Carl Frampton pining for Jamel Herring title shot as COVID-19 battle continues – EXCLUSIVE

Just a few days had trickled past Christmas and into 2019 when Carl Frampton began to think about retiring following his devastating loss to Josh Warrington in Manchester. Frampton was handled firmly but competitively by his Yorkshire-born opponent, who gave the performance of his life on that December night.

Frampton’s enjoyed an impressive career up to now.

He won his first world title at super-bantamweight by out-pointing Kiko Martinez in 2014 before going on to unify against bitter rival Scott Quigg two years later.

Rematch negotiations stalled and Frampton moved on to fight handy Mexican Leo Santa Cruz at featherweight, beating him in New York but losing the rematch in Las Vegas.

When the chance rolled around to fight Warrington for another world title, Frampton was considered the favourite, but not by a massive stretch.

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After almost being floored in the first round, Frampton came back to win a few frames but ultimately lost a unanimous decision.

But approach a pre-pro Frampton and ask him if he’d have taken what he’s been served until now. Absolutely yes.

“I wanted to win a world title,” he exclusively tells Express Sport.

“If you’d have said to me and granted me a wish saying you’ll win it and then lose it in your first defence, I’d have taken it. Just so I could say I’d been a world champion. It was a real objective of mine.


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“But to unify the 122lb division and then move up and beat a great fighter in Leo Santa Cruz, I wouldn’t have imagined that at the start.

“I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved in my career.”

After deciding against retirement, a rollercoaster 2019 came. Frampton was scheduled to take on Emmanuel Dominguez in August before an ornament at the Philadelphia hotel he was staying at fell onto his hand and fractured his fifth metacarpal.

Broken hand and all, Frampton jumped into a November fight with American Tyler McCreary, dominating over 10 rounds to win a decision. The bout spelled more trouble for the Northern Irishman, however.


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He adds: “I went into the fight with a broken left hand. I felt like I couldn’t not fight because of the first half of the year, and then I broke my right hand in the fight.”

But Frampton’s next attempt at world title glory had been lined up by legendary promoter Bob Arum. WBO super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring eagerly stepped into the ring and stood over Frampton with nonchalance.

The size difference was clear, but ‘three-weight world champion’ was a title that amateur fighter Frampton couldn’t have ever imagined would be said in front of his name.

“I was just thinking about the Herring fight in the ring,” Frampton says. “I didn’t know whether I needed an operation on my hands or if it was just time and rest.

“Initially I was thinking it’s great that Herring is here, it’s great he’s in the ring and it’s great Bob Arum has talked about the fight. I was just thinking let’s get these hands healed.”

Windsor Park in Belfast was talked about as a potential venue for a summer fight, but the coronavirus pandemic now stands in the way of Frampton and another world title.

The virus has wreaked global havoc, infecting over 1.3million people, and killing over 70,000. Phrases like ‘self-isolation’ and ‘social distancing’ have been all the rage over a turbulent last month.

Sport, as we know it, is at a complete standstill. The Premier League and the NBA, two of the biggest sports leagues in the world, have halted operation until it’s deemed safe to resume.

Boxing in Europe and North America, at least until July, is moot. But Frampton’s coping, like the rest of the world has to.

“We all have to find ways to cope with it,” he explains. “I’m getting a wee bit of cabin fever now. We’ve been self-isolating since before St. Patrick’s Day.

“I’m lucky I have a decent sized garden and the weather has been nice for the kids.

“I’ve been training at home with the bags and the pads, the date for Herring was June 13, I can’t renumber when I was supposed to go into camp… I think around March 16.

I want to win a big fight and then go out that way

Carl Frampton

“I got a bit of advice from a doctor from the British Board of Control, a guy called Mark Duffy and I asked his opinion when things were getting ropey. I asked whether I should travel and whether I should start camp or not. He suggested not because I may or may not get home because flights were getting cancelled.”

Frampton remains positive and hopeful that the Herring fight will come. He’ll be ‘happy enough’ if it happens in 2020. Herring seems to be exuding the same positivity on social media, where many have noticed that niceties being exchanged during the pair’s makeshift fight build-up.  

“Jamel Herring is a nice guy,” he adds. “There’s no reason for me to be not nice, or for me to change my character or be obnoxious towards him.

“He’s in a similar situation to me, he’s got a young family he’s trying to provide for. That’s all it is really, it’s just a fight.”

So much has come following Frampton’s decision not to retire, and just last month he watched and winced at ex-rival Quigg’s painful final flurry in the ring against Jono Carroll.

Frampton doesn’t know when that time will come, but he wants it to be at the right moment. Perhaps after a win over Herring. Once the coronavirus passes, though, there’s one thing on the 5ft 5in fighter’s mind.

“I want to win a big fight and then go out that way,” Frampton admits. “Jamel Herring is a big man, he’s a southpaw and he’s very determined. You can tell in how he talks and how he fights, he’s mentally a very tough person but it’s a fight I believe I can win.

“But what I want to do as well after all this is go on holiday with my family. We’ve got one booked, Turkey in August, there’s about 22 of us going, a right squad. Whether it happens or not, who knows.”

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Man Utd complete transfer agreed in January, Arsenal want Barcelona target, Chelsea warned

Wednesday, April 8

  • Lyon will listen to offers for striker Moussa Dembele
  • But the French side will NOT be selling Houssem Aouar
  • Arsenal are ‘well placed’ to sign Real Madrid’s Cesar Gelabert
  • Manchester United have completed the signing of Radek Vitek
  • Sokratis Papastathopoulos is seriously considering his future at Arsenal

Lyon decision

Lyon will listen to offers for striker Moussa Dembele in the upcoming transfer window.

However, they will not entertain the possibility of losing £65million-rated Houssem Aouar, according to French newspaper L’Equipe.

Dembele, who is being chased by Chelsea and Manchester United, has registered 42 goals and provided 13 assists in 88 appearances for Lyon since his arrival from Celtic.

It’s thought the sought-after talent would like a return to England and the Ligue 1 side are ready to cash in.

Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City are interested in Aouar with Jurgen Klopp’s side even reported to have initiated talks to discuss his availability.

But Lyon have made it clear that they will not sell the 21-year-old this summer.


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Wanted: Cesar Gelabert

Arsenal are leading Premier League rivals Manchester United in the battle to sign Real Madrid teenager Cesar Gelabert.

That’s according to Spanish newspaper AS, who claim Mikel Arteta’s side are ‘well placed’ to secure the attacking midfielder’s services in the upcoming transfer window.

Gelabert’s current deal is set to expire in June 2021 and talks have struck an impasse with the player’s chances of breaking into Zinedine Zidane’s plans thought to be slim.

Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Lyon are all ‘keeping tabs’ on the 19-year-old’s situation – but AS believe it could be a straight shootout between Arsenal and Barcelona.

The Gunners have been extensively scouting Gelabert for a number of months, while Barcelona believe the right offer could tempt their fiercest rivals to do business.


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Man Utd sign Radek Vitek

Manchester United have completed the signing of teenage goalkeeper Radek Vitek.

The Red Devils agreed a deal with Czech Republic side Sigma Olomouc for the 16-year-old prodigy in January – but had to wait to officially complete the transfer.

The towering 6ft 5in goalkeeper will now join United on scholarship terms in July.

“It’s a surreal feeling, a move to Manchester United is the dream of a lot of guys who start playing football,” he told Sigma Olomouc’s official website. “I’m really looking forward to it. I admit I didn’t even believe it when I found out about the club’s interest, but now it’s definitely a reality.”

The Czech club’s sporting director, Ladislav Minar added: “If Radek were to play for the Manchester team in the future or move to another club, the financial satisfaction would be of interest to Sigma.”

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Man Utd boss Solskjaer has brutal transfer plan to ‘exploit’ financially stricken clubs

Manchester United are willing to take advantage of clubs struggling to make ends meet because of the coronavirus crisis if they want to sign their players in the next transfer window.

Head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a brutal admission to Sky Sports’ Gary Neville claiming he would not be afraid to “exploit” sides in a weaker position.

The coronavirus pandemic has left many clubs across the globe struggling to pay their players and staff.

Premier League football is unlikely to resume until June at the very earliest, while some leagues across Europe have ended their season early.

The loss of matchday revenue, TV income and corporate sponsorship may have some teams needing to sell their top players when the transfer window reopens.

And Solskjaer will look to use United’s strong financial position to snap up some bargains at way below the market price.

“Football is going to get back to normality and we have to be ready,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports. “Of course we discuss players, we discuss plans and we evaluate what we need.

“Us and the coaching staff have discussed games on video calls like this.

“Who knows how the market is going to react to this? Who Knows which clubs need to sell players?

“There might be a situation that we can exploit at Man Utd, we are the biggest [club] and we are well off.


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“I am sure we are capable of doing the business that we want too.”

Solskjaer has made it no secret that he will be working on getting new faces in the door while he has plenty of time on his hands.

However, he will also be boosted by the fact several injured players could return to full health during the UK’s lockdown.

Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba were sidelined before the season was postponed but Solskjaer hinted they could both return to the fold when play resumes.

“Paul and Marcus have been out, now we’ve still got games left, and I think everyone in the league will start more or less on the same level,” the Norwegian said.

“Maybe they’ve got more motivation to keep going now, as they can see when they’re back they may be on the same level or even a better level physically.

“In a way, they have got an opportunity here to play a bigger part in this season than they had hoped. And they are big players for us, some of the most important players.

“I’ve always been impressed with the players when we’ve had breaks. When we came back from pre-season they were really focused.

“We’ve had the mid-season break now, we did a few things tactically in Marbella in that week and they came back focused.

“We can kick on, I’m sure we can get a good start and climb up that table if we keep doing the right thing. Even with the FA Cup and Europa League, if that does go ahead, we’ve got good chances there.”

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Toto Wolff and Lawrence Stroll theory emerges as Mercedes to Aston Martin move talked up

Toto Wolff will be lured from Mercedes to Aston Martin one day because Lawrence Stroll has made a habit of working with the top talents in business. That is the verdict of former F1 driver Johnny Herbert as speculation over the Mercedes team principal’s future continues to mount.

Wolff has seen his reputation as one of F1’s top operators grow over the past few years thanks to his central role in Mercedes’ spell of dominance at the top of the constructors’ and drivers’ standings.

The Austrian, who used to be involved with Williams, is a successful entrepreneur too and has been tipped to invest some of his own cash in Aston Martin.

The British car manufacturers have just received a £260m cash injection from a consortium led by Canadian billionaire Stroll, who Wolff is close to.

Wolff has denied speculation he will head to Aston Martin, but Herbert has a theory on what the Mercedes chief and Stroll will be planning to do in the long-term.

“Yeah, I definitely would,” Herbert told Sky Sports F1, when asked if he would imagine Wolff and Stroll will want to work together. “I think that relationship you talk about is very strong.

“I think it’s a great fit, to be perfectly honest; with what Racing Point [plan to do], with what Aston Martin down the line [plan to do] – as the team will be called. They will want to have the best possible people.

“That’s what Lawrence Stroll has done over the years with all different brands that he’s been involved with. Make it as strong as it possibly can [be] and that means management.”

Wolff had been tipped to head up Aston Martin’s road car division but there is a chance he might fancy the opportunity to lead them into an exciting new era when the Racing Point F1 team are rebranded under their name.

Asked about his future this week, though, Wolff insisted his focus is on reigning F1 champions Mercedes for now.


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“I’m not going to become CEO of Aston Martin, and I’m not going to make a strategic investment there either,” Wolff said.

“Stroll and his team are a big customer of our racing team. They purchase engines, gearboxes and suspension parts from Mercedes.

“In addition, Lawrence has been a good friend of mine for many years – regardless of our business relationships.

“I’m in the eighth year now [at Mercedes]. I love sports and this team. However, I am somewhat surprised by the turn of events over the winter and by the behaviour of individual people.

“Of course, this also has to do with my decision on what to do in 2020 and beyond. But I am and will remain the head of Mercedes Motorsport and F1 boss, and nothing will change in the short-term.”

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UFC 249: Justin Gaethje explains why he bypassed Conor McGregor fight for Tony Ferguson

Conor McGregor was thought to be lining up Justin Gaethje as his next UFC opponent, but the American says he bypassed the chance to make the most money possible in fighting the Irishman by deciding to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 to become a legend.

Ferguson was originally scheduled to face off with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 249 in Brooklyn.

But the fight was nixed after Nurmagomedv became stuck in his home country of Russia because of the coronavirus.

The fight has now been moved to the west coast of the United States and will go ahead on April 18 with Gaethje in Nurmagomedov’s place.

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But he won’t make the money that he would have earned fighting McGregor, the sport’s biggest star.

“If I lose, then where are we at? It’s in the same exact spot we’re in right now,” Gaethje said.

“I’m gonna go out there and get a paycheck, which is nice, but ultimately, I get a chance for glory.


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“Heroes live forever, legends never die, and I’m literally here to make a statement.

“My name will be carried on far longer after I’m here because of my effort, my work ethic and the skills I possess.”

Gaethje then outlined how he was going to approach his fight with Ferguson, promising to knock him out.

“I got the perfect dance partner that I dream  I hit him, he’ll go to sleep,” he added.


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“I possess some of the best finishing skills on the UFC roster.

“I’m gonna attack his body, I’m gonna attack his legs, and whenever he’s worried about those I’m gonna punch him in the head and hopefully, he goes to sleep.

“If not, he’s probably going to cut me up with some elbows, probably choke me out late in the fight if I don’t put him to sleep.

“I’m content with every single one of those scenarios as long as I get to go in there and I don’t disappoint myself, or my family.

“That’s my only goal.”

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Barcelona change mind on Neymar transfer which could upset Lionel Messi for two reasons

Barcelona no longer see Neymar as a priority signing for the next transfer window, says Spanish football expert Guillem Balague. Barcelona are keen on re-signing Neymar three years after selling him for a world-record £200million to Paris Saint-Germain. A player-plus cash deal has been rumoured, with Antoine Griezmann potentially heading in the opposite direction to Paris.

Balague says Barca are willing to get rid of Griezmann, less than 12 months after his £107m arrival from Atletico Madrid, to bring Neymar back.

But he believes the current financial climate, affected because of the coronavirus outbreak, means mega deals such as that are unlikely this year.

“Yes they would [sell Griezmann to bring back Neymar],” Balague said on his YouTube channel.

“But this is such a strange situation right now that it doesn’t seem to me that there are going to be massive, massive deals happening.

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“So if Neymar, Griezmann would have been a possibility in normal circumstances, right now I don’t think it’s a priority at all and I think it’s too complex for it to happen.

“That’s the feeling that I got having spoken to people at both clubs.”

Only last month had Balague described the signing of Neymar as a “priority” for Barca.

Superstar forward Lionel Messi is keen on being reunited with the 28-year-old forward.

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Balague said in March: “Barcelona want Neymar and they don’t have the money.

“So yes, I think it will be a possibility of getting rid of Griezmann and perhaps Griezmann will feel that is the thing to do too.

“Neymar is a priority and that’s why I’m saying the departure perhaps of Griezmann and/or [Philippe] Coutinho will help on the finances for that.”

Not only could Messi have his wish of Neymar returning unfulfilled, he is also not a big fan of Griezmann.


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Transfer expert Ian McGarry claims one of the reasons Barca want to sell Griezmann is because Messi does not value the Frenchman as a team-mate.

McGarry said on the Transfer Window podcast: “[Griezmann] is egotistical and selfish in some things we’re told and that’s not gone down well with team ethic, which has existed for so long at Camp Nou, as well as of course the little maestro himself Lionel Messi, who disregards him as a valuable team-mate.”

Griezmann has scored just eight goals in 26 La Liga appearances for Barca this season.

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Jamie Carragher explains what Man Utd would get if they sign Jack Grealish

Manchester United transfer target Jack Grealish always provides a “class” moment in a match, according to Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher. Grealish has been a shining light for Aston Villa in an otherwise difficult first season back in the Premier League. The 24-year-old has scored seven goals and contributed six assists in 26 league outings.

Grealish grabbed the headlines for the wrong reasons last week when he broke the government’s coronavirus lockdown guidelines and was fined £150,000 by Villa.

That did not stop Carragher from putting Grealish in his team of the season, alongside Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson and Manchester City star Kevin de Bruyne in midfield.

Carragher hopes Grealish can learn from that mistake and insists he has what it takes to perform at the top level, describing him as the best player in the Villa team whenever he has watched Dean Smith’s side so far this season.

“On the other side of Jordan Henderson, I went for Jack Grealish,” Carragher told Sky Sports.

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“I know he’s made a mistake, he’s held his hands up in the last week or so. He’s a young man, we all make mistakes and hopefully he can learn from that.

“I think he’s probably been as influential as any player in those bottom ten teams for their team.

“I know at the moment Aston Villa are in the bottom three, I dread to think where Aston Villa would be without him.

“He’s also a player where, you don’t watch every team in every game they play, but when I watch Aston Villa, he’s always the best player, and he always provides something or a moment in the game where you think ‘That’s class’.

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“The best way to describe him, at the start of the season I said the same, is that it almost feels like every time Grealish gets the ball, the game stops.

“It’s almost like everyone is waiting to see what he’s going to do, almost feels like he’s got time on the ball.

“Who knows how the season is going to end up, who knows what’s going to happen with relegation or staying up with Aston Villa but there’s no doubt he’s got the quality to play for one of the top clubs in the Premier League and certainly in Europe as well.”

Villa were 19th in the Premier League table when football was suspended last month, three points from safety.

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Man Utd have big decision to make over one player before next season says Jamie Carragher

Manchester United have a decision to make over the future of goalkeeper Dean Henderson before the start of next season, says Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher. Henderson has spent the last two seasons on loan at Sheffield United and has impressed in his first campaign in the Premier League this term.

Carragher named the 23-year-old in his Premier League team of the season so far, ahead of Liverpool’s Alisson.

He admits he only left out Alisson due to the Brazilian’s injury problems, that have kept him out of nine league matches.

But Carragher says Sheffield United, who have exceeded all expectations on their return to the top flight, deserved a representative in his team.

And the pundit reckons United must decide what to do with Henderson when he returns to the club.

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“I actually think Liverpool have the best keeper in the world right now, Alisson,” Carragher told Sky Sports.

“But I think he missed a lot of football this season.

“He didn’t start the season and before the break that we’ve got now he was out there as well, and that probably culminated in Liverpool going out of the Champions League to Atletico Madrid.

“But when he has played I think he has shown he is the best keeper in the Premier League and as I said the best goalkeeper in the world.

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“But as he’s missed so many games I thought I’d go for Henderson of Sheffield United.

“I think as a club they probably deserve someone to be in this team, they’ve been a revelation.

“You could argue Chris Wilder is manager of the year in some ways, even considering what [Jurgen] Klopp and probably Pep Guardiola is doing in cup competitions.

“But I think they’ve got a really good defensive record, I think they’ve kept a lot of clean sheets and I think there will be a big decision for Manchester United.”


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Henderson did make a glaring mistake against Carragher’s beloved Liverpool to hand the Reds a 1-0 win at Bramall Lane earlier this season/.

And he joked that was why he selected the goalkeeper in his XI.

“Who was that [who scored]? It was [Georginio] Wijnaldum wasn’t it,” Carragher continued.

“Yeah maybe there’s something in that so he deserves to go in for that.

“He got a bit of a battering off the manager didn’t he, Chris Wilder, for that and he responded really well.

