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American Investors ALK Capital Takes Over Burnley FC 

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Burnley FC

By Adedapo Adesanya

An American company, ALK Capital, has completed its takeover of Burnley Football Club of England, acquiring a controlling 84 per cent stake in the Premier League club.

The deal was completed after being approved by the Premier League and comes on the eve of the January transfer window, according to a statement released late on Thursday.

The Delaware-based ALK, which specialises in investments in the sport and media sectors, said its managing partner, Mr Alan Pace, would take over from Mr Mike Garlick as club’s chairman.

“Garlick, alongside former shareholder John Banaszkiewicz, will remain on ALK Capital’s new board of directors at Burnley, ensuring a smooth transition to new ownership and providing valuable knowledge from his eight-year tenure as club chairman,” the statement said.

“This successful period has seen two promotions to the Premier League, development of the Barnfield Training Centre, and European football at Turf Moor for the first time in more than half a century,” it added.

Mr Garlick, who had held just less than 50 per cent of the club’s shares, said the deal represented a “natural progression” for Burnley.

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“In Alan Pace and his team, we are welcoming committed investors to Turf Moor who will be living here in the local community and investing in the club, both on and off the football pitch, for many years to come,” he said in the statement.

“My tenure as chairman has always been about ensuring Burnley is a sustainable football club, and this investment provides a long-term plan to maintain that philosophy, whilst driving evolution and innovation,” he noted.

On his part, Mr Pace noted, “Today marks a new era for Burnley as we become stewards of this historic football club and build on the impressive work that Mike Garlick, (manager) Sean Dyche and everyone at Burnley has done to make it a financially stable, established Premier League club that is a cornerstone of the local community,” Pace said.

“With a rich heritage, a brilliant academy, and a passionate fan base, this club has solid foundations to build upon.”

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He noted that one of ALK’s first priorities is likely to be a meeting with the Manager, who can expect fresh support in the January transfer window.

“We are very prepared to come in and support Sean and the management team.

“We need time to get in and understand what their needs are, what they have been planning for, what the decisions were which they have taken so far and where they are desiring to go to – but we are fully prepared to back the manager.

“What attracted us specifically to Burnley had a lot to do with the passion of the fans, the quality of the club and the way that it had been managed, the longevity of the coaching staff and the ability for us to see a path to growth.

“For us, we would not do anything that is not on a long-term basis – this is not a short ‘buy-to-flip’ opportunity,” he said.

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Burnley are 16th in the Premier League table, five points above the relegation zone. Mr Dyche has been manager since 2012 and he has seen the Clarets enjoy their fifth straight season in the Premier League after promotion from the Championship in 2016.

Its takeover comes at a time when football clubs are struggling with reduced revenues as matches are played without fans due to COVID-19 restrictions. The club earlier this year reported a profit of £5m for the year to the end of June 2019.

In August, ALK invested in two London-based football technology firms – AiScout and Player LENS. Both companies are involved in data analytics and predictive assessment of players.

The Lancashire club is the latest to come under American ownership following Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Fulham.

Burnley were one of the founding members of the Football League in 1888 and won the English league title in 1921 and 1960.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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CAF Approves 5,000 Fans for African Champions League Semifinals

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African Champions League Semifinals

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has given the green light that up to 5,000 fans will be allowed to attend Saturday’s African Champions League semifinals in Tunisia and Morocco.

In a statement issued on Friday, the African football body said the decision was arrived at after receiving an application from the host member and approvals from governmental and health authorities of the respective host nations.

Morocco and Tunisia are two countries that have some of the highest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths on the continent.

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Four-time winners Esperance de Tunis host defending champions Al Ahly at the Stade Olympique De Rades, Tunis, while two-time winners Wydad Athletic Club host Kaizer Chiefs at Complexe Mohamed V Stadium, Casablanca.

“CAF has stressed that all medical precautions should be followed at all times in respect to CAF Covid-19 health protocols,” the statement said.

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The return legs are scheduled to take place on June 26.

Prior to Saturday’s games, continental games involving clubs and countries in Africa have been behind closed doors or opened to a limited audience in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Esperance defeated Algeria’s CR Belouizdad in the quarter-finals on a penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 aggregate score. The club will be focused on stopping Egyptian giants Ah Ahly who have won the Champions League for a record nine times.

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The Red Devils stopped Mamelodi Sundowns with a 3-1 aggregate win, which started with a 2-0 victory in the first leg.

Elsewhere in Casablanca, Wydad, who grabbed a late goal to send MC Alger packing with a 2-1 aggregate win in May, will aim to go beyond the semi-final this year when they battle South African giants, Kaizer Chiefs.

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Euro 2020 Kicks-Off Amid COVID-19 Threat (Full Fixtures)

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Euro 2020

By Adedapo Adesanya

Following a year delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Euro 2020 will finally kick off on Friday (today), with the virus still a major issue that organisers have to contend with.

Unlike other previous editions of the continent-wide event held in one country or jointly hosted, the tournament would be held across Europe and will be played in front of limited crowds and with strict health restrictions in place.

The tournament, the 16th of its kind, will feature 24 teams – 20 from automatic qualification and the remaining four decided through the play-offs.

It will be held across 11 different cities in Europe, with UEFA celebrating the 60th birthday of the first European Championship (then called the European Nations Cup), which was held in France in 1960.

For the first time in the history of the competition, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will be used.

Cities, Stadium, and Capacity

City Stadium Capacity
Amsterdam, Netherlands Johan Cruyff Arena 56,000
Baku, Azerbaijan Olympic Stadium 68,700
Bucharest, Romania Arena Nationala 55,600
Budapest, Hungary Ferenc Puskas Stadium 67,889
Copenhagen, Denmark Parken Stadium 38,065
Glasgow, Scotland Hampden Park 52,063
London, England Wembley Stadium 90,000
Munich, Germany Allianz Arena 75,000
Rome, Italy Stadio Olimpico 72,698
Saint Petersburg, Russia Krestovsky Stadium 68,134
Seville, Spain La Cartuja 60,000

St Petersburg will have a stadium capacity of 50 per cent of fans in attendance, with the number potentially increasing before the tournament start date.

Budapest plans to hold supporters in full capacity, though they will have to comply with strict entry requirements.

Baku will have a stadium capacity of 50 per cent. Fans will be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test before entering Azerbaijan.

Amsterdam, Bucharest, Copenhagen and Glasgow have confirmed a capacity of 25 per cent to 33 per cent. All three cities will potentially increase their capacity by May, based on the success of their vaccine rollout and local COVID-19 situation.

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London will have a minimum capacity of 25 per cent for the three group matches and the round of 16 matches. They are also optimistic about having an increased stadium attendance for both the semi-finals and final.

Munich, Rome, Bilbao, Dublin as at press time are yet to provide additional details on their attendance plans.

Match ball, Mascot, & Slogan

The Uniforia ball, designed by Adidas, will serve as the match ball for all Euro 2020 matches.

The ball is mostly white and includes multi-coloured black strokes with additional blue, neon and pink stripes.

The name of the ball is taken from the combination of the words “unity” and “euphoria”.

Official Song

Dutch DJ Martin Garrix will be performing the tournament’s official song, which will be unveiled at the full opening ceremony in Rome at the Stadio Olimpico.

Matches Schedule

Matchday 1

11 June 2021

Match 1: Turkey vs Italy

Stadio Olympico, Rome, Italy

12 June 2021

Match 2: Wales vs Switzerland

Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan

Match 3: Denmark vs Finland

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark

Match 4: Belgium vs Russia

Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia

13 June 2021

Match 5: England vs Croatia

Wembley Stadium, London, England

Match 6: Austria vs North Macedonia

Arena Nationala, Bucharest, Romania

Match 7: Netherlands vs Ukraine

Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands

14 June 2021

Match 8: Scotland vs Czech Republic

Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland

Match 9: Poland vs Slovakia

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Match 10: Spain vs Sweden

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La Cartuja, Seville, Spain

15 June 2021

Match 11: Hungary vs Portugal

Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary

Match 12: France vs Germany

Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany

Matchday 2

16 June 2021

Match 13: Finland vs Russia

Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Match 14: Turkey vs Wales

Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan

Match 15: Italy vs Switzerland

Stadio Olympico, Rome, Italy

17 June 2021

Match 16: Ukraine vs North Macedonia

Arena Nationala, Bucharest, Romania

Match 17: Denmark vs Belgium

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark

Match 18: Netherlands vs Austria

Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands

18 June 2021

Match 19: Sweden vs Slovakia

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Match 20: Croatia vs Czech Republic

Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland

Match 21: England vs Scotland

Wembley Stadium, London, England

19 June 2021

Match 22: Hungary vs France

Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary

Match 23: Portugal vs Germany

Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany

Match 24: Spain vs Poland

La Cartuja, Seville, Spain

Matchday 3

20 June 2021

Match 25: Italy vs Wales

Stadio Olympico, Rome, Italy

Match 26: Switzerland vs Turkey

Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan

21 June 2021

Match 27: Ukraine vs Austria

Stadio Olympico, Rome, Italy

Match 28: North Macedonia vs Netherlands

Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Match 29: Russia vs Denmark

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark

Match 30: Finland vs Belgium

Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia

22 June 2021

Match 31: Croatia vs Scotland

Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland

Match 32: Czech Republic vs England

Wembley Stadium, London, England

23 June 2021

Match 33: Sweden vs Poland

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Match 34: Slovakia vs Spain

La Cartuja, Seville, Spain

Match 35: Portugal vs France

Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary

Match 36: Germany vs Hungary

Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany

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ROUND OF 16

26 June 2021

Round of 16 tie 1: Runner-up Group A vs Runner-up Group B

Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Round of 16 tie 2: Winner Group A vs Runner-up Group C

8pm

Wembley Stadium, London, England

27 June 2021

Round of 16 tie 3: Winner Group C vs 3rd Group D/E/F

Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary

Round of 16 tie 4: Winner Group B vs 3rd Group A/D/E/F

San Mames, Bilbao, Spain

28 June 2021

Round of 16 tie 5: Runner-up Group D vs Runner-up Group E

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark

Round of 16 tie 6: Winner Group F vs 3rd Group A/B/C

Arena Nationala, Bucharest, Romania

29 June 2021

Round of 16 tie 7: Winner Group D vs Runner-up Group F

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Round of 16 tie 8: Winner Group E vs 3rd Group A/B/C/D

Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland.

QUARTER-FINALS

2 July 2021

Quarter-final 1: Round of 16 tie 6 winner vs Round of 16 tie 5 winner

Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Quarter-final 2: Round of 16 tie 4 winner vs Round of 16 tie 2 winner

Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany.

3 July 2021

Quarter-final 3: Round of 16 tie 3 winner vs Round of 16 tie 1 winner

Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan.

Quarter-final 4: Round of 16 tie 8 winner vs Round of 16 tie 7 winner

Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy.

SEMI-FINALS

July 6 2021

Semi-final 1: Quarter-final 2 winner vs Quarter-final 1 winner

Wembley Stadium, London, England.

July 7 2021

Semi-final 2: Quarter-final 4 winner vs Quarter-final 3 winner

Wembley Stadium, London, England.

FINAL

July 11 2021

Final: Semi-final 1 winner vs Semi-final 2 winner

Wembley Stadium, London, England.

The action kicks off tonight at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, where Italy take on Turkey in front of 16,000 fans.

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Nigeria Info, Wazobia Get UEFA Euro 2020 Broadcast Rights

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UEFA Euro 2020

By Adedapo Adesanya

In a bid to create a quality sport-broadcasting experience for Nigerians, leading media firms, Nigeria Info and Wazobia Max, under the auspices of AIM Group, have been awarded the broadcast rights from the official UEFA-licensed owner in Nigeria, Media Business Solutions (MBS), to freely air the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament across the country.

The competition would be broadcast across Wazobia FM, Arewa Radio, Cool FM Kano, and Wazobia Max both in English and selected local languages, including Pidgin English, Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba, in order to cater for the sporting needs of a wide spectrum of Nigerians.

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Commenting on the ground-breaking development, Mr Serge Noujaim, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Cool FM, Wazobia FM, Nigeria Info, Arewa Radio, described the partnership as one that would further strengthen the love Nigerians have for the game of football.

“We as a leading brand understand that most Nigerians are genuinely passionate about the game of football.

“That is why we have taken it upon ourselves to go a step further after the acquisition of the World Cup 2018 Russia broadcast rights by partnering with the MBS to freely broadcast the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament in a unique Nigerian style.

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“This partnership helps to reaffirm the position of Nigeria Info, Wazobia FM, Arewa radio, and Wazobia Max as the home of the biggest international football offering across the Nigerian-media space,” he enthused.

Complimenting the statement of the CEO, Mr Femi Obong-Daniels, the General Manager, Corporate Communications of the radio group, said, “We as a top-notch broadcast brand have taken a massive move to provide Nigerians with a premium sport coverage. We have done it before.

“We are doing it again and we do not know how to stop this upward trajectory we have found ourselves to be on. We are sure there are more to come as our precious partnership with MBS is just the beginning.”

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Speaking on the partnership with Nigeria Info and Wazobia Max, Mr Richard Dimosi Diasolwa, the CEO, MBS Group, stated, “We, as a multimedia organization, are always delighted to be affiliated with Nigeria Info and Wazobia Max.

“This is because we are sure it would afford Nigerians the opportunity to connect with the biggest European football competition in a unique way.”

The UEFA Euro 2020 tournament will commence from June 11, 2021, to July 7, 2021.

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