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RETURN OF FANS BRINGS NEW SET OF HEADACHES FOR FOOTBALL CLUBS

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RETURN OF FANS BRINGS NEW SET OF HEADACHES FOR FOOTBALL CLUBS

Fans can return to English football stadiums next week, ending an eight month absence due to Covid restrictions, but while the government’s decision to open the turnstiles has been welcomed it also presents a series of new headaches for clubs.

The first hurdle clubs must clear will come on Thursday when the government announces which tiers of restrictions given regions in England will be placed in.

Clubs which fall into tier three areas, which contains the strictest restrictions, will still not be allowed to let any fans into their grounds.

Only those in the lowest risk, tier one, region will be allowed to have the maximum of 4,000 fans while the middle-ranked tier 2 areas will be restricted to up to 2,000 fans.

“So some clubs will have fans backing them in home fixtures and others will have empty stadiums with no fans! Unfair competition or not??” asked former Manchester United captain Gary Neville, who is co-owner of League Two (fourth division) Salford City.

Even those clubs that are allowed to have fans in stadiums from Wednesday Dec. 2, will need to have ensured that local safety advisory groups have been consulted and given the go ahead.

Clubs would also have to bring stadium staff, including safety officers, some of whom may have been furloughed, legally back to work in time for the games. REUTERS

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HOSTS WEREN’T AGGRESSIVE ENOUGH, SAYS PONTING

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BRISBANE: Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting admitted he is a “bit disappointed” with how the hosts performed on day three of the fourth Test against India, saying that they allowed visitors’ batsmen to be “way too comfortable at the crease”. He said, “I was a bit disappointed with the way the Australians went about it, to be honest. I don’t think they were aggressive enough, didn’t bowl enough short balls. They let the Indian batsmen be way too comfortable at the crease… They almost bowled the way those batsmen would have wanted them to bowl. It wasn’t until we saw a bit of a barrage from Starc and even when Shardul got out (bowled by Pat Cummins), it was no surprise it was a ball after a bouncer. I don’t think the Aussies were anywhere near aggressive enough.”

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AUSSIE SKIPPER TIM PAINE GETS TROLLED BADLY FOR DRS GAFFES

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BRISBANE: Australia made a few bizarre review calls on the third day of the fourth Test against India which has led to captain Tim Paine coping with some criticism on social media. Paine had decided to review decisions for catches off Mayank Agarwal and later Navdeep Saini, both of which turned out to have missed the bat by a fair distance. In the 49th over, Agarwal missed a flick shot off Pat Cummins and the ball hit his thigh pads before flying into Paine’s gloves. Both the bowler and wicketkeeper appealed and after the umpire shook his head, Paine went for the DRS. The next incident came in the 103rd over which was also bowled by Cummins.

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TEAM INDIA’S COURAGE CAN BE DESCRIBED AS ‘DABANNG’: SEHWAG

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BRISBANE: Former India opener Virender Sehwag on Sunday lauded the courage shown by the Ajinkya Rahane-led side in the fourth and final Test against Australia. “Gabba the Dhaba for these two guys. If there is one word to describe the courage of this Indian team, it’s Dabanng. So daring and brave,” Sehwag said in an Instagram post. Former India batsman V.V.S. Laxman also praised the brave effort of the two young batsman and tweeted: “Congrats Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur on your maiden Test ‘50s. Loved the fight, technique and will power you both exhibited.” The partnership between Sundar and Thakur was the highest seventh-wicket partnership for India at The Gabba. Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar had earlier held the record when they stitched together a 58-run stand for the seventh wicket in 1991.

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OUR PLAN WAS TO HANG IN THERE TO TIRE AUSTRALIA BOWLERS: THAKUR

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BRISBANE: India’s Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar on Sunday kept calm and ignored the on-field chatter to frustrate a tiring Australian bowling line-up to add 123 for the seventh wicket and reduce the first-innings deficit in the fourth and final Test at the Gabba. “They were trying to have a conversation with me but I wasn’t answering them. Once or twice I answered them in one word but they were sort of normal questions. Even if they tried to sledge me, I just ignored it and kept on playing,” said Thakur after making 67 in the first-innings. “We weren’t looking at the scoreboard. The idea was to spend some time there. We knew that their bowlers were tiring and we thought it was a matter of one hour. So if we hung in there for one more hour then probably we would be on top,” he added.

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SURE, I WILL GET A BIG SCORE: SUNDAR TO DAD BEFORE GABBA INNINGS

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NEW DELHI: While fans are going gaga over Washington Sundar making a half-century on Sunday, his father is upset for not getting a Test century. Sundar scored 62 off 144 balls and shared a 123-run seventh wicket partnership with Shardul Thakur. “I am disappointed he did not get a 100. When Siraj came, he should have hit fours and sixes. He is capable of that. He should have gone for sixes. He could have gone for pulls and big hits. Perhaps, he thought of trying to come close to Australia’s total as the lead was very less,” father M. Sundar told IANS from Chennai. “I speak to him in Australia every day. I told him last evening whenever you get a chance, get a big score. He said, ‘sure I will’.”

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Thailand Open: Marin, Axelsen win singles titles

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Spanish Olympic champion Carolina Marin and Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen won the women’s and men’s singles titles, respectively, at the Thailand Open Super 1000 badminton tournament in Bangkok on Sunday.

Marin, 27, beat Chinese Taipei’s top seed Tai Tzu Ying in straight games in an ominous display of form as she prepares to defend her Olympic title later in the year in Tokyo. Tai was limited to a single digit score in the first game and while she fought hard in the second, Marin ended up winning the match 21-9, 21-16.

Axelsen, meanwhile, recorded his second consecutive tournament win with a 21-14, 21-14 win over Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka Long. Axelsen had earlier won the All England Open Championship in March.

Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu beat Thailand’s Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai 21-15, 21-12 to win the women’s doubles final.

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