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West Ham's Michail Antonio to take social media break after announcing father's death

West Ham winger Michail Antonio has announced he will take a break from social media following the death of his father.

In an Instagram story on Tuesday, the 30-year-old revealed his father had died after spending much of the last decade in hospital.

“Over the last seven years my dad has been ill, in and out of hospital, and now his life has come to its end,” Antonio said.

“So I’ve been getting messages and I’ve been getting phone calls, and I just want to put this out and say: I’m not going to be responding to people much or be posting anything on Instagram until I feel like I’m ready to again.

“I want all of you to put my family in your prayers.”

Antonio did not suggest that his father had coronavirus symptoms.

In March, West Ham vice-president Karren Brady said the Premier League season should be voided amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but later appeared to change tack.

She also revealed that eight West Ham players had exhibited coronavirus symptoms.

This news item was provided by the The Independent - Premier League website - the original link is: https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/west-ham-michail-antonio-father-dies-premier-league-a9439951.html

Norwich City put staff on furlough but will top up wages to maintain 100% salary during coronavirus crisis

Norwich City have become the latest Premier League club to start furloughing staff.

The Canaries, bottom of the top flight, will utilise the government's coronavirus job retention scheme, which allows staff to claim 80 per cent of their wages, to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

The club will then top up the money to ensure their staff receive their full salary.

Newcastle and Tottenham have already begun the process of furloughing non-playing staff because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has halted football across the world.

A Norwich statement read: "Owing to the impact of the current Covid-19 pandemic, Norwich City Football Club will begin the process of furloughing members of its staff who are unable to work at this time.

"Under the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the furloughing of staff will safeguard future jobs and help sustain the club throughout this period.

"The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will mean that 80 percent of the salaries of furloughed staff, up to £2,500 per month per individual, will be paid by the government.

"The club will top up the money received from the scheme to ensure that all furloughed staff receive their usual salary in full.

"Where necessary, part-time and casual staff will also be furloughed.

"As part of the scheme, furloughed staff will not be permitted to carry out work for the club. The club will continue to monitor and review the situation as it develops."


This news item was provided by the The Independent - Premier League website - the original link is: https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/norwich-city-staff-furlough-premier-league-coronavirus-crisis-a9439961.html

Coronavirus: PFA chief Gordon Taylor warns that financial conduct rules cannot be relaxed in player wage cut talks

Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor has warned there must be no relaxation of rules relating to the financial conduct of clubs as the union continues discussions on wage deferrals.

The PFA will continue talks with the Premier League and the English Football League on Wednesday about the issue of players deferring salary in order to help their clubs manage the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced a halt to English professional football.

A division-by-division agreement may not be possible, Taylor concedes, but he suggested a task force could assess deferrals at clubs on a case-by-case basis.

What the union is keen to avoid is a situation where clubs defer payments to players on hardship grounds, but then move into the transfer market.

Taylor told the PA news agency: “It’s not a time to be relaxing regulations on financial propriety when we have already had problems with Football League clubs such as Bury.

“If a club is doing deferrals then the regulations state that they would be embargoed from signing any players,” he said.

“It’s ridiculous to have clubs deferring their obligations to players and then making big-money transfer signings.

“Also, the football creditor rule must remain in existence rather than have clubs build up debts, many of which would be to the players, and then write those off, and look to reform again. So there are lots of situations we need to be protected from in order to hold things together.

“We feel it’s much better if we have a task force, and that we look at particular clubs in particular divisions through that means in order to justify things to the players.

“What tomorrow’s meeting is to look at is all the financial data from clubs in their respective leagues and then to have a structure in place to deal with those clubs who are most in need.

“But it’s about trying to avoid clubs doing their own thing without any particular structure or guidance so that you end up with players at one club envious of players at another.”

Taylor said the idea of the Premier League season, which on Friday could be suspended indefinitely, being played behind closed doors in a World Cup-style camp was “not a favoured option” for getting the season completed.

“That’s an issue which might be of concern to players, being away from wives and families if this is still going on,” he said.

“Even playing behind closed doors can take resources away from the NHS which has to be the utmost priority, so that again is not a favoured option. I don’t think that’s a favoured option of anybody.”


This news item was provided by the The Independent - Premier League website - the original link is: https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/coronavirus-premier-league-clubs-pay-cuts-pfa-efl-talks-gordon-taylor-a9439751.html

Jurgen Klopp vs Pep Guardiola: All-time best XIs of players Liverpool and Man City's managers have worked with

Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have collectively changed English football by inspiring incredible standards over previously inconceivable periods.

Liverpool, should they be permitted to finish the current campaign after the coronavirus pandemic, could top Manchester City’s record 100-point total from two seasons ago.

While City trail by an enormous 25 points, they remain in a position to conquer Europe, should the Champions League ever resume, therefore flipping the roles of the sides from last season.

This weekend was supposed to be the second meeting of the season between the two heavyweights at the Etihad.

Here, we consider the plethora of elite players who have played under these legendary managers and attempt to whittle the options down to form a line-up for each.

Guardiola and Klopp have raised the bar in English football

Jurgen Klopp XI

Alisson - Roman Weidenfeller was excellent, but not on the level of the Brazilian, who can claim to be the world’s best, though his deteriorating health is now becoming a concern.

Trent Alexander-Arnold - A playmaker from right-back, relishing the involvement and foundation the midfield provides him to impact the game in the final third, while still holding down his flank defensively.

Mats Hummels - One of the most composed and classy defenders of his generation.

Virgil van Dijk - Dominant, and while Liverpool bought the finished product from Southampton, Klopp still enabled him to emerge as the most important player in one of the greatest teams in European football history.

Andrew Robertson – Tireless effort up and down the flank with his overlapping providing the room for Sadio Mane to flourish as one of the world’s best.

Robert Lewandowski thrived under Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund

Jordan Henderson – Leadership and commitment have enabled him to emerge as an indispensable part of Klopp’s greatest side, no matter what his detractors say. He is now proven on the biggest stage and in the biggest games.

Ilkay Gundogan – A master in setting the tempo, both speeding up that Dortmund side and pushing the pause button when necessary.

Mohamed Salah – He’s cooled off in the last few seasons since posting a staggering 44 goals in all competitions, yet the Egyptian remains one of Europe’s most dangerous wide forwards since his rapid development under Klopp.

Mario Gotze - His absence at Wembley was pivotal to the outcome of the 2013 Champions League final and his drastic decline following his controversial move to Bayern has caused amnesia for some. Sure, the injuries caught up with Gotze, too, but as a fearless 20-year-old operating as Dortmund’s No. 10, he was sublime.

Sadio Mane - Marco Reus off to the left under Klopp was a pleasure to watch, but Mane’s form for the Reds over the last year has elevated him towards Ballon d’Or status.

Robert Lewandowski - Roberto Firmino’s selfless role in this current Liverpool side cannot be underestimated, but Lewandowski led Dortmund to Wembley with some heroic displays in 2013, including the iconic four goals against Real Madrid.

Pep Guardiola XI

Victor Valdes - A close-run thing with Ederson, with both outstanding with the ball at their feet and able to beat the press and advance their side quickly with balls over the top or through the lines.

Dani Alves - Probably the greatest right-back of his era with a stunning delivery. A constant outlet and reliable option in possession.

Jerome Boateng – Maybe the toughest position to fill; while Carles Puyol extended his prime under Guardiola, Javier Mascherano emerged as a trusted centre-back and Aymeric Laporte has been outstanding amid a largely underwhelming collection of centre-backs at the Etihad. But Boateng was strong under Guardiola at a time when he was integral to a Germany side that won the World Cup.

Gerard Pique – Lured back to the Nou Camp after a brief stint in Manchester, the elegant centre-back would quickly emerge as a cornerstone to Guardiola’s revolution; comfort with the ball at his feet, but with the physicality to stamp his authority on any style of opponent who would cross his path.

David Alaba – Now able to influence the game in midfield or at centre-back, the Austrian proved to be excellent at left-back and one of the key components to a Bayern side that changed their philosophy under Guardiola.

Sergio Busquets - A metronome for tiki-taka, capable of receiving the ball under pressure and suffocating opponents with relentless, quick and incisive distribution.

The great Barcelona side of 2011 makes up the majority of the team

Xavi - A passing master who was perhaps the epitome of Guardiola’s philosophy on the pitch, able to take any game over and set the tone for what would become a midfield-driven game for years to come.

Andres Iniesta - Beautifully complimented Xavi in probably the greatest midfield partnership as they schemed their way through Europe’s best. David Silva and Bernardo Silva, especially last season, make compelling cases to be in this team, though there cannot be any other combination.

David Villa - One of the most lethal strikers of a generation, yet his selflessness and willingness to thrive in a different role under Guardiola, shoved out wide on the wing, went a long way towards enabling what many consider the greatest club side of all time.

Lionel Messi - Redefined the game and previous limitations of what a creative player could achieve by scoring an absurd 126 goals in his last two seasons under Guardiola. Perhaps the greatest to ever do it at the peak of an extended peak in his role as the false No. 9.

Raheem Sterling - Another tough position to fill, as the third member of the attacking trident with plenty of other options, including Pedro, Arjen Robben and more. While Messi could have moved wide to make room for Samuel Eto’o, Sergio Aguero or Robert Lewandowski, for the reason outlined above he remains through the middle. This allows Sterling to come in from the left due to his consistency in this role and how his game has been transformed and lifted up several levels in the Guardiola system.

This news item was provided by the The Independent - Premier League website - the original link is: https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/jurgen-klopp-liverpool-pep-guardiola-man-city-messi-salah-van-dijk-a9438411.html

Champions League final set to be held behind closed doors as Uefa meet, with voiding season 'off the table'

Uefa and the collective European leagues are committed to completing the 2019/20 domestic and continental seasons before 2020/21 begins, and are now actively planning for the major showpiece finals to be played behind closed doors, with voiding the campaign “off the table”.

The governing body is set to stage another videoconference on Wednesday about player contracts and the transfer window amid the coronavirus crisis, but The Independent has been told by multiple sources that detailed discussions have already taken place about the fate of this season. All parties are fully aligned with the English view that the campaign must be completed, whenever that is.

There is also now an acceptance that the Champions League final – the showpiece of the entire European calendar – will take place in front of an empty stadium, along with the Europa League final.

Uefa has set up two working groups to find solutions to the crisis – one on league logistics, the other on financial matters – and the reasons for the stance on completing 2019/20 are the exact same as in England: financial; sporting integrity; the mass complications that come with ending seasons prematurely and also the knock-on effect on the many jobs connecting to the game.

Like with the Premier League, a significant amount of financial pressure comes from broadcast contracts and the potential loss of tens of millions, but the lack of match-day income is already putting clubs under huge economic stress. For all the focus on the top leagues, there is a realisation among Uefa and various stakeholders like the European League Association that many clubs are in urgent danger.

Tuesday saw former Slovak champions MSK Zilina go into liquidation after releasing 17 players, while sources in Germany say several big clubs in Bundesliga II – the country’s second tier – are only weeks from going bust, and many are now attempting drastic action.

“The smaller and poorer the league, the more problems they have,” one source said.

Survival concerns are thereby the greatest motivation, but there is also a deeper awareness that the longer-term future of the game itself is dependent on protecting its integrity – something that would be entirely compromised if the 2020/21 season starts based on arbitrary decisions and positions. Several sources even maintain that the logistical concerns are such that it would actually be easier to try and complete the season – whenever that may be – than adapt regulations and work out solutions to end campaigns prematurely or void them. There is a realisation it opens legal and technical minefields.

The mayor of Bergamo has criticised the decision for the game to go ahead

The relevant bodies are also mindful of the amount of employment the football industry creates around Europe, and the number of workers impacted.

The working groups have thereby been encouraged to find creative ways to finish the seasons, but there is a general acceptance fixtures will have to be played behind closed doors in order for football to continue.

They are also fully aware of the need for flexibility, since any solutions are totally dependent on the spread of the coronavirus crisis. As such, plans will be re-assessed on a monthly basis. There’s similarly the issue that universal solutions are impossible, since the circumstances differ from country to country, and the advice from every individual government is different. As goes without saying, what works in Germany may not work in especially badly hit countries like Italy or Spain. Serie A, however, still plan to finish the season despite the extent of the crisis in Italy.

Despite that and the threat the crisis could continue to impact football for the next 18 months, there are currently no plans to truncate the structure of competitions for 2020/21. All parties are maintaining an optimistic outlook, and hoping they can go as normal even if next season starts later, but that will again be re-assessed every month. The view among the working bodies is to “create conditions according to what we know”.

This news item was provided by the The Independent - Premier League website - the original link is: https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/european/champions-league-coronavirus-uefa-europa-league-a9439381.html