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    Newcastle ‘go on secret scout missions to Sunderland over Dion Sanderson transfer’ with 21-year-old on loan from Wolves

    NEWCASTLE are monitoring Sunderland loanee Dion Sanderson with a view to signing him, according to reports.Sanderson is currently on loan from Wolves and has earned rave reviews for his performances this season.
    Dion Sanderson has impressed at Sunderland an in a previous loan spell at Cardiff
    Steve Bruce may have to settle for EFL targets in the summer window
    Mackems boss Lee Johnson described him as a ‘Rolls-Royce’ defender and that has led other Premier League clubs to take note, report ChronicleLive.
    The 21-year-old has just over a year remaining on his contract and though Sunderland are keen to sign him if they go up, Newcastle could intervene.
    The Magpies are reportedly focusing their transfer strategy on Championship and League One prospects.
    Peterborough’s Siriki Dembele is said to have caught the eye of Steve Bruce and Sanderson also fits that criteria.
    Newcastle are still the topic of takeover speculation but until that happens budget restrictions will be tight.
    It is believed the pandemic has had a significant impact on finances and Newcastle will only be able to spend money they raise through player departures.
    That could change if a takeover happens, with US billionaire James Pallotta hinting that he has an interest in buying Toon.
    Sanderson in action against Siriki Dembele, another player Bruce has watched

    If that fails to happen Mike Ashley might decide to cash in on valuable assets.
    Allan Saint-Maximin was linked with a move away last summer while Miguel Almiron has hinted he could leave in the summer.
    Newcastle are in danger of relegation this term but Ashley may continue to be frugal with transfer spending when the window opens.
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
    Jose Mourinho and Steve Bruce have mixed emotions after Newcastle and Tottenham draw More

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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.

    “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.”
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
    Manchester City ace Kevin De Bruyne agrees new four-year contract More

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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.”
    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.
    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.”
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
    Nicky Butt in line for Wayne Rooney reunion at Derby after quitting Manchester United coaching role More

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    Rebecca Welch becomes first female EFL ref by taking charge of Harrogate vs Port Vale in historic appointment

    HISTORY-MAKING referee Rebecca Welch took charge of an EFL match today.The highest ranked female official in England was in the middle for Monday’s game between Harrogate Town and Port Vale in League Two.
    Rebecca Welch made EFL history on Easter MondayCredit: Getty
    The highest-ranked female official in England took charge of Harrogate Town vs Port Vale in League TwoCredit: Reuters
    In 2010, Amy Fearn became the first woman to take charge of a Football League match when she took over from injured Tony Bates in a Championship match between Coventry and Nottingham Forest.
    But Easter Monday’s game was the first time a female has been appointed beforehand to take charge in the EFL.
    Welch is on the Uefa’s elite list of referees and has taken charge of the women’s FA Cup final at Wembley.
    When the news of her appointment was revealed, Welch told Sky Sports:”I’m still trying to let it sink in.
    “I got the news on Saturday and haven’t come back down to earth yet. I’m very fortunate to have been given this opportunity and I’m really excited about it.
    “My dad is probably my biggest fan, so he’s over the moon. My mum doesn’t know a lot about football. She’s excited, but I don’t think she knows why! They’re really proud.
    “It’s not something I thought that, when I decided to be a referee 11 years ago, I would be in the Football League doing a game. That didn’t even register on my radar.
    Rebecca Welch was the first female official to be appointed to an EFL gameCredit: Getty
    “It seems to have been a whirlwind over the past 11 years and now we’re a week away from one of the biggest games of my career.
    “I’ve always said, through all my promotions, I want to be appointed because I am in the top 10 match officials on that list. I never want to be appointed based on anything else. I’ve got faith in the system, and I’ve been rewarded.”
    The appointment of Welch to the League Two match came just two days after Stephanie Frappart became the first woman to take charge of a men’s World Cup qualifier.
    And with the increased number of female officials beginning to succeed in the men’s game, Welch highlighted pioneering English official Sian Massey-Ellis as a huge inspiration to her.

    “Sian’s an absolute icon in refereeing and has paved the way for females, not just in England but all over Europe, to think about taking up the whistle,” she added.
    “To have her around a dressing room, as one of my friends, is really important. The experience that Sian has is invaluable.
    “I’ve grown so much as a person, being around the professional football environment, and learning from things I do wrong, something I probably didn’t do as much of before I was a referee.
    “I’ve got a big support network, and nobody understands you better than another referee. But it’s really important to have a support network not connected to football too.”
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
    Rebecca Welch is hoping she can inspire others after becoming the first female referee to be appointed to an EFL match More

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    When are the EFL playoffs 2021? Dates, kick-off times, TV channels for the Championship, League One and League Two

    THE EFL season has reached its business end with promotion races taking shape.And the campaign will conclude with the traditional play-off finals at Wembley, which will be played in front of fans if the government roadmap stays on track.
    Fulham were 2020 Championship play-off final winnersCredit: PA
    Fulham, Wycombe and Northampton Town were the promoted sides last year, but who will be participating in the play-offs this year and when will the games take place?
    When are the EFL play-offs?

    The EFL play-off finals will be played on the May Bank Holiday Weekend (Saturday, May 29 – Monday, May 31).
    The EFL have yet to decide in which order the three leagues will play.
    No date has been set for the EFL play-off semi-finals yet.
    However, the regular season finishes on the weekend of Saturday, May 8 and Sunday, May 9.
    Play-off semi-final first legs typically follow around a week after the end of the regular season.

    What TV channel are EFL play-off matches on and can I live stream them?

    Sky Sports hold exclusive rights to EFL coverage, including the play-off games.
    Matches will be shown live on channels such as Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event.
    Some matches may be shown on the Sky Sports Red Button if they overlap with others.
    To stream EFL play-off matches live, head to your Sky Go account.
    Non-Sky Sports subscribers can still watch all the action with a Now TV Day Pass from £9.99.

    Adebayo Akinfenwa and Wycombe Wanderers were promoted from League One at WembleyCredit: Getty
    Northampton Town were victorious in the League Two play-off finalCredit: Getty
    How many fans will be allowed to attend the EFL play-off finals?
    Should the roadmap be delivered as proposed, sports stadiums will be filled with ten thousand fans or 25 per cent of total capacity (whichever is the smaller).
    As Wembley Stadium has a total capacity of 90,000, ten thousand supporters can be expected at each EFL play-off final. More

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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.

    “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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    Sunderland’s billionaire owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus planning £60m transfer spree if Black Cats go up to Championship

    BLACK CATS owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus is itching to spend if they go up.Contacts close to Louis-Dreyfus in France reveal that he has earmarked £60million for new faces for Sunderland.
    Kyril Louis-Dreyfus is planning a huge transfer spree if Sunderland get promotedCredit: Rex
    But that cash will NOT be spent all at once.
    The 23-year-old vowed to rebuild Sunderland earlier this year after slamming his predecessors for “asset-stripping” the League One club.
    Heir to an estimated £4billion fortune, the new Black Cats owner acquired a majority stake from Stewart Donald back in February.
    The Swiss said: “It is a fresh start.
    “It has been many years now where the club had no real long-term vision and also cost-cutting at its forefront, which basically led to an asset-stripping in almost all departments, which required rebuilding from the start.
    “It will be a long-term plan – hopefully we can take it forward together and bring better times to the club.”
    On the pitch, Sunderland continued their march to promotion as they came from behind to beat Oxford 3-1 ahead of the crunch trip to Peterborough.
    Lee Johnson’s men stretched their unbeaten run to 11 as Lynden Gooch, AIden McGeady and Max Power struck after James Henry’s opener.

    That left them two points behind with a game in hand against second-placed Posh going into the Easter Monday showdown.
    Johnson said: “It’s a huge three points against a very good side. We got the goal at a great time.”
    And on Peterborough, he added: “It’s an opportunity for three points and there’s still much to play for.”
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