The English Premier League returns on Wednesday after 100 days in the deep freeze, with Liverpool on the brink of winning the title in a radically changed football universe.
The English top flight follows Germany’s Bundesliga and La Liga in Spain in rebooting their seasons after the coronavirus lockdown, aiming to cram 92 games into six weeks of breathless action.
Aston Villa kick off against Sheffield United, to be followed later on Wednesday by Manchester City v Arsenal, before a cascade of matches.
Despite vocal complaints from some clubs and stars including Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling, “Project Restart” has largely gone smoothly, with regular testing of players and staff yielding few positives.
But when Villa and Sheffield United kick off, the watching world will be confronted with a jarring spectacle, with an eerie silence in the usually noisy stands.
Piping crowd chants into stadiums, cardboard cut-outs of supporters and live video fan walls will add colour but it will be impossible to mimic the usual vibrant atmosphere.
In total, about 300 people will be allowed in stadiums for each match, with strict health protocols in place.
There will be widespread disinfection of changing facilities, dugouts, matchballs, goalposts, corner flags and substitution boards.
People other than players and coaching staff on team benches must wear face coverings.
The games themselves will look different.
Players have been told to maintain social-distancing during goal celebrations and encouraged not to spit.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admits players will have to find motivation without the urgency provided by fans.
“The game is different,” he said in his pre-match press conference on Monday.
“The intensity drops a little bit. That urgency from the crowd doesn’t exist any more, how passionate the crowds are in England. We have to adapt.
“We have to experience it. We have to find ways to motivate our players as well in moments.”
But Aston Villa manager Dean Smith said his players were desperate to return, talking about the honour of playing the first game.
“The eyes of the world will be on us and we are looking forward to it,” he said.
“The players have been itching to get back.”
The hectic fixture list, warm summer temperatures and a lack of preparation time could lead to more injuries, so world governing body FIFA has given the green light for five substitutions per match.
“I’m motivated to get back into the ring, fight and win again” – Boxer Isaac Dogboe
Ghanaian-British professional boxer, Isaac Zion Dogboe, has said he is ready to fight again after taking a break from the sports a year ago.
The 25-year-old lost his WBO junior-featherweight title to Emmanuel Navarrete twice; first on December 8, 2018, then in an anticipated rematch, Dogboe lost again on 12th May 2019.
In an interview with Citi TV’s Godfred Akoto Boafo, Isaac Dogboe who has ‘Neho’ as his catchword said he is maturing in the game and upon a firm assessment believes he is ready to fight again.
I’m motivated to get back into the ring and get back to winning ways. So right now I’m just taking things slowly. I am starting to enjoy boxing again so right now that is a plus for me.
I have been able to sit back and look at things from other perspectives and really learnt a lot through this past year. Since the loss. I’m maturing in the game as well. It’s an achievement.”
In a tweet, the 2018 WBO junior-featherweight champion said he will be returning to the ring on 21st July 2020 in a bout against American pro boxer Chris Avalos.
Paul Dogboe, the boxer’s father and former manager in an interview with Joy FM said his son is in the right state and hands to make a superb comeback against Chris Avalos.
“You have to let the world know that truly you are back, you have everything. You have been out for a whole year.
“He has God on his side, great coach [Freddie Roach], and the best promoters, top rank. You have your destiny in your own hands we can just back you with our prayers.
“The only thing I have to tell him is to take his own destiny into his own hands. Daddy has brought you this far you have to do the rest now; you’re 25 years old. I’ve left him, he is with great people. I trust him and he’s going to do well”, he concluded.
Isaac Dogboe has fought 22 times, winning 20, with 14 of the wins being knockouts. He has lost only twice and it has all been against Emmanuel Navarrete.
His, opponent, Chris Avalos, 30, has 34 bouts under his name, winning 27 with 20 been knockouts and has lost six times.
Manchester City’s two-year Champions League ban lifted by CAS
Manchester City will play in the Champions League next season after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned the club’s two-year ban from European football.
Manchester City was handed the suspension by UEFA’s club financial control body in February for serious breaches of club licensing and financial fair play regulations.
The Premier League club vehemently denied any wrongdoing and appealed the decision at CAS last month, after previously describing the UEFA disciplinary process as “prejudicial”.
After hearing evidence over three days in June, CAS has now overturned the suspension – meaning City are free to compete in the Champions League next season, having secured second place in the Premier League with a 5-0 win over Brighton on Saturday.
Source: Sky Sports News
Asante Kotoko to represent Ghana in CAF Champions League while Ashantigold plays in CAF Confederations Cup
Asante Kotoko has been given the right to represent Ghana in CAF Champions League while Ashantigold plays in the CAF Confederations Cup.
Kotoko will be representing Ghana in CAF Champions League while Ashantigold plays in the Confederations Cup, an official report has it.
The Communication Director of the Ghana FA, Henry Asante Twum said in an interview that the Executive Council have settled on the two clubs to represent the West African nation in the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup.
Henry Asante stated that the decision was made by the Executive Council of the Ghana FA after a marathon meeting held on Tuesday which has resulted in the cancellation of the 2019/20 football season.
“The decision to end the season was made today by the Executive Council of the FA. Asante Kotoko and Ashanti Gold SC are Ghana’s representatives for the 2020/21 CAF Inter-club competitions,” Asante told Accra-based radio station Angel 102.9 FM
“The Executive Council settled on the two clubs after the truncation of the 2019/20 Ghana Premier League season today”
“We will communicate the decision to the two clubs tommorow [Wednesday]. The runner-ups of the GFA Normalization Committee Special Competitions will be considered should any of the club decides not to play”.
Meanwhile, the entire Ghana Football Season has been cancelled by the Ghana FA Executive Council because of the impact of COVID-19.
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