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American millionaire buys English side Barrow


Hands up if you’ve heard of Barrow?

I didn’t think so, but soon Barrow AFC may become a club American fans become familiar with as the Skrill Conference North club have been taken over by a U.S. businessman.

Paul Casson was born in the town of Barrow-in-Furness, which is in the far North West of England close to the famous Lake District, but now lives in Dallas and is president of telecommunications provider Casson-Mark Corporation in the United States.

His close family ties to the club and the town urged Casson to put forward a takeover bid and after the club’s board voted in favor of his proposal the Texas businessman will soon become the new owner of Barrow. Fans of the Bluebirds are extremely hopeful of their future under Casson.

Casson has been all over English TV, as he tries to revive the former fourth division side who haven’t been in the football league since they were relegated in 1970. Most recently Barrow won the FA Trophy in 2010 and have also enjoyed several good FA Cup runs however their new American owner is aiming to bring the glory days back to Barrow by launching the club from the sixth-tier of English soccer and back into League Two where he believes they belong.

Speaking to Sky Sports on Thursday, this is what Casson had to say about his investment of over $1 million in Barrow.

“It’s not a risk at all, I think it’s a great opportunity,” Casson said. “I was born here and my mother and father were born in Barrow, so I have a large family legacy in the town. My father died in September, so the primary reason is to leave a legacy in his memory. He would have been proud to see his son be a custodian of the football club in the town he loved. I’ve followed the club from afar since I left. It was very painful when they got relegated from the Football League, which is one of the reasons I started this. I want to try and get them back to where I remember them.”

You have to admire the Texan for pumping money back into the town where he was born before he made his millions. If Casson does succeed in turning Barrow into a football league club within the next five years, will we see Bluebirds shirts popping up across the USA?

Now that would be something and would provide a proud legacy for his father and their family.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.