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MLS attendance up, TV ratings lag as US mulls future

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NEW YORK (AP) Major League Soccer’s attendance is up and fan interest is booming, even if television broadcasts are far less popular and some young Americans would rather play in Europe.

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MLS averaged 22,000 in attendance for the first time in its history this season, ranked among the top seven leagues in the world. The league is set to add a second Los Angeles franchise next year, announce two expansion cities next month and at some point finalize David Beckham’s long-pending Miami club.

But viewers averaged under 300,000 for nationally televised regular-season matches, fewer than the average for a New York Yankees game on their regional sports network. Several top young Americans, such as Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie, have chosen to forego the MLS to play in Germany and test their mettle in a more demanding environment.

And worst of all, the United States – whose roster was filled with MLS stars – failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup, ending a streak of seven straight appearances in soccer’s showcase.

“We need to use this failure as a wakeup call for everyone associated with the sport at all levels to ensure that we have the right processes and mechanisms and development programs and leadership and governance in place to learn from this missed opportunity to ensure that it never happens again,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said this week. “Part of the maturation of becoming a soccer nation is recognizing that qualifying for the World Cup is not a birthright. It’s something you need to earn, and we are unfortunately in the company of some great soccer nations, like Italy and Holland and Ghana and Chile – Copa champions – that have also not qualified.”

MLS playoffs resume next week after the international break with the first leg of Conference Championships. Columbus – whose owners are threatening to move to Austin, Texas, in 2019 – hosts Toronto, while Houston is home against Seattle.

“MLS and soccer in the United States have made great advances in many areas. But its promoters have found that the abundance of existing legacy sports leagues that have the highest quality of athletes on the planet creates a ceiling on professional soccer in the United States,” said Marc Ganis, president of the consulting firm SportsCorp. “It has not, and perhaps never, will supplant any of the major legacy sports unless and until the quality of play and players increases significantly and the U.S. men’s team in particular is more competitive and, in fact, wins some of the major international tournaments.”

Momentum of playoff runs was interrupted because of World Cup qualifying, and the culmination of the league’s season competes for attention with the NFL and college football among the wider American sports audience.

“Long-term demographic things like CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and stuff with the NFL says maybe there is a long slow decline around some of that, but when you’re starting from where they’re starting, that’s going to take a generation,” Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said. “We’ll grow because most of the immigration to the U.S. is from soccer-playing countries and the country is going to grow.”

Launched with 10 teams in 1996, two years after the U.S. hosted the World Cup, MLS expanded to 12 but cut back to 10 after the 2001 season. There has been steady growth since expansion started in 2004. Next year’s total will be 23, already well over the norm for a first division, and the league is planning to settle at 28.

Infrastructure could not be more different than in the early days. The league has 14 soccer specific stadiums, two more renovated for the sport and one built with both the NFL and soccer in mind. Three more soccer stadiums are under construction.

Average attendance is up 60 percent from 13,756 in 2000, boosted this year by 48,200 for Atlanta in its opening season. MLS trails only the Germany’s Bundesliga, England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Mexico’s Liga MX, the Chinese Super League and Serie A, with Italy’s first division ahead by only 22,177 to 22,106.

But that has not translated yet into big television ratings.

ESPN averaged 272,000 for 30 telecasts this regular season on ESPN and ESPN2, and Fox averaged 236,000 for 33 broadcasts on FS1 and Fox. In addition, Univision is averaging 250,000 viewers for its Spanish-language MLS telecasts.

But the Premier League attracts a larger audience, averaging 422,000 on NBC, NBCSN and CNBC, even though many matches are on weekend mornings.

“We’re not the Premier League,” Garber said, pointing out last year’s MLS Cup drew 1.4 million viewers on Fox. “The fact that we’re able to generate ratings growth across all of our partners here and in Canada, and dramatic growth in Canada, is a positive. So we actually, we and our partners, feel pretty darn good.”

Player payroll has increased as MLS keeps adding what it calls Targeted Allocation Money. While several older American players have returned to MLS from Europe, many of the teens viewed as the future of the U.S. national team have gone abroad as they emerge from the MLS youth academies, which have been mandated by the league since 2007 and produced more than 250 players with first-team MLS contracts.

Pulisic, at 19 already the leading American star, left Hershey, Pennsylvania, to sign with Borussia Dortmund at age 16, able because of his grandfather’s Croatian citizenship to play in Europe before he turned 18. McKennie left FC Dallas’ academy when he turned 18, signed with Schalke and scored in his U.S. debut this week.

“I didn’t want to become one of those guys that started in MLS and said, man, I wonder if I could have made it to Europe,” McKennie said. “I wanted to spread my wings and see what I could do over here.”

Forward Josh Sargent decided against Sporting Kansas City and is waiting until he turns 18 in February to sign with Werder Bremen.

“I think I’ve just always wanted since I was a little kid to play in Europe,” he said.

Tyler Adams, who also made his U.S. debut this week, played his first MLS game with the New York Red Bulls last year at age 17 and became a regular this season. Garber says “Tyler Adams probably is playing more minutes today for the Red Bulls than he would if he was not in Major League Soccer.”

Adams is happy but thinking ahead.

“Obviously a goal of mine is to play Champions League one day, and obviously the MLS is working its way to becoming one of the top leagues in the world,” he said. “Maybe one day I find myself in Europe. You never know.”

Sometimes big contracts only stall a career. Matt Miazga left the Red Bulls to sign with Chelsea in January 2016, saw little playing time and didn’t get in games regularly until late that autumn during a loan to the Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem.

“If your only desire is to go to Europe, there are flights leaving every hour on the hour from JFK and LAX and everywhere in between,” said retired American defender Alexi Lalas, now a Fox analyst. “But getting to a place in Europe where you are making good money, where you are playing consistently, where you are learning, where you are valued as a player and as an American player, where you are able to adapt and adjust and live in the other 22 1/2 hours that we often don’t talk about, that’s whole `nother story, and there’s not a lot of flights leaving that have that on the other end.”

With the U.S. soccer community in turmoil following the World Cup failure, some have called for MLS to guarantee playing time for young Americans.

“Our coaches universally believed that that was not the best way to ensure we had the highest-possible product quality to be able to have competitive games and to drive the growth of our fan base,” Garber said.

AP Sports Writer Tim Booth contributed to this report.

Luis Suarez facing police investigation in Italy

Luis Suarez police investigation
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Luis Suarez police investigation: A failed move to Juventus could see Luis Suarez in big trouble with the authorities in Italy.

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The Barcelona and Uruguay forward, 33, looked set to join Juve last week but after complications arose over him obtaining Italian citizenship, which he needed to complete the move, he now looks likely to sign for Atletico Madrid as he’s been told he’s no longer needed by current club Barcelona.

Yet, Suarez could be in trouble, big trouble, as the Italian financial police and the Perugia public prosecutor’s office have opened an investigation into irregularities into the exam he had to take to become an Italian citizen.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA

Here are more details from our partner in the UK at Sky Sports on the Luis Suarez police investigation:


In order to complete the move, the 33-year-old Uruguayan would have needed to have acquired Italian citizenship as Juventus have no available space in their squad for non-EU players.

However, it is alleged that Suarez was aware of the contents of the exam before taking it, and that his score was pre-assigned.

A statement from the Perugia public prosecutor’s office said: “Some irregularities have emerged in the exam of certification of Italian, sat on September 17 by Uruguayan football player Luis Alberto Suarez Diaz, needed to obtain the Italian citizenship.

“From the investigation, it emerged that the topics in the exam had been agreed in advance with the applicant and that the relative mark had been attributed even before carrying out the exam, regardless of the fact that an elementary proficiency of the Italian language had been verified during remote classes carried out by lecturers of the University for Foreigners.

“Today, the Italian financial police are moving forward to capture the documents at the university offices, to verify the actions described beforehand and notify the information assurances for the crimes of revelation of professional secrecy, false representation committed by public officials in official documents and other.”


NBC Sports Premier League schedule

NBC Sports Premier League schedule
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The new NBC Sports Premier League schedule for the 2020-21 season has been released with dates for the new campaign confirmed and details on how to watch Premier League in the USA on TV and via Peacock online all below.

Are you ready?

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Premier League games will be aired across NBC and NBCSN this season, with games also streamed live online via Peacock which replaces NBC Sports Gold. The Premier League schedule is now confirmed with the opening day, festive fixtures and final day all set and below you will find all of the details on how to watch Premier League in the USA.

Premier League schedule release day is always a fun time for fans across the world and now you need to find out exactly how to watch the Premier League in the USA as the new season starts on September 12.

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Game times for September have been published, as the TV schedule for the opening month of the season has also been released. With the 2020-21 season coming less than seven weeks after the 2019-20 season finished, things will be getting back into action very quickly.

‘Project Restart’ was a big success as the league returned on June 17 after being suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Just like the end to the 2019-20 campaign, the start of the 2020-21 season will see games played in empty stadiums at home venues but the UK government hope to have some fans back in attendance by early October.

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The full Premier League schedule and details on how to watch Premier League in the USA this season are below.

The Premier League schedule one of the key parts of the new streaming platform, and to watch PL games you will have to sign up to an ad-supported premium tier for $4.99/month, serving no more than five minutes of advertising per hour. An ad-free version of the premium tier is also available for $9.99/month. For more on the Premier League schedule on Peacock, click here.

Peacock and Roku have also announced that Peacock is now available nationwide on the Roku platform. Premier League fans who use the platform can now find exclusive Peacock Premium matches on Roku.

Peacock is widely available across Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD; the Roku platform; Google platforms and devices including Android™, Android TV™ devices, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices; Microsoft’s Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X; and VIZIO SmartCast™ TVs and LG Smart TVs; as well as Sony PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro. Comcast’s eligible Xfinity X1 and Flex customers, as well as eligible Cox Contour customers, enjoy Peacock Premium included with their service at no additional cost.

If you haven’t yet checked it out and would like a free 7-day preview of the Peacock Premium service, which will include access to all of this weekend’s live Premier League matches, you can sign up here.

PEACOCK PREMIUM TO FEATURE MORE THAN 175 EXCLUSIVE PREMIER LEAGUE MATCHES IN 2020-21 SEASON

NBC Sports and Peacock will present more than 175 exclusive Premier League matches on Peacock Premium in the 2020-21 season. In total, Peacock Premium will present more than 1,500 hours of Premier League live match and shoulder programming – the most robust offering ever available in the U.S. Included are full-event replays for all 380 matches on-demand (after 9 p.m. ET).

All content presented on NBC Sports Gold’s “Premier League Pass” will shift exclusively to Peacock Premium for the start of the 2020-21 Premier League season. For more information, click here.

Below is the Premier League schedule on NBC Sports for September 12 to May 23 (all games 10am ET unless otherwise stated) as the channels and times for games will be confirmed in due course and here’s how to watch the Premier League in the USA.


Premier League: How to watch Premier League in USA, full schedule (all times EST)

Saturday 12 September

Fulham 0-3 Arsenal – NBCSN – FULL MATCH REPLAY
Crystal Palace 1-0 Southampton – NBCSN – FULL MATCH REPLAY
Liverpool 4-3 Leeds United – NBC – FULL MATCH REPLAY
West Ham 0-2 Newcastle United – Peacock Premium – FULL MATCH REPLAY

Saturday 13 September

West Brom 0-3 Leicester City – NBCSN – FULL MATCH REPLAY
Spurs 0-1 Everton – Peacock Premium – FULL MATCH REPLAY

Burnley v Man Utd (Postponed to later date due to European appearance)
Man City v Aston Villa (Postponed to later date due to European appearance)

Monday 14 September

Sheffield United 0-2 Wolves – NBCSN – FULL MATCH REPLAY
Brighton 1-3 Chelsea – Peacock Premium – FULL MATCH REPLAY

Saturday 19 September

Everton 5-2 West Brom – Peacock Premium – FULL MATCH REPLAY
Leeds United 4-3 Fulham – Peacock Premium – FULL MATCH REPLAY
Manchester United 1-3 Crystal Palace – Peacock Premium – FULL MATCH REPLAY
Arsenal 2-1 West Ham – NBCSN – FULL MATCH REPLAY

Sunday 20 September

Southampton 2-5 Spurs – Peacock Premium – FULL MATCH REPLAY
Newcastle United 0-3 Brighton – Peacock Premium – FULL MATCH REPLAY
Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool – Peacock Premium – FULL MATCH REPLAY
Leicester City 4-2 Burnley – NBCSN – FULL MATCH REPLAY

Monday 21 September

Aston Villa 1-0 Sheffield United – Peacock Premium – FULL MATCH REPLAY
Wolves 1-3 Man City – Peacock Premium – FULL MATCH REPLAY

Saturday 26 September

7:30am ET: Brighton v Man Utd – NBCSN – STREAM LIVE
10am ET: Crystal Palace v Everton – NBCSN – STREAM LIVE
12:30pm ET: West Brom v Chelsea – NBC – STREAM LIVE
3pm ET: Burnley v Southampton – Peacock Premium – STREAM LIVE

Sunday 27 September

7am ET: Sheffield United v Leeds United – NBCSN – STREAM LIVE
9am ET: Spurs v Newcastle United – NBCSN – STREAM LIVE
11:30am ET: Man City v Leicester City – NBCSN – STREAM LIVE
2pm ET: West Ham v Wolves – Peacock Premium – STREAM LIVE

Monday 28 September

1pm ET: Fulham v Aston Villa – Peacock Premium – STREAM LIVE
3:15pm ET: Liverpool v Arsenal – Peacock Premium – STREAM LIVE

Saturday 3 October

Arsenal v Sheffield United
Aston Villa v Liverpool
Chelsea v Crystal Palace
Everton v Brighton
Leeds United v Man City
Leicester City v West Ham
Man Utd v Spurs
Newcastle United v Burnley
Southampton v West Brom
Wolves v Fulham

Saturday 17 October

Chelsea v Southampton
Crystal Palace v Brighton
Everton v Liverpool
Leeds United v Wolves
Leicester City v Aston Villa
Man City v Arsenal
Newcastle United v Man Utd
Sheffield United v Fulham
Spurs v West Ham
West Brom v Burnley

Saturday 24 October

Arsenal v Leicester City
Aston Villa v Leeds United
Brighton v West Brom
Burnley v Spurs
Fulham v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Sheffield United
Man Utd v Chelsea
Southampton v Everton
West Ham v Man City
Wolves v Newcastle United

Saturday 31 October

Aston Villa v Southampton
Burnley v Chelsea
Fulham v West Brom
Leeds United v Leicester City
Liverpool v West Ham
Man Utd v Arsenal
Newcastle United v Everton
Sheffield United v Man City
Spurs v Brighton
Wolves v Crystal Palace

Saturday 7 November

Arsenal v Aston Villa
Brighton v Burnley
Chelsea v Sheffield United
Crystal Palace v Leeds United
Everton v Man Utd
Leicester City v Wolves
Man City v Liverpool
Southampton v Newcastle United
West Brom v Spurs
West Ham v Fulham

Saturday 21 November

Aston Villa v Brighton
Burnley v Crystal Palace
Fulham v Everton
Leeds United v Arsenal
Liverpool v Leicester City
Man Utd v West Brom
Newcastle United v Chelsea
Sheffield United v West Ham
Spurs v Man City
Wolves v Southampton

Saturday 28 November

Arsenal v Wolves
Brighton v Liverpool
Chelsea v Spurs
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United
Everton v Leeds United
Leicester City v Fulham
Man City v Burnley
Southampton v Man Utd
West Brom v Sheffield United
West Ham v Aston Villa

Saturday 5 December

Aston Villa v Newcastle United
Brighton v Southampton
Burnley v Everton
Chelsea v Leeds United
Liverpool v Wolves
Man City v Fulham
Sheffield United v Leicester City
Spurs v Arsenal
West Brom v Crystal Palace
West Ham v Man Utd

Saturday 12 December

Arsenal v Burnley
Crystal Palace v Spurs
Everton v Chelsea
Fulham v Liverpool
Leeds United v West Ham
Leicester City v Brighton
Man Utd v Man City
Newcastle United v West Brom
Southampton v Sheffield United
Wolves v Aston Villa

Tuesday 15 December

2:45pm ET: Arsenal v Southampton
2:45pm ET: Aston Villa v Burnley
2:45pm ET: Fulham v Brighton
2:45pm ET: Leeds United v Newcastle United
2:45pm ET: Leicester City v Everton
2:45pm ET: Sheffield United v Man Utd
2:45pm ET: West Ham v Crystal Palace
2:45pm ET: Wolves v Chelsea

Wednesday 16 December

3pm ET: Liverpool v Spurs
3pm ET: Man City v West Brom

Saturday 19 December

Brighton v Sheffield United
Burnley v Wolves
Chelsea v West Ham
Crystal Palace v Liverpool
Everton v Arsenal
Man Utd v Leeds United
Newcastle United v Fulham
Southampton v Man City
Spurs v Leicester City
West Brom v Aston Villa

Saturday 26 December

Arsenal v Chelsea
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
Fulham v Southampton
Leeds United v Burnley
Leicester City v Man Utd
Liverpool v West Brom
Man City v Newcastle United
Sheffield United v Everton
West Ham v Brighton
Wolves v Spurs

Monday 28 December

Brighton v Arsenal
Burnley v Sheffield United
Chelsea v Aston Villa
Crystal Palace v Leicester City
Everton v Man City
Man Utd v Wolves
Newcastle United v Liverpool
Southampton v West Ham
Spurs v Fulham
West Brom v Leeds United

Saturday 2 January

Brighton v Wolves
Burnley v Fulham
Chelsea v Man City
Crystal Palace v Sheffield United
Everton v West Ham
Man Utd v Aston Villa
Newcastle United v Leicester City
Southampton v Liverpool
Spurs v Leeds United
West Brom v Arsenal

Tuesday 12 January*

2:45pm ET: Arsenal v Crystal Palace
2:45pm ET: Aston Villa v Spurs
2:45pm ET: Fulham v Man Utd
2:45pm ET: Leeds United v Southampton
2:45pm ET: Leicester City v Chelsea
2:45pm ET: Sheffield United v Newcastle United
2:45pm ET: West Ham v West Brom
2:45pm ET: Wolves v Everton

Wednesday 13 January*

3pm ET: Liverpool v Burnley
3pm ET: Man City v Brighton

*Matchweek 18 fixtures initially allocated to 12-13 January will be played across 12-13 January and 20 January 2021. The split of matches will be determined when the broadcast selections for January are announced.

Saturday 16 January

Arsenal v Newcastle United
Aston Villa v Everton
Fulham v Chelsea
Leeds United v Brighton
Leicester City v Southampton
Liverpool v Man Utd
Man City v Crystal Palace
Sheffield United v Spurs
West Ham v Burnley
Wolves v West Brom

Tuesday 26 January

2:45pm ET: Brighton v Fulham
2:45pm ET: Burnley v Aston Villa
2:45pm ET: Everton v Leicester City
3pm ET: Man Utd v Sheffield United
3pm ET: West Brom v Man City

Wednesday 27 January

2:45pm ET: Chelsea v Wolves
2:45pm ET: Newcastle United v Leeds United
2:45pm ET: Southampton v Arsenal
2:45pm ET: Spurs v Liverpool
3pm ET: Crystal Palace v West Ham

Saturday 30 January

Arsenal v Man Utd
Brighton v Spurs
Chelsea v Burnley
Crystal Palace v Wolves
Everton v Newcastle United
Leicester City v Leeds United
Man City v Sheffield United
Southampton v Aston Villa
West Brom v Fulham
West Ham v Liverpool

Tuesday 2 February

2:45pm ET: Aston Villa v West Ham
2:45pm ET: Burnley v Man City
2:45pm ET:  Fulham v Leicester City
2:45pm ET: Leeds United v Everton
2:45pm ET: Sheffield United v West Brom
2:45pm ET: Wolves v Arsenal
3pm ET: Man Utd v Southampton

Wednesday 3 February

2:45pm ET: Newcastle United v Crystal Palace
2:45pm ET: Spurs v Chelsea
3pm ET: Liverpool v Brighton

Saturday 6 February

Aston Villa v Arsenal
Burnley v Brighton
Fulham v West Ham
Leeds United v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Man City
Man Utd v Everton
Newcastle United v Southampton
Sheffield United v Chelsea
Spurs v West Brom
Wolves v Leicester City

Saturday 13 February

Arsenal v Leeds United
Brighton v Aston Villa
Chelsea v Newcastle United
Crystal Palace v Burnley
Everton v Fulham
Leicester City v Liverpool
Man City v Spurs
Southampton v Wolves
West Brom v Man Utd
West Ham v Sheffield United

Saturday 20 February

Arsenal v Man City
Aston Villa v Leicester City
Brighton v Crystal Palace
Burnley v West Brom
Fulham v Sheffield United
Liverpool v Everton
Man Utd v Newcastle United
Southampton v Chelsea
West Ham v Spurs
Wolves v Leeds United

Saturday 27 February

Chelsea v Man Utd
Crystal Palace v Fulham
Everton v Southampton
Leeds United v Aston Villa
Leicester City v Arsenal
Man City v West Ham
Newcastle United v Wolves
Sheffield United v Liverpool
Spurs v Burnley
West Brom v Brighton

Saturday 6 March

Aston Villa v Wolves
Brighton v Leicester City
Burnley v Arsenal
Chelsea v Everton
Liverpool v Fulham
Man City v Man Utd
Sheffield United v Southampton
Spurs v Crystal Palace
West Brom v Newcastle United
West Ham v Leeds United

Saturday 13 March

Arsenal v Spurs
Crystal Palace v West Brom
Everton v Burnley
Fulham v Man City
Leeds United v Chelsea
Leicester City v Sheffield United
Man Utd v West Ham
Newcastle United v Aston Villa
Southampton v Brighton
Wolves v Liverpool

Saturday 20 March

Brighton v Newcastle United
Burnley v Leicester City
Crystal Palace v Man Utd
Fulham v Leeds United
Liverpool v Chelsea
Man City v Wolves
Sheffield United v Aston Villa
Spurs v Southampton
West Brom v Everton
West Ham v Arsenal

Saturday 3 April

Arsenal v Liverpool
Aston Villa v Fulham
Chelsea v West Brom
Everton v Crystal Palace
Leeds United v Sheffield United
Leicester City v Man City
Man Utd v Brighton
Newcastle United v Spurs
Southampton v Burnley
Wolves v West Ham

Saturday 10 April

Brighton v Everton
Burnley v Newcastle United
Crystal Palace v Chelsea
Fulham v Wolves
Liverpool v Aston Villa
Man City v Leeds United
Sheffield United v Arsenal
Spurs v Man Utd
West Brom v Southampton
West Ham v Leicester City

Saturday 17 April

Arsenal v Fulham
Aston Villa v Man City
Chelsea v Brighton
Everton v Spurs
Leeds United v Liverpool
Leicester City v West Brom
Man Utd v Burnley
Newcastle United v West Ham
Southampton v Crystal Palace
Wolves v Sheffield United

Saturday 24 April

Arsenal v Everton
Aston Villa v West Brom
Fulham v Spurs
Leeds United v Man Utd
Leicester City v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Newcastle United
Man City v Southampton
Sheffield United v Brighton
West Ham v Chelsea
Wolves v Burnley

Saturday 1 May

Brighton v Leeds United
Burnley v West Ham
Chelsea v Fulham
Crystal Palace v Man City
Everton v Aston Villa
Man Utd v Liverpool
Newcastle United v Arsenal
Southampton v Leicester City
Spurs v Sheffield United
West Brom v Wolves

Saturday 8 May

Arsenal v West Brom
Aston Villa v Man Utd
Fulham v Burnley
Leeds United v Spurs
Leicester City v Newcastle United
Liverpool v Southampton
Man City v Chelsea
Sheffield United v Crystal Palace
West Ham v Everton
Wolves v Brighton

Tuesday 11 May

2:45pm ET: Brighton v West Ham
2:45pm ET: Burnley v Leeds United
2:45pm ET: Everton v Sheffield United
3pm ET: Man Utd v Leicester City
3pm ET: West Brom v Liverpool

Wednesday 12 May

2:45pm ET: Chelsea v Arsenal
2:45pm ET: Newcastle United v Man City
2:45pm ET: Southampton v Fulham
2:45pm ET: Spurs v Wolves
3pm ET: Crystal Palace v Aston Villa

Saturday 15 May

Brighton v Man City
Burnley v Liverpool
Chelsea v Leicester City
Crystal Palace v Arsenal
Everton v Wolves
Man Utd v Fulham
Newcastle United v Sheffield United
Southampton v Leeds United
Spurs v Aston Villa
West Brom v West Ham

Sunday 23 May

Arsenal v Brighton
Aston Villa v Chelsea
Fulham v Newcastle United
Leeds United v West Brom
Leicester City v Spurs
Liverpool v Crystal Palace
Man City v Everton
Sheffield United v Burnley
West Ham v Southampton
Wolves v Manchester United

UK government postpones plan to reintroduce fans

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Premier League fans may have to wait a while longer to get back into stadiums: Amid a steep rise in COVID-19 cases across the United Kingdom the government have halted plans for fans to return to stadiums from October 1.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

The UK chief medical officer yesterday said cases could climb to 50,000 a day if the current trajectory isn’t stopped.

Speaking to the BBC, UK government official Michael Gove was asked about the reintroduction of a small number of fans at sporting venues and here was his answer.

“We were looking at a staged programme of more people returning – it wasn’t going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans,” Gove said. “We’re looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme, but what we do want to do is to make sure that, as and when circumstances allow, get more people back.

“The virus is less likely to spread outdoors than indoors but again it’s in the nature of major sporting events that there’s a lot of mingling.”

This was expected given the huge rise in cases in the UK and the expected trajectory of the spread of the virus in the coming weeks and months. Premier League fans haven’t been allowed in stadiums since play was suspended in March, but test events in the Championship, League One and League Two have been held in recent weeks with 1,000 fans in attendance.

The fact that the UK will postpone fan reintroduction will hit the Premier League financially but it will hit the lower leagues harder. Clubs in the third and fourth tiers rely heavily on fans paying for tickets and they will now need big help from the football and government authorities in the UK to try and stay afloat in the coming months.

For now, Premier League fans will be waiting for the next update.

Serie A wrap: ‘Benjamin Button’ Zlatan nabs 2; McKennie debuts for Juve

Serie A results
Photo by Filippo Alfero - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images
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Catch up on all you missed from the opening week of calcio with the Serie A wrap.

[ MORE: Serie A schedule ]

Fourteen of the league’s 20 teams debuted this weekend, as European combatants Atalanta and Inter Milan will start the season late along with Serie B playoff winners Spezia.

That leaves opponents Lazio, Benevento, and Udinese also waiting to start their 2020-21 seasons.


Benjamin Button’s brace leaves Milan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice as AC Milan started the Serie A season with a 2-0 defeat of Bologna on Monday.

The humble Swede said that if he were 18 years younger he would’ve scored two more.

“I am not old, I am like Benjamin Button, I start old and die young,” Ibrahimovic said after the win. “Kidding aside, the team worked well, we are not at 100 percent and therefore made some mistakes we usually avoid, but it bodes well.”

Ibrahimovic is 38 years old and demanding he not be held to any less of a standard than his prime, which is incredible considering his prime is better than 99 percent of top soccer careers.

“I don’t want people to talk about my age, I want to be treated at the same level as everyone else,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I am 38, I want to be treated like someone aged 20 and do the same work.”

Milan is coming off seven-straight seasons outside of the top four, six of those coming behind their city rivals Inter Milan.

But Ibrahimovic’s 2019-20 half-season in Italy showed he can still bring the goods, with 14 goals and five assists in 20 appearances

Now he’s scored thrice in two competitive fixtures after opening his campaign with a goal against Shamrock Rovers in Europa League qualifying.

Milan is aiming high and is tied for the fifth-best odds to win the scudetto this season due to a talented squad that features Ibrahimovic, Alessio Romagnoli, Gianlugi Donnarumma, and Theo Hernandez.

“This year, we have to take it one game at a time, play with confidence and treat every match like a Cup Final.”

Serie A results
MILAN, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 21: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images)

McKennie impresses as Juve rolls again

Playing under Andrea Pirlo has started well for USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie.

The 22-year-old Texan went 90 minutes in central midfield with Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot as Juventus beat Sampdoria 3-0 in Turin.

McKennie had 94 touches and completed 88 percent of his passes, with one key pass and four-of-five crosses in that mix.

[ MORE: Americans abroad in Bundesliga, Week 1 ]

He took two shots and converted his lone dribble attempt, the busy midfielderwinning six of 12 duels while registering four tackles, three interceptions, and two clearances. SofaScore did hit him with a “big chance missed” on debut.

McKennie kept some very good players on the bench in the forms of Arthur and Rodrigo Betancur. It’s going to be a battle to keep his place in the Starting XI but it’s clearly one he’s prepared to fight.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Leonoard Bonucci, and Dejan Kulusevski all scored for The Old Lady, who is bidding to win its 10th-straight title. That would double Inter’s second-best five-consecutive title run earlier this century.


Week 1 scoreboard

Fiorentina 1-0 Torino
Hellas Verona 0-0 AS Roma
Parma 0-2 Napoli
Genoa 4-1 Crotone
Sassuolo 1-1 Cagliari
Juventus 3-0 Sampdoria
AC Milan 2-0 Bologna


Week 2 fixtures

Torino v Atalanta — 9 am ET Saturday
Cagliari v Lazio — Noon ET Saturday
Sampdoria v Benevento — Noon ET Saturday
Inter Milan v Fiorentina — 2:45 pm ET Saturday
Spezia v Sassuolo — 6:30 am ET Sunday
Verona v Udinese — 9 am ET Sunday
Napoli v Genoa — 9 am ET Sunday
Crotone v AC Milan — Noon ET Sunday
AS Roma v Juventus — 2:45 pm ET Sunday
Bologna v Parma — 2:45 pm ET Monday


Standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Genoa 1 1 0 0 4 1 3 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Juventus 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Milan 1 1 0 0 2 0 2 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Napoli 1 1 0 0 2 0 2 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Fiorentina 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Cagliari 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
 Sassuolo 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
 Hellas Verona 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
 Roma 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
 Atalanta 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 Benevento 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 Inter Milan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 Lazio 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 Spezia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 Udinese 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 Torino 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 Bologna 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 Parma 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 Crotone 1 0 0 1 1 4 -3 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 Sampdoria 1 0 0 1 0 3 -3 0-0-0 0-0-1 0