The Leroy Sane saga

July 02, 2020

The Manchester City winger has certainly been in the headlines over the past 12 months.

It has been about two months now since we have seen any live sport anywhere. Football, cricket, track and field, basketball, everything has ground to a halt as the world battles this pandemic in pretty much the same way it dealt with the Spanish Flu, just about 100 years ago.

West Indies batting star Chris Gayle remains very much a wanted man in Nepal as the country mulls the possibility of a new date for the Everest Premier League (EPL).

The 40-year-old left-handed ball beater was expected to be the tournament’s biggest star, but things were put on hold due to the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic.  The organisers of the competition are yet to determine the best date for a possible restart but insist the securing the services of Gayle and other overseas players remain very much on the cards.

 “Of course the availability dates for Chris Gayle and other foreign players shall be considered, and shall be put on priority,” said Aamir Akhtar, the league’s managing director.

“We would love to have him in EPL if everything works out. He has a huge fan following in Nepal.”

In January Gayle announced he had signed for Pokhara Rhinos for the fourth season of the Twenty20 competition in Kathmandu.  The West Indian was heading an impressive list of overseas players bound for the competition, with the likes of Mohammed Shahzad, Paul Stirling , Kevin O’Brien, Upul Tharanga and Corey Anderson all due to feature.

The tournament was postponed shortly before its scheduled March 14 start date because of the situation surrounding Covid-19.

 

Delegates liaison of the Professional Footballers Association in the United Kingdom, Fabrice Muamba says lower-league teams in England initially weren't expecting the COVID19 lockdown to last for more than a month.

George Manneh Oppong Weah played as a striker in his prolific 18-year professional playing career that ended in 2003.

After beginning his career in his home country of Liberia, Weah spent 14 years playing for clubs in France, Italy, and England.

Arsène Wenger first brought him to Europe, signing him for Monaco in 1988. Weah moved to Paris Saint-Germain in 1992 where he won Ligue 1 in 1994 and became the top scorer of the 1994–95 UEFA Champions League.

He signed for A.C. Milan in 1995 where he spent four successful seasons, winning Serie A twice.

His most notable goal in Italy saw him run the length of the field against Verona. He moved to the Premier League towards the end of his career and had spells at Chelsea and Manchester City, winning the FA Cup at the former, before returning to France to play for Marseille in 2001, and subsequently ending his career with Al-Jazira in 2003.

FourFourTwo named Weah one of the best players never to win the UEFA Champions League.

At the international level, Weah represented Liberia at the African Cup of Nations on two occasions, winning 53 caps and scoring 13 goals for his country.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time, in 1995, he was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d'Or, becoming the first and to date only African player to win these awards.

 In 1989, 1994 and 1995, he was also named the African Footballer of the Year, and in 1996, he was named African Player of the Century.

Known for his acceleration, speed, and dribbling ability, in addition to his goalscoring and finishing, Weah was described by FIFA as "the precursor of the multi-functional strikers of today".

 

Playing Career

Full Name: George Manneh Oppong Weah

Date of birth: 1 October 1966 (age 53)

Height: 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)

Position: Striker

 

Club Career

Years                   Team                            Apps     (Gls)

1985–1986           Bong Range United                2       (1)

1985–1986          Mighty Barrolle                     10       (7)

1986–1987          Invincible Eleven                   23      (24)

1987                    Africa Sports                       2       (1)

1987–1988          Tonnerre Yaoundé               18      (14)

1988–1992          Monaco                              103    (47)

1992–1995          Paris Saint-Germain              96     (32)

1995–2000          A.C. Milan                           114    (46)

2000 →                Chelsea (loan)                    11       (3)

2000                    Manchester City                   7        (1)

2000–2001          Marseille                              19      (5)

2001–2003          Al Jazira                                8       (13)

Total                                                         413    (194)

 

Club Honours

  • Mighty Barrolle - Liberian Premier League: 1985–86; Liberian Cup: 1985–86; Invincible Eleven; Liberian Premier League: 1986–87
  • Monaco - Coupe de France: 1991
  • Paris Saint-Germain - Ligue 1: 1993–94; Coupe de France: 1992–93, 1994–95; Coupe de la Ligue: 1995
  • C. Milan - Serie A: 1995–96, 1998–99
  • Chelsea - FA Cup: 1999–2000

 

International Career

  • 1987-2018 Liberia 53 (13)

 

International Honours

  • CSSA Nations Cup runner-up: 1987

 

Individual Honours

  • African Footballer of the Year: 1989, 1994, 1995
  • FIFA XI: 1991, 1996 (Reserve), 1997, 1998
  • French Division 1 Foreign Player of the Year: 1990–91
  • UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 1994–95
  • BBC African Footballer of the Year: 1995
  • Onze d'Or: 1995
  • Ballon d'Or: 1995
  • FIFA World Player of the Year: 1995
  • ESM Team of the Year: 1995–96
  • Onze d'Argent: 1996
  • FIFA Fair Play Award: 1996
  • FIFA World Player of the Year – Silver award: 1996
  • IFFHS African Player of the Century: 1996
  • World Soccer's 100 Greatest Footballers of All Time: 1999
  • FIFA 100: 2004
  • Arthur Ashe Courage Award 2004
  • Golden Foot Legends Award: 2005
  • C. Milan Hall of Fame
  • IFFHS Legends
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Cuttington University: 29 June 2018.

Cassava Piece, Grant’s Pen, Commons, and Stony Hill are some of the first communities in Jamaica to begin benefitting from the Leon Bailey Foundation.

Leon Bailey and his manager Craig Butler, through his Phoenix Academy, had announced recently, a partnership to help alleviate the inevitable hardships that would come to especially poorer communities amid economic downturn, a symptom of the spread of COVID-19.

According to reports, more than 100 people from the communities benefited from the foundation’s gift of groceries.  

“We see the needs of our people and will do our best to help where it counts most,” said Bailey, a Jamaican winger, who plies his trade for Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga.

Before the spread of COVID-19 shut down football the world over, Bailey had been rumoured to have, not for the first time in his fledgeling career, been the target of English Premier League clubs. Chelsea FC have been banded about as frontrunners for the star’s signature after it was said the club had been preparing an £85 million bid.

However, there is also interest inside of Germany with Bayern Munich said to be on the lookout.

While there is no football and obviously no transfer business, Bailey has found a way to give back.

According to a report in the Jamaica Observer, recipients of groceries would be receiving every two weeks.

The package of groceries includes flour, rice, corned beef, salt fish, baked beans, sausages, condensed milk, cooking oil, and toiletries.

“We want to help as best as we can and are giving out packages each day, so they can at least cook food and be okay for the day, and tomorrow we come again,” said Butler, who is in Jamaica while Bailey remains in Germany.

In a video message, Bailey implored other sports stars and those who have the means to, to join in his campaign to help fight the spread of the Coronavirus.

“Anyone who wants to help the movement and play a part can reach out, and together we can overcome this obstacle. So, please, guys, be safe, stay strong and look forward to better days. Keep our fingers crossed and believe in God,” he said.

The foundation is a partnership among Bailey, the Phoenix Academy and Empire Entertainment.

The 20 clubs in the English Premier League, EPL are together losing about US$31 million each weekend that action in the globe’s most-watched sporting competition is suspended. That figure covers matchday related income alone. Television rights account for the bulk of EPL teams’ earnings and collectively, the suspension in play, induced by COVID 19,  is causing the teams to lose an estimated US$920 million. That’s a revenue bleed that no financial analyst would have ever seen in their career, let alone having a strategy to staunch.

Every player in the first team squad of an EPL team is a millionaire. Every. Single. One. There are 512 players listed in the first team squads of all 20 EPL sides, an average of about 26 players for each club.

Manchester City’s 24-man first-team squad is paid an average basic wage of US$8.73 million each, the highest average in the league. Manchester United, which has the highest overall wage bill at US$396 million, pays its 27 first teamers an average of US$7.66 million each. At the bottom of the payscale is Sheffield United, which pays each of its 22 first teamers a basic average salary of US$910,000, while just above them is Norwich City, which pays its 27 first teamers a basic average wage of US$1.2 million each.

But enough of those big numbers for the moment. The point being made is that EPL players are among the best-remunerated individuals in the global workforce, regardless of industry. The basic wages paid to them comfortably eclipses the wage-plus-bonus-plus-benefits package taken home by some well-paid professionals in other fields. That is why so many people are disappointed at the refusal by EPL players, through their union, the Professional Footballers Association, PFA, to take a pay cut and allow their clubs to breathe in this moment.

Indeed 92% of participants in a recent YouGov survey believe EPL players should take a pay cut in this difficult time, with another 67% saying the players should surrender at least half of their salaries. 

People are not stupid. They know greed when they see it. And already, many on that red hot spit known as social media are roasting players for putting greed above benevolence, compassion and basic humanity.

They ask, how can these players continue demanding their hefty paycheques when many people who work in the unglamorous roles in professional football face the stark reality of being laid off by their struggling employers?

Indeed, the man leading the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), Gordon Taylor has given life to the term irony by his staunch defence of the players’ rights to not have a dollar docked from their salaries. Taylor himself is a man who lives high on the hog. Afterall he can afford to.

In 2017, the now 75-year-old was paid a salary of US$2.7 million. No wonder that in this situation he guards his players’ interests like a mongrel, growling as he protects a piece of liver from a pesky fowl in his master’s yard. 

As Premier League officials meet with club executives and the PFA to reach a common position on wages, the Tottenham Hotspur chairman, Daniel Levy has made a clever move in what appears to be a chess match with his own players.

Levy announced that 550 non-playing staff had agreed to a 20% cut in their wages. He says the move allows the club to keep them all in employment during this period. Levy is among the 550. This move is no doubt intended to guilt trip Jose Mourinho and the 25 members of his first-team squad to do what the cleaning lady, kit man, groundsman, tea lady, club steward and janitor at Spurs have all done.

Levy never does anything without calculating the ramifications down to the last decimal point.

In announcing the pay cut, he exhorted players to do their bit to protect jobs. In other words, if Spurs’ players refuse to give up some of their wages, then the tears of any janitor, cleaner or groundsman who gets sent home for good in this period, will be on the players’ expensively clothed shoulders.

Haters need no invitation to criticise footballers for what they earn and how they live. But this situation is different.

Habitual haters apart, well-thinking folks are also disgusted that almost a month after COVID 19 was declared a pandemic by the WHO, the richest among us are having to be cajoled into giving up some of their earnings to allow businesses to establish a form of balance in this period of disequilibrium.

Per capita, the EPL is the richest sporting competition in the world by revenue. So why are its millionaires having to be begged to give up only a little to stabilize the business of the same employers who facilitate their massive earnings? If a janitor can give up 20% in pay, why can’t a man, who’s earning up to 200 times more per month, not do the same? This is unconscionable.

Selah.

Veteran Windies batsman and T20 star Chris Gayle is expected to ply his trade in the upcoming Everest Premier League (EPL) in Nepal, in March.

The 40-year-old Gayle will join a host of other stars for the tournament.  The list will include retired West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Smith.  Gayle is slated to represent the Pokhara Rhinos with Smith suiting up for the Bhairahawa Gladiators.

The talented Gayle is considered one of the game’s best T20 players and holds the record for the most runs ever scored in the format with 12,808.  Gayle is also the only player to score more than 7 T20 centuries.  The left-handed runs machine has slowed down in recent years but recently indicated that he wanted to play the sport for as long as possible.  The self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ has promised fireworks in Nepal.

"Nepal get ready for the Gayle storm. It is gonna be dashing. See you soon Nepal," he said in a video message on his Twitter account.

EPL managing director Aamir Akhtar revealed it took months of negotiations to persuade Gayle to play in the Himalayan nation.

"The league had to mature and earn a certain reputation in the international market so someone like Chris Gayle would be ready to play," Akhtar said.

"All the hard work from the last three years has actually convinced him that this is a clean, reputable league, followed by passionate cricket lovers.”

Retired Windies batsman Dwayne Smith is expected to head to Asia for the upcoming Everest Premier League where he will represent the Bhairahawa Gladiators.

The much-travelled power-hitter will bring plenty of experience to the Napal-based franchise as the tournament head into its fourth edition.

 The 36-year-old Smith, a former Windies batting all-rounder who made 255 appearances for the regional team, has played for over 14 T20 franchises.  He most recently appeared for the Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).  Smith currently averages 26.23 and has played 337 matches.

The signing of the West Indian veteran proved a source of excitement for Gladiators captain Sharad Vesawkar.

"I still can’t believe that the powerhouse of West Indies Cricket and IPL for a long time, Dwayne Smith will be playing under me in the upcoming season of EPL,” Vesawkar said.

“This will do a world of good to the team’s top order and also serve as an exciting opportunity to all the players especially the young ones to observe how the greats go about their game.”

This weekend all eyes turn to the EPL where Manchester United tackle unbeaten Liverpool.

Social media is abuzz with excitement over rumours that Jamaican International, Leon Bailey, is a target of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

Bailey, who turns out for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga, had a phenomenal first year there but the last season and a half have been a little more mute.

Still, Liverpool fans believe targeting Bailey, who made his international debut for Jamaica last year, is a good idea because the winger could flourish under the guidance of Klopp and could be a good replacement for Jadon Sancho, who is a marked man.

According to the ‘Anfield Edition’, Sancho still remains a target for Liverpool, however, with interest from Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as Borussia Dortmund, being an unwilling seller, a deal may be difficult.

Rumours of Bailey moving to England aren’t new either, with links to all the big clubs coming before he left Genk in Belgian’s top-flight league for Germany.

“But under Klopp, he will be a class player,” read one of the many comments.

“Great talent with a huge upside Yes please,” read another.

Bailey has scored just three goals in eight league games for Leverkusen this season but much of the period has been spent nursing injuries as well as on suspension from two red cards.

Bailey, has so far, played five games for the Reggae Boyz and has scored one goal.

The winger started with the Phoenix All Stars Academy, the brainchild of his father and agent, Craig Butler, where he stayed from 2009-2011 before moving to FC Liefering and then to Trencin. From 2015-17, Bailey was a Genk player until he was sold to Leverkusen for whom he has played 75 times and scored 17 goals.

There has been much said about the debut of VAR in the English Premier League this season and if the differences between its use there and in other leagues means it is being incorrectly deployed.

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