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isl 2020: ISL 2020 ready for kick-off, but it’s a whole new ball game | Football News

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PANAJI: FC Goa captain Edu Bedia calls it “heavy loading”. There’s too little time to prepare for this season of the Indian Super League (ISL) and too much to do. Nowhere is this concern more evident than at FC Goa, a place where the league champions are now without half of their stars and the coach who made them synonymous with attractive football.
Like Bedia, almost everyone at FC Goa would have preferred more time to prepare for the season, which includes a debut at the AFC Champions League, a first for any Indian club.
For all domestic players, the last competitive game was more than eight months ago, but almost everyone is now grateful that Indian football has returned to action.

“It is true that pre-season is short. In a new team, you like to train more. You have players who ended quarantine three days ago. Every team has its own problems. No complaints and excuses. We are happy to start the league,” said Kerala Blasters coach Kibu Vicuna.
Till two months ago, nobody thought this was possible. Covid-19 cases were on the rise, there were no visas for players, the training grounds were far from ready and the concept of a bio-secure bubble was still taking shape.
Now, it’s all set. The seventh edition of ISL — this time bigger than before with 11 teams — kicks off in Goa on Friday.

This is the biggest season. ISL is not just the premier football league in the country, officially, and has more games than any other league in India, it has now welcomed two of the biggest fan-based teams in the country – Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.
If you add the super-rich City Football Group’s entry through Mumbai City FC, there’s very little that ISL can now wish for, apart from having fans at the stadiums.
“There will be no spectators. Playing without spectators affects the footballers’ enthusiasm. But there is nothing to be done,” said ATK Mohun Bagan coach Antonio Habas, who has won two titles already with ATK, the last in front of an empty stadium last season.

Playing without spectators is just one part of the challenge.
The bigger test will come when matches are lined-up in quick succession; there are after all 115 matches to complete in less than four months. Little wonder, every team fears injury more than Covid-19 at the moment.
From among the 11 participating teams, ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City look strongest on paper. Bengaluru FC, as always, are perennial favourites, while league champions FC Goa will be eager to prove their doubters wrong.
The others will fancy their chances.
SC East Bengal, for example, have a set of foreign players who are as good, if not better, than anyone else; Kerala Blasters have a good mix of youth and experience, while a challenge from Chennaiyin FC and Jamshedpur FC cannot be ruled out.



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EFL to receive 250 million pounds bailout package from Premier League | Football News

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The Premier League has reached an agreement with the English Football League (EFL) to provide a 250 million pounds ($336.13 million) bailout package for lower division clubs struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Premier League clubs gave their final approval to the agreement at a shareholders’ meeting on Thursday.
“A fund of 50 million pounds in the form of a grant and monitored grant payments has been agreed for League One and Two clubs,” the Premier League said in a statement.
“The Premier League will provide a further financial commitment to assist the EFL in securing a 200 million pounds loan facility that Championship clubs will be able to utilise interest free.”


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Barca should have sold Messi, says interim president | Football News

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MADRID: Barcelona‘s interim president Carlos Tusquets feels the club should have cashed-in on Lionel Messi during the summer transfer window.
Messi was heavily linked with a move to Manchester City and sent a recorded delivery (Burofax) letter stating his intention to leave. He later said the decision was due to being disillusioned with the direction the now former board had taken the club.
Ex-Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned in October rather than face a vote of no confidence, with Tusquets taking temporary charge until January’s elections.
“Economically speaking, I would’ve sold Messi in the summer window,” Tusquets told RAC1 radio station.
“Both in terms of what you save on the wage bill as well as the money you make, it would’ve been desirable. But this is something the coaching staff have to consent to and that’s not my place.
“La Liga are setting salary limits at the moment and this would’ve helped on that front.”
Messi’s current contract expires in June, when he is expected to leave for free and on Wednesday former Barca team mate Neymar spoke of his desire to link up with the Argentine again.
“What I want most of all is to play with Messi again, to be able to enjoy him once again on the pitch,” he said after his club PSG’s 3-1 Champions League win against Manchester United.
“I want to play with him next year, for sure. We have to do it next season.”
Tusquets conceded that scenario was unlikely to transpire at the Nou Camp, where the purse strings have been tightened following the COVID-19 crisis.
“If he (Neymar) became available on a free transfer then maybe we could think about signing him,” he said.
“Without making sales, there’s no money for new signings unless the new president has incredibly deep pockets.”


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New Zealand vs West Indies: Kane Williamson’s gesture towards Kemar Roach wins over internet | Cricket News

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HAMILTON (New Zealand): New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson has become the flag-bearer for ‘Spirit of Cricket‘, and his latest gesture towards Windies pacer Kemar Roach has taken the internet by storm.
New Zealand and West Indies are currently squaring off in the first Test of the two-match series. However, before the start of play on the opening day, Williamson embraced Roach as the latter lost his father Andrew Smith recently.
Windies Cricket posted a photo on their Twitter handle in which Williamson can be seen hugging Roach. As soon as the photo was posted, many users commented as to how Williamson needs to be appreciated for how he approaches the ‘Gentleman’s Game‘.

Both New Zealand and West Indies players also wore black armbands on the opening day in honour of Roach’s father.
“On behalf of CWI and the West Indies cricket team, I offer condolences to Kemar and his family back home. Losing a loved one is never easy and we want to offer our full support to Kemar during this very difficult time. We got the news as we prepared for the Test match here and the players and team support staff all got together and offered tremendous support,” Windies team manager Rawl Lewis said in an official release.
Half-centuries from Tom Latham and skipper Kane Williamson proved crucial for New Zealand as they kept the West Indies bowlers at bay on the opening day of the first Test here at Seddon Park on Thursday. At stumps, New Zealand’s score read 243/2 with Williamson and Ross Taylor at the crease. While the skipper was unbeaten on 97, giving him company was senior campaigner Taylor on 31.
Skipper Williamson also completed 1,000 Test runs at Seddon Park. He joined Taylor as the only cricketers with 1,000 or more runs at the venue.



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