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SPORTS AGENDA: Manchester United officials frustrated with ‘bogus transfer stories’

Officials at Manchester United are growing increasingly frustrated at what they see as deliberately placed bogus transfer stories attempting to generate interest in players and increase prices. 

Last week, Portuguese media linked the club with a move for Wolves forward Raul Jimenez, a story which a United insider described as ‘utter nonsense’. 

There is a belief at Old Trafford that agents feel the club are an easy target, and that if they can get them linked with certain players it will be in their own interests. ‘The Jimenez story making the gossip page on the BBC’s website certainly did not help,’ the source added. 

It will be interesting to see if the delayed — and eagerly awaited — independent inquiry into child sex abuse in football will quickly emerge following paedophile Barry Bennell’s guilty plea last week. 

The Football Association commissioned the review in December 2016 after a series of harrowing accounts emerged from former players, but its publication has been held up for a number of reasons, including legal issues. 

Regardless, given Clive Sheldon QC and his team have now had three-and-a-half years, it is hoped that victims, many of whom feel they have been left in the dark, are not waiting much longer. Manchester City’s own investigation is expected to enter its final stages. 

The club have already paid compensation to more than 20 victims, with each given a face-to-face apology from a senior member of City’s board.

Jenas missed out on television coverage of FA Cup final 

Jermaine Jenas was a notable absentee from the BBC’s television coverage of Saturday’s FA Cup final. 

The pundit was holidaying in Spain when the Government changed the quarantine rules and so has had to self-isolate following his return. 

As a result, Danny Murphy was drafted in, although Jenas did broadcast for radio from his house.

The ECB are so committed to ensuring that the biosecure bubble around England matches is secure that they have paid for Covid tests to be sent out to journalists who have taken holidays between the West Indies and Pakistan series.

Brentford owner Matthew Benham was keen to mark the club’s farewell to Griffin Park by scoring a goal on the hallowed turf before the bulldozers move in. 

The Bees supremo, who has overseen a remarkable turnaround at the club, took to the field following the last game at the club’s 116-year home, a 3-1 Championship play-off semi-final win over Swansea City last Wednesday. 

Onlookers say he took two penalties at an open goal but missed both, to much laughter, but club insiders insist he did manage to put one in. Benham will be hoping his strikers fare better in the £200million play-off final against Fulham on Tuesday.

The International Olympic Committee will be embarrassed that one of their newest members Gianni Infantino, president of FIFA, is under criminal investigation in Switzerland. 

It has led to calls for greater due diligence by the IOC in selecting their members — something John Nicholson MP was saying before the IOC elected Lord Coe, president of World Athletics, and others in a virtual IOC session a few weeks back. 

Goodwood have estimated that the late decision to cancel Saturday’s pilot event with a crowd of 5,000 cost them a six-figure sum. 

Also, 90 punnets of strawberries were in line to be wasted but they are now to be made into jam to distribute among local food banks.

They may have finished third in the Premier League table but Manchester United have topped one chart.

The club’s podcast, launched eight months ago, has surged to the top of Apple’s charts, ahead of their rivals. United have thrown considerable resources at the project, which has featured interviews with the likes of Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie. 

Current boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has also sat down, along with Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford. Downloads surged 60 per cent in lockdown, with ex-midfielder Quinton Fortune’s tales of life during apartheid in his South Africa homeland a powerful listen.

There is much nervousness among pundits whose contracts with Sky Sports and BT Sport end at the conclusion of this season and are yet to be extended. 

Insiders have warned us to expect streamlined line-ups when the new campaign starts.

It would appear that Ben Stokes’ ability to prevail in tricky fixtures extends beyond the boundaries of the cricket field. 

The England all-rounder recently lodged an application with his local council to chop down troublesome cherry trees at his Durham pad. Despite the fact that they are in a designated conservation area, the green light was given following no objections from neighbours. 

Stokes had raised concerns that the trees could fall and damage a gate and wall within the grounds of the five-bedroom residence.

Fulham’s transfer plans WILL suffer if they aren’t promoted

Fulham will be desperate to secure promotion to the Premier League in the play-offs, otherwise their transfer plans could be badly hit. 

Cottagers boss Scott Parker has been warned the club will only be able to make loan signings during this summer’s transfer window if they fail to win promotion back to the Premier League. 

Despite being owned by Shahid Khan, the club will have to curb their transfