Manchester United v Fulham - Premier League

Could Manchester United be coming to a town near you?

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They’re one of the most popular soccer teams in the world, claiming a global fanbase of more than 650 million. They’ve won top division trophies in England twenty times. But now, this successful, prominent club is not only failing to make a challenge for the Premier League title, but they’re in serious danger of not reaching the Champions League at all, sitting 11 points out of fourth place.

What are Manchester United to do? Losing out on European play – because the Red Devils may not even make it into the Europa League next season – means not just missing out on glory, but losing at least £20m (~$33.5m) in revenue. And without a steady stream of cash, it’ll be impossible to secure the necessary signings to help lift the club back into those coveted top four positions.

It’s estimated the Champions League brought in around  £35m (~$59m) this season – that’s a Juan Mata right there. But without that money, transforming the squad will be tough, if not impossible.

So United will cash in on their popularity. Friendlies, testimonials, exhibition games, played outside of Europe and likely throughout the season. The squad will travel, probably to the Middle East, to China, and/or to the United States. Exact details of where they might visit have yet to be worked out, but these destinations look promising.

Additionally, the club might make extra money by putting these games on pay-per-view channels, taking advantage of the willingness of their global fanbase to pay £5.95 (~$10) a pop to see Manchester United take on assorted sides throughout the world.

Fans are willing to part with their pounds to watch their side at Old Trafford, competing in the Champions League. They’ll tune in to that tournament to see the best players in the world competing. But will this strategy, in fact, work to keep United’s coffers filled? Or will fans be less inclined to pay to see a club in decline?

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?