“While we respect the right of clubs to choose options which suit their individual circumstances, we believe there is room for clubs to work more closely to try to charge a fair amount rather than discounting very small amounts on match tickets in isolation. “We are delighted to have reached an agreement with two of the first clubs we spoke to – West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City – and we applaud them for taking part. “As prices indicated last season, fans of some clubs continue to pay far more than those of others and we hope this initiative will lead to a fairer system which can ultimately benefit all supporters.” The Magpies have agreed reciprocal pricing agreements with the Baggies and the Swans for the games between the clubs this season which will see the cost of attending away matches reduced significantly, and are inviting more of their Barclays Premier League colleagues to follow suit. The Football Supporters’ Federation, which has campaigned for fairer pricing for fans following their respective teams to away matches, has praised the move. Chief executive Kevin Miles said: “The FSF is delighted to welcome the announcement by Newcastle United of their offer of a reciprocal pricing agreement for tickets for away fans at Premier League fixtures. “This is a significant breakthrough in turning the concept of affordable prices for away fans into a reality, and Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City are to be commended for taking a lead in this area. “We would urge all other Premier League clubs to follow the lead of these clubs, both by taking up this offer and by extending similar arrangements to other fixtures too.” Under Newcastle’s agreement with West Brom, away fans at St James’ Park on November 30 and the Hawthorns on New Year’s Day will pay just £15 for adults and £5 for concessions, a saving of £24 on last season for adult Magpies supporters and £11 for their Midlands counterparts. The two games between Newcastle and Swansea – at the Liberty Stadium on December 4 and St James’ Park on April 19 – will cost £20 for adults and £5 for concessions, a saving of £15 for those travelling to South Wales last season and £10 for those who headed in the opposite direction. The Premier League’s recently launched Away Fans Fund is an attempt to stem falling away attendances, with all 20 top flight clubs now ring-fencing £200,000 each per season over the next three seasons to assist travelling supporters. Newcastle’s finance director John Irving said: “Newcastle United plays a hugely important role in the lives of supporters and in the community which surrounds it, so keeping football affordable continues to be a key priority for us. “Ticket prices are too expensive generally across the Premier League and we believe the right way to encourage people to attend, and to therefore fill stadiums as the Away Fans Fund intends, is to look at charging reasonable prices. Fans have welcomed an initiative by Newcastle, West Brom and Swansea to slash the price of tickets for travelling supporters. Press Association
Ahead of the clash Garry Monk said he does not care that Ronald Koeman’s agent has been touting his client for the Swansea job. Koeman’s agent Guido Albers told the BBC that the former Holland defender is interested in moving to the Barclays Premier League when his contract expires with Feyenoord in the summer. Albers said Koeman was “willing” to move to the Liberty Stadium as Swansea are a “fantastic club with a lot of potential.” Monk was appointed as Swansea boss “for the foreseeable future” following the sacking of Michael Laudrup. Swansea are just four points from safety after failing to win any of their last six games, but Monk is not concerned by the comments coming from Koeman’s camp. “I don’t care – it doesn’t affect me,” the Swansea manager told a press conference. “This is the business we are in. “Players and managers will always be linked with other clubs, but I can’t worry about that. “Names will always be linked when a manager changes, and I guess this shows that everyone wants to work in the Premier League. It’s the most exciting league in the world so I don’t blame people for trying to get linked with certain jobs. Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey and defender Kyle Bartley (both hamstring) are out but goalkeeper Michel Vorm has been cleared to play after overcoming illness. The Swans will test midfielder Pablo Hernandez (hamstring). “But I just have to focus on what I am doing, and that always means the next game.” West Brom will be without several players. Steven Reid (knee), Claudio Yacob (hamstring) and captain Chris Brunt (knee) will all be absent. Diego Lugano was already sidelined with a similar problem – he faces three to four weeks out – and Billy Jones (hamstring) is not yet ready to return. Striker Nicolas Anelka begins his five-match suspension after both he and the Football Association declined to appeal against the sanction imposed over his ‘quenelle’ goal celebration against West Ham. West Brom head coach Pepe Mel is sure Albion can secure at least four victories from their remaining 10 Barclays Premier League matches this season – but for now is focused solely on Saturday’s trip to Swansea. If the relegation-threatened Baggies do register a quartet of wins between now and the end of the term, it will double the amount for their entire top-flight campaign to date. With the club having triumphed only once in their last 18 league fixtures and not at all since Mel, who they have now played under seven times, was appointed as boss in January, it appears an unlikely prospect, but the Spaniard has made it clear he has confidence in his players. That he has also stressed he is not really looking beyond what he regards as a ‘must-win’ game on Saturday is perhaps of little surprise, given reports have suggested his job is already under threat. Mel himself has admitted he does not know what will happen to him if West Brom fail to beat Swansea. And the 51-year-old said: “It is possible to win four more games – and, indeed, win more than that. “But we just have to think about the next game and winning that one. “I’m not thinking about there being 10 games, I’m just thinking about there being one game. “We must take each game as it comes and always be thinking about the next one.” Press Association Striker Michu could make his comeback from a three-month ankle injury lay-off for Swansea when they host West Brom.
Press Association Mirallas missed a spot-kick in the Toffees’ goalless Barclays Premier League draw at West Brom last week after making an apparently impromptu request to take over from regular penalty-taker Leighton Baines. With Mirallas substituted soon after, a storm grew around the incident, adding to the pressure on Martinez amid a run of just one win in 13 games in all competitions. But the Spaniard played down the matter on the night and insists no bridge-building between the Belgian winger and the rest of the squad has been necessary since. Martinez said: “Obviously it is something that has been addressed internally and is water under the bridge. “The only problem we had was that Kevin missed the penalty. That is the end of the matter internally. “Sometimes you feel in a great moment and you want to take a penalty. “It is not a negative having players that want to have the responsibility and show they can help the team in specific moments. “The issue here is that he missed the penalty – nothing else.” The penalty miss came just before half-time in the clash at Goodison Park and Mirallas did not return for the second half due to a hamstring injury. Martinez expects the 27-year-old to be available for Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace and is also hopeful James McCarthy (hamstring), Darron Gibson (knee) and Sylvain Distin (groin) could be back in contention after recent injuries. As they were not involved in the FA Cup last weekend, Everton have spent the week since the West Brom match at a warm-weather training camp in Qatar and Martinez has been pleased with players’ progress. Martinez, speaking at a press conference, said: “We are hoping Kevin is going to be joining the group between today and tomorrow. He is one of the players who has benefited massively from being away and being able to work. He feels a lot stronger and I do feel he has got a great opportunity to be involved in the squad against Crystal Palace. “James McCarthy has been doing really well – he and Darron Gibson and Sylvain Distin have. They have joined the group, which is really positive. “Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar and Tim Howard are still longer term but they are progressing well and got real good benefit of working away this week.” Everton’s form has seen Martinez criticised by some supporters but he remains confident of their overall backing and feels all facets of the club remain united. Martinez said: “I think we are all aware of the potential we have as a team and I think this season we have had huge expectations. I just see that when you really care about your team and you really care about what you can achieve you are going to get frustrated – when you don’t win you cannot be happy. “But at the same time there is a real support behind the players and a real understanding. “There is always a feeling of getting ready for the next game and the next battle. I feel there is a real natural feeling about what we are going through. It is about making sure we use these situations to make us a stronger football club and the fans have been terrific.” Martinez has not ruled out making further additions to his squad before Monday’s transfer deadline but claims it is unlikely. He said: “In this window we are not looking to try to find solutions. All the work we did in the summer was to have a strong enough squad for all the competitions. “Having said that, we will always try to use the windows in our favour and we will never stop trying to help the players we have at the club and being as strong as we can be.” Everton boss Roberto Martinez claims the Kevin Mirallas penalty controversy has been consigned to history.
