Ex-Newcastle manager did not take action on abuse claims right away

John Carver tells trial of former coach George Ormond: ‘I needed to digest’ allegations A former Newcastle United manager did not take immediate action when he was told that sexual abuse allegations had been made against the club’s then coaching assistant George Ormond, a court has heard. John Carver, Newcastle’s manager from January to May 2015, was in the late 1990s a senior coach in the club’s youth system when a physiotherapist, Paul Ferris, told him that the former Newcastle player Derek Bell had made the allegations against Ormond. Continue reading...

Ex-Newcastle manager did not take action on abuse claims right away

John Carver tells trial of former coach George Ormond: ‘I needed to digest’ allegations A former Newcastle United manager did not take immediate action when he was told that sexual abuse allegations had been made against the club’s then coaching assistant George Ormond, a court has heard. John Carver, Newcastle’s manager from January to May 2015, was in the late 1990s a senior coach in the club’s youth system when a physiotherapist, Paul Ferris, told him that the former Newcastle player Derek Bell had made the allegations against Ormond. Continue reading...

Money talks for Fifa as Morocco pays price for Infantino’s expansion plan | David Conn

North American bid was the rational choice to host the 2026 World Cup but it is difficult to see less privileged countries ever getting the opportunity nowSafe, rational and bountifully lucrative as the Fifa decision is to have the 2026 World Cup hosted by the US, Canada and Mexico, it is also disappointing for romantics fancying another tournament in Africa – and laced with contradictions, too. Fifa’s president, Gianni Infantino, looked opportunistically quick to immediately put himself forward for re-election next year, and he was followed by US president Donald Trump with a self-congratulatory tweet. Hosting World Cups and Olympic Games is openly a politicians’ prestige-burnishing project now, not only for Russia’s president Vladimir Putin or Qatar’s Emir, seeking soft power from hosting in 2022. Continue reading...

Fifa’s Gianni Infantino hits rocky ground on 2018 World Cup eve | David Conn

Infantino is threatened by resistance within his own ranks and political volatility worldwide – not least in the ramifications of a vote to host the 2026 tournament The World Cup in Russia has sailed into view with a new Fifa captain at the helm, two and a half years since Sepp Blatter’s presidency crashed on the rocks of corruption and ethics breaches. Gianni Infantino seemed a callow, unlikely president when he was elevated to succeed the banned Blatter in February 2016 as, his tie slightly askew, he tapped his heart in wonderment at winning the vote of the Fifa congress. Yet the better clue to how Infantino would operate has turned out not to be that moment of youthful elation but the ferocious ambition with which he had seized his opportunity. He had seemed a steady, bureaucratic type in his former blazer as the Uefa general secretary but he has Continue reading "Fifa’s Gianni Infantino hits rocky ground on 2018 World Cup eve | David Conn"

Judge asked to lift prosecution ban on Hillsborough officer

David Duckenfield not in court for start of CPS application to bring manslaughter charges An application by the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute David Duckenfield, the South Yorkshire police officer who was in command at the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough in 1989 when 96 people were killed, has begun at Preston crown court. Duckenfield, and the five other men already charged with criminal offences in relation to the disaster at the stadium and its aftermath, are also applying to have the prosecutions dismissed on legal grounds. Continue reading...

Russia basks in a World Cup even MI6 could not deny Vladimir Putin | David Conn

Hosts are hoping to clean up their image eight years after trouncing England in a controversial Fifa voteAs the World Cup finally dawns in the east, many of the Football Association chiefs packing their wheelie suitcases for Russia will have been reflecting wistfully that this was the tournament they bid for Fifa to locate in England, and lost. When the vote was taken in December 2010, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, famously arrived nonchalantly in Zurich to collect his prize and now the world will broadcast the greatest of sporting events from the country he rules absolutely. England in their bid spent £21m and an enthusiastic but ultimately hapless two years seeking votes from a 24-man Fifa executive committee since found to have contained 17 members found guilty or accused of corruption or ethics rule breaches. Criminal investigations have started in Switzerland, France and the US into the process by Continue reading "Russia basks in a World Cup even MI6 could not deny Vladimir Putin | David Conn"

Richard Scudamore: the ‘devil you know’ quits while he’s still ahead | David Conn

Though he helped Premier League clubs generate billions, the EFL may have cause to rue the executive chairman’s departure After two decades carving out total dominance for the Premier League, Richard Scudamore was able to announce his surprise resignation at a high point of his own choosing – a happy position not enjoyed by some who challenged that supremacy over the years. The arc of his stellar career serving the 20 clubs which form the Premier League in any given season is pockmarked with the early departures of other talented chief executives, particularly at the Football Association, whose authority he was repeatedly determined to resist. As a chief executive entrusted by the top clubs with great authority, his record is a reflection of the Premier League’s development itself: its glittering achievements and for many, glaring frustrations. The official farewell thanks to Scudamore from his friend Bruce Buck, Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea Continue reading "Richard Scudamore: the ‘devil you know’ quits while he’s still ahead | David Conn"

Championship clubs feel the strain as financial gap to Premier League grows

• Accounts reveal 19 of 24 clubs made losses in 2016-17 season
• TV revenue still tiny compared with latest Premier League dealThe Championship continues to be a financially punishing league, with 19 of the 24 clubs having made losses in 2016-17, according to an analysis of their most recently published accounts by the consultant Deloitte. The enormous financial gap with the Premier League has for years led Championship clubs to overspend on players’ wages and make losses, in the effort to claim the bonanza of promotion. This is despite financial fair play rules, introduced to try to staunch the losses clubs have historically made in the EFL’s top division. Continue reading...

Premier League finances: the full club-by-club breakdown and verdict

The 2016-17 accounts of all top-flight clubs and what the figures say about their health. Manchester United top the charts again with a £581m income and £57m profit Financial figures for 2016-17, for the 20 clubs that were in the Premier League during 2016-17. All details from the most recently published annual reports at Companies House. Crystal Palace have missed the deadline for filing their accounts; as a consequence, all rankings of clubs are out of 19, not 20. Net debt is as stated in the accounts; debts minus cash held at the bank. The separate categories of turnover are listed according to the wording in individual club’s accounts and are each rounded up or down, so added together they do not always tally with the total turnover figure. Continue reading...

Premier League clubs soar into profit with record £4.5bn revenues

• 2016-17 accounts show 17 top-flight clubs making money
• First year of new TV deal and new regulations fuel boomThe first year of the Premier League’s record £8.4bn television deals, combined with financial regulations aimed at preventing the bulk of the money being paid to players and agents, has transformed England’s top 20 clubs overwhelmingly into profit. The Guardian’s analysis of the clubs’ most recently published accounts, for the 2016-17 season and financial year, found that 17 clubs made a profit, on record revenues of more than £4.5bn. The clubs’ booming financial health under the 2016-19 broadcasting deals puts into perspective the current demands of the richest six clubs for yet more money, from a greater share of the international TV income, which is shared equally among all 20. That demand, led by Liverpool and Manchester City and said to be supported by Manchester United, Continue reading "Premier League clubs soar into profit with record £4.5bn revenues"

Review of standing ban a step forward but must be handled with great care | David Conn

Any review over the reintroduction of safe standing must be sensitive and consultative given the association with the Hillsborough tragedy that brought about the original banMake no mistake, the sports minister Tracey Crouch’s decision to review the ban on standing at football matches signals a major shift from a policy which governments have maintained uncompromisingly in the top two divisions for 24 years. It is also clear that the “direction of travel”, as people have a habit of saying in government policy circles, is towards relaxing that ban and beginning to allow standing again. It is difficult to believe Crouch is preparing to open up such a sensitive and emotive process, which will involve the clubs, leagues, safety authorities, bereaved Hillsborough families and supporters’ groups, only to reaffirm the ban absolutely. The emotional freight of the current law, and the central reason for governments refusing to consider reversing it, Continue reading "Review of standing ban a step forward but must be handled with great care | David Conn"

Crystal Palace threatened with being dissolved over late accounts

• Premier League club’s accounts more than two months late
• Registrar threatens parent company with dissolution Crystal Palace have been threatened with being dissolved and struck off the companies register, for being more than two months late filing their annual accounts for last year. The annual accounts detailing the financial position of the Premier League club in 2016-17 were due by law to be sent to Companies House by 31 March but the official register is highlighting that the accounts have still not been filed. Continue reading...

FA says sale of Wembley could pump £1bn into grassroots game

• Stadium sale could mean 10-year bonanza, claims FA
• Martin Glenn says proposed sale is not selling ‘soul of the game’ The Football Association has told its council members that selling Wembley could enable more than £1bn to be spent on community football facilities over 10 years, while having £450m from the sale still untouched in the bank. The FA chief executive, Martin Glenn, said in a speech to the council that the proposed sale of Wembley for £600m to the Fulham and Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team owner, Shahid Khan, is not selling the “soul of the game” but “an opportunity to unleash an unprecedented amount of investment into community football”. Continue reading...

Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli: ‘My project to reshape European football’

European Club Association chairman hits out at Gianni Infantino’s Club World Cup plan and wants a guarantee of more Champions League games for the elite teams and fewer domestic matches European football’s gilded elite assembling for Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev will be more abuzz with intrigue than normal after Uefa’s public slapdown of the Fifa president Gianni Infantino’s effort to railroad through a new format for the Club World Cup. Increasingly influential in the thick of it will be Andrea Agnelli, fourth-generation scion of the famed Fiat- and Juventus-founding dynasty, chairman of Juve since 2010 and, since September, of the powerful European Club Association (ECA). Trim in his grey pinstripe suit, talking assuredly at the Guardian offices this week while in London for a board meeting of Fiat Chrysler – turnover €111bn last year – the 42-year-old Agnelli came to bury Infantino’s grand plan. But, as he explains, Continue reading "Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli: ‘My project to reshape European football’"

Uefa members rail against Gianni Infantino’s plan for new Club World Cup

• Proposal for revamped calendar meets ‘serious reservations’
• ‘Global Nations League’ also mooted in $25bn schemeA proposal by the Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, to expand the Club World Cup dramatically and to start a league for national teams, for a claimed $25bn from unidentified investors, has met strong criticism from within Uefa. Infantino, who faces re-election next year, presented the proposal in March for a new summer 24-club World Cup every four years, and a “Global Nations League” with a final eight-country round of matches, also every four years. He has told Fifa’s six confederations, including Uefa, that the investors are promising the projected $25bn for four editions of each competition over 12 years between 2021 and 2033. The investors were described as “among the world’s most solid” but are unnamed, as Infantino said he had signed a non-disclosure agreement. Continue reading...

There is more to lament about fallen Swansea than relegation | David Conn

Swansea’s cooperative, supporter-led ownership ideal once admired in the game has also fallen through the trapdoor in resentful circumstances A wider sadness surrounds Swansea’s relegation from the Premier League after an acrimonious couple of years than just the end of a romantic football flight. The “Swansea way” had more to it than the elegant style of passing football shaped through promotions by the managers Roberto Martínez and Brendan Rodgers. The cooperative, supporter-led ownership structure of the club was greatly admired and envied through the rise up the divisions but it was fractured by the majority shareholders’ sale in 2016 to the US investors Jason Levien and Stephen Kaplan. Continue reading...

Gold keepers: why the Premier League clubs will only get richer

With the top flight’s £8.4bn TV deal the financial divides distort and undermine competitiveness – yet ‘big six’ want more For many decades in football’s development the end-of-season standings, triumphs and disappointments were pored over as sports results, not generally reckoned for their impact on clubs’ bank balances. Those days have dwindled as football’s revenues have swollen, as investors have bought clubs to make money for themselves, and as the financial gap between clubs and leagues has dramatically widened: cash has become a much more prominent consequence of winning and losing. For Premier League clubs a top-four finish is a landmark achievement to secure Champions League qualification – and the financial windfall it delivers. It is quite staggering to see that Leicester City made €82m (£70m) from Uefa TV payments last season for their run as reigning Premier League title holders to the Champions League quarter-finals. Due to Uefa’s Continue reading "Gold keepers: why the Premier League clubs will only get richer"

UK and Russian police working well on World Cup trouble risks, MPs told

• Select committee told of co-operation despite Salisbury incident
• Minister admits government is reliant on Russian assurancesRussian and UK police are cooperating well on plans to protect supporters travelling to the World Cup, the Foreign Office has said, despite the collapse in relations between the two countries following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March. The minister of state Harriett Baldwin told the foreign affairs select committee’s inquiry into government preparations for the World Cup that police and counter-terrorism are two operational areas in which cooperation with Russia is continuing, at a “strong level”. Continue reading...

‘It is an absolute travesty’: Chesterfield’s fall from Football League | David Conn

A saga of budget overruns on the stadium, a boardroom walkout and a run of unsuccessful managerial appointments has seen the Spireites relegated In the rain at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium on Saturday, home supporters still stunned by the club’s first relegation from the Football League sat mostly in glum resignation, watching Wycombe win 2-1 and deliriously celebrate promotion all over the pitch. Wycombe’s manager, Gareth Ainsworth, broke for a moment from his players’ jubilation, their gleeful calls for the board to “send us to Vegas”, and expressed sympathy for the Spireites: “It’s very sad,” he said. “You stand in this stadium and the thought that this club is going to be in the National League next year is frightening. It’s got to be a real wake-up call for all clubs; it can happen to anyone. This is a huge club with a huge history.” Continue reading...