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Roy Keane joins Sky Sports as a pundit

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Grab your popcorn. Roy Keane is back as a regular Premier League pundit.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

The legendary Manchester United midfielder, who won seven PL titles with the Red Devils, has been announced as Sky Sports’ latest new pundit, joining Jose Mourinho, Gary Neville, Graeme Souness and Jamie Carragher among others.

In a statement released on Saturday, our partners as Sky say Keane will be with them ‘throughout the season’ and his first game in the studio will be at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea v. Liverpool this Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

“I’ve worked with Sky Sports quite a few times over the years and it’s always been an experience I’ve enjoyed, so this makes absolute sense,” Keane said. “While I’m not coaching I still want to be involved in the game and in some ways, this is the next best thing.

“It’s a game of opinions, I’ve never shied away from giving mine and that’s only going to continue this season. Sky Sports has always been famous for the heated debates – I look forward to starting a few more.”

Keane will be appointment viewing, and just like in his playing days, he is never scared to tell it how it is. And then some. He has been working as a pundit for ITV covering England games and international tournaments, while he has also been the assistant coach for the Republic of Ireland, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest in recent seasons.

After being a head coach at Sunderland and Ipswich Town in the past, he now appears to be focusing more on punditry.

Expect plenty of heated debates between Mourinho and Keane in the Sky Sports studio this season.

Watch Live: Sky Sports’ Transfer Deadline Day show on NBCSN

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Deadline Day is always a wild ride.

We will have you covered throughout Transfer Deadline Day on Jan. 31, as six hours of extensive live coverage will keep you updated with all of the deals across the Premier League as the January window closes.

[ STREAM: Sky’s Transfer Deadline Day ] 

NBCSN’s coverage kicks off with a simulcast of Sky Sports News’ live show from 2-5 p.m. ET, which is the first major sports collaboration on U.S. TV since Comcast acquired Sky.

Then at 5 p.m. ET, live coverage continues with a three-hour show featuring host Rebecca Lowe and analysts Robbie Earle, Kyle Martino, and Robbie Mustoe.

In addition, NBC Sports’ commentators will be offering analysis during the Sky Sports News telecast, while Sky Sports News presenters will welcome the NBCSN audience throughout their broadcast.

You can stream “Premier League Transfer Deadline Day Special” online via NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app, and by clicking on the link above.

Scouting report gives high praise for USMNT, Newcastle back Yedlin

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You may remember Danny Higginbotham from his time as a defender at Sunderland, Stoke City, Derby County, and Southampton, but these days he makes his dough as an analyst.

You almost certainly remember USMNT right back and speed merchant DeAndre Yedlin, though perhaps not seeing him on your television has limited your intake on his progress since leaving Tottenham Hotspur for Newcastle United.

[ MORE: Wenger treatment “unacceptable,” says Pep ]

Yedlin’s been very decent for the Magpies, making 23 appearances while providing a goal and five assists. Higginbotham has been impressed, and devoted a good portion of his prematch notes on Newcastle-Aston Villa to the American.

From Sky Sports:

Yedlin plays almost as a right winger at times. He’s the one that gives the width on that side, and he has been a standout player in recent games.

He is so quick, so he can get back with his recovery runs, but it’s what he does with the ball as well. We see him controlling the whole of the right-hand side. He has been so key for Newcastle and he gives them such an attacking threat.

Newcastle will move back atop the Championship with a win over Aston Villa on Monday, and have a five-point lead on third-place Huddersfield Town in the race for an automatic promotion place. Brighton and Hove Albion is first, two points clear of the Magpies.

Champions League rights shift hands in Britain, triple in value

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Sky Sports is out of the Champions League game in Britain come 2015-16, but the big question is how will affect your soccer. In North American, we get neither Sky Sports (England’s current rights holders), ITV (part of the current, shared package), or BT Sport, where the contract will be rest until the 2017-18 tournament. Yet with the telecom giant playing over $1.4 billion dollars for the rights to broadcast Champions and Europe League in Britain, this is bound to have some influence on what you watch.

Consider what Sky had paid for the right to the tournament through 2014-15 – a three-year deal worth £400 million (or, $640 million). BT (British Telecom) Sport’s willingness to most-than double the previous price means a lot of money will trick down throughout Europe, with UEFA’s distributions to Champions League clubs likely to climb as a result of the sharp increase in the price of England’s rights. For those wary of the increasing divide between haves and have-nots, this isn’t good news.

More money will end up on the “in” side of the Champions League divide, those clubs who are habitual qualifiers able to calcify their spots among Europe’s elites. That’s already happening now, but as new deals like BT’s come into effect, the speed of that transition should increase.

Likewise, those on the inner circle — the clubs that make the knockout round every season, will see even more money. Each knockout round participant received between $4.7 million (Round of 16 exits) and $31.8 million extra (champions Bayern Munich). With BT’s huge outlay, there’ll be more money to go around.

In the long run, that means more money for the big boys to spend, a greater consolidation of talent, and the increased stature of Champions League as competition for the world’s elite talent.

At the same time, it’s senseless to lament the such mundane changes in the soccer landscape, especially when they represent that logical course of events. The Champions League is quickly becoming the soccer world’s premier commercial product, it’s annual footprint putting it in-league with the World Cup’s once very four years, cash-in all at once approach. As such, increased broadcast rights are inevitable. For a company like BT Sport looking to undermine Sky’s decades-long hegemony, over paying for Champions League is seems natural.

“We bid with a clear view of what the rights are worth to us. It seems BT chose to pay far in excess of our valuation,” a Sky spokesman said, via The Guardian. “We take a disciplined approach and there is always a level at which we will choose to focus on something else. If we thought it was worth more, we’d have paid more.”

“They would say that, wouldn’t they?” BT Retail Chief Executive John Petter said. “Secretly, I’d expect them to be kicking themselves and full of regrets this morning.”

The practical implications are what should be more worrisome than the price. With this deal, UEFA competitions are going to take a big shift away from terrestrial (read: free) broadcast in England, with ITV being cut out of the loop.

UEFA has reportedly insisted the finals of both competitions remain free-to-air, and BT has said every British team will be available free at least once per year, but with the new rights deal, it appears British fans will join their American peers, being dependent on some kind of pay service.

With us viewers in the States needing cable television (and sometimes, premium packages) to get all our soccer, we know: It’s not that bad. But for people in Britain, it could be a subtle, meaningful change.

Romelu Lukaku: Everton, not West Brom, snag Chelsea forward on loan

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At this point, you probably know. But if you don’t — if you’re new around these parts — allow me to let you in on a little secret: If we put “Report:” in front of a headline, that means we could be more confident in the source. So when, earlier today, we broke out the prefix for Sky Sports’ report that Romelu Lukaku is going back to West Brom, that was a huge, festering hint this follow-up post may be necessary.

According to the latest reports, Lukaku will move to Everton, where the Deadline Day’s original reports had him going. The Toffees will pick up the 20-year-old Belgian on a year-long loan, the second consecutive year the big number nine’s been lent out within the Premier League.

Last season, Lukaku bagged 17 goals for West Brom, and while Steve Clarke tried to swoop late to bring him back to The Hawthorns this season, Roberto Martínez eventually napped him.

He will be quite an addition for an Everton team currently suffering through a 205-minute scoreless drought. Despite maintaining over 60 percent possession in each of their three Premier League matches, the Toffees have only scored twice. With Lukaku in, possibly replacing Nikica Jelavic up top, Everton may have the number nine they lack.

We went over Chelsea and Lukaku’s sides of this deal earlier. It’s a bit beguiling why José Mourinho’s willing to let one of his number nines go, but at the same time, a move makes sense for the young striker, if playing time is his priority.

If it is, Lukaku stands a better chance of seeing it at Goodison Park than Stamford Bridge.