Prince Abdullah wins legal battle to control Sheffield United

Prince Abdullah wins legal battle to control Sheffield United
Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad watches Sheffield United game from the stands. (Reuters/File)
Updated 17 September 2019

Prince Abdullah wins legal battle to control Sheffield United

Prince Abdullah wins legal battle to control Sheffield United

LONDON: A Saudi prince has won a London court battle for full control of Premier League club Sheffield United.

Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad and co-owner Kevin McCabe were locked in a legal dispute over ownership of the northern English team after their business partnership broke down.

The prince, through his firm UTB LLC, took McCabe’s company Sheffield United Ltd. to court in a bid to enforce a sale agreement reached in December 2017.

Judge Timothy Fancourt said McCabe must sell his 50 percent share of the club to the prince for £5 million ($6 million).

In a 138-page judgment, delivered in London on Monday, the judge said the club is now worth “in the region” of £100 million ($124 million).

In a statement after the ruling, Prince Abdullah said he is “fully committed to continued investment in both the first team and the academy and to bringing best practices and the highest standards of management to the club.”

UTB will have to buy the club’s property assets, which include the Bramall Lane stadium and the Sheffield United hotel, from Sheffield United Ltd.

The judge says McCabe was introduced to Prince Abdullah in 2012 by a third party. 

They reached an agreement to split control of the club, then in the third tier and in need of investment, on a 50-50 basis in return for the prince investing £10 million  over two years.

After relations soured following disagreements over funding, McCabe offered to either buy Prince Abdullah’s stake or to sell his to the prince for £5 million.

The sale was not completed however, prompting Prince Abdullah to bring legal action against McCabe to enforce the contract of sale.

In return, McCabe sued in a bid to have the contract declared void or set aside and also sought damages for breach of contract. 

The team has opened the Premier League season by collecting five points from five games to sit 15th in the 20-team standings.


Tokyo Olympics must be ‘reconsidered’ due to Japan’s failure to contain pandemic — health experts

Tokyo Olympics must be ‘reconsidered’ due to Japan’s failure to contain pandemic — health experts
Updated 16 April 2021

Tokyo Olympics must be ‘reconsidered’ due to Japan’s failure to contain pandemic — health experts

Tokyo Olympics must be ‘reconsidered’ due to Japan’s failure to contain pandemic — health experts
  • A survey of more than 1,000 Japanese doctors last month showed that 75% believed it was better to postpone the Games
  • Japan began its inoculation push in February, later than most major economies

TOKYO: Japan’s inability to contain the COVID-19 pandemic means that plans to hold the Olympics in Tokyo should be reconsidered, health experts wrote in a commentary.
The 2020 Games, already delayed by one year, are due to begin in fewer than 100 days, even as Japan expands quasi-emergency measures to halt a fourth wave of infections.
Japan has exhibited “poor performance” in containing virus transmission, along with limited testing capacity and a slow vaccination rollout, according to the commentary published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday.
“Plans to hold the Olympic and Paralympic games this summer must be reconsidered as a matter of urgency,” wrote lead author Kazuki Shimizu of the London School of Economics.
“Holding Tokyo 2020 for domestic political and economic purposes — ignoring scientific and moral imperatives — is contradictory to Japan’s commitment to global health and human security.”
The commentary adds to a drum beat of doubt among medical professionals that the Olympics can be carried out safely this summer. A survey of more than 1,000 Japanese doctors last month showed that 75% believed it was better to postpone the Games, according to physician referral company Ishinotomo.
Kyoto University professor Hiroshi Nishiura, an adviser to the government’s pandemic response, urged in a magazine commentary this week that authorities postpone the Olympics one year to allow for more time to vaccinate the public.
Japan began its inoculation push in February, later than most major economies. Only 0.9% of the Japanese public have received their first shot so far, compared with 2.5% in South Korea, and 48% in the United Kingdom.
Olympic and government officials have said further postponement of the Games is out of the question.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday the government would do “everything possible” to prevent further contagion ahead of the Games, after a ruling party official said canceling the event remained an option.


City star Foden on course to reach status of Mbappe, Haaland

City star Foden on course to reach status of Mbappe, Haaland
Updated 16 April 2021

City star Foden on course to reach status of Mbappe, Haaland

City star Foden on course to reach status of Mbappe, Haaland
  • Foden was widely expected to eventually fill the shoes of now-departed midfield playmaker David Silva at City

LONDON: Phil Foden had just finished his latest post-match chat with Erling Haaland when a message from the Manchester City forward’s Twitter account made its way to another of the world’s top soccer players.

“Are you ready,” read the post to Kylian Mbappe, alongside a handshake emoji.

Ignoring who actually sent the tweet — it has since been deleted, suggesting Foden might not have been behind the brazen calling-out of Mbappe — it is a sign of the lofty circles this outstanding English talent is currently mixing in.

Away from social media, Foden is letting his feet do the talking. With winning goals in both legs, the 20-year-old nicknamed the “Stockport Iniesta” — after a town near Manchester where he was born and the former Spain and Barcelona midfielder — was the difference-maker as City beat Haaland’s Borussia Dortmund to reach the Champions League semifinals for only the second time.

Next up: Mbappe’s Paris Saint-Germain, pitching together the only two players to have scored in both legs of a Champions League quarterfinal when under the age of 21. Mbappe did so also against Dortmund, when playing for Monaco in the 2016-17 season, and has gone on to become one of the world’s best players.

Foden appears to be on that path.

“We knew it from the beginning and how he grew up,” said City manager Pep Guardiola, who described Foden’s talent as “unique” after inviting the then-17-year-old player to train with City’s senior squad for the first time in 2016.

City are reaping the rewards of Guardiola’s careful nurturing of Foden over the last few years. Many criticized the Spanish coach’s reluctance to play Foden more — he had a total of 36 appearances in all competitions in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons combined — but Guardiola repeatedly said his time would come and that Foden still needed to learn his trade.

That time is now, in big matches in the Premier League and now on the grandest stage of all in club soccer: the Champions League.

He is sure, too, to play a big role for England at this summer’s European Championship, having seemingly established himself in the preferred front three of his national team.

Foden was widely expected to eventually fill the shoes of now-departed midfield playmaker David Silva at City — they have similar characteristics with their touch, technical qualities, low center of gravity and left-footedness — but it appears his future lies closer to goal, in a wide-forward role.

At least in the opinion of Guardiola, who shared a warm embrace with Foden after his 75th-minute goal that sealed City’s 2-1 win on Wednesday, and a 4-2 victory on aggregate.

Guardiola described Foden as “dynamic offensively” and someone who “always creates something” but, tellingly, added that his all-round game had matured.

“He is learning right now not to take just one touch. He is able to make more touches when making decisions,” said Guardiola, one of the deeper thinkers about the game.

“In the quarterfinal of the Champions League, he was the important player to go through.”

With Foden flourishing, he is somehow managing to cover the offseason departures of both Silva and Leroy Sane, a mercurial winger who City decided to sell to Bayern Munich.

Silva will forever hold a special place in the hearts of City fans — to many, he is the club’s greatest player. But Foden’s development along with the prolific scoring this season of Ilkay Gundogan, who has assumed Silva’s attacking-midfield role, has ensured Silva hasn’t really been missed.


Extreme E partnership with TikTok draws in 18.5 million viewers for inaugural Desert E-Prix at AlUla

Extreme E partnership with TikTok draws in 18.5 million viewers for inaugural Desert E-Prix at AlUla
Updated 15 April 2021

Extreme E partnership with TikTok draws in 18.5 million viewers for inaugural Desert E-Prix at AlUla

Extreme E partnership with TikTok draws in 18.5 million viewers for inaugural Desert E-Prix at AlUla
  • New electric SUV series acquired 60,000 new fans thanks to activation by digital media giant Little Dot Studios

Extreme E’s Desert E-Prix, the first-ever race in the new electric SUV series, saw 18.5 million organic viewers on TikTok tune in to the action taking place on the desert terrain of AlUla, Saudi Arabia.

Only days before the event took place at the start of April, Extreme E announced an agreement with TikTok to bolster its social media offering, and the results have been staggering, with 17.2 million people checking out #DesertXPrix videos alone.

Extreme E also acquired 60,000 new fans after digital media giant Little Dot Studios activated the new partnership using its vertical video expertise on behalf of the championship.

Rosberg X Racing, the team founded by former Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg, made history by becoming Extreme E’s first-ever race winner after overcoming Andretti United and Lewis Hamilton’s X44, who finished second and third on the podium.

