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Fiorentina unveils plans for new 40,000-seat stadium

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) Fiorentina unveiled plans Friday for a new stadium, which it hopes to be playing in by 2021.

The new stadium will seat 40,000 people, with the closest fans being only seven meters from the field.

The 420 million euro ($447 million) project will regenerate an area in a northwestern suburb of Florence and also includes a shopping center, a hotel and new transport links.

“It’s a historic moment. We’re presenting an important project for Florence and for all of Italy. It will be a sort of Purple Renaissance,” Fiorentina owner Andrea Della Valle said.

Purple is the color of Fiorentina, which is nicknamed the Viola.

The first brick is expected to be laid in 2019, with construction taking two years.

“We are resolving the last small problems. I imagine that we’ll need four years to finish everything,” said Della Valle, who added that the club is still looking for financial investors for the project.

Only three other Italian teams have their own stadiums. The Juventus Stadium was the first when it was inaugurated on Sept. 8, 2011. Sassuolo owner Giorgio Squinzi’s company bought his team’s stadium in 2013, while Udinese opened its own ground earlier this year.

Roma’s long-delayed stadium plans were given the green light by Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi recently, prompting Lazio to say it wanted its own stadium, too.

“Many clubs are trying and that’s a good thing. We’re one of them and we’re moving forward quickly,” Della Valle said. “People are talking about Roma’s new stadium. We’re even further ahead and this is a great opportunity for change for Italian football, which is very behind in this aspect.

“Between the stadium and the surrounding area, it’s a project of hundreds and hundreds of millions. We really wanted to do something for this city, which deserves it.”

Also at the presentation were Italian sports minister Luca Lotti, Fiorentina President Mario Cognigni and Florence Mayor Dario Nardella.

“The stadium will not be a cathedral in the desert,” Nardella said. “The redevelopment of the northwestern area will be total.

“It will also create 3,000-4,000 jobs. There’s a nine-out-of-10 chance it’ll be completed.”

Russell hat trick snaps Sporting KC’s win streak (video)

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Struggling, short-handed Sporting KC needed a star show to kickstart its summer, and Johnny Russell was ready to go.

Maybe the 29-year-old Scotsman was feeding off the buzz of his old club Derby County preparing for the Championship Playoff Final, but Russell scored thrice as Sporting took care of Seattle 3-2 in Washington on Sunday.

[ MORE: USWNT wins final match before World Cup (video) ]

The right winger scored his fifth, sixth, and seventh goals of the MLS season as Sporting won its first match since March 30.

Russell scored 35 goals with 34 assists in 205 matches with the Rams, but has destroyed that mark with KC. He now has 19 and 16 in 55.

Seattle loses ground on LAFC in the race for the Supporters’ Shield, while KC is now within four points of the playoff places.

 

 

Report: Newcastle in takeover talks with UAE billionaire

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Reports out of Northeast England say Newcastle United supporters who want owner Mike Ashley out at all costs have new hope.

United Arab Emirates billionaire Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan is said to be in talks with Ashley about a takeover of the St. James’ Park-based club, though there’s a lot of work to do for a deal to be complete.

[ MORE: USWNT wins final match before World Cup (video) ]

One report goes as far as to say Ashley has agreed to accept $444 million for the Premier League club.

Sheikh Khaled, 61, was educated at American colleges Boston University and Michigan State. He’s the cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and was turned down with a $2.5 billion bid for Liverpool last season.

From The Chronicle:

NUFC have confirmed some talks with Sheikh Khaled. But say there is still “some way” to go on a deal. Newcastle United refusing to make any further comment at this time.

Takeover talks are nothing new at Newcastle, and there does seem to be some heat to these reports, but Ashley and his crew have spun these stories of interest in the past. And with Magpies supporters waiting for news on Rafa Benitez‘s new deal, some will be way of a smoke screen for an inability to reach an agreement with the celebrated Newcastle manager.

Wondolowski scores 149th, 150th goals; Earthquakes win

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TORONTO (AP) Chris Wondolowski scored his 149th and 150th MLS goals in the San Jose Earthquakes’ 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday night.

The MLS career goals leader scored both from close range.

[ MORE: Kante to miss Europa League final ]

Wondolowski got a yard’s separation from Drew Moor and deftly redirected in Cristian Espinoza’s cross in the 37th minute to tie it at 1. The go-ahead goal in the 81st minute was a virtual replay, with Espinoza finding Wondolowski in space.

The San Jose striker has six goals in two games. He scored all four goals in a 4-1 victory over Chicago last weekend to surpass Landon Donovan’s league record of 145 goals and up his career total to 148.

Richie Laryea opened the scoring for Toronto (5-6-2) in the 28th minute

San Jose (5-6-2) won for the first time in six road games this season.

Chairman Mubarak: Other clubs are ‘jealous’ of Man City’s success

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Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak believes that other clubs — namely those who have fallen miles back of the back-to-back Premier League champions — are “jealous” of the club’s success.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante to miss Europa League final with new injury ]

The root of the perceived jealousy is, of course, Man City’s seemingly unlimited spending power which dwarves that of just about — if not — every other club in the PL. There’s a growing sense around the league — and around the world — that clubs like City, just to name one, are doing the game a disservice by distorting the transfer market and building an infallible super-team with the aid of unprecedented financial resources.

Mubarak believes that these feelings also stem from other clubs’ failed dealings in the transfer market: spending comparable — if not more — money on players who don’t justify that price tag the same way some of City’s big-money buys have done — quotes from the BBC:

“With success, there is a certain level of jealousy, envy, whatever you call it. That’s part of the game.

“It’s not easy for our competition, we know that. But the reality is, we didn’t buy the most expensive player in the Premier League [Paul Pogba], we didn’t buy the most expensive goalkeeper [Kepa Arrizabalaga], we didn’t buy the most expensive midfielder, we didn’t buy the most expensive striker [Romelu Lukaku].

“People make decisions, they’ve got to live by them. This is a well-run club.”

City’s financial dealings have regularly been in the headlines of late, as they are believed to have circumvented FFP rules by lying about sponsorship deals so as to balance a larger expenditure on transfer fees and player wages with revenue generated by the club.