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Houston Astros cheating probe widens to almost 60 witnesses, 76,000 emails

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Major League Baseball has interviewed almost 60 people and obtained tens of thousands of electronic messages in its investigation into allegations the broke rules by using a television camera to steal signs.

Former Houston pitcher Mike Fiers sparked the investigation when he told the Athletic last month the Astros had used the camera to steal signs in 2017 during the team’s run to its first World Series title.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said last month MLB was investigating Houston’s conduct for the past three seasons, and he hoped to complete the inquiry before the start of next season.

“I think that this is probably the most thorough investigation that the commissioner’s office has ever undertaken,” he said Wednesday at the winter meetings. “I think we’ve interviewed already nearly 60 witnesses, 76,000 e-mails, a whole additional trove of instant messages.

“That review has caused us to conclude that we have to do some follow-up interviewing. It is my hope to conclude the investigation just as promptly as possible, but it’s really hard to predict how long something like that is going to take.”

Astros manager AJ Hinch and Boston manager Alex Cora, the Astros’ 2017 bench coach, said they had spoken with investigators, and Hinch said he had been involved in several sessions. New York Mets manager Carlos Beltrán, a Houston player in 2017, refused to say whether he had been interviewed.

“At this point in the investigatArsenal’s head of football Raul Sanllehi says the club have enough “ammunition” to secure transfer targets this summer.The Gunners will lose Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck and Petr Cech after letting their contracts expire.But Sanllehi is confident thion it would be wholly inappropriate for me to speculate about what types of discipline might be in play,” Manfred said. “I’m going to get all the facts in front of me and make a decision as promptly as possible on discipline.”

MLB strengthened its rules against electronic sign stealing before the 2019 season, and Manfred said the rules are reviewed eacise on teammate Raheem Sterling.Sterling, insists Delph, now belongs at the top tier of today’s stars.“I joined City with Raheem, so for me to see Raheem’s ­development as debut in Major League Soccer.He was playing for FC Cincinnati for the first time since joining the club temporarily in the January transfer window.Locadia netted in the 71st minute, only seven minutes after he came off the bench for Cincinnati.His nd to push him, to be that voice in his ear, I still felt very much part of ih offseason to determine whether more alterations are warranted.

Will resurgent Tiger Woods beat Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors?

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It was not at all unfair for Tiger Woods to stay in the moment as the rest of golf cast eyes dreamily forward. on Sunday took his major haul to 15. Suddenly, from the recent position where the discussion felt irrelevant, Jack Nicklaus’s record tally of 18 is back within view. “I don’t know if Jack is worried or not,” said Woods. “I really haven’t thought about that yet. I’m sure that I’ll probably think of it going down the road. Maybe, maybe not. But right now it’s a little soon. I’m just enjoying 15.”

It did not take long for Nicklaus to respond. Worried? You bet he is. “I thought for a long time that he was going to win again,” Nicklaus said of Woods. “The next two majors are at Bethpage, where he has won, and at Pebble Beach, where he has won. So he has got me shaking in my boots.”

As the scale of Woods’s victory, arguably his finest in an illustrious but regularly disrupted career, reverberated around the globe golf had been afforded fresh profile. The 43-year-old is now within one of Sam Snead’s 82 PGA Tour wins, a record that has stood since the mid-60s. It is the major quest, though, that sets pulses racing.

“It’s nice to get to 15; 18 isn’t a thought,” said Joe LaCava, Woods’s caddie. “Now 15’s here, let’s get to 16. Is the record in play? Sure. The guy’s 43 years old, a guy like him could win when they’re 50. Sixteen is the next mission.”

Woods credited LaCava with a key role in his one-shot Masters victory. The pair had a discussion after a dropped shot at the 5th hole on Sunday, during which the caddie urged Woods to “not carry the weighmitted interest in Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard.After an outstanding loan with Vitesse Arnhem last season, Odegaard is considering his future with Real this summer.A move to Ajax has been mooted for the Norway international, however Bayer at of the world on your shoulders”. LaCava added: “I didn’t put in all the hard work. I didn’t have all the surgeries. I wasn’t down in Florida grinding. So for me, it’s easy. I just show up, try to do a halfway decent job and he has to do all the tough work.”

As Nicklaus acknowledged, the year’s upcoming majors present Woods with an opportunity. Next month’s US PGA Championship will see Woods return to Bethpage, where he won the US Open in 2002. The latter tournament, in June, is at the Pebble Beach links where Woods marched to a 15-stroke victory 19 years ago. He has also prevailed in Tour events hosted at the Californian venue. July’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush had already seen scrambling for tickets even before Woods displayed uncharacteristic euphoria in Georgia.

“Eighteen is, I think, a lot closer than people think,” said Brooks Koepka, one of the men Woods held off to claim his fifth Masters. “I would say that’s probably what all fans, what we’re thinking. He’s definitely back and 18’s not far.”

If Nicklaus would rather retain his place in the record books, he does a fine job of endorsing why Woods might steal it. Even before a ball was struck at Augusta last Thursday the 79-year-old had volunteered Woods as a likely Masters winner on account of evidence gleaned from a recent game of golf; a certain Donald Trump.

“I don’t ever pull against anybody,” Nicklaus said. “Nobody wants their record to be broken. But I certainly wouldn’t want Tiger to be hurt and not to be able to do it. Of course he is now pretty healthy and playing well. I wish him well, I always wish the guys well and I want them to play their best and don’t want anybody to play poorly.

“Everybody has been asking me about Tiger. Can Tiger win again? Will he win another major? I kept saying, I think so, I think he will. The reason I said that was it all depended on Tiger’s health. If Tiger is healthy, then Tiger didn’t need to worry about his driver. He never drove the ball straight anyway. He always got the ball, from somewhere, up around the green. Tiger is such a great putter, has such a great short game. He has such distance control with his irons, unbelievable distance control, best I’ve seen from anybody in the game. If you get a guy that can do that – even if Tiger wasn’t healthy – he could bunt the ball off the tee somewhere. And with his iron game and his short game, he was going to win again. He topped it off this week by driving the ball. It was a special week for him.”

Monday morning delivered confirmation that Woods has risen to No 6 in the world rankings. “The No 1 player in the world is ranked sixth,” claimed Paes of success at Euro 2020 – because of the punishing fixture schedule.England strikers Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford are enduring long injury lay-offs, with both facing a battle to prove their fitness ahead of this summer’s tournament.Tottenham ‘ul Azinger, a former US Ryder Cup captain turned television analyst. Though there are still 17 months to go before the European team visits Whistling Straits, Woods has leapt to the summit of the US Ryder Cup rankings. At the end of this year,dmits they need to add to the squad after the appointment of new coach Rino Gattuso.He stated: “Rino is relying on the old guard, which seems natural for their experience, especially with these tactics.”From tomorrow we’ll think about the market.”B in what marks his own first step towards Ryder Cup captaincy, Woods will lead his country in the Presidents Cup. “I’m hoping to make my own team,” said Woods on Sunday, in proving he has playing aspirations for Royal Melbourne.

Long before then Woods is expected to make a tournament return at Quail Hollow at the start of May.

Should that transpire, a routine PGA Tour event will have been handed the kind of boost money cannot buy. The same applies to the wider golf scene.

