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Igor Stimac Looks at Europe for Training Camp Before Qualifiers; Betting Sponsorship on Shirts to be Banned and More (Football Round-up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): Igor Stimac looking at three places in Europe for an eight-week camp for the Indian football team | House of Lords suggests betting sponsorship on shirts be banned | La Liga organisers confirm spectators cannot return to the stadiums | LOC, Maharashtra government discusses preparations for FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup | 12 parties interested in buying Wigan Athletic, says administrator.
Indian football team coach Igor Stimac wants camp in Europe

If the travel restrictions get lifted, the Indian football team could start training in Croatia, Turkey, and Slovenia ahead of the remaining matches of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

India’s head coach, Igor Stimac is looking at three locations in Europe to conduct camps ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers although much will depend on easing of restrictions to travel internationally. India are due to play against Qatar, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan in their remaining matches.

India are no longer in the running to make it to the second round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, having failed to win a single match so far with disappointing draws to lower ranked sides Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The hope is they can still make the cut for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup but need to pick up points in the remaining fixtures. 

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“It’s difficult to plan right now because nobody knows anything. Air traffic is closed and I am stuck here (in Croatia). Hopefully, we will have clarity soon. I will need eight weeks to prepare the team and also some friendlies, which we can arrange whether at home or away,” said Igor Stimac.

If the travel restrictions get lifted, the Blue Tigers could start training in Croatia, Turkey, and Slovenia. India will play Asian champions Qatar on October 8 (at home), and then will have to travel to play Bangladesh on November 12. Their final home game will be against Afghanistan on November 17.

Betting Shirt Sponsorship to be Banned

A House of Lords committee report suggested Premier League clubs not allow betting firms on their shirts.

The cross-party committee set up to analyse the impact of the UK's gambling industry, asked such sponsors be phased out by 2023, and other sports end shirt betting sponsorship in three years. The recommendations were part of a 192-page report suggesting that a lot more has to be done in order to prevent gambling-related harm, with the Gambling Act 2005 under review by ministers.

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The committee's recommendations also state: "There should be no gambling advertising in or near any sports grounds or sports venues, including sports programmes." But the report says restrictions on shirt sponsorship and other advertising "should not take effect for clubs below the Premier League before 2023. A similar flexibility should be allowed in the case of other sports. These restrictions should not apply to horseracing or greyhound racing."

The report said removing betting sponsorship entirely would "not unduly harm Premier League clubs but it would very probably have a serious effect on smaller clubs.”

The English Football League (EFL) noted that gambling sector contributes £40m a season to the league and its clubs and with the financial problems of the coronavirus pandemic, this "significant" contribution is "as important now as it has ever been". In a statement it also highlighted that working to prevent gambling problems with betting companies is of "greater benefit" than a ban.

The Premier League, which does not have a betting partner, said it would be a "welcome participant" in the government review of the Gambling Act.

No Fans at La Liga Stadiums

Spain’s secretary for sport Irene Lozano and La Liga president Javier Tebas said there will be no fans in attendance at matches this season to minimise the risk of the coronavirus spreading.

Last month Tebas had expressed hope that fans could come and witness live action when it is safe to do so, and the league also drew up a draft protocol hoping the government’s department for sport would approve their return.

Yet Lozano, who has repeatedly stated that the campaign should finish without supporters, drew a line under the matter.

“The safest thing to do is to complete the season without spectators,” she said. “Football moves masses of people, it’s not like the theatre. A match behind-closed-doors is attended by only 250 people, but a stadium only at one-third of its capacity could mean 30,000 people. That’s why it’s different from other activities.”

None of Europe’s top five leagues have held matches with spectators in attendance since football resumed, although championships in countries such as Serbia, Bulgaria and Denmark have allowed fans back into matches.

U17 Women’s World Cup Preparations

On Thursday the Local Organising Committee of the Women’s U-17 World Cup and representatives of the Maharashtra government held a meeting to take stock of preparations for the event scheduled for next year. 

Maharashtra Sports Minister Sunil Kedar and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray held a video conference with officials of the Western India Football Association (WIFA) and DY Patil stadium to review preparations. 

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“I am happy to know of the progress that has been made in the last year. It is a great honour for Maharashtra to host this tournament. Sports and sportsmanship are the need of the hour,” Kedar said. 

According to LCO Tournament Director Roma Khanna, the requirements that would need to be in place to host the final, were discussed. “Besides assessing the preparations, it was important to discuss other aspects of the tournament including developing women’s football overall and increasing participation in the state,” she said.

“The past few months have been tough, fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but we know that the situation will improve. Sports are a great tool to overcome barriers. In the coming months, we will launch programmes to promote the growth of women’s sport and increase participation of girls in football. Maharashtra will work tirelessly to ensure the first women’s football World Cup in the country is memorable for teams and fans alike,” Mr Aaditya Thackeray added.

The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup will kick off in Guwahati on February 17, 2021 with the final to be hosted at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on March 7. 

12 Parties Interested in Wigan Athletic 

The Joint Administrator of Wigan Athletic, Gerald Krasner, revealed that twelve different parties have indicated interest in buying the Championship club and now they must prove they have the requisite funds to go ahead with negotiations.

Wigan Athletic became the first professional club to enter administration on Wednesday and will be handed a 12-point penalty by the English Football League (EFL).

Krasner, Paul Stanley, and Dean Watson from Begbies Taylor (a corporate recovery consultancy) have been appointed joint administrators of the club. Krasner has demanded the interested parties to show proof of funds for at least £10 million ($12.51 million).

“Realistically, I’ve got 12 interested parties,” Krasner said in a news conference on Thursday. “I’m going to send out non-disclosure agreements today and ask for proof of funds because you get some very peculiar people who want to buy football clubs that have got no money.”

“When they’ve returned with proof of funds, those people will get details of what’s for sale and then the serious negotiations will start, so I hope by the end of July - the end of the season - to have got serious interested parties on board.”

The Whelan family owned Wigan until 2018 when it was taken over by the Hong-Kong based International Entertainment Corporation. The club changed ownership for the second time this June after another Hong Kong-based consortium headed by Au Yeung Wai Kay took over. 

A number of Football League clubs could fall into administration due to the financial strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Krasner said. "It is my personal view that there are a number of clubs in the lower divisions, League One and League Two, that may not survive by coming back," he added.

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