Man United announce Louis van Gaal has been sacked, Mourinho appointment expected

Manchester United have confirmed that Louis van Gaal has been sacked as manager of the Old Trafford club after two years in charge.

The experienced Dutchman arrived in England as the Red Devils were undergoing major changes following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and a disastrous period under David Moyes.

Over 24 months Van Gaal has led United into the Champions League and won the FA Cup two days before being dismissed as the club’s manager.

Executive vice chairman Ed Woodward paid homage to the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss as the news was announced.

“I would like to thank Louis and his staff for their excellent work in the past two years culminating in winning a record-equalling 12th FA Cup for the club (and securing him a title in four different countries),” a statement reads.

“He has behaved with great professionalism and dignity throughout his time here. He leaves us with a legacy of having given several young players the confidence to show their ability on the highest stage. Everyone at the club wishes him all the best in the future.”

Van Gaal ultimately has paid the price for finishing outside the top four in 2015-16, with a lack of attacking inspiration in the final third also leading to his exit.

The Dutchman released a long statement saying he was honored to have been in charge at Old Trafford.

“It has been an honor to manage such a magnificent club as Manchester United FC, and in doing so, I have fulfilled a long-held ambition,” he said.

“I am immensely proud to have helped United win the FA Cup for the 12th time in the club’s history. I have been privileged during my management career to have won 20 trophies but winning the FA Cup, which is steeped in so much history, will always be one of the most special achievements of my career.

“I am very disappointed to be unable to complete our intended three-year plan. I believe that the foundations are firmly in place to enable the club to move forward and achieve even greater success.”

United have stated that an announcement on the club’s new manager will be made in the near future, with it little secret that Jose Mourinho is set to be unveiled at Old Trafford.

The former Chelsea boss was sacked from the outgoing Premier League champions following a tumultuous start to the 2015-16 campaign but boasts a proud record of managerial success.

Having won the Champions League for both Porto and Inter Milan, Mourinho has also claimed domestic titles in Portugal, Italy, Spain and England.

The reaction of the United fans to the outspoken coach’s arrival will be interesting given that he was highly disliked in the Old Trafford ranks during his reign at Stamford Bridge.

Video: Man United captain Wayne Rooney in bizarre X-Men Apocalypse movie teaser

The video below may well be slightly unnerving and cringeworthy, but it is yet another example of Manchester United’s innovative ways of monetizing the club’s fame.

With a furore around the new X-Men Apocalypse movie, the Old Trafford club have become involved in promoting the film’s release.

As can be seen in the video below, Wayne Rooney is asked by the movie’s heroes to help them in their latest quest to save humanity, while both David De Gea and Anthony Martial also star.

The video is sure to help opposition supporters attack Rooney, with the United captain’s blushes potentially on show at Wembley as his side take on Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final later today.

The latest ploy to make money from the Red Devils brand adds to an array of sponsorship agreements that United have signed up over recent years.

As well as their major partnerships with the likes of Adidas and Chevrolet, the Premier League side also have an official diesel engine partner and official savoury snack partner – with seemingly every opportunity to make money capitalized upon.

In the latest figures released by Forbes, United are third in the global rich list behind Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Teenager causes security scare at England training camp

A teenager caused a security scare at St Georges during England’s preparations for Euro 2016.

18-year-old Harry Peak tried to blended in as he trained alongside Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.

The DJ was suspended by Pirate FM, where he and his sister hosted The Youth Show on the station, as a result of the stunt.

The station’s director said Peak had always been a maverick, but had gone too far this time.

Staff noticed Peak less than a minute after he entered the pitch and quickly removed him.

He reportedly carried out the stunt after an autograph session involving England players was cancelled.

Peak was there as a guest of Club Wembley of which his father, a highly successful dentist, is a member.

He later apologised on Twitter for the stunt, saying he never meant to cause concern or embarrassment and left as soon as he was asked.

The FA said they would be investigating and may revoke his father’s membership as a result.

Peak is not the first person to try a similar stunt.

Simon Brodkin, the character behind Lee Nelson and Jason Bent, has pulled several similar pranks.

He trained with the Manchester City first team squad as they went through their pre-match warm up against Everton.

Brodkin also nearly boarded the England train that was heading to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, but it was his stunt during a FIFA press conference that brought him to the attention of a much wider audience.

After throwing around $600 at Sepp Blatter as he was addressing corruption allegations against FIFA, Brodkin was arrested and charged with trespassing but the case was never brought to court as Zurich prosecutors never received an application for a criminal case.

YouTube to stream Champions League final

After successfully broadcasting the Europa League final between Sevilla and Liverpool on Wednesday, YouTube will also be streaming the Champions League final live next Saturday, May 28.