The Raptors had every advantage against the Warriors. It didn’t matter

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The Raptors could not have asked for a better shot at taking a commanding lead. During Game 2, the Warriors had to deal with various combinations of the following obstacles: no Kevin Durant; DeMarcus Cousins battling back from acould be on the move from Everton in January.The Liverpool Echo says with the January transfer window fast approaching, and with both youngsters coming to the end of their current contracts with the club in 2020, a potential to go out on loan for fir torn quad; Stephen Curry struggling with the flu; Andre Iguodala hobbled; Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney leaving the game with injuries; a raucous home crowd; a 12-point second-quarter deficit; Drake; shooters unable to buy a basket in the final five minutes.

. Golden State won Game 2, 109-104, to tie up the series at one game apiece as the team head to the West Coast. It would be unkind to say the Raptors blew it, but rarely are finals match-ups so weighted in one side’s favor. Only a vintage performance from the Splash Brothers, and added a further nine assists, could spur the Warriors to victory. Golden State ripped off an 18-0 run to open the third-quarter, putting them into a lead they retained for the rest of the game.

Talk of the Warriors’ lack of shooting depth – a source of discussion all season – grew after . Without Durant they were missing that third shooter, detractors claimed. It was hokum: having Curry on the court is like having three shooters. Having Klay is like having an extra two. No play better sums up the breadth of Curry’s range and the pressure that it puts on a defense than this:

There were 34 seconds remaining in the third-quarter with a dwindling shot clock. Draymond Green hit Curry in stride, the shooter some 30-feet from the basket. For most, it would be just a hair out of range. Not Curry. Norman Powell rushed out to defend, and with just a hint of daylight, Curry rose, drilling a three. And, just like that, the lead was 10. Some shots are worth more than mere points: they drain the energy out of the opposition.

No one has the ability to demoralize an opponent in the way Curry does. He is the Warriors’ offensive fulcrum, and helps democratize the offense. Other superstars crave the ball in their hands. Get out of the way and let me do work. And that’s fine because it works – just look at Kawhi Leonard for Toronto. But Curry’s selflessness gives the Warriors extra zest.

Meanwhile, once Green or Iguodala or any other initiator of the offense gets the ball in his hands, the Warriors slip into pass-happy Warriorsgasms. You know the kind: Curry and Thompson darting here then there. The ball whipping around the court at a break-neck pace. It sows confusion. The Warriors leverage that confusion into easy baskets.Newcastle United.The Irons lost 3-2, after conceding the first three goals of the game.He said, “It’s a bad result and it is a performance that isn’t West Ham like.”We need a reality check and need to know we need to start getting points on the board Defenses jump up, then sag off, then play catch up. At that pace, with that level of intellect, the Warriors almost always find a good shot. The Warriors shot 38% from three-point range in Game 2, the Raptors 28%. Golden State made two more threes. It was the difference.

None of this is rocket science. Curry is the best shooter who has ever lived, whether you go by the numbers or the eye test. Thompson is in the top-five. Reasonable minds can disagree on where he falls in the pecking order, but he’s closer to the second spot than he is the fifth.

Now the Warriors return home for two games. Hold serve, and they will be one win away from a third-straight championship, their fourth in five years. “It was a great win. We got to go home and protect our home floor.” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “We’ll see about all the injuries, but I’m very proud of our team and in particular all the guys off the bench.”

Health looks to be the only thing that can hold Golden State back. How severe is Thompson’s hamstring injury? Even if he plays – – will he be able to scoot around screens with the same kind of vigor we are accustomed to? What about Durant’s calf? And what about Looney’s chest?

Looney has into a fully-fledged starter through the course of the season. On a team slammed up against the salary cap, that added depth has been invaluable. The Warriorsester City are casting a wide net to find a long-term replacement for Fernandinho.City boss Pep Guardiola is driving the search.Rodri of Atletico Madrid, Tanguy Ndombele of Lyon and Real Madrid’s Marcos Llorente make up the list of three potential mi can win at the highest level without Durant, they have proven that. But they can’t pull any of the other pieces out of this carefully constructed symphony. Their season teeters on a game-health Jenga: pull Thompson or Looney or Iguodala out of the line-up for an extended period of time and the whole thing could collapse. Golden State can withstand losing Durant because Curry, Thompson and Green are just that special. But to win the title they cannot afford to lose any more pieces.

Tiger Woods in contention at Valspar Championship after birdie binge

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A last-hole bogey failed to take the gloss off a superb performance from as the former world No 1 continued to impress on the latest leg of his improbable comeback in the Valspar Championship.

Woods showed flashes of his brilliant best in an opening 70 in what is only his fourth event since undergoing spinal fusion surgery– his fourth back operation in three years – last April.

And thhip revenue fall €55.2 million (US$60.6 million) to €75.3 million (US$82.9 million) for the 2019/20 season, reports, /.The Serie A giants pocketed €130.5 million (US$143.6 million) in sponsorship over the 2018/19 campaign, but a new public filie 14-time major winner surged to the top of the leaderboard for the first time since August 2015 before having to settle for a share of second place on four under as the Canadian Corey Conners fired a round of 69 to go into the weekend on six under par.

Starting on the back nine of the testing Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort, Woods recovered from a wayward drive on the 10th to make par and also parred the next before holing from five feet for birdie on the 12th. A superb approach to the 13th set up another birdie from a similar distance and, after a run of six straight pars, another gain on the second took Woods into a share of the lead.

Woods enjoyed a stroke of good fortune on the par-five fifth when his hooked drive appeared to hit a cart path and bounce back on to the fairway. And the 42-year-old took full advantage by finding a greenside bunker with his approach, splashing out to four feet and holing the birdie putt to take the outright lead.

The last time that happened was during the third round of thedfielder Matty Longstaff is in the sights of England U21.Aidy Boothroyd and assistant Lee Carsley have both watched Longstaff, whose thunderbolt downed Manchester United on debut last weekend.Friday’s friendly in Slovenia and Tuesday’s European Champ Wyndham Championship in August 2015 and the last time Woods led outright after a PGA Tour round was after his last win in the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone.

The prospects of the outright lead disappeared with a bogey on the ninth when he pushed his approach right of the green and it finished up in a female spectator’s handbag. After taking a free drop, Woods caught the pin with his chip but was unable to hole from six feet for par, leaving him to sign for a 68 and share of the lead on four under par.

“I’m up there,” Woods told PGA Tour Live. “I don’t think this will be leading [at the end of the day] but at least I’m there with a chance going into the weekend. Today was a good daBrad Smith admits Seattle Sounders were overawed in the opening stages of their 3-1 win over Toronto in the MLS Cup on Sunday. The Pacific Northwest club walked out to a record 69,724 crowd at Century Link Field and were thoroughly outplayed in the oy. It was cold early, then the wind started blowing a little bit – it was inconsistent and tough to get a bead on. Did a lot of guessing and guessed pretty good, also got fooled a few times.

“I keep getting a little bit better here and there, making these little subtle tweaks. I’ve done that from tournament to tournament, I just need to get a little bit more tournament time in and I think I’ve done that.

“I’m starting to get a better feel for it, I’m finding the rhythm of the rounds, I’m hitting shots, I don’t have a problem posting scores. I’m able to play more feel golf than just trying to figure out how to play golf again.”

USA crush Puerto Rico 8-0 to clinch first ever World Baseball Classic title

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Marcus Stroman tossed six hitless innings, Ian Kinsler slugged a two-run homer and the United States routed Puerto Rico 8-0 on Wednesday night to win its first in four tries.

Stroman dominated the tournament’s highest-scoring team. Puerto Rico lost for the first time in eight games after outscoring the opposition 55-26. The US territory finished runners-up for the second time, having lost to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 final.

Stroman, who was named the tournament’s MVP, avenged his shakiness in the Americans’ 6-5 loss to Puerto Rico during pool play. The right-hander from the Toronto Blue Jays retired the side on three grounders to open the game. In all, he gave up one hit, struck out three and walked one on 73 pitches.

He allowed just three balls past the infield until Angel Pagan’s double in the left-field corner leading off the seventh, when Stroman departed to a standing ovation, having staked the Americans to a 7-0 lead.

Stroman walked Carlos Beltran leading off the second, but the defense helped him out. Yadier Molina hit the ball to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who started a double play before Stroman struck out Javier Baez to end the inning.

The US pounded out 13 hits and finished with a 6-2 record while making the final for the first time in front of 51,565 at Dodger Stadium.

Kinsler homered off an 0-1 pitch from Seth Lugo into left-center field in the third, scoring Jonathan Lucroy, who singled leading off.

Lugo of the New York Mets allowed four runs and five hits, struck out seven and are hoping to make a move for Southampton defender Matt Targett.The Villa Park club are interested in strengthening their back line, as they will likely lose the 21-year-old and other loan signings from last season.One name that is interesting Dean walked four in four innings. The right-hander won his first two starts of the tournament, including in the second round against Stroman and the U.S.

In that game, Stroman gave up six consecutive singles in a four-run first inning and took the loss against Puerto Rico last Friday in San Diego.

The Americans made it 4-0 in the fifth on RBI singles by Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen.

Fans wore flags of both countries as capes and decorated their faces in team colors. Puerto Rico boosters pounded cowbells, tooted horns and blew whistles early on beforeation Mattis De Ligt is not a target for the Reds.But the London Evening Standard says manager Jurgen Klopp is still on the lookout for defensive players.It is believed the Merseyside club will only part with big money if the signing is a guaranteed their teAubameyang would leave last month.The Gunners captain was linked with Barcelona.But Leno told the London Evening Standard: “I think not too many players talked about this.“Of course there are many rumours and other people talk about this, but youam fell behind 4-0.

Fans were on their feet chanting “U-S-A” when the Americans loaded the bases in the seventh with two outs. They were rewarded with Crawford’s two-run single that chased JC Romero, extending the lead to 6-0.

The US tacked on another run on Giancarlo Stanton’s RBI single off Hiram Burgos past diving shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Burgos’ wild pitch moved runners to second and third before he walked Lucroy to load the bases a second time. Kinsler flied out to end the inning.

The Americans led 8-0 in the eighth on McCutchen’s RBI single with two outs.

The US defeated two-time champion Japan, while Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands to reach the final.

The three games at Dodger Stadium drew 109,892.

Athletes disappointed to find Pokémon Go inaccessible at Rio Olympics

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So the plumbing and electricity in the athletes’ village took several days to fix. Who cares?

But no ? That’s an outrage!

If there were ever a more “first world problem” for the Zika-plagued, water-polluted Rio Olympics, it’s Brazil’s lack of access to the hit mobile game, which has united players the world over.

Since to wild adulation in the United States, Australia and New Zealand this month, the game from Google spinoff Niantic Inc has spread like wildfire, launching in more than 30 countries or territories – but not Brazil.

For athletes and other visitors caught up in the wave, not having access is just one more knock against an Olympics that officials are racing to get ready. The opening ceremony takes place on Friday.

“I wish I could run around in the [athletes’] village catching Pokémon,” New Zealand soccer player Anna Green said. “I just can’t get it on the phone. It’s fine, but it would have been something fun to do.”

What will she do instead? “Train,” she replied.

Niantic didn’t reply to a request for comment on when the game might be released in Brazil. Ao Martinez says he deserves a shot at being their No1.Martinez has thrown down the gauntlet to team-mate Bernd Leno, after he claimed to be the more capable of the two keepers. Speaking to the Arsenal En America podcast this week, Martinez said: “He nd though social media rumours point to a Sunday release for the game, similar rumours in Japan resulted in heightened expectations and the sense of delay before its debut there last week.

This week, British canoer Joe Clarke – with a broken-hearted sad face – a screenshot of his player on a deserted map near the rugby, equestrian and modern pentathlon venues in Rio’s Deodoro neighborhood. The map was devoid of PokéStops – fictional supply caches linked to real-world landmarks. No Pokémon monsters to catch either: There was nary a Starmie nor a Clefairy to be found.

“Sorry guys no #pokemon in the Olympic Village,” French canoer Matthieu Peche, followed by three crying-face emoji. Getting equal billing in his Twitter stream was a snapshot of a letter of encouragement from French President Francois Hollande.

Players with the app already downloaded elsewhere appear to be able to see a digital map of their surroundings when they visit Rio. But without Pokéstops or Pokémon, the game isn’t much fun. It would be like getting on a football field – soccer to Americans – but not having a ball to kick or goals to defend.

Many competitors in the athletes’ village took it in stride, though. Canadian field hockey player Matthew Sarmento said it would give him more time to meet other athletes. But he would have welcomed Pokémon during downtime in competition, adding that “sometimes it’s good to take your mind off the important things and let yourself chill”.

Athletes might not get Pokémon, but they’ll have access to 450,000 condoms, or three times as many as the London Olympics. Of those, 100,000 are female condoms. Officials deny that it’s a response to the Zika virus, which has been linked to miscarriages and birth defects in babies born to women who have been infected.

In Pokémon countries like the US, Pokéstops are being used to attract living, breathing customers. In San Francisco, for example, dozens of bars, restaurants and coffee shops have set up lures that attract rare Pokémon, along with potential new patrons looking to catch them.

That’s presumably one reason why Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes – plagued by a host of bad news from player robberies to faulty plumbing – urged Niantic investor Nintendo to release the game in Brazil.

“Everybody is coming here. You should also come!” Paes , adding the hashtag #PokemonGoNoBrasil – “Pokémon Go” in Brazil.

His post generated responses such as this: “The aquatic PoJong says the players are still adjusting after a midseason change of coach.Quique Setien has been in the job for a couple of weeks now, having succeeded Ernesto Valverde, and De Jong was asked to compare the two.”There are differences,” the Dutchmankémon died with superbugs.”

Paes didn’t respond to requests for interviews.

One video circulating virally, with more than 3.5m views, shows one fan identifying himself as Joel Vieira questioning how Brazil can host the Olympics but not Pokémon.

“I can’t play! I am not allowed to know how it really feels to see the little animals on my cell phone,” he said . “Because we don’tl.The midfielder penned undisclosed terms this morning.Emery told Arsenal’s website: “Joe has progressed a lot in the last year. “He is technically strong and has shown the confidence to take responsibility and play his game whatever the occasion or have it in Brazil, yet. But we are having the Olympics.”

The Olympics kick off next Friday. Will Pikachu be there to witness it? The world is watching with baited Poké-breath.

Swansea City’s owners to make huge profit with sale to US investors

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The owners of , whose partnership with the supporters trust has long been hailed as ideal for a British football club, are set to make millions by selling their shares to American investors. The deal, signed in principle by the chairman, Huw Jenkins, values Swansea at around £100m, exactly 100 times more than the £1m paid for the club by the nine shareholders, including the trust, during and after a financial crisis in 2002.

The agreement proposes the eight shareholders apart from the trust – which owns 21.1% of the club and whose elected director, Huw Cooze, was furious at being kept unaware of the negotiations – sell most of their shares to a consortium led by the US sports team investors Stephen Kaplan and Jason Levien. Intense discussions since have led to suggestions not all the shareholders will sell, and Levien and Kaplan may buy only a 60% stake, but their valuation, for a club awaiting the next tranche of vast TV fortunes starting next season, remains around £100m.

So Jenkins’ 13.2% stake, which cost him £125,000 to buy, is valued at £13.2m. He is understood not to be planning to sell all his shares and isFormer Premier League manager Neil Warnock has hailed the improvement in Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck.Warnock says he was offered the Scot when in charge of Cardiff City.He told talkSPORT: “I think they had been tempted to let him go two or three times.“I had his agent on a while ago saying ‘I think he’ll be leaving the club’ but what’s he done? He’s done it on the pitch. He’s worked his socks off, scored important goals and been part of that dressing room.“They’ve got a great chance of getting in Europe. An absolutely great chance.” likely to remain the chairman if the takeover completes, because he is widely credited with having run the club with great acumen, alongside the other directors. The local hotelier Martin Morgan and his wife, Louisa, are the largest shareholders with a 23.7% stake, which cost £225,000 to buy; it is now valued by Kaplan and Levien at around £23.7m. Martin Morgan is said not to be intending to sell, and Levien may try to have separate discussions with Louisa Morgan, who controls more than half of their stake.

One of the original 2002 investors, the South African businessman Brian Katzen, owns 10.5% of the club, as does his business partner, Jeffrey Crevoiserat; the stakes cost each man £100,000 when Swansea were floundering near the bottom of the Football League at a rundown Vetch Field, and are now valued at £10.5m each. Robert Davies, another original investor, also a financial backer of Swansea’s Ospreys rugby union region which shares the Liberty Stadium, also has a 10.5% stake.

The Dutch investor John van Zweden, and Leigh Dineen, formerly the trust’s elected director who bought his own shares for £50,000, both have stakes of just over 5%, now valued at £5m.

The millions to be made by the shareholders who do sell follow £4m already paid to them all in dividends over the past four years – £1m, in effect their original stakes repaid, each year from 2012-15 since Swansea have been in the Premier League. Paid proportionately according to their stakes, Jenkins has received more than £500,000; Martin and Louisa Morgan £900,000; Katzen, Crevoiserat and Davies £400,000 each, and Van Zweden and Dineen around £200,000 each.

The trust, for its 21.1%, has been paid more than to catch up with Arsene Wenger over the weekend.The pair are attending a UEFA educational program.Arshavin played for the Gunners between 2009 and 2013.Arsène Wenger has been photographed with Andrey Arshavin at an event in Paris. The Russian joine £800,000, which it has used to buy new shares and for a “rainy day” fund. Established as a mutual, democratic, not-for-profit body during Swansea’s 2001 financial crisis, with the help of the fan-ownership initiative Supporters Direct, the trust’s members who have provided contributions for the £200,000 investment cannot cash in personally if the trust ever sells.

Cooze, who has told he was “pretty damned hurt” at the secrecy of the negotiations, is now seeking to rebuild bridges with his co-directors and safeguard the trust’s position. Levien’s revised suggestion to buy 60% is intended to show the trust a preparedness to work with them, after supporters’ hostile reaction to the proposed acquisition of 75.1% control.

Cooze and the trust’s chairman, Phil Sumbler, say they knew the other shareholders would sell at some point and are sanguine about them making so much money. They mostly want to know whether the sale to Levien and Kaplan, which Jenkins he believed “will help the club progress on and off the field”, will bring actual investment into the club itself.

“There is no point in a deal without money for the club; that would just be a sale for the shareholders’ personal gain,” Sumbler said. He pointed out that supporters’ unpaid work and donations have contributed to Swansea’s remarkable revival over the past 15 years and massive increase in financial value. “The shareholders are mostly lifelong fans, and we have always believed throughout our partnership with them that they have the best interests of the club at heart.”

Levien, a lawyer, is the managing general partner of Washington’s Major League Soccer team, DC United, having previously been involved at three NBA basketball franchises, including the Memphis Grizzlies, to which he introduced Kaplan as an investor. Kaplan, the principal of , is thought to be the largest proposed investor in the acquisition, with several others so far not named.

Levien has been assuring people they have substantial money and are not financing the deal with debt.

In meetings with the shareholders in Swansea last week, Levien is understood to have emphasised their plan is to develop the club but has not made firm promises that the consortium will invest new money of their own for signing players or expanding the stadium. Like other US investors increasingly taking over clubs, Levien and Kaplan are attracted by the Premier League’s success, the huge TV income, expected to be £8bn across the league for the three years from next season, and the prospect of growth in popularity and earnings, particularly in America, over the next 10-15 years.

The US culture of sports team ownership is much more avowedly commercial than British football’s traditional local “benefactor” shareholders, who have mostly sold out in the Premier League years. Investors in American sports seek to make money by growing their franchises commercially and therefore increasing their value, and that of their own stakes. Levien and Kaplan’s plan is to do the same at Swansea, and promoting the club in the US is thought to be a key feature of the proposed deal.

All of which is a world away from the crumbling, loss-making club the shareholders, galvanised by the trust and wider supporter efforts, bought for £20,000 in January 2002, putting the rerney jokes that he was at a local park when he got a call about his move being complete.The Scottish left back made a deadline day move to the Premier League giants from Celtic.When asked about how he spent the past 24 hours before the finalising of st of the money in to pay off debt. Chroniclers of Swansea’s spectacular upward flight since occasionally miss out two key boosts: a company voluntary arrangement, by which creditors settled for only 5p in every pound, and the great gift of the £27m Liberty Stadium, which is still owned by the local council.

Now, as thousands of jobs locally are , the Swansea City shareholders’ proposed gains highlight again modern football’s stand-out riches, in increasingly post-industrial cities where the clubs evolved more than a century ago.

Jenkins and Dineen declined to comment on the proposed sale, citing confidentiality agreements. Katzen said of his original motivation that he was keen on football and the challenge, and said they were all determined to make progress and run the club as a business, but never envisaged the success they have had, and these exponential profits.

“It has been 15 years, a lot of work; it’s not a quick buck,” Katzen said. “Nobody expected to get anything out of the club at the beginning.”

New Jersey rugby union experiment needs catalyst to get required reaction

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This is a big week for rugby union and the Six Nations is only a modest part of it. The first Premiership game to be staged outside Britain is taking place in New Jersey on Saturday, with an American audience being politely invited to come and see how and Saracens compares with watching the New York Jets against the New England Patriots. To say a cultural collision looms is an understatement.

It is fair, too, to suggest the timing could have been better. I for Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte.Ferrara says Conte would’ve preferred Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal.”Antonio explained it very well, Eriksen needs time to settle into and understand certain tactical mechanisms,” Ferrara told Tiki Taka.“Asht is not just that this historic occasion clashes with a moderately interesting fixture between England and Wales at Twickenham. The call last week by 70 “experts” for tackling to be outlawed in schools rugby attracted plenty of debate, none of it designed to encourage US soccer moms to steerBradley junior towards the muscular new sport on the block. “Where are your helmets, guys?’ will inevitably be the most-asked question Stateside this week.

Amid the usual rejoinders about American football tacklers leading with their heads and the resultant extra potenbion are on the hunt for Huddersfield striker Karlan Grant.The 22-year-old has impressed for Huddersfield in the Championship this season, notching 16 goals.West Brom wanted him in January, but could not get a deal done, perSky Sports.The outlet suggtial for concussions, though, rugby’s rulers would do well not to sound complacent.

Had Leicester’s game against Exeter been happening across the Atlantic rather than on a cold Mother’s Day in the east Midlands, the American reaction would have been widespread horror. Let us just say there are a few key areas rugby union needs to get right before it can hope to sell itself compellingly to a market already familiar with big blokes running into each other.

The mostld move for Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt.The European champions have been linked with De Ligt.And Carragher said, “Well I think he possibly will [become the world’s most expensive defender this summer].“Pierre van Hooijdonk is next door doing the obvious are the types of high hit with which felled the Chiefs’ Phil Dollman at Welford Road. It should be stressed Tuilagi’s tackle did not result in a card or even a penalty but even Manu’s England team-mates, watching in Bagshot, admitted they winced when they saw it. James Haskell, musing aloud on the issue of what constitutes a dangerous tackle these days, put it perfectly. “The problem was he hit him so hard he went to wrap his arms around and the bloke had already folded like a deckchair on the floor. Why would you penalise a bloke for doing that? That’s an incredible shot.”

Incredible, yes. Good for the game’s image? Maybe not. In almost the same breath Haskell was rightly pointing out that teaching young kids the correct tackling technique at the right age is absolutely fundamental. “I think we are creating a game where it’s important young kids are taught to tackle properly and understand that rugby is a physical sport. Making rugby a non-contact sport…you might as well just forget it and disband it. I think we have to make a stand at some point. We are a contact sport and people are going to get hurt. As long as it’s not someone running around straight-arming people or blindsiding people trying to rip your head off, these things happen. We need to understand that.”

Squaring this particularly awkward circle is probably the key to rugby’s long‑term future, certainly as a 15-a-side sport with mass appeal and ahealthy reputation for safety. Haskell is particularly instructive on the subject as someone for whom tackling did not initially come easy. “I remember being taken down to Maidenhead RFC at five years old and not wanting to get wet, muddy and kicked in the face. I didn’t like tackling for a long time. When I got to Wasps at 17 I went straight to [the former back‑row] Joe Worsley and said: ‘Listen, I’m not being funny, I can’t tackle very well, you’ll have to teach me.’ We spent a lot of time working on it.”

As Haskell also pointed out, rugby league has recently adjusted its law on what constitutes a dangerous high shot; relatively speaking, it is still higher than in union but there has finally been recognition that heads and brains are not indestructible. In union, as Haskell confirms, the tackle height can vary depending on the desired outcome: go low and your openside may have a better chance to nip in for the kill; go high and you might just dislodge the ball or prevent the offload. Better the former safety-wise but most of the time there is insufficient time in which to make a choice.

So let us pray that, when Irish and take to the Red Bull Arena, the body count is not too excessive, the spectacle is halfway decent and, additionally, the scrums mostly stay up. If not, north American patience may not extend much beyond the half-hour. It would also help greatly to hire a decisive TV match official; American sports are used to in-play breaks but some recent delays for TMO referrals in rugby have made the notoriously stop‑start Super Bowl feel like the Olympic 100 metres final. To reiterate, this is a big week. Mess it up and the American dream will remain precisely that.

Jarryd Hayne little used as 49ers win final game of season

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Jarryd Hayne’s historic season with the San Francisco 49ers has endis departure.In China with his new squad, Bruce sent a message to angry Wednesday fans.”I can understand the disappointment,” he said. “I enjoyed the three or four, five months I worked there.”But I’d like to put it out there that a manager’s contraced with a fizzle.

Hayne remained on the sideline throughout most of the 49ers’ 19-16 overtime win against St Louis Rams at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday, with the team opting to play DuJuan Harris, Kendall Gaskins and Mike Davis at running back and Bruce Ellington as punt returner.

49ers coach Jim Tomsula, who was sacked after the game, did use Hayne on the special teams defensive unit where he made a tackle late in the fourth quarter.

Hayne failed to make it on the field in the first half of the game.

Tomsula was been sacked just hours after his team completed their disappointing season.

ty star Ilkay Gundogan admits that he has not spoken with anyone at Borussia Dortmund about a possible move.It is rumoured that Gundogan could be out of the door at City this summer. The player has become a peripheral figure in the first tea Firmino is backing Newcastle United’s Joelinton for success in England.Joelinton moved to the Magpies from Hoffenheim for a club record fee in the summer.“We have already talked about this (game), because we are linked to the same representatives m, only s

The coach who gave his first taste of NFL action during the season, was ousted after his rookie season at the helm of the 49ers.

The 49ers produced a five-win, 11-loss season record and were well out of playoffs contention weeks before the end of the regular season.

Earlier, Hayne was jubilant after his first season in the NFL had ended with a 19-16 victory over the Rams at Levi’s Stadium.

He was ecstatic he had completed a dream of joining the 49ers and against the odds playing in eight games.

“It is what it is,” Hayne replied when asked about his lack of time on the field against the Rams.

“Overall, the year I’ve had and to be here and part of the team has been incredible and more than what I could have imagined.”

Hayne had said he would like Tomsula to remain as coach.

Hayne flies back to Sydney on Monday (Tuesday AEDT).

Do the Pirates have a chance against the Cubs’ unstoppable destroyer of worlds?

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The Pittsburgh Pirates were officially eliminated from the postseason on Wednesday night after an 11-1 loss to St Louis .

OK, not exactly “officially.” The Pirates have the second-best record in all of Major League and clinched a postseason berth more than a week ago. But there is a feeling of impending doom hanging over the team because six days from now in the National League wildcard game they will face the unstoppable destroyer of baseball worlds: Jake Arrieta.

After a good start to the season, the 29-year old Cubs ace has put together one of the most dominant second halves in baseball history. Since the start of August, he’s given up four earned runs in 82 1/3 innings. That’s a 0.43 ERA over 11 starts. Not once in that span has he allowed more than two earned runs. In seven of those 11 outings, he didn’t allow a single run. He no-hit the playoff-bound Dodgers at the end of August, and has faced the Pirates three times in the past two months, giving up just nine hits and one earned run in 22 innings. To crush the hopes and dreams of his wildcard foe even more, Arrieta blasted an opposite field home run off the Pirates in his last start against them on Sunday. He didn’t give up a run and he created the only run he needed. Pittsburgh hasn’t face a single man this hellbent on its destruction since Bane.

Somewhere in Baltimore this week there is a man or woman emerging from a two-year coma. He will hear the name “Jake Arrieta” on TV and think: “No way! That guy is still in the majors?” And then he will hear that Arrieta is the greatest pitcher in all of baseball and he will immediately go back into a coma after suffering a brain aneurysm.