“The defender clearly clips Andre,” Monk said. “Whether that’s intentional or not is debatable. “But he definitely tripped Andre up, so the referee decided that was a penalty.” Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe felt the penalty decision “didn’t look quite right”, but he said he was proud of his players’ performance. “I need to see the goals again but they are debatable,” Howe said after his stayed in the Barclays Premier League relegation zone. “Simon definitely felt it wasn’t a penalty and from my position it didn’t look quite right. “I’m very pleased with the players as right from the start I thought we were excellent. “We were in control of ourselves and deservedly got the two goals, and it’s very rare that a team comes to Swansea and dominates the ball like we did. “The only disappointing thing is that we haven’t won the game after being two goals up. “So there’s things to learn from, but in the second half we were camped in their half and looking like we were going to score.” Manager Garry Monk felt Swansea’s comeback to salvage a point against Bournemouth showed their hunger to put things right at the Liberty Stadium. But Monk said: ” Considering we were two goals down, you have to give credit to the players for the spirit they showed to come back from that, especially with the situation. “You can see clearly the spirit within them and how much they want to put it right. “Having gone two goals down added to the tension and anxiety in the crowd. That then affects the players a little bit. “I thought with the ball we lost a bit of confidence and that’s the only bit really that’s missing. “You can see the other side of it is all there, that spirit and way of defending. “We just need to bring the players back to having confidence with the ball, that brightness and sharpness, and that will only come with results.” Ayew just about stayed onside to drag Swansea back into the contest with his sixth goal for the club before he won a contentious penalty six minutes before the interval, which Shelvey slotted home. The Ghanaian appeared to trip himself when challenged by Cherries defender Simon Francis, but Monk insisted the decision to award a spot-kick was correct. Press Association Andre Ayew and Jonjo Shelvey earned Swansea a 2-2 draw after they had been two goals down, but it is now only one win in 10 games for the Welsh club and the nature of the performance left a lot to be desired. Bournemouth were the better side for long periods and should have recorded their first victory in eight games after Joshua King and Dan Gosling had given them a healthy lead inside 26 minutes.
“All great players can play together. I don’t believe this great myth that they can’t play,” Rush, scorer of 346 goals for the Reds, said at an event to promote Liverpool Legends’ match against their Australian counterparts in Sydney on January 7. “But how I look at it is you are now not guaranteed a first-team place. “When Liverpool have been successful it was because you were not guaranteed a place. “When the team is winning (the manager) is thinking ‘If I change the side here it might go there’. “Competition for places is very healthy so give the manager a problem, make yourself available for selection – that is what all manager’s want, all players fit. “If they are fit and available then the manager has to choose and that is what happened when I played for Liverpool.” Christian Benteke has scored three times in his last seven matches – including a brilliant strike against Bordeaux last week – having been sidelined with a hamstring problem. Rush believes the Belgium international will get better as he gets even fitter. Liverpool’s record goalscorer Ian Rush believes the return of Daniel Sturridge has finally given manager Jurgen Klopp something to think about up front. Press Association “I was really happy when we signed him. He can play up front by himself, alongside someone and is a different option there and we’ve not had that previously,” he added. “We had (Philippe) Coutinho, (Roberto) Firmino, (Adam) Lallana and now you have Benteke and that is a good thing. “He will get fitter and will get better and the goal he scored against Bordeaux showed what he can do.” Victory over Swansea put Liverpool within six points of Premier League leaders Manchester City but Rush, who won two European Cups, five league titles, five League Cups and three FA Cups with the club, believes the players have to concentrate on securing a return to the Champions League and possibly winning silverware this season. “What’s realistic is to finish in the top four but it would be great to win a trophy for the supporters,” he said. “We signed a few players in the summer and the likes of Benteke could be the difference between fourth and fifth. “But every competition you play in you want to win. You shouldn’t go into it if you don’t expect to win. “They are in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup (on Wednesday) and Southampton are difficult but they can beat them. “Realistically it is most probably their best chance of winning a trophy but it is knowing how to do it. “You say you’d like the game to be at home but we’ve been playing better away so I think it is a good chance now.” The England international made his first appearance for the German as a late substitute in the 1-0 win over Swansea, only his fourth appearance since April after a hip operation and knee and foot problems. Now Klopp has his two first-choice strikers available and Rush believes the Reds boss has decisions to make as although he has played with one up front, the Welshman sees no reason why both cannot be accommodated.
A woman who dramatically chugged her coffee during Tuesday’s impeachment hearing is now the latest internet sensation.Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was testifying before Congress, but all eyes were on Emma Dumain, who was sitting behind him.Dumain tilted her head back to take a big gulp of her beverage before seeming to remember she was on camera.She says she grabbed oatmeal and large coffee on her way to the hearing, where the world saw her chug every last drop.Dumain works as a congressional reporter for the news agency McClatchy.
Fort Lauderdale police are investigating an incident that involved a 7-year-old boy who shot himself in the leg.Investigators say the father left the child in the car Wednesday morning while he ran into the grocery store. The boy found the loaded gun and shot himself in the leg.The father called 911 right away when he found the injured boy. He was rushed to Broward Health Medical Center with serious injuries but is expected to be OK. Police have not identified the father or the child, they are still investigating the incident.
___The postponed Belgian Cup final has been rescheduled for Aug. 1. That is one week before the start of the league’s next season.Belgian soccer authorities say the match between Club Brugge and Antwerp will take place in an empty King Baudouin Stadium.Club Brugge has the opportunity to secure a league-cup double after it was awarded its 16th Belgian title this month following a decision to end the current season prematurely because of the coronavirus pandemic.All sporting competitions in Belgium have been suspended until July 31. The new season is set to start on Aug. 7. It would be the first positive case in Serie A since the teams started training in groups if it is confirmed. The entire squad would have to go into quarantine.Serie A has been suspended since March 9 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The league is hoping to restart on June 13.___The Dutch Grand Prix has become the fourth Formula One race to be canceled this season.Organizers of the first Dutch GP in 35 years preferred to wait until next year in hope fans will be able to attend, rather than hold the race without them this time. Players and all staff and officials had to undergo heat checks before entering the stadium and strict health protocols were put in place on the field.___Bologna says a test carried out on a member of its staff who was suspected of having coronavirus has come back negative.The club says that a “further, definitive test” will be carried out in the next few hours.The players will nevertheless train individually as a precaution. ___The Hungarian soccer federation says matches in the country can once again be held with spectators in the stadiums.The announcement comes on the back of a government decree allowing the option amid the coronavirus pandemic.Organizers are obliged to keep three seats empty between each occupied seat and no fan may sit directly behind or in front of another. Players and essential personnel on or near the field during matches must recently have tested negative for the coronavirus.The federation says clubs can decide on their own whether they want to play in front or fans again. The Latest: Texas to allow limited spectators for pro sports Blackburn says captain Elliott Bennett was found to be infected with COVID-19 after testing negative last Friday.Bennett says he doesn’t “feel unwell” and doesn’t have any symptoms.Fulham says two players tested positive but did not name them.The positive cases at the second-division clubs came after tests on 1,030 players and staff from Monday to Wednesday.The three players will have to self-isolate for seven days before returning to training ahead of a potential resumption of the competition. The race in Zandvoort was set for May 3 and initially postponed.Race director Jan Lammers says “we would like to celebrate this moment, the return of Formula 1 in Zandvoort, together with our racing fans in the Netherlands.”The other races canceled were the season-opening Australian GP on March 15; the Monaco GP on May 24; and the French GP on June 28.Another six remain postponed.F1 organizers still hope to reschedule those and hold 15-18 races this season, starting with back-to-back races at the Austrian GP in July. Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp said the track was honored to help the high school seniors be recognized in a proper way.Traditional high school graduation ceremonies have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The ceremony will take place at a parking lot on track property. Afterward, the graduates and their parents will have the chance to drive their vehicles for a lap around the 1.366-mile track and get their pictures taken on the start-finish line.___Malcolm Jenkins, who this offseason left the Eagles to sign with the New Orleans Saints as a free agent, will be the keynote speaker at Philadelphia’s virtual graduation on June 9.Jenkins starred for the Eagles for the last six seasons and the safety won an NFL championship in 2017. He also has been a leader of several off-field initiatives, and his foundation has a mission to promote positive change in the lives of underserved youth in New Jersey, where he grew up; Ohio, where he went to college at Ohio State; Pennsylvania and Louisiana, homes of his pro teams. Associated Press Four Rolex Series events have been rescheduled for October to December. They are the Scottish Open, the BMW PGA Championship, the Nedbank Golf Challenge and then the season-ending World Tour Championship from Dec. 10-13.The tour says details of other tournaments from September to November will be announced later.European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley says the Ryder Cup is still on schedule for Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin pending more discussions with the PGA Tour.___Three players from English soccer clubs Blackburn and Fulham have tested positive for the coronavirus. “Malcolm was selected not for his greatness on the field and his two Super Bowl rings, but because of his compassion and advocacy around social justice,” said Donna Frisby-Greenwood, CEO of the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia and co-chair of the commencement planning committee. “Malcolm’s foundation focuses on youth leadership development and skill building, and we think that that makes him a perfect speaker for us.”The hour-long graduation will be streamed on several platforms, including the school district’s website. Frisby-Greenwood said that several companies and organizations are involved with planning and serving as sponsors. The Philadelphia Orchestra has recorded “Pomp and Circumstance” for the ceremony. And the city’s Free Library will host the live stream of the event on its platform.Individual high schools will be distributing caps and gowns to the students to wear during the festivities.___Serbia’s top soccer league has decided that no teams will be relegated this season as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Premier League’s official broadcasters say the competition will restart on June 17.The BBC and Sky Sports say there will be a doubleheader on that day with Manchester City playing Arsenal and Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United.Playing those make-up games on a Wednesday will ensure the 30th round can be contested the following weekend.The last match was played on March 9 before the competition was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.Squads were only allowed to restart practice sessions in small groups last week but contact and tackling is now allowed between players. The order does not address college sports events.___Major League Soccer teams can begin voluntary outdoor small group training sessions.Holding the small group sessions must not conflict with local public health or government restrictions, but is the next step in the league’s hopes of returning to action. A maximum of six players may be assigned to a single group. Teams must submit club-specific plans for the small group sessions to the league. The league said teams may split full fields into two equal halves and teams may define up to six zones per half field, spaced at least 10 feet apart. Only one player may be in each zone at any time to maintain physical distancing. Players may switch zones but two players cannot occupy the same zone. ___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6 England is looking to play international cricket from July.___The European Tour plans to resume its season in July starting with a six-week stretch of golf tournaments in Britain and running through to the World Tour Championship in Dubai in December.The tour says its events initially will be held without spectators and will be subject to strict testing protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.The season has been suspended since March 8. It will resume with the British Masters in northern England from July 22-25 before five further events in the “UK Swing” across England and Wales. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has revised a decision to let pro sports leagues host events without fans starting in June as part of the states’ move to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.Abbott’s new order allows outdoor stadiums to host fans up to 25 percent of their normal capacity. Leagues will have to apply to state health officials to be allowed to have fans. Indoor events will still be without spectators.The PGA Tour plans to restart its season at Colonial in Texas on June 11-14 but has said it would not include fans.The state has set up several guidelines for leagues to follow, including a recommendation that spectators and employees keep at least 6 feet apart from anyone not from their household. If that is not feasible, other measures such as face coverings and sanitation protocols should be followed.Athletes will not be required to wear masks but the guidelines encourage them to be worn on the sidelines. Tickets for next Wednesday’s Hungarian Cup final between Budapest Honved and Mezokovesd-Zsory at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium in Budapest will soon be sold online.___Elite sports made a comeback in Australia for the first time since March 22 with the Brisbane Broncos hosting Parramatta in the National Rugby League.Two rounds of matches were played in the NRL in March before Australia and New Zealand went into lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.No fans were allowed into the 52,500-seat stadium in Brisbane because of strict social distancing rules. But at a bone-jarring collision between burly rugby players was broadcast across Australia to signal the return of contact teams sports in the country. However, four teams will still be promoted from the second tier, making for an expanded 20-team league next season. The league says the Serbian soccer federation accepted its proposal to adapt to the shutdown forced by the pandemic.Games are set to resume Friday to complete the final four rounds of the regular season and decide a champion and qualifying places for UEFA competitions. Red Star Belgrade has an 11-point lead ahead of Partizan.However, the league’s normal eight-team groups that were to decide the postseason championship and relegation spots have been scrapped. ___ May 28, 2020 Players may pass and shoot on goal, but all training exercises must allow for 10 feet of distance.The league said all other health and safety measures required when teams began individual training must still be maintained.___Darlington Raceway is switching gears for its next event.Two weeks after hosting NASCAR’s return to racing, the track will hold graduation ceremonies for the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics. There will be 120 graduating seniors at Saturday’s event from the school in Hartsville, a few miles from NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___Texas will soon allow outdoor pro sports events to have spectators, but their numbers will be strictly limited. ___The head of English cricket says “unorthodox” measures could be explored to ensure at least part of the domestic season is played this year.The England and Wales Cricket Board says there will be no professional domestic cricket before Aug. 1 because of the coronavirus pandemic.The governing body says its ambition remains to stage domestic competitions some time over the upcoming summer and that talks will continue with the government and health experts.The ECB has outlined a slew of proposals for play in both red ball and limited-overs cricket. They include opening up all grounds or using regional grouping for matches. Matches could yet be played before a limited number of supporters.
Students on campus voiced their opinions on United States Supreme Court oral arguments regarding California Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage, and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.A recent ABC News-Washington Post poll reported that 58 percent of Americans support the legalization of same-sex marriage and that more than 81 percent of American adults under the age of 30 support same-sex marriage.David Cruz, a professor of law at the Gould School of Law, attended the hearings in Washington, D.C. this week as a member of the Supreme Court Bar. He said the youngest generation of voters is more supportive of same-sex marriage because of more frequent portrayals of homosexuality in the media and the greater number of openly gay Americans.“Familiarity breeds comfort,” Cruz said. “More people who are young now grew up being aware of gay people and knowing gay people. [Also], greater visibility in media, whether in news or popular entertainment, contributes to a social climate where there’s less prejudice towards LGBT people.”Cruz said that the same-sex marriage debate is different from other social issues in the United States’ past and points to the Washington, D.C. hearings as a pivotal moment in our history.“The Supreme Court has never decided just how skeptical courts should be when government discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and has never decided how protective the courts should be against anti-gay discrimination,” Cruz said. “So, there are a lot of open issues here.”Cruz said the Supreme Court’s decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA will particularly affect USC students moving into the future.“Often, people meet the person that they fall in love with and want to marry in college,” Cruz said. “If the court agrees that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, then that option, which same-sex couples don’t currently have in California, would be restored.”Vincent Vigil, director of the LGBT Resource Center at USC, was on campus when Prop 8 passed in 2008, banning same-sex marriage in California.“[Many USC students] were shocked because they believed that everyone was very supportive of gay and bisexual people,” Vigil said. “But when you step outside the gates of USC, there are people that hate you because you’re gay.”Some students are aware of the many possible outcomes that the case can take and hope the Supreme Court will make changes to current policies.“I am for gay marriage to be legalized,” said Samantha Close, a first-year doctorate student in communication. “Although it sounds like the Supreme Court is more likely to throw out the case due to lack of standing rather than rule on it, which I think is sad since they took all the time to hear it.”Giuseppe Robalino, a freshman majoring in business administration, said he is against the legalization of same-sex marriage but thinks civil unions should be equal legally.“The law needs to be fully representative of the population as a whole, and you’re not doing that when you are trying to redefine marriage as it has already been defined in federal code,” Robalino said. “We need to step back and realize that there are two sides to the story and both should be represented. What we do not have room for is hatred on both sides.”To Lisa O’Kane, a first-year student in the pre-medical post-baccalaureate program, the Court’s decision will have a lasting personal impact.“I’m gay, and I’d like to get married someday,” O’Kane said. “I think DOMA and Proposition 8 are important cases that need to be heard and reheard. If [the Supreme Court] hears them and goes along with the Constitution, it’ll be a very big day for everyone in America, gay or straight. “The Supreme Court is not expected to make a ruling on either issue until June.
As is tradition with MultiChoice, a Premier League legend is usually invited to heighten the excitement of the football season. One would have thought the company would bring in a legend that had won the Premier League but the company had a different agenda and Felix Awogu explained the reason. Trophy Tour with OkochaWith the Premier League trophy expected to berth in Nigeria on October 26, courtesy of MultiChoice, many would have expected a winner of the trophy to be its face during the tour, but MultiChoice chose Nigeria’s football legend, Austine ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha.Â Kunle AdewaleÂ reports â€œFirst of all letâ€™s look at Lionel Messi. He has never won the World Cup, as well as Cristiano Ronaldo but I believe they are some of the greatest ambassadors of what football is all about today. If we were to bring the World Cup to Nigeria, these are the two players I am sure most people would have loved to see. If you look at Austin Okochaâ€™s contributions to the Premier League before he left for Turkey, he brought a different dimension to football in England. His dribbling skills are today still revered in England and they still talk about Jay Jay Okochaâ€™s artistry on the football field. I think he is somebody who epitomises what football should be. He didnâ€™t go for money, he went for entertainment and the fans till today still see him as one of the greatest footballers that ever played for Bolton.â€œTo us he is not just a Nigerian; he was also the captain of the Nigerian national team and a man that has given a lot to football in this country. If there was any one, he is the man that we should look for to celebrate the Premier League,â€ Awogu said.Awogu hailed MultiChoiceâ€™s retention of broadcast rights to the Premier League till 2022, saying it was not just about the fact that the company was trying to make everyone, irrespective of your financial prowess, have the opportunity to see some of these matches, which is why a lot of times, DStv cascaded it to the lower bouquets.â€œIf you look at it, it is the biggest brand and the major driver in the business in the country. A lot of Nigerians probably know more about the Premier League than the English themselves. If I go on the streets of England and chat with the regular folks, I realise that more of our taxi drivers have better view of what the Premier League is all about. We are excited and it is indeed an honour to have such great property at MultiChoice till 2022,â€ he said.Asked how the rising adoption of the OTT offerings had impacted business at MultiChoice, Awogu said, â€œThe beautiful thing about the Premier League is that it is well structured. We have the total rights and we deliver the entire matches, about 380 Live games to everybody. We also have our Catch Up services which is unique to DStv and I do not believe any other provider offers such services. We are always ready and set to provide the best viewing experience to our viewing populace. The online aspect is a growing phenomenon and DStv Now is going to be positioned for that. It is a well thought out service, we are working on it daily and we are getting clean and clear signals.Â Most Nigerians have mobile phones, about 90 million mobile phone users and it is a great opportunity for people who want entertainment on the go and want to catch up on their programmes. DStv Now to me will be the greatest innovation in the television industry in Nigeria and Africa.â€On what informed the decision of MultiChoice to extend the La Liga matches to the lower bouquets as well as GOtv and whether the company had plans to do same for the Champions league and FA Cup, the SuperSport MD opined, â€œWe pride ourselves as people who decide to go for the best and La Liga league is great. After the Premier League, La Liga is probably one of the biggest in terms of marketing and the way it is deployed. It is something we do all the time, which is, reviewing our content offering because we have principle of basically looking at our customers and their desires. The business has a principle called â€˜The customer first approachâ€™ and once we have all that sorted, we decide. There is also something we call â€˜open weekâ€™ where we decide to run our premium channels across board and people sit at home and enjoy it.â€For those who are of the opinion that bringing the La Liga matches to the lower bouquets as well as GOtv may make some DStv premium customers to come down to the lower bouquets, Awogu has a different opinion of that,â€œIt all depends. If you look at our premium bouquet, it is a different world on its own not just because of the Premier League. It has some of the best programming in the world. I make bold to say that DStv and GOtv are probably the best platforms in the world. I have travelled wide and I have not seen another platform which offers the pot pourri of what we have at varying affordable costs to Nigerians. When we talk about â€˜open weekâ€™, it is a once in a while thing. We have a special package always for the premium subscribers and of course we keep improving,â€ he said.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram