SPORTS AGENDA: Police foil Manchester City firework plot


CITY FIREWORK PLOT RUMBLED

An attempt to set off fireworks outside Manchester City’s hotel in the early hours before their Champions League semi-final with Paris Saint-Germain last week was foiled.

As this newspaper revealed, Pep Guardiola’s men were targeted by a group of German youths who managed to explode dozens of industrial-strength pyrotechnics ahead of their quarter-final clash at Borussia Dortmund on two occasions.

Two men attempted to repeat the trick in the French capital but were intercepted by police close to the hotel in the city centre which, like the rest of the country, is currently under nightly curfew.

Police foiled a plot to set off fireworks outside Manchester City’s hotel before the PSG match

NETTING ANOTHER UK ATHLETICS POST 

The Netball takeover of UK Athletics continued last week with the appointment of non-executive director Jennifer Thomas. 

Thomas, who is also on the board of England Netball, joins performance director Sara Symington (ex-England Netball) and Katie Brazier (Netball Superleague consultant), under the guidance of CEO Joanna Coates (ex-England Netball).

The latest hire has done little to address grave concerns held within the sport that positions of influence are being taken by those without relevant experience and expertise.

PREMIER LEAGUE’S AWAY FAN FIGHT FRUSTRATES 

The Premier League’s reluctance to accept defeat on away fans attending the final two matches of the season has left some officials aghast.

Many have already voiced concerns over what they see as an impossible ask from HQ. They believe the logistics, finances and substantial risk involved for minimal reward mean the prospect makes little sense.

However, on Friday Premier League CEO Richard Masters wrote to each club side suggesting that five per cent of the numbers permitted to attend, which would be around 500, should go to the away club. He has asked for their feedback which, sources have disclosed, is unlikely to be positive.

Manchester City fans pictured at Wembley in a trial event during the Carabao Cup final

Manchester City fans pictured at Wembley in a trial event during the Carabao Cup final

BEEB TAKE THEIR CUE FROM OUR INTERVIEW 

In an interview with Sportsmail before the World Snooker Championship, Judd Trump complained about the age of television commentators.

‘Most of the stories in the commentary box are from the 1970s or 1980s,’ he said. ‘It’s something I can’t really get my head round. It’s so out of date and it’s hard for the younger generation to resonate with their stories. There’s not enough excitement and passion.’

Judd Trump told Sportsmail that the World Snooker Championship needs younger pundits

Judd Trump told Sportsmail that the World Snooker Championship needs younger pundits

Trump’s words seemingly resonated with the BBC as they invited the world No 1 to co-commentate on Friday night’s semi-final between Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham and Sunday’s final. 

Trump’s close mate Jack Lisowski, 29, also debuted last week, which was well received.

SKY MISS A TRICK ON PROTESTS 

Sky Sports missed a trick during the Newcastle-Arsenal match when news emerged that protesting Manchester United fans had stormed Old Trafford and had invaded the pitch. 

In the US, NBC Sports went split-screen, to provide viewers with the latest from a developing situation. No such immediate move was taken by Sky, who stuck with the action from the North East and chose to cover the protests on Sky News.

Sky chose to cover the Manchester United fans protest on Sky News rather than Sky Sports

Sky chose to cover the Manchester United fans protest on Sky News rather than Sky Sports

Meanwhile, Newcastle boss Steve Bruce is in line for a cash windfall for leading the club to safety in the Premier League. The Magpies looked in serious danger of relegation a few weeks ago, but eight points from their previous four games against Tottenham, Burnley, West Ham and Liverpool lifted them clear of the drop zone and looks to have secured safety despite yesterday’s 2-0 home defeat.

Newcastle find themselves nine points clear of trouble with four games remaining. Bruce has a survival clause in his contract ensuring him a six-figure bonus for keeping Newcastle up and he will earn extra financial rewards for every place they finish above 18th.

MAXIMUM PRAISE FOR SAINT-MAXIMIN 

Newcastle star Allan Saint-Maximin won praise after taking on a Liverpool-supporting social media troll who had asked if he could go to Liverpool in a swap deal for Sadio Mane. 

‘I don’t like this,’ he responded, branding the fan ‘ungrateful’ before adding that he has ‘a long way’ before he reaches Mane’s level. 

Saint-Maximin is being monitored by a number of clubs, including PSG.

MEDIA ATTENTION LOW IN GULLS’ PECKING ORDER 

One might imagine that Torquay United would be looking to seize on the positive momentum generated by their relentless push for a return to the Football League. 

However, the Gulls, who have picked up 22 points from their last eight games to go top of the National League, are declining requests from media to attend Plainmoor. This despite Covid infection rates of 6.6 per 100,000 that makes the area one of the safest in the country.

LEE HUGHES BACK IN BAGGIES SHIRT 

Close to 17 years after his contract was terminated by the club, Lee Hughes is back in a West Bromwich Albion shirt. The Baggies’ former striker was sacked in August 2004 when he was jailed for six years after being found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

Hughes, who went on to play for the likes of Oldham, Notts County and Port Vale, retired last year at the age of 43 but has been turning out recently for St Andrews Netherton Baggies, who play in the West Midlands Christian Football League. The team wear West Brom shirts and have won all nine matches so far.

HALL OF FAME NOT WIDE ENOUGH FOR CITY?

There were knowing looks at the Etihad when the Premier League announced the initial inductees for their Hall of Fame last week. 

Despite Manchester City’s decade of dominance, not one former player made the two-man automatic selections or the 23-man shortlist, on which fans will vote.

While Vincent Kompany missed out because he missed the eligibility deadline by a matter of days (players had to have retired by August 1, 2020) there was no such barrier for Yaya Toure, who was instrumental in three title victories. 

City hold a long-standing belief that they are often overlooked for similar awards. The presence of Matt Le Tissier on the list suggests they may have a point. 

Despite dominating the Premier League, no Manchester City player made the Hall of Fame

Despite dominating the Premier League, no Manchester City player made the Hall of Fame