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Manchester City toppled in global football money league | Business News

Manchester City have been overtaken in an annual global football club money ranking, with an old foe from Spain reclaiming the top spot.

The 27th edition of the Deloitte Football Money League placed Real Madrid at the head of the pack for the first time since 2017-18, with Premier League clubs losing ground in the top 20 during the 2022-23 season.

The report, which does not take account of operational costs and focuses purely on revenue, largely credited clubs in continental Europe catching up after a slower recovery from COVID.

Real led the way with revenue of £723m in 2022-23, closely followed by City with £718.2m.

Liverpool suffered the biggest fall of any club in the top 20, dropping from third place down to seventh.

Deloitte found their revenue had dropped slightly from £594.3m to £593.8m due to the club’s fifth place in the Premier League and last 16 exit in the Champions League.

Replacing the Reds, for the first time in the top three, were Paris Saint-Germain.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side dropped down the Money League due to a deterioration in results on the pitch, Deloitte said

FC Barcelona rose from seventh to fourth, thanks to club record licensing and merchandising revenues.

Manchester United dropped one place to fifth and Bayern Munich claimed sixth spot.

Tottenham and Chelsea switched places compared with last year, with Spurs up one place to eighth, while Arsenal held on to 10th position.

Deloitte said the top 20 clubs earned £9bn collectively, a 14% rise on the previous season.

The top 20 clubs by revenue in 2022/23 with previous season’s performance in brackets:

• 1 (2) Real Madrid £723m (£604.4m)
• 2 (1) Manchester City £718.2m (£619.1m)
• 3 (5) Paris Saint-Germain £697.2m (£554.1m)
• 4 (7) FC Barcelona £695.8m (540.4m)
• 5 (4) Manchester United £648.5m (£583.2m)
• 6 (6) Bayern Munich £647m (£553.5m)
• 7 (3) Liverpool £593.8m (£594.3m)
• 8 (9) Tottenham Hotspur £549.2m (£442.8m)
• 9 (8) Chelsea £512.5 (481.3)
• 10 (10) Arsenal £463.1m (£367.1m)
• 11 (11) Juventus £376m (£339.4m)
• 12 (13) Borussia Dortmund £365.3m (£302.4m)
• 13 (16) FC Internazionale Milano £329.5m (£261.2m)
• 15 (12) Atlético de Madrid £316.6m (£333.6m)
• 16 (n/a) Eintracht Frankfurt £255.3m (£176.3m)
• 17 (20) Newcastle United £250.3m (£179.7m)
• 18 (15) West Ham United £239.2m (£255.1m)
• 19 (n/a) Napoli £232.8m (£132.5m)
• 20 (n/a) Olympique Marseille £224.7m (£201.2m)

Commercial revenue represented the largest income stream for the first time since 2015-16 season when the COVID-hit 2019/20 season was excluded.

Tim Bridge, lead partner in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, said: “Another record-breaking year for Money League clubs represents the ongoing financial might of the football industry.

“A high demand for live sport is pointing towards further growth for commercial and matchday revenues, in particular.”

“As clubs appear to no longer be able to rely on exponential broadcast revenue growth, creating a more commercially focused business model will support them to achieve greater control over their financial stability.

“This may include developing new merchandise, or non-match day events such as concerts to create new commercial offerings.”

Barcelona Femeni were the top-earning women’s club in the world, with revenue rising by 74% to £11.6m.

Manchester United Women are second ahead of Real Madrid in third. Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea are fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.

Number of allegations of serious offences against grassroots football match officials increases | UK News

The number of allegations of serious offences against grassroots football match officials increased slightly last season compared to 2021-22, figures show.

There were 1,451 allegations of serious offences against a match official last season, an increase of 1% on the prior campaign where 1,430 offences were recorded, the Football Association (FA) data reveals.

The figures, contained in the FA’s Annual Grassroots Disciplinary Review which is being published on Tuesday, also show 72 allegations of an actual or attempted assault were made in 2022-23.

