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Nottingham Forest owner has coronavirus, players may face self-isolation

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Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis has announced he has been diagnosed with coronavirus and this could have huge implications on the English Championship club.

Marinakis, 52, was at Forest’s second-tier game against Millwall on Friday and is said to have met several first team players. Government advice in the UK is that anybody who comes into contact with someone who has coronavirus should spend at least two weeks in self-isolation as symptoms could take five days to surface.

The former European champions and the English Football League are in discussions about the best way to proceed as their players and coaching staff all came into contact with Marinakis. The club released the following statement.

“Mr [Evangelos] Marinakis was diagnosed after showing the first symptoms on his return to Greece yesterday afternoon. During his short stay in Nottingham last week he did not show any symptoms of the virus. The club are seeking advice from medical professionals and the relevant governing bodies to ensure the correct measures are taken. Until this time the club will be making no further comment.”

Forest, who are pushing for promotion to the Premier League and currently sit in fifth place in the Championship table, play against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, Huddersfield next Wednesday and then Bristol City on Mar. 22 before the international break.

Marinakis, who also owns Greek giants Olympiakos, released the following statement on his Instagram account.

“The recent virus has ‘visited’ me and I felt obliged to let the public know. I feel good as I take all the necessary measures and I discipline to the doctors’ instructions. I strongly advice all my fellow citizens to do the same. I wish all a quick recovery.”

With games in Serie A postponed, matches in La Liga to be played in empty stadiums until early April and crowds in France limited to 1,000 per Ligue 1 games and multiple Champions League and Europa League games impacted by being played behind-closed-doors, it seems only a matter of time before leagues across the world follow suit.

The race for Premier League promotion is red hot

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With the top flight title race fading fast as Liverpool pummels the Premier League into oblivion in record fashion, an appreciation can be had for what the Reds are accomplishing. That is for another time.

For now, we are going to take a moment to appreciate the race below them. There is a red-hot battle for Premier League promotion that is tighter than we’ve seen in a while.

Y’all, the Championship is LIT.

West Brom sits atop the league with 59 points from 31 matches, and the Baggies seem a solid bet to make their way back to the Premier League after a short one-season dip. Below them, a battle rages that could even threaten the top dogs should West Brom slip even a little.

[ MORE: Chelsea closes in on Ziyech deal ]

Leeds United sits second, occupying an automatic promotion position as they have for most season. That may change today. As Leeds stands on 56 points after its draw with Brentford yesterday, Fulham lurks just a point back, and with a match today against fellow Londoners Millwall, a win for the Whites would see them knock Leeds off the top two for the first time since early November.

Behind Fulham is Brentford with 54 points, level with fifth-placed Nottingham Forest and only ahead thanks to its league-best +27 goal differential. Yes, you read that right, the league leader in goal differential is in fourth.

Preston North End in sixth and Bristol City in seventh are each level on 50, meaning the gap from second to seventh is a measly six points. Things could get truly insane down the stretch.

Of the top seven teams, five of them have lost at least once in their last five matches, with only Fulham and Preston owning pristine form of late. West Brom had lost just once all Championship season until the holidays hit and suddenly they’ve dropped three of their last seven. Leeds is facing a full-on collapse, having won just twice since mid-December and losing four of its last six, with just four points gained in that span. Fulham is in good form with four wins in its last five, but they are living on the edge having skated by via a one-goal margin in each of their last seven victories and 10 of their last 11. Brentford would be formidable if the Bees could figure out their road form, with six of their nine losses coming away from Griffin Park. Nottingham Forest can’t get out of its own way, following up a signature 2-0 win over Leeds with a 1-0 gack attack at home to 21st placed Charlton Athletic last time out.

All this mayhem makes each match critically important – and therefore tense as hell. Fulham today could move into an automatic qualifying spot with a win, but if they fail to beat Millwall, it could open them to fall as far as fifth. If this pace keeps up, theoretically a team that had a shot to finish with an automatic qualifying spot could end up out of the playoffs altogether with a few poor results late in the season. Building room for error in the next month or two will be critical for teams that wish to have a chance down the stretch.

There are some critical matches coming up as well. West Brom plays Nottingham Forest on Saturday that has a make-or-break feel to it for both sides, especially the Baggies who then have Bristol City next. Leeds plays Bristol City on Saturday hoping to put a finger in the leaky dike. Fulham has a three-game stretch through March that sees them play Bristol City, Brentford, and Leeds looking to prove they belong. As you can see, the Robins have a ton of chances to yank themselves up the table.

For some of these teams like West Brom and Fulham, they are looking to return to the Premier League after short spells down below. For many of the teams fighting for promotion, however, fans are hoping to see their beloved clubs crack the top flight for the first time in quite a while. Leeds United, a storied club that qualified for the Champions League with a third-place finish in 2000, hasn’t been back since relegation in 2003. Another storied club, Forest has not been back to the Premier League since dumped in 1999. Three clubs have never been in the Premier League: Bristol City was relegated from the First Division back in 1979, Preston hasn’t seen top-flight action since 1961, and Brentford hasn’t been in the top flight since 1947 with just five total top flight seasons in club history.

There are still battles to be won in the English top flight, with teams like Chelsea, Tottenham, and Sheffield United battling for a Champions League place while others further down the table fight for their Premier League lives. Still, the race for promotion is proving to be a wild and crazy one just a few blocks down the road.

Championship focus: Promotion-chasing Leeds, Brentford, Nottingham Forest drop points

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The suddenly congested Championship playoff picture handed big opportunities to leaders West Bromwich Albion and third-place Fulham on Tuesday.

Second-place Leeds United drew fourth-place Brentford, while fifth-place Nottingham Forest was surprised 1-0 at relegation-threatened Charlton Athletic.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Leeds entered the day having lost four of five and winning just twice in the league since Dec. 14, making Tuesday a rare chance for someone else to move into an automatic promotion spot.

Brentford made a bid to do that by opening up a 1-0 lead at home on a goal by Said Benrahma, only for Liam Cooper to level the score before halftime en route a draw.

That gave Forest a chance to climb into second just by handling its business against 21st place Charlton. Sabri Lamouchi’s men couldn’t do anything with 57 percent of the ball and a 17-11 shots advantage in a 1-0 loss.

That means Fulham can move into second with a win away to Millwall on Wednesday, while Preston North End and Bristol City further congest the race for promotion. Wins by both PNE and Bristol City would leave between 5-6 teams within three points.

Also on Wednesday, leaders West Brom can take hold of a minimum six-point lead on third with a win at Reading.

Tuesday’s results

Blackburn Rovers 3-0 Hull City
Wigan Athletic 2-2 Middlesbrough
Nottingham Forest 0-1 Charlton Athletic
Brentford 1-1 Leeds United
Swansea City 0-0 QPR
Barnsley 0-1 Birmingham City

Wednesday’s fixtures

2:45 p.m. ET
Millwall v. Fulham
Bristol City v. Derby County
Luton Town v. Sheffield Wednesday
Huddersfield Town v. Cardiff City

3 p.m. ET Wednesday
Stoke City v. Preston North End
Reading v. West Bromwich Albion

Race for Premier League promotion has very fine margins

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The race for Premier League promotion has been anything but straight-forward.

Yes, West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United have been leading the pack for much of the season, but neither has been able to pull away from the pack.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

The Baggies enter a midweek matchday with a four-point lead on Leeds and third-place Fulham, which is wild considering Leeds has lost four of five and has just two wins since Dec. 14. West Brom is 3W-5D-3L since Matchweek 21.

Despite this, Leeds has not left the automatic promotion spots since Matchweek 17 and the Baggies have been top two since the 11th week of the season.

The top two could change on Tuesday, and Leeds could sit as low as fifth.

Leeds’ 55 points are level with Fulham, and fourth-place Nottingham Forest is a single point back of both. Brentford is fifth, with 53 points.

The Bees host Leeds on Tuesday, while Nottingham Forest will welcome Charlton Athletic.

Fulham and West Brom won’t play their 32nd matches of the season until Wednesday.

Championship fixtures

2:45 p.m. ET Tuesday
Blackburn Rovers v. Hull City
Wigan Athletic v. Middlesbrough
Nottingham Forest v. Charlton Athletic
Brentford v. Leeds United
Swansea City v. QPR
Barnsley v. Birmingham City

2:45 p.m. ET Wednesday
Millwall v. Fulham
Bristol City v. Derby County
Luton Town v. Sheffield Wednesday
Huddersfield Town v. Cardiff City

3 p.m. ET Wednesday
Stoke City v. Preston North End
Reading v. West Bromwich Albion

Bentaleb joins Newcastle; Blades sign Robinson; Campana to Wolves

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Three Premier League clubs made signings on Tuesday as Nabil Bentaleb has joined Newcastle United, Leonardo Campana has arrived at Wolves and Jack Robinson has signed for Sheffield United.

Bentaleb, 25, has initially joined Newcastle from Schalke on loan with an option to make the deal a permanent one at the end of the season.

The former Tottenham midfielder will add extra quality to the engine room as Steve Bruce‘s side continue to sit pretty in midtable despite a laundry list of injuries to deal with.

“I’m very happy to come back to the Premier League, especially with a club such as Newcastle,” Bentaleb said. “The project really interested me. I wanted absolutely to come back to the Premier League. The coach had some trust in me and the club also – I saw that straight away – and I think it’s the perfect move for me.”

Bentaleb has so much promise and showed that as a youngster for Spurs and for Algeria at the 2014 World Cup and he was a regular at Schalke over the past few seasons before falling out of favor during the 2019-20 campaign as he is yet to make an appearance due to suffering a torn meniscus in September.

Wolves have been trying to complete the deal for Campana for some time but everything is now sealed for the Ecuador international to arrive in the Premier League.

Campana, 19, has been a star for Ecuador at youth international level and he’s signed a three-and-a-half year deal with Wolves to become the understudy to Raul Jimenez. He rose to prominence at the South American U20 Championships last summer as the top goalscorer at the tournament as Ecuador won the title. He has already graduated to the full national team and he is ready to get going in England.

“I am excited about the work the team has achieved this season. I know they support each other, their relationship with the manager is a good one and I know all the players get along really well. That motivated me to come here and to be part of this big family,” Campana said.

As for Robinson, 26, he arrives on a two-and-a-half year contract from Forest for an undisclosed deal as Blades boss Chris Wilder revealed he tried to sign the left-sided center back when he previously played for QPR.

“It’s a big confidence boost coming somewhere you know you’re wanted,” Robinson said. “The gaffer has done an unbelievable job over the last 3 years and I’m really excited to play under him. It’s a privilege to sign here, excited to be back in the Premier League I’m ready to show the fans why the gaffer has signed me.” 

Robinson, a Liverpool academy product who made his debut for them as a 16-year-old, will be one of Wilder’s three center backs and is keen to perform the overlapping role in Sheffield United’s quirky but hugely effective system.

Both of the signings are fairly prudent ones but bolster squads which need it after fine starts to the season as both Wilder and Bruce need extra players as they aim to push for at least a top 10 finish in the Premier League.