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    EFL to rearrange all 3pm kick-offs next Saturday to avoid clash with the funeral of Prince Philip

    NEXT Saturday’s 3pm EFL matches will be rearranged to avoid clashing with the funeral of Prince Philip.The private ceremony has been confirmed for April 17 at 3pm inside St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
    The EFL matches scheduled for 3pm next Saturday will be moved to avoid clashing with Prince Philip’s funeralCredit: AP
    The EFL matches scheduled for 3pm next Saturday will be moved to avoid clashing with Prince Philip’s funeralCredit: Splash
    A nationwide minute’s silence is to be held at the time the funeral starts.
    And the Football League confirmed the matches scheduled to kick-off at the same time shall be changed.
    An EFL statement said: “As a mark of respect, EFL matches scheduled for 3pm on Saturday 17 April will be moved to avoid a clash with the funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
    “The EFL will now work with its Clubs to determine at what time the matches will be played, giving consideration to the timing of the service. 
    “An announcement will follow in due course.”
    That will see 32 games across the Championship, League One and League Two moved – including promotion-chasers Hull and Cheltenham.
    Norwich can secure their place back in the Premier League if they beat Bournemouth – but that match is an 8pm kick-off.
    The Premier League is currently in talks with the Palace and Government to determine when Wolves’ game with Sheffield United – the only top-flight game scheduled for 3pm next Saturday – will be played. An announcement is expected on Monday.
    As a mark of respect, EFL matches scheduled for 3pm on Saturday 17 April will be moved to avoid a clash with the funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. pic.twitter.com/D29mShDGsd— EFL Communications (@EFL_Comms) April 10, 2021

    The other matches involving Premier League clubs on the same day are the lunchtime league clash between Newcastle and West Ham as well as the FA Cup semi-final at 5.30pm as Chelsea take on Manchester City.
    Rugby union confirmed the Premiership ties between 3pm and 4pm on Saturday will also be moved while other sports are expected to follow suit.
    Prince Philip passed away peacefully in his sleep on Friday morning at the age of 99, just two months short of his 100th birthday.
    Football paid its respects this weekend with players wearing black armbands and observing two minutes of silence before kick-offs.
    Due to coronavirus restrictions, only 30 people will be able to attend the funeral for the Duke of Edinburgh.
    Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be at Windsor Castle for the service – instead No10 confirmed he is vacating his seat to allow an extra family member to attend.
    There will be no public parts of the funeral in order to avoid mass gatherings.
    Two weeks of official royal mourning will follow.
    Two minutes of silence was held before all Premier League and EFL matches this weekendCredit: Getty
    Players also wore black armband as a mark of respect for the late Duke of EdinburghCredit: PA
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    Reading captain Liam Moore will quit ‘toxic’ Twitter after he reveals vile racist abuse

    READING captain Liam Moore has vowed to quit Twitter after receiving disgusting racist abuse.The centre-back was the subject of a vile social media poll and declared his intention to deactivate his account as a result.
    Reading captain Liam Moore has vowed to deactivate his Twitter account after he received vile racist abuseCredit: Rex
    The poll from a now deleted account called ‘Veljko Paunovic talks Reading FC’ asked: “Should a n***** be captain of Reading FC?”
    And the available listed answers read: ‘No’, ‘Not him’ and ‘N***** is a name’.
    Moore, 28, saw the horrendous post and hit out at Twitter for letting it happen.
    He wrote: “2021 and I’m not f***ing surprised in the slightest. Twitter you’re as much to blame for making it so easy to abuse people.”
    And in a separate post, the Jamaican international wrote: “I have enjoyed engaging with many of you on here over the years but tonight was just another example of Twitter being toxic.
    “You have to stand for something and for that reason I am deactivating my account. Thanks for your support.”
    Moore has more than 87,000 followers and hundreds of them offered messages of support.
    Johnny wrote: “So sorry Liam this is so wrong enough is enough do something Twitter, no more excuses.”
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    The centre-back was subject to a disgusting pollCredit: Twitter
    And the Jamaica international made it clear to his followers enough is enoughCredit: Twitter @liammoore93

    Hollie said: “This is absolutely disgusting and completely unacceptable.
    “More needs to be done to stop these trolls that hide behind these anonymous accounts.”
    And David added: “Liam, I am absolutely disgusted by these tweets. I’m speechless that this is still an issue in 2021.
    “I’m 66 years old and would have hoped that there would be more tolerance, but I’m obviously mistaken. Chin up mate from someone who has supported Reading for over 50 years.”
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    Wayne Rooney was major factor in Derby takeover with new owner Erik Alonso keen to work alongside Man Utd legend

    WAYNE ROONEY’S future as manager of Derby County will be safe under potential new owners No Limits Sports LTD, according to sources close to the Rams.Spanish financial whizkid Erik Alonso, 29, who owns the management company WBD Sports, has agreed to buy out current owner Mel Morris, subject to EFL approval.
    Wayne Rooney’s Derby County job is safe as prospective new owner Erik Alonso is a fan
    Current owner Mel Morris appointed Rooney in January but has agreed to sell the club
    The new move comes after Morris pulled the plug on the long-running saga of Derventio Holdings potential takeover last month, to end four months of confusion and uncertainty.
    Alonso recently failed to buy Sheffield Wednesday, but is expected to sail through the EFL Owners and Directors Test, with Derby confident the deal will be completed in the “near future.”
    However, unlike many ambitious new owners, Alonso is not hell-bent on bringing in his own manager and wants to bring much-needed stability to the relegation-threatened Rams.
    SunSport understands a major factor in Alonso’s desire to buy Derby was the chance to work alongside someone of Rooney’s legendary status, who can attract potential new signings.
    Derby are currently 18th in the Championship, eight points clear of the drop zone with six league matches remaining.
    But Alonso is confident Rooney ẃill steer the club to safety and sees the legendary Manchester United and England ace as the figurehead he needs to put Derby back on the football map.
    In a statement, outlining his plans, the 29-year-old said: “We are looking forward to working with Wayne Rooney and his team, and will do everything possible to support the club’s vision and ambition.
    “We are privileged to take ownership of one of the founding members of the Football League and to build a fresh future for the fans, staff and players of Derby County.
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    “It has undoubtedly been a difficult period both on and off the pitch for the club over the last two seasons and we recognise that all of the staff have been dedicated and worked tirelessly behind the scenes.”
    Alonso will hope to succeed where Morris failed by returning the Rams to the top flight, with Rooney a key component in his plans.
    Despite ploughing £200million of his own money into the club, Derby-born businessman Morris failed to lead Derby back to the top flight, despite reaching the play-offs in three of his first four seasons.
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    Tottenham and Man City will be given 2,000 tickets each for Carabao Cup final as EFL plan for 10,000 fans at play-offs

    MANCHESTER CITY and Tottenham will each be allocated 2,000 tickets for this month’s Carabao Cup Final.EFL chiefs are also planning for crowds of up to 10,000 at the end of season play-offs.
    Manchester City and Tottenham will be allocated 2,000 tickets each for the Carabao Cup finalCredit: PA
    And league bosses believe they can open up the turnstiles at all 72 EFL clubs from the start of next season.
    New chief executive Trevor Birch revealed the upbeat assessment even though the full details of what fans will need to do to be allowed in to games starting with the Wembley showpiece remain unclear.
    Birch said: “The Carabao Cup final will be 2,000 fans for either side.
    “There are a lot of discussions about other measures and fans will have to have either had a vaccination, pass a test or be immune to the virus.
    “Then for the play-off semi-finals and finals, we’re hopefully looking at 10,000 fans, although that’s not confirmed.
    “And our aspiration and goal is that, from August 6, we will be back in full stadia in line with the Government roadmap.”
    Birch added: “It’s vital for the clubs.
    “In rough numbers, clubs have lost about £250m of revenue over 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, so it’s significant in terms of gate receipts, commercial and sponsorship revenues.
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    “Getting back in front of full crowds is vital to the financial wellbeing of the clubs going forward.
    “It’s been offset by a few mitigating factors that have enabled clubs to survive, including the Championship loans and Premier League bail-out of Leagues One and Two.
    “So there were some mitigating aspects but another season behind closed doors would have been unpalatable for most of the clubs.
    “We’re trying to create certainty out of a very uncertain situation to enable the clubs to plan and give them confidence for next season and selling season tickets.”
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    Derby on verge of takeover as Erik Alonso agrees to buy club while Ipswich complete £40m sale to US investors

    CHAMPIONSHIP side Derby are on the verge of a takeover after Erik Alonso agreed to buy the club, subject to EFL approval.Confirmed on Wednesday, the Rams were the second Football League club to change hands in just a few hours after Ipswich were sold to US investors.
    Derby will soon be under new ownership when the EFL approves Erik Alonso’s takeoverCredit: PA
    Mel Morris has been attempting to sell Derby for some time but a deal with Bin Zayed Group collapsed earlier this season.
    Talks with No Limits Sports lasted a number of weeks until a breakthrough with Spanish businessman Alonso, 29, who recently attempted to buy Sheffield Wednesday having worked at Hillsborough as an advisor.
    The East Midlands club have confirmed the purchase will be completed when Alonso passes the EFL’s Owners and Directors Test.
    A statement read: “Derby County Football Club wishes to confirm that a definitive agreement to purchase the club has been reached with No Limits Sports Limited.
    “The transaction, which is still subject to the EFL’s Owners and Directors Test approval, is expected to close in the near future.
    “As agreed with No Limits Sports there will be no further comment until the transaction is complete. This is to ensure that all of the club’s focus will be on the Championship run in.”
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    We are looking forward to working with Wayne Rooney and his team.Erik Alonso
    Alonso thanked Candy Crush millionaire Morris for a ‘quick and smooth transaction’.
    He said in a statement: “It has undoubtedly been a difficult period both on and off the pitch for the club over the last two seasons.
    “And we recognise that all of the staff have been dedicated and worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the club’s first-team and academy football operations were fulfilled.
    “We are looking forward to working with Wayne Rooney and his team, and will do everything possible to support the club’s vision and ambition.”
    Derby currently sit 18th in the Championship table after a 3-1 defeat to Reading, eight points clear of the relegation zone.
    TRACTOR BOYS TAKEOVER
    League One club Ipswich also changed hands on Wednesday, ending Marcus Evans’ 13 years at the helm.
    The 57-year-old accepted a £40m bid from US investors Gamechanger 20 but will retain a five per cent share of the Suffolk side.
    Ipswich have not reached the Premier League since relegation in 2002Credit: Getty – Contributor
    US pension fund ORG will control 90 per cent of the Tractor Boys but day-to-day running is to be overseen by a group known as Three Lions Fund, which holds a five per cent stake.
    Made up of co-owners of the American team Phoenix Rising, the group has appointed former West Brom CEO Mike O’Leary as the new Ipswich chairman.
    O’Leary said: “We want our first remarks on completion of this takeover to be words of thanks to Marcus Evans.
    “We have been discussing this sale with him for more than a year, and throughout the negotiations his love for the Club has shone through. He is a true supporter and all of us at Gamechanger 20 are extremely grateful that he has chosen to put his trust in us.
    “Marcus has invested considerable money, time and energy in Ipswich Town. His decision to waive much of the Club’s outstanding debt is one that deserves the gratitude of every single Ipswich Town fan.”
    Three Lions member Brett Johnson added: “The Three Lions have considerable experience in commerce and marketing, and in the medium-term plan to increase revenue at the Club.
    “But the short-term priority has to be the playing side, and we are committed to improving that, all the way from the Academy to the first-team.”
    Evans confirmed the writing off of ‘a portion’ of Ipswich’s historic debt having put £100m into the club since buying it in 2007.
    Paul Cook’s side are three points outside the League One play-off placesCredit: Alamy

    In that time, Town have dropped from the Championship to League One, where they sit eighth.
    Evans stated: “The fund has deep pockets, but by the nature of a pension fund will be fiscally responsible in the use of those funds.
    “In order to meet its investment responsibilities, it will need to invest to secure Premier League status, and it has already committed to making substantial investment in both the Club’s playing squad and infrastructure.
    “I had always wanted to take the Club myself to the Premier League and sadly, for too short a window, at one time this had seemed possible.”
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    Rotherham boss Paul Warne dreaming of football again – and takes aim at critics

