Andy Walker: Surprise investment in Scottish football should be welcomed with open arms

At a time of major crisis, any investment in Scottish football should be welcomed with open arms.

But I think everyone north of the border was shocked and surprised when they heard last week that 60-year-old James Anderson, a hugely successful investment manager, was prepared to offer all 42 senior clubs an unexpected funding boost.

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Anderson is English-born but Edinburgh-based and has a remarkable pedigree. He can count on Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Elon Musk of Tesla as close colleagues, and it’s common knowledge that he helped Hearts in the last few years with their recovery from administration in 2013, as well as financially supporting the building of a new stand at Tynecastle.

It’s encouraging to hear that the SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan and chief executive Neil Doncaster have spoken to Anderson and, apparently, had a positive chat regarding his proposal to provide financial backing to all 42 clubs. Crucially, the support is intended to assist the clubs in dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Scottish football has been hurt before

Scottish football has, of course, been hurt badly before in times of trouble, when an apparent saviour with “wealth off the radar” had been reported as riding to the rescue of Rangers. When Sir David Murray sold his stake in Rangers to Craig Whyte for £1 in 2012, the “billionaire financial whizzkid” very quickly took the Glasgow club into administration before they were eventually liquidated.

And who could ever forget the involvement of convicted fraudster Giovanni Di Stefano at Dundee in 2003? A friend of the Serbian warlord Arkan, he persuaded stars like Fabrizio Ravanelli to live on Tayside, but the White Feather didn’t last long before the club very quickly had financial trouble and more than a dozen players were released from their contracts.

So, obviously, questions have to be asked of Anderson and exactly how his gesture of helping to restart Scottish football will actually work. The cynics among us might think that, because of his close ties to Hearts, maybe a condition of his generosity would be for Hearts to remain in the top-flight, despite their “unfair and unjust” relegation, when the SPFL took the majority decision to call the leagues early before all games were completed.

In short, you simply can’t take money from anyone, no matter how rich and generous they seem to be, without doing any due diligence. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in this column, the biggest barrier to Scottish football getting back to playing will be the cost of testing players, coaching staff, officials and others involved in ensuring any games are played in a virus-free environment.

The cost of testing will be huge

Every team has backroom staff and they too must be tested. I imagine stewards and hygiene experts will be part of every club if they’re hosting a game. They’ll have to be tested. And, at every match I’ve commentated on for Sky Sports, you come across a match delegate and he too requires a test.

The cleanliness of the stadium, the dressing room area, the travel to and from the grounds, all of this will be expensive. Maybe hotels will be required for some travelling teams with the extra expense of ensuring cleanliness everywhere. In a country that has nowhere near the riches of the English Premier League, the costs will be enormous.

This would surely be the best use of Anderson’s extraordinary offer of financial assistance to all 42 clubs. A couple of weeks ago in this column, my guess was a cost of anything between £3,000 to £6,000. More recent estimates suggest that Covid-19 testing kits could cost clubs £4,500 per week. It’s simply out of reach for the majority of clubs in Scotland.

If we assume Anderson’s offer is a genuine financial boost to Scottish football with no strings attached, then the best use of his money would be to help every club with these extraordinary and unexpected health costs. If all clubs get to kick off the new season on time, they’ll forever be in his debt.

And another thing…

On the subject of Hearts, they have confirmed that former manager Craig Levein and his assistant Austin MacPhee have now officially left the club along with 15 players. The underachievement at Hearts in the last 18 months has been astonishing.

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Liverpool star tipped to lose place to Timo Werner in front three if transfer sealed

Danny Mills has claimed that Timo Werner’s potential arrival at Liverpool could see Roberto Firmino lose his place in Jurgen Klopp’s side. Werner remains Liverpool’s transfer priority ahead of the summer window but there is some confusion as to whether a deal will happen.

Klopp is keen on bringing another attacker through the door to bolster his options going forward.

The Reds boss is set to lose Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane for up to six weeks in January due to the African Cup of Nations.

Liverpool’s current options going forward are not quite good enough to fill in for that period of time.

Werner would have no problems stepping up to the plate but when Liverpool have their full team available, many have questioned where he fits in.

