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SPORTS AGENDA: Cornelius Lysaght uses his whip on BBC boss after controversial departure in April

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sports agenda cornelius lysaght uses his whip on bbc boss after controversial departure in april

Cornelius Lysaght has admirably kept his counsel since his controversial departure from BBC Radio 5 Live in April.

However, the much-respected former racing correspondent could hold back no longer when director of radio and music James Purnell announced his own exit last week. 

Former Labour MP Purnell was widely viewed as the senior power responsible for the culling of quality, experienced journalists (including Lysaght) as part of the broadcaster’s neurotic drive to target a youth audience.

Cornelius Lysaght kept his counsel since his controversial departure from BBC Radio 5 Live

Cornelius Lysaght kept his counsel since his controversial departure from BBC Radio 5 Live

Cornelius Lysaght kept his counsel since his controversial departure from BBC Radio 5 Live

In a spectacular Twitter assassination, Lysaght said he doubted anyone at the Beeb was ‘vaguely sorry’ to see him go, before referencing the former PM Tony Blair protégé’s role in a failed coup against Gordon Brown, the shrinking of his constituency’s majority when he took over and the doctoring of a photo showing him outside a hospital during a visit when he was, in fact, not there.

‘Hate is too big a word for me but his talentless contribution to BBC is surely regretted by many,’ added Lysaght for good measure.

Whether a change of direction following Purnell’s departure ensues remains to be seen.  Some believe the 50-year-old, who is going to the University of Arts London, decided to leave after failing to land the Director General role, which was always an unlikely prospect given his political past.

Giro d’Italia can’t mask deeper issues

Much fawning from the cycling press over the performance of Team Ineos’s Tao Geoghegan Hart, who won the Giro d’Italia, and the input of general manager Sir Dave Brailsford.

Anyone would think that there was not an ongoing medical tribunal involving former medic Dr Richard Freeman which is painting, at best, a murky picture of the culture and practices of Ineos forebears Team Sky, along with British Cycling.

Last week, we heard the revelation from ex-doctor David Hulse that he feared new protocols on intravenous recovery and intravenous hydration — written up by Freeman — could lead to breaches of the World Anti-Doping Code.

Indeed, Hulse left a short time later. So now we have the delivery of banned testosterone, issues with three laptops and concerns over potential rule breaches — all on Brailsford’s watch. Still, as long as Ineos do well…

There has been much fawning after Team Ineos's Tao Geoghegan Hart won the Giro d'Italia

There has been much fawning after Team Ineos's Tao Geoghegan Hart won the Giro d'Italia

There has been much fawning after Team Ineos’s Tao Geoghegan Hart won the Giro d’Italia

And still the wait goes on for Wigan 

The nervous noises over the Spanish-led takeover of Wigan Athletic continue to get louder. Earlier this month, a number of staff at the League One club were informed they had two choices. 

The first was a 30 per cent pay cut. The second was redundancy. These are people whose salaries make up a fraction of the wage bill. 

The latest concerns have been flagged to the EFL who have already been made aware of other potential issues. Other groups continue to watch with interest.

The nervous noises over the Spanish-led takeover of Wigan Athletic continue to get louder

The nervous noises over the Spanish-led takeover of Wigan Athletic continue to get louder

The nervous noises over the Spanish-led takeover of Wigan Athletic continue to get louder

Reed’s influence still felt by FA

Les Reed is due to exit his role as FA technical director next year but he continues to play a key role in post-Brexit negotiations with the Premier League. 

Reed and the FA have been keen to lower the number of foreign players permitted from 17 to 23 in a 25-man squad.

Interesting, then, that in a 2016 interview while at Southampton, Reed stated: ‘If we were to introduce quotas and dampen it down a bit to give English players more opportunity, we might be taking that opportunity to develop away from them’.

Les Reed is due to exit his role as FA technical director next year but is still playing a key role

Les Reed is due to exit his role as FA technical director next year but is still playing a key role

Les Reed is due to exit his role as FA technical director next year but is still playing a key role

Much like the debt, United staff numbers soar 

Lots to digest from Manchester United’s figures last week, with focus rightly placed on the impact of Covid and the staggering rise in the club’s debt. 

What went largely under the radar, however, was the continued expansion of the organisation’s staff levels. In 2004, 504 people worked for United. That figure now stands at 1,000.

Meanwhile, one of those 1,000 appears to have made a favourable impression on one of United’s stars. Juan Mata addressed an all-club meeting last week, and participated in a Q and A. 

The Spaniard was asked who he had missed most from the club during football’s suspension. Would it be one of his team-mates or his manager?  No. Mata answered almost instantly that Kath Phipps, the long-serving receptionist at United’s Carrington training ground, was the person who he had been looking forward to seeing the most when they returned.

Manchester United's Juan Mata addressed an all-club meeting and participated in a Q and A

Manchester United's Juan Mata addressed an all-club meeting and participated in a Q and A

Manchester United’s Juan Mata addressed an all-club meeting and participated in a Q and A

Brighton switch rubber-stamped by Watford

Danny Welbeck had to get Watford’s approval before sealing his free transfer to Brighton. 

Part of his termination deal at Vicarage Road required him to get Watford’s approval before joining his next club. 

The diligent Hornets were happy to let him make the move rather than any of their Championship rivals.

Danny Welbeck had to get Watford's approval before sealing his free transfer to Brighton

Danny Welbeck had to get Watford's approval before sealing his free transfer to Brighton

Danny Welbeck had to get Watford’s approval before sealing his free transfer to Brighton

Covid confusion for Vaughan 

Michael Vaughan appears to be a conflicted man when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As this column reported, the former England cricket captain was given a dressing down for a breach of bubble protocol at Old Trafford, missed day one of a Test after being forced to follow protocols after a trip to Northern Ireland and was absent for more than half of a T20 fixture as he was stuck in the Ageas Bowl car park awaiting his test result.

Given the above, the fact that he described a story that the chief medical officer said 90 per cent supported strong restrictions by the state as ‘utter rubbish’, posted a picture of a Spitfire and claimed he would like to turn the clocks back to 1940 when the country had b******s and posted a message that ‘I’m still wondering why we can’t make medicine for a virus that can be killed by sanitiser or soap’, one might think he is not particularly concerned over the virus.

None of the above, however, stopped him from retweeting a post from the hair restoration clinic, which he co-owns with Ryan Giggs, promoting its ability to offer private, Government-approved testing (for a fee, of course).

Michael Vaughan appears to be a conflicted man when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic

Michael Vaughan appears to be a conflicted man when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic

Michael Vaughan appears to be a conflicted man when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic

Conway driving Project Big Picture communications 

Former BBC man Richard Conway is clearly not afraid of taking on challenging projects in his new role as spin doctor. 

Fresh from the controversial Qatar World Cup, the ex-sports news correspondent is managing the comms for the ownership of both Manchester United and Liverpool over Project Big Picture. 

He was approached on an ad hoc basis after the story leaked, following his work with Liverpool in the run-up to the Club World Cup last December.

Hirst doesn’t come cheap! 

One reporter last week contacted Keegan Hirst, who in 2015 became the first rugby league player to come out as gay, for an interview. 

However, they were left stunned when the ex-Wakefield prop’s agent told them it would cost £10,000 for the privilege.

Keegan Hirst's agent told them it would cost £10,000 for the privilege of interviewing him

Keegan Hirst's agent told them it would cost £10,000 for the privilege of interviewing him

Keegan Hirst’s agent told them it would cost £10,000 for the privilege of interviewing him

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Watch as ‘lonely’ Lionel Messi walks alone in Barcelona training after Luis Suarez exit leaving fans heartbroken

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watch as lonely lionel messi walks alone in barcelona training after luis suarez exit leaving fans heartbroken

LIONEL MESSI fans have been left devastated after seeing their man look distant and subdued during Barcelona training.

The Argentine saw his best friend Luis Suarez forced out of the club in the summer, in the aftermath of a disastrous 2019-20 campaign.

Messi appeared distant in the training session

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Messi appeared distant in the training session
The Argentine's head was bowed while receiving instructions from Koeman

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The Argentine’s head was bowed while receiving instructions from Koeman

When Messi, 33, himself tried to follow, however, Barca refused – making it clear that he would have to take legal action if he was to leave his boyhood club.

So he remains at Barcelona, but things just don’t look the same.

In a video that has circulated online, Messi can be seen walking away from his team-mates as they entered the training field.

And as Ronald Koeman dished out some instructions, his No10 had his head bowed, looking as if he perhaps didn’t want to be there.

As the session got underway, his team-mates including Jordi Alba and Philippe Coutinho appeared to be in good spirits.

But Messi looked as if it was a struggle to conjure the energy.

The subdued star didn’t go unnoticed, as sad fans flocked online to express their grief at the situation.

One wrote: “A lot of fans don’t care about how he feels, he’s drained out, he’s not right mentally after all the transfer drama, I just want the best for him he looks lonely”.

Messi lost his mate Suarez to Atletico Madrid in the summer

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Messi lost his mate Suarez to Atletico Madrid in the summerCredit: EPA

And another mused: “A lot of people think Messi is just a robot with no feelings, at the end of the day, he is a human with real emotions, and regardless of the fact that he’s not been performing to his standards, it seems like he feels lonely at the club rn, and disinterested as well.”

To which a third replied: “He’s exhausted mentally, went through so many things that I don’t know how can he still keep up. It 100% has a major effect on his form.”

Messi does at least still have his pal Suarez to chat to on the phone.

Following Atletico’s 1-0 victory over Barca on Saturday night, the Uruguayan told Marca: “We talk about life, the virus, everything, but very little about football, about the goals we miss or about tactical systems.”

The loss saw Barcelona fall to 13th in the table, having won just three of their opening eight games under Koeman.

Messi and Co fell to a 1-0 defeat to Atletico at the weekend

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Messi and Co fell to a 1-0 defeat to Atletico at the weekendCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Pep Guardiola admits Lionel Messi’s future is up in the air as Man City plan transfer bid for unsettled Barcelona star

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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PSG assistant says Neymar goes to ground because he has ‘extremely sensitive feet’

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psg assistant says neymar goes to ground because he has extremely sensitive feet

PSG assistant Zsolt Low has defended Neymar from accusations he is a diver, bizarrely claiming the Brazilian forward has ‘incredibly sensitive feet’ and is left in agony when he is fouled.

The former Barcelona star has a reputation for playing things up on the pitch and has been seen rolling around on the turf after a handful of challenges in Ligue 1 and the Champions League.

But Low, right hand man to PSG boss Thomas Tuchel, leapt to Neymar’s defence, pointing out that he suffers with an issue in his feet that has plagued him for most of his career and brushing off accusations that he overreacts. 

Neymar has been defended over his perceived theatrics by PSG assistant boss Zsolt Low

Neymar has been defended over his perceived theatrics by PSG assistant boss Zsolt Low

Neymar has been defended over his perceived theatrics by PSG assistant boss Zsolt Low 

He claimed the Brazilian had 'incredibly sensitive feet' and feels huge pain when he is fouled

He claimed the Brazilian had 'incredibly sensitive feet' and feels huge pain when he is fouled

He claimed the Brazilian had ‘incredibly sensitive feet’ and feels huge pain when he is fouled

‘Neymar has incredibly sensitive feet,’ he told Bild, via Goal.

‘If he is kicked, it gives him extreme pain.’

The 28-year-old, who led the Parisiens to the Champions League final and domestic treble last season, has previously been slammed for showboating in the French top division with his attitude called into question too. 

But Low said he was simply misunderstood – describing him as a ‘warm guy’ who is painted as ‘arrogant’, and insisted he would always try to play on if possible after being impeded. 

The former Barcelona star has a reputation for diving and and overreacting after a challenge

The former Barcelona star has a reputation for diving and and overreacting after a challenge

The former Barcelona star has a reputation for diving and and overreacting after a challenge

‘Neymar is a warm guy, very open,’ he added.

‘Of course it sometimes seems arrogant what he does on the pitch. But if he is fouled, then he tries to dribble past his opponent at the next opportunity.

‘That is his way of responding to the harshness.’

Since joining PSG for a world record £220m in 2017, Neymar has sought to become the world’s best player and has netted 72 times in 92 appearances. Things have not always gone smoothly for him at the Parc de Princes and fell out with supporters in the last campaign after being linked with a return to Barcelona. 

Low insisted Neymar was 'a warm guy' and that he is misunderstood as an 'arrogant' player

Low insisted Neymar was 'a warm guy' and that he is misunderstood as an 'arrogant' player

Low insisted Neymar was ‘a warm guy’ and that he is misunderstood as an ‘arrogant’ player

His spell in Paris has also blighted by injuries. Last season he managed 19 in all competitions after being sidelined at the start of the campaign. 

This season his progress has been similarly hampered and has been ruled out for the last few weeks with a groin issue. When asked if Neymar could return for the club’s Champions League game against Leipzig, Low said there was a chance but admitted their star man was not fully fit.

‘He’s not yet at 100 per cent. But we need him with his experience and his quality.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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West Brom ‘hold talks with American consortium over £150million takeover’ in potential January transfer boost for club

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WEST BROM have reportedly held talks with an American consortium over a proposed £150million takeover.

The Telegraph reports the Baggies’ controlling shareholder Guochuan Lai turned down an offer earlier this year but negotiations remain open for either a full takeover or minority stake up to 15 per cent.

West Brom could be taken over by an American consortium

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West Brom could be taken over by an American consortiumCredit: AFP or Licensors

The report states the US consortium are being advised by an individual with vast Premier League experience and they are weighing up whether to launch another bid if the asking price drops.

China-based Lai would sell for £150m – having paid ex-chairman Jeremy Peace £200m in 2016 – but the consortium believe that is too high with the club’s Prem status in doubt.

Slaven Bilic‘s men were promoted to the top flight as runners-up in the Championship last season.

But they are yet to win a single game and sit 19th on three points after drawing three of their opening nine games.

A takeover bid could be delayed until later this season when the club’s survival prospects will be easier to determine.

If a majority deal does not go through a smaller 15 per cent purchase could be sanctioned after it was discussed with chief executive Xu Ke.

Ke is based at West Brom‘s training ground and reports to Lai in China.

The report claims other potential buyers have shown interest and held initial talks regarding a takeover in the last year.

How many fans each Premier League club will be allowed based on October tiers
How many fans each Premier League club will be allowed based on October tiers

Some Baggies supporters are unhappy with the lack of investment from the club’s current owners.

Croatian boss Bilic was handed a reduced tramsfer war chest of just £20m, following the coronavirus pandemic, to finance their return to the Premier League.

A big-money takeover would boost West Brom’s hopes of making a dent in the market and the club have been linked with fellow strugglers Sheffield United‘s Welsh defender Rhys Norrington-Davies, 21.

But Blades boss Chris Wilder confirmed he was not looking to sell any of his young players.

West Brom manager Slaven Bilic gets drenched in champagne after clinching promotion into the Premier League

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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