18-12-2018 Plan to scrap FA Cup fifth-round replays brought forward to this season

• FA makes move to reduce fixture congestion for top six sides• Fifth-round games will move to midweek from 2019-20 seasonThe plan to scrap FA Cup fifth-round replays have been brought forward to include this season.The decision had been made to get rid of fifth-round replays from the start of next season, deciding last-16 ties with extra time and penalties in order to create space for a winter break from February 2020 onward. Continue reading...

18-12-2018 Manchester City rely on penalties to beat Leicester in Carabao Cup

History repeated itself in the East Midlands as Manchester City sealed their passage into the Carabao Cup semi-finals via penalties and at the expense of Leicester for the second season running. Arijanet Muric, City’s 20-year-old Kosovan goalkeeper, was the hero, denying James Maddison and Caglar Soyuncu from the spot in a shootout that also saw Christian Fuchs and Raheem Sterling lift their kicks over the bar.The holders had been on course to make it to the last four in normal time when Kevin De Bruyne marked his first start since the beginning of November with his first City goal in almost eight months. Yet a spirited second-half performance from Claude Puel’s side saw Marc Albrighton equalise in the 73rd minute, forcing another penalty shootout. Continue reading...

18-12-2018 'Humble and generous, but a private enigma' - who was Leicester City's owner?

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is revered in Leicester as the man who presided over one of sport's great triumphs - but who was the billionaire Thai businessman?

18-12-2018 Football transfer rumours: Real Madrid's Isco to Manchester City?

Today’s fluff was a flight on the wings of a young girl’s dreams There is only one possible conclusion to be drawn from the way that Manchester City have excelled over the first 17 games of a Premier League season in which their outstanding midfielder, Kevin De Bruyne, has been unable to start a single match and missed all but four entirely. And that conclusion, it seems, is that they need to buy even more midfielders. According to AS, they have already made contact with the currently-disgruntled Real Madrid and Spain star Isco to see if he might be interested in a move. Apparently Madrid “will not consider selling for anything under €100m”, and it may take a sum in excess of the €117m they banked for selling Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, but given the player’s current unhappiness and the fact that the crowd have turned on him of late, “it would be no surprise to see Isco lining up at the Etihad next season”.Juventus have put aside £125m, says the Star, after their desire to sign Paul Pogba in January led them to ask Manchester United: how much is that Poggy in the window? They won’t like the answer, though, as “despite the player being at war with José Mourinho”, even though “Pogba is desperate to quit United”, and despite the fact that “he has been axed from United’s starting line-up in recent weeks and been publicly criticised by his manager”, his club “are not prepared to let him leave”. Continue reading...

18-12-2018 World sport: 10 photos we liked this week - 22-28 October

A selection of the most striking sports photographs from around the world this week.

18-12-2018 Manchester United fans on Mourinho: the 'serial winner' who had to go

Outside Old Trafford, fans reacted with an air of despondency to the inevitability of their manager’s sackingOn a wet and windy day outside Manchester United’s Old Trafford, an air of despondency met the news that José Mourinho had been sacked after the club’s worst start to a season in nearly 30 years. Most fans said they expected him to get the bullet but many expressed surprise at the timing.“He had to go. I think it was inevitable but not now,” said Neil Crawford, 72, out shopping at the club’s gargantuan megastore with his wife Liz, 77. “They may as well have waited until May as this season is more or less over for United.” Continue reading...

18-12-2018 Chelsea chairman hits out at ‘mindless’ fans and vows to rid club of discrimination

• Open letter from Bruce Buck follows ‘plague’ of incidents• Uefa launches investigation into chant by Chelsea fansThe Chelsea chairman, Bruce Buck, has published an open letter to the club’s supporters condemning the actions of a “mindless” minority at recent games and vowing not to rest “until we have eliminated all forms of discrimination from our club”.The 700-word letter was launched on Chelsea’s website on the day Uefa launched an investigation into allegations that fans sang an antisemitic chant during last week’s Europa League tie in Hungary. The incident in Budapest, where some travelling fans were photographed holding a Chelsea Headhunters flag featuring a Nazi symbol, came four days after Raheem Sterling was subjected to alleged racist abuse in a win over Manchester City, with four supporters subsequently suspended by the club. Continue reading...

18-12-2018 Wingate & Finchley fail to score in epic goalmouth scramble with Dulwich Hamlet – video

Some heroic defending on the Dulwich Hamlet line prevented Wingate & Finchley from scoring during an epic scramble when the two sides met in the FA Trophy. Wingate & Finchley eventually won 2-0. Continue reading...

18-12-2018 Tyson Fury is no angel but he should have been on the Spoty shortlist | Kevin Mitchell

It is toweringly paradoxical that a fighter who is trying against mountainous odds to put embarrassing chunks of his past behind him is reminded of his sins again in a public referendumGeraint Thomas deserves the acclaim of armchair Britain as the nation’s outstanding athlete of 2018. He’s a wonderful cyclist, won the Tour de France – only the third Briton to do so, after Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome – and is, by all accounts, a decent man.Tyson Fury, on the other hand … is, well, a bit difficult. He fights for a living. He’s prone to discomfit “civilised company”. He grew up on a Travellers’ site. Some of his views would embarrass a nightclub bouncer. Or once did. Continue reading...

18-12-2018 Gareth Farrelly: ‘It was a toxic, bullying culture for young players at Aston Villa’

Midfielder turned lawyer claims coach Kevin MacDonald left a ‘dark shadow’ over players at Villa and says it drove him to suicidal thoughts“It was a culture of verbal and physical bullying, but there were no checks and balances; he operated with impunity … It was like a dark shadow came over.”Gareth Farrelly, now 43 and a qualified lawyer, with a Premier League and international career behind him, is recalling the bullying he says he endured as a young player at Aston Villa in the 1990s from the coach Kevin MacDonald. It was a “relentlessly negative” regime under him. Continue reading...

18-12-2018 Blackpool 3-2 Solihull Motors: Hosts to play Arsenal in FA Cup third-round tie

Blackpool defeat non-league side Solihull Moors in extra time to set up a home FA Cup third-round tie against Arsenal.

18-12-2018 Qatar World Cup: What will it be like for fans in 2022?

It is four years until the 2022 World Cup final takes place in Qatar - Richard Conway finds out what a winter tournament could be like for fans.

18-12-2018 British surfer Tom Butler conquers potential world record '100ft tall wave' – video

Briton Tom Butler believes he may have broken the world record for surfing the biggest ever wave after successfully riding a huge swell at Nazaré in Portugal on 14 December.The 29-year-old says the wave was estimated to be more than 100ft tall. The current official record is 80ft, which was set last year by Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa also at Nazaré.Butler said surfing the wave was like 'running away from a raging bull'. It is likely he will have to wait for the WSL Big Wave Awards in April 2019 for official confirmation on whether he broke the world record.Surfing and skateboarding receive huge Olympic boost from UK Sport Continue reading...

18-12-2018 McCann case may put bookies’ treatment of winning punters in the spotlight

• Teenager not paid after winning bets totalling nearly £1m• Remote Gambling Association denies ‘cartel-like’ behaviourThe legal case in which Megan McCann, a young punter from Northern Ireland, is suing the online bookmaker Bet365 for more than £1m in unpaid winnings promises to put the entire betting industry’s treatment of successful punters in the spotlight after her legal team submitted an amended statement of claim which is understood to allege “cartel-like” activity by major online operators.McCann’s case took another step towards a full hearing last Friday, when Bet365 was granted four weeks to consider whether it will continue with an attempt to strike out key parts of McCann’s claim. The parties will reconvene at the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast on 18 January when it is possible that a date will be set for a full hearing of the case in the spring. Continue reading...

18-12-2018 Focus on skill and not emotion rewards Tim Paine's new Australia

Australia skittle India’s tail end before lunch on final dayPaine ‘relieved’ to post his first win as captainIt was with just enough of the old and just enough of the new that Tim Paine’s side found the necessary balance to win their first international fixture under his tutelage. Both captains acknowledged the runs made by the hosts at the start of the Test were the biggest input to the result, a base that allowed the Australian attack to swamp their opposition four days later – a business model they made their own for two decades when they were the top of the world.Getting ahead in the game also allowed them to project themselves accordingly, Paine himself taking responsibility for pushing back against the hyperactivity of his opposite number, Virat Kohli, that dominated so much of the colour and movement through the middle days of this Test. When it all came together on the fourth evening and fifth morning in Perth, it was the best sign yet of a welcome thaw in Australia’s long winter. Continue reading...

18-12-2018 Alan Shearer: Q&A on Jose Mourinho's sacking by Manchester United

BBC Sport pundit Alan Shearer answers questions about Jose Mourinho's sacking as Manchester United manager on Tuesday.

18-12-2018 Mourinho and United ended up like a loveless celebrity marriage | Barney Ronay

His style at Manchester United has been defence-heavy and excitement-free but problems exist in all areas of the clubFarewell, then, José. It’s been fun. Or if not exactly fun then fitful, tedious and wreathed in a familiar sense of entropy. Either way José Mourinho’s abrupt departure from Manchester United on Tuesday morning completes a familiar three-year cycle of doomed hope, doomed decline and, by the end, simply doom.There was at least an inevitability about the end. It has been clear since the summer that Mourinho was preparing for this moment, using his public pronouncements to shift blame, distance himself from the squad of players assembled, and tend to the one element that really matters: his glorious but increasingly distant legacy. Continue reading...

18-12-2018 The 100 best male footballers in the world 2018: Nos 100-71

Our panel of 225 experts from 69 nations compile a list of the greatest male players in 2018. We will unveil 30 names a day until the top 10 on Friday. Meet our 2018 judges2017 edition | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012The 100 best female footballers in 2018 Continue reading...