Kazakh team warned by UEFA over ritual animal slaughter

UEFA has threatened Shakhter Karagandy with disciplinary proceedings if they continue to perform the ritual slaughter of animals around games.
The Kazakh champions caused a stir when they slaughtered a sheep at the Astana Arena the day before last Tuesday night’s 2-0 Champions League play-off first-leg win over Celtic, leading animal rights group PETA to express its outrage in a strongly worded letter to UEFA president Michel Platini, urging the organisation to punish Shakhter.
There were concerns that Shakhter would repeat the ritual at Parkhead in the return leg this evening and, although it is now clear that will not happen, European football’s governing body has made it clear that disciplinary proceedings will be launched if the practice is repeated.
In a letter to Shakhter executive director Yerden Khalilin, UEFA competitions director Giorgio Marchetti said: “We were informed that an animal slaughter took place at some point prior to the UEFA Champions League fixture involving FC Shakhter Karagandy and Celtic FC at the Astana Arena on Tuesday 20 August 2013.
“Although certain practices may be culturally rooted, they have no place in or around a sporting arena or event.
“In this context, I would like to make you aware that animal slaughter on a football pitch or in a stadium before, during or after a UEFA competition match – or with reference to a UEFA competition – is totally improper, and will not be tolerated.

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Premiership Predictions – London to reclaim title from Manchester

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THIS season, more than any I can remember anticipating, is a hard one to call.
The top three teams from last season, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, all have new men at the helm.
Arsenal underperformed last season – but then, Arsenal have underperformed for a good few years now – while Spurs and Liverpool could both be facing up to life without their star men next season.
I can’t see any other team seriously breaking into the top four, but which of these six elite squads will is a hard call.
There’s my disclaimer out of the way.
But neck on the line I find it hard to see past Mourinho’s Chelsea for the title.
His team has a strength in depth matched only by Manchester City, with some real creative talent in the form of Hazard, Mata and Oscar – plus if anyone can hit the ground running it’s the Special One, a manager adept at settling into new clubs, with the benefit of having been here and done it before.
It’s this that gives him the edge over Pellegrini’s star-studded legions of Manchester City, who I’m placing second come May.
Last season, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal gave themselves a mountain to climb, and they climbed it admirably during the second half of the season. If they come out of the traps in the same form as they finished last time around, I can see them overhauling David Moyes and Manchester United’s defending champions, who’ll have to settle for fourth place.
Liverpool and Spurs I see missing out, without the depth in their squad to maintain a season-long campaign – although I will tip the Lilywhites’ new boy Roberto Soldado for the Golden Boot.
Tomorrow, I’m going to have a look at the other half of the table and predict who’ll be relegated…

Chelsea to win Premier League say number crunchers

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JOSE Mourinho’s Chelsea are going to win this season’s Premier League – according to cold hard maths.
Statisticians at Bloomberg Sports have revealed their first ever Premier League end of season projections – forecasting the finishing position and points of every team in the league.
And their number crunching has revealed that the Blues will pip United and City to the title in a three horse race, with Moyes finishing third in his first season at United.
They predict that Arsenal will beat off their rivals to the last Champions League spot, and all the promoted teams – Crystal Palace, Cardiff City and Hull City – will be relegated straight back to the Championship for the first time since 1998.
Bill Squadron, President of Bloomberg Sports, said: “As fans around the world debate the 2013-2014 Premier League season from a purely subjective standpoint, we are adding our mathematically-derived predictions to the debate.
“Using the same objective data analytics that drives our Match Analysis tool, we are pleased to unveil a purely data-driven projection for each team.
“Not only does this make for great content for fans, but it also provides data that helps them beat the bookie.”
For more information go to www.bsports.com

Suarez: Liverpool said I could leave

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WANTAWAY Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has accused the club of reneging on an agreement in his contract which stated he could leave Anfield this summer if they had not qualified for the Champions League.
The Uruguay international has also said he will submit a written transfer request by the end of the week if the Merseyside outfit continue to block a potential move to Arsenal.
Suarez, in interviews given to the Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, said he believes a clause written into the contract he signed last summer entitles him to a move.
“Last year I had the opportunity to move to a big European club and I stayed on the understanding that if we failed to qualify for the Champions League the following season I’d be allowed to go,” the 26-year-old said.
“I gave absolutely everything last season but it was not enough to give us a top-four finish – now all I want is for Liverpool to honour our agreement.”
Liverpool have rejected two bids from Arsenal – of £30million and £40,000,001 – for Suarez this summer.

Premiership Predictions – the result

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MANCHESTER United won the Premier League – check.
Manchester City second – check.
Chelsea and Arsenal qualify for the Champions League – check.
Spurs pushing them close – check.
Smug face – check.
Liverpool pushing for Europe – errr…
Nevertheless, this has undoubtedly been my best ever year for Premier League predictions, and to prove it click here to see my punditry from last August.
I’ll be milking this one over the close season, I can tell you.

‘Spurs should miss out on Champions League’

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ARSENAL and Chelsea should pip Spurs to the Champions League places for next season, say surfers of this site.
A few days ago, Goaltastic posted a poll to ask which of the three sides currently contesting the two Champions League berths alongside Manchester United and Manchester City should miss out.
And after a huge number of votes in just a couple of days, an overwhelming majority (61.98 per cent) feel that Tottenham should finish fifth, rather than Arsenal (18.23 per cent) and Chelsea (19.79 per cent).
Of course, the reality of the situation may not match the results of the poll – but whatever happens it should be an exciting run in this season.

Arsenal, Spurs or Chelsea – vote for who you want to lose race to Champions League places

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CHELSEA, Arsenal and Spurs are currently locked in one of the closest races in Premier League history.
Sadly for the trio, it’s not the title at stake, but to secure Champions League football.
Anyone who says that Germany has now eclipsed England and Spain as the top league on the continent should cast an eye at the strength of the squads vying for third and fourth places – with World Class talents like Juan Mata, Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, Santi Cazorla, Jermain Defoe and more facing off for the right to represent England over the next few weeks.
And sadly, one of these squads – all of which could arguably challenge for the European crown next season – will miss out.
It’s a hard one to call – but you can vote for who you think should miss out with out vote below…

Who should miss out on Champions League qualification?