Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney take over Welsh side Wrexham

Wrexham isn’t known for being particularly glamorous, but it presented itself well enough to Hollywood stars and new owners of the town’s football club, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

The duo shocked the football world when they announced they were to take over as owners, following a vote.

In fact, a whopping 98.6% of the votes from Wrexham Supporters Trust (WST) were backing the bid.

2,000 votes from trust members were eligible, and 1,809 approved.

Following the result of the vote, WST has now wished the pair “the very best of luck in charge”, and “look forward to what the future brings”.

A statement distributed by WST read: “Subject to final agreement, league and FA confirmation – the RR McReynolds Company, LLC will take 100% control of Wrexham Football Club Limited from the WST.

“Both parties will now proceed with finalising the details of the takeover, and we will update Wrexham supporters as soon as we can.”

Reynolds and McElhenney told trust members they intended to make their club a “global force”.

Wrexham currently sit 14th in the Vanarama National League standings, but with this news a free bet on PaddyPower app could be a good shout on the club going on a good run of form, due to the feel-good factor surrounding the team.

The duo released a comical video on Monday afternoon, following their successful bid to take charge:

The club has been in fan ownership since 2011, but could now be set to see more than ÂŁ2m invested in it.

Certainly an interesting story to keep an eye on over the next few seasons.

Dubois Expected to Deliver in All-British Bout with Joyce

At the age of 23, Daniel Dubois is already the next big thing in British heavyweight boxing. At a time when fighters from the UK hold all four major world titles in the premier division of the sport, his obvious future potential of joining those elite ranks should not go unnoticed or unheralded.

Nicknamed Dynamite and Triple D, Dubois is undefeated in 15 professional fights. He has also picked up several minor championships since joining the paid ranks in 2017.

In just his fourth pro bout, Dubois was crowned WBC youth heavyweight champion – a clear sign of him being a serious prospect. He has since added the English, British and Commonwealth, WBO European, global and international, and WBC silver titles to his collection.

Dubois now fights for the vacant EBU European heavyweight belt, and defends his British and Commonwealth straps, against compatriot Joe Joyce in one of the most anticipated UK bouts of 2020. This encounter on 28 November has a classic youth versus experience dynamic to it.

Joyce is 35, has a more extensive amateur background than Dubois and competed at the Rio Olympics of 2016 in Brazil. Only France’s Tony Yoka denied him a gold medal but, since Joyce turned pro in 2017, he hasn’t lost in 11 fights.

Something has got to give. Joyce has already reigned as Commonwealth champ, like Joyce winning a minor belt in his fourth fight in the paid ranks. He has since added the WBA continental and gold heavyweight titles to his CV.

Bookmakers are siding with the youth of Dubois in the boxing betting on their all-British bout, though, and make him the odds-on 2/9 favourite for victory. Joyce is 3/1, meanwhile, to cause what would be viewed as an upset.

However, this may not be as straightforward a task for Dubois as the market suggests. Joyce defeated former WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne, one of the best boxers in Canada of modern times, in 2019.

That sixth-round stoppage was huge for his career. Joyce arguably presents the most difficult challenge to date for Dubois whose previous opposition didn’t have that sort of feather in their caps.

These two London lads know full well there is more than area, national and continental championships at stake here. The WBO rankings have Dubois next in line after Ukraine’s former undisputed cruiserweight champ Oleksandr Usyk for a shot at Anthony Joshua.

Joyce is also among the top 10 rated contenders going into the fight with that governing body. The WBC places both men lower in their pecking order, meanwhile, with Dubois only seventh and Joyce down in eleventh.

Getting to Tyson Fury requires more, then, and neither man may get to share the ring with The Gypsy King who has hinted at retirement following a few more fights.

Whether Fury does hang up his gloves sooner rather than later, or Dubois goes on to tangle with Joshua, the feeling is very much that British boxing is in good hands with him. All he has to do is continue his upward trajectory and stop Joyce.

Kvitova talks of difficulties surrounding being a leading tennis player

The two-time Wimbledon Champion, Petra Kvitova, has admitted she sometimes wishes she could have lived life as a more “normal human being”.

This comes after she spoke of the “real life” negatives that come with being one of the best tennis players in the world.

“It’s tough to find friends, honest friends I mean. It’s tough to spend time with your family,” she admitted.

Despite the difficulties, the 30-year-old Czech claims she is still in love with the game, and remains motivated to continue winning accolades at the highest level in women’s tennis.

“If I don’t have the motivation to be great I will not play.

“I think we don’t really have a real life to be honest.

“Because we are still on the road, we are still practising, playing matches, eating, sleeping.

“I love the game itself so for me I can enjoy it, for sure, when I am on the court itself. I love matches. I don’t really like practice but that’s how it is.

“We have to deal with so many things, with our nerves, with the pressure, with the pressure from outside. To be a public person is not easy.”

A cash out from Coral option on Kvitova’s success at the next Grand Slam could be profitable, should she show any signs of losing her way during a match, and you want to take the money you are being offered.

Kvitova won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014, but has since returned to the top of the game following a robbery in the Czech Republic in December 2016, which left her with a stab wound in her playing hand. 

Since returning to the sport five months later, Kvitova has gone on to win eight WTA titles.

 

Can Tiger Produce his magic again at Augusta?

Tiger Woods’ victory at the 2019 US Masters at Augusta is not only one of the best storylines golf has thrown up over the last couple of decades, it has been ranked by many sports writers as one of the leading sporting comebacks ever seen.

Woods sealed his 15th Major Championship in Georgia in 2019, 11 years after his last win in golf’s four big tournaments.

Over a career which has now spanned across four decades, Woods has often produced some of his best moments at Augusta. He blew the field away by 12 strokes there in 1997, and who can forget that spectacular chip shot when beating Chis DiMarco in a playoff in 2005.

Woods will now be looking to repeat what he did in 2002 by defending his crown in the Masters. No other champion has been able to follow up the year later since he achieved that feat. You have to go back to 1990 and Nick Faldo for the only other repeat winner of the last 50 years.

Augusta Can Often Find the Best Out of Woods

Although Woods has not shown anywhere near the form he produced last year in 2020 so far, the former world number one will be confident about his chances at Augusta.

Woods proved last year that the course suits his game very well. What was also so impressive about his win in 2019 was the way he closed it out on the back nine. He held his nerve very well on the Sunday which is a great sign for fans of the American.

With five Masters wins now, Woods is one shy of Jack Nicklaus’ record in the event. A victory would also see him two away from Nicklaus’ tally of 18 Major wins in his illustrious career.

Woods is 16/1 in the golf betting for the US Masters in 2020. Those odds suggest he is in with a great chance as he is ahead of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose in the outright market for the tournament.

If the four-time Masters winner is able to win on the US PGA Tour before then, those odds will most likely shorten.

Thomas, Rahm and McIlroy All in Good Form

The top three players in the world golf rankings – Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy – are all at the top of their games at the moment. If they continue to remain in hot form, it could be one of the best Masters tournaments.

Thomas recently won the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational, his 13th success on the PGA Tour. A victory at Augusta would help him cement that spot at the top of the rankings.

McIlroy is also desperate to win his maiden Green Jacket. The US Masters is the only Major Championship the Northern Irishman has not won so far. He has performed well at Augusta though, which suggests it is likely to be only a matter of time before he completes the Career Grand Slam.

This year’s US Masters is set to begin on the 12th November in a later than normal tournament at Augusta National.

 

Borussia Dortmund set deadline for Sancho transfer to Man Utd

Bundesliga side have told Manchester United they have until August 10 to agree a deal for Jadon Sancho, or risk a no deal situation.

It is no secret that the highly-rated English youngster is at the very top of United’s transfer wish list this summer.

The German club have reportedly told the Red Devils they expect in excess of ÂŁ100m to allow the 20-year-old to leave.

Currently, there is no agreement on the fee – and no idea whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side would have to pay in one lump sum, or in instalments.

Dortmund have put their foot down due to the 2020-21 season approaching fast, with a start date of September 18.

Sancho has enjoyed a highly productive three years at Dortmund, following his ÂŁ10m move from Manchester City in August 2017.

The move to Old Trafford would certainly go a long way to improving United’s current odds on the 888 sport Android app of winning the Premier League title at 8/1.

Last month, Dortmund beat United to the signature of promising 17-year-old English midfielder Jude Bellingham, who joined from Birmingham in a whopping deal thought to be worth over ÂŁ30m.

The black and yellows also splashed the class earlier in the season, when they signed Erling Braut Haaland from Red Bull Salzburg – funnily enough, another player that had been on United’s wish-list.

 

Third Canelo-Golovkin showdown still a possibility

Saul Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin have been two of the most dominant middleweight boxers of their generation over the last decade.

The two men have shared the ring twice in their careers in huge showdowns which did not disappoint. Although their last meeting was in September 2018, there is some hope that the two world champions will complete their trilogy in the near future.

Alvarez, who won the second clash between the two legends of the sport, has picked up world titles at two other weight divisions since then. He claimed the WBA super middleweight crown with victory over Rocky Fielding, while more recently, he stopped Sergey Kovalev for the WBO light heavyweight title.

The Mexican boxer has been linked with a fight with Billy Joe Saunders next. That contest would be for the WBO super middleweight title, which Saunders currently holds, and Alvarez’s WBA belt.

Canelo and Saunders have been tipped to meet in the ring for a number of years now. They both held world crowns in the middleweight division for a number of years. Despite many discussions between the two parties, a deal for the two men to meet has yet to be reached.

Saunders is a regular training partner of Tyson Fury. He is sure to be working with the WBC heavyweight champion ahead of his third fight with Deontay Wilder, where he is 2/7 in the latest boxing odds for that contest.

A clash with Canelo will be the biggest fight of Saunders’ career. If he were able to pull off an upset, it would rank on the same scale as Fury’s incredible success at a much higher weight division.

Golovkin still carries IBF middleweight title

If Alvarez is happy to drop back down to the middleweight division, the chances of a third showdown with Golovkin will increase significantly.

Golovkin became a world champion once again back in October when he defeated Sergiy Derevyanchenko for the IBF middleweight title. Triple G was given a unanimous decision from the judges after 12 touch rounds of that clash.

For Golovkin, a third fight with his rival would give him the opportunity for redemption. The first fight between the two men finished in a draw but many boxing pundits felt Golovkin had done enough to be given the decision.

The second showdown was also not without controversy either. Alvarez was handed the decision in another close fight. There was very little between the two men on the scorecards, with two judges scoring the contest 115-113 in favour of Canelo, while the third judge had it all square at 114-114.

Since that defeat, Golovkin has won both of his two bouts in the ring. He needed just four rounds to overcome Steve Rolls before his IBF title success last year.

GGG is 38 years old now so time is running out for him to avenge his defeat to Canelo. If a showdown later in 2020 can’t be scheduled, his last shot to defeat his foe may come in May 2021 and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if that was his last appearance in the ring.

Twiston-Davies’ Al Dancer has to shed pretender tag

Al Dancer failed to capitalise on his momentum in his first major test of the 2019/20 National Hunt season, finishing second in the Arkle Trial Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.

The French thoroughbred was the leading contender for the meet, but he failed to rise to the occasion albeit in difficult conditions on soft ground. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge placed behind 6/1 outsider Put The Kettle On, who claimed a solid victory by two-and-a-half-lengths.

Past Failures

A victory in the event may have propelled the six-year-old to be the favourite for the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham Festival in March. As it stands, Al Dancer is now backed in the horse racing odds in the ante-post for the Arkle Chase at odds of 16/1 to claim the crown. There are a slew of talented horses ready to compete for the title, including Fakir D’oudairies, Laurina and Samcro. The coming months will see respective owners and trainers move their charges into position for the honours, and even if the French thoroughbred does face off against elite competition he does have a top-quality performance in his locker albeit it has not come to fruition on the major stage yet.

Twiston-Davies’ charge rode a four-race winning streak into Cheltenham Festival last year. He produced a dominant run at Cheltenham in the Catesby Handicap Hurdle in December, beating out his nearest rival by 11 lengths. Al Dancer continued in that manner with another brilliant outing at Ascot two months prior to the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He finished three-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of the field to establish himself as one of the top two contenders for the crown in the Festival’s opening race.

However, he endured a terrible outing in the Novices’ Hurdle, crumbling down the stretch with Sam Twiston-Davies at the reins. The French thoroughbred placed in a disappointing 10th out of the 12 horses that finished the contest.

Undoubted Potential

After a seven-month absence, Al Dancer returned to the track for the Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham. He was the odds-on favourite in a field that included Getaway Trump, and he duly delivered on expectations with a strong outing. Twiston-Davies guided his charge out of early trouble after making a mistake at the third fence. The six-year-old gradually moved into position before he made his move to take the lead over the penultimate hurdle. Al Dancer charged through to claim the victory by four lengths to atone for his underwhelming performance at the Festival.

As a result of his strong run, he was favoured again for the Arkle Trial Novices’ Chase. It presented an opportunity for the French thoroughbred to put down a marker as one of the firm challenges for the main event in March. However, he struggled to impose himself in wet conditions and failed to make the significant jump to move alongside Put The Kettle On.

