Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood 'agree to join Manchester City'

England stars Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood ‘agree to join Manchester City ahead of new Women’s Super League season’ as they join international team-mates Steph Houghton and Jill Scott in bid to topple champions Chelsea

  • Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood have agreed terms to join Manchester City 
  • The England duo will remain with Lyon until August before returning to the WSL 
  • The swoops are not expected to be announced until the stars finish the season 
  • City are reportedly close to sealing a deal for ex-Everton attacker Chloe Kelly 

England duo Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood have reportedly agreed to join Manchester City ahead of the new Women’s Super League season.

The club, in an attempt to clinch their first title since 2016, have recruited both stars from Lyon, according to The Telegraph – and City are also believed to be close to sealing a deal for former Everton attacker Chloe Kelly.

The arrival of the talented trio means that this season’s runners-up may head into the campaign with 12 seasoned England internationals. 

England stars Lucy Bronze (pictured) and Alex Greenwood agreed to join Manchester City

Both players have penned two-month contract extensions at Lyon but will make the move after

Steph Houghton, the England captain, and Jill Scott, currently the nation’s most-capped player, are already on the books at the club.

But both Bronze and Greenwood have also penned two-month contract extensions at Lyon and will take part in the resumption of the Champions League later this summer. 

The six-time winners take on Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals on August 22, and will return to action after the domestic season was brought to an early halt in May due to the coronavirus pandemic.

England captain Steph Houghton (pictured left with Greenwood) is already on City’s books

The stars will hope to help Lyon in their quest for a seventh Champions League title this year

Lyon were crowned the winners for the 14th time, and Bronze and Greenwood will target more silverware on the European stage first before returning to the WSL. 

However, the same outlet believe that the double swoop will not be officially unveiled until both players round off the season with Lyon.

Bronze has played for City before – having enjoyed a successful spell at the club between 2014 and 2017. She clinched every piece of domestic silverware on offer before leaving to join the French giants.

Bronze is widely considered to be the world’s finest right back and has played for City before

With two Champions League trophies to her name, she is also considered to be the world’s finest right back. 

The 28-year-old has been nominated for the women’s Ballon D’or award for the last two seasons and finished second in the 2019 running. 

Greenwood, meanwhile, was formerly the Manchester United captain and had joined Lyon last August.  

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Premier League, PFA and EFL launch BAME player-to-coach scheme

Premier League, PFA and EFL launch new BAME player-to-coach placement scheme – with up to six coaches set to be handed 23-month work programme at EFL clubs amid criticism over lack of coaching staff diversity

  • A new coach placement scheme targeted at BAME coaches has been launched 
  • The Premier League, PFA and EFL had unveiled the joint endeavour on Monday 
  • The scheme will see up to six BAME coaches handed a 23-month placement 
  • The successful applicants will undertake a variety of football roles at EFL clubs 

The Premier League, PFA and EFL have launched a new coach placement programme aimed at increasing the number of Black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) players making the step into full-time coaching roles.

The scheme, which was unveiled on Monday, will be open to BAME PFA members of any age – and it will ensure that up to six coaches per season will be handed a 23-month work placement at clubs in the EFL.

It has been jointly funded by the top flight and the PFA, and bursaries will be awarded to successful applicants by their placement clubs. 

A new coach placement programme has been launched to increase the number of BAME players making the step into full-time coaching roles

Premier League boss Richard Masters says the scheme will create pathways for BAME coaches

It was also revealed that the very first intake for the programme will run as a pilot, with coaches spending time in a club’s academy set-up or with the first team, beginning at the start of next season. 

Those who are given placements will work across a wide range of football roles at clubs to ‘broaden their learning experience’, according to the Premier League. This is likely to involve undertaking sessions with different age groups, recruitment, analysis and administration. 

The scheme, supported by the FA, has been developed over the course of the last 18 months – and the coaches able to take up roles at EFL teams will also receive additional mentoring from the PFA’s coaching team. 

Darren Moore, chair of the Premier League Black Participants’ Advisory Group, lent his support

Both Darren Moore and Paul Nevin, experienced coaches and part of the Premier League’s Black Participants’ Advisory Group, have given their support to the programme. 

Up to six applicants will be successful, and they must also hold a minimum UEFA B qualification.

