West Ham United v Swansea City - Premier League

So long, Boleyn Ground; West Ham agree to sell to developer as part of Olympic Stadium move

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West Ham United have agreed to sell the ground at Upton Park once they have completed their move to the Olympic Stadium in 2016.

Boleyn Ground will be sold to London developer Galliard Group, who were selected as purchaser from a number of national and international companies. Galliard is said to have impressed the club with their links to the local community and their pledge to honor the history of the ground, which has been West Ham’s home since 1904.

New homes, retail and leisure facilities, underground parking, art work and development of a central landscaped garden (to be named the “Bobby Moore Memorial Garden”) are all in the plans for Galliard. Each building in the development will be named after a West Ham player, with fans and local residents deciding who deserves the honor.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady broke the news through West Ham’s official website: “We opted to reach an agreement with Galliard because they are a local London developer and employer with origins in east London.

“We know they are committed to working closely with the local community and Newham Council on proposals to transform the site into a residential and retail village, which will benefit the local community and east London’s regional economy.

“The deal demonstrates that we have been true to our word by securing the regeneration of two areas of east London through our move to the Olympic Stadium in 2016.

“In addition, and most importantly for us, we can see that Galliard are passionate about working with West Ham United to engage supporters to help deliver a fitting legacy that will honour the tradition of the famous ground.

“We are confident that West Ham United fans will be excited about their vision and the way they plan to respect more than 100 years of West Ham history at Upton Park.”

While moving to the Olympic Stadium will provide West Ham with a state-of-the-art stadium that has an 80,000 seat capacity, many will feel the decision to move the club and sell the ground represents all that’s evil in modern football.

Stadiums like Upton Park are what fans think of when talking about the history of the English game. More than history, Old English stadiums represent a sense of purity that has dissolved in the modern era of billionaire overseas owners and technologically advanced structures.

Some old school fans argue that places like Boleyn Ground should be restored rather than torn down and moved away from the location that’s been the club’s home for over 100 years. But realities like money (West Ham owners will pay only £15m towards the £600m cost of the Olympic Stadium’s 99-year lease) and an unstable infrastructure (the current 35,000 seats are barely supported) make restoration an impossibility.

The reality is that Upton Park is already a long, long way from the hey-days of terraces and the ‘Academy of Football.’ The evolution from old school to new school doesn’t happen overnight, it just tends to feel that way when a club announces the sale of such a hallowed ground.

Boleyn Ground, you will be missed.

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.

Emre Can back in the Liverpool side ahead of Europa clash vs. Villarreal

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14:  Emre Can of Liverpool battles for the ball with Idrissa Gana of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park on February 14, 2016 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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Emre Can has recovered from an ankle injury and will be in Liverpool’s squad for their Europa League semifinal against Villarreal on Thursday night.

The German international has not played since April 14 when he was forced off in the Reds’ wild 4-3 win over Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Liverpool prepping for Villarreal ]

Giving his team update on Wednesday, manager Jurgen Klopp said Can is back in the team, although captain Jordan Henderson is still out. The Reds enter the second leg trailing 1-0 on aggregate.

Another positive note out of Melwood was the return of Danny Ings to first-team training. The 23-year-old striker signed with Liverpool last summer, but managed just eight appearances before having his season end to a torn ACL in October. Ings is still far away from his full return, but it was a good sight to see him back on the pitch and making progress in his recovery.

Disappointed Pellegrini rues lack of offense in Man City’s loss to Real

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 04:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi final, second leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester City FC at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 4, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images )
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Manchester City put in an uninspired performance against Real Madrid on Wednesday, losing the match 1-0 and falling out of the UEFA Champions League.

[ RECAP: Real Madrid 1-0 Man City ]

The match was decided by just one goal, but the scoreline was flattering to City as they failed to create any kind of real chances at the Bernabeu. Over the two legs, City managed just two shots on target.

While City were wildly disappointing in the second leg, manager Manuel Pellegrini did not think the match was that one-sided, saying both teams struggled on the attack.

I am disappointed because I think that was a very close game with two teams who did not create many chances. The two teams were working with no-one making a difference.

It is not the best thing changing a defender very early but I don’t think we had any problems in defence, we had problems creating, same as Real Madrid. They did not create many chances.

Real Madrid was not in top form, but they still could have scored three or four goals on Wednesday. Joe Hart had to come up with some big saves to keep things close, as the England goalkeeper was by far City’s most valuable player throughout the tie.

[ MORE: Liverpool preparing for Europa League match vs. Villarreal ]

The absence of David Silva through injury certainly hurt City’s attack, but there was very little service moving forward from the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Yaya Toure. The poor play in the midfield left Sergio Aguero stranded alone up top, nearly invisible in the second leg.

Without service, Aguero was forced to track back to try and find the ball himself, leaving City no options to hit on the counter. For a tie between two of the most expensive teams in the world, neither side was truly impressive, but City surely disappointing.