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Bury on the brink; Bolton have hope

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The future of both Bolton Wanderers and Bury remains in serious doubt ahead of a English Football League deadline set for 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Unless something drastic happens both will be liquidated, have their licenses revoked by the EFL and be expelled from the Football League.

A late bid from from C&N Sporting Risk to buy 134-year-old Bury collapsed, and that news spread around their Gigg Lane stadium as it was being cleaned by volunteers ahead of a possible weekend fixture against Doncaster Rovers.

C&N released a statement detailing how hard they had tried to save Bury, who have won the FA Cup twice in their history and had been promoted to their third-tier over the summer.

“We are grateful to the EFL for the short extension they granted to us so that we could continue with due diligence, and for their acceptance of our proof of funds capable of mounting a credible takeover… The complexities involved in each of these matters escalated and continue to do so. It is therefore with regret that we have decided not to proceed with the takeover of Bury FC. This decision has not been taken lightly. We fully understand the importance of the club to the community and it is with this in mind that we have informed the EFL of our decision at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The EFL released the following statement after hearing that C&N had pulled out of the deal to save Bury.

“The League announced at the weekend that it was working exclusively with the club and C&N in an attempt to finalise a change of control at the club. However, following a period of due diligence, C&N have opted not to progress matters. The League continues to be in discussions with Bury FC in advance of today’s 5pm deadline and will provide a further update as appropriate.”

As for Bolton, their situation remains dire as a potential takeover appeared to collapse on Monday.

However, Bolton’s administrator Paul Appleton released a more positive update on Tuesday ahead of the deadline.

“Following my statement of yesterday morning, I am glad to report there is continuing dialogue between the parties whose positions will ultimately decide the fate of the club,” Appleton said. “Myself and my team will continue to do everything possible to facilitate a deal and we will work tirelessly to get this finalised for the club, fans, staff and wider community. The future of Bolton Wanderers is still in doubt but I have to believe there can be a positive outcome before today’s 5pm deadline set by the EFL.”

The Trotters had been fielding their youth team in League One games so far this season, but their most recent matches were called off due to fears over the players’ health.

Bury have yet to play a game this season, as they sit bottom of the third tier on -12 after reaching a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) which triggered an initial 12 point penalty. Bolton are second from bottom on -11 points.

Prince William starts mental-health campaign for soccer fans

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LONDON (AP) Prince William has launched a campaign to get more soccer fans, particularly male, talking about mental health.

The “Heads Up” initiative is a partnership between the English Football Association and Heads Together, the campaign spearheaded by William’s Royal Foundation.

Speaking at Wembley Stadium, William says men find it difficult to talk about their mental fitness because “emotions, feelings, are kind of like a bit alien over here.”

William, who is president of the FA, called the silence around men’s mental health a “crisis” and encouraged soccer fans to ask about their friends as they would if they had “broke an arm or an ankle.”

William and his wife, Kate, have lobbied for better treatment of mental-health issues.

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

FA charge Paul Scholes in relation to betting rules

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Maybe this was why Paul Scholes stepped down as Oldham Athletic’s manager after just one month in charge…

The Manchester United and England legend has been charged by the English Football Association in regard to their betting regulations.

In a statement the FA confirmed that Scholes, 44, has been handed a misconduct charge regarding allegations he placed 140 bets on games between August 2015 and January 2019.

Scholes is a minority owner of Salford City, who sit in the fifth-tier of English soccer, and took charge of Oldham for just over one month in 2019 as he arrived on Feb. 11, then departed on Mar. 14.

So, Scholes didn’t make any bets while he was manager of Oldham, but he did while he was a director of Salford City which is against the rules.

In a similar situation Joey Barton was banned for 18 months after being found guilty of breaching the FA’s betting rules.

Below is the statement in full:

Paul Scholes has been charged with misconduct in relation to The FA’s Betting Rules. It is alleged he placed 140 bets on football matches, contrary to FA Rule E8, between 17 August 2015 and 12 January 2019. He has until 26 April 2019 to respond to the charge.

FA Cup semifinals to show VAR decisions in stadium

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For the first time in English soccer, the decisions made via VAR will be shown on television screens throughout the stadium.

The landmark moment will arrive during the two FA Cup semifinals this weekend, as Brighton face Manchester City on Saturday and Watford play Wolves on Sunday.

With VAR to be introduced into the Premier League from the 2019-20 season, VAR has been used in both the FA Cup and League Cup in England as a testing ground. Throughout the FA Cup over the past two seasons there has been plenty of confusion in stadiums as fans try to figure what is going on.

Confirmation that these decisions will now be shown on the big screens at Wembley is a welcome relief for supporters, and should help referees gain more respect inside the stadiums.

Of course, with plenty of PL stadiums not having TV screens (Old Trafford and Anfield to name a few) it is unlikely the decisions will be shown during the game for next season. Then again, why shouldn’t they be shown at stadiums which have TV screens available?

Whatever the English game can do to help usher in VAR smoothly must be done. Showing the decisions live on screens is a big step in the right direction.

FIFA hit Chelsea with transfer ban

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FIFA have banned Chelsea from signing new players until the summer of 2020.

The results of a three-year investigation into the signing of players under the age of 18 have led to FIFA imposing the two-window transfer ban on the west London club, while they have also been fined $600,000 along with the English Football Association who have been fined $509,000.

Both Chelsea and the FA have released statements saying that they will appeal the charges by FIFA, while there is the possibility they can push this case all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

While the appeal is ongoing, Chelsea’s ban of signing players for two transfer windows will be delayed so they could indeed sign players in the upcoming summer window to prepare themselves for an inevitable ban.

FIFA stated that Chelsea “were found to have breached art. 19 of the Regulations in the case of twenty-nine (29) minor players and to have committed several other infringements relating to registration requirements for players. The club also breached art. 18bis of the Regulations in connection with two agreements it concluded concerning minors and which allowed it to influence other clubs in transfer-related matters.”

In recent cases involving the improper signing of young players Spanish giants Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid were handed transfer bans in 2016, while Barcelona were handed a 14-month transfer ban over the signing of young players back in 2014.

FIFA’s investigation into the signing of 92 youth players at Chelsea revealed issues with 29 of the signings, and the investigation itself focused heavily on the registration of Bertrand Traore who signed his first pro deal at the club at the age of 18 in 2013 but wasn’t registered until January 2014. There are also reports that Traore played for Chelsea’s youth teams when he was just 16 years old.

It is illegal under rules for clubs to sign foreign players unless their family move for non-soccer reasons, the club is within 100km of the players’ home or if the clubs they are transferring to are both in the EU and the player is aged 16-18. In the latter case there are several guidelines which must be followed including housing, education and living fees.

Chelsea’s statement finished by saying that they have “acted in accordance with the relevant regulations and will shortly be submitting its appeal to FIFA.”

“Chelsea FC has today received a decision from the FIFA Disciplinary Committee concerning alleged breaches of the FIFA Regulations that relate to the international transfer of players under the age of 18. The decision imposes a transfer ban of two consecutive registration periods and a fine of 600k Swiss francs. Chelsea FC categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and will therefore be appealing the decision.”

The FA said they “intend to appeal against the decision” and “continue to work with FIFA and Chelsea in a constructive manner to address the issues which are raised by this case.”

The governing body of English soccer added that it has “raised concerns” about some of FIFA’s disciplinary processes.

This situation is far from ideal for Chelsea and their manager Maurizio Sarri, especially as the team is struggling on the pitch in recent weeks and clearly needs a massive overhaul in terms of new players.

Chelsea will still be able to sell players during the transfer ban, but can they really afford to let Eden Hazard leave in the summer if they’re unable to replace him? We now know why the Blues were eager to sign Christian Pulisic in January, and possibly why Gonzalo Higuain’s loan move from Juventus is for 18 months…

Looking at the bigger picture: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich hasn’t watched a game this season amid ongoing visa issues with the UK government and reports suggest he may sell the club after becoming disinterested as he also put a stop to plans to rebuild Stamford Bridge. This issue will likely upset Abramovich further and any potential new owner will be operating with limitations if this transfer ban is enforced.