“I just think Sheffield United as a whole have been a breath of fresh air in the Premier League and I think they deserve someone to go in.

“So if I’m not going to put Alisson in because he’s missed a lot of games, I’ll go for Henderson.”

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Chelsea can complete Philippe Coutinho deal from Barcelona if they meet one condition

Chelsea are reportedly closing in on a deal to take Philippe Coutinho to Stamford Bridge but Barcelona insist that one clause must be inserted into the contract.

Barcelona would prefer to sell the Brazilian this summer but their £80million valuation is unlikely to be met.

Therefore, they would reluctantly accept a loan deal similar to what Bayern Munich have in place this season.

However, Coutinho has failed to light up the Allianz Arena and the German outfit are not wanting to make the transfer permanent.

That means the 27-year-old could be offloaded to the Premier League, where Spanish publication Sport claim Chelsea are leading the race.

The Blues would have to cover Coutinho’s £11.5m annual salary to take the playmaker on loan for 12 months.

However, Sport claim Barcelona will demand a mandatory purchase clause if inserted into the deal.

The Catalan giants will apparently reduce their price tag to £53m if Frank Lampard’s side agree to buy Coutinho at the end of next season.

There are doubts over the midfielder as he has not found his top form since leaving Liverpool in January 2018.

Barcelona paid the Reds £142m but they are willing to let him go for just over a third of the price.


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Meanwhile, Manchester United have also been tentatively linked with a summer move for Coutinho.

But Sky Sports reporter Kaveh Solhekol does not think that is a realistic transfer.

“Philippe Coutinho’s agent has a big job on his hands,” Solhekol said.

“Barcelona want to sell him this summer. He is on loan at Bayern Munich but they are unlikely to make the move permanent.

“Barcelona want more than £100m for a player who will be 28 in the summer. That means there will be little resale value for any interested clubs.

“Coutinho’s agent Kia Joorabchian has good contacts at Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs.

“A move to those clubs is possible, but Barcelona would have to drop their asking price dramatically or it would have to be a loan with an option to buy deal.

“Interested clubs know that Barcelona want to sell him this summer.”

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How much Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea and rivals set to lose if Premier League season axed

Manchester United will be the biggest financial loser if the Premier League is cancelled and all previous results for the season are annulled.

Some United fans are hoping the campaign is voided so that Liverpool are denied their first English top-flight title in 30 years.

However, that could also mean the Red Devils miss out on lucrative Champions League football for another 12 months.

They would also stand to lose a staggering £116.4million, which could severely impact their transfer budget this summer.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hoping to complete his squad overhaul in the next window with the likes of Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish expected to move to Old Trafford.

However, a substantial loss of earnings could seriously affect the budget passed down to the Norwegian boss.

United will lose £48m in TV cash, £17.6m in matchday revenue and £50.8 from commercial and retail.

There are three clubs who will lose over £100m in total but the Red Devils would feel the biggest financial strain.

Defending champions Manchester City would be the second worst affected with a shortfall of £109.3m.

Liverpool also edge over the nine-figure mark with a loss of £102.6m – albeit they would have the highest TV revenue loss at £55.2m.


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Champions League hopefuls Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal would also be subject to heavy losses.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Norwich would miss out on £19.5m, with Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Watford all under £25m, according to the Daily Mail.

The Premier League season is postponed indefinitely as the UK is in lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, there are talks with the government to resume matches behind closed doors in June.

How much each Premier League club will lose in total

Man Utd: £116.4m

Man City: £109.3m

Liverpool: £102.6m

Chelsea: £91m

Tottenham: £83m

Arsenal: £74.8m

Leicester: £55.6m

Burnley: £50m

Wolves: £49.1m

Everton: £42.6m

Sheff Utd: £41.9m

Newcastle: £40.3m

West Ham: £37.4m

Crystal Palace: £37.1m

Southampton: £32.1m

Brighton: £27.9m

Watford: £24.2m

Aston Villa: £24.2m

Bournemouth: £22.1m

Norwich: £19.5m

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