Newcastle finally agree to refund 18,000 season ticket holders

Newcastle finally agree to refund 18,000 season ticket holders who had money taken for games they couldn’t attend after fans claimed £7MILLION had gone into club’s coffers

  • Supporters on 10-year season tickets at Newcastle United were still paying money through direct debits despite games being behind closed doors
  • Premier League fans haven’t been able to attend matches since the beginning of March amid Covid-19 pandemic 
  • Newcastle’s Supporters Trust estimated £7m had gone into the club’s coffers
  • They also hit out at fans being forced to pay £14.95 for pay-per-view games 
  • But the club has now agreed to refund those supporters affected  

Newcastle United have agreed to refund season ticket holders for matches played behind closed doors during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It followed a backlash against the club and owner Mike Ashley after thousands of supporters had money withdrawn from their bank accounts as part of 10-year season ticket deals despite being unable to attend St James’ Park.

The Newcastle Supporters Trust had estimated that £1million per month was going from 18,000 fans affected into the club’s coffers, amounting to £7m since March.

Newcastle United who paid out money towards long-term season tickets during lockdown will be reimbursed by the club or can pay the money forward for next season

Games at St James’ Park have been played behind closed doors since lockdown in March

Now the club has agreed to reimburse the supporters in three stages over the course of the current season with the first refund to be returned by mid-December to cover the first five home matches.

Newcastle have given supporters the option to put this season’s payments towards their season ticket for 2021-22 by which time fans will hopefully be able to return to matches.

The Supporters Trust argued fans were paying for their season tickets ‘at a time of record unemployment and hardship’ as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

To compound matters, fans are being charged £14.95 to watch their team on pay-per-view on top of existing Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon Prime subscriptions.

‘Sky, BT and Amazon Prime combined is a minimum of £803.88 per year. Adding £14.95 pay-per-view games will be almost £300 per year extra,’ the Trust said.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley was criticised for keeping fans’ money at a time when they were unable to use their season tickets to attend games

Ashley spoke out against the £14.95 pay-per-view cost ahead of a meeting of Premier League shareholders earlier this week, suggesting the price should be cut to £4.95 to help cash-strapped fans.

Boycotting the PPV games, fans and Newcastle and other clubs have raised thousands for food banks and other charities.  

The season ticket news should give fans a little respite, with a club statement reading: ‘Despite months of work to plan for a safe, socially distanced return of supporters, clubs across the country have not yet been given the go-ahead by authorities and an outline date for the return of spectators has yet to be confirmed by the government.

The Newcastle supporters’ trust welcomed the announcement as ‘better late than never’

‘In an online meeting with supporters and supporter groups to discuss a potential safe return to matches last month, the club made a broad commitment to refunding season ticket holders at designated stages throughout the season.’

In response, the Trust described the club’s move as ‘better late than never’ and added: ‘It just goes to show the fan pressure has worked. Once we work together, you can see what we can achieve with 18,000 fans will be better off because of the fan pressure we have put on.’

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Frank Lampard to discuss who should be Chelsea’s penalty taker after Jorginho miss

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard will speak with his players before deciding whether Jorginho remains the club’s penalty taker after the Italian missed his second spot kick of the season in their 4-0 win over Russian side Krasnodar in the Champions League.

Jorginho, who missed from the spot against Liverpool in the Premier League last month, hit the post with a penalty in the first half with the game goalless in Krasnodar on Wednesday.

“Jorginho has had an incredibly successful rate of scoring penalties in his career, particularly at Chelsea,” Lampard said.

“My feeling is when you take as many penalties as he does, there can be periods when you miss one, and sometimes there can be periods where you miss one or two. I experienced that as a player.”

Jorginho was substituted by the time Chelsea were awarded another penalty, which Timo Werner dispatched in the 76th minute.

“Timo Werner, I know he’s very capable to take penalties,” Lampard added. “We have other players that can as well, so I’ll talk with the players afterwards to see how we move forward.”

Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic also got on the scoresheet as Chelsea sealed their first Champions League victory of the season in front of owner Roman Abramovich.

Abramovich has been unable to attend matches at Stamford Bridge because of UK visa issues.

“I always feel the support of the owner of the club, whether he’s here at games or not,” Lampard said. “A couple of my staff members spoke to him, but by the time I came out in the warm-up he wasn’t around.”


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Former Wallabies urge side to push boundaries against All Blacks

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Former Wallabies Matt Dunning and Morgan Turinui have forecast a spicy third Bledisloe encounter and urged Australia to push the envelope in pursuit of a series-saving victory.

The hype is building for Saturday's do-or-die match at ANZ Stadium, with Australia needing to victory in Sydney and Brisbane the following Saturday to achieve what a generation of Wallabies players could not – winning the Bledisloe Cup.

Former Wallabies centre Morgan Turinui (left)and prop Matt Dunning (right) pose with the Bledisloe Cup in Sydney on Wednesday. Credit:Stu Walmsley/Rugby Australia

Australia last held the Cup in 2002 – a year before Dunning and Turinui debuted for their country – and the latter admitted he never thought the Wallabies would go through an 18-year drought without one of world rugby's most iconic pieces of silverware.

"We lost it in 2003 and won the semi at the [2003] Rugby World Cup. We thought, 'oh we'll win it back at some stage'," Turinui said. "That huge trophy means so much to us. We thought we'd get it back eventually at some stage and it's just grown and grown. I suppose the current crop can blame us for losing it back then and putting pressure on them to win it back for us unfortunately.

"It would be huge. The Wallabies' job is to win silverware for us and the big trophy behind us is as important as it gets.

"This bit of silverware would mean a lot all the way through the game to say the Wallabies are on the right track."

Dunning, the former 45-Test Australian prop who won three of his eight internationals against the Kiwis, wants to see the Wallabies push the boundaries in a bid to unsettle an All Blacks outfit who complained after a draw in Wellington about Australia's off-the-ball tactics.

"I'd just like the boys to be as physical as possible," Dunning said. "But I don't want to see stupid yellow or red cards and see blokes sent off and a game decided that way. That's why I really get annoyed with rugby and at the World Cup I did where games could be decided by a red or a yellow card.

"You've got to be as physical as you can within the rules and you've got to tread that line. If you don't, you're not going to slow their ball down."

Asked to recall a particularly heated Bledisloe moment, Dunning couldn't go past when Wallabies hooker Brendan Cannon punched Keven Mealamu in the face 16 years ago in Wellington.

Wallabies hooker Brendan Cannon (left) and Dunning after a loss to New Zealand in 2005. Credit:Dallas Kilponen

"It was good … and they both got 10 minutes," Dunning said. "I remember they were getting stitched up at the same time in the same shed and the story is Kevvie Mealamu goes, 'Hey Canno, how's Fi and the kids?' He asked about his wife and his family.

"It'll be played hard [this weekends]."

Turinui said he was "interested" at New Zealand's claim that Australia weren't scrutinised for off-the-ball tactics in game one, which clearly prompted a significant Kiwi response as Sam Cane's side ran away 27-7 winners in Auckland.

"It's interesting that the masters of niggle off the ball are whinging about things that happened off the ball," Turinui said. "I admire the way New Zealand just tread that line between what is legal and what isn't.

"I'm quite happy that Australia decided it's Test match football. It's not footy with your mates down the park, it's not a friendly, it's a Test match.

"It is a test of how you can skirt that line and get away with what you need to influence the game. New Zealand have been the best at it in the world for a long time and we did it a little bit.

"I want to see us be really physical. New Zealand had a little bit of pressure on them after the draw … so it's up to our Wallaby forward pack to meet that physical challenge. I think there will be the spice but I would think it'll be legal, physical, hard footy and just treading that line. It's a combat sport. There are violent parts of our game … but at Test level winning that physical battle goes a long way to winning the game."

Much like the 34-year Eden Park hoodoo, the pair's advice to Michael Hooper's Wallabies side is to just forget about history, as easy as that sounds.

