Black Cats sack Adam Johnson

28-year-old winger Adam Johnson has today been sacked by Sunderland AFC after the footballer pleaded guilty to one charge of grooming and one count of participating in sexual activity with a child under the age of 16 years.

The Black Cats had announced earlier in the day that Johnson would be unavailable for their Premier League match on Saturday with Manchester United.

There could still be parts of the story to unfold as the midfielder will face two further counts of sexual activity with a child on Friday – but this is something he currently denies.

Sunderland released a club statement 7:35pm which read as follows:

“In light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.

The club will make no further comment.”

The Sunderland born player has also had his boot sponsorship deal with Nike severed today too, as many of those who were closely linked to him look to distance themselves from association quickly.

“Adidas can confirm that it has terminated its contract with footballer Adam Johnson with immediate effect.

“This follows his guilty pleas entered earlier this week.” A statement read.

Johnson had enjoyed his final game in Sunderland’s red and white having been a major part of the club’s fight back from 2-0 down at Liverpool, as he scored direct from a free kick to make the scores 2-1 – before Jermaine Defoe equalised seven minutes later to finish the game at 2-2.

Let’s take a look at how Twitter reacted (Including an old one from another Adam Johnson from around the time the story first unfolded):

(The views in the tweets do not necessarily match mine. Just thought they were share worthy.)

Giants handed Grix blow

Super League side Huddersfield Giants have been dealt a blow after finding out that full-back Scott Grix will miss five months of the new season with a shoulder injury.

Paul Anderson, head coach of the Giants, announced the bad news today – whilst Grix was in fact one of three players to suffer an injury during Friday’s loss to St Helens.

The shoulder injury appears to be similar to one that resulted in a limited amount of appearances for the 31-year-old during the 2014 season, but Grix had been a prominent figure last year making 24 apps.

“Everything you can imagine that’s gone wrong with his shoulder has done.

“He has had previous history with surgery on that shoulder and it will be a longer rehabilitation programme. We’re looking at five months.” Anderson told the BBC.

As previously mentioned, there were two other injuries on the night and those were announced as club captain Danny Brough, who had to be substituted after sustaining a dead leg – and Eorl Crabtree, who may be missing for a few weeks with a groin injury.

“It’s the first time in my history I’ve seen Danny in genuine pain.

“He’s a tough human being and he hates rehab, so he’s giving them a tough time.” Anderson continued.

The Giants will be looking to bounce back from the loss on the opening day of the rugby season when they face Wigan Warriors on Friday at 8pm in the John Smith’s stadium.

Three days ago the club announced that they had taken ex-St Helens winger Jamie Foster on trial, but it has now been confirmed by Anderson that he is on course to start Friday’s televised tie with Wigan.

“Jamie will play. He’s saying the right things but obviously he’s been inactive for a while. There is always a risk with that but we have no choice at the moment.

“What you are going to see over the next couple of weeks is the future of the Giants. We’re not likely to get anybody back soon. The young fellas will be loving it because they’re going to get an opportunity to play at home, on Sky, against Wigan, and challenge themselves.”

Nadal will play at Queens club this summer

Rafael Nadal remains one of the biggest names in the sport of tennis, and is still many fans’ favourite despite having now not won one of the Grand Slam tournaments since 2014. But those fans will be delighted to hear that the Spaniard will be partaking in this summers Queens club tournament due to start on June 13th.

The 29-year-old is currently ranked 5th in the world and has played at Queens club on six different occasions, and even won the event back in 2008.

Nadal told the press that Queens club gives players the “perfect conditions” to prepare for Wimbledon, which begins a week after the conclusion of Queens on June 27th.

“I love playing at the Queen’s Club and I am very happy that I will be back this year. I will never forget winning the title in 2008; it was a special moment, and going on to win my first Wimbledon.

“Holding that trophy again would be amazing, although I am well aware of the difficulties because the tournament always has so many good players.”

Andy Murray has also confirmed his presence at the event, and will attempting to retain his crown having won last years tournament.

The Scot was left heartbroken after losing the Australian Open to Novak Djokovic in recent weeks, but will be looking to make amends back on home soil.

A recent post from the ‘Rafa Nadal Academy’ which looks to find the tennis stars of the future.

Luca Toni: The evergreen Italian

Inspired by Betway’s recent article nod to FA Cup cult heroes, we decided to change the scope slightly from England’s bloodied and battered stalwarts to Italy, and the colourful characters that have populated Serie A across the decades.

There have, of course, been many reluctant idols on the Italian peninsula, but perhaps none so intriguingly underrated as one currently on the verge of retirement: Hellas Verona’s Luca Toni.

Think classic Italian striker and perhaps Roberto Baggio, Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti, even Gianfranco Zola or Antonia Cassano in his pomp, are the first on your dream team sheet; adaptable attackers, keen to work the channels and create, in the ilk of a ‘fantasista’, blurring the lines between playmaker and striker with abandon.

Yet, there have also been great goalscorers, of which pure poacher Toni is undoubtedly one, though the Verona man may gather dust in the archives of Serie A and Azzurri history, when situated next to more feted forwards such as Christian Vieri.

Here are a few reasons why it’s worth standing back and admiring this ageing artist of the Italian goal mouth, while you still can…

Luca Toni 1

A classic number nine on edge of extinction

As the game adapts and grows there are fewer of these Toni-style centre forwards than ever, with the fashion demanding fluid forwards that can do it all. However, as Andy Carroll occasionally shows in the Premier League, having a striker in the traditional mould can still prove to be a handy card up your sleeve.

Aggressive he may be, but Toni is no blunt battering ram. Yet, he is a fine focal point, a canny target man in the truest sense, albeit one with all the positive hallmarks of an unabashed hitman.

Strong with his back to goal, a torrid presence in his heyday for the opposition defence due to his stature and spirit and adept at holding up the ball, it is tough to think of a more effective foil for any wily winger pumping crosses into the box. Oh, and he is also pretty handy with his head.

Cast your mind back to last Serie A season, with the current and final campaign in Italy’s top-flight for Toni yet to prove fruitful, when the 6ft 4in striker found himself facing former club and champions Juventus.

Latching onto the ball in the Old Lady’s area, Verona’s old man pulled the trigger on a low finish like only a seasoned pro can. It was Toni’s 22nd strike of the term, ensuring he finished joint-top Serie A scorer aged an incredible 38, the oldest leading marksman ever to claim it in Italy, alongside young whipper-snapper Mauro Icardi.

Though, this is far from the first time tenacious Toni, a known gobbler of loose balls and half-chances, has been crowned Capocannoniere, with a first top scorer trophy awarded much earlier in his career during a first fledgling stint at Fiorentina; with this honour acting almost as a bookend to his time in Italian football.

 

Hitman heroics from the ultimate journeyman

Yet, despite individual accolades, plus being a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006 and a Bundesliga and DFB Pokal victor with Bayern Munich in 2008, there is still a smidge of snobbery regarding Toni’s career.

Indeed, the soon-to-be 39-year-old was once famously criticised by Mark Lawrenson for being: “Like 6ft 4in of blancmange…more Swiss Toni than Luca Toni.”

While the context of that comment was his international exploits with Azzurri, with Toni disappointing at Euro 2008, it appears that his outings in royal blue have impaired views on what has been an otherwise prolific career.

A return of 16 for Italy in 47 is nothing special, but 51 in 83 for Palermo, 57 in 99 over two Viola stints, plus 58 in 88 for Bayern Munich are stats not to be sniffed at. Luca Toni 2More than the tally, it is the importance and timing of those strikes which made Toni terrific, ensuring a cult status at several clubs. His journeyman nature, taking in 15 clubs across 26 seasons, beginning in Serie C with minnows Modena back in 1994/95 and now set for the final act with the Mastiffs in 2016, has perhaps prevented the veteran frontman from becoming a legend for any.

Though, that may not matter, when considering it was Toni’s club-record 30 goals which incredibly propelled Palermo to Serie A promotion in 2003, and a further 20 strikes for the Rosanero helped them to a first ever qualification for the UEFA Cup, leaving a lasting legacy still today for the Sicilians.

There was also the small matter of claiming the European Golden Shoe as the first Italian winner after notching 31 (the first time in half a century that a Serie A player scored more than 30 strikes in a season) for Fiorentina.

But take your pick of perfectly-timed Toni moments, for there are plenty: A 100th Serie A goal on his debut for Juventus – headed, of course, from 16 metres out; a rampant return to Viola, scoring as a super sub with his first touch versus Catania; grabbing the DFB Pokal extra-time winner for Bayern, with two last-gasp goals also for the Germans against Getafe in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals.

Outspoken antics and career’s end

For all his action on the pitch, Toni has never held back off the field either, and infamously ran into trouble when taking his Italian passion to Germany.

Reportedly fined for driving home at half-time after being substituted by then-Bayern boss Louis van Gaal, ticked off for slouching and then farmed out to Roma for apparent further disagreements with the coach, Toni saw his (until then successful) time in Bavaria come to an abrupt end.

His career never quite hit the same heights, until a recent renaissance with Verona, and Toni has always been outspoken about that fork in the road, providing some memorable gems like the ones below.

“Van Gaal simply didn’t want to work with me, he treats players like interchangeable objects,” Toni once told press before going on relate a story about Van Gaal’s changing room demeanour.

Toni reportedly also said: “The coach wanted to make clear to us that he can drop any player, it was all the same to him because, as he said, he had the balls.

He demonstrated this literally (by dropping his trousers). I have never experienced anything like it, it was totally crazy. Luckily I didn’t see a lot, because I wasn’t in the front row.”

Though, with the curtain about to be drawn on his distinguished career, Toni appears to have mellowed. As, the striker recently stated: “I think the time has come to stop.

“I hope to celebrate it by keeping Verona safe in Serie A. We want to do it; we should not give up now.”

With his side rock-bottom of Serie A and still winless, are there more Toni heroics left in the tank?

Tyson Fury may quit boxing

Photo courtesy of: boxingnewsonline.net

World heavyweight champion Tyson Fury has shocked fans of boxing by saying he has still not decided on whether he will face Wladimir Klitschko in the re-match, and could leave boxing altogether.

Fury’s defeat of Klitschko back in November came as a surprise, with Fury claiming the WBA, IBF WBO titles in the heavyweight division – and a re-match is scheduled to take place in either May or June.

The 27-year-old told members of the press he was struggling to gain the motivation needed to be able to defeat Klitschko for a second time.

“I’m struggling to get motivated.

“I could walk away. I could just sail into the sunset unbeaten with all the belts and live a normal life.

“All that I would be boxing for is money and I always thought to myself I never want to let sport become about money.” Fury said.

He went on to say that he was more focussed on spending time with his young family, and is not interested in obtaining any more heavyweight belts.

“I’ve accomplished a dream. It’s about how much motivation I have to keep going on.

“There is life after boxing and I don’t know what I’m going to do at the moment. I haven’t even cemented I am going to fight in a rematch.”

Fury has not returned to heavy training yet, and he admits he is only jogging and lifting weights at this time – and with the potential big fight only a matter of months away, you would think his decision will come pretty imminently.

 

De Bruyne faces up to six weeks out

de Bruyne in action for Belgium

When Manchester City fans saw the discomfort their impressive midfielder Kevin de Bruyne was in during their 3-1 victory over Everton on Wednesday night, they had every right to assume the worst. Thankfully, though, the injury is not as bad as first feared.

The Belgian was taken off on a stretcher with his right knee fully strapped up after having scored the second goal and set up the third for his side on their way to winning the second leg on aggregate, securing a Wembley day out with Liverpool in the Capital One cup final.

The injury happened in injury time, and some had thought it may see de Bruyne out for the remainder of the season. But since then it has been announce he may only be missing for up to six weeks.

When speaking to Sky, de Bruyne’s agent Patrick de Koster said his client would work hard to come back stronger.

“Kevin told me the only thing he can do is work hard and come back.

“Kevin is sad. His dream is to always be playing football. He will miss games like the League Cup final and in the Champions League, which are important.”

Despite helping his side make it to Wembley, de Bruyne is almost certainly going to miss the final with Liverpool on February 28th.

The injury was the only downer on a big night for City, but manager Manuel Pellegrini is optimistic he’ll have de Bruyne back before the end of the campaign.

“We’ll see how important the damage is. It’s not the cruciate ligament.

“The doctor thinks, but he cannot be sure, that it’s a problem in his medial ligament.”

The good news for City fans is they are being seen by the bookies as the favourite going into the match with Liverpool. This guide to online sports betting available at online-betting.me.uk will have all of the relevant information ahead of the big tie at the end of February.

Everton keeper Joel Robles tried to lift the injured de Bruyne repeatedly as he lay injured on the ground, but has since taken to social media to apologise to the Belgian.

Mitchell Pearce stood down by Roosters

The Sydney Football Stadium

Sydney Roosters captain Mitchell Pearce has been stood down by his club following the release of a video where he appears to imitate a sex act on a dog.

Pearce’s advances were rejected by a female in the video, before he then picked up the dog whilst sat on the sofa. He was also accused of urinating on himself and the furniture in the flat, by the same woman.

Earlier on during the same day Pearce had posted a photo to his Instagram of he and his teammates embarking on a Sydney Harbour Cruise, following the conclusion of their morning training session. This all happened on Australia Day.

Love these blokes ✌🏻️

A post shared by Mitchell Pearce (@mitchpearce_7) on

A spokesman for the NRL said “will work with the Roosters to ensure the matter is dealt with appropriately”.

The Sydney Roosters also released a statement, claiming they were to work closely with the the NRL integrity unit.

“The Sydney Roosters are aware of an incident involving Mitchell Pearce.

“The Club has advised the NRL’s Integrity Unit. The Club will conduct an internal investigation and will be making no further comment at this time.”

Expect this story to unravel even more in the coming days.

Which Premier League team travels the most this season?

The Premier League is the most watched football league around the world. Watched across the globe by millions and loyal fans, it also is the highest paid league with footballers paid wages that we can only dream of.

The Premier League season 2015/2016 has been a turbulent one so far, with Leicester surprising us all. It has been great to see the underdog lead the pack, but could this be because they don’t travel far to matches on average? Compared to teams like Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United?

Harrison and Rowley have done the number crunching figures and bring to you an infographic showing how much each Premier League travels over the course of the 2015/2016 season and the results we found were surprising. Newcastle, Sunderland and Swansea lead the top 3 positions as the most travelling teams. As they are situated far in the North it is understandable that they have to travel more then central teams. The teams in the bottom 3 that travel the least are Aston Villa, Leicester and West Brom, the Midlands teams.

Could travelling less be the reason why Leicester City are top of the league? With Newcastle the most travelling team could this be the reason why they are at the bottom of the league? Well we shall let you decide for yourself, in the meantime how does you team rank? Let us know!

Premier_league_table

Dylan Hartley: “I’ve learnt my lesson.”

Newly appointed England captain Dylan Hartley has claimed he has “learned from his lessons” following his appointment ahead of the Six Nations tournament.

Hartley takes over from Chris Robshaw of the Harlequins with immediate effect. Robshaw had held the captaincy for four years.

The new England captain may be a controversial choice to some, having been caught up in high profile acts such as gouging, biting and striking – receiving bans totalling 54 weeks for his actions.

“My rap sheet is well documented and I will get reminded of it daily.” he told the press.

Although Hartley admits he always held faith that he would eventually be able to break back into the England squad, he admitted he was surprised to find out that he would not only do that, but captain his nation too.

“Yes I am surprised, but I will take it with two hands.

“I am confident in myself as a player at Test level. I have captained my club for six years and have learned a lot there.

“I sometimes get it wrong but it has gone well for me at Northampton too. You need to get yourself at a level to be competitive and confrontational. It has gone wrong in the past but it will stay there.”

Now the England camp have shown their faith in the 29-year-old, will he commit any silly offences once more?

“No, of course not. I have learned from my lessons and it is for me to live with. Now I have to lead by example and answer the critics. I am a motivated person.”

Hartley reacted on his personal Twitter account:

Hartley speaks with the BBC’s Dan Roan today:

 

Two Brits progress in Aus Open qualifiers

Dan Evans in action

Dan Evans and James Ward have both progressed to within two victories of making the draw for the Australian Open, having progressed in the first found of the qualifiers.

Evans’ win saw him lose serve just once during his match with Italy’s top seed Luca Vanni. He defeated Vanni 7-6 (7-5) 6-4, and will face Israeli Amir Weintraub in round two of three.

Evans, 25, was born in Birmingham and turned pro in 2005. The Englishman is currently ranked 185th in the world, and reached a career high of 123rd in February 2014.

Ward was also in impressive form as he unleashed 16 aces in 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 victory over Canada’s Peter Polanski.

Born in England’s capital city, London, Ward reached a career high of 89th in the world in July 2015, and currently sits 155th at 28 years of age.

The Australian Open starts on Monday and marks the start of a new season of Tennis.

There was a pre-tournament scare for Aussie Nick Kyrgios as he pulled out of the opening match at the Kooyong Classic. David Goffin was awarded victory as Kyrgios pulled out with a reported foot injury, but later let his fans on Twitter know that it was just precautionary: