Aston Villa move for standing areas at Villa Park to dismay of Hillsborough Family Support Group

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It’s a touchy topic, and even touchy feels too casual of an adjective when describing the re-introduction of standing areas to Premier League grounds. Yet according to the BBC, Aston Villa wants to move forward with plans to install rail-seating at Villa Park, and is asking the British government to lift the “all-seater” rule for the first time in 25 years.

“All-seater stadiums” — which  sound just as they are — have been mandatory in the Championship and Premier League since the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 that left 96 spectators crushed inside of Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium during the FA Cup semi-final.

Villa want to use areas of their stadium as a trial, and says there are 7-8 other Premier League clubs who are interested in the experiment (How they drew the short straw to go public with the idea is anyone’s guess). The concept for the proposed “safe standing” areas was discussed by Aston Villa football operations manager Lee Preece:

“The desire to further the debate is moving quickly. But we’re keen to support the Football Supporters’ Federation and advance the debate so we can get to the point where we can decide if we’re going to do this or not.

“The supporters will see the benefits of their own matchday experience in terms of atmosphere. For us as a club, perhaps the biggest advantage is around the issue of fans standing in areas that are licensed for seating only. “

It’s dicey. Does it solve an inconvenience? Maybe. Is it necessary? Hardly. And, as a spokesperson for the Hillsborough Family Support Group states, it can certainly be viewed as insensitive in light of ongoing investigations into the disaster.

Margaret Aspinall lost her son James in the disaster:

“I find it very insensitive at this moment in time because obviously the most important thing for the families is these inquests,” Aspinall told BBC Sport.

“We’ve got the 25th anniversary coming up, now we feel as if this is like another battle. We feel as if ‘why bring it up at this time when we’ve not had any accountability whatsoever for the 96 deaths’.

“I just wish them 96 could have been at an all-seater stadium. It cost them their lives for us to try and make it safe for everybody else, so please try and understand our position. We are not opposing. We are not against you. All we want is your safety.”

Maybe I’m too on the periphery here, but the standing room idea just seems absolutely unnecessary at this time. Admittedly the practice of “standing room only” is commonplace here in the U.S., but stepping back and analyzing the history makes me want to say, “No thanks.”

Juve’s Kean could leave club over tractor dispute

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No tractors, no teenager.

Moise Kean, 17, broke into the Juventus senior team last season with a trio of Serie A appearances that concluded with a goal against Bologna on May 27.

He also made a token appearance in the UEFA Champions League against Sevilla, which all-in-all is a pretty solid debut for the century’s first birth to make an appearance in a Top Five league in Europe.

[ MORE: Fabinho has interest in Man Utd ]

About that contract, though.

Kean’s father, Biorou, says Juventus has broken a contractual promise to his family, and that could send the teenager into the transfer market. Biorou says that his son’s 18th birthday — Feb. 28, 2018 — could trigger Moise Kean leave town as “an adult.”

From Sky Sports:

“Juventus offered a contract of €700,000-a-year, which was fine, but the problem is they had also promised me some tractors for my agricultural business in the Ivory Coast, but now they say there is no budget for them.

“I own several hectares of land in the Ivory Coast which I would like to cultivate with rice and corn. I’m an agronomist. I asked for agricultural materials and they told me “no problem.”

Now, though, those tractors are not in the Ivory Coast, and Biorou claims that he never signed a contract with agent Mino Raiola. It all sets the table for further complains and a transfer, so it’s worth keeping an eye on this odd saga.

FIFA takes no further action on Mexico-New Zealand clashes

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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) FIFA will not intervene after reviewing two volatile clashes between New Zealand and Mexico players and coaches.

FIFA says “it has been verified that there are no grounds for any disciplinary action to be taken.”

Tempers flared in a running brawl late in Mexico’s 2-1 comeback win on Wednesday in Sochi.

[ MORE: Fabinho has interest in Man Utd ]

Three players were shown yellow cards after match officials paused the game to review video.

Replays showed at least one other player went unpunished after running into the melee to strike an opponent in the head.

In the first half, Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio was caught on the TV broadcast aiming a verbal obscenity at New Zealand coaching staff.

Osorio later apologized for the profanity provoked when New Zealand continued an attack as a Mexico player appeared injured.

Fabinho admits interest in Manchester United

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If even a fraction of this summer’s transfer interest is real, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has taken every precaution against his biggest 2017 enemy: scheduled congestion.

Mourinho was a regular critic of United’s schedule last season in the run-up to its UEFA Europa League title win over Ajax, and is building his roster up for the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Saief completes USMNT switch ]

The manager already had plenty of attacking options, and has added Victor Lindelof to his stable of defenders while reportedly flirting with PSG’s Marquinhos, too. Defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic is also a reported target (as are half of the world’s elite footballers).

And now, a wry smile from Monaco’s Fabinho hints that Mourinho may be making progress with another target.

‘‘It’s a tempting invitation. … I would first talk to my agent, Monaco too, to decide everything right. But it’s a great club, sure enough I would think well about it.”

Fabinho played mostly right back in 2014-15 before splitting time between that position and defensive midfielder the following year and seeing most of his time at CDM last season. Mourinho has lavished praise and given a contract extension to right back Antonio Valencia and has Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, and Paul Pogba at CDM (though the latter can certainly operate higher up the field).

Chinese clubs to pay 100% tax on foreign transfers

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The days of Chinese Super League sides spending eye-popping figures on a handful of international superstars are over — either that, or those figures are about to double — for now, at least.

[ MORE: Oscar given 8-game ban for petulant display in China ]

China’s Football Association announced Thursday that, effective immediately, any foreign player signed for a fee exceeding $6.63 million would be subject to a 100-percent tax on top of the fee paid to acquire the player. The tax will remain in effect until the end of China’s ongoing transfer window, July 14. The tax will also apply to Chinese players signed for a fee exceeding $3 million.

It’s Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to prevent big spending by CSL clubs, which has in every instance been detrimental to the development of young Chinese players making their way through the academy system. The taxed money will then be reinvested in “youth training, construction of public sporting facilities and scientific progress in football development,” according to a statement by the CFA.

Just last week, China was eliminated from contention to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The only time China has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002.