able to use it until next spring.
The Newcastle United Supporters Trust claimed Newcastle already have an amount of £7m in advance season-ticket sales for this season and are requesting the club officials to “do right by fans” and generate a refund.
Although the club has a plan of initiating refunds and are in talks with NUST are currently under progress, and the trust is furious that officials are dragging their feet and say this practice is “morally wrong”.
Alex Hurst, the NUST chairman, said: “The club confirmed to us earlier this year they have 18,000 fans tied in on long-term season-ticket deals out of 30,000 season-ticket holders. It means some of the club’s most loyal supporters are hundreds of pounds out of pocket at a time when money is terribly tight.
“We calculate that a conservative estimate of money the club currently has from fans would be around £7m or more. That money should be in the pockets and homes of the people of the north-east, not in the bank account of a football club to be paid back at a yet unspecified date.”
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