Richard Masters, chief executive of the Premier League, said: ‘It is vital that there are no barriers to entry to the pipelines for employment in coaching. We need more BAME coaches entering the system to create greater opportunities throughout the professional game.

Masters also believes it is ‘vital’ there are no barriers for BAME coaches to find employment

‘This new programme has been developed through collaboration and consultation with our colleagues across football. We have taken what we have learned from running the Premier League Elite Coach Apprenticeship Scheme and applied that experience to develop this framework.

‘We welcome the support from our Black Participants’ Advisory Group and the PFA Coaching team, their experience and knowledge will undoubtedly provide meaningful mentorship to those involved in the programme. We hope this scheme will create clear pathways and substantially improve future employment prospects for BAME coaches.’ 

Sportsmail learned in June that informal talks were held between the Premier League and the FA over the possibility of top flight clubs committing to having at least one BAME coach on their first team staff.

An FA equality action plan sees Chris Powell work alongside England boss Gareth Southgate

Pressure has mounted on the Premier League to address the lack of BAME coaches and managers operating at the highest level of the game with the Black Lives Matter movement continuing to gather momentum. 

Manchester City and England star Raheem Sterling has remaining vocal in expressing his wish for an increase in black former players making the transition into coaching. He also believes that more BAME individuals should be handed key roles at football clubs. 

The FA introduced a policy of assigning one BAME coach to each England team two years ago as part of a new equality action plan – and this measure has seen Chris Powell work alongside Gareth Southgate in the senior team. 

And last summer, the EFL brought in the Rooney Rule. This stipulates that clubs have to interview at least one BAME applicant when looking for a new first-team manager, although exceptions apply if they do not have a shortlisting process or interview just one candidate. 

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Barcelona are imploding and Quique Setien could soon be axed

PETE JENSON: A coach without authority, his disliked assistant, an incompetent board and a team of angry stars… Barcelona are imploding, and Quique Setien could soon be axed to save their season

  • Lionel Messi was caught on camera ignoring assistant Eder Sarabia on Saturday
  • Manager Quique Setien has found himself under increasing pressure recently
  • Most of Barcelona’s squad are used to playing under legendary former players
  • Setien’s changes in draw against Celta Vigo did not go down well among stars
  • Arthur has been sold to Juventus and Barca also have injury issues to manage
  • Setien finds himself on the brink with a Champions League campaign to salvage 

A coach without authority, a coaching assistant that players appear to have no respect for, an incompetent board selling a player in the last month of the season because they have to balance the books, furious senior players sick of the shambles, a league title slipping away, and the possibility of a second sacking of a coach in one season – that’s the landscape at Barcelona as they go into their last six matches trailing leaders Real Madrid by two points.

The cooling break in the second half of Saturday’s draw with Celta Vigo was a keyhole into what’s happening behind the closed doors of the dressing room and at the club’s Joan Gamper training ground.

Assistant coach Eder Sarabia could be seen trying to address Lionel Messi but Barcelona’s best player – who has only scored once in the team’s five games since football’s return – turned away muttering something to himself and with no intention of listening to Sarabia.

Lionel Messi ignored instructions from Barcelona assistant Eder Sarabia (centre) on Saturday

During the cooling break of the draw with Celta Vigo, Messi blanks Sarabia and walks away

Coach Setien was looking on aghast, his fragile hold on this squad seems to be slipping away – he looks concerned but apparently clueless as to what to do about the situation.

The contrast with cooling breaks at Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid where every player hangs on every word of Zinedine Zidane and Diego Simeone is stark.

It’s not the first time a cooling break has produced such images. In the previous game against Athletic Bilbao, Ivan Rakitic could be seen waving a hand and walking away from Sarabia as Setien’s assistant delivered another instruction.

Gerard Pique was sat resting on a coolbox at the time. There also seems to be a disconnect between someone who has emerged as the team’s leader more so than ever this season, and the coaching staff.

Setien and Sarabia have always been on thin ice, with the players used to playing for Barcelona legends such as Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique.

The pair were hired when the team were top of the league. Sporting Director Eric Abidal hinted it was the players who got previous coach Ernesto Valverde the sack, an insinuation that Messi reacted to furiously and publicly.

