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Stadium measure’s defeat likely ends St. Louis’ MLS chances

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ST. LOUIS (AP) For the second time in 16 months, plans for a splashy new downtown St. Louis stadium have fallen by the wayside.

City voters on Tuesday defeated a ballot measure that would have allocated $60 million from a tax increase on businesses toward the construction of a 22,000-seat soccer stadium in the hopes of luring a Major League Soccer expansion team. In January 2016, the NFL rejected plans for a $1 billion football stadium along the Mississippi River, and league owners approved the move of the Rams to Los Angeles.

[ JPW: 3 things from Stamford Bridge ]

Failure of the soccer stadium measure, which was defeated by 53 percent to 47 percent margin, will apparently doom St. Louis’ chances of becoming a three-sport town again anytime soon.

The new stadium would have near Busch Stadium, home of baseball’s Cardinals, and the Scottrade Center, home of the NHL’s Blues. SC STL, the group hoping to bring an MLS team to the city, agreed to invest $95 million in the project and cover the league’s $150 million expansion fee.

St. Louis appeared to be a heavy favorite among the 12 cities seeking two MLS expansion teams for the 2020 season. But the effort was contingent on approval of public financing, Commissioner Don Garber said at a rally in St. Louis last week.

MLS released a statement late Tuesday calling the vote “a significant setback for the city’s expansion opportunity and a loss for the community.”

Jim Kavanaugh, vice chairman of SC STL, said the vote “is likely the final stage of our journey.” But he said the ownership group owes it to supporters to “step back for a day or two before making an official announcement.”

It certainly sounded like the end.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

“We wish the outcome would have been different,” Kavanaugh said. “This would have been an outstanding project for the future of St. Louis.”

Kavanaugh went a step further in an interview with the St. Louis Business Journal, saying the ownership group is likely to disband and end its effort. He didn’t immediately reply to a message seeking comment.

SC STL also can’t expect any last-minute help from the state of Missouri. Though the state was negotiating for the potential sale or lease of 24 acres of land for the stadium site, Republican Gov. Eric Greitens is a staunch opponent of public funding for stadiums.

“The voters have spoken, and they agree,” Parker Briden, the governor’s spokesman, wrote Wednesday in an email.

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.