"Forget about the 17 years, we've got two games to win the Bledisloe," Turinui said. "History doesn't influence the result. The history doesn't influence the way our guys play the game. Just go out there and play the two matches to the best of your ability. None of the games that have been played over the last 17 or 18 years have an influence on the result this weekend. Forget about that number."

Dunning added: "I think they can do it. In game one Australia were the better side in my opinion and just didn't get the job done. I don't think the Kiwis specifically bashed us up or beat us in the second Test. I think we just made errors.

"If they can minimise errors in that ten minutes after half-time, they can win both games."

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‘NEVER apologized to our son’: Letter to Coyotes by mother of draft pick’s victim published

A day after The Arizona Republic released a sickening report that Coyotes 2020 fourth-round draft pick Mitchell Miller admitted to bullying a Black classmate with developmental disabilities four years ago, The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline obtained police records and letters written by Miller and the victim’s mother.

“Hello — I’m the mother of the boy that Mitchell Miller bullied,” began the letter from Joni Meyer-Crothers to the Coyotes organization days after the draft. “I read the statements made by the GM (Bill Armstrong) etc. and find them demeaning to our son. Are you aware Mitchell NEVER apologized to our son? Are you aware two years ago he still taunted him? Are you aware this went on for years? Do you understand the mental damage Mitchell did to our son?”

According to both reports, the abuse — which included racial slurs — started when Miller, Isaiah Meyer-Crothers and a third student were in second grade in Sylvania, Ohio, and continued into middle school, culminating in 2016 when the two boys got Meyer-Crothers to lick a push-pop that had been rubbed inside a urinal.

“I respect you stating he sent all the NHL teams an apology, but wouldn’t it make sense if he was truly remorseful to send a letter to the kid that he brutally bullied both mentally and physically?” the letter by Meyer-Crothers’ mother continued. “Is it a surprise he sent all the NHL teams a letter because this was for his betterment?”

The Athletic obtained the letter Miller sent to all 31 NHL teams where he stated he “is a different person” and was “thankful to have learned a very painful and valuable lesson.” Portzline stated that a few franchises were not convinced he was truly remorseful — something William Hutcheson, the juvenile magistrate who heard Miller’s case, told Miller in court and which Joni Meyer-Crothers noted in her letter.

“I guess as an organization and NHL team I would expect so much more and hold them to a higher standard, especially with all the (Black Lives Matter) movement,” Joni Meyer-Crothers’ letter continued. “As much as we pray Mitchell will eventually see the damage he did to our son, we have seen no remorse. The other gentleman had a sincere apology to our son and our son forgave him. The magistrate said it best: ‘Mitchell, I don’t think you are remorseful for what you did more than you are upset for the negative attention you are getting.’

“Again, the bully incident that continued over years has damaged our son mentally significantly and your organization is more concerned about Mitchell and your hockey success. In my opinion, that is being part of the problem. There is a victim out there that was and still at the hands of your 111th pick.”

While the Coyotes organization has not responded to her letter directly and it should be noted that Armstrong was not directly involved in Miller’s selection out the University of North Dakota because of an agreement with his former team, the Blues, the Coyotes did issue a statement when the Republic’s story came out  Monday.

(North Dakota released a statement to the Grand Forks Herald on Monday from head coach Brad Berry, who stated his program wants to “hone not only his hockey abilities but most importantly, assist him in his continuing growth as a human being which will last him the remainder of his life.”)

“Given our priorities on diversity and inclusion, we believe that we are in the best position to guide Mitchell into becoming a leader for this cause and preventing bullying and racism now and in the future,” the Coyotes’ statement read.

“As an organization, we have made our expectations very clear to him. We are willing to work with Mitchell and put in the time, effort, and energy and provide him with the necessary resources and platform to confront bullying and racism.

“This isn’t a story about excuses or justifications. It’s a story about reflection, growth, and community impact. A true leader finds ways for every person to contribute to the solution. We all need to be a part of the solution.”

Those actions remain to be seen.

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Hazard keen to kick on after returning from injury in Madrid comeback

‘I’m here to play football’: Eden Hazard keen to kick on after returning from injury to help Real Madrid salvage a point against Gladbach

  • Real Madrid scored two late goals to snatch a draw at German side Gladbach
  • Eden Hazard came on as a substitute in the 70th minute with his team 2-0 down
  • It was his first appearance of the season having recovered from injury problems 

Eden Hazard admitted he felt as if Real Madrid had won Tuesday’s clash with Borussia Monchengladbach after he returned to help his side rescue a draw in Germany.

Madrid, who had already lost their opening game of the tournament, were 2-0 down when Hazard made his long-awaited return from injury in the 70th minute.

And his entrance helped spark a comeback, Karim Benzema pulling one back in the 87th minute before Casemiro equalised in the third minute of added time. 

Eden Hazard shakes hands with goalkeeper Yann Sommer following Tuesday’s game 

It was Hazard’s first appearance of the season and the former Chelsea man was clearly thrilled to be back on the pitch. 

‘I’m here to play football, so after two or three months off of the pitch, I’m so happy,’ he told CBS. ‘I just want to play football. That’s why I’m here.

‘It’s like three points, but it’s not three points. We showed great character because to be 2-0 down, with just five minutes to play, I think we could score one more.

Hazard made his long-awaited return from injury in Tuesday’s Champions League clash

‘I could score one more, but I missed, but it felt like three points, like a victory.’

The draw still leaves Madrid bottom of group B with just one point but both Inter and Gladbach only have two.

‘[The start is] not that good, to be fair, but last year we showed after two games and one point we can go through,’ Hazard said.

‘We now have four games to lay, next one against Inter which is not so easy, but we are Real Madrid and we must show we can go through.’

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Premier League set to retain pay-per-view price for first round of fixtures following international break

The Premier League will retain the current pay-per-view arrangements for the round of matches ahead of November’s international break.

Both Sky Sports and BT Sport have been offering matches not selected for regular television broadcast through their respective box office services at a price of £14.95 per game.

The cost has been widely criticised, especially given the financial difficulties presented to many households during the coronavirus pandemic.

With supporters unable to attend matches due to Government guidelines to control the spread of Covid-19, making the games pay-per-view has helped produce a new revenue stream.

Several reports claim the matches have so far averaged 39,000 pay-per-view buys, with several supporters’ groups backing donations to local food banks and other charities rather than paying the fee.

Despite that, it is understood that the current arrangements will remain in place for the matches on the weekend of 6-8 November.

It is understood a further review will take place to see what will happen after the international break, with the price expected to be one of the main items up for discussion.


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Edu overruled Mikel Arteta to complete Arsenal transfer

Mikel Arteta was overruled by Edu during the summer transfer window, according to reports in France, with Arsenal choosing to sign Thomas Partey over Houssem Aouar.

Arteta had made Aouar his top priority and told the club he would prefer a deal for the Lyon midfielder rather than Partey.

However, it was Partey who was signed from Atletico Madrid after technical director Edu expressed his preference for the Ghana international.

L’Equipe claims that Edu’s word ‘obviously had more weight’ as his preference was prioritised over the manager’s.

Partey has featured three times since being signed in a £45million deal on deadline day.

But talks had been ongoing with Lyon throughout the summer over a potential move for Aouar.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas was critical of Arsenal for not matching their valuation for the midfielder before refusing to sell him in the final days of the window.

Arsenal, however, were willing to splash that money on Partey instead despite Aouar reportedly being his preference.

That said, Arteta seems happy enough with his new man.

After a 2-1 win over Rapid Vienna, Arteta said of Partey’s first start in an Arsenal shirt: ‘I was really impressed because he looked really confident.

‘He grabbed the game in the most difficult period, he took responsibility, he was really comfortable on the ball, he made a lot of right decisions, he was really strong in the challenges in every transition moment.’

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Freddie Roach backs Tyson to knock out Roy Jones Jr in comeback fight

‘Mike will be swinging for the fences’: Freddie Roach backs boxing legend Tyson to knock out Roy Jones Jr in comeback fight next month

  • Mike Tyson has not entered the boxing ring since his retirement in 2005 
  • Roy Jones Jr meanwhile has also not climbed through the ropes in over two years
  • The duo are set to face each other in an exhibition bout in California next month 
  • Freddie Roach believes Tyson will not hold back but warned him of Jones’ threat

Freddie Roach believes Mike Tyson will knock Roy Jones Jr out in his comeback fight next month.

Tyson, 54, has not stepped in the ring since his retirement in 2005, while 51-year-old Jones Jr has not climbed through the ropes in more than two years.

But the duo are set to take part in a mouthwatering exhibition bout on November 28 in California. 

Freddie Roach believes Mike Tyson will knock Roy Jones Jr out in his comeback fight 

Tyson, 54, has not stepped in the ring since his retirement from boxing back in 2005

And Roach – who after finishing his professional fighting career in 1986 has gone on to train the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan – insists Tyson will not take it easy on Jones Jr but insists he must be aware of the latter’s left punch.

‘I spoke with Mike Tyson about ten days ago and I told him he doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘exhibition,’ Roach told Press Box PR.

‘He laughed but he knew what I meant. Mike is an old school fighter who only has one gear – forward.

‘And I know when that bell rings, Mike will be swinging for the fences. I think Mike knocks Roy Jones out.

Meanwehile, 51-year-old Jones Jr has not climbed through the ropes in more than two years

The duo will clash in an exhibition bout on November 28 in California after it was pushed back

‘But I did warn Mike that Roy has to be careful of Roy’s left to the body. That’s the punch Roy used to knock out Virgil Hill.’

Jones Jr delivered one of his greatest ever performances in 1998 when he knocked out former boxer Hill in the fourth round of their light-heavyweight bout in April 1998.

Former undisputed heavyweight champion Tyson has been in training since March and built up the excitement for the showdown earlier this month by sharing an advert, made by Triller, on Instagram.

The video was the latest Tyson has shared of build-up to the fight, having posted several others of him preparing in the gym after undergoing an incredible transformation in the last few months. 

Tyson built up excitement for the showdown by sharing an advert made by Triller

Meanwhile, Jones Jr –  who has recruited Chris Eubank Jr to help him prepare for the fight – has claimed he is prepared to die in the clash.

‘You get hit by Mike Tyson, anything can happen to you,’ he told Joe Rogan on his podcast. ‘Mike Tyson is not just an ordinary puncher.

‘I love boxing, so if I’ve gotta die boxing I’m gonna die a happy man. There’s other ways I’d rather go, but if I went that way I’m not mad at that.’ 

Roy Jones Jr meanwhile claimed that he is prepared to die in his fight with Tyson next month

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Payet looking to deliver a reminder of brilliance against Man City

Dimitri Payet was Premier League box office at West Ham but has found a place he calls home in Marseille… and the free-kick maestro will be looking to deliver a reminder of his individual brilliance against Manchester City tonight

  • Dimitri Payet is once again the centre of attention at Ligue 1 side Marseille 
  • Payet has had a mixed time in France since acrimoniously leaving West Ham 
  • Payet, 33, fell out with former boss Rudi Garcia and underwhelmed in 2018/19 
  • But now Payet is back in favour and at the centre of Andre Villas-Boas plans 
  • He will now try to unlock at Manchester City defence in the Champions League 

Dimitri Payet lit up the Premier League during his two-year spell at West Ham, but now back at his beloved Marseille he appears to be driving the Ligue 1 side’s domestic and European ambitions.

His Hammers career – which saw him become one of the most coveted attacking midfielders in Europe given his creative genius – ended on a sour and acrimonious note, refusing to train and telling then boss Slaven Bilic that he wanted to leave immediately. 

The east London club did initially fold to his demands and let him return to his former side in January 2017, and now more than three years on Payet will face – rather than turn out for – an English side, with Manchester City the visitors to the Stade Velodrome on Tuesday evening.

Dimitri Payet will face Manchester City again as Marseille face them in the Champions League

 Payet re-joined the Ligue 1 side in 2017 after an acrimonious departure from West Ham

Payet passed to Victor Moses for a stunning opener in West Ham’s shock 2-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium in September 2015, but that appearance was one of the two occasions he faced City during his spell in the Premier League before returning to Marseille. 

That transition though back to life in France has been – like the player himself – fascinating and unpredictable in equal measure.

The 33-year-old racked up a mammoth 23 assists in his first full season back in French football and his 10 goals were equally as important as Marseille reached the Europa League final. 

For Payet and Marseille though, the game both literally and figuratively ended in sadness, with the tears streaming down Payet’s face as he was forced to withdraw with a hamstring issues just half an hour into the 3-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid in Lyon.

Back in France, Payet appears to be driving Marseille’s domestic and European ambitions

Now he is looking to give Pep Guardiola a reminder of his brilliance having returned to France

The tears did not only demonstrate his pain that he would not be able to try and help his side to their first European silverware since winning the inaugural edition of the Champions League in 1993, but also confirmed he would miss out on France’s squad for the 2018 World Cup.

His forced omission would plunge his club career back into the depths of darkness, appearing to suffer from a lack of motivation after the disappointment of missing out on Didier Deschamps’ World Cup winning squad.

Lacklustre displays and general disconsolation in a season where he managed just six goals and eight assists also saw him fall out with then club boss Rudi Garcia, who had entrusted him with the captaincy after Steve Mandanda joined Crystal Palace. 

But last season saw the arrival of former Tottenham and Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas, who reignited the fire inside Payet’s belly by making him the fulcrum of the attacking and fluid system the Portuguese has tried to implement.

Payet helped Marseille to the Europa League final in his first full season back at the club, but went off injured and in tears against Atletico Madrid

The injury also saw Payet miss out on a place in France’s World Cup winning squad in Russia

A box-office player with skills in abundance and exquisite free-kicks to match, Payet notched 12 goals across all competitions last season and laid on six assists for his team-mates as Marseille finished second to PSG in the aborted French season and won a place back in the Champions League for the first time in six years.

Such is the esteem that Villas-Boas holds Payet in that in January this year, he compared his status at the club to that of Lionel Messi at Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus.

‘Barcelona are Messi dependent, Juventus are Ronaldo dependent. If we’re Payet dependent, we’re Payet dependent,’ he reasoned.

‘But it doesn’t worry me. Good players make the difference. But I’ve got no problems handling something like that.’

Channelling that burgeoning desire that is beginning to re-emerge inside Payet has been key, but as has so often been the case with Payet, complications have not been too far away.

Payet suffered a dip in form the following season and fell out with then boss Rudi Garcia

But Andre Villas-Boas took over last season and appears to have reignited the fire in Payet

Concerns about his weight – which Villas-Boas has been keen to downplay – have arisen already this season, while the midfield maverick has also allowed games this season against Saint-Etienne, Metz and Lille to pass him by.

Contracting coronavirus in August also saw him miss the first game of the season against Brest, but it was the 1-1 draw against Lyon earlier this month that really saw the best and worst of the Marseille star.

Payet fired Marseille in front from former Newcastle winger Florian Thauvin’s pass for his first goal of the season, but quickly turned villain as he lunged recklessly at Leo Dubois’s ankle. 

Referee Stephanie Frappart initially booked Payet but upgraded it to a red card after a VAR review.

The rash nature of the challenge may have been evident for all to see, but Payet’s commitment to Marseille, however reckless it may be, is undoubted.

Payet showed his best against Lyon, opening the scoring from a Florian Thauvin (centre) pass

But he also showed the ugly side of his game and was sent off soon after for a reckless foul

He had suggested last season he could leave Marseille if they were not ambitious heading into the Champions League group stages.

But in June he put all speculation to bed by signing a two-year contract extension with Marseille through to 2024 and agreed to halve his salary for this season to help out the club deal with the ongoing pandemic.

‘The club did what had to be done to get me back when I needed it. The club has given to me, and I wanted to repay that,’ Payet said after signing the deal.

‘The idea came to mind when the president spoke about things and who better than me to lead by example? I love this club and I’m ready to do anything for it to grow. It’s good to say you love, but it’s better to show it.’ 

A more controversial way to demonstrate that love is to mock rival clubs, and Payet did just that on social media by making fun of Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich last season.

However, Payet’s commitment to the cause at Marseille on and off the field cannot be doubted

He will need to be at his best if Marseille are to beat a City side he faced just twice at West Ham

He then took to Twitter again last month and posted a photoshopped image of Neymar crying after his side ended their nine-year winless streak against the Ligue 1 champions in a game marred by the Brazilian’s altercation with Alvaro Gonzalez, with the duo since being cleared of making discriminatory remarks in the bust-up.

But many have become concerned that Payet’s behaviour on social media has distracted him from the more pressing matter of getting fit, apparently admitting himself he is ‘lacking juice’ in his legs, while Villas-Boas explained that Payet had told him that he could be doing much better.

The key to doing that, according to Alain Perrin – his former coach at Saint Etienne – is to make sure he is psychologically prepared.

‘He needs confrontation, He will always be capable of reacting to it, given his technical qualities,’ Perrin told L’Equipe.

‘Once he is in a routine, it is much more difficult.’ 

Marseille will be hoping for performances from Steve Mandanda (left) and Morgan Sanson

That confrontation and motivation could however arrive against a formidable, albeit injury-ravaged Man City side, particularly given that he managed just one assist in the two games he faced them in the Premier League.

The French outfit have the likes of former Aston Villa left-back Jordan Amavi, captain and goalkeeper Mandanda as well as Bayern Munich loanee Michael Cuisance among their ranks.

But they will need them, as well as midfielders Kevin Strootman and Morgan Sanson to react with the club still reeling from their last-gasp defeat at Olympiacos in their Group C opener.

Payet and co. will have to raise their game against City having been beaten by Olympiacos

City themselves of course have struggled against French opposition in recent seasons, having suffered a shock knockout in last season’s Champions League quarter finals at the hands of Lyon.

That soul-destroying loss came three years after a Monaco side featuring the likes of Kylian Mbappe and current Liverpool midfielder Fabinho knocked Pep Guardiola’s men out on away goals at the last 16 stage.

While such high stakes are not on the line in Tuesday’s fixture, Villas-Boas will hope the formidable task they are faced with of trying to get out of the group draws a reaction from the bullish and intense side of Payet to show his side belong on the biggest of European stages. 

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Six Nations: Sean Maitland to miss Wales vs Scotland after breaking coronavirus protocols with Barbarians

Sean Maitland will not join up with the Scotland squad ahead of Saturday’s clash in Wales following his involvement in the breach of coronavirus protocols that saw Barbarians’ game against England cancelled.

Maitland was among the players whose trip to a restaurant undermined attempts to maintain a hygiene bubble.

Ahead of Scotland’s final Guinness Six Nations clash, head coach Gregor Townsend said: “We are working hard to ensure our training camp remains secure in terms of Covid protocols and, as such, Sean’s actions last week with the Barbarians mean that he won’t be able to rejoin our group now and we will review the situation in the coming weeks.”

Glasgow winger Ratu Tagive has joined up with the squad ahead of Saturday’s game in Llanelli after another winger, Damien Hoyland, received treatment for an ankle injury in hospital.

Hooker Ewan Ashman has returned to Sale, Edinburgh lock Grant Gilchrist has been ruled out of the autumn series with a groin injury but Matt Fagerson remains with the squad after suffering an ankle injury against Georgia on Friday.

Exeter players Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray and Sam Skinner have joined up with the squad after adding the Gallagher Premiership title to their Heineken Champions Cup win.

Townsend added: “Ratu was unlucky to have missed out a couple of weeks ago, picking up an injury on the weekend we selected our training squad.

“It’s great to have him with us now in addition to our three Exeter Chiefs – Jonny, Sam and Stuart.”


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