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Kilmarnock could be set to forfeit three matches after six players tested positive for Covid-19

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kilmarnock could be set to forfeit three matches after six players tested positive for covid 19

Kilmarnock could be set to forfeit three matches following their coronavirus outbreak.

Killie’s Scottish Premiership clash with Motherwell was postponed at the Ayrshire club’s request on Friday after their entire first-team squad were instructed to self-isolate by health officials following six positive Covid-19 cases.

The Scottish Professional Football League launched an investigation and chief executive Neil Doncaster confirmed it could lead to Motherwell being awarded the points.

The SPFL have launched an investigation after Kilmarnock¿s squad were told to self-isolate

The SPFL have launched an investigation after Kilmarnock¿s squad were told to self-isolate

The SPFL have launched an investigation after Kilmarnock’s squad were told to self-isolate

The league had little option but to postpone the game as available players need to submit a negative test two days before a fixture.

Doncaster told BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound: ‘Clearly, it’s very concerning that you have six positives within one club.

‘That’s something we need to investigate in conjunction with the health authorities, because the protocols in place are designed to ensure there shouldn’t be transmission within a club.

Kilmarnock's Scottish Premiership match with Motherwell on Friday night had to be postponed

Kilmarnock's Scottish Premiership match with Motherwell on Friday night had to be postponed

Kilmarnock’s Scottish Premiership match with Motherwell on Friday night had to be postponed

‘Where we’ve had positives elsewhere this season, on the whole the games have gone on universally. The exceptions were the Aberdeen and Celtic games but that ultimately was a government decision.

‘If there are found to be concerns, that would go to a disciplinary in front of a sub-committee of the SPFL board, which has broadly unlimited powers to impose a sanction.

‘We hope very much that all protocols have been followed. We’ll keep an open mind.’

Killie are due to face Falkirk and Dunfermline in the Betfred Cup in the course of the next 10 days, with a decision due on Monday on whether they will be able to play. The SPFL can award the points to Killie’s opposition in that competition.

It also throws into doubt Killie¿s upcoming Betfred Cup fixtures, with the squad now in isolation

It also throws into doubt Killie¿s upcoming Betfred Cup fixtures, with the squad now in isolation

It also throws into doubt Killie’s upcoming Betfred Cup fixtures, with the squad now in isolation

Six members of Alex Dyer's Kilmarnock squad tested positive for Covid-19 over the past week

Six members of Alex Dyer's Kilmarnock squad tested positive for Covid-19 over the past week

Six members of Alex Dyer’s Kilmarnock squad tested positive for Covid-19 over the past week

Meanwhile, Scottish Football Association vice-president Mike Mulraney has claimed the Scottish Government’s ongoing ban on spectators at sports events is a ‘political decision’.

Mulraney added on Sportsound: ‘I think it is driven by science, but do you think that sitting one metre away from somebody eating in a restaurant has less risk than sitting two metres away from someone in a stadium with a mask on?’

Doncaster added: ‘The UK government does not allow fans into Premier League or EFL grounds in the fresh air. But the Royal Albert Hall has now been allowed to admit 57 per cent of capacity in an indoor venue.

‘Anybody who tells me that is not a political choice, I’m sorry I don’t accept that.’

The interpretation was rejected by Scotland’s national clinical director, Jason Leitch.

‘It’s absolutely not a political decision, he’s incorrect,’ Professor Leitch told BBC Scotland.

‘It’s a choice made by the clinicians and then the decision-makers choose. You simply cannot re-open everything.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Steven Gerrard hails Kemar Roofe strike as ‘the best goal he’s seen

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steven gerrard hails kemar roofe strike as the best goal hes seen

Steven Gerrard hailed Kemar Roofe’s moment of genius and insisted he had never seen a better goal live than the Rangers frontman’s stunning strike from inside his own half that sank Standard Liege in rain-soaked Belgium.

The Ibrox boss has a catalogue of impressive goals from his playing days but he admitted none stack up to the effort which put the seal on a 2-0 Europa League triumph at the Stade Maurice Dufrasne.

James Tavernier fired Gers ahead from the penalty spot as the Light Blues claimed their first away win in a group-stage clash since Walter Smith’s team beat Lyon back in 2007.

Kemar Roofe's stoppage-time strike from the halfway line sank Standard Liege on Thursday

Kemar Roofe’s stoppage-time strike from the halfway line sank Standard Liege on Thursday

But it was Roofe’s incredible effort which has snatched the headlines, and Gerrard insists the former Leeds man deserves his moment in the spotlight.

He said: ‘None of my goals were in that league.

‘I think it was a moment of genius. I’ve been lucky enough to watch it five or six times since the end of the game and it’s the actual build-up and preparation before the strike.

‘He knocks two people off the ball with sheer strength on a very difficult pitch in the worst conditions I’ve seen.

Boss Steven Gerrard says it's the best goal he's seen live since being a professional

Boss Steven Gerrard says it’s the best goal he’s seen live since being a professional

‘Then he manages to take someone on – and to then have the vision and audacity to try the strike in the first place, I just think that’s a moment of genius.

‘And it’s probably the best goal I’ve seen live – and I’ve been a professional since 1998. Unbelievable strike and he deserves all the plaudits for it.’

But Roofe’s celebrations did not go down well with the hosts.

The former Anderlecht striker was booked in the aftermath of his goal but a member of the Liege back-room staff took matters into their own hands as they confronted him at full-time, sparking a touch-line quarrel between the teams.

Gerrard has no idea if that bust-up will see his team get into trouble but says he will talk to Roofe.

Roofe's celebrations did not go down well with the Standard Liege players towards the end

Roofe’s celebrations did not go down well with the Standard Liege players towards the end

‘I can’t control what comes our way from that,’ he said. ‘I don’t think I’d describe it as ugly. I think it’s too harsh. I think it was a little something or nothing.

‘They were disappointed in Kemar’s celebration. OK but Kemar was punished for that and that’s for me to deal with and for me to handle.

‘They are obviously very frustrated that they have been beaten for the first time in six years on their home patch.

‘It’s not nice to lose football matches, especially when you’re the favourites to win them. We can understand the frustrations but it was disappointing. We thought it could have been avoided.’

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Roofe’s goal put the seal on a 2-0 victory in the Europa League tie against the Belgians

The final 20 minutes were played out on a swamp as storm clouds deluged the pitch.

But Gerrard was delighted with the way his defensive dam held firm in the final stages.

He said: ‘I had to say certain things at half-time. We needed to be better in possession.

‘I thought our organisation was good and besides a couple of crosses that we allowed to come in, I thought we were OK from a defensive point of view.

‘We needed to show more style and to believe in ourselves more once we regained the ball, so we could keep it for longer periods.

The Ibrox club rode their luck at times in a rain-soaked Liege on Thursday night

The Ibrox club rode their luck at times in a rain-soaked Liege on Thursday night

‘So we had to have a little go at half-time but the first 20 minutes of the second half we were outstanding, more like the Rangers that I like to see with style and a real possession-based approach when we win the ball back.

‘But then obviously the weather changed dramatically and the conditions became unplayable and very unpredictable.

‘It became about who was going to manage the conditions better from there on in.

‘But you have to give the players credit because I think you saw a different side to us in the final 25 minutes. We dug in, we handled the conditions and we thoroughly deserved a big win at a difficult place to come.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Mesut Ozil, Sergio Romero and Phil Jones – but who else makes the Premier League ‘Bomb Squad’ XI?

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mesut ozil sergio romero and phil jones but who else makes the premier league bomb squad

This week the Premier League teams finalised their 25-man squads for the season, and it was Mesut Ozil who dominated the headlines as he was sensationally left out of Arsenal‘s list.

The £350,000-a-week World Cup winner has likely played his last game for the club as he faces kicking his heels between now and January.

But the former Germany international isn’t the only big name who will be scratching around Premier League training grounds for the next few months. Sportsmail take you through the ‘Bomb Squad’ XI… 

Formation: 3-1-4-1-1

Sergio Romero (Manchester United)

Argentina’s No 1 has long been considered the best back-up goalkeeper in the Premier League. Now Sergio Romero has been relegated to fourth choice at Manchester United. 

The return of Dean Henderson from his two years on loan at Sheffield United had already bumped Romero down the pecking order. Even 37-year-old Lee Grant is ahead of him now, by virtue of his qualification for the home grown quota.

Romero can be considered unlucky, having barely put a foot wrong during his 61 Old Trafford appearances since he joined from Sampdoria in 2015, and in the past few years has appeared a safer pair of hands than David de Gea.

At 33 there is still life left in him yet. He has entered the last year of his contract and has wanted to leave since he was dropped for the Europa League semi-final defeat by Sevilla on August 16. Everton were reportedly interested towards the end of the transfer window.

Sergio Romero finds himself as fourth choice goalkeeper now at Manchester United

Sergio Romero finds himself as fourth choice goalkeeper now at Manchester United

Phil Jones (Manchester United)

The second high-profile name excluded from Manchester United’s Premier League squad list was Phil Jones.

It has been a long and slow fall from grace for Jones. Earmarked as a future club legend by Sir Alex Ferguson he has instead become the butt of jokes and now an outcast at Old Trafford.

His last appearance came in January, in an FA Cup fourth-round victory at Tranmere. It has been nine years since the brightest talent of his generation swapped Blackburn for Manchester United, and though his longevity is to be applauded no one quite saw it fizzling out this way.