Al Dancer did close on the final fence, but his rival had enough to break away down the stretch to claim the win. It was a decent outing, but both Nigel Twiston-Davies and his son Sam will be hopeful that there is more to come from the grey gelding at Cheltenham in the near future to avoid him becoming a pretender on the major stage.

Five Reasons Why Neymar Should Commit his Long-Term Future to PSG

Neymar’s future was the subject of constant speculation over the summer, with the Brazilian linked to a move to both Real Madrid and a return to Barcelona.

Neither moves transpired, and Neymar will be at PSG until January at the very earliest.

Intriguingly, Neymar’s odds for a move back to Barcelona apparently shorten by the day, and with the Brazilian clearly far from happy at Parc Des Princes, it seems as though he will be going back from where he came.

His status as a £200m man, despite his lack of a World Cup winner’s medal, has obviously been a psychological burden for a man who knows that time is running out to address both his international and club-level shortcomings.

However, despite lacking the same chemistry with PSG that he enjoyed at Barcelona, there are several standout reasons as to why he should stay in the French capital.

  1. Title Future Safe at PSG

Firstly, and foremostly, PSG offers stability and a guaranteed place in the starting XI, and in becoming such an expensive asset, Neymar is very much a victim of his own success. There are precious few other clubs that could offer Neymar everything he wants, while also restructuring their wage bill just to accommodate him.

Other perennial winners, such as Juventus and Manchester City, have also been mooted as candidates. However, despite being a a popular choice in just about every match they play, those clubs’ respective leagues could well prove too physical for him. In any case, neither City nor Juventus have made an optimal start to their title defences, which should further deter him.

Then there is the possibility of Neymar’s only other realistic suitors going through transitional periods over the next few years – if they aren’t already. Real Madrid, for instance, are still recovering from a dreadful 2018/19 season, having failed spectacularly to build on 2017/18. In response, Real went ballistic in the transfer market, with Eden Hazard (at 100m euros) being the marquee signing of a very busy summer.

With so much new talent in the Real squad, Neymar would be a risking a place in the starting XI every week. In a sign that the ‘Galacticos’ are still gelling as a unit, PSG also thrashed them 3-0 on the opening matchday of the 2019/20 Champions League group stage, perhaps giving Neymar some first-hand food for thought.

  1. Champions League 19/20 Could be PSG’s Best Chance Yet

While already a Champions League winner with Barcelona, his aim is now to join an elite group of players that have won the prestigious trophy with two different clubs in different countries. PSG’s continued lack of a Champions League trophy this century is truly frustrating, given the sheer volume of investment.

A front three of Cavani, Mbappe and Neymar should be reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League every year at least, but with four English clubs locking out the semi-final spots in both European competitions last season, PSG fans are under no illusions. The heavy presence of Spanish clubs in the latter stages is also a major obstacle for PSG, even if they have – as already noted – humiliated a Spanish giant in this season’s edition.

If the Champions League is indeed all that Neymar is holding out for, there must surely be a way he can covertly reserve his energy in Ligue 1 games, which PSG should win consistently – even with a squad that is only operating at about 70-80% its full throttle.

A PSG side reserving its best for the Champions League should have no trouble ploughing through the group stage at least. Having already scorched Real Madrid and avoided conceding an away goal to them, Club Brugge and Galatasaray should prove to be easily-negotiated obstacles – particularly at home.

Significantly, PSG are still unbeaten in Champions League group stage home games this decade, with December 2004 being the last time they suffered such an indignity. The last two seasons have also seen them win all group stage home games against the two lowest-seeded sides in the group, and while victories against such opponents seem insignificant, the foundation must always be there for a strong knockout run thereafter.

   3&4. World Cup Hopes & A Wholesome Legacy

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/121483302@N02/14721546182

While Ligue 1 is a far less competitive league than La Liga or the Premier League, winning trophies is a habit. So too is dealing with the pressure of playing in a tournament of superlative stature, at both club and international level.

Whether victory is forthcoming or not, experience counts for everything, and with Neymar now being a veteran of two World Cup campaigns, he knows that 2022 will be his time to combine the winning feeling with his now-vast experience of international football.

Given how it will disrupt the conventional European football schedule, Qatar 2022 will be a tough tournament for the usual favourites – assuming Brazil qualify in the first place as expected.

Even in winter, acclimatising to the desert climate will be difficult, and this is something that is open to exploitation from someone who knows how to win, and still has the legs to cash the goods the brain is demanding. Neymar, by 2022, will still be firmly in that category, but his ability to persist through all adversities can only be nurtured in this now-testing spell with PSG.

By that point, his vast experience and mental resilience – even if not tangibly rewarded – could still be put to good use at Parc Des Princes. With mass investment comes some fearsome youth talent, and despite having the ability to sulk like few others, Neymar’s natural competitive streak will provide a good example to emerging talents over the next few years.

  1. Warm Welcome Not Guaranteed at Nou Camp

Barcelona are his likeliest suitors, and while it is a move that makes a lot of sense, there is the potential for a myriad of problems. Naturally, from a playing perspective, he would be a welcome inclusion in a squad full of now-aging serial winners, but there is still the question of how he could reintegrate amongst the Blaugranes’ XI.

Lionel Messi has already spoken with dismay at Barcelona’s failed recapture of Neymar. Although Messi himself may well find himself joining the expected exodus to the MLS in the early 2020s, Neymar’s presence may be more resented than welcomed amongst those who value Messi as much as the club itself.

That would especially be the case if Neymar’s reacquaintance with the Blaugranes in any way hastened Messi’s departure, or forced others – like Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal – into seeing that as a signal to move on. Too many leavers at once will only disrupt Barcelona’s indomitable spirit, and that is not the legacy Neymar ultimately wants.

 

Williams has the chance to equal incredible record after reaching US Open final

Women’s tennis star Serena Williams has the chance to win a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title, when she takes to the court in the US Open final on Saturday.

Williams reached the final with relative ease, after a 6-3 6-1 win over Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolin in the semi final.

The American – who already has six US Open titles to her name – faces 19-year-old Candian Bianca Andreescu, and is aiming to win her first Grand Slam since giving birth to her daughter in September 2017.

Serena’s opponent advanced to the final after defeating Swiss Belinda Bencic 7-6 (7-3) 7-5.

This year’s US Open is only Andreescu’s fourth Grand Slam appearance – and she was incredibly born nine months after Williams won her first title at Flushing Meadows in 1999.

The match can be streamed live on Amazon Prime video.

 

Can St Helens Bounce Back From Wembley Disappointment?

St Helens head coach Justin Holbrook has the job of lifting his players from the disappointment of losing to Warrington Wolves in the final of the 2019 Challenge Cup at Wembley as they bid to end the season on a high.

Saints went into the final as the heavy favourites. However, they were unable to transfer their high scoring form from the Super League into the showdown for the trophy, while Warrington raised their game to hold their rivals to just four points in a 18-4 scoreline success to make up for their own heartbreak 12 months earlier.

It had been 11 years since St Helens had reached a Challenge Cup final and the last chance for Holbrook to get his hands on that particular piece of silverware before he leaves the Merseyside club at the end of the year to take up the coaching job at Gold Coast Titans in the NFL.

When Theo Fages crossed the line in the second half for Saints, they looked set to begin a comeback against Wolves. Yet, Lachlan Coote’s missed conversion soon ended any hope of the favourites getting back into the contest.

Holbrook will be desperate his players recover quickly and change their focus on the Super League, where they have the chance to still finish 2019 on a high and prove they have been the best team in the country this year.

St Helens are 16 points clear at the top of the Super League table after what has been a superb campaign for them in the regular season so far. Their latest success came against Castleford Tigers where they won 4-0 in a low scoring game at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

There are two rounds of fixtures left in the season before the play-offs. Saints have to face Huddersfield Giants at home, while they then travel to the KCOM Stadium to take on Hull FC in the final game of the regular season.

The league leaders have rugby league odds of 8/11 to come out on top at Old Trafford in Manchester in October. Given they now have first place secured and the League Leaders’ Shield in the bag, they will head straight into the semi-final where they will face one of the quarter-final winners.

Holbrook’s men will get a second chance to qualify for the Grand Final if they lose their opening semi-final tie as they will take on the winners of the second semi-final at home. If he reaches the championship-deciding game, it will be the Australian’s first experience of the match at Old Trafford as he has yet to guide his side there in his three-year stint at St Helens.

The last time Saints were in the Grand Final was in 2014 when they beat Wigan 14-6. The five-time winners have just Leeds ahead of them in the standings on who has won the trophy the most since the Super League was launched in 1998.

The pain of the defeat to Warrington is likely to be hurting the camp but they can soon get over that disappointment with Grand Final success on October 12.