Quique Setien was appointed in January this year but already finds himself on the brink

Sarabia gives instructions to Ivan Rakitic during Saturday’s costly draw at Balaidos stadium

Setien and Sarabia have produced teams that played good football at Las Palmas and Betis but had not won anything and the former admitted when he took over that he was surprised to have been offered the job because his CV barely fitted the usual Barcelona coach profile.

Sarabia, full of ideas and confidence, has looked to grab the opportunity by the horns and has never held back when given the chance to get messages across to Jordi Alba or Pique in natural breaks in games. The cooling breaks have given him a greater chance to do that. 

‘Players don’t like it when it’s the No 2 who does the talking in these moments,’ said experienced former Spain and Valencia keeper Santi Canizares as he watched a re-run of the drinks break moment on Spanish television on Sunday night.

Setien will not be helped by the fact that his changes late in the game against Celta Vigo seemed to contribute to Barcelona being pegged back late on, dropping two points.

The introduction of Antoine Griezmann and Arthur Melo for lively youngsters Ansu Fati and Riqui Puig only slowed the team down and it was Griezmann on the end of a poorly constructed wall that Iago Aspas bent the ball around for the late equaliser.

Antoine Griezmann has struggled to justify his huge fee since joining Barcelona last summer

Messi walks towards the halfway line as Iago Aspas is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring

Celta almost won the game with their last attack and Luis Suarez, who had scored twice, seemed to be quietly fuming as he faced the post-match interviewer and responded to a question about Barcelona’s awful away form – they’ve lost five and drawn five – by saying that it was something coaches should be analysing. Barcelona’s away form under Valverde was not great, but it has got worse under Setien.

In defence of the coach he is being asked to battle a boisterous Madrid with a depleted squad. Injuries to disastrous signing Ousmane Dembele, and midfielders Sergio Roberto and Frenkie de Jong have strained resources.

The board are hardly helping by selling Arthur. The Brazilian is now back in Barcelona having signed for Juventus on Sunday, but how committed will he really be having been hawked for the readies by Barcelona desperately needing to balance the books?

Make no mistake – his sale has nothing to do with football. In Barcelona’s much heralded ‘first-ever billion euro budget’ at the start of the season they allowed for income generated by the sale of players to total around €120m (£110m). They were a long way short of that hence the bizarre unofficial swap with Miralem Pjanic.

Arthur (in the white jumper) was captured arriving at Turin airport late on Saturday evening

Luis Suarez and Messi look less than impressed during last weekend’s draw with Celta Vigo

Barcelona will be able to put the money they receive for Arthur in their accounts (even though they won’t really have received it yet) and they don’t have to record the money they are spending on Pjanic until the next financial year. 

It’s a clever finance trick, but it does nothing to help Setien who has had to deal with Arthur having his mind elsewhere for several weeks now. Only the professionalism of Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic have prevented them being in the same state of mind because they may also have been pushed out to bring money in.

Where all this leaves Barcelona will be clearer after their next two games when they face two of the division’s most in-form sides – Atletico Madrid on Tuesday and Villarreal on Sunday. If they win both those games they will still be in the title race. Pique knows they are not dead yet and he tweeted a call to arms on Sunday: ‘We are Barca and this still isn’t finished’.

But if they drop more points in those two games and the title really starts to slip away then the board will have a big decision to make. 

There is a three-week gap between the end of the season and the start of the Champions League and that is more than enough time for a change to be made even if it’s just B-team coach, Javier Garcia Pimienta, taking over. 

Long-term heir to the dugout, Xavi Hernandez, has again admitted he is preparing for the job but he will not take it in such chaotic circumstances under the current president.

Legendary midfielder Xavi Hernandez has again admitted that he wants to become manager 

Barce defender Gerard Pique says they are still fighting for the title despite another slip-up

The idea that any coaches could be sacked in Spain in this 11-game mini-season was laughed off when it was first suggested but two have already been fired and the Barcelona dressing room might demand similar action to save their European campaign.

This has been coming for a long time. Barcelona won the last two leagues thanks to the brilliance of the Messi-Suarez partnership, some enormous performances from Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Pique, and the sober but respected stewardship of Valverde. But shortcomings have been exposed in the Champions League.

The club that has not had a really good transfer window since the summer of 2014, and has allowed too many young talents to escape. 

