English football fans ‘clients’, says Borussia Dortmund chief Hans-Joachim Watzk

English football fans ‘clients’, says Borussia Dortmund chief Hans-Joachim Watzk

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30,000 fans snubbed Borussia Dortmund’s Monday night game against Augsburg

English football fans are “more clients than members” of the clubs they support, says Borussia Dortmund’s chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke.

Watzke expects Germany’s experiment with Monday night fixtures to be scrapped following fan protests.

English fans have complained about the timing of some games, but are at the mercy of the TV rights holders.

“The Germans don’t want to have the circumstances like in English football,” Watzke told BBC Sport.

Watzke said 30,000 of his club’s fans snubbed Monday’s game against Augsburg, even though they had paid for their tickets.

This week’s fixture was the second to be played on a Monday as part of the new TV deal that runs to 2021.

Watzke estimates 80% of fans in Germany are against Monday games.

He said: “The TV contract is not done again until 2021. Maybe something happens before then but 80% of the football fans in Germany don’t want it and you can’t do anything against 80%. No chance.”

‘Special spirit in German football’

Frankfurt supporters threw hundreds of tennis balls on to the pitch during their Monday night game against RB Leipzig

The Bundesliga sold its domestic TV rights from 2017 to 2021 to Sky Deutschland and Eurosport for £4.1bn.

For the first time, it made available the potential for five Monday night matches, commonplace in England since the Premier League was launched but never trialled before in Germany.

At the first, on 19 February, Frankfurt supporters threw hundreds of tennis balls on to the pitch, delaying the start to both halves of their game against RB Leipzig.

Watzke observed the vehemence of the protests at the Westfalenstadion at close hand and was not surprised.

He said: “In English football, the fans accept, mostly, that they are more clients than members or pieces of the club.

“We have 154,000 members. Everyone wants to be a part of the club, not a client of the club. That is a big difference. That is the special spirit in German football.”

‘We don’t want owners from America, Arabia or Russia’

Watzke believes the protests were the result of Germany’s rigid 50+1 ownership limit.

The 50+1 prevents individuals or groups getting control of individual clubs and operating them without recourse to the fans, which is completely different to England, where the only rule is a requirement to pass a ‘fit and proper person’s test’.

There have been discussions in Germany about scrapping the system to allow clubs the opportunity to attract outside investment in an effort to become more successful, of which Manchester City and Chelsea are obvious examples.

Watzke does not see it happening, even if it means clubs such as his own, who have one of the biggest average attendances in Europe, are now lagging behind almost the entire Premier League.

He said: “Numbers 18, 19 and 20 in the Premier League has the same financial situation as Borussia Dortmund. That is not so easy for us.

“For us, the nearest step to go to someone in the USA, or China to get one big investor. That is not our way because our people, our members, don’t like it and if someone tried to change the 50+1 rule in Germany, they would get a fan reaction the type of which they could not imagine.

“We have 81,000 spectators every match – apart from Monday. But we have 28,000 standing places, where the cost of tickets is between 11 and 14 euros. That is the Borussia Dortmund way.

“At the moment there is more money in England but maybe, in 20 or 50 years, we will, perhaps, be able to say our way was the better way.

“It is important what your fans think.”

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February 28, 2018 at 03:54PM

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Tottenham 6-1 Rochdale: VAR more confusing than helpful – Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham 6-1 Rochdale: VAR more confusing than helpful – Mauricio Pochettino

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Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is delighted his side saw off Rochdale with a 6-1 win in their FA Cup fifth round replay but feels the use of VAR caused confusion.

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February 28, 2018 at 03:36PM

Dolphins’ Gase: Tannehill is the starting QB

Dolphins’ Gase: Tannehill is the starting QB

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INDIANAPOLIS — Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who hasn’t played in a game since December 2016, received a big vote of confidence Wednesday from coach Adam Gase.

“Ryan is going to be our starting quarterback, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon,” Gase said at the scouting combine. “I think that when we get back out there in spring and get going, I just know it’s going to be really good to have him back.”

Gase’s endorsement came amid speculation the Dolphins might take a quarterback with the 11th pick in the draft. He didn’t rule out that possibility, but Gase made it clear Tannehill is his quarterback for 2018.

If they were to pick a quarterback, Tannehill would embrace the competition, according to Gase. “Ryan would never shy away from anybody coming in at that position,” the coach said.

Gase was less forthcoming on the future of wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who received the franchise tag. Gase said the tag was “the best thing for us and for him to know that’s there.”

The Dolphins reportedly are interested in trading Landry, who made more receptions in his first four seasons (400) than any player in history. Failing a trade, they could sign him to a long-term contract or let him for the franchise tender — an estimated $16 million — in 2018.

Asked if he expects Landry to be part of the team, Gase said, “Yeah, if it works out the way we kind of looked at things. … That’s why we franchised him. We’ll just see how it goes.”

Tannehill is trying to rebound from two major knee injuries. The latter occurred last August in a training-camp practice, requiring reconstructive surgery. Jay Cutler signed a one-year contract to replace him.

Gase said Tannehill is doing “extremely well” in his recovery, although he declined to provide a timetable for this return.

“He’s always going to be ahead of where he’s supposed to be; he’s a physical freak,” Gase said. “He’s a physical freak and we’ll just kind of play this one as the week goes on, throughout the offseason.

“Really, for me, I won’t personally know until we get into those stages to where we can be out at practice, throwing. All I can do is hear things are going good, he’s moving around well, he’s able to do what he needs to do to play quarterback.”

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February 28, 2018 at 03:36PM

Yairo Munoz homered twice in Cardinals’ eight-run seventh inning

Yairo Munoz homered twice in Cardinals’ eight-run seventh inning

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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia published a column on Wednesday detailing one of the ways the Phillies are trying to help build clubhouse camaraderie. At some point last season, head pitching coach Rick Kranitz brought the “Sensitive Bus” into the Phillies’ clubhouse and he has brought it back for the 2018 season.

The “Sensitive Bus” is a yellow toy school bus, adorned with a whining emoji, that gets placed in a player’s locker if he’s deemed to have been too sensitive.

Kranitz said, “You know, sometimes guys get a little sensitive about things. They start jabbing each other a little, getting under each others’ skin. It doesn’t even have to be about baseball. You have to have tough skin. The boys, they don’t ever want the bus in their locker.”

Kranitz added, “If somebody gets on somebody’s nerves and there’s some sensitivity, I’ll just go get it and put it in their locker. Hey, I might put it in my own locker.”

On the one hand, this type of team-building exercise is a step above some of the stunts used in the past, like making rookies dress up like women and wear pink backpacks.

On the other hand, this is still problematic because it teaches men — in the case of the Phillies’ clubhouse: young, impressionable men — that being sensitive is a bad thing. It’s not. If someone doesn’t like something that a fellow teammate said or did, his environment should make him feel comfortable enough to speak up and establish his own boundaries. Some teammates you can joke around with, some you can’t. Sometimes a player will have a bad day or a bad week and not be in the mood to joke around. That’s life; that’s people. Those that don’t enjoy silliness — whether in that moment or in general — shouldn’t have to silently suffer because Kranitz wants to promote toxic masculinity in Gabe Kapler’s clubhouse.

When Kapler got hired, the Phillies were essentially saying to fans that they were going to change up the way things had been done. The front office is now very analytically-oriented, for example. The Phillies are going to experiment with mid-inning outfield realignment. So, it’s surprising that someone as forward-thinking as Kapler would allow Kranitz to implement such a retrograde team-building exercise in his clubhouse.

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February 28, 2018 at 03:27PM

Arsene Wenger Reportedly Losing Faith of Arsenal Board and Players

Arsene Wenger Reportedly Losing Faith of Arsenal Board and Players

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Arsene Wenger is reportedly losing the faith of Arsenal‘s board and the confidence of his players, as speculation intensifies the 68-year-old Frenchman will lose his job this summer, per John Cross of the Daily Mirror.

       

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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February 28, 2018 at 03:26PM

Martavis Bryant Trade Rumors: Steelers Deny Interest in Dealing WR

Martavis Bryant Trade Rumors: Steelers Deny Interest in Dealing WR

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Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert denied reports the team is open to trading wide receiver Martavis Bryant.

"We have never ever made one phone call about Martavis Bryant for a trade," Colbert told reporters Wednesday at the scouting combine. "Martavis Bryant is a Pittsburgh Steeler and we want him to continue to be a Pittsburgh Steeler. A lot of kids don’t make it back from a one-year suspension, but he did. We are not in the trade market for [Bryant]."

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported earlier this month that the Steelers were listening to offers but not "shopping" Bryant.

 

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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February 28, 2018 at 03:26PM

Manchester United Transfer News: Latest Rumours on Paul Pogba and Matteo Darmian

Manchester United Transfer News: Latest Rumours on Paul Pogba and Matteo Darmian

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Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has reportedly attracted interest from Barcelona, while defender Matteo Darmian is said to be in negotiations with Juventus.

OK Diario’s Eduardo Inda appeared on Spanish television show El Chiringuito de Jugones and said there is interest from Barcelona, but they would not be willing to pay more than €100 million for the France international (h/t Sport Witness).

Pogba’s future at Manchester United has come under scrutiny after he was left out of the team by manager Jose Mourinho for games against Sevilla and Huddersfield Town. Samuel Luckhurst at the Manchester Evening News said there is tension between player and manager:

Pogba has since returned to the starting lineup and was particularly impressive in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Chelsea at Old Trafford. James Gheerbrant at The Times said he rose to the occasion:

StatsBomb’s Ted Knutson also provided a comparison of Pogba’s form this season with his last campaign at Juventus:

There seems little doubt there has been conflict between Pogba and Mourinho. The midfielder has failed to fully live up to his huge £89 million price tag, although he has also rarely been played in his favoured position.

However, United are unlikely to be willing to allow Pogba to depart having invested so heavily in the France international. There must also be doubt as to whether Barcelona could afford to go for Pogba having spent heavily on Ousmane Dembele, Nelson Semedo and Philippe Coutinho in the last two transfer windows.

In contrast, Darmian is a player the Red Devils may well be happy to see exit the club. The Italian has made just two Premier League starts and looks to be surplus to requirements.

According to Il BiancoNero (h/t Anthony Chapman at The Sun), the Italian champions are after a new defender and are drawn to Darmian’s versatility, as he can play at full-back or central defence.

Darmian has endured a tough time at Old Trafford since joining from Torino in the summer of 2015. He has failed to force his way into the first team and has fallen completely out of favour under Mourinho.

The full-back will be lucky to feature in another Premier League squad for United, according to Luckhurst:

Football writer Daniel Harris said Darmian should have been sold before now.

Darmian looks destined to leave United in the summer and a return to Italy looks the most likely option. A move to Juventus would surely appeal, and he will have more chance of game time in Turin than in Manchester.

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February 28, 2018 at 03:26PM

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