The organizers of the event were delighted in the interest the event attracted.

“These numbers are phenomenal, and I’m thrilled that in our first weekend we were able to reach so many people with our unique sport for purpose,” Ali Russell, chief marketing officer at Extreme E, said. “As part of the championship’s mission to keep carbon emissions to a minimum, we don’t have spectators on site, and if we did, we would never reach this level of engagement purely from attendees. It just goes to show how important our digital offering is.

“A massive thank you to TikTok, Little Dot Studios and our in-house social team. These numbers are awesome and a testament to the engaging and innovative motorsport series we have created,” he added. 

As part of the ambitious partnership, Extreme E and Little Dot Studios created an exclusive 90-minute production, which aired on Extreme E’s TikTok account on Saturday, April 3. More than 386,000 people watched the show, which gave a behind-the-scenes look at the series and the personalities at the heart of it.

One of the most popular videos was “The Drop,” highlighting a part of the course measuring 100 meters with a 45-degree descent. The on-board video gave a view from the cockpit, and 3.8 million fans tuned in to see exactly what the drivers saw as they took on this challenging element of the course.

There were also a number of hashtags running across the weekend. The first — #XECountdown — was launched by team owner and driver Jenson Button. In total, this had 52.1 million views across the weekend.

The partnership with TikTok covers all five of Extreme E’s events in 2021, with each event highlighting an environment affected by climate change.

After Saudi Arabia and desertification, the series now moves on to Senegal (rising sea levels), Greenland (melting ice caps), Amazon, Brazil (deforestation) and Patagonia, Argentina (glacial recession).  

The remaining full schedule is:

Ocean X Prix: Lac Rose, Senegal 
May 29-30, 2021

Arctic X Prix: Kangerlussuaq, Greenland 
Aug. 28-29, 2021

Amazon X Prix: Para, Brazil 
Oct. 23-24, 2021

Glacier X Prix: Tierra del Fuego, Argentina  
Dec. 11-12, 2021


Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend returns to Newbury Racecourse with a mark of respect for Prince Philip

Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend returns to Newbury Racecourse with a mark of respect for Prince Philip
Updated 16 April 2021

Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend returns to Newbury Racecourse with a mark of respect for Prince Philip

Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend returns to Newbury Racecourse with a mark of respect for Prince Philip
  • Traditional Saturday races delayed by 24 hours due to funeral of the late Duke of Edinburgh

The Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend returns to Newbury Racecourse on April 16-18, when seven of the meeting’s 14 scheduled races will be sponsored by the UAE airport retailer.

These races include two of the Group 3 contests on Friday and Sunday — the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes and the Dubai Duty Free Stakes.

The meeting has again attracted the support of many of the sport’s leading owners, with the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II, Shadwell Estate Co., Dubai’s Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and Godolphin all represented among the entries for Dubai Duty Free (DDF) sponsored races.

Traditionally staged over two consecutive days, the second day of the meeting has been delayed by 24 hours as a mark of respect for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose funeral takes place in Windsor on Saturday afternoon.

FASTFACT

Traditional Saturday races delayed by 24 hours due to funeral of the late Duke of Edinburgh.

“We are fully supportive of the Newbury executive’s decision to transfer Saturday’s racing to Sunday, and offer our sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the British Royal family at this very sad time,” said Colm McLoughlin, executive vice president and CEO of DDF.

Horse racing in the UK continues behind closed doors until May 17 at the earliest, denying the DDF senior management team the opportunity to attend for only the second time in the company’s 26-year history of sponsorship at the Berkshire course.

“We were sad not to be able to attend the DDF International Weekend last September due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions, but once again we will be watching from Dubai and wish all owners and trainers success with their horses at this year’s renewal of the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend,” added McLoughlin.

Newbury Racecourse CEO Julian Thick said: “The Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend heralds the start another exciting season of Flat racing at Newbury and we are very grateful to (DDF) for their continued support.

“It’s disappointing not to be able welcome (their) team to Newbury this time, but through our broadcast partners ITV and RacingTV, we hope they will be able to enjoy a spectacular weekend of racing.”


Al-Ahli look to emerge from rivals’ shadows with AFC Champions League test against Esteghlal

Al-Ahli look to emerge from rivals’ shadows with AFC Champions League test against Esteghlal
Updated 15 April 2021

Al-Ahli look to emerge from rivals’ shadows with AFC Champions League test against Esteghlal

Al-Ahli look to emerge from rivals’ shadows with AFC Champions League test against Esteghlal
  • With spotlight on Al-Nassr’s troubled season, the Jeddah club’s recent ups and downs have gone under radar

RIYADH: Al-Ahli will become the third and last of the Saudi clubs to take to the field in the 2021 AFC Champions League when they face Esteghlal of Iran at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, and it could just be the perfect setting to get a faltering season back on track.

While Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal seem to be constantly in the spotlight for varying reasons, Al-Ahli seem to have gone somewhat under the radar despite their own ups and downs.

Not necessarily a bad thing when they see the struggles of Al-Nassr, in particular, whose frustrating season continued when they huffed and puffed in the opening match of the AFC Champions League against Al-Wehdat of Jordan but had to settle for a 0-0 draw in Group D on Wednesday.

The Riyadh giants had plenty of possession and shots but just could not find a way through a committed defense.

It was very much the kind of performance and result often seen early in tournaments when strikers are still searching for their shooting boots and the underdogs are desperate to impress.

But with Al-Sadd, the team that Xavi Hernandez led to the Qatar title undefeated earlier this month, up next, there will have to be improvements. After his first game in charge, new coach Mano Menezes has plenty to think about.

For Al-Nassr, Asia is a chance to start again after a season beset by controversies and upheavals off the field and indifferent results on it.

The same is very much true of Al-Ahli.

Perhaps Al-Ahli’s off-field situation has not been quite as newsworthy as that of their Riyadh rivals but on the pitch, the situation is worse. It has become, to say the least, a disappointing season.

Become is the operative word because, until recently, the Jeddah giants were very much in the title race. With 17 games of the season gone, Al-Ahli were in second spot and just two points behind the leaders.

Now, after just two points from the last eight games and six successive defeats — the worst run of form in the illustrious club’s history — even finishing in the top half is in doubt, an unthinkable outcome just weeks ago.

Rumors of poor team spirit have not helped, and there has been a situation with star striker Omar Al-Somah. The Syrian, one of the best foreign strikers in Saudi league history, signed a new deal in January but was soon voicing his discontent about the lack of investment in a team that finished third last season and, he felt, should have kicked on.

Goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais was honest in his assessment after the latest loss, the 3-2 home defeat inflicted by Al-Raed.

“Things are difficult at the moment. They have become out of control, and it is clear to the public that our position in the league has become embarrassing for every player, as these results are now there for all to see and part of our history.

“We all play to win. No player wants to lose. Last season we were consoling the Al-Ittihad players, as they were going through such difficult circumstances,” the international said.

Al-Ittihad flirted with relegation last season, something that has not been on Al-Ahli’s radar. The other Jeddah team have come roaring back in this campaign and are only three points off the top of the table with just five games remaining.

In fact, the team do not even have to wait until next season for a clean break. The AFC Champions League offers a quick opportunity to find some form, recover confidence, and simply start winning again.

“The Asian Champions League will be different. Our situation will change a lot and it is a new beginning for us,” Al-Owais added.

That is the thinking of the club too as, similar to Al-Nassr, a new coach has come in to take charge of the Asian campaign. Vladan Milojevic was dismissed last month, and the Serbian was replaced by Laurentiu Reghecampf. The Romanian took Al-Hilal to the final of the 2014 continental championship and two legs of domination against Western Sydney Wanderers that ended, somehow, in defeat.

The new boss has already talked of how important the tournament is and with Al-Somah returning from injury as well as the likes of Al-Owais, Abdulrahman Ghareeb, Romanian midfielder Alexandru Mitrita, and Driss Fettouhi of Morocco, there is plenty of talent and experience to call upon.

Taking on Esteghlal, Qatar’s Al-Duhail, and Al-Shorta of Iraq is a tough but not impossible group. What is vital however is a good start. If the first game ends in defeat, confidence will dip even more. But victory could change everything.

Results are poor and self-belief is low but then so are expectations. With a new coach there is a great chance to put a nightmare spell to an end and return to winning ways in the league to try and finish the season as high as possible and prepare for next year. For Al-Ahli, similar to Al-Nassr, Asia could be a welcome change.