Rise of the TV rules analysts shows the NFL has a problem

24-01-2019 Former officials were picking over controversial decisions on Championship Sunday, a sign that things had gone badly awry for the leagueHere is one statistic you won’t find in the official game book from Sunday’s AFC Championship Game: it took 59 minutes in real time to complete the last eight minutes and 39 seconds of the fourth quarter. All the more time for ad breaks selling pickup trucks and building drama with men who have become central to NFL broadcasts, the “rules analysts.”The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots combined to score 31 points in that span, but the game was also stopped four times so critical plays could be reviewed by the replay official. The longest stretch came when play grinded to a halt for seven minutes while officials reviewed New England receiver Justin Edelman’s apparent muffed handling of a punt, which the Chiefs, trailing 17-14 at the time, recovered at the New England 28-yard line. Continue reading...

'Humble and generous, but a private enigma' - who was Leicester City's owner?

24-01-2019 Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is revered in Leicester as the man who presided over one of sport's great triumphs - but who was the billionaire Thai businessman?

Soccer and soju: The football match that kicked off Korean peace

24-01-2019 How a friendly chat on the sidelines opened the door for North and South Korea to start talking.

Football transfer rumours: José Mourinho lined up by PSG?

24-01-2019 Today’s rumours are in harmonyFresh from delivering a plaintive lament about the difficult character of the modern player, José Mourinho has been tipped to become the new manager of Neymar. Thomas Tuchel is under pressure, see, after only winning 9-0 last weekend in Ligue 1, where PSG have but a 13-point lead at the top of the table, with two matches in hand. If they were to offset that embarrassment in that Champions League, then the French club might jilt Tuchel and make a move for Mourinho, who bumped into the the PSG president, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, while a-punditing in Qatar recently. That story will sadden the hearts of fun-lovers, who would much prefer Mourinho to be thrust into power at PSG *before *their next Champions League fixture, which, of course, is against Manchester United, whose fortunes have turned around in exactly the manner you’d expect after replacing Mourinho with a bubbly work experience intern from Norway. Related: Transfer window January 2019 – every deal from Europe's top five leagues Continue reading...

Football transfer rumours: Andrea Belotti or Maxi Gómez to West Ham?

24-01-2019 Today’s fluff cuts you deep and leaves a scar According to the front page of TuttoSport the idea of Andrea Belotti moving from Torino to West Ham “is no joke”. As headlines go it’s not the most encouraging, but just a year or so ago this would have been the sort of proposition that nobody of sound mind would have dared make, with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Milan and Chelsea among the superclubs being linked with the prolific Italian and his employers frantically inserting a €100m release clause into his contract. Since then his form has dipped and football’s biggest chequebooks have been taken elsewhere, allowing clubs of West Ham’s slightly less exalted stature to sneak into the picture. Related: Transfer window January 2019 – every deal from Europe's top five leagues Continue reading...

The Breakdown | Rugby union’s obsession with bulk over speed and skill must be reversed

24-01-2019 Charging into an opponent to exploit weight advantage is legitimate but how many more players like Pat Lambie will have their careers ended early before anything is done?Pat Lambie retired from rugby this week at the age of 28, the latest player done too soon after suffering repeated concussions. The South Africa fly-half stood out for his relative lack of weight, little more than 13st, and was a target for bulky ball-carriers.It was a collision with the Ireland No 8 CJ Stander, a player nearly 5st heavier, in 2016 that started the countdown for Lambie’s retirement. The following year, he spent six months out after colliding with a teammate in training and suffered another concussion that December playing for Racing 92 against Oyonnax. Continue reading...

Behind the scenes at Accrington: ‘What people see as a dump has charm to us’

24-01-2019 We spend a day with the key people at a revitalised Accrington Stanley before the FA Cup tie against Derby CountyA smell of toast fills the directors’ lounge at Accrington Stanley, where two large boxes of Daz and seven bottles of Bold sit in one corner. Simple parts of the daily routine, yet also signs of why the club that wouldn’t die – as “Accie” describe themselves – are thriving, setting an example and dismantling a tired joke.“We still get the jibes about the milk advert,” the manager, John Coleman, says. “You can let it annoy you or embrace the fact it is one of the things that made us famous. We are a unique club. The name is famous around the world. We are the archetypal underdog. If you wanted a David and Goliath you would say Man United and it would always be Accrington Stanley. As of late, we are not that. We are trying to get away from that.” A second FA Cup fourth-round appearance in three seasons and a remarkable title triumph in between illustrates the progress made. “Oh I don’t want that to be the end,” adds Coleman on winning League Two last year. “You should always strive to be better.” Continue reading...

Talking Horses: Too Darn Hot matches Frankel with two-year-old rating

24-01-2019 John Gosden’s colt allotted rating of 126 – the same mark Frankel received at the end of his juvenile seasonToo Darn Hot’s exceptional form in his juvenile campaign last season has just received the official seal of approval from British Horseracing Authority’s handicappers, with John Gosden’s colt allotted a rating of 126 in the 2018 two-year-old classification – the same mark that Frankel received at the end of his juvenile season in 2010. No two-year-old has been given a higher mark since Xaar in 1997.Frankel was joint-top in the ratings eight years ago, alongside Dream Ahead, but Too Darn Hot is 5lb clear of Charlie Appleby’s Quorto, with the Middle Park Stakes winner, Ten Sovereigns, from the Aidan O’Brien stable in Ireland, another pound further back on 120 Michael Bell’s Pretty Pollyanna, on 116, is last season’s top-rated juvenile filly. Continue reading...

Eden Hazard 'has to do more', says Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri

24-01-2019 Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri says Eden Hazard "has to do more" after the Belgian admitted he had "frustrated all my coaches" throughout his career.

Emiliano Sala: Missing Cardiff City footballer search continues

24-01-2019 Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson have been missing since Monday.