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MANCHESTER UNITED DEBT RISES TO MORE THAN £514M AS RECORD WAGE BILL REVEALED

Manchester United have announced a net loss of £115.5million for the 2021-22 season even though revenues rose by 18 per cent to £583m.

Figures released incorporating the final quarter of their financial year, which ended in June, showed losses rose by £23m on the previous 12 months.

The club’s net debt also rose, from £419.5m in 2021 to £514.9m this year, an increase of more than 22 per cent.

United put that rise of £95.4m primarily down to £64.6m of unrealised foreign exchange losses on the retranslation of borrowings in United States dollars.

Revenue rose by £89.1m, while United paid out £33.6m in dividends to shareholders.

“Our financial results for fiscal 2022 reflect a recovery from the pandemic, a full return of fans and new commercial partnerships offset by increased investment in the playing squad,” said chief financial officer Cliff Baty.

“Our results have been adversely affected by the absence of a summer tour in July 2021, material exceptional and increased utility costs, and the impact of the weakening of sterling on our non-cash finance costs.”

As a result of the signings last summer of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane wages leapt by 19.1 per cent, a rise of £61.6m to £384.2m.

That figure is the highest in Premier League history, surpassing the previous mark set by Manchester City (£355m).

“Our club’s core mission is to win football matches and entertain our fans,” said chief executive Richard Arnold.

“Since our last earnings report, we have strengthened our men’s first team squad, completed a successful summer tour, and established a foundation to build from in the early stages of the 2022-23 season under our new manager Erik ten Hag.

“We have also continued to develop our women’s team with an aim of reinforcing our position among the leading clubs in the Women’s Super League.

“While there is a lot more work to do, everyone at the club is aligned on a clear strategy to deliver sustained success on the pitch and a sustainable economic model off it, to the mutual benefit of fans, shareholders, and other stakeholders.”

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MARK NOBLE RETURNS TO WESTHAM AS SPORTING DIRECTOR

West Ham have announced former captain Mark Noble is to return to the club in the role of sporting director.

Noble, 35, retired at the end of last season following 18 campaigns with his boyhood side.

In a newly created position, Noble will work closely in support of Hammers manager David Moyes and the current board.

“I’m really happy to be coming back and can’t wait to get started,” Noble said. “I’d like to thank the club for giving me the opportunity – it’s a great honour for me to take up this role.

“I’ve spent the last 24 years as a player here, first in the academy and then in the first team, and obviously have a deep knowledge and understanding of the club.

“The last two years, as my playing days began to naturally wind down, gave me a fantastic opportunity to really spend some time educating myself and gaining greater knowledge and understanding of the work that goes on behind the scenes.

“This club has made some fantastic strides forward in that period and I am really looking forward to coming back at such an exciting time.”

Noble added on the West Ham website: “I see it as a position that I can grow and develop in both personally and professionally.

“There are always difficult decisions to be made in football but along with my colleagues at the club, I will continue to put the best interests of West Ham United first.

“The last two seasons have been a time of great progress, and I want to help us to continue moving forwards in the right direction.

“I believe in the ambition shown by the board and I am excited about helping to build on the success that has been delivered so far.”

Moyes backed the appointment.

“I am really pleased to welcome Mark back and to have the opportunity to work closely with him again. He was a great asset and strength to me as a player and a captain, and I know he will give the club and myself fantastic support again in this role,” Moyes said.

“It is an opportunity for him to develop and grow in the position and he will have our full support in doing so.

“There is nobody better qualified when it comes to understanding West Ham United and its ethos, and to bring new ideas to take the club forward in the right direction.”

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FA CUP THIRD AND FOURTH ROUND REPLAYS COULD BE SCRAPPED TO EASE FIXTURE BACKLOG

FA Cup third and fourth round replays could be scrapped this season as clubs look to catch up on games postponed following the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.

The replays were ditched in each of the last two seasons, and the PA news agency understands this is one solution under consideration to solve the fixture backlog.

Last weekend’s Premier League programme was called off as a mark of respect and two more high-profile fixtures, at Chelsea and Manchester United, have been cancelled this coming Sunday.

It leaves clubs facing a potential fixture pile-up later in the season, exacerbated by the pause in the campaign caused by the World Cup in Qatar.

Seven top-flight matches will take place over the weekend, with Brighton v Crystal Palace the other game off having already been postponed due to planned rail strikes.

“Following extensive consultation with clubs, police, local Safety Advisory Groups and other relevant authorities, there was no other option but to postpone the three fixtures,” a Premier League statement read.

“The Premier League would like to thank the UK Football Policing Unit and other police forces across the country, as well as our broadcast partners, for their support during this process, and will continue to liaise with them ahead of the weekend.

“For the matches being played during the period of national mourning, tributes will be paid to the Queen at Premier League stadiums.

“New dates for the postponed matches will be announced in due course.”

The kick-off times for two of Sunday’s games have also been altered, Brentford v Arsenal now starting at 12 noon rather than 2pm and Everton v West Ham starting at 2.15pm.

Thursday’s Europa League game between Arsenal and PSV has been postponed with police resources in London stretched in the build-up to the Queen’s funeral on Monday, September 19.

But Chelsea’s midweek Champions League game against Red Bull Salzburg will go ahead as planned, and the midweek EFL programme is unaffected.

In Scotland, Rangers’ Champions League tie with Napoli has been put back a day to Wednesday, September 14th, due to “severe limitations on police resources and organisational issues”.

However, professional domestic football in the country will resume this weekend, the Scottish Football Association said on Monday. The Football Association of Wales said all its competitions can resume from Tuesday.

All EFL matches scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday are set to go ahead.

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BRIGHTON ANNOUNCE ROBERTO DE ZERBI AS NEW HEAD COACH ON FOUR-YEAR DEAL

Roberto De Zerbi has been appointed as Brighton’s new head coach.

The 43-year-old Italian was most recently in charge at Shakhtar Donetsk but left the club in July because of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

He has signed a four-year contract with the Seagulls, subject to a work permit, and was announced on Sunday evening as the successor to Graham Potter, who departed for Chelsea earlier this month.

De Zerbi earned rave reviews for his style of football during a three-year tenure at Sassuolo, leading them to two eighth-place finishes in Serie A, and he won last year’s Ukrainian Super Cup with Shakhtar.

Brighton owner Tony Bloom said: “I am absolutely thrilled. Roberto’s teams play an exciting and courageous brand of football, and I am confident his style and tactical approach will suit our existing squad superbly.”

De Zerbi met with Bloom, chief executive Paul Barber and technical director David Weir in London earlier this week and flew into Sussex on Friday night before watching a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Amex Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

As a mark of respect to the Queen, De Zerbi will not be formally introduced to the media until Tuesday afternoon.

Weir said: “Roberto has shown his undoubted ability with his work in Italy and Ukraine, and what he achieved at Sassuolo certainly stands out.

“In his short spell with Shakhtar he enjoyed further success, leading the club to cup success and topping the Ukrainian league before the war brought an abrupt halt to his time there.

“We are delighted to welcome Roberto and we look forward to introducing him to our squad as well as providing all the support he needs to introduce his coaching philosophy and help the players continue their brilliant start to the season.”

De Zerbi is set to bring his coaching staff with him after Brighton revealed contracts have been agreed although they will all require work permits, which the club hope will be granted ahead of their next fixture against Liverpool on October 1.

Barber, who is also deputy chairman, said: “We looked at a range of excellent candidates but Roberto was our number one choice from the start and the only person we spoke to.

“It’s no secret our chairman is constantly monitoring potential coaches, both here in our domestic leagues, throughout Europe and across the world as part of our succession planning work.

“We feel Roberto is the ideal cultural and technical fit for Brighton & Hove Albion, and the right person to continue the club’s progress and work with this outstanding group of players.”

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NEAL MAUPAY FIRES EVERTON TO MUCH-NEEDED WIN OVER WESTHAM

Neal Maupay’s first goal since February saw Everton’s summer signing end the club’s winess start to the season with a 1-0 victory over fellow strugglers West Ham.

The Frenchman, who has scored in all three of his Premier League starts against the Hammers, struck with a well-taken goal which was a rare highlight in a match between two teams who have endured difficult starts.

His goal made light of the continued absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has not featured this season because of a knee injury on the eve of the campaign, after Lampard erred on the side of caution by giving him until after the international break to regain full fitness.

Initially that was at the expense of any attacking threat with Maupay relatively anonymous, Demarai Gray off his game and even Anthony Gordon, their one bright spark so far, struggling to make his mark.

In fact, only Idrissa Gana Gueye, on his first start since returning to the club from Paris St Germain in the summer, provided any real class with his reading of the game in a poor first half.

But when your defensive midfielder, a week away from his 33rd birthday, is the best player in a team which had scored only four league goals against opponents who had managed three, it highlights the issues Lampard has going forward.

West Ham, who started the match one place below their hosts in 18th, were hardly any better even after back-to-back Europa Conference League wins as they had the only two shots on target of six in the first half.

Jarrod Bowen’s early cross was somehow diverted around the near post by Conor Coady, captaining the side in the absence of the injured Jordan Pickford, as the former Wolves centre-back continues to add a sense of control and calmness to what was a chaotic defence last season.

Even a booking for hauling down Michail Antonio on halfway line failed to ruffle the England international as he completed the remaining hour with little concern.

Neither side looked capable of scoring until Maupay struck in the 53rd minute with a goal out of nowhere.

Alex Iwobi threaded a pass through the tightest of gaps between Declan Rice and Kurt Zouma and the ex-Brighton forward’s first touch teed up the ball for a low volley past Lukasz Fabianski.

Former Everton boss David Moyes immediately sent on on Maxwel Cornet and Said Benrahma and from there it was a test of the Toffees’ resilience, which had been a major weakness in their battle against relegation last season.

Tomas Soucek flashed a header across goal but Coady and fellow new arrival James Tarkowski are made for such situations, not only for their defensive capabilities but their leadership qualities.

However, even they needed help from a post to keep out Benrahma’s curling shot which left Pickford’s deputy Asmir Begovic rooted to the spot.

But the goalkeeper was more active in saving from Cornet late on, with the Hammers forward also squeezing a shot wide as the visitors pressed but failed to find the equaliser.

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ARSENAL THRASH BRENTFORD TO RETURN TO THE TOP OF THE TABLE

Arsenal climbed back to the top of the Premier League and avenged last year’s humbling at Brentford with a clinical 3-0 victory.

The Gunners were back at the scene of their dismal opening-day defeat last season which pre-empted their worst start to a campaign for 67 years.

But they are a different animal this term and proved it with an organised, inventive display and three well-taken goals from William Saliba, Gabriel Jesus and Fabio Vieira.

Such was Arsenal’s dominance that Mikel Arteta could even afford to give 15-year-old midfielder Ethan Nwaneri a late run-out as a substitute, making him the Premier League’s youngest player.

Brentford have put four past Manchester United and five past Leeds at the Gtech Community Stadium in recent weeks, but they could not lay a glove on Arsenal with England new boy Ivan Toney an isolated presence in attack.

Gabriel Martinelli had already passed up a good chance when the Gunners took the lead in the 18th minute, Saliba’s glancing header from Bukayo Saka’s corner bouncing off the inside of the far post.

Bees keeper David Raya tried to scoop it out but the ball was well over the line and referee David Coote’s watch buzzed to indicate a goal.

Ten minutes later Jesus doubled the lead with another header, this time from a neat chip into the box from Granit Xhaka.

Saka should have made it three moments later after a defensive mix-up but the England winger blazed his shot over.

The second half began in a similar vein and when Saka laid the ball off to Vieira 25 yards out, the Portugal midfielder – on his first Premier League start since his £34million switch from Porto – took aim and curled a superb finish in off the post.

Toney’s only real chance came with a free-kick, from around the range in which he fired home the second goal of his hat-trick against Leeds.

This time the 26-year-old flicked the ball up before taking aim and sent his shot narrowly over the crossbar.

Having set two goals up, Saka fancied one himself but he was denied from the edge of the box by a flying save from Raya.

Toney had tweeted “nice kickabout with the boys” in the aftermath of last season’s win, a message which infuriated Arteta.

The Arsenal fans were quick to remind the striker, ending the match with a rendition of “Ivan Toney, a stroll in the park” while celebrating heading into the international break on top of the league.

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ALEXANDER ISAK RESCUES POINT AS NEWCASTLE STRUGGLE TO DRAW AGAINST BOURNEMOUTH

Alexander Isak’s second-half penalty salvaged a point for Newcastle but Eddie Howe’s men are still searching for their first Premier League win since the opening day of the season after they were held by Bournemouth at St James’s Park.

Howe’s first game as manager against the club he coached from the depths of League Two to the top flight threatened to turn into one to forget when Philip Billing put the Cherries in front just beyond the hour mark.

But the Magpies were granted a lifeline three minutes later when a VAR check highlighted a handball in the box by Jefferson Lerma, enabling Isak to step up and sweep home his second goal of the season from the spot.

Nevertheless it proved another frustrating afternoon for the home side who, for all their early-season promise, can now boast a single win in seven and continue to struggle to turn their territorial possession into clear-cut chances.

It took 18 minutes for the lively Miguel Almiron to muster Newcastle’s first shot on target, whilst Bournemouth, largely pinned back in their own half, still managed to threaten through Ryan Christie and a Marcus Tavernier header that flashed just wide.

Kieran Trippier struck the outside of Neto’s right-hand post with a 27th-minute free-kick, but the Magpies did not really look likely to break the deadlock until a frantic minute shortly before the interval.

Joelinton hooked an effort that hit the inside of the post and flashed back across the face of goal, before the Brazilian’s second chance was well saved by Neto.

The Bournemouth goalkeeper did even better moments later when he dived acrobatically to stop a fierce drive from Ryan Fraser, who had been mercilessly barracked by the visiting fans over the manner of his departure from their club two years ago.

Fraser curled another effort just wide early in the second half but it hardly inspired the much sought-after onslaught, in fact it was Bournemouth who visibly grew in confidence and started to create space on the counter-attack.

Their growing confidence paid off in the 62nd minute when Jordan Zemura made unimpeded progress down the left flank and slotted through to Billing who shot low past Pope for the opener.

Despite Isak’s coolly-taken spot-kick three minutes later, the visitors continued to play with more freedom.

Newcastle pressed but remained blunt up front, substitute Jacob Murphy appealing in vain for a second spot-kick when his drive from the edge of the box appeared to strike Billing on the shoulder.

Six minutes of added time saw more of the same as the Bournemouth rearguard dealt competently with all the hosts could throw at them, sealing another encouraging afternoon for their caretaker-boss Gary O’Neil.

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SUPER SUB, HEUNG-MIN SON HITS HAT-TRICK AS TOTTENHAM THRASH LEICESTER 6-2

Heung-min Son responded to being dropped by coming on and ending his goal drought in style with a sensational hat-trick in Tottenham’s 6-2 hammering of sorry Leicester.

Spurs boss Antonio Conte left the South Korean on the bench following an eight-match run without finding the net but called for his forward in the 65th minute and he responded with a remarkable treble.

Tottenham already led 3-2 at this point after Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Rodrigo Bentancur efforts had cancelled out goals from Youri Tielemans and James Maddison for the visitors.

It was a second consecutive heavy loss for under-fire Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers to ensure they remain bottom of the Premier League and winless.

Dier had marked his England recall with a goal while Maddison responded to his latest international snub with another fine strike.

But it was Son who stole the headlines to ensure talk of his barren run became old news on a historic day where the two clubs paid tribute to the Queen.

Son was dropped following the midweek loss at Sporting Lisbon, the first first time he had started a Premier League match on the bench when fully-fit since July 2020.

The Queen was remembered ahead of kick-off with floral wreaths laid by both clubs and a minute’s silence, which was momentarily spoiled by some shouting between a smattering of fans around the stadium.

Once play did get under way it was full-throttle in N17 with three goals in 21 minutes.

Leicester took a surprise early lead when Tielemans fired home from the penalty spot at the second attempt.

Davinson Sanchez gave away the spot-kick for a reckless lunge on James Justin but Hugo Lloris briefly spared his blushes with a superb save to deny Tielemans.

Lloris had moved off his line too quickly though and the Leicester midfielder made no mistake with his second penalty, again sending it towards his left and this time scoring in the seventh minute.

A leveller was immediately found by Spurs as Kane struck.

Dejan Kulusevski, back in the team at Son’s expense, produced a trademark excellent delivery to the back post where Kane headed home his 20th goal in 19 appearances against Leicester.

The league’s basement club were soon in the familiar position of trailing when Dier netted.

Ivan Perisic directed his corner to the near post where centre-back Dier flicked on to find the net for the second time this season.

Not long after Leicester were saved by referee Simon Hooper from conceding another set-piece goal when Wilfred Ndidi’s own goal was ruled out for Sanchez’ foul on goalkeeper Danny Ward.

The Foxes did improve and deservedly went in level at half-time when Maddison lobbed Lloris from Timothy Castagne’s cut-back in the 41st minute.

It was the perfect response to another snub from England boss Gareth Southgate but he should have grabbed a second in stoppage time only for Lloris to make a fine save from close-range with his feet.

After a breathless opening 45, the second period started in the same fashion with Bentancur making it 3-2 within 120 seconds.

The Uruguayan won back possession from Ndidi, ran at the Leicester back four and curled home to open his account for the club.

There was a brief lull following the fifth goal but the Foxes started to build up momentum again by the hour mark and Lloris made a pivotal one-handed save to thwart Patson Daka.

Conte had seen enough and brought on Emerson Royal, Cristian Romero and Son.

The latter, with a point to prove, duly did that with 17 minutes left to end his drought in spectacular fashion.

Bentancur passed into Son’s path and he ran at the Leicester defence before he curled home from 22-yards.

Son’s celebration hinted at his frustration at starting on the bench, but he was not done there.

A stunning second followed on his left foot, after Kane’s pass, before he netted a third.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg sent Son clear and he fired past Ward again but initially saw the offside flag raised. VAR ruled he was on to ensure the South Korean left the pitch with the matchball.

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FORMER LIVERPOOL STRIKER LUIS SUAREZ RETURNS TO NACIONAL AFTER 17 YEARS

Former Liverpool striker and Uruguay’s all-time leading goalscorer Luis Suarez has returned to the club he made his debut with 17 years ago.

The 35-year-old striker announced the news on Twitter, a day after he told fans he had reached a pre-agreement with Nacional in Montevideo.

On Wednesday, Suarez said the deal was official and he changed his social media profile to one of himself wearing the white, blue and red of Nacional.

“I am proud to wear my shirt again at @Nacional!” Suarez wrote on Twitter. “Thank you all for the support! SEE YOU SOON.”

Nacional also confirmed Suarez’s return to the club where he began his professional career in 2005 but did not disclose the financial details or the length of the contract.

“Happy to have you home!” the team wrote in response to Suarez’s post.

The 35-year-old became a free agent after his two-season contract expired with Atletico Madrid in Spain and had been considering a variety of teams to sign with.

He had been competing in LaLiga since 2014, with a long spell at Barcelona followed by two seasons with Atletico Madrid.

The striker is the Uruguayan national team’s all-time leading scorer, with 68 goals in 132 games.

When Suarez signed a five-and-a-half-year deal with Liverpool in 2011, he was the club’s most expensive signing at £22.8million. He went on to win the League Cup in his first full season.

In 2014, he equalled the goalscoring record for a 38-game Premier League season and won his first European Golden Shoe.

That summer he moved to Barcelona in a transfer worth £64.98 million.

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NAPOLI SIGN DEFENDER LEO OSTIGARD FROM BRIGHTON ON PERMANENT DEAL

Napoli have signed defender Leo Ostigard from Brighton on a permanent deal for an undisclosed fee, subject to international clearance.

The 22-year-old Norway international joined Albion in 2018 and spent the first half of last season on loan with Stoke before making a temporary move to Genoa in the January transfer window.

Brighton technical director David Weir told the club website: “This transfer is a direct result of dedication and professionalism on the training pitch, day to day and in matches.

“On behalf of the club I would like to wish him well in his future career and for the season ahead.”