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American group GACP unlikely to purchase Newcastle

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley continues to keep the club in the shop window over a potential sale, but it looks as though one American ownership group won’t be able to seal the deal, despite some recent media speculation.

General American Capital Partners CEO and Chairman Joseph DaGrosa confirmed in an interview with Pro Soccer Talk that despite positive talks between his group and Newcastle, a deal to purchase the Premier League club was looking unlikely as of press time. Although DaGrosa didn’t mention a specific reason, it’s likely that Ashley’s high valuation, or a lack of capital partners to help leverage the sale, have meant Ashley will continue to be looking for a new steward for the club.

“I can certainly confirm interest,” DaGrosa said in a phone interview. “I will confirm that I’ve had conversations with Mike Ashley’s top representative. I would describe those conversations as very positive. I would say Mike Ashley and his team are a lot easier and a lot friendlier and business savvy than anyone gives them credit for. We’re still talking. I’m not sure we’re going to reach an agreement, but that’s certainly not because of either side’s intractability or unwillingness to move forward.”

The news is a bit of a blow to Newcastle fans, who again were hoping that this holiday season would bring them relief from the Ashley ownership group. Ironically, Newcastle is having its best season in years, and currently sits in 9th place in the table with 25 points from 18 matches.

It was thought that recent events could have sped up a purchase for Newcastle from GACP Sports. On December 16, Bordeaux announced that GACP Sports had sold its stake in the club from King Street Capital Management, just 18 months after helping lead the takeover of the Ligue 1 club. According to DaGrosa, the departure was over a difference in management styles between King Street and his group.

“As we publicly announced, it was really based on irreconcilable differences with the management and operations of the club,” DaGrosa said. “We thought it was in the best interest of the club and the fans to part ways. Both sides, GACP and King Street recognized that having that much uncertainty as to how the club was going to be run going forward wasn’t in anyone’s interest, so we decided that we would do our best to part ways amicably, which we’ve done, and I certainly wish the team nothing but success going forward.”

DaGrosa lauded his business partner Hugo Varela’s work behind the scenes, making hires at coach and academy levels to turn around Bordeaux’s fortunes this season. After finishing 14th last year, Bordeaux is currently in the top ten. The on-field success would have been enticing to Newcastle fans who are desperate for some serious investment in the playing squad and coaching staff.

Even with GACP Sports gone from Bordeaux and unlikely to take over Newcastle, DaGrosa hinted they’ll be back in soccer ownership sooner rather than later.

“In terms of our other plans, we’ve maintained all along we want to be players in sports, particularly soccer, and we’re looking not only in Europe but in South America right now,” DaGrosa said. “Negotiations are going on right now with a couple of clubs, and I think the best is yet to come for GACP Sports.”

Fernandes scores first goal, says Ronaldo backed Manchester United move

Bruno Fernandes Ronaldo
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It’s probably not a surprise that a young Portuguese player would fancy Manchester United given the heroics of Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford early his career.

Bruno Fernandes admits that those images danced through his head well before he signed with the Red Devils in January.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It’s also not a shock that United would turn to their former player for a take on the playmaker before buying him from Sporting Lisbon.

Fernandes says he’s grateful that CR7 endorsed BF18. From Sky Sports:

“I know some people asked Cristiano what he thought of me and what I was like as a player and a person,” Fernandes said. “I know he spoke highly of me and gave me a good reference, so I sent him a message after to thank him for his kind words.”

Fernandes has 19 caps and two goals for Portugal, while Ronaldo has a few more with 164 and 99.

He now has a goal and an assist in four appearances for United. Ronaldo finished with 118 goals and 69 assists in 292 appearances for the Red Devils.

Here’s the finish:

Eden Hazard suffers fracture ahead of Man City in UCL, El Clasico

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Eden Hazard is set to miss the Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League first leg against Man City with a broken fibula.

Hazard had only returned to the lineup for two matches following a three-month absence with an ankle injury.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 29-year-old has made just 15 appearances for Real since arriving in a big-money move from Chelsea, scoring once with five assists.

He has never appeared in less than 30 league matches over the course of his career, five times missing one or zero matches.

Of course, all of his absences show that Real is very comfortable playing and winning without Hazard. Zinedine Zidane’s men lost Sunday to drop behind Barcelona in La Liga, but that was just its second loss of the league season.

Real will be taxed in depth like its rivals, with Wednesday’s visit from Man City followed by an El Clasico at the Bernabeu on March 1. Barcelona hosts Napoli on Tuesday.

Whether you like the playmaker or despise him, there must be some sense of sympathy for his latest ailments (even if Man City and Barca fans will likely offer a Jerry Seinfeld-esque, “That’s a shame”).

Watch Live: Manchester United, Wolves host bottom three battlers

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A pair of Premier League basement dwellers face stiff tests in their bids to win another season in the top flight.

Manchester United hosts Watford on NBCSN while Wolves welcome Norwich City on CNBC as both home sides aim to improve the health of their top four hopes in 9 a.m. ET kickoffs.

[ WATCH: Man Utd-Watford | Wolves-Norwich ]

Lineups notes from both matches:

LINEUPS

Manchester United

Watford


Wolves

Norwich City

Three Serie A matches suspended due to virus deaths in Italy

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ROME (AP) Three Serie A soccer matches scheduled for Sunday in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto were suspended late Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the virus from China.

On orders from the Italian government, the games called off were: Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria, Atalanta vs. Sassuolo and Hellas Verona vs. Cagliari.

Three other matches in Genoa, Turin and Rome on Sunday are going ahead as scheduled.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown on Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the coronavirus from China, and a growing cluster of cases with no direct links to the origin of the outbreak abroad.

“The government is working on urgent measures to decisively confront and contain the cases of coronavirus contagion,” read a letter from Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora to Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago shortly before midnight local time on Saturday. “Those measures also include the sports world in order to prevent risks and to better take care of the health of those involved in the events and competition.

“Following measures taken by the cabinet for protective reasons and maximum precaution, on orders of the government I’m asking you to suspend all sports events of every level and discipline planned for the Lombardy and Veneto regions on Sunday.”

The secondary contagions prompted local authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, businesses and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and Masses.

The mayor of Milan, Italy’s business capital and the regional capital of Lombardy, shuttered public offices.

A 78-year-old man infected with the virus died in Veneto. A postmortem on a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy came back positive, though it wasn’t clear if illness from the virus caused her death.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf