Newcastle promises life-time bans for fans involved in derby violence

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In the wake of the 29 arrests made after Newcastle supporters clashed with police following the 3-0 derby defeat by Sunderland, Mike Ashley’s club released a statement Monday promising lifetime bans for anyone involved in the violence. The statement said that Newcastle was “embarrassed and appalled” by the behavior of its fans following the defeat at St. James’ Park.

“We were embarrassed and appalled by the behaviour of a minority of so-called fans who last night were involved in disturbances and disorder in Newcastle city centre after the match,” the statement said.

“Newcastle United have been working with Northumbria Police, and will continue to do so, in order to identify all of the individuals concerned.

“The club will take the strongest possible action against those involved in the disturbances and will impose immediate lifetime bans on all those found guilty.

“These deplorable individuals have no place at Newcastle United and bring shame on the club and the vast majority of its proper, law-abiding, fans.”

Photos reveal hundreds of people were involved in the violence and police have called for anyone who can help identify those involved to come forward. The alleged acts range from supporters throwing bottles at police, to setting off flares (one of which hit and burned a disabled Newcastle fan), to one man punching a police horse (that was not injured in the fracas).

Three police officers were injured in the encounter and Northumbria Police chief superintendent Steve Neill has vowed to embarrass anyone found guilty of violent behavior, saying: “We’ll run a name-and-shame campaign up here. If people have mobile video footage or pictures of what happened or know anyone involved we want them to contact Northumbria Police. It’s important these people are brought before the courts.”

The disruption followed Sunderland’s sound 3-0 defeat of Newcastle before a packed house of 52,355 at St James’ Park. Paolo Di Canio celebrated every goal with the vigor and emotion of a World Cup victory, complete with chest pounds and knee slides. The win was a huge boost for the Black Cats keeping them level with Stoke City and Aston Villa on 34 points, just three clear of relegation-threatened Wigan.

It was Sunderland’s first derby victory on Tyneside in 13 years.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.