The cracks are opening up now. The whole house will come down if they finish the season empty handed.

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Nigel Pearson silent on Watford’s absent trio after Andre Gray, Domingos Quina and Nathaniel Chalobah miss defeat

Watford manager Nigel Pearson said he would wait for the facts before commenting on the absence of Andre Gray, Domingos Quina and Nathaniel Chalobah for his struggling team’s 3-1 home defeat by Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday.

It looked like a good opportunity for Pearson’s side to give themselves some breathing space in the relegation fight but instead they find themselves one point above the bottom three.

They have also played a game more than West Ham United and Bournemouth who are just below them on 27 points from 31 games.

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Watford’s preparation was hardly helped when Gray, Chalobah and Quina were all omitted from the squad as a “precautionary measure” after reports that striker Gray had breached coronavirus lockdown rules by holding a birthday party at his home, with Quina also pictured at the gathering.

A statement from the club said Pearson had dropped the trio from the squad to ensure “the health and safety of all players, staff and officials at today’s game.”

Pearson will no doubt be furious that he was deprived of three players for such a crucial fixture, but preferred to focus on the efforts of the players that were on the pitch.

“I’m looking more at the performance and really what happened to put us in the situation that we’re in today and that is again fighting for our lives because we’ve not found the performance levels that I would expect from us,” Pearson said.

His side have managed one point from their three games since the season resumed after a three-month stoppage.

“Again, we made too many unforced errors and made mistakes for the goals and gave ourselves far too much to do and it’s disappointing for sure,” he added.

Southampton defender Jan Bednarek’s own goal looked to have given Watford hope late on after a Danny Ings double for Saints but James Ward-Prowse sealed the points for the visitors.

“We’ve not looked as cohesive as a unit as we have done in other games as well, so it’s disappointing because today was an opportunity for us to add to our points tally,” said Pearson.

“We have games left in which it is in our own hands to make sure we secure our future in the Premier League. No one is going to do it for us.”


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Liverpool boss Klopp and Premier League winners all smiles at Melwood

‘Morning champions’: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and his Premier League title winners all smiles on their return to Melwood… as masked-up Mohamed Salah gets a massage and Xherdan Shaqiri revels in trophy success

  • Liverpool boss greeted club staff with a broad smile on his face at Melwood 
  • Xherdan Shaqiri also revelled in the trophy success and was visibly excited 
  • Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah was also all smiles as he received a massage
  • A ‘Champions’ flag was displayed near where Salah was getting his massage
  • The Premier League winners are next in action on Thursday against Man City 

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and his players were all smiles as the Premier League title winners returned to business at their Melwood training ground. 

Some of the club’s stars were pictured leaving Melwood on Saturday, two days after they had begun celebrations after winning the club’s first league title in 30 years.

But a series of clips on Liverpool’s official social media pages showed the first instances of footage from inside Melwood since the title win.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was all smiles as he returned to Liverpool’s training ground

The Liverpool manager waved a few times before saying ‘Morning champions’ to the camera

German boss Klopp gave a beaming smile as he arrived at Melwood, and waved a few times before saying: ‘Morning champions’.

Winger Xherdan Shaqiri was the most exuberant arrival, pumping his fists on several occasions while shouting ‘Yes!’ a couple of times.

The Swiss international then kissed his hand and pointed to the sky before turning away as he continued to revel in his side’s title triumph.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, star forward Mo Salah was masked-up but appeared very relaxed as he gave a thumbs up while getting a massage from a member of staff.

Winger Xherdan Shaqiri was the most exuberant player upon his arrival at Melwood

The Swiss international pumped his fists before kissing his hand and pointing to the sky

The short video of Salah started with a ‘Champions’ flag draped over a massage bed that is expected to be signed by the whole squad, while Roberto Firmino was also separately videoed showing his delight at becoming a Premier League winner.

Salah gave a similar smile inside his car when he was snapped leaving Melwood yesterday after returning to training, while James Milner, Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri were also spotted.  

The squad however could be banned from playing their remaining home games at Anfield unless fans stop partying in the streets, according to reports.

The club condemned some of their own supporters’ behaviour after thousands flooded to Pier Head in the city centre to celebrate the team’s success – despite repeated warnings over the spread of Covid-19.

Star forward Mohamed Salah was rather more relaxed as he gave the thumbs up on his return

The Egyptian forward had a mask on but was receiving a massage from a member of staff

And now The Sun claim the club could have their stadium’s safety certificate revoked by the local Ground Safety Advisory Group if the wild celebrations continue.

Liverpool are next in action against the side they have comprehensively beaten to the title, Manchester City, on Thursday.

Klopp’s side are expected to receive a guard of honour from Pep Guardiola’s men as well as from the rest of the other sides they face between now and the end of the 2019-20 season.

The Salah video showed a ‘Champions’ flag draped over a massage board for the squad to sign

Roberto Firmino was also videoed showing his delight at becoming a Premier League winner

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Lawrence and Miazga sent off for a bust-up AFTER the final whistle

Tom Lawrence and Matt Miazga are both sent off for a furious bust-up AFTER the final whistle with Chelsea loanee SLAPPING the Derby midfielder

  • Tom Lawrence and Matt Miazga approached each other after full time was blown
  • Miazga appeared to hit out at Lawrence after the pair had bumped chests 
  • Lawrence then appeared to retaliate by headbutting the Reading defender 
  • Miazga then appeared to catch the Derby midfielder with a clean face slap 
  • The incident came after Derby had won, with Lawrence scoring for the hosts 

Derby County’s Tom Lawrence and Reading defender Matt Miazga were involved in a furious bust-up which saw the pair sent off, but only after the final whistle had blown.

The pair approached each other and became embroiled in a physical altercation seconds after referee Scott Duncan had blown for full time for a game which had seen Derby beat Reading 2-1 at Pride Park. 

In unpalatable scenes, the duo nonchalantly came together but then bumped chests before Chelsea loanee Miazga appeared to hit out at Lawrence, who scored Derby’s first goal.

Tom Lawrence and Matt Miazga were sent off after the final whistle following an altercation

The duo approached each other after the whistle had blown and the pair bumped chests

The duo consequently began to take turns in shoving each other before Lawrence appeared to lean in with a headbutt towards the Reading centre-back.

The unpleasant scenes then ensued when Miazga caught the Derby playmaker with a clear and clean slap around the face.

Players from both sides did not take long to rush towards the feisty pair involved in the late melee.

Both individuals were quick to protest their innocence and point the finger at the other, with Miazga pointing towards his mouth where he appeared to have received the headbutt.

But it became increasingly physical as Chelsea loanee Miazga appeared to hit out at Lawrence

The Derby midfielder then appeared to retaliate after some shoving by headbutting Miazga

But referee Duncan did not hesitate in handing out the same punishment for  their indiscretion which had marred the game as they were given their marching orders for violent conduct.

The game itself had seen Derby keep their play-off hopes alive after two goals in two minutes on the stroke of half-time.

Lawrence scored in the 44th minute before Manchester United and England legend Wayne Rooney buried a penalty in the third minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half.

Reading halved the deficit through Andy Rinomhota’s header but it was not enough to prevent Derby from keeping in touch with the play-off places.

The Reading defender was then seen delivering a clear and clean slap to Lawrence’s face

Referee Scott Duncan was in no doubt and sent both Lawrence and Miazga off for the incident

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Carrick says Fernandes and Pogba CAN thrive together at Man United

Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes CAN play together, according to Michael Carrick, but Manchester United coach says it is ‘unfair’ to just focus on the pair with multiple talented midfielders

  • Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes impressed as Man United beat Sheffield United
  • The midfielders started together for the first time in the 3-0 Premier League win
  • United coach Michael Carrick says he is confident the pair can combine in future
  • Carrick feels competition in the squad is strong ahead of their trip to Norwich 

Manchester United coach Michael Carrick says that Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes can continue to bring the best out of each other after their first start together in the Premier League.

The midfielders were named in the starting line-up for the first time on Wednesday as United swept past Sheffield United 3-0 at Old Trafford.

Fernandes has shone for United since signing from Sporting Lisbon for £68million in January, but Pogba’s injury problems and the suspension of football due to the coronavirus had prevented them from playing together before the restart of the Premier League.

Paul Pogba (left) came on as a substitute before Bruno Fernandes (left) equalised at Tottenham

The midfield pair started against Sheffield United as Anthony Martial (left) got all three goals

‘It is understandable why a lot of the questions are “can they play together?” because they are two fantastic talents,’ former United midfielder Carrick told ESPN.  