    PAUL Warne has had his shed done in by being forced to watch games at home – now he is dreaming of football.That means there can be no delays in what the Rotherham boss sees and no comments to his family.
    Rotherham boss Paul Warne is back on the touchline after being forced to watch from his shedCredit: Rex Features
    Warne was forced to self-isolate after contracting Covid-19, forcing him to watch the Millers from his garden shed.
    But he will be back in his usual place today at the crucial relegation six-pointer with Wycombe and just being around players and colleagues is a huge boost.
    He successfully wound up his squad on Thursday with an April Fool asking them to bring eggs to training for an egg rolling race.
    But getting stressed in bed is one drawback as he said: “I’d rather just sleep and dream of being on an island or something.
    “Dreaming about work isn’t ideal. Even more so when I get sent off. I get stressed when I’m asleep. I have enough of that when I’m awake!
    Warne admits he has been dreaming of football againCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    “Wednesday was the first night I dreamed about football, which I normally do most nights. It’s my brain telling me, ‘Get ready mate. There’s a game.’
    “I woke up at 6am, I’d made some signings and out this left winger on, got fouled, got up and punched the fella in the face and got a red card!”
    Warne admits having to watch in his shed brought its own issues.
    A lag on the feed on his TV meant he had not seen a key piece of action when it happened and he admits he was proved wrong after questioning a player’s actions.
    But he is ready to defy critics by keeping Rotherham in the Championship, ones who do not credit his side while praising others for doing the exact same thing.
    Rotherham are fighting to stay in the ChampionshipCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    He added, after admitting he has cut out certain comments other managers have made to fire his side up: “I’m biased but I see Cardiff play and they don’t play any differently than us.
    “I love Mick McCarthy but I read an article the other day about how he’s gone in and they are unbelievable. They play exactly the same as we do.
    “I get offended, more offended by the fact I see a lot of teams play exactly the same as us and when we win against other managers, the first thing they come out with is, ‘Oh, they’re a physical team.’
    “I don’t think we’ve given away more fouls than any other team, we’ve had no more sendings off or bookings. I get frustrated, I find it wrong.
    Warne admits he is offended by some Rotherham criticsCredit: PA:Press Association
    “I’ve kept a few things people have said if anyone’s needled the lads or been disrespectful.  Also things about this whole ‘Covid conspiracy’ because everyone wants to take home a life threatening illness, that makes complete sense.
    “But when I watched our Watford game, it was two minutes behind, which was beyond frustrating. One minute I thought we were going to score then the goalie coach rang saying, ‘They’ve scored.’
    “I was like, ‘What do you mean they’ve scored? We’re in the other box,’ and against Bristol City when Wes Harding crossed the ball I was like, ‘What’s he doing?’
    “When Michael Smith scored I was like, ‘That’s what he’s doing. Yes Wes!” More

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    Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock lines up Ched Evans free transfer with Preston deal set to expire

    MIDDLESBROUGH boss Neil Warnock is hoping to snatch striker Ched Evans from Preston.The Boro gaffer fancies the 32-year-old on a free transfer.
    Middlesbrough are eyeing up a summer move for Preston striker Ched EvansCredit: Rex
    The Wales international’s deal at Deepdale expires at the end of the season.
    Boro are also targeting Oxford goalkeeper Jack Stevens as well as Evans.
    Evans only joined the Lilywhites on an initial loan transfer from League One outfit Fleetwood Town in January.
    Preston turned his deal into a permanent stay a month later, but it remains to be seen whether he will offered a contract extension.
    The ex-Sheffield United ace has impressed during his short stay – chipping in with three goals in 14 Championship appearances.
    Evans recently spoke about the possibility of remaining at Preston, as he stated: “With regards to the games that I have played, I feel that I’ve done OK, I’ve done well.
    “I’ve scored a few goals and I feel we could’ve created more chances.
    “And if we did create those more chances, I feel I could’ve scored more goals.
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    “But it is, for me, just about taking every game as it comes now and performing.
    “It’s about getting wins on a Saturday and keeping Preston North End where they are.”
    Commenting on what Preston need to do in their remaining fixtures to stay in the Championship, Evans declared: “Some games I felt we could’ve fought more.
    “Possibly created more chances, crosses into the box and stuff – at the end of the day there is 11 players on the pitch and we need to go out and perform, you need people to take control.
    “Being more solid at the back, I felt the manager tried his utmost to make happen but ultimately it came down to how we did it on the pitch.
    “You can’t have too many people not performing because it just doesn’t work and for me, the last eight games now, you are basically going to battle in every game.”
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    League One drop scrap nothing for Rotherham skipper Richard Wood compared to son battling diabetes

    RICHARD WOOD knows about struggles so Rotherham’s fight against relegation is water off a duck’s back.The Millers captain’s 12-year-old son Jenson everyday lives with type 1 diabetes.
    Rotherham captain Richard Wood and 12-year-old son Jenson set off for a 100km bike ride to raise funds for a diabetes research charityCredit: RICHARD WOOD

    Richard Wood relishes the relegation battle that Rotherham currently find themselves in
    It is something Woods and his partner Jade have had to worry about since their son was diagnosed with the condition aged two.
    Rotherham are in a battle against dropping into League One and have a crazy schedule – which after Friday’s trip to Millwall and Monday’s home game with Wycombe – includes them playing four games in just eight days.
    But this pales into insignificance when people like Jenson are battling more serious problems.
    Wood, 35, said: “It’s a condition where something is triggered when you’re young.
    “In Jenson’s case, he got ill and his immune system attacked the cells that produce insulin in his pancreas, causing permanent damage.
    “The insulin converts sugars and carbs into energy so we manually have to put it in each day and calculate how many carbs he has had or whatever he is drinking and match that with the amount of insulin his body needs.
    “It’s a constant balancing act. If you’re eating something sugary or high in carbs, your blood sugars increase. If you have too much sugar in your blood, you can become ill.
    “The insulin moves the sugar from your blood to your muscles.

    “But if he has too much insulin, it takes too much sugar out of your blood and you don’t get enough to your brain and you can pass out – and people with this condition can die in that scenario.
    “He’s been low a few times and got dizzy. We’ve had to give him adrenaline injections to bring him back up. It’s a constant balancing act.
    “Exercise affects it because you’re using sugar and energy.
    “He’s growing older and doing things with his friends so he must manage it a little himself. Now he wears an insulin pump that injects it automatically.
    “I’m constantly ringing him and texting him to say how are your blood sugars?
    “But he’s doing brilliantly and living as normal a life as possible. He even plays football.”
    Wood has become so passionate about helping others who suffer this horrible condition that he has become an ambassador of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
    And in November – to mark the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin – the Rotherham defender decided to raise funds for the charity by cycling 100km.
    Richard Wood’s son Jenson joined him for the first 20k of his 100k charity bike ride
    No journey is too far for Wood
    He said: “I wanted to do a marathon but couldn’t risk getting injured. I’ve recently got into mountain biking so thought to keep within the theme of 100 years, why not do a 100km cycle.
    “So during the international break in November, I set off one day early in the morning with Jenson. He did the first 20k with me.
    “I did the ‘Wakefield Wheel’, which is 60k all around Wakefield and then the Trans Pennine Trail.
    The 101.5km route taken by Richard Wood took him six hours, 26 minutes
    “I went out towards Huddersfield and back home from there. It was mostly on trails because I’m not keen on road biking.
    “I’d much rather be on a country trail or hills. I also don’t listen to music – I just enjoy my day out. It helps clear the mind.”
    And while Wood is fortunate enough to be a Championship footballer, he knows full well how difficult this pandemic has been as he and his partner Jade run a soft-play centre in Horbury, near Wakefield.
    We can relate to all the small businesses who have struggled and people who have been furloughed during these tough times
    Secret Garden, like many businesses, has been shut down because of lockdown restrictions.
    Wood said: “We opened it three years ago but it’s been shut for the last year so we’re looking forward to getting that going again.
    “We can relate to all the small businesses who have struggled and people who have been furloughed during these tough times.
    “When our two boys – Jenson and Graye – were younger we had been to that many play centres, we wanted to have a go at it ourselves.
    “I love going there for my coffee. I’ve worked there as well when we’ve been busy by picking up the trays and plates from the customers in the cafe.”
    Rotherham are three points adrift of fourth-bottom Birmingham with four games in hand – but have won two out of their last three.
    Richard Wood is still going strong for Rotherham at the age of 35
    And even before that, despite the Millers losing five on the spin, each one was by the odd goal and four of the opponents are challenging for promotion in Bournemouth, Cardiff, Norwich and Reading.
    Wood said: “We haven’t played badly in those games we lost either.
    “It’s not like we’ve been struggling and confidence has been low. We’re in a good place. The lads are positive about it and we’re looking forward to it and the mad schedule we’ve got coming up.
    “Watford aside – where we got battered 4-1 – we’ve been decent and fancy our chances of staying up. It’s in our own hands.”
    Wood is in his seventh season at Rotherham in a career that has also taken in Sheffield Wednesday, Coventry and Charlton as well as loans at Crawley, Fleetwood ad Chesterfield.
    So what is it that he loves about the Millers?
    He said: “We know we don’t have the biggest budget and are not a big team on paper.
    “For a club in the bottom three, there is no sign of a lack of confidence and morale is high.
    “Everyone just pulls together at Rotherham, we do a lot of community work and are hard working. That is what this club is all about. We’re similar to Barnsley in a lot of ways and look what they’re doing right now.”
    Wood puts this down to boss Paul Warne and the squad he has assembled.
    He said: “He’s a great person. I’ve known him a long time. He was a fitness coach when I first came to the club and he helped me out a lot before he became the manager.
    “Since taking over, he’s grown into the role really well.
    “He wants good people in. He wants proper human beings. He believes in that side of it.
    “The manager also cares about all his players and staff as people. That is a really good trait he has got and he’s a really genuine guy.
    “He has rejuvenated the club and it’s a happy place to come to work now.”
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