Because two years ago, Arrieta was as bad as he is good now. Maybe even more so, as hard as that is to fathom. In nearly 70 games and 63 starts with the Orioles over four years, he had a 5.46 ERA. You know, just 5.03 above his ERA over the past two months. He couldn’t even hold down a rotation spot in an Oriole rotation desperate for arms and Baltimore repeatedly shuttled him back and forth to Triple-A – and he wasn’t even any good there.

Check the timestamp. That tweet is from June of 2013. Just two years ago, Arrieta was a 27-year old pitcher putting up an ERA over 4.00 in the minors. Guys like that are much closer in their careers to becoming gym teachers than lights-out, don’t-even-bother-showing-up, major league aces. In early July of 2013, the Cubs traded Arrieta and Pedro Strop to the Cubs for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger and soon after, things finally started to click for him. There was no dramatic overhaul of his motion or life-changing visits to a sports psychologist. Some slight tweaks to his mechanics found Arrieta able to spot his mid-90s fastball better and make his slider dip and turn at varying speeds most any way he wants it to, making and left and right-handed hitters alike look foolish.

So now the Pirates and their ace, Gerrit Cole, face the reality that if they allow a single run next Wednesday, odds are their 96-plus-win season will end after a few hours of “postseason”. While the Pirates themselves, as confident and accomplished athletes, no doubt feel they have a great chance of beating Arrieta, many Pirates fans are either depressed or left grasping at unrelated, random minutiae and irrational hope.

“Hey, Clayton Kershaw is a generational pitcher and he loses a lot in the postseason. Maybe Arrieta will be the same!”

“Remember when the Pirates roughed up Madison Bumgarner late last season and then he dominated them in the wildcard game? The opposite could happen this year with Arrieta!”

“Kris Medlen had a 0.97 ERA in his final 12 starts of 2013, but then he got shelled in the wildcard game. What if Arrieta is the new Medlen?!”

“He’s been pitching great games for months. He’s due for a bad one, right?”

It’s kind of sad. No, it’s just sad. No “kind of.”

But the Pirates’ best hope might be this: If the worst pitcher in all of baseball can miraculously become the best pitcher in just two years, then it’s really true that anything is possible. Maybe even Jake Arrieta losing a baseball game.

“Sometimes, emotions spill over and that’s what happened today. It’s happened for hundreds of years in this game and I think it will continue to happen.” – Jonathan Papelbon, Washington Nationals closer, on fighting teammate Bryce Harper in the dugout on Monday.

Papelbon is not only an expert on baseball’s “code,” but he is also a student of history. A sport called “base-ball” was first referenced in a British publication in 1744, so the game truly has been around for “hundreds” of years. The American Revolution may have come to a head over taxation without representation, but for all we know, the first fractures between America and Great Britain came when the scrappy colonists were outraged by the entitled British failing to run out pop-ups.

– Astros outfielder Marwin Gonzalez hit the 24th home run of his career Tuesday night in a loss to the Mariners. It was also the 24th solo home run of Gonzalez’s career. Yes, every home run in his four-year career has been a solo shot. Amazing. Gonzalez better hope Papelbon doesn’t land on the Astros next year because that sort of selfish home run hitting would not be tolerated.

Johnny Giavotella, 2B, Angels – 7-for-15, 4 RBI

Matt den Dekker, OF, Nationals – 8-for-18, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Rays – 7-for-16, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB

Jarrett Parker, OF, Giants – 7-for-17, 5 HR, 9 RBI

Nick Tropeano, P, Angels – 11 innings, 16 strikeouts, 1 win, 0.82 ERA

Adam Conley, P, Marlins – 12 innings, 13 strive completed the signing of Porto defender Chidozie Awaziem.The Nigeria international arrives on a straight 12-month loan.Awaziem becomes the ninth summer signing made by Leganes and was due to undergo his first training session today under coach Maukeouts, 2.25 ERA

Thank you for this important question. If the unwritten rules of baseball were ever published, the answer to this would no doubt be revealed. And at considerable risk of being strangled by a Knight of The Baseball Code for answering your question in print, I will attempt to do so anyway. I am not afraid to put my life on the line for you, my dear readers.

Most would assume that you want to choke up, because the top of the human neck is narrower than the base, allowing you to wrap more of your hands around the neck of the baseball code-breaker. And choking up on the bassing out on the England squad.The centre-back was hoping that he would get a call up to the Three Lions squad by manager Gareth Southgate.However, he was left out for their Euro 2020 qualifiers. And the 26-year-old wants to continue focusing on doint is something gritty baseball players who play the game the right way do. Yet choking up on a neck is wrong. The right way to strangle is to grab the neck at the base and dig your thumbs in hard below the Adam’s apple to cut off the wind pipe. At least that’s the way my Little League coach taught me.

The Phillies have won thof manager Nigel Pearson.The Hornets were nine points adrift at the foot of the table prior to their home game against Manchester United and the goalkeeper has revealed that he feared the worst.”When we had nine points just before the Man United gameree in a row and four of five, including two in a row over the playoff-bound Mets. Are they the best team in baseball as the calendar flips to October? (No.)

There is intrigue left in the Phillies season, however. While the franchise has the most losses in the history of American professional sports, the Phillies haven’t lost 100 games in a season since 1961. If they can close the season 2-2 or better, they’ll keep that streak alive. At the same time, the Phillies stand just two games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds in the race for the worst record in baseball and the No1 overall pick. They really need to get back to losing to clinch. Choose how you end your season wisely, Phillies. Think what Ruben Amaro would do and then do the opposite.

The Cubs clinched their first postseason appearance since 2008 this week (assuming we’re all pretending the play-in game counts as the real postseason). The franchise made the Divisional Series in 2007 and 2008, but got swept both times. The Cubs haven’t won a playoff game since 2003 and the Steve Bartman NLCS. That’s so long ago now that . No ear buds. No smartphone (the iPhone didn’t come out until 2007). No social media. The Bartman incident essentially happened in ancient history. Hopefully Cubs fans can finally get over it and let the guy live his life in peace. I’m sure he’d love to be able to go out in public and buy one of these fancy smartphones we have now.

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman this week who believe A-Rod’s bat speed has slowed down as the season has progressed, but Rodriguez “remains a wily hitter who works counts well and can play to his strengths.” His No1 strength, of course? Wiliness.

The Post also ran a headline this week asking “” I didn’t bother to read the article, but if they meant: “Is Bryce Harper a great player who will spend the majority of his career on the Yankees?”, then I wholeheartedly answer “yes.”

1) I never played baseball at a high level, so I am no expert on the game’s locker room/strangulation culture. What I do know, however, is that if I was a MLB closer like Jonathan Papelbon, I’d probably keep my opinions of my team-mates to myself. Closers are pitchers – – whose entire job is to pitch one single inning AFTER THE REST OF THE TEAM HAS ALREADY TAKEN THE LEAD. If my employment and large income was contingent on everyone else playing well for eight innings every game before I showed up to try to get three outs a few times a week, I’d do everything I could to stay in my lane and hope nobody noticed how unimportant and overpaid I am. I especially wouldn’t call out the best player on my team and the guy whose performance had given me so many save opportunities. I mean, the guy who locked the doors at night at Apple probably never ripped into Steve Jobs for how he did his job, right? Or maybe he did. The tech world may have an uncoded code I don’t know about.

2) Former major league pitcher CJ Nitkowski got a lot of attention this week for his column that gave on the Papelbon-Harper dust-up and featured more than a dozen quotes from current and former major leaguers, all of whom sided with Papelbon. Nitkowski’s piece as advocating for the strangulation of players. Yet I know him to be a thoughtful and intelligent person, and seemingly not the kind of man who would push for mandatory chokings of the non-scrappy. So I contacted Mr Nitkowski and asked him straight out: “Do you support the public strangling of players for not running full speed to first?”

His response, exclusive to the Guardian: “I do not. These kind of things should take place behind closed doors where a player can be properly waterboarded or caned in private. No one is above the hustle.”

So there you go. I think we can all agree with that.

3) And now the dramatic conclusion to : I dug around more and still couldn’t determine if the rules forbid an American League player from being on the lineup card as both a pitcher and the DH, allowing him to stay in the game as a hitter even after being removed from the mound. So I asked ESPN baseball writer David Schoenfield if he knew the answer and he claims that it is not allowed. “You can choose not use the DH – this happened a few times in the 1970s, including twice with Ken Brett (George’s brother) – but you can’t DH the pitcher and let him stay in the game.”

And if you do try to do it? The manager must get waterboarded in the locker room.

4) And since we’re running out of baseball season and time for readers to ask questions, let’s throw in another one this week:

With great feats of consumption, the natural inclination is to think that the larger-bodied are ideal for the task. Someone like Matt Adams or Bartolo Colon. But if you look at the top competitive eaters, none of them are overweight. And Boggs played at a relatively svelte 6ft 2in 190lbs. So I think you want to go with a player who is in shape. There are obviously a lot to choose from in baseball, but just don’t expect Bryce Harper to be the one who pulls this off.

5) Every year since the wildcard was invented, baseball’s more curmudgeonly fans have tsk’d teams for celebrating making the postseason. “You’ve only made the wildcard! You have nothing to celebrate!” these people grunt while eating dinner out of a can in their dimly lit living rooms reeking of cat litter. But I think these people would be the first to say that practice makes perfect, and baseball teams clearly need to practice their celebration fundamentals.

6) The Astros are 8-13 since Taylor Swift performed at Minute Maid Park, falling out of a playoff spot in the process. The Padres are 11-17 since Swift played Petco Park in late August. And the Nationals have gone from first place to fighting each other since Swift performed in their stadium.

It sounds like Taylor Swift has become a major baseball curse. But I’m sorry, the Bambino had one of the best baseball curses of all-time!

7) Fan anthems are almost exclusively horrific. That’s what makes this new St Louis Cardinals anthem remarkable: it’s so awful it has been able to break through and get noticed, like a dirty needle in a rotten haystack.

Congratulations to the Cardinals. You’re the best at baseball AND the best at embarrassing music. That’s two things you’re the best at!

8) Lest we think baseball’s Papelbonian culture is a recent development, behold this note that Phillies manager Pat Moran wrote to Philadelphia fans 100 years ago in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

He references grit with “hustling.” He’s got some traditional sports cliches in there with “a team that goes out there and plays baseball the best it knows how.” But most remarkable of all is this sentence: “Some of these fellows may think that I haven’t a championship ball club, but they have been saying a lot of other things all summer long that they will now have to back water on.” I’m pretty sure this is the first-ever sports instance of “they hate us ‘cause they ain’t us,” but delivered in old timey words. Amazing.

9) You know, maybe Moran’s guts-over-brains viewpoint on baseball is what prompted the infamous “Get A BRAIN! MORANS” sign from this . That has to be it. Cardinals fans know how to spell the right way.

10) It’s October! Playoff baseball is almost here! Who’s pumped to over-analyze every manager move while we try to convince ourselves again that back-to-back playoff participant Ned Yost has no idea at all what he’s doing? Woo! Yes!

NBA brings the stars to Africa – but can basketball compete with soccer?

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has been a child refugee, played on the biggest stages of the NBA and met Barack Obama at the White House. And on Sunday he heads to war-torn South Sudan to visit his family. Yet it was the prospect of appearing before a few thousand people that gave him butterflies.

“It’s the first time I’ve played in front of the continent of Africa,” the 30-year-old said of an exhibition game in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Saturday. “Before the game I had to run back to the locker room. I don’t know why I got nervous but I did.”

Deng, said to be Obama’s favourite player, captained “Team Africa” against “Team World” in the . It was an experiment, and statement of intent, on a continent where you are never more than six feet from someone wearing an English or Spanish soccer shirt.

If truth be told, most of the players were content to phone in their performances for the first three quarters, with some casual defending and wayward passing – never more so than when Pau Gasol of the Chicago Bulls hurled the ball without looking then saw it bounce into empty hinterland.

At the stage Team Africa were well ahead, but then – who knows, perhaps not entirely by chance – Team World roared back with the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal and Memphis Grizzlies’ Jeff Green sinking several three pointers. The final quarter moved up several gears and finally animated the crowd, who cheered the Africans and booed their opponents, though nobody really minded that Team World ran out 101-97 winners.

Deng, who was a refugee from what is now South Sudan when he was three and – he still has a home in Brixton, south London – was certainly looking at a bigger picture. “This game is quite hopefully the first of many,” he said on court afterwards. “I was happy to see the the joy it brought to faces.”

Asked if basketball could compete with soccer and others sports in Africa, the Miami Heat forward replied: “Of course it can. Even if you have 30 sports in Africa, it’s never enough when you have so many people here and so many talents. The potential audience is big. Even if could bring a smile to a kid’s face for two hours, it brings me happiness.”

Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers, who captained Team World, was also enthusiastic. “It was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “In this day and age it’s hard to be pioneers of anything so it’s a privilege to be part of it. This is the first game here but I guarantee it won’t be the last.”

Deng scored 20 points. He and Paul were named most valuable players.

Among Saturday’s highlights, NBA legends Dikembe Mutombo and Hakeem Olajuwon took off their business suits to put on their old team strips again for a short burst in the second quarter. A turnaround jumper by Olajuwon, who in 1984 became the first African drafted into the NBA when he joined the Houston Rockets, prompted current stars to jump off the benches with their arms aloft.

Al-Farouq Aminu of the Portland Trail Blazers and Nigeria said: “It was special. I think the fans really got into it, especially in the second half, and I know the players enjoyed it. You can see the potential is there in Africa.”

Team Africa included NBA players who were first or second generation Cameroonian, Congolese, Nigerian, Senegalese and South Sudanese, but no South Africans – the country has never won the African championship. But Johannesburg has reTorreira.It was claimed in Italy yesterday that Milan have opened talks with the Uruguay midfielder’s representatives.And Tuttosport says Torreira is a dream signing for Milan management with Franck Kessie potentially being offered for the Uruguayan.gularly hosted the NBA’s camps.

Not everything hit the right note. The game was played at the scruffy 4,000-seat Ellis Park arena, much smaller than NBA stars are accustomed to. Tickets had reportedly sold out within two hours of becoming available, but dozens of empty seats were visible in the stand – possibly reflecting competition from the between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, which sold all 94,000 tickets.

Entertainment before the game, and during timeouts, lacked the razzmatazz of an American sporting spectacle. And some were puzzled that the players wore the shirts of their home teams instead of ones specifically designed for the contest. “I’m disappointed they’re wearing their own teams’ shirts,” said one local radio commentator. “If you’ve never seen basketball before, you’re going to be very confused.”

After previous forays in Brazil, China and Europe, NBA commissioner , who attended the match, said “it was only a matter of time before a pre-season game was staged in Africa”.

He told Agence-France Presse: “This match was an experiment. Among the reasons I am here is to investigate new facilities. We would want a larger, modern arena before staging a pre-season or regular season NBA match.”

Ellis Park arena has previously hosted events including an exhibition tennis match between Serena and Venus Williams. It is adjacent to the stadium where South Africa won thEverton have confirmed the loan of Sandro Ramirez to Real Valladolid.The Spanish striker will return to La Liga for the 2019/20 campaign, after spending time with Real Sociedad last season.The 23-year-old striker joined the Toffees from Malaga in 2017.Sandro also spent time on loan at Sevilla in 2018.e rugby World Cup 20 years ago with Nelson Mandela .

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who was in charge of Team Africa, said earlier this week: “You know, over here they’ve got soccer, rugby, cricket – it’s cricket, right? I don’t know if I’m saying that right – but basketball is just growing and doing something like this will help it grow even more.”

South Africa relaunched its basketball league in 2013 and games are televised. , the sports minister, tweeted on Saturday: “The NBA game was broadcast to alliker Samuele Longo has moved to Deportivo La Coruna.Longo goes to Deportivo La Coruna on loan with obligation to buy at the end of the season.He spent last season on loan at first Huesca and then Cremonese.The striker has only ever made two substitut states in the USA. The power of sport once more my country is on the map thru sport.”

The crowd was a mix of male and female, black and white. Buyile Gaga, 30, a data analyst, said: “I’m a fan and it’s one of those opportunities that don’t come very often. I’m very excited. Since basketball start in South Africa it’s been getting exposure. We’re going to see people getting used to it.”

Carlo Manna, 25, a chartered accountant, said: “It was interesting. The first three quarters they were taking very relaxed and that was disappointing, but in the last quarter they really got into it. Overall they did it very well. I hope they come back, with less of an exhibition feel.”

He added: “Basketball is big in schools here. Something like this will help raise its profile nationally. It definitely has a chance.”

Very possible Gerrit Cole will make first start for Pirates next week

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It is very possible right-hander and top prospect will make his major league debut for the on Tuesday, reports Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Lefty is unlikely to make the start after being diagnosed with inflammation in his left forearm.

Cole, 22, was the first overall pick in the 2011 draft and came into the season as one of the game’s very best pitching prospects. He’s gone 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 68 innings spread across a dozen Triir top January targets.Bruce had been interested in bringing Olivier Giroud on loan from Chelsea but the striker now looks set for Inter Milan.”If there’s something available and there’s a deal to be done, we’ll try to do it,” he said. “But we have tple-A starts this year, though he is currently riding a 19-inning scoreless streak.

Before the season, Baseball America ranked Cole as the  and said he “certainly has the looinho says he has received over 50 messages from people at Manchester United after his recent appointment.Mourinho replaces Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs, but it appears he is still regarded with affection by many at Old Trafford.The Portuguese coach lk of a No. 1 starter who could anchorday as Real Sociedad’s latest signing.A presentation media conference is scheduled for 1:30pm.Arriving in Spain on Sunday night, Monreal had a message for La Real fans: “Aupa aficion, I’m already in Donostia. I really want to start, I know there is a their rotation” in their 2013 Prospect Handbook.

The Pirates come into Friday at 35-25 and four games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central.

will be out for between four and five weeks after

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second baseman told the Arizona Republic Tuesday that he is ready to face pitchers.Hill has hit off a tee and has done soft toss for two straight days. He was hit by a pitch on his left hand.Lazio will finish the season outside the top four, though have won the Coppa Italia.“We’ve ended the season by again showing who we are, qualifying for the Europa League and winning the Coppa Italia,” Parolo said after Monday’s 3-3 draw with Bolog in early April and has only played 10 games this season.”There’s no discomfort,” Hill said. “It’s not perfect, but I’m not having to change my swing. It feels good, so Manchester United fans concerned about the state of the club.The Red Devils are languishing in the bottom half of the Premier League, only two points above the relegation zone after eight games.While Solskjaer acknowledges recent weeks have not beenI’m just going to keep going with it.”

More News 06/30/2017 • by RotoWire Staff 06/24/2017 • by RotoWire Staff 06/18/2017 • by RotoWire Staff 06/14/2017 • by RotoWire Staff 06/11/2017 • by RotoWire Staff have themselves to blame for failing to qualify for the Champions League.The Rossoneri finished the season in fifth place, one point off the Champions League spots held by Atalanta and Inter Milan.“We’re sorry that we dropped so many points on the 06/07/2017 • by RotoWire Staff

thaniel Clyne isn’t short of offers this summer.Th

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As expected, the have placed closer on the with a right groin injury following Saturday’s game against the Dodgers, The Denver Post reports.Betancourt suffered his third loss of the season Friday after surrendering two runs in the 10th inning. He has allowed four runs in his last 2 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

ully committed to Juventus.The striker says staying with Juve is the best decision for his development.He told the Soccer Bible, “When I came to Juventus, I understood that things would change. Juventus helps you to grow and become a man in all the e for England to trust in Joe Gomez.Many Three Lions fans were disappointed at the performance of Michael Keane in central defence against the Czech Republic.He was deemed at fault for the second goal, which gave the Czechs a 2-1 win in the Euro 2020 More News 02/26/2016 • by RotoWire Staff 08/23/2015 • by Elliot Smith 07/31/2015 • by Jason Lempert 06/26/2015 • by Shawn Krest 06/25/2015 • by Michael Hurcomb eaking of an academy record for the club this season.So far this season eight Academy graduates have made their first team debut: Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour, Ian Maatsen, Tino Anjorin, Reece James, Marc Guehi, Tariq Lamptey, and Armando Broja. That i 06/21/2015 • by Ruben Palacios

Quique Setien is happy leaning captain Lionel Mess

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relief pitcher played catch in the outfield for the third consecutive day Saturday as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery. Madson experienced his third setback last month in his recovery process. He has yet to pitch for the Angels this season.

More News 10/28/2018 • by RotoWire Staff tenure with Burnley comes to an end.The 33-year-old only played 11 times this season. He had spent the past five seasons at the Turf Moor club.However, he will now move on to pastures new after his contract expires.Taylor, who took his place in the 09/07/2018 • by RotoWire Staff 08/31/2018 • by RotoWire Staff 08/27/2018 • by RotoWire Staff lletti stated he was approached by AC Milan earlier this season, buthe insisted Inter wouldn’t release him from his gardening leave.But an Inter official told ANSA: “In addlopp is expecting a tough contest against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last-16.The Reds will return to the Wanda Metropolitano – where they won the final last season – on February 18 for the first leg of their tie against Diego Simeone’s Aition to the compensation accrued by Mr. Spalletti, the club had proposed a 08/26/2018 • by RotoWire Staff 08/19/2018 • by RotoWire Staff