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According to Mills, it could be Firmino who makes way from the starting line up.

“You would have to say Firmino,” Mills told Football Insider, when asked if any stars could make way.

“Timo Werner is pretty much an out and out centre-forward, a number nine. That is what he is and that is what he does.

“It is competition for places and he in an incredibly good striker who is still young and has things to learn.

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“You always want to add quality to your side.

“Liverpool could get an injury or players go on international duty and it may just flow. They do not need to worry.

“Look how strong Manchester City’s squad is. Liverpool need that to compete on three fronts.”

Earlier in the year, there was speculation suggesting Bayern Munich had entered the fray for Firmino.

He remains essential to Liverpool’s plans moving forward though and will not be sold.

Instead, it’s far more likely that Firmino could drop deeper into the No 10 role, with Werner’s arrival prompting a shift in formation.

Liverpool are not willing to meet Werner’s £52million release clause which expires on June 15.

Instead they have asked RB Leipzig for more time so they can negotiate the deal later this summer.

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Where every Premier League title was won as Liverpool wait on season finale

It has been a Premier League season like no other, but one thing that has seemed certain pretty much throughout is that Liverpool are going to win it.

A first top-flight title in 30 years for the Reds will eventually be confirmed in the coming weeks when football can resume, but the question of where that title will be won is now refusing to go away.

With authorities considering switching some of Liverpool's matches to neutral venues in order to ease any concerns over breaches of social distancing guidelines, fans have been left wondering just when, where and how Jurgen Klopp's side could end up being champions.

The Reds would ideally like to do that at Anfield even if no fans can be present, but winning the title in other team's stadiums or even when you're not playing is nothing new in the Premier League.

Here is the complete history of how the post-1992 league titles were won.

1992/93: Manchester United

The game that sealed the title: Aston Villa 0-1 Oldham, May 2

Where the trophy was lifted: Old Trafford

United's 26-year wait for a top-flight title was ended thanks to a team from Greater Manchester, but it was relegation-threatened Oldham Athletic (who ended up surviving on goal difference) who beat second-placed Aston Villa 1-0 at Villa Park on May 2 to ensure that the Red Devils couldn't be caught at the top.

Alex Ferguson, not yet a Sir, lifted the trophy at Old Trafford the next day following a 3-1 win over Blackburn in his side's penultimate game, as United ended up champions by 10 points.

1993/94: Manchester United

The game that sealed the title: Ipswich 1-2 Man Utd, May 1

Where the trophy was lifted: Old Trafford

United had seemed to be away and clear at the top before two defeats in April, including one to a Blackburn side who were determinedly chasing them down.

But after Kenny Dalglish's Rovers dropped points to Southampton and QPR, United sealed the first leg of their double with a 2-1 win at Ipswich's Portman Road thanks to goals from Eric Cantona and Ryan Giggs, and they lifted the trophy after a 0-0 draw with Coventry on the final day of the season.

1994/95: Blackburn Rovers

The game that sealed the title: West Ham 1-1 Man Utd, May 14

Where the trophy was lifted: Anfield

On one of the more remarkable final days in Premier League history, Blackburn had started the action two points clear of United but with an inferior goal difference.

Despite suggestions that Liverpool would let Rovers win in order to prevent their fierce rivals winning the league, Jamie Redknapp struck a late winner for the hosts to secure a 2-1 success, only for Ferguson's United to blow it by only drawing 1-1 at an inspired West Ham.

1995/96: Manchester United

The game that sealed the title: Middlesbrough 0-3 Man Utd, May 5

Where the trophy was lifted: Riverside Stadium

The season of Newcastle's infamous 12-point lead, a horror run of five defeats in eight games saw Kevin Keegan's side blow their advantage, while Ferguson's were serene.

They won 13 of their last 15 games to set up a final day trip to Middlesbrough in which they had to "go there and get something" according to Keegan.

And they did, winning 3-0.

1996/97: Manchester United

The game that sealed the title: West Ham 0-0 Newcastle, May 6

Where the trophy was lifted: Old Trafford

Perhaps United's messiest title win, their total of 75 points is the lowest ever for a Premier League champion but proved enough as Newcastle, Arsenal and Liverpool all fell by the wayside.

United's 3-1 win at Anfield in April had all but secured glory, but it was confirmed when Newcastle were held to a goalless draw at West Ham in early May.

United drew three of their final four matches before beating West Ham 2-0 and lifting the trophy on the final day.

1997/98: Arsenal

The game that sealed the title: Arsenal 4-0 Everton, May 3

Where the trophy was lifted: Highbury

The Gunners had been 12 points behind United at the end of February – with some bookies infamously paying out on a Red Devils title win – but 10 wins in a row turned the tide and saw Arsenal wrap up the title in their final home game of the season against Everton.

They went on to lose their final two league matches at Liverpool and Aston Villa, but wrapped up the double with a win over Newcastle in the FA Cup final.

1998/99: Manchester United

The game that sealed the title: Man Utd 2-1 Tottenham, May 16

Where the trophy was lifted: Old Trafford

The first leg of United's Treble went down to the final day after Ferguson's men drew at Blackburn in their penultimate game, and hearts started fluttering when Les Ferdinand gave Tottenham the lead at Old Trafford.

But any thoughts that Spurs could do rivals Arsenal a favour were ended with goals either side of half-time from David Beckham and Andy Cole, as the Gunners were pipped by a point.

1999/2000: Manchester United

The game that sealed the title: Southampton 1-3 Man Utd, April 22

Where the trophy was lifted: Old Trafford

United's most dominant title win, a sixth success in eight years was secured with a win at The Dell just three days after a Champions League exit to Real Madrid.

Ferguson's side celebrated the win in their final home game of the season, and ended up 18 points clear at the top.

2000/01: Manchester United

The game that sealed the title: Arsenal 0-3 Middlesbrough, April 14

Where the trophy was lifted: Old Trafford

An Arsenal implosion at home to Middlesbrough in mid-April featuring two own goals secured the title for United, who were able to jog to the finish line and still win the league by 10 points.

They lost their final three games of the season against Derby, Southampton and Tottenham, lifting the trophy after the 1-0 loss to the Rams.

2001/02: Arsenal

The game that sealed the title: Man Utd 0-1 Arsenal, May 8

Where the trophy was lifted: Highbury

One one of Arsenal's most famous nights, and four days after winning the FA Cup, the Gunners saw off a Manchester United side that had to win in their penultimate game of the season at Old Trafford thanks to Sylvain Wiltord's goal.

They got their hands on the trophy three days later after a 4-3 win over Everton, as they ended the season seven points clear of second-place Liverpool.

2002/03: Manchester United

The game that sealed the title: Arsenal 2-3 Leeds, May 4

Where the trophy was lifted: Goodison Park

A 4-1 win over Charlton on May 3 meant that United had set Arsenal the task of winning their next two matches in order to set up a final day fight, but they fell at the first hurdle as they lost 3-2 at home to Leeds.

Ferguson's side lifted the trophy after a 2-1 win at Everton on the final day, a 15th win in 18 unbeaten matches.

2003/04: Arsenal

The game that sealed the title: Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal, April 25

Where the trophy was lifted: Highbury

They remained invincible, but Arsenal let a two-goal lead slip to draw against rivals Tottenham on the day they confirmed the league title at White Hart Lane. Not that they were too bothered about that.

They remained unbeaten in their final four matches before lifting the league title after a 2-1 home win over Leicester.

2004/05: Chelsea

The game that sealed the title: Bolton 0-2 Chelsea, April 30

Where the trophy was lifted: Stamford Bridge

Jose Mourinho's dominant Chelsea became champions when Frank Lampard notched a brace in a 2-0 win at Bolton on the final day of April, with the Blues winning a first league title in 50 years by 12 points.

They lifted the trophy in their next game at home to Charlton, having lost just once in the league all season.

2005/06: Chelsea

The game that sealed the title: Chelsea 3-0 Man Utd, April 29

Where the trophy was lifted: Stamford Bridge

One day less than a year later there was another title for Chelsea, with the league secured thanks to dominant win over second-placed Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho's side lifted the trophy after that game, and despite back-to-back away defeats to Blackburn and Newcastle in the matches that followed they still won the league by eight points.

2006/07: Manchester United

The game that sealed the title: Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea, May 6

Where the trophy was lifted: Old Trafford

United were back after a three season absence, with Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty winner in a Manchester derby putting them on the verge of the title.

That was confirmed a day later when challengers Chelsea could only draw 1-1 at Arsenal, after which Mourinho made 'chin-up' gestures to the visiting fans.

The two teams then played out a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge in the following days, before United lifted the trophy after a 1-0 home defeat to West Ham which kept the Hammers up.

2007/08: Manchester United

The game that sealed the title: Wigan 0-2 Man Utd, May 11

Where the trophy was lifted: JJB Stadium (now DW)

An excellent United side had been taken to the final day of the season by Chelsea after losing to them at Stamford Bridge in late April, but a superior goal difference always meant that Ferguson's side had the edge.

The Red Devils secured a 2-0 win at Wigan on the final day before lifting the trophy, while Chelsea drew at home to Bolton.

2008/09: Manchester United

The game that sealed the title: Man Utd 0-0 Arsenal, May 16

Where the trophy was lifted: Old Trafford

What had appeared a serene third title in a row for United was rocked by back-to-back losses against Liverpool and Fulham in March, before seven wins in a row inspired by Federico Macheda's winner against Aston Villa.

A resurgent Liverpool's only blip during that time was a 4-4 draw with Arsenal, and that allowed United the comfort of sealing and lifting the title with a home draw against the same opponents in their penultimate game.

2009/10: Chelsea

The game that sealed the title: Chelsea 8-0 Wigan, May 9

Where the trophy was lifted: Stamford Bridge

One point ahead of United going into the final day of the season, Chelsea just needed to beat Wigan to be champions. Instead, they thrashed them.

A Didier Drogba hat-trick, a brace from Nicolas Anelka and strikes from Frank Lampard, Salomon Kalou and Ashley Cole made United's 4-0 win over Stoke irrelevant.

2010/11: Manchester United

The game that sealed the title: Blackburn 1-1 Man Utd, May 14

Where the trophy was lifted: Old Trafford

A gutsy 2-1 win over title rivals Chelsea a week previously had moved United to the brink of reclaiming their crown, and a record-breaking 19th league title was won when Wayne Rooney's penalty at Blackburn ensured that neither Chelsea nor City could catch them.

Ferguson got his hands on a 12th league trophy after a 4-2 home win over Blackpool the following week, with that result relegating the Seasiders.

2011/12: Manchester City

The game that sealed the title: Man City 3-2 QPR, May 13

Where the trophy was lifted: Etihad Stadium

You'll remember this one.

United were actually sauntering to the title before a dramatic collapse in their final six games saw them lose to Wigan and City as well as drawing 4-4 with Everton.

That meant City had the initiative going into the final day, knowing that their superior goal difference would secure the title ahead of United, presuming the Red Devils won at Sunderland.

They had done just that, winning 1-0, when City struck twice in stoppage time through Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero to beat QPR 3-2 and secure the title in the most dramatic way possible.

2012/13: Manchester United

The game that sealed the title: Man Utd 3-0 Aston Villa, April 22

Where the trophy was lifted: Old Trafford

A year later, Ferguson was able to bow out on a high as United secured their 20th and most recent title with four games to spare when Robin van Persie scored a hat-trick at home to Aston Villa.

They picked up the trophy in Ferguson's final home game in charge against Swansea City on May 12, before a madcap 5-5 draw at West Brom.

2013/14: Manchester City

The game that sealed the title: Man City 2-0 West Ham, May 11

Where the trophy was lifted: Etihad Stadium

Steven Gerrard's slip against Chelsea may have swung the momentum of the title race, but City still had to beat Crystal Palace and Everton to take the initiative, which they did.

After Liverpool's determined attempt to make up the goal difference deficit at Crystal Palace ended in a crazy 3-3 draw, City's 4-0 win over Aston Villa two days later meant that they entered their final day two points ahead of the Reds.

Both teams won, ensuring that it was City who took the glory.