The Google-owned company, who struck a deal with BT Sport to screen both finals, drew a record peak audience of 3.5 million viewers but has said that it has no plans to challenge for Premier League rights.

Stephen Nuttall, YouTube’s senior director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “It is amazing that BT has chosen to put the Europa and Champions League finals on YouTube to reach the widest possible audience.

“Live content works brilliantly as a complement to TV coverage for a broadcaster running a very good YouTube channel.

“Some partners think how much ad revenue can I make on it? Some think about what reach they can get to grow and build a domestic or global audience.”

The Europa League final is believed to be in YouTube’s top five most-watched live sports broadcasts in the UK.

With the Champions League final set to be aired on May 28, rumors had started to circulate that the company would take on Sky and BT in the next Premier League rights auction, but Nuttall dismissed the idea.

“We are not a buyer of rights,” he said. “We are very good at distributing content to the largest possible audience.

“It’s pretty clear. We are a technology company, we do a great job of creating tools that broadcasters, sports leagues and clubs can use to tell their stories to the largest possible engaged audience.

“That is what I expect we will continue to focus on. Our whole model is about partnering with people to allow them to make the greatest possible success out of their content.

“Overall, whether you are BT or UEFA or you are the BBC you look at YouTube and decide that it looks like an interesting place to distribute content.

“We work with, and focus on, distributing their content. Sometimes live, sometimes clips and highlights in the sports world. Sometimes digital natives. We donít create the content ourselves.”

YouTube has steadily been growing its portfolio of live sports offerings.

The media giant recently agreed a free-to-air broadcast deal with Spain’s Professional Football League (LFP) to air games from the LFP World Challenge, the country’s top-tier football pre-season tour.

YouTube will also offer highlights packages and behind the scenes content from the tour.

The company has also partnered with the NFL to offer fans some of the game’s most iconic matches for free.

Cricket continues to be part of YouTube’s strategy to develop its live sports offering, as shown by their recent airing of the inaugural Pakistan Super League competition.

Sevilla win third consecutive Europa League title after stunning comeback against Liverpool

Sevilla produced a stirring second half comeback to overturn a one-goal deficit and win their third consecutive Europa League title against Premier League side Liverpool in Switzerland.

Europa League holders Sevilla retained their European crown after coming back from a goal down against English side Liverpool, scoring three goals in a devastating second half display to win their third consecutive Europa League title and secure Champions League football next season.

Daniel Sturridge gave Liverpool a deserved lead midway through the first half with an outstanding strike with the outside of the boot, with Jurgen Klopp’s side quickly finding their rhythm in what was their first European final since 2007.

Liverpool had three strong penalty appeals turned down by referee Jonas Eriksson in what was a hugely encouraging opening 45 minutes from their point of view – but Sevilla emerged after the break with renewed vigour to draw themselves level in the first minute of the second half.

Kevin Gameiro, the La Liga side’s top scorer in the Europa League this season, tapped in after a superb run from the right-back Mariano to start the comeback, leaving Liverpool visibly shell-shocked. So impactful was the goal that the Premier League side soon looked a shadow of the team that had run Sevilla ragged in the first half.

Sevilla could well have been 2-0 up minutes later but for a superb stop from Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet, denying Gameiro a quickfire second after he had been put clean through on goal.
There was to be no mistake from the Sevilla captain Coke just after the hour with the 29 year-old brilliantly sweeping home a loose ball to give his side the lead for the first time on the night.
Liverpool hassled and harried but failed to regain control of the match they had looked in total control of in the first half, with Coke once again firing in after the ball fell kindly to him in the Liverpool box to give Sevilla yet another night of European glory.

Tottenham Hotspur only Premier League team to make 2015-16 transfer window profit

A study of the activity of the Premier League’s 20 clubs during the last two transfer windows shows that only one team made a profit and that spending and success are not inextricably linked.

Activity in the summer 2015 and January 2016 windows was taken into consideration, with Tottenham Hotspur the only team to make a profit.

The White Hart Lane side made $9.7 million from their deals, with only a handful of new faces brought to White Hart Lane including Toby Alderweireld and Son Heung-min.

This was counteracted by the sales of a host of players including Paulinho, Vlad Chiriches and Roberto Soldado.

Manchester City were the side to make the highest loss on transfers, with a net spend of $180m, which brought the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi to the Etihad Stadium.

Interestingly, Newcastle United were the next highest net spenders on $115.8m, but this was not enough to save the Tyneside club from relegation.

This also shows the perils of spending big mid-season, with the likes of Andros Townsend and Jonjo Shelvey signed in January but not enough to keep Rafa Benitez’s men in the top flight.

Shock English champions Leicester City made a $41.8m net spend, with only six teams in the division making a bigger loss.

Manchester United were the second highest net spenders in the top half of the finalised table on $48.6m, while a host of the biggest spenders were in the lower reaches of the division.

Newly promoted sides Watford, Bournemouth and Norwich all spent big, with their expenditure in the transfer market actually dictating their fate.

The Hornets and Cherries made net spends of $61.5m and $56m respectively and avoided the drop, while the Carrow Road side’s outlay of $39.2m was not enough to stave off relegation.

The figures will be another source of frustration for Arsenal fans, with the Gunners’ net spend at $22.6m.

With the Emirates Stadium faithful crying out for Arsene Wenger to buy a world-class striker and reinforce the squad, the fact that only six teams spent less will evoke annoyance in the North London supporters.

The figures are set to be shaken up this summer as the likes of United, Chelsea and Liverpool are expected to spend big in a bid to get back into the Premier League top four and fight for major silverware.

The $250m football game: Welcome to the Championship Playoff Final

Sheffield Wednesday will play against Hull City in the Championship playoff final for a place in the Premier League in a game which will provide a massive cash windfall for the winners.

Wednesday’s victory against Brighton & Hove Albion secured their place in this year’s Championship play-off final, while City progressed to the one game shoot-out at Wembley after easing past Derby County in their semi-final.

The winners of the final will be promoted to the Premier League and gain access to untold riches.

With a new $7.44 billion TV deal coming into force next season, the rewards for promotion have never been greater.

Despite finishing bottom of the Premier League this season, Aston Villa pocketed $95.6 million in prize money.

Next season the team finishing 20th will earn $145 million – the same as Leicester City received for winning the league this time around.

Parachute payments for any team relegated from the league will be a staggering $108.6 million over two years.

With increased matchday revenues, coupled with new sponsorship and commercial deals, the playoff game is financially the biggest prize in football today.

Clubs who stay up for another season can expect to rake in around $435 million.

City finished nine points ahead of Wednesday during the regular season, although there was nothing between the teams when they faced each other.

The pair fought out a 1-1 draw at Hillsborough back in October, with February’s return at the KC Stadium finishing goalless.

Wednesday are bidding to return to the Premier League after 16 years out of the top flight.

Thai businessman Dejphon Chansiri has bankrolled the club since taking over from Milan Mandaric two years ago. Chansiri had targeted promotion by 2017, the year of the club’s 150th anniversary.

Portuguese coach Carlos Carvalhal has invested heavily in the club’s playing squad, bringing in the likes of Fernando Forestieri and Marco Matias for seven-figure sums.

The Tigers are looking to bounce back into the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Steve Bruce has spent shrewdly this season, selling the likes of James Chester, Robbie Brady and Tom Ince and bringing in Moses Odubajo, Sam Clucas and the experienced Shaun Maloney.

Bruce has raised over $38 million in transfer income, while spending just $10 million on players, but he has comfortably guided Hull into the play-off final.

Both Wednesday and City will hope the new found wealth promotion brings will lead to them becoming established Premier League clubs.

Two of last year’s promoted teams, Bournemouth and Watford, have comfortably retained their status and the rise in income next season could further level the playing field.

While England’s top teams compete with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich for the world’s best players, those further down the table have been able to attract talents like Dimitri Payet, Sadio Mane and Xherdan Shaqiri – something which would have been unthinkable a few seasons ago.

Hull have been in fine form in recent weeks and will go into the game as favorites, but Wednesday have also been playing well with just three defeats in their last 16 games and could easily upset the odds.

Manchester United hope for Champions League luck as Madrid wait on Barcelona to slip up

Europe’s top leagues reach the finishing line this weekend with some important issues still to be decided.

Barcelona lead the way by a point from Real Madrid in La Liga, but both face last day games away from home – Barca at Granada, while Real travel to Deportivo La Coruna.

Granada need a point to be certain of avoiding relegation, but with Barca having won eight of their last nine meetings they will be confident of securing their second successive title.

Real, who are are chasing their first La Liga crown since 2012, have dominated against Deportivo in recent times, winning 10 and drawing one of their previous 11 games.

Deportivo have been tricky opponents this season with 18 drawn games, but Real will fancy their chances of victory and then hope Granada can lend them a helping hand against the current league leaders.

In the Premier League, the two Manchester clubs are hunting the lucrative fourth Champions League place.

United’s 3-2 defeat at West Ham United on Tuesday left City two points in front of their rivals and with a far superior goal difference.

City travel to Swansea City knowing a point should be enough to seal fourth place, but the Welsh side are in good form at the moment having scored seven goals in their last two games.

The Swans have won just one of their last meetings with City, leaving Manuel Pelligrini’s side big favorites to fend off United’s challenge.

Despite reaching the FA Cup Final, Louis van Gaal has overseen a frustrating season for United and while they should see off Bournemouth with ease at Old Trafford on Sunday it is likely they will miss out on the Champions League.

Elsewhere, there is a similar scenario in Ligue 1 in France with Monaco currently in the third and final slot just two points ahead of Nice.

With ten games to go Monaco looked certainties to finish in the top three, but a run of three wins in their next nine matches opened the door for Nice.

They head into Saturday’s home game against Montpelier unbeaten in their last 28 meetings, but the visitors are in good form having won four on the spin.

Just two defeats in their last nine games has given Nice a fighting chance of overtaking Monaco, although they face a difficult final day at Guingamp.

The hosts have a reasonable record against Nice in recent times, winning six and drawing four of their previous 17 games.

Real Madrid say terrorism will never beat football after ISIS kill 16 fans

ISIS militants wielding AK-47s killed 16 Real Madrid fans at a supporters’ club in Iraq – because they ‘don’t like football’.

The group stormed the building in Samarra, Iraq, and opened fire on a group of around 50 people who had gathered to watch a game.

ISIS claim the massacre was carried out to honor Abdel Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, the group’s second-in-command, who was killed in a coalition strike in March.

The La Liga giants published a statement on their official wesbite saying football will never be defeated by terrorism.

“Real Madrid C.F. deeply regrets the terrible attack in Iraq which today saw 16 members of a Real Madrid supporters club lose their lives and which has also left over 20 injured,” it read.

“The club expresses its great sadness and offers its regards and condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

“Real Madrid extends all of its solidarity to the people of Iraq, who suffer the excessive injustices of extreme violence.

“The Real Madrid players will tomorrow wear symbolic black armbands as a sign of their mourning and respect. Football and sport shall always be spaces in which to come together and in which harmony and peace reign and with which no form of barbaric terrorism will be able to compete.

“Today Madridismo across the whole world cries for its supporters, who shall never be forgotten.”

The president of the supporters club, Ziad Subhan, said: “A group of Islamist terrorists, from ISIS, came into the cafÈ armed with AK-47s, shooting at random at everyone who was inside.”

“They don’t like football – they think it’s anti-Muslim. They just carry out attacks like this. This is a terrible tragedy.”

One of the gunmen is reported to have set off his explosive vest, killing four more people, at a nearby vegetable market hours later after police and residents surrounded him in a disused building.

The scorched body of a suspected gunman was found hanging upside down from a post outside the cafe yesterday, with residents saying they captured a man who confessed to the attack and burned him alive.

Javier Tebas Medrano, president of La Liga, said he was “dismayed by the attack” on the fans and that the league was “with the victims and their families”.

Earlier this week, three separate car bombings in Baghdad killed at least 93 people and wounded 165.

ISIS later claimed responsibility for all three bombings.

Iraqi authorities are coming under increasing pressure over security breaches in Baghdad, with the country’s top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani condemning the latest attacks.

He said the government is ultimately responsible for such security breaches, following protests in Baghdad’s Sadr City district and has called for the defense secretary and Prime Minister to resign.

Chelsea search for new kit supplier after ending Adidas deal

Chelsea are on the hunt for a new kit supplier after confirming there are terminating their deal with Adidas six years early.

The split at the end of next season is said to be by mutual consent, although the London club is thought to have become disillusioned at the level of support they’ve received from Adidas.

The sportswear giant currently has deals with Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus, and the Stamford Bridge club believe those clubs have been promoted more intensively.

Chelsea’s deal was worth $43.4 million per year, compared to Unitedís $108.44m contract. They have agreed a $57.8m severance package with Adidas.

The Blues are understood to want $72.3m per year for their replacement deal, but this is unlikely to put off would-be suitors.

Nike, who are currently in talks with Tottenham Hotspur about a shirt deal, have been without a London club since parting ways with Arsenal a couple of years ago.

Japanese firm Uniqlo could also be interested, with Chelsea’s $57.8-a-year shirt sponsorship with Yokohama an obvious attraction for a possible future link-up.

Under Armour may also be an option, especially if Spurs sign with Nike, although they have just signed a seven-year agreement with Southampton.

Liverpool kit suppliers New Balance are new to the Premier League scene, but the opportunity to tie up one of Europe’s biggest clubs could be too good to pass up.

Chelsea had a deal with English manufacturer Umbro from 1987 to 2006, during which time they won two Premier League titles.

Puma provided the title-winning kits for Leicester City this season, although their current deal with Arsenal may be a problem for Chelsea’s decision-makers.

With Antonio Conte set to take over as the club’s new boss this summer, Italian company Kappa may fancy their chances of securing a deal.

They previously supplied Manchester City back in the 1990s, but currently only have deals with Championship clubs Leeds United and Wigan Athletic in the English leagues.