‘It is kind of unfair to single them out because the other boys have done a terrific job and will have plenty to say as well.

‘Of course, the talk is about Bruno and Paul and I’m sure they can play together. That’s why they are both here at the club and I’m sure they are looking forward to it.

‘We’ve got so many other options with lads who have already proven what they bring to the team.’

United coach Michael Carrick (right) is excited about Pogba linking up with new boy Fernandes

Fernandes scored a penalty as United drew 1-1 at Spurs in their first match back before providing an eye-catching performance alongside the impressive Pogba in the comfortable win over the Blades.

Both players were involved in the flowing move that provided Anthony Martial with his first Premier League hat-trick, and the striker has now scored six times in seven matches since Fernandes’s arrival.

‘Paul and Bruno showed quality and it’s exciting for us to be working with talent like this,’ United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after the win.

‘Paul is still a bit away from his best form. That’s natural on his first start since September and he’s been working hard, so hopefully it won’t be too long, but I thought he controlled the game.’

United travel to Norwich in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday evening.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was pleased with Pogba and Fernandes against the Blades

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How the NHS and BLM badges on Premier League shirts are made

11,000 NHS badges, 11,000 BLM badges and 21,000 extra letters! How a factory in Norway ran through the night and used high-tech laser machines to ensure Premier League players could make a statement as the season restarted

  • Premier League players have worn NHS and BLM badges since the restart
  • For the first 12 games, players had ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the back of their shirt
  • The badges and letters are manufactured in a factory in a small Norwegian town
  • Made of layers and layers of ink on plastic, they are cut out by laser machines
  • Staff there worked through the night to ensure the badges were ready in time
  • Kit men had to use a smaller letter size than usual to ensure the message fitted 

The world changed significantly in the three months between the Premier League shutting down on March 13 and restarting on June 17.

NHS workers up and down the country battled heroically to keep the Covid-19 virus at bay while the death of George Floyd at the hands of police brutality in the United States sparked a global outcry against racism and discrimination.

In England as in so many places across the world, football reflects society and it was only natural that all involved with the Premier League wished to make their own statements of gratitude and protest.

Premier League players have worn the Black Lives Matter sleeve badge, designed by Troy Deeney’s partner, since the season resumed earlier this month

They have also worn a heart-shaped NHS badge on their chest to show gratitude for the health workers fighting against Covid-19 

You will have noticed the heart-shaped blue and white NHS badges and the Black Lives Matter badges on the shirts of every Premier League player since the restart.

And for the first 12 matches post-resumption, every shirt also had ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the back where the player’s name would usually be.

But in order for this to happen, it took a phenomenal through-the-night effort from the employees of a factory tucked away in the scenic fjords of Norway.

Avery Dennison are the official supplier of the badges, letters and numbers you see on Premier League shirts – a monumental undertaking that amounts to 15 million individual items precision cut by lasers each season.

So every time you see the name and number of your favourite player on the back of their shirt, or the gold lettering of the Premier League champions sleeve badge, chances are it was made in the tiny town of Gaupne.

But when the Premier League came to Avery Dennison earlier this month and said they needed 11,000 NHS badges and 11,000 Black Lives Matters badges, plus 21,000 extra letters, in double quick time, they swung straight into action.

And those supplies were just for the first 12 matches post-restart. Thousands more badges will be printed for the remainder of the campaign.  

For the first 12 matches after the restart, players wore ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the back of their shirt instead of their surname 

The shirt symbol was combined with players taking a knee to make a powerful statement 

Simon Allen, global commercial director at Avery Dennison, told Sportsmail: ‘It was an incredible turnaround. We got the designs from the Premier League on the Thursday evening and team in Norway ran a night shift.

‘Then we were dispatching them from Norway on the Friday morning. We needed to get them to the kit men by Monday morning for them to apply the NHS and the Black Lives Matters badges to each shirt.

‘But the ‘Black Lives Matter’ lettering was the most time-consuming for the kit men. They had to lay out the 16 letters and they have to go in a new curve. Plus smaller letters had to be used because the normal ones wouldn’t have fitted across the back of the shirt.’