Of those, 53 led to charges being brought and 42 were proven, with 11 not proven on the balance of probabilities due to insufficient evidence.

To assist in improving conviction rates even further, the FA has now extended a trial using body cameras in grassroots football to eight county associations to act as a deterrent against abuse towards match officials.

The FA said earlier this month that referees have faced no instances of abuse in around 500 matches since the trial began in February.

In addition to the 72 assaults or attempted assaults recorded in the disciplinary review, there were 391 allegations of physical contact or attempted physical contact and 988 allegations relating to threatening a match official.

The review marks the first time the FA has collated data on disciplinary matters from the grassroots game.

Overall, there were 3,636 allegations of serious misconduct – a 9% increase on the previous season – with 82% of charges being proven.

There was also a 10% increase in the number of allegations of discrimination, with the average sanction for proven charges being a seven-match suspension.

Alongside the body camera trials, the FA has also introduced points deductions and ground closures for teams involved in serious or repeat instances of misconduct.

The FA has also launched its Enough Is Enough campaign to raise awareness of discriminatory behaviour in the grassroots game and how to report it when it occurs.

The game’s national governing body has also launched a joint action plan alongside Kick It Out, the anti-discrimination charity, to proactively tackle incidents of discrimination and serious misconduct in grassroots football.

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Turkey referee attack: What happened?

“Providing this level of transparency is really important to us so that everyone can have a better understanding of the levels of serious misconduct across the game,” the FA’s senior discipline manager Fraser Williamson said.

“It also makes clear that we take all allegations of this nature very seriously and that we will take action against offenders.

“We know that incidents of serious misconduct are on the rise across the grassroots game, however we’re clear that this will not be tolerated and that perpetrators will face consequences.

“We’ve recently implemented a number of interventions across our game to help improve the culture and behaviour of participants, both on the pitch and on the sidelines, and we will continue to do all we can to ensure our game is safe and welcoming for all.”

Participant behaviour towards referees is in the spotlight following an attack on a referee in Turkey last week.

Halil Umut Meler was punched by the president of MKE Ankaragucu, Faruk Koca, at the end of a match on 11 December.

Koca was arrested over the incident and has since been issued with a permanent ban by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF).

Meanwhile, Manchester City were fined £120,000 by an independent regulatory commission on Monday after their players surrounded referee Simon Hooper during their Premier League match against Tottenham on 3 December.

Everton Football Club lodge appeal after 10-point deduction in Premier League | UK News

Everton Football Club have lodged an appeal after they were deducted 10 points for breaching the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules.

The appeal was lodged with the chair of the Premier League’s Judicial Panel after a Premier League Commission imposed a deduction on the club.

The club previously said it was “shocked and disappointed” by the ruling, which it described as “wholly disproportionate and unjust”.

An appeal board will now be appointed to hear the case.

The league referred Everton FC to an independent commission in March, after reviewing the financial records of all top-flight clubs for the 2021-22 season.

The rules say clubs can sustain losses of up to £105m in three years or potentially face penalties.

But Everton FC reported losses of £124.5m for the relevant period.

It said in a statement after the points deduction: “The club believes that the commission has imposed a wholly disproportionate and unjust sporting sanction.

“Everton maintains that it has been open and transparent in the information it has provided to the Premier League and that it has always respected the integrity of the process.

“The club does not recognise the finding that it failed to act with the utmost good faith and it does not understand this to have been an allegation made by the Premier League during the course of proceedings.”

The club also said the “harshness and severity” of the sanction imposed by the commission was “neither a fair nor reasonable reflection of the evidence submitted.”

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Women’s football revamp thrown into doubt after rebellion | Business News

Hopes of establishing a unified commercial structure for the top two tiers of women’s football in England have been dealt a blow after Championship clubs indicated their rejection of a proposed funding and governance model.

Sky News understands that a majority of sides in the game’s second division have rejected proposals for a “newco” to take over the administration of the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship from as early as next season.

The new entity was to have been funded with a £15m loan from the Football Association or, less likely, the Premier League, as the sport’s administrators seek to capitalise on an explosion of interest from fans in recent years.

However, club sources said on Tuesday that Championship clubs had overwhelmingly decided to reject the deal, even though they had been offered a 25% share of the combined leagues’ commercial income.

Their decision was made on the basis of their discontent over the abolition of their voting rights on all but a handful of issues, according to club insiders.

They added, however, that the proposed newco model was not yet dead, with the FA continuing to hold discussions with clubs about the optimum model for the future of the women’s professional game.

The split between the top two tiers could lead the WSL to press ahead with a standalone version of the new company in order for it to formulate a comprehensive broadcast rights package ahead of a tender process expected to begin early next year.

England head coach Sarina Wiegman lifts the trophy on stage during a fan celebration to commemorate England's historic UEFA Women's EURO 2022 triumph in Trafalgar Square, London. Picture date: Monday August 1, 2022.
The England women’s success on the pitch has helped drive supporter interest in the club leagues

The WSL is led after seven games by Chelsea, with Arsenal in second place and Manchester City a further three points behind.

The division below is led by Charlton Athletic.

The vote on the future structure comes as the FA lines up Nikki Doucet as the first chief executive of the women’s professional game in England.

She is widely expected to take the role, although not until a newco is in place.

The ‘newco’ being established to oversee the WSL and the women’s Championship will run the professional game on a standalone basis.

In September, Dawn Airey, the media executive who chairs the WSL and Championship, said she had set an ambition of the WSL becoming the world’s first £1bn-revenue women’s competition within a decade.

“That isn’t a figure we just plucked from the air, it is based on a pretty decent and detailed business plan for over the course of the next 10 years,” Ms Airey told the media.

“We look at the growth of attendances, we look at the growth of engagement and broadcast, we look at the increased interest in sponsorship and marketing opportunities, and then we start being more imaginative about what attending a women’s game means. Not just watching the game, but everything that goes on around it, is there potential for clubs to think differently about their revenues?”

England’s victorious Euro 2022 campaign and its narrow defeat to Spain in last month’s Women’s World Cup final have further fuelled public interest in the sport, with attendances at record levels.

Last year, the WSL board proposed re-engaging investment bankers at Rothschild to evaluate other sources of capital to support the sport’s growth.

Bridgepoint, a private equity firm which this year approached the England and Wales Cricket Board with a proposal to buy a stake in The Hundred, approached the FA about investing in the WSL in 2020.

Private equity investment is not thought to be under active consideration at this point.

The FA declined to comment.

Bradley Lowery: Dale Houghton given suspended sentence and football ban for mocking death of child mascot at match | UK News

A man has been given a suspended sentence and a five-year football ban after mocking the death of child mascot Bradley Lowery at a football match.

Dale Houghton, from Rotherham, pleaded guilty to a public order offence at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court in October and received a 12 week sentence suspended for 18 months.

He is also required to carry out 200 hours of unpaid voluntary work in the community.

Bradley was diagnosed with rare cancer neuroblastoma when he was just 18 months old and died aged six in 2017.

Bradley Lowery, aged five
Bradley Lowery in 2016

Houghton was seen holding up a picture of Bradley and laughing in the stands at Sheffield Wednesday’s match against Sunderland at Hillsborough Stadium on Friday 29 September.

An image of the incident was met with outrage on social media and sparked an apology from Sheffield Wednesday.

In his sentencing remarks, the judge called the actions of Houghton, 32, “appalling and disgraceful” and said that he “inflicted trauma on an already bereaved family”.

District Judge Marcus Waite said to Houghton: “You showed callous disrespect to a brave young man who was rightly held in the highest esteem by football fans everywhere.”

Bradley Lowery, aged five, who is terminally ill with cancer, meets Sunderland's Jermain Defoe. Pic: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive
Lowery with Jermain Defoe in 2016

He was a mascot for both Sunderland and England, and formed a close bond with his beloved team’s striker Jermain Defoe, who called Bradley his “best mate”.

At the time, Defoe said he was “appalled and saddened” by Houghton’s actions.

He added: “My thoughts at this time go out to Gemma and Carl, Bradley’s parents, who shouldn’t have to deal with incidents like this, but rather be praised for the amazing work they are doing with the Bradley Lowery Foundation in their son’s memory.”

Bradley’s mother previously told the court that she saw the picture on Facebook.

Mrs Lowery said it “wasn’t just disrespectful to Bradley, but also to other people as well”, and it risked causing “so much emotional trauma to other children with cancer”.

Following the incident, more than £11,000 was raised for The Bradley Lowery Foundation.

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Israel-Hamas war: Football cannot resist being political – until it becomes too challenging | UK News

Trying to be uplifting while sounding fanciful.

It took until the seventh day of mourning for FIFA President Gianni Infantino to offer any condolences.

And when he did it was to claim football can play a role in ending hostilities between the Israelis and Hamas as a “vehicle for peace”.

That will seem a distant proposition for the Israelis grieving more than 1,300 victims of the Hamas massacres on their territory last Saturday.

Or for those in Gaza feeling the full force of the retaliation – with Israeli strikes to eradicate the threat of a group designated a terror organisation by the UK government.

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FA branded ‘spineless’

Follow live: Israel launches Gaza ground missions

Football Association president Prince William, through palace aides, did say there was a “right of self-defence” by Israel.

But football has struggled with how to show compassion while delicately assessing remarks issued on the bloodiest escalation in decades in a long-running conflict.

And football’s voice matters because the sport wants to matter with an impact beyond sport.

But football bodies suggesting a moral equivalence when decrying Israeli and Hamas actions has provoked anger among Jewish leaders in England and sports leaders in Israel.

The Premier League said it “strongly condemns the horrific and brutal acts of violence against innocent civilians” with a reference to both Israel and Gaza.

Chelsea broke ranks from the unified position by reposting the league statement with their own, highlighting sadness at the “huge loss of life following last weekend’s attacks on Israel”.

The west London club added: “We stand with the Jewish community in London and around the world in the face of the rising tide of antisemitism, which we have long campaigned against.”

It was the lack of recognition of antisemitic undertones to the Hamas rampage that angered Rabbi Alex Goldberg.

He resigned as the Football Association’s Faith in Football group chair after the governing body failed to specifically honour the “victims of the worst single atrocity committed against Jewish targets since the Shoah” – the Hebrew word for the Holocaust.

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‘I’ve resigned because the FA failed’

Rabbi Goldberg told Sky News: “There’s no moral equivalence. There’s acts of violence that have led again into war.”

Those concerns were shared by Lord Mann, the government’s independent anti-racism adviser, after the FA failed to light the Wembley arch in the blue and white of Israel.

He said the inconsistency with commemorations of terror attacks from Turkey to France and Belgium politicised the FA.

Lord Mann told Sky News: “British citizens were murdered in Israel by Hamas terrorists and they’ve chosen not to recognise it and I find that depressingly sad.

“And there’s a lot of anger out there in the Jewish community and the message is Jews don’t count in football.”

But the FA has had to navigate the complexities of issuing a public statement on enmity far removed from football while seemingly avoiding offence.

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They will be keenly aware many Premier League players have shown solidarity very visibly with the Palestinian cause against Israel’s military might – with resulting club unease.

They will be aware of the backlash felt by Arsenal and Ukraine player Oleksandr Zinchenko for backing Israel after the Hamas slaughter – recognising the struggle his homeland has defending territory.

And it is English football throwing its full corporate support behind Ukraine against Russia last year that has left it compromised with a more delicate, cautious position on the Israel-Hamas war.

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Israel-Gaza misinformation

Football cannot resist being political when the power of its platform and societal benefits can be extolled.

Until it becomes too challenging and fraught.

When you talk up football’s ability to end wars and heal societies then go silent for a week after such trauma, the eventual response can expose the timidity of leaders – appearing deficient and ultimately more divisive.

Football clubs should be banned from selling crypto fan tokens, say MPs | UK News

Football clubs should be banned from selling crypto-based “fan tokens” as part of engagement with supporters by the sport’s incoming regulator, according to a cross-party committee of MPs.

In its report, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee (CMS) warns about the volatility of prices and the risk of financial harm to supporters who are convinced to buy the tokens for club access and rewards.

CMS committee chair Dame Caroline Dinenage MP said: “In the world of sport, clubs are promoting volatile cryptoasset schemes to extract additional money from loyal supporters, often with promises of privileges and perks that fail to materialise.

“Fan token schemes must not be used as a substitute for meaningful engagement with supporters.”

Socios is singled out by the MPs as a sports cryptoassets marketplace to generate cash from fans in exchange for apparent access that does not always deliver on expectations.

The CMS committee report said: “The unique relationship between clubs and fans means that fan speculation on sport-based cryptoassets carries a real risk of financial harm to fans and reputational harm to clubs.

“We are also concerned that clubs may present fan tokens as an appropriate form of fan engagement in the future, despite their price volatility and reservations among fan groups.

“We recommend that any measurement of fan engagement in sports, including in the forthcoming regulation of football, should explicitly exclude the use of fan tokens.”

The government is planning to legislate to introduce a regulator for English football next year.

The regulator system is being set up to force clubs to prove their business models are financially sound and that they have good corporate governance before being allowed to compete.

What are fan tokens?

Fan tokens’ value ostensibly derives from giving its owner a say in club matters, often trivial such as what song will be played at half time, or which player will run the club Instagram account for a day.

They also create a bespoke club cryptocurrency, however, the value of which Socios says is determined by supply and demand and fan sentiment.

With clubs holding the balance of tokens and deciding when to release them for sale, analysis has shown the major driver of price fluctuations is not a club’s form or supporter engagement, but the wider, and highly volatile, crypto market.

The Financial Conduct Authority categorises them as crypto assets, a complex investment subject to big price swings which could expose investors to big losses.

Socios says it has deals with more than 100 teams, including Premier League champions Manchester City and Arsenal.

The CMS committee said for “differing reasons” Socios, which has Lionel Messi as a brand ambassador, said it could not attend a session to provide evidence.

Socios did not directly address the criticism, but in a statement to Sky News it said: “Fan token holders received more than 24,000 matchday tickets and over 1,000 items of merchandise last season, and continue to engage with their club in a unique new way.

“Fan Tokens offer new and complementary benefits to clubs’ traditional fan engagement beyond the boundaries of geography, and unlike NFTs (non-fungible tokens), are regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority).”

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The UK and Ireland will host Euro 2028

The Socios website flashes up a variety of warnings now.

“Fan Tokens are a type of utility token,” one states.

“They are obtained by exchanging them for the Chiliz cryptocurrency ($ CHZ), which can be purchased on the app after downloading it.

“Before using crypto-assets (tokens), consider that: (a) their value can go down or up; (b) they are not regulated in most countries; (c) you may have to pay taxes on any profits made from their sale.”

On crypto exchanges, the value of Chiliz has plummeted from 25 cents (15p) to around 5 cents (3p) in two years.

Bradley Lowery: Man, 31, charged with public order offence after image of six-year-old allegedly mocked at football match | UK News

A 31-year-old man has been charged with a public order offence after an image of a six-year-old Sunderland fan who died of cancer was displayed at a football match.

