By Adedapo Adesanya
Clubs in the English Football League (EFL) will be permitted to make five substitutions in matches from November 20 to combat the congested schedule brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clubs were allowed to increase the number of substitutes from three per match when the 2019-20 campaign resumed after a prolonged hiatus due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
The football rule-making body, IFAB, gave leagues the option of continuing to use up to five substitutes this season but left it up to individual federations and leagues to decide.
“Following consultation with clubs, the EFL board has agreed to increase the permitted number of substitutes to five in all EFL fixtures taking place from noon on Nov. 20,“ the EFL said in a statement.
The EFL said Championship clubs will be allowed to name up to nine substitutes in their match-day squad, while League One and League Two clubs can name up to seven.
The Premier League remains the only major European League not using five substitutes and has faced criticism from a chorus of club managers, including Liverpool’s Juergen Klopp and Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola.
At the top flight league in England, three substitutions are still in use and it has caused fatigue to some players.
Firm Enters Nigeria with $14.5m to Disrupt Igaming Market
By Sodeinde Temidayo David
Pan-African igaming operator, Cola Group, has secured a total of $14.5 million capital to expand its igaming division and accelerate its growth within multiple African online gambling marketplaces.
The company is coming to disrupt the igaming market in Nigeria after getting a licence from the Lagos State Lotteries Board through its Nigerian subsidiary, Cola Games Limited, to launch of Cola.bet.
The approval made by the Lagos state lotteries board will secure the brand to enter its fourth African igaming marketplace, following successful launches in Zambia Kenya and Ethiopia.
The operator said that it will leverage its operating blueprint from Ethiopia, which shares similarities with the Nigerian market due to both being retail-centric rather than online.
Following its success across African markets, Cola.bet aims to become Nigeria’s leading mobile-first operator, providing seamless integration with all local payment providers.
In the words of the chief operating officer of Cola.bet, Mr Dinu Bors, “Cola.bet delivers an exceptional customer-first experience and the launch augments our global ambitions within the igaming space.”
In addition to operating its own brands, Cola Group said its mobile-first Cola.bet platform can be easily adjusted and customised for B2B partners, offering players a broad selection of sport events, esports and casino games.
“The platform is highly customisable and grants B2B partners instant access to curated content for a plethora of markets. We’ll be rolling out several innovative features over the coming months, we’re only just getting started,” Mr Bors noted.
Also, the chief marketing officer of Cola.bet, Mr Dana Varnytska, added that, “Our strategy is built on a localised programme which has been developed through thorough research into market nuances and player preference. Players will benefit from bespoke bonus promotions and extremely competitive odds on the most popular events.”
Securing its new investment, Cola Group, which maintains a Curaçao gambling licence, disclosed that it was in the process of obtaining licenses in the regulated markets of Africa, LATAM and Europe.
Saudi Arabia Finally Acquires Newcastle United
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
A Saudi Arabia-backed consortium has finally acquired the English Premier League club, Newcastle United Football Club, after a prolonged legal fight involving concerns about piracy and rights abuses.
The deal was concluded after the approval from the Premier League following the assurances that the Saudi state would not have control of the club.
This means the idea of the Gulf state looking at Inter Milan as an alternate option has come to an end.
In a statement confirming the deal, the Premier League said, “The Premier League, Newcastle United Football Club, and St James Holdings Limited have today settled the dispute over the takeover of the club by the consortium of PIF, PCP Capital Partners, and RB Sports & Media.
“Following the completion of the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test, the club has been sold to the consortium with immediate effect. It has now received legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club.”
The £300-million ($409 million) takeover by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) ranks Newcastle to the top in the list of richest owners in world football (€320 billion), ahead of Qatar’s Paris Sait Germain (PSG) (€220 billion), and the United Arab Emirates’ Manchester City (€21 billion).
Speaking on the successful deal, the PIF governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan said, “We are extremely proud to become the new owners of Newcastle United, one of the most famous clubs in English football.
“We thank the Newcastle fans for their tremendously loyal support over the years and we are excited to work together with them.”
Recall that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners, and the Reuben Brothers, who are the parties in the deal had, earlier last year, withdrawn their proposed takeover due to the worldwide uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The takeover by the Saudi state, which was disclosed on Thursday, sees the end of the 14-year ownership by British retail tycoon, Mr Mike Ashley over the football outfit, with sports pundits saying the club will witness a new era in terms of its ability to compete with the bigger outfits in Europe.
UEFA Drops Disciplinary Action Against Super League Clubs
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has dropped its disciplinary action against Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus over their involvement in the controversial European Super League in compliance with a ruling from a Madrid court.
The European football’s governing body said late Monday that “the proceedings (are) null and void as if the proceedings had never been opened.”
It is the latest chapter in an affair that sent shockwaves through football after they disagreed to sign a “Club Commitment Declaration” and accept a five per cent cut in their European revenue for one season that was signed by nine of the initial 12 founders of the rebel league.
The nine others – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid – backed down when fans and other clubs reacted with fury to the initiative, but Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have refused to buckle.
UEFA, which had been pursuing the three clubs over what it called a potential violation of UEFA’s legal framework, also said following this development that it “will not request payment” from the other nine clubs including English sides Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
However, football experts say that the notion of a Super League is by no means dead in the water and Barcelona president, Mr Joan Laporta, recently warned that the Super League was “still alive”.
He said that the Super League would mean “financial sustainability for the clubs and make for a more attractive competition”.
Meanwhile, UEFA also has not given in as it subtlely warned that it will continue fighting its corner.
“UEFA will continue to take all necessary steps, in strict accordance with national and European Union law, in order to defend the interests of UEFA and of all football stakeholders,” it said.
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