Solskjaer said he has been injured since June and the 28-year-old still has a contract until 2023, but he even Axel Tuanzebe and Tim Fosu-Mensah made United’s homegrown list ahead of Jones.

Phil Jones has also been excluded from Manchester United's Premier League squad list

Phil Jones has also been excluded from Manchester United’s Premier League squad list

Sokratis (Arsenal)

Two years after he arrived as one of Unai Emery’s first Arsenal signings, Sokratis has found himself exiled by the new man Mikel Arteta.

The Greek centre back has featured only twice since the coronavirus lockdown first hit in March, and he has now found himself excluded from both the Premier League and Europa League squads.

Arteta is moving Arsenal forward in a new direction and the Gunners are well-stocked in central defence now. Even when he favours a back three, there is no way past Gabriel, Rob Holding, David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi or Pablo Mari.

Sokratis has lost out at Arsenal due to fierce competition for places in central defence

Sokratis has lost out at Arsenal due to fierce competition for places in central defence

Danny Rose (Tottenham)

Rose has fallen spectacularly out of view at Tottenham since the arrival of Jose Mourinho 11 months ago.

He spent the second-half of last season on loan at Newcastle and was determined to find a new club this summer having been stripped of the No 3 shirt. With just a year left on his contract there appears no way back for him at Spurs.

His fallout with Mourinho was one of the highlights of the recent All or Nothing Amazon documentary. 

Amazon’s crew filmed a heated row Rose and Mourinho after he was dropped from the team, with the defender storming out of his office as he complained about a lack of playing time.

Danny Rose's fallout with Jose Mourinho continued after he missed out on the 25-man squad

Danny Rose’s fallout with Jose Mourinho continued after he missed out on the 25-man squad

Mo Besic (Everton)

Incredibly, Mo Besic is still an Everton player six years after he joined from Ferencvaros. Back then, Roberto Martinez had just guided the Toffees to an impressive fifth-placed finish.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina international is onto his fifth manager now at Goodison Park in Carlo Ancelotti and made the last of his 56 appearances back in December 2017. 

Last year he made 13 appearances for Sheffield United but did not get a permanent move. Having signed a five-year deal at Everton back in 2016, the 28-year-old now has less than a year left on his deal before he is free to find a new club. Rangers had been linked, but were unable to complete a deal.

Mo Besic has not played for Everton in nearly three years but remains at Goodison Park

Mo Besic has not played for Everton in nearly three years but remains at Goodison Park

Yannick Bolasie (Everton)

Besic isn’t alone in being on the Everton scrapheap. Ronald Koeman parted with £25m to bring in Yannick Bolasie from Crystal Palace in 2016.

The DR Congo winger has made only 32 appearances in the four seasons since, and has had loan spells at Aston Villa, Anderlecht and Sporting Lisbon in the last three.

He was on the brink of joining Middlesbrough on loan on deadline day this month but a deal could not be reached, with Neil Warnock blaming the 31-year-old, who had claimed he was ‘willing to give up a lot’ to make the switch.

‘He was disappointed, but he was partly to blame as well. There were things I should have known before four o’clock on Friday afternoon about his problems at Everton’, said Warnock.

‘They were problems that we couldn’t overcome. Well, we tried to, and eventually we did, but it was too late.’

Yannick Bolasie nearly ended his Everton nightmare but a move to Middlesbrough fell through

Yannick Bolasie nearly ended his Everton nightmare but a move to Middlesbrough fell through

Henri Lansbury (Aston Villa)

Villa were back in the Championship and pushing for promotion when they signed Lansbury from Nottingham Forest in 2017.

He made 30 appearances in his first two years but has fallen down the pecking order under Dean Smith.

The midfielder managed 10 Premier League appearances last season, but it was not enough to assure him of making the 25-man squad list this time around. Despite three appearances in the Carabao Cup already under his belt, he faces an uncertain future.

Henri Lansbury didn't do enough in three Carabao Cup appearances to merit a squad place

Henri Lansbury didn’t do enough in three Carabao Cup appearances to merit a squad place

Jean Michael Seri (Fulham)

It appeared that Fulham had pulled off a transfer coup when they snapped up Jean Michael Seri from Nice for £18m on their last promotion to the Premier League in 2018. 

A host of top European clubs had been interested in the Ivory Coast international, so it was certainly a surprise to see him at Craven Cottage. But the move proved a disaster.

Fulham went through three different managers as they sank straight back down to the Championship. Seri spent last season on loan in Turkey and remains at the club having failed to find a new side.

Jean Michael Seri has fallen from view after his £18million move to Fulham from Nice in 2018

Jean Michael Seri has fallen from view after his £18million move to Fulham from Nice in 2018

Christian Atsu (Newcastle)

Christian Atsu has seemingly been around forever and yet he is only 28. The Ghana winger was on loan at Everton and Bournemouth before he made a permanent move to Newcastle in 2017.

Atsu has consistently been involved under both Rafa Benitez and Steve Bruce, but now finds himself out of favour at St James’ Park. 

He has a year remaining on his four-year deal, but is now behind Allan Saint-Maximin, Ryan Fraser and Miguel Almiron in the pecking order.

Christian Atsu has found himself out of favour under manager Steve Bruce at Newcastle

Christian Atsu has found himself out of favour under manager Steve Bruce at Newcastle

Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

What more is there to be said about Mesut Ozil? Unused by Mikel Arteta since March, the German is facing an acrimonious and bitter last year at Arsenal on the sidelines.

He has been frozen out, and reacted to his recent omission by releasing a statement that slammed the club for a lack of loyalty.

Though he believes his exclusion may be down to commercial interests, adding that he will continue to use his global profile to fight against inhumanity in his statement, Mikel Arteta insists it is otherwise.

‘Everybody is free to express his feeling,’ Arteta said.

‘That’s just a football decision that my conscious is really calm. I’ve been really fair with him, my level of communication with him has been really high.’

Mesut Ozil is on £350,000-a-week at Arsenal but won't get a game between now and January

Mesut Ozil is on £350,000-a-week at Arsenal but won’t get a game between now and January

Connor Wickham (Crystal Palace) 

Wickham signed a one-year extension to his Crystal Palace deal in May 2019, keeping him at Selhurst Park until 2021, and he may now wish he hadn’t bothered. 

Injury has curtailed his impact in south London, restricting him to just 50 appearances for the club in five years. There was hope of a brighter future for him with a six-month loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday last season, and though he was able to stay through the restart in the summer he has now returned back to Palace.

He finds himself behind Jordan Ayew, Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke in the forward options, and even loan signing Michy Batshuayi.

Crystal Palace striker Connor Wickham has struggled with injury issues in recent seasons

Crystal Palace striker Connor Wickham has struggled with injury issues in recent seasons

HOW THEY LINE UP 

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This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Kick It Out braced for potential funding cuts next year with £1m budget not guaranteed

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kick it out braced for potential funding cuts next year with 1m budget not guaranteed

Kick It Out are braced for possible funding cuts next year despite a rise in reports of racist abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sportsmail has learned that the anti-discriminatory charity’s modest budget of £1million has not been guaranteed for the 2021-22 season, leading to fears it will suffer similar cuts to those experienced by other grassroots organisations during the financial crisis.

Kick It Out have been jointly funded by the Premier League, the FA and the PFA since 1997, with each contributing around £250,000, topped up by other grants in the current three-year agreement, but they are now operating in a more competitive environment.

Kick It Out are braced for potential funding cuts to their annual budget for 2021-22 season

Kick It Out are braced for potential funding cuts to their annual budget for 2021-22 season

The Premier League launched their own anti-discrimination initiative last year — No Room for Racism — and the cost of the two-week campaign that concludes this weekend is understood to be similar to Kick It Out’s annual budget.

The FA have pledged to ring-fence their diversity and inclusion budget despite projected losses of £300m due to the pandemic, but Kick It Out have not received similar assurances from elsewhere.

Funding negotiations for the 2020-21 season are expected to take place early next year, when Kick It Out’s budget will be confirmed.

Kick It Out are confident of delivering the majority of their programmes as they have built up cash reserves under the leadership of chief executive Roisin Wood, who left the organisation after nine years last week.

New executive chairman Sanjay Bhandari is also comfortable operating on a rolling annual basis, on the grounds that Kick It Out’s funding should be more closely linked to the programmes they deliver. However, others at the organisation are more worried about the impact of cuts.

The Premier League launched an anti-discrimination initiative last year — No Room for Racism

 The Premier League launched an anti-discrimination initiative last year — No Room for Racism

This increased concern follows the publication of Kick It Out’s annual report last month which revealed a 42 per cent increase in reports of discrimination in the professional game from the previous year, with a 53 per cent increase in racial abuse.

In addition, a study from data science company Signify commissioned by the PFA and published on Thursday, showed that 40 per cent of black players in English football suffered discriminatory abuse on social media during the six weeks of Project Restart.

Half of the explicitly racist messages were directed at only three players: Raheem Sterling, Wilfried Zaha and Adebayo Akinfenwa.

Kick It Out plan to use the study to increase pressure on the Government to introduce legislation, making it easier to prosecute those guilty of posting racist abuse online.

Plans to introduce the ‘Online Harms Bill’ have long been in the offing, but were delayed due to the legislative backlog caused by the pandemic.  

The cuts to the £1m budget comes despite a 53 per cent rise in racial abuse in the last year

The cuts to the £1m budget comes despite a 53 per cent rise in racial abuse in the last year

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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