Here are the latest Premier League headlines for Thursday, May 26.
Man United chief addresses fan concerns
Manchester United’s chief executive has told fans he understands the concerns and frustration which led to fresh protests against the Glazer family towards the end of the season. Supporters again vented their anger against the club’s American owners in matches at Old Trafford as a disappointing campaign fizzled out.
Fans have been protesting against the Glazers since they bought the club in 2005, with supporters still concerned about the debt which was loaded onto the club as a result of the takeover 17 years ago. More recently, fans were furious about the involvement of the Glazers in plans to launch a European Super League, with a match against Liverpool in May last year postponed after protesters broke into the stadium and invaded the pitch at a fixture which was designated to be played behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There has been a greater level of engagement with supporters over the last few months, and executive co-chairman Joel Glazer has attended meetings of the fans’ advisory board in January and April. Despite that, the protests have persisted.
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Chief executive Richard Arnold was asked about the level of bad feeling from fans towards the owners at a supporters’ forum last month and said: “Everyone at the club, from the owners down, accepts that performances this season have been well below what we expect.
“We are taking decisive action to improve things and there is huge commitment and passion across the club to return to where we think we belong – challenging for, and winning, titles. We are very aware of how fans are feeling and understand their concerns and frustration. Football is a game of passion and we fully respect fans’ right to make their feelings known, as long as this remains legal and peaceful at all times.”
Chelsea deal complete
The Chelsea sale is finally complete barring an official club confirmation after the Portuguese government issued the last ratification of Todd Boehly’s purchase. US magnate Boehly is now just a Chelsea announcement away from officially taking control at Stamford Bridge, in what will be a sports franchise record deal of £4.25billion.
Eighty-six days after Roman Abramovich officially put Chelsea up for sale, US billionaire Boehly is poised to take over at the west London club. Portuguese ratification has been required as Abramovich holds a passport for the European nation.
“Portugal gave authorisation, this Wednesday night, to the sale of Chelsea Football Club,” read a Portuguese Government statement. “The two responsible national authorities – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance – have given the green light to the request received on behalf of Roman Abramovich for a humanitarian derogation, allowing the English club to be transacted.
“The Portuguese authorisation follows the guarantee given by the British authorities that the proceeds from the sale will be used for humanitarian purposes, not directly or indirectly benefiting the owner of the club, who is on the European Union sanctions list. The national position has the agreement of the European Commission.”
£170m play-off windfall
Victory in Sunday’s Sky Bet Championship final could be worth at least £170million to either Huddersfield or Nottingham Forest as they battle for “the most lucrative prize in world football”. Analysis carried out by Deloitte’s sports business group suggests future revenues for the victors could rise to in excess of £300million over the next five seasons if they manage to retain their new-found Premier League status at the first attempt, something only five of the last 10 winners have achieved.
The projected figures highlight the disparity between finances between English football’s top two divisions, the subject of recommendations for fairer distribution in Conservative MP Tracey Crouch’s fan-led review of the game in this country and a major focus for English Football League chairman Rick Parry.
Tim Bridge, a director in the sports business group, said: “Wembley this weekend is host to the match with the most lucrative prize in world football. Following a fiercely contested season, the winner of Sunday’s Championship play-off final will walk off the pitch having secured additional future revenues of at least £170million.
“Promoted teams benefit from considerable financial gains which can deliver new player signings, stadium improvements and more. However, whilst a narrow majority of clubs promoted to the Premier League over the past decade survived their first season, half of the play-off final winners have not.
“Hence the winner of Sunday’s game will face the challenge of maintaining the excitement of fans, as well as balancing financial stability in the coming months. This Sunday’s game holds the key to re-entering the top-flight of English football, but the harder battle is to come: staying in it.”