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CHELSEA may have handed Manchester United “the last part of the jigsaw” by selling them midfielder Nemanja Matic, says former England striker Ian Wright.

The 29-year-old Serb, who joined for £40m, was United’s third summer buy after Benfica defender Victor Lindelof and Everton striker Romelu Lukaku.

Chelsea won the Premier League title last season, finishing 24 points clear of sixth-placed United.

“Right now Chelsea are in a worse position than last year,” added Wright.

As well as selling Matic, Chelsea have told Spain striker Diego Costa he is free to leave, decided not to offer a new contract to veteran skipper John Terry and sold back-up keeper Asmir Begovic to Bournemouth.

The Blues have signed Monaco midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata, Roma defender Antonio Rudiger and former Manchester City keeper Willy Caballero.

“They have signed Bakayoko from Monaco to replace Matic, but he has to come in and hit the ground running because Chelsea want to go far in the Champions League and defend the Premier League trophy,” Wright told BBC Radio 5 live’s Monday Night Club.

“They are getting rid of players who are experienced and from who you know exactly what you’re going to get.”

‘Chelsea may struggle to replace Costa goals’

Costa, 28, scored 20 goals in 35 Premier League games to help the Blues win the title but has been told by manager Antonio Conte he is free to leave Stamford Bridge.

The former Atletico Madrid striker was dropped in January after a dispute with a fitness coach, amid rumours of a move to China, although Conte said he was “very happy to play” when recalled.

Chelsea completed the club record £60m signing of Spain striker Morata, 24, on a five-year deal last month.

“With Costa not involved you have taken away 20 goals and someone has to replicate that,” said Wright, who scored 185 goals in 288 games for Arsenal between 1991 and 1998.

“I’m not saying Morata won’t do that, but when you look at Chelsea as a whole, they have a good team but are lacking depth.”

Conte is being undermined – Sutton

After winning the Premier League title in his debut campaign, Conte says the new season will be “the most difficult” of his career.

The Italian, 48, has spoken of the need for Chelsea to sign more players and gave terse answers when questioned about the matter again in his news conference after Sunday’s Community Shield defeat by Arsenal.

The former Juventus and Italy boss declined to answer when asked if his squad was ready to challenge in all four competitions this season.

Last week he also appeared to indicate he did not want Matic to leave.

“He is being undermined. To sell one of your best players to a rival? If he didn’t want him to go and he has been sold then it is a problem,” former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton said.

“He is extremely agitated. If he doesn’t get players in then it wouldn’t surprise me if he walked.”

‘Chelsea should give youngsters a chance’

Chelsea have struggled to produce regular first-team players from their academy in recent seasons, despite winning four successive FA Youth Cups and the U21 Premier League in 2014.

This summer the Blues have sold academy products defender Nathan Ake, midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah and winger Bertrand Traore, also allowing striker Tammy Abraham to join Premier League rivals Swansea on a season-long loan.

Wright believes Chalobah – who has joined Watford after six loans spells away from Stamford Bridge – and Abraham should have been given a chance by Conte this season.

“Chelsea don’t bring them through into the first team because it is a different business. They bring them through to sell them,” Wright said.

“Someone like Chalobah is good enough to have a little run in that team and if Tammy Abraham scores goals and Alvaro Morata doesn’t it is embarrassing.

“Chelsea have not even given them a chance.” – BBC

KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian women’s football team lose 0-2 to India in a class  ‘A’ international friendly match at  Selayang Municipal Council Stadium (MPS) tonight.

Substitute player Pyari  Xava was the toast of India when she scored two goals in the second half to ensure a valuable win for the South Asian Confederation Cup champions.

Malaysia will face Singapore on August 9 as final preparation before opening their Kuala Lumpur SEA Games 2017 (KL2017) campaign on Aug 15 against the Philippines.

For the record, Malaysia’s best result was at the 1995 SEA Games in Chiangmai, Thailand when the team won the silver medal. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian Under 15 (U-15) team continue their scintillating performance display by whipping Brunei 3-0 in the 2017 ASEAN Football Federation U-15 Football Championship in Chonburi, Thailand, today.

The Malaysian boys, who had secured two straight victories in the preliminary match, got off to a perfect start after Muhammad Azrul Haikal Ramlee drew the first blood as early as the 5th minute.

Muhammad Amirul Azzim Mohd Ruzki doubled the lead in the 37th minute with a beautiful shot which curled into Brunei’s top post in the match held at the IPE Chonburi Campus Stadium.

After the restart,  Malaysia got their third goal via Muhammad Amirul Ashrafiq Hanifah in the 47th minute.

The 3-0 result remained until the end of the match, said a twitter from  the National Football Development Programme (NFDP).

For the record, Malaysia defeated the Philippines and Timor Leste with a 2-0 results in previous two preliminary matches on Monday and Wednesday.

Malaysia will meet two-time winners, Vietnam while Brunei will take on Cambodia in the fourth group match. Both matches will be held at the same venue on Sunday.

The 12th edition of the annual tournament held since 2002 features 12 countries.

Defending champions  Australia lead the Group A with three-time winners Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, Myanmar and Singapore.

Group B comprise Vietnam, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia.

For the record, Malaysia emerged victorious in 2013 by defeating Indonesia 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out after both teams were tied 1-1 after regulation time.

It was previously played as an U-16 tournament. The new age group was only introduced this year. – BERNAMA

 

IPOH – Three football fans were shot by a gunman following an altercation between supporters of rival teams on Sunday evening.

The shooting occurred after Dream Team thumped Menglembu FC 4-0 at Padang Ipoh here at about 6pm, during which Menglembu fans had shouted profanities at Dream Team supporters.

In the incident, the gunman opened fire at the three men identified as S. Sutager, 29, S. Adwinray, 24, and P. Khechan Kumar, 21, near a convenience store in Jalan Kledang Timur 10, Menglembu at about 7.30pm.

Sutager, who was shot in the abdomen, and Adwinray, who sustained two gunshot wounds in his neck, are in critical condition while Khechan, who was shot in his right arm, is reportedly in stable condition.

All three have been admitted at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital.

Police yesterday arrested three suspects aged between 21 and 28 — including one of the injured men.

Police also seized four machetes and a car following the arrest, but it is learnt that the gun has not been recovered.

Meanwhile, seven other suspects including the gunman have been identified and are being hunted by police.

It is learnt that shortly after the football match, the father of one of the shooting victims had received a phone call from a man who asked that his son meet him outside the convenience store in Menglembu about 7.30pm.

The man’s son went with two of his friends, who apparently did not know what the “meeting” was about, and were fired upon by the gunman.

A police source told theSun the suspects as well as the victims were believed to involved in underworld gang activities.

The source said the gunman is from “Gang 21” based in Batu Gajah, while the victims were believed to be linked to the “08 Menglembu” gang.

Police have since formed a task force to track down members of both gangs.

The case is being investigated under Section 307 of the Penal Code for attempted murder and Section 39 of the Firearms Act 1960.

Deputy state police chief Datuk Zainuddin Yaacob said police will issue a statement on the incident today. – The Sun

Amazon announced Wednesday it is making a foray into streaming live sports with a deal to add pro US football games to its Prime subscription video service.

Rights to stream 19 Thursday night matches of the National Football League during the 2017 season were bought by Amazon, which planned to make games available in real time to millions of Prime subscribers worldwide.

“Our focus is on bringing customers the best premium video programming, when and how they want to watch it,” Amazon senior vice president of business development and entertainment Jeff Blackburn said in a release.

“Streaming Thursday Night Football on Prime Video is a great step for us toward that vision.”

The news marks the latest for a major sports league on streaming rights, aiming to boost online viewers as more fans move to Internet platforms.

The NFL experimented with live online streaming last season in an exclusive partnership with Twitter, but handed off the rights this year to Amazon in what was reported to be a more lucrative deal.

Amazon and the NFL did not disclose financial terms of the arrangement, but US media reported that the company paid US$50mil (RM221.7mil) in a five-fold jump from the US$10mil (RM44.5mil) paid last year by Twitter.

Thursday night NFL games are also broadcast by NBC and CBS television networks.

“We are continually looking for ways to deliver our games to fans wherever they watch, whether on television or on digital platforms and we are thrilled to bring Thursday Night Football to Amazon,” NFL chief media and business officer Brian Rolapp said.

Streaming NFL games was believed to have boosted Twitter use, ad Amazon likely bought rights to the matches to boost the allure of a service that competes with on-demand television star Netflix. – AFP Relaxnews

HONG KONG – Fatigue may be setting in for some Chinese football investors. LeEco has just lost the rights to screen top Asian matches. The cash-strapped group, led by hyperactive entrepreneur Jia Yueting, has unique problems. Still, some others have probably overstretched too.

On Tuesday (28/02), the Asian Football Confederation scrapped a 2015 contract with LeEco. The AFC did not say why, but Reuters says LeEco’s subsidiary LeSports missed a payment on a $100 million-plus contract giving it exclusive rights to show big tournaments like the Asian Champions League in China.

It is the latest setback for Jia’s beleaguered conglomerate, which sprawls from televisions to electric cars. In December, LeSports salvaged an English Premier League contract after reaching a last-minute compromise over $30 million of unpaid fees. Last month, Jia sold off various stakes to secure a $2.2 billion capital injection from a property developer.

Jia, though, is just one of many Chinese tycoons pouring record sums into clubs, players, broadcast rights and sponsorship deals. President Xi Jinping’s enthusiasm for the game has helped spark a frenzy. Clubs like Inter Milan in Italy and England’s West Bromwich Albion are Chinese-owned, while sides in the People’s Republic have signed stars such as Argentine striker Carlos Tevez. Reuters says Chinese buyers spent more than $3 billion abroad over the past year.

But many deals are likely to be disappointing, at least financially. Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man, last year warned that buying sports teams was unlikely to make money. Rights to broadcast in China have soared to record highs, thanks to video-streaming platforms, but paying viewers are still scarce.

Meanwhile, mainland clubs have splashed out huge sums but are unlikely to make a good return: match-day receipts and broadcasting and advertising sales are slowly climbing, but not fast enough to offset the huge costs of poaching high-profile coaches and players.

The combination of trophy assets, high prices, inexperienced buyers, and weak finances is dangerous. And signs of strain are already appearing elsewhere. An $800 million-plus takeover of Italy’s AC Milan by a little-known Chinese consortium is dragging on. More Chinese players are likely to get stretchered off the field. – JG

KUALA LUMPUR – Two-time champions Perak and Ministry of Finance Football Club (MOF FC) completed the list of 16 teams to the third round of the FA Cup after the conclusion of the second round matches tonight.

Perak beat the Selangor Malays Football Association 3-0 at the Perak Stadium, Ipoh.

Playing without supporters clearly did not affect the rythm of ‘The Bos Gaurus’ squad who scored via Vladislav Mirchev in the 14th minute and followed by two goals from Faton Toski, in the 26th and 48th minutes.

The FAM Disciplinary Committee, prior to this, had fined the Perak Football Association RM47,000 and ordered them to play without spectators for two matches.

This followed the wild behaviour of their supporters who threw bottles at Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) supporters causing injuries during their Super League match between Perak and JDT at the Perak Stadium on Aug 6.

MOF FC mauled Kadazan Dusun Murut Malaysia Football Club (KDMM FC) 4-0 at Likas Stadium, Kota Kinabalu.

The goals of the squad, coached by S. Balachandran, were scored by Rudie Ramlie in the 32nd and 79th minutes, Hafizi Amiruddin (37th minute) and a goal by substitute, Mohd Hakim Zainal during injury time.

For the record, 14 teams have confirmed their berths in the third round of the FA Cup, namely, defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim, Kedah, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka United, Terengganu and Kuantan FA.

The other teams are Pahang, T-Team, Sabah, Sarawak, UiTM FC, Perlis and another Perak representative, PKNP FC.

The draw for the third round of the FA Cup is scheduled to take place during the ‘Nasi Lemak Kopi O’ programme on TV9 on Sunday (Feb 19). – BERNAMA

LONDON (Reuters) – Manchester United have deposed Real Madrid as the world’s richest football club after revenue grew to a record $735 million in 2015-16, according to Deloitte’s annual Money League published on Thursday.

The 20-times English champions knocked Madrid off the perch they had occupied for 11 years with a return to the Champions League and increased commercial revenue key to their rise.

Real dropped to third behind Barcelona with Bayern Munich fourth and Manchester City into the top five for the first time after a run to the Champions League semi-finals.

Eight of the top 20 (including five of the top 10) revenue generators are from the Premier League, reflecting the greater financial clout England’s top-flight clubs enjoy compared with their European counterparts.

Surprise champions Leicester City made the list for the first time in 20th place and Tim Bridge, senior manager at Deloitte, said it is likely every Premier League club will be in the top 30 next year thanks to an eye-watering 5.1 billion pounds television rights deal that kicked in this season.

“The Money League continues to demonstrate the Premier League’s financial strength in depth,” Bridge, senior manager at Deloitte, said. “The appearance of Leicester shows that on-pitch success gives any Premier League club a chance of a place in the top 20.

“There is a strong chance that almost all Premier League clubs will be in the top 30 clubs next year.”

Only one other Spanish club, Atletico Madrid, made the top 20 while there were three from Germany and four from Italy led by Juventus in 10th place. Paris St Germain, the only French club in the list, dropped to sixth from fourth. Russian club Zenit St Petersburg completed the top 20.

Combined revenues, which excludes player transfer fees, VAT and other sales related taxes, of the top 20 clubs went up 12 percent to 7.4 billion euros.

United, who have returned to the top for the first time since 2003-04, Barcelona and Real all broke the 600 million euros ($639.96 million) revenue barrier in 2015-16 – the first clubs to do so.

“It has taken phenomenal commercial revenue growth to help them (United) achieve this,” Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said, referring to a 71 million increase in commercial revenue.

“In recent years, their ability to secure commercial partnerships with value in excess of that achievable by their peers has been the crucial factor in enabling the club to regain their place at the top of the Money League.”

Despite United’s woeful group stage exit from the Champions League last season and a fifth-placed finish in the Premier League under ex manager Louis van Gaal, commercial partners continued to be drawn to Old Trafford like moths to a flame.

Gulf Oil International signed a three-year commercial partnership last season taking the total of company logos lurking down the bottom of the club’s website homepage to 24.

United’s kit deal with adidas, now in it’s second season, is worth 750 million pounds ($923.18 million) and their other partners include car firm Chevrolet and financial services giant Aon who sponsor the club’s state-of-the-art training ground.

The top 20 in the money league

Club 2015/16 2015/16

Position Revenue Revenue

(last (€m) (£m)

year’s (2014/15 (2014/15

position) Revenue) Revenue)

1 (3) Manchester 689 (519.5) 515.3

United (395.2)

2 (2) Barcelona 620.2 463.8

(560.8) (426.6)

3 (1) Real Madrid 620.1 (577) 463.8 (439)

4 (5) Bayern 592 (474) 442.7

Munich (360.6)

5 (6) Manchester 524.9 392.6

City (463.5) (352.6)

6 (4) Paris 520.9 389.6

Saint-Germai (480.8) (365.8)

n

7 (7) Arsenal 468.5 350.4

(435.5) (331.3)

8 (8) Chelsea 447.4 (420) 334.6

(319.5)

9 (9) Liverpool 403.8 302 (298.1)

(391.8)

10 (10) Juventus 341.1 255.1

(323.9) (246.4)

11 (11) Borussia 283.9 212.3

Dortmund (280.6) (213.5)

12 (12) Tottenham 279.7 209.2

Hotspur (257.5) (195.9)

13 (16) Atletico 228.6 171 (134.4)

Madrid (176.6)

14 (13) Schalke 04 224.5 167.9

(219.7) (167.1)

15 (15) AS Roma 218.2 163.2

(179.1) (136.3)

16 (14) AC Milan 214.7 160.6

(199.1) (151.5)

17 (18) Zenit St 196.5 147 (127.7)

Petersburg (167.8)

18 (na) West Ham 192.3 143.8

United (160.9) (122.4)

19 (20) Inter Milan 179.2 134 (125.4)

(164.8)

20 (na) Leicester 172.1 128.7

City (137.2) (104.4)

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s football fortunes remained unchanged in the FIFA ranking list as the new year’s list released by the world governing body for football saw Malaysia remain in 161st spot.

According to the FIFA ranking list released on the FIFA website www.fifa.com today, Malaysia stayed in 161st position, the same as in December, probably due to lack of international tournaments.

At the Asian and Asean levels, Malaysia’s positions also remained unchanged at 31st and fifth respectively in a list of 46 countries (Asian) and 10 countries (Asean).

In Asean the Philippines lead the pack in (122) spot, Thailand (126), Vietnam (136 and Myanmar (159).

The current ranking has placed Malaysia on par with developing countries like Aruba Islands (160), Macedonia (162) and Maldova (165).

Two Latin American countries Argentina with 1,634 points and Brazil with 1,544 maintained first and second places respectively while 2014 World Cup winner Germany are in third on 1,433.

The Ranking list released by FIFA involves 209 countries. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) will introduce nine new categories in the 2016 National Football Awards that will be held on Dec 23.

With the new additions, the National Football Awards will see winners in 25 categories compared with 16 last year.

The new categories are Best Social Media Award, Best Website, Community Award, Special Award – President’s Cup, Special Award – Youth Cup, Newcomers Award – MISC MIFA, Newcomers Award – PKNP FC, Special Award and Honorary Award.

The Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership (FMLLP) in a statement today said the increase from 16 to 25 will add to the prestige of the National Football Awards.

Meanwhile, awards for the Most Valuable Player (MVP), Best Striker, Best Midfielder, Best Defender, Best Goalkeeper, Best Coach, Best Import Player and Best Woman Player would go through a voting process by 24 coaches, team captains and media personnel.

The voting process for awards would be held until Dec 16, and the top five candidates in each category will be shortlisted and the winner announced on the awards night.

FMLLP chief executive officer Kevin Ramalingam said seven of the 15 awards would be presented even before the awards night, namely during the 2017 FA Cup draw on Dec 22. – BERNAMA