SPORTS AGENDA: Cautious Manchester City agrees to park the open top bus


Manchester City are considering hosting a festive event at the Etihad Stadium ahead of the new season rather than a traditional open-top bus tour, but remain cautious for two reasons.

The Premier League champions – who are also in the Champions League final – don’t want to take anything for granted, despite only needing one win to secure the title.

They are also wary of making commitments they cannot keep. Last year, Jurgen Klopp promised Liverpool supporters a victory parade after their first Premier League victory. That prospect is highly unlikely now because of the pandemic and the view that celebrating winning a trophy that no longer belongs to you doesn’t look right.

Manchester City is considering hosting a festive event at the Etihad Stadium

Stones can be ordered to tear down the wall

A stonewall penalty could be on the cards for Manchester City’s John Stones.

The 26-year-old defender had to apply for a retrospective building permit after constructing a four-foot-long border wall on his Cheshire path with no green light from his council.

No objections were received, but should the authority decide not to grant permission, the English man may be ordered to abort it. Papers show it took 11 days to build the wall in the luxury home, which also features an indoor pool, game room, and dog washroom.

UEFA officials distrust Turkey’s place on the red list

Some at UEFA have questioned whether putting Turkey on the red list was a tactical move by the British government as part of a plan to move the Champions League final to London.

A Wembley switch would fit the post-Brexit agenda. Relations between UEFA and Whitehall are stronger than they have been for a while after the defunct Super League breakout – but that hasn’t stopped speculation.

Barton gave up almost all players

Joey Barton seems to have a decent job at Bristol Rovers. In the past two weeks, after relegation, players were told by their manager to come into training just two days before the games and take the rest of the week off.

Barton hasn’t been quiet about the quality and dedication he has inherited, and is planning a major overhaul in an effort to bring Rovers back to the third level on the first try.

Glazers’ blame to the media team

Think about the Manchester United media team. Just after dropping the failed Super League on them, they faced the fallout from fans’ storming of Old Trafford last weekend.

As if that wasn’t enough, Friday brought the readiness of the club’s reclusive owners to communicate with fans after 16 years of silence. It was interesting to note that, in 704 words, Joel Glazer made no mention of the dividends being squeezed from the club and the debt it remains saddled with, thanks to the Americans’ takeover.

There is a growing sense that the Glazers are nearing the point of no return and further damage is on the horizon after The Guardian’s revelation that The Hut Group pulled out of a £ 200 million deal, for 10 years, amid concerns over the potential fans’ backlash.

Manchester United owner Joel Glazer has promised greater involvement with fans

Manchester United owner Joel Glazer has promised greater involvement with fans

Buttner the butt of the joke

On a lighter note, there was a lot of chuckle in United’s training ground when former defender Alexander Buttner posted an image to Instagram of a mural he supposedly painted in his home. It features Buttner, the Premier League trophy, and Sir Alex Ferguson.

The artist may be getting the blow-dry treatment as Fergie looks like Des O’Connor and has a giant hand that looks considerably bigger than his head.

Buttner, 32, who last played for New England Revolution, played 13 Premier League games for United in two years.

Fight dementia to FIFA

Dementia campaigners Dawn Astle and Rachel Walden have requested a meeting with FIFA’s new medical director in response to comments he made about the link between football and the increased incidence of neurodegenerative diseases.

“What we need to know is what they do in football that is the cause,” said FIFA player Andrew Massey. “We think it is on its way and that it plays a part in it.”

The comments of the former Liverpool Medical Officer have raised concerns among Astle and Walden, who are advising the Professional Footballers’ Association on the matter, although they may be a step forward given previous reluctance to acknowledge the link. Massey, to his credit, was quick to respond and a summit is on the agenda soon.

Murphy’s surprise appearance

Oisin Murphy wowed punters enjoying a race day shindig at the Chester Boughton Hall Cricket Club last week when he showed up for a few hours before hitting the road in the 2.45.

The 2019 and 2020 flat champion took the microphone and raved about two horses running in the first two races, only for the MC to intervene and inform everyone in attendance that they were in fact non-runners. Murphy was bluntly asked about his own Imperial Force ride and honestly admitted it had little chance. He was right – he came sixth in a field of eight horses.

Oisin Murphy visited Chester Boughton Hall Cricket Club for hours before racing down the road

Oisin Murphy visited Chester Boughton Hall Cricket Club for hours before racing down the road

Many to miss the Olympics

A large number of officials and followers will follow the lead of the chief executives of British Swimming and UK Athletics by giving the Olympics a way out.

They will all argue that they are doing this because of the pandemic. However, skeptics believe that lack of access to Tokyo’s excellent bars and restaurants may have played a key role.

Vain players who ask for tighter shorts

Kitmen at a number of Premier League clubs are pressured by vain players to adjust their shorts in an effort to show off bulging thigh muscles.

There’s a top flight craze, with some even lifting one side of their shorts when they think they’re on TV showing off the fruits of their gym efforts.