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Chattanooga named as latest USL D3 founding franchise

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As expected, the USL’s new D-III division is coming to Chattanooga.

Businessman Bob Martino’s yet to be named Chattanooga Pro Soccer will compete with established NPSL side Chattanooga FC, which has averaged 4,000-plus fans and helped open the area’s soccer scene to include USMNT and USWNT games.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Chattanooga joins Toronto FC II, Tormenta FC (Georgia), FC Tucson, and fellow unnamed clubs in Madison (Wisc.) and Greenville (S.C.) as founding members for 2019.

The USL lauded “up to 40 full-time jobs,” more media awareness, and a longer season for the professional league that come with the announcement.

Martino is behind the move, the Utah businessman excited to bring professional soccer to Chattanooga. From USLD3.com:

“This is a fantastic opportunity and watershed moment for soccer fans in Chattanooga,” said Bob Martino. “This market has proven that it has the right ingredients to launch and sustain a professional franchise, and we are excited to take this next step into USL Division III for fans and the community.

“I applaud the existing grassroots support and passionate fan base already in place in the city, and I welcome the opportunity for us to work together to realize the great vision for professional soccer in Chattanooga. Our goal is to build upon the remarkable soccer history that has been created here, and establish a professional club of which both fans and our community can be proud – one that will make a lasting contribution to what makes this city great.”

Martino’s group will have a careful balancing act should it secure Finley Stadium, where CFC plays, and his phrasing shows the challenge that will come with convincing an established fan base to latch onto something new and shiny. It wouldn’t be the first time a name league’s expansion team knocked an established club off its perch.

There’s been no update from Sean McDaniel, who left the CFC general manager position last week when reports broke of USL D-III’s entry into the Chattanooga market. Earlier in the week, he told ProSoccerTalk that would release an announcement later this week.

Oxlade-Chamberlain back in Liverpool training

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in Liverpool training, nine months after a horrible injury cost him the chance to appear in the UEFA Champions League Final.

Initially ruled out for the duration of the 2018-19 season following an ACL year, “The Ox” is giving the Reds a boost in Dubai.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

The 25-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain posted five goals and seven assists in his first season at Liverpool.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has 32 England caps and 283 senior appearances between Southampton, Arsenal, and Liverpool. He left the Gunners in part because of a desire to play a more central role in the midfield.

Oxlade-Chamberlain detailed his recovery late last year. There’s yet to be discussion of when he might be fit to return to match play, but Liverpool will be careful with its industrious playmaker.

Montreal owner Saputo hands presidency duties to Gilmore

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Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo is giving the reigns of his club to a new president.

Saputo announced Tuesday that he’s handing over presidency duties to Kevin Gilmore, the former chief operating officer of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

The Saputo family founded the Impact in 1992, and Joey Saputo shepherded the club into Major League Soccer.

The Impact is coached by Remi Garde, the former Aston Villa boss, and has Designated Players in Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taidir. The Bleu-blanc-noir just started training camp.

Cardiff “very distressed,” “praying for positive news” regarding Sala

AP Photo/David Vincent
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Cardiff City executive director Ken Choo has released a statement on the missing flight from France to Wales which carried new signing Emiliano Sala.

Crews in Wales continue to search for the plane, which disappeared from radar late Monday night.

Fans have flocked to Cardiff City Stadium and Nantes town square to lay flowers in hopes of a miraculous recovery for Sala and his pilot.

From Cardiff City’s official site:

“We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing. We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was due to be his first day with the team.

“Our owner, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, and chairman, Mehmet Dalman, are all very distressed about the situation.

“We made the decision first thing this morning to call off training with the thoughts of the squad, management staff and the entire Club with Emiliano and the pilot.

“All of us at Cardiff City FC would like to thank our fans, and the entire footballing family for their support at this difficult time.

“We continue to pray for positive news.”

Ronaldo pleads guilty to tax fraud at Madrid court

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MADRID (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo has pleaded guilty to tax fraud and received a two-year suspended sentence.

The Juventus forward, who was facing charges stemming from his days at Real Madrid, was in court for about 45 minutes and signed an agreement which will cost him nearly 19 million euros ($21.6 million) in fines.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

Ronaldo arrived at court in a black van and was wearing a black sports coat and black pants. He walked up some stairs leading to the court house and even stopped to sign an autograph.

Ronaldo made the deal to plead guilty with Spain’s state prosecutor and tax authorities last year.

In Spain, a judge can suspend sentences for two years or less for first-time offenders.

In 2017, a state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth 14.7 million euros ($16.7 million). Ronaldo was accused of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights.

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