Monaco fans want refunds after Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez depart

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Following Radamel Falcao’s departure from Monaco to Manchester United on Monday, fans of the Ligue 1 side are banding together to demand the refund of season tickets.

A blogpost “Planete ASM speaks on the matter of refunds” was published Tuesday evening that said the following:

This Tuesday morning, after a short night spent up late waiting desperately for official word, the team of planet-ASM.fr published an article that encouraged disgruntled supporters to seek reimbursement from increased subscriptions.

“With these two departures and with almost no new signings during the whole transfer window, Monaco fans are swinging between anger, confusion and frustration. The fans feel betrayed today – for having believed the club’s promises and having accepted a significant increase in season ticket prices at Stade Louis II.

“There’s nothing to indicate the club will accept these demands, but at least they will show our general unhappiness.”

The fans are believed to be upset not only by the loan of Falcao but also the sale of James Rodriguez to Real Madrid and the club’s collective failure to replace the Colombian stars with players in similar positions, let alone strength. Not a good thing for Monaco or French Football. So how’d it all go wrong?

In 2011 Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev purchased AS Monaco, as it was toiling in Ligue 2, and announced an ambitious project to raise the club up to Europe’s elite.

Over the next three years Rybolovlev poured more than $285 million into acquiring players and just last summer purchased Colombian superstars Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez, as well as Portuguese playmaker Joao Moutinho. Monaco finally had the firepower to compete with the likes Paris Saint Germain and faired quite well, finishing runner-up in Ligue 1.

Signing Falcao and Rodriguez had just as much to do with acquiring talent as it did filling the stadium, as the Stade Louis II only holds 18,521 fans. And yet, despite those big names in the side, under 9,000 fans showed up for the home matches. It wasn’t that the fans didn’t like the team, there simply weren’t enough of them to go round as the population of Monaco is only 36,000 and only 20% of them are Monegasques, people originally from Monaco. The rest are French and Italian. Further complicating matters was how the French Football Association responded to the principality’s lack of an income tax – which acted as a pretty strong pull for top players – by slapping the club with a $65 million fine to stay in Ligue 1.

Which brings us to this summer where Rybolovlev permanently off-loaded Rodriguez to Madrid for $92 million and loaned Falcao to United for $9 million and an option to buy without purchasing replacements. These moves have raised eyebrows not only among Monaco supporters but even competitors in Ligue 1.

“I hope that Monaco’s ambitious project is not going to disappear,” Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaifi  said. “I spoke to their president and vice-president and I hope they are going to stay and invest, it’s important for French football.

“I have some doubts at the moment, to be honest, but I think they have a big vision and a big strategy. I am little worried about the level of French football. We want to improve the level and for that it is very important to have competition.”

Northern Ireland manager O’Neill banned for DUI

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EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has pleaded guilty to drunk driving and been banned from the road for 16 months.

O’Neill was caught by police on the outskirts of Edinburgh at about 1 a.m. on Sept. 10 and was found to be around three times the legal drink-drive limit.

O’Neill appeared on Thursday at Edinburgh Sheriff Court where he received the driving ban and fine of 1,300 pounds ($1,700).

O’Neill’s solicitor, James Mulgrew, told the court “this was simply a bad error of judgment.”

Northern Ireland is still in contention for its first World Cup trip since 1986. The team plays Switzerland in a two-leg playoff next month to qualify for the World Cup in Russia next year.

More AP World Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

Newcastle takeover bid moves closer

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Newcastle United fans are getting very, very excited.

PCP Capital Partners, led by Amanda Staveley, have signed a confidentiality agreement with the club’s owners after Mike Ashley put the club up for sale earlier this week

Ashley is said to value Newcastle at over $520 million, while Staveley is said to believe the club is worth close to $395 million, so there is plenty of negotiating still to happen but things are heading in the right direction.

In a statement on Monday Ashley said he would allow any potential buyer to pay the overall transaction fee in installments, while he also wants a buy to be completed by the end of December.

Who is Staveley?

She was seen at a Newcastle vs. Liverpool game at St James’ Park earlier this month as speculation was rife that a new owner was being lined up to buy Newcastle. That is indeed the case and Staveley, 44, is now able to look over the finances of the club exclusively.

Staveley oversaw the purchase of Manchester City by Abu Dhabi United and also lined up a deal for Liverpool to be bought by Dubai International Captial which fell through in the past.

Her close links to the Middle East has seen her become one of the most prominent British businesswomen in recent years and she currently manages over $34 billion of wealth globally. Staveley and her investors are said to be interested in buying several Premier League clubs.

Ashley’s lawyer, Andrew Henderson, released a statement on Thursday stating several other parties have inquired about buying the club since the announcement came that they were up for sale.

“Since Monday, a number of additional parties have come forward which we believe to be credible. We are also continuing to engage with a number of parties with whom we had entered into negotiations prior to Monday’s announcement.”

Things are moving very quickly for Newcastle’s fans as they thought they’d never get rid of much-maligned owner Ashley who is a lifelong fan of the club and bought them in 2007.

After two relegations from the Premier League (followed by instant returns to the PL on both occasions) Ashley has been accused of failing to spend money on the playing squad and realize Newcastle’s full potential as they challenged for the Premier League title on numerous occasions during the 1990s.

With Rafael Benitez getting the most of his squad and the Magpies sitting in the top 10 of the PL as things stand, the future is looking bright for Newcastle with plenty of investment expected if this sale does go through to Staveley or those she is closely connected with.

VIDEO: Man United ooze class after consoling teenage goalkeeper

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Wednesday was a big night for Benfica goalkeeper Mile Svilar.

The 18-year-old was making his debut in the UEFA Champions League and in doing so he became the youngest-ever goalkeeper to play in the competition, jumping ahead of the likes of Iker Casillas to set a new, hugely impressive, record.

Still, the night did not end well for the Belgian youngster.

[ MORE: United targeted Benfica’s goalkeeper ]

With Marcus Rashford‘s free kick floating into the box from out wide, he caught the ball but then stepped back over his own goal line… taking the ball with him.

Goal-line technology showed the ball had gone over and United were awarded the goal and won 1-0.

At the final whistle the teenager was stunned but Romelu Lukaku was one of the many United players who took time to console the distraught teenager.

Classy from Lukaku.

Even if Jose Mourinho did admit afterwards that United had targeted the teenager…

FIFA probe: Al-Khelaifi confirms his presence in Switzerland

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi says he will go to Switzerland next Wednesday to answer questions from Swiss prosecutors investigating the suspected bribery of a top FIFA executive for World Cup broadcasting rights.

Criminal proceedings against Al-Khelaifi, who is also CEO of Qatar-owned BeIN Media Group, former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, and an unnamed businessman working in sports rights were announced by the office of Switzerland’s attorney general last week.

The case involves the award of broadcast rights for the next four World Cups from 2018 through 2030.

Al-Khelaifi is alleged to have offered advantages to Valcke – FIFA’s CEO-like secretary general from 2007 until his firing in January 2016 – for the award of media rights in certain countries for the 2026 and 2030 World Cup.

Speaking Wednesday night on Canal Plus television, after PSG’s 4-0 win away to Anderlecht in the Champions League, Al-Khelaifi confirmed his trip to Switzerland.

“I have an appointment on the 25th. I will go there to speak with them, the Swiss (authorities),” said Khelaifi, who attended Wednesday’s match in Belgium. “That’s all.”

The proceeding against Al-Khelaifi is one of the first direct links to Qatar in sweeping investigations by federal law enforcement authorities in Switzerland, the United States, and France concerning FIFA, international soccer, and the 2018-2022 World Cup bidding contests.

Last week, the Paris offices of BeIN Sports were searched. Properties were searched in Greece, Italy, and Spain while Valcke was questioned in Switzerland.