2014/15: Chelsea

The game that sealed the title: Chelsea 1-0 Crystal Palace, May 3

Where the trophy was lifted: Stamford Bridge

Nobody other than Chelsea ever looked like lifting the crown in 2014/15, and the Blues sealed their success with three games to spare when they beat Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge in early May.

They eventually got their hands on the trophy three weeks later following a 3-1 win over Sunderland that marked the end of Didier Drogba's Stamford Bridge career.

2015/16: Leicester City

The game that sealed the title: Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham, May 2

Where the trophy was lifted: King Power Stadium

Leicester's remarkable success story didn't end with them on the pitch, as Tottenham's surrendering of a two-goal lead on a feisty night at Chelsea meant that no-one else could catch the Foxes with two games left to play.

After leaving Jamie Vardy's kitchen, they got their hands on the trophy in their next match, a home win over Everton, before rounding out the season with a draw at Chelsea to finish 10 points clear of second-placed Arsenal.

2016/17: Chelsea

The game that sealed the title: West Brom 0-1 Chelsea, May 12

Where the trophy was lifted: Stamford Bridge

Tottenham were again the only side who could mathematically catch Chelsea as the Blues went into their 36th game of the season at West Brom, where substitute Michy Batshuayi's goal meant that no-one could stop the Blues.

Antonio Conte's side went on to secure a 4-3 win over Watford and then lifted the title after beating Sunderland 5-1 at Stamford Bridge, where John Terry made an early exit after 26 minutes.

2017/18: Manchester City

The game that sealed the title: Man Utd 0-1 West Brom, April 15

Where the trophy was lifted: Etihad Stadium

A week after blowing a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 against United on a day when a win would have secured the title, City were crowned champions fairly quietly when bottom of the table West Brom won 1-0 at Old Trafford.

Pep Guardiola's men still had five Premier League games left, and after lifting the trophy following a goalless draw with Huddersfield on May 6, they finished the season with a record 100 points thanks to Gabriel Jesus' winner at Southampton.

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Sebastian Vettel tipped to cause Lewis Hamilton ‘commotion’ if one thing happens

Sebastian Vettel has been continuously linked with a switch to Mercedes for the 2021 F1 season after he announced he would be leaving Ferrari. With most other seats taken, Vettel could end up alongside Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes have yet to extend Hamilton’s contract and there remain questions over what Valtteri Bottas will do next season.

Vettel has all the credentials needed to driver for the reigning world champions.

But Nick Heidfeld believes it would be unrealistic for the current Ferrari ace to end up at the Silver Arrows.

“It is a shame, but going to Mercedes is not realistic,” he told Sky in Germany.

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“It is interesting to hear that Toto Wolff analyses the qualities and not the nationality.

“A German team, of course, would like to have Vettel for marketing, but in my opinion Hamilton and Vettel will never be able to share a team.”

Heidfeld believes nobody would get anything out of Vettel and Hamilton teaming up at Mercedes.

He added: “No one would benefit from the signing of Vettel by Mercedes.

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“He would go to a team that is completely in the hands of Hamilton, who is also in top form.

“It is not ideal for Vettel, but it would not be good for Hamilton to have such a team-mate either.

“Mercedes wouldn’t want the two to be together either. That causes a lot of commotion and I just don’t see what’s going to happen.

“But we’ll have to wait and see what happens. I haven’t talked to Vettel, so I don’t know what he’s going to do.”

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Vettel is a four-time F1 world champion but there are a lack of options for him on the grid.

Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Racing Point all look set on their driver line-ups for next season.

There is a vacancy at Renault following the announcement Daniel Ricciardo will replace Carlos Sainz at McLaren with the Spaniard taking Vettel’s seat at Ferrari.

Fernando Alonso has been linked with a return to the sport with Renault his most likely option.

That could mean Vettel either joins Mercedes or is forced to leave the sport for 2021 and possible end his career altogether.

F1 is currently tentatively scheduled to start in July with two races at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

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What former Liverpool star Emre Can believes about James Milner

Former Liverpool midfielder Emre Can appears to still be in admiration for James Milner’s fitness levels.

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Can, 26, played alongside Milner for three seasons before quitting Anfield for Juventus on a free transfer in the summer of 2018.

While the two regularly competed for a place in Jurgen Klopp’s midfield, Milner’s versatility ensured he was a regular fixture in the team in a number of positions. The 34-year-old is most comfortable in central midfield but has filed in at full-back during his spell at Anfield.

One of the most outstanding features of Milner’s game is his engine – and he proved his super-human fitness levels by winning Liverpool’s pre-season fitness tests last summer.

Christian Falk, the head of football for Germany publication BILD, was recently chatting with Can, who now plays for Borussia Dortmund, about Milner.

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The journalist revealed the former Manchester City and Aston Villa star is his “favourite Liverpool player” because “he is purely about football”.

And Falk revealed to LFC Transfer Room: “Emre said to me that he thinks that Milner is still the fittest player in Liverpool.”

Milner has remained the top of the game in England for a number of years since breaking into the Leeds team at the age of 16. He is renowned for putting in the hard yards and recently offered a fascinating insight into his longevity.

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“Fortune is one [thing], I think you need that luck with injuries and things like that,” Milner told BBC Radio 5 Live. “But I’ve always tried to do whatever I can to give myself the best opportunities, whether that’s looking at diet and gym work; I did that as early as Leeds and Newcastle, the gym stuff, and that’s developed as well. I just try to push myself.

“Earlier in my career, maybe five or six years ago, people were saying ‘You’re going to have to start toning down your work in training and reducing your numbers and output in training to keep that longevity’ and I didn’t really agree with that.

“I thought, obviously I’m going to drop off at some point in terms of physical output and things like that, but surely if I push myself more, the further distance I’ve got to fall. If I do drop off then I’ll be in amongst the pack as opposed to dropping from the middle pack downwards. That’s what I’ve always tried to do.

“I’ve always tried to push myself, always tried to keep the young lads in place in terms of running and stuff like that. I’m sure I’ll get reeled in at some point but I’m hoping that’s not for a few years yet.”

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Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace blasts EFL Board recommendation

Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace says there is “absolutely no integrity whatsoever” in the EFL Board’s recommendation to finish the League Two season on a points-per-game basis.

League Two clubs voted to end the campaign earlier this month without clubs being relegated to the National League but the EFL, whose framework is still to be endorsed by the division, has described maintaining demotion as “integral to the integrity of the pyramid”.

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Stevenage, who are three points behind Macclesfield at the bottom of League Two with a game in hand, face playing football in the National League next season.

Feedback from EFL clubs on the board’s framework for curtailment will be under review at this week’s board meeting on Wednesday.

“There is absolutely no integrity whatsoever in using a mathematical formula to expel a club from the EFL,” Wallace told Stevenage’s club website.

“That is unjust and wholly wrong. There is absolutely no integrity in allowing teams to play to win promotion, but not allowing teams in the same league to play to avoid relegation.

“There is no integrity in the EFL Board ignoring the overwhelming vote by League Two clubs that told them they didn’t want to see any expulsion from the EFL by a points per game formula.”

The board are expected to discuss how the framework could be written into EFL regulations, before a potential EGM is called for clubs to vote on any plans.

If it is passed, each division can then hold separate votes on whether to continue playing or to curtail the 2019-20 season based on the agreed framework.

Wallace suggests either playing the rest of the season or voiding it but removing the prospect of relegation, instead calling for more teams promoted from the National League.

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Liverpool target Kai Havertz advised he will be a ‘special player’ by improving one thing

Liverpool transfer target Kai Havertz will be “even more special” than he already is if he can continue to improve in the air, according to former Bayern Munich midfielder Owen Hargreaves. Havertz scored twice for Bayer Leverkusen in their Bundesliga comeback match against Werder Bremen last Monday. Both of the attacking midfielder’s goals in the 4-1 win were headers.

Hargreaves is a big fan of the 20-year-old Germany international, who also opened the scoring for Leverkusen against Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday – his ninth Bundesliga goal of the campaign.

Liverpool are linked with a move for Havertz and Hargreaves claims he is good enough for most teams in world football.

But the pundit says Havertz will be rated even higher if he can continue to work on his headed game.

“I think everybody’s been talking about Kai Havertz and we’ve seen him for a couple of seasons already, he’s a really special young player,” Hargreaves said on BT Sport.

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“He scored a couple of headed goals against Bremen and the thing is if he can add this to his game then wow, he really will be a special player.

“In terms of goals, assists, creativity, his height, his versatility – everything about his game is really special.

“If he can add more headed goals, because of his physical frame, then he’s going to be an even more special player.

“I think he fits into almost any team in the world and first game back, two goals is pretty good.

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“He’s one the fans are going to love watching because he’s a super special player.”

Meanwhile, former Liverpool midfielder Don Hutchison reckons Anfield is a good destination for Havertz – a player he has compared to former Germany star Mesut Ozil.

“I think he’s far too good for Leverkusen,” Hutchison told ESPN FC.

“I think he goes to the very biggest clubs in Europe and I think he walks into most sides.

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“He’s certainly got to fight for his place but the talent’s there at 20 years of age.

“The one player I would liken him to is a taller, faster version of Mesut Ozil.

“I think he plays off the left-hand side, through the middle, he’s predominantly left-footed, he’s very silky, easy on the eye.

“So again yes Liverpool would be a great fit but even Barca rate him that highly they are willing to trade three players for him.”

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Championship clubs face player opposition ahead of planned restart

Championship clubs are facing growing opposition from concerned players to their plans to restart the season.

Many players feel they are being rushed into returning to training on Monday ahead of the campaign resuming on either June 19 or June 26.

Many are unconvinced it is safe to come back when hundreds are still dying from the coronavirus and have serious reservations over full contact training.

They are prepared to sign waivers for step one of the phased return, which will see them return to training in small groups from Monday.

However many are reluctant to sign up for step two, which would see them tackle and take part in contact training.

They feel this is too early and want approval from the Government, EFL and the PFA before agreeing.

Black and other BAME players also want more frequent testing than the two per week currently being done.

It is also proposed the new Championship season will start on October 4 with a deadline of August 15 to finish the existing campaign.

Players traditionally go on holiday at the end of the season and they are unhappy that some clubs are trying to argue that they have had their break during the shutdown.


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Liverpool backed to offer swap deal for Timo Werner due to coronavirus transfer problem

Liverpool have been tipped to offer a swap deal for Timo Werner, should they feel unable to finance a deal with RB Leipzig. The Reds were believed to be closing in on their number one target until COVID-19 called football to a halt.

The Anfield hierarchy have put all transfer dealings on the back burner while they concentrate on finishing the Premier League season.

Jurgen Klopp’s side need just six points to be crowned champions as the league closes in on a return next month following its suspension in March.

There has been some suggestion that the coronavirus crisis could have a huge impact on the transfer market.

Clubs will no longer feel obliged to sell their best players given that they may not have money to spend.

JUST IN: Liverpool chief Michael Edwards begged Jurgen Klopp to green-light game-changing signing

Liverpool are now predicted to have a quiet summer, but Timo Werner is the one name that will not go away.

His name seems to follow the Reds given his strong desire to move to Merseyside and he has not given up hope that a deal can be completed just yet.

Football finance expert Kieran Maguire claims that Liverpool can still afford Werner, but Michael Edwards may have to structure a transfer smartly.

He told the Blood Red Podcast: “Very much so [they can still afford him].

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“Liverpool’s business model is an intriguing one in that historically when they’ve generated extra income, that’s flown straight through into Jurgen Klopp’s budget in the past few years and that money has been well spent.

“As far as it goes when it comes to cost when you’re signing someone like Werner, most deals these days are spread over a series of years.

“Although it’s a £52million potential cost and that was split into four annual instalments, they will be able to afford that with relative ease.

“I don’t see a problem in terms of the financing in terms of recruitment.

“It could be that they do try to do a swap deal and I do expect either more loans or swap deals arising simply because clubs will not want to be seen spending money with the current economical issues.”

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RB Leipzig sporting director Markus Krosche believes it’s difficult to predict Werner’s future given the uncertainty surrounding the market.

“It is clear that Timo has attracted interest from other clubs for his great performances with his goals and assists,” Krosche told Sport1.

“England has the same problems as we do. The crisis affects not just one league, it has a global impact, and we cannot say whether things will be the same in six months.

“Everything is possible. We do not know how the transfer market is developing. We are looking into a very foggy glass ball.

“We do not know what our resources are and what the other clubs have in terms of opportunities.”

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Stade de France: Martin Tyler shares his memories of commentating in France

At a time when football grounds have closed their doors, we have asked Martin Tyler to share some of his favourite facts and memories of the homes of clubs around the world.

This week, Sky Sports’ Voice of Football is looking at some grounds across Europe. Today, he takes us on a trip to the Stade de France in Paris…

Keep an eye on The Football Show on Sky Sports News and @SkySportsPL for some special Tyler’s Teasers from Martin.

How I travel there

As with the Parc Des Princes, the Eurostar is a great way to get to assignments in Paris. I find it much easier to do preparatory work on the train. The ground is in St Denis, north of the French capital, so a good knowledge of the Metro and local trains is very helpful.

What it’s like to commentate there

Like all the big grounds, distance from the pitch can be a problem. The usual television positions are on the dressing-room side of the ground but for England’s game there in 2000 we at Sky were put on the opposite side and it seemed marginally closer. I had a clear view of Michael Owen’s late equaliser.

Emirates Stadium | Villa Park | Vitality Stadium | Amex Stadium | Turf Moor | Stamford Bridge | Selhurst Park | Goodison Park | King Power Stadium | Anfield | Etihad Stadium | Old Trafford | St James’ Park | Carrow Road | Bramall Lane | St Mary’s | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium | Vicarage Road | London Stadium | Molineux

Did you know?

The stadium was built for the 1998 World Cup and hosted nine games, including the opening match and the final.

My memories of the ground

The World Cup in 1998 was a triumph for France. They became the first host nation to become world champions for 20 years and no country has triumphed on home soil since then.

For FIFA it must have been the perfect final, the hosts against the holders Brazil. I was lucky to be in the Stade de France on that very special day. The French commentators legendary in their own land, Thierry Roland and Jean-Michel Larque, turned up for work in the full France playing kit. To be fair to Larque he had won 14 caps for France in the early 1970s. Would I have done that if England had beaten Croatia in Moscow? Sadly I will never know.

Roland and Larque were not too far away from my position in the stadium when the teamsheets arrived and shockwaves started to pass through the media area. In the Brazil line-up there was no place for their star striker Ronaldo who had scored four goals in the tournament, plus a penalty in the semi-final shoot-out victory over the Netherlands and set up another three.

Immediately I tried to find to the Brazilian commentators for more information to this shock omission, but others had got there first and I could not get anywhere near their position. I cannot imagine any World Cup final before or since has had such a reaction of incredulity to the announcement of the line-ups.

I was working for SBS Australia and my co-commentator, the former Socceroo Johnnie Warren, was rushed on the air by the producers to pass on the extraordinary news to the viewers Down Under.

What went on in the Brazil dressing room at that time is hard to ascertain, but suddenly a second teamsheet was issued with Ronaldo in the line-up. I grabbed a copy and rushed up to our commentary position, interrupting Johnnie in full flow and effectively reversed the story. Ronaldo was now going to play. The two printed pages must be collectors’ items now, like postage stamps that have been withdrawn and then recirculated.

It transpired that Ronaldo had been taken ill on the eve of the game, a convulsive fit in some reports. Mario Zagalo, the coach who was steeped in World Cup success, must have had second thoughts right at the last or been persuaded by overtures from Ronaldo himself.

The gamble did not pay off. In between two goals from Zinedine Zidane, both headers unusually, Ronaldo had a chance to equalise but could not take it.

Brazil were not themselves and were finished off by a goal with its origins at Arsenal, Manu Petit put through by Patrick Vieira. Ronaldo, who already had a winners’ medal from 1994, would bounce back four years later, scoring both goals in the 2002 final, and winning the Golden Boot.

What I like about this ground

It evokes one very personal memory. A long time ago I passed A-Level French, but in my school days the emphasis was on reading and grammar. Consequently I have never spoken the language with much confidence.

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