Such a swift turnaround gave the kit men at Arsenal, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Sheffield United two days to painstakingly print up two or more shirts for each player in their 25-plus squads plus a few spares.

Those teams were involved in the first couple of games back on the Wednesday. Kit men at the other 16 clubs had a few days extra to print up everything they needed.

Players also applauded NHS workers prior to matches during the first weekend back

The heart-shaped NHS design is simple but effective, appearing on the front of the shirt. The circular-shaped Black Lives Matter badge, designed by Troy Deeney’s partner Alisha Hosannah, is worn on the sleeve. 

The letter ‘A’ in ‘Black’ is replaced by a clenched fist in the design. 

Combined with the minute’s applause and players taking the knee prior to games, it all added up to a powerful statement from these influential young men.

For Tom Dyrdal, Avery Dennison’s business unit director in Norway, this short notice project was all in a day’s work.

‘We are like a fast response unit so any time there is an urgent need for anything like this we have everything fit for purpose because of a high level of automation,’ he told Sportsmail.

Match officials also wore the NHS and Black Lives Matter badges on their shirts 

‘I have to admit it was a bit of a stretch this time! We had a deadline of 4pm or 5pm Norwegian time to get the badge designs over and it came with the final approval at 8pm.

‘But we can turn projects like this around in a matter of 6-7 hours. We have two major laser machines to cut out the designs and they are built for this purpose so we can increase the speed quite a lot.

‘The badges from the side are really thin but they are basically layers and layers of ink to make them robust enough. We can produce these with a high level of accuracy any excess plastic once they are cut out is reused so we have 100 per cent sustainability.’

Liverpool’s kit man would have had little problem printing the ‘Black Lives Matters’ lettering, which used a youth size rather than the normal size. After all, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s name is equally as long.

Avery Dennison’s challenge now is to ensure every kit man in the Premier League has enough badges and letters to sustain them until the end of the season late next month.

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold has one of the longest Premier League surnames

Avery Dennison supply around 15 million badges, letters and numbers to clubs each season

Then it’ll be on to the next task. A round of kit launches for next season and something very special for Liverpool fans.

‘On the press today in Norway now they have been crowned champions is Liverpool’s gold sleeve badge,’ said Allen. ‘The Premier League actually release the gold font for Liverpool to use.’

Avery Dennison are in their first season of supplying the Premier League but are keen to innovate.

‘In the future these patches will be more interactive, more smart,’ said Allen. ‘All of the Premier League letters, numbers and badges have a smart watermark in them.

‘So if you have the Premier League app on your phone, a scanner takes you to content the Premier League are hosting. You could do the same with the NHS badge or whatever campaign you are promoting. It’s the direction we are going in.’

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Liverpool owe Southampton and Arsenal millions in bonuses after title

Liverpool will have to fork out millions to Premier League rivals in transfer bonuses after finally winning the title… with Southampton and Arsenal both set to benefit from their success

  • Liverpool won their first Premier League title after Chelsea beat Man City 2-1 
  • The Reds’ dominant victory has triggered a number of bonuses in transfer deals
  • Southampton are due up to £3m after being raided by Liverpool over the years
  • Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren are all ex-Saints
  • Arsenal are another side due a payment, after selling Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Liverpool face paying millions to their domestic rivals in bonus transfer payments after ending their 30 year wait for the title.

The Anfield club’s recruitment strategy has played an integral role in Jurgen Klopp side’s emergence as the best side in England.

Many of those transfer deals include have bonus payments connected to Liverpool being crowned champions which have now been triggered.

Liverpool have been crowned champions of England after Chelsea beat Manchester City 2-1

The Reds will now have to pay out significant sums in transfer bonuses for some of their stars

The Reds have raided Southampton over the years, with the club set to receive a large sum

Southampton are set to be the biggest profiteers, with the St Mary’s club due a significant seven figure sum, as high as £3million, for the transfer that saw Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren to Anfield.

It is understood Arsenal are also due a windfall as part of the deal that saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain leave Arsenal for Liverpool in August 2017.

Championship clubs Hull and Charlton are also in line for bonus payments as part of the transfers that took Andrew Robertson and Joe Gomez to Merseyside, respectively.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined the Reds in 2017 meaning Arsenal will be due a payment 

Andy Robertson coming from Championship side Hull means money will trickle down to them

The Reds wont mind parting with the cash too much after an incredible season in 2019-20

Such clauses are often included by the selling club in hope of maximising the departing players worth if he goes on to be successful at his new home.

The Merseysiders will, of course, will happily fork out the money following their unforgettable campaign.

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Man City and Chelsea need statement-of-intent responses to close gap

Manchester City and Chelsea have been left trailing in Liverpool’s wake this season and both need statement-of-intent responses to close the gap at the top next year

  • Chelsea v Man City is usually one of the Premier League’s biggest matchups
  • More will be required to ensure fixture features potential champions once again
  • Nine of the last 15 Premier League titles have been won between them 

Chelsea v Man City – a matchup that is usually one of the Premier League’s biggest in its own right thanks to some money that has been very well spent.

More will be required to ensure it features potential champions once again and is not, to outsiders at least, mainly about the title hopes of a team elsewhere.

The broadcasters would have been licking their lips back in June when the fixture computer paired two of the division’s most successful recent sides together for a run-in head to head.

Chelsea v Manchester City is usually a game that decides Premier League titles

Nine of the last 15 Premier League titles won between them. Both in the top three in six of the last nine years.

Their meetings had developed into some of the league’s more decisive ones thanks to the considerable investment of Chelsea’s owner Roman Abramovich and Manchester City’s Sheikh Mansour.

There was still some significance on Thursday night, especially for top-four chasing Chelsea who dug in to claim a dogged victory befitting their greater need, though not quite as much as in more recent times.

It was sweltering Stamford Bridge’s turn to sample the eerie, muted atmosphere of behind-closed-doors football for the first time.

Liverpool was the place to be for the buzz of real excitement, the red half of Merseyside eagerly awaiting the outcome after 30 years of hurt without a top-flight title.

Christian Pulisic celebrates after putting Chelsea ahead in the first half on Thursday night

Liverpool legend Steve McManaman painted the likely scene at the beginning of the evening in a city relaxed knowing the title would eventually be theirs but still ready to celebrate: ‘There’ll be televisions in the garden, lots of beer, nice and chilled. That’s what I’d be doing.’

By full-time, the streets were locals had spilled out on to the streets and the red flares were lighting up the night.

For differing reasons City and Chelsea have been among the clubs left trailing in Liverpool’s wake this season.

City might be kicking themselves, especially when they remain so capable of blowing sides away. Ask Arsenal and Burnley, thumped since the restart.

Chelsea experienced irresistible City at times but were also able to exploit their frailties at the back too.

Kevin De Bruyne is embraced by Benjamin Mendy after scoring City’s equaliser

Their failure to replace Vincent Kompany last summer was baffling especially as they clearly wanted a centre-back, pursuing Harry Maguire before he joined Manchester United.

That decision was quickly compounded when Aymeric Laporte suffered a long-term knee injury in August.

A defensive vulnerability absent in the previous two seasons has been well and truly present this. Chelsea’s opener, gifted by Benjamin Mendy but brilliantly taken by Christian Pulisic, one of the latest examples.

Midfielders have been emergency centre-backs too often, Fernandinho, sent off for a second half handball, once more against Chelsea.

The result? Too many costly points dropped, Liverpool turning a predicted two-horse race into a one-horse canter.

City fully intend to address that centre-back issue in the summer, among other things, though how damaging a Champions League ban might be to their transfer plans remains to be seen.

Chelsea will need a statement-of-intent response to Liverpool’s incredible season

There is mitigation for Chelsea. When Frank Lampard took over a club with a transfer ban who had also just lost their best player Eden Hazard the odds were against a top-four finish despite his belief the doubters could be defied.

There have been some disappointing defeats, sticky patches and repeated failings, including a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal and defensive wobbles too, but those pre-season expectations should always be remembered when assessing Chelsea’s campaign.

With seven games to go they are where many thought they wouldn’t be. In the top four with their fate firmly in their own hands.

They have already made moves to rectify their deficiencies. Clinical in the transfer market to sign Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, they hope the pair will help provide the same qualities on the pitch. There will be more Chelsea spending too.

Statement-of-intent responses will be required from both clubs to jump from kingmaker or distant chaser to genuine challengers to champions Liverpool next season.

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