Dale Houghton, from Rotherham, will appear before Sheffield Magistrates’ Court on Monday morning in connection to the incident, which took place at a match between Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland on Friday.

Police said they have also applied for a football banning order.

A 27-year-old man, also arrested on Saturday, has been released on police bail while further enquiries are conducted.

Houghton was remanded in custody.

Following the incident, more than £11,000 has been raised for The Bradley Lowery Foundation, a charity set up after his death in 2017.

The Sheffield Wednesday Football Club Women’s Supporters’ Group set up a GoFundMe page on Saturday, which has now smashed its initial £5,000 target.

The funds will go towards a holiday home that the foundation is building in Scarborough, to help bereaved families and children going through treatment.

In a statement, the foundation said it was “overwhelmed” by the support and wanted to thank everyone who has contacted the charity.

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Sheffield Wednesday also released a statement shortly after the incident apologising to Bradley’s friends and family.

The young football fan was diagnosed with rare childhood cancer neuroblastoma when he was just 18-months-old. He died in 2017.

On Sunday, Lynn Murphy, co-founder of the foundation, said Bradley brought rival teams within the game together.

“He went through some gruelling treatments, but he always did it with a smile on his face, and that smile is the thing that everyone remembers him for,” she told Sky News.

He was a mascot for both Sunderland and England and also struck up a close bond with striker Jermain Defoe, who called him his “best mate”.

England’s Lionesses on historic terrain that can raise women’s football to another level | World News

The final frontier for the Lionesses.

A day for dreams to be fulfilled – as England face their date with destiny and the prospect of becoming World Cup winners.

Fans are scattered throughout the bars of Sydney savouring the magnitude of what awaits on Sunday night against Spain.

“Whether we win or not – as a country and for the Women’s World Cup we’ve won,” one England fan told Sky News, soaking up the pre-final buildup in a bar on Saturday night.

“It’s a massive step for women’s football. But damn I want to win tomorrow. Everything I’ve dreamed of since I was a child.”

Read more:
Follow the final live

England's Lauren Hemp celebrates scoring their second goal against Australia in their semi-final
England’s Lauren Hemp celebrates scoring their second goal against Australia in their semi-final

Dreams of trophies. But contesting such a final, on such a stage as Stadium Australia, seemed just a dream for these players growing up.

“I think it will be the biggest moment in our careers,” England captain Millie Bright said. “It’s obviously a dream come true.”

So it feels for Spain players who grew up only seeing the men’s game with the limelight and investment.

“We have grown up thinking that football was something that didn’t belong to us – there were always obstacles,” Spain captain Irene Paredes said. “It was not our space, or at least that is what they made us feel.”

They know the pioneers of women’s football went generations before.

Soccer Football - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Fans in London gather for Australia v England - BOXPARK Wembley, London, Britain - August 16, 2023 England fans celebrate after Alessia Russo scores their third goal Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra
England fans are hoping to see the Lionesses lift the World Cup trophy for the first time

These Lionesses – along with La Roja – have propelled the game to a new level.

They stand on the brink of being England’s first World Cup winners since the men in 1966.

The teams are bonded through the nation’s footballing history.

Historical challenges

But the Lionesses have had to overcome historical challenges.

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Lionesses to play ‘best game ever’?

Equal billing as footballers was denied by misogyny – with women banned from playing football in England for half a century until the 1970s.

The gender pay gap in the sport remains vast.

By Sunday night, the most successful England team of all time could be the one guided to glory by Sarina Wiegman – the first person to manage two different countries in World Cup finals after losing with her native Netherlands in 2019.

Captain Millie Bright
Captain Millie Bright

Just like at the European Championship, England have swept into the final by winning every game so far at the Women’s World Cup.

Success in Sydney would complete a double a year after lifting European silverware.

But don’t forget how close the Lionesses came to a quarter-final exit from their home tournament – just six minutes from losing.

Spain awaits

Spain stand in England's way
Spain stand in England’s way – and their form has been stunning

And to whom? Spain – the opponents awaiting in Stadium Australia.

But four of that starting line-up are not in Australia after being part of a mutiny against coach Jorge Vilda over demands for a more professional environment.

“Next question please,” he responded when asked about the revolt on the eve of the final.

Of the 15 players who withdrew from consideration for Spain only three returned to the fold for the World Cup – Ona Batlle, Aitana Bonmati and Mariona Caldentey.

Back in July 2022, the Lionesses produced the equaliser against Spain through Ella Toone and went on to secure their semi-final place through Georgia Stanway in extra time.

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England fans: ‘They will bring it home’

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Where to watch England v Spain final
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Both players remain part of this run to the final – although Toone’s starting spot owes much to Lauren James being suspended for the last two matches in Australia.

The return of James gives England options.

The Chelsea forward had a team-leading three goals before her last-16 stamp against Nigeria.

Since then, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo have also made it to three goals.

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England have had to contend with disruption to selection plans caused by injury with captain Leah Williamson and striker Beth Mead lost before the tournament.

But replacement captain Bright has forged a strong three-woman defensive back-line with Alex Greenwood and Jess Carter.

New territory

They are facing a Spain packed with goal threats – even with two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas yet to make her usual devastating impact after recovering from an ACL injury.

Jennifer Hermoso, Alba Redondo and Aitana Bonmati have all notched up a trio of goals each.

But look down the Golden Boot chart and there is the formidable teen force of Salma Paralluelo who has two goals.

Soccer Football - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - England Press Conference - Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia - August 19, 2023 England manager Sarina Wiegman during the press conference REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Coach Sarina Wiegman

The 19-year-old winger wasn’t even in the squad at Euro 2022 – showing how Spain’s strength just keeps on growing at only their third Women’s World Cup and the furthest they have ever reached.

The Lionesses have made it to the last four at three World Cups by contrast – and that pedigree should count in their favour.

But they have never made it to a final before.

This final represents a power shift as cash and commitment to women’s football in Europe has been accelerated.

This is historic terrain that can raise women’s football to another level in England – and elevate the legendary status of the Lionesses.

NFL legend Tom Brady becomes minority owner of Birmingham City Football Club | UK News

American NFL superstar Tom Brady has become a minority owner of Sky Bet Championship club Birmingham City.

The seven-time Super Bowl champion has partnered with the club’s holding company Knighthead Capital Management LLC and becomes chairman of a new advisory board.

The club said Brady will “apply his extensive leadership experience and expertise” across several areas including the sports science department to advise on health, nutrition, wellness, and recovery systems and programmes.

Brady said on the club’s official website: “Birmingham is an iconic club with so much history and passion and to be part of the Blues is a real honour for me.

“BCFC is built on teamwork and determination and I’m excited to work alongside the board, management and players to make our second-city club second to none.

“I’ve been part of some amazing teams in my day, and I’m looking forward to applying my perspective to create that same success here in Birmingham.”

Brady has partnered up with Knighthead Capital on several other ventures and new Blues chairman Tom Wagner is looking forward to Brady’s “direct impact”.

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He said: “Tom Brady joining the Birmingham team is a statement of intent. We are setting the bar at world class.

“Tom is both investing and committing his time and extensive expertise. As chair of the advisory board Tom will have a direct impact on the club. The men’s, women’s, and academy teams are going to benefit from the knowledge.

“The goal that Tom has committed to own is to make Birmingham a respected leader in nutrition, health, wellness, and recovery across the world of football.”

He added: “Success does not come overnight. It takes time. But when you have great leaders in place everything becomes possible.”

Brady, widely regarded as one of the greatest NFL players of all time, announced his retirement in February.

He spent the first 20 years of his professional career at the New England Patriots, before joining Tampa Bay in 2020.

The 46-year-old split from his wife last year, Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, with the sports star revealing it was “painful and difficult”.