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UK Government Green Lights Premier League’s Restart Plans; Man City Owners Acquire Belgian Second Division Club Lommel SK and More (Football Round-up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): UK government gives permission for Premier League to restart | Man City owners acquire Belgian second division club Lommel SK | China calls up three foreign-born players into the national side for the first time | After crowds surge, Israel set for games without fans | Odisha FC contributes to CM's relief fund.
Premier League project restart gets the go ahead from UK government

The UK government released a 60-page document in which guidelines have been provided for resumption of businesses and activities, including sport (Pic: Twitter, BBC Sport).

The UK government gave permission for the Premier League and other professional sports to return behind closed doors from June 1, providing its five tests are cleared. The government released a 60-page document, ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’, which set out in broad terms the government’s strategy for recovery from the pandemic. Sport would be able to resume as part of the second stage of the plan. 

The document advises that “organisations should prepare accordingly” for any reopening but states any progress would be dependent on the government’s five tests, which include a “sustained and consistent fall” in the daily death rate as well as the rate of infection decreasing to “manageable levels”.

Also Read | Right To Play: The Unsuspecting Casualty of a Pandemic

Late on May 11, the Premier League the Premier League was set to meet to discuss protocols that would enable a return of football in a safe manner. An additional discussion point at their meeting was centred around player contracts.

Meanwhile, The deputy chief of the Players Football Association (PFA), Bobby Barnes, stated that players have deep concerns over health.

"There are players who have voiced genuine concerns," Barnes told the Times."You've got players who've got young children, players with pregnant partners, people with underlying health conditions. Some of the young black players I've spoken to have read what's in the press and want answers to that (government study). 'Am I more affected in my demographic and if so why?’

"My stance with the Premier League from day one has been it's all very well those of us in suits saying what our opinions are but we're not going to be out there on a Saturday afternoon and we're not going to be going back to our family," Barnes added.

Man City Group Acquires Belgian Club

Lommel SK acquired by Manchester City

Lommel SK becomes ninth club in the CIty Football Group portfolio

Manchester City owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has agreed to buy the Belgian second division club Lommel SK. With the acquisition, the Belgium team will become the ninth club in the City Football Group (CFG) portfolio, which includes Major League Soccer (MLS) side New York City, Indian Super League (ISL) side Mumbai City FC and Spanish second division club Girona among others.

The Belgian football association reported that CFG are all set to erase the debt worth 1.75 million pounds ($2.16 million) of Lommel SK as part of the deal. 

Also Read | All the Details of the AIFF Technical Committee Discussion on May 8

“This investment is part of our long-term strategy to be present in key football countries, play beautiful football and develop talent,” said chief executive of City Football Group, Ferran Soriano. “We were attracted to Lommel’s culture, training facilities and commitment to youth development and we look forward to learning from their approach and helping the Club to evolve in the months and years ahead.”

Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Al Nahyan, the principal owner of CFG, had expanded their network in India last year and acquired 65% stake in the ISL side Mumbai City FC. 

China Call Up 3 Naturalized Players

China national football team Elkeson

Brazil-born Elkeson's mother is a Chinese citizen.

The Chinese national squad has included three naturalised players in the team for the first time as coach Li Tie gathered the players in Shanghai for training. 

According to a report by Titan Sports, Brazil-born Elkeson and Aloisio along with former Arsenal Player Nico Yennaris have joined the camp as China resumes its preparation for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers which were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Also Read | Women’s Sport In India Remains Positive About Its Future

The first player of non-Chinese heritage was Elkeson, who has a Chinese mother. Elkeson accepted citizenship last year while Alan Carvalho, another Brazil-born player is waiting for government restrictions to ease so that he can leave Brazil and join the team.

The national team is all set to play two friendly matches against the Chinese Super League (CSL) clubs Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG.

The CSL, originally scheduled to start on February 22, has been postponed until June. 

Israel Premier League Sans Fans

The Israeli Premier League (IPL) is set to resume on May 30, but without spectators. Defending champion Maccabi Tel-Aviv believes that they could have drawn more than 20,000 per game to the recently renovated Bloomfield Stadium.

“That was a huge contribution, and because it was a very competitive season,” the league’s vice president Motty Bronshtein told The Associated Press on Friday. “Once it stopped, everyone was craving for it to come back.”

The rest of Israel’s season is going to get completed in empty stadiums, just like in South Korea, Germany and other countries where restarts are expected this month.

Without the fans, the league is heavily dependent on broadcasting. It has a broadcasting deal worth 127 million shekels ($36 million) each year with pay-TV operators that sub-license games.

“It’s important for us to keep our broadcasters happy. They pay us a very fair amount,” Bronshtein said, adding this season was already paid for.

Odisha FC Contributes to CM's Relief Fund

Indian Super League (ISL) club Odisha FC announced a contribution towards the state Chief Minister's Covid-19 Relief Fund in an attempt to take part in the battle against Covid-19.

"It is a very heart-breaking situation all around the world including Odisha. So far, the state government, under the able leadership of Honourable Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, has done a wonderful job in protecting the citizens of the state,” Founder and CEO of GMS (the company that owns Odisha FC), Anil Sharma, said. “But, the battle continues. Odisha FC is proud to call Odisha home and is making this contribution towards the Chief Minister's Relief Fund with the hope that it will aid the people in Odisha who have so graciously welcomed us into their lives." 

Odisha FC finished sixth out of the 10-team ISL, and missed out on a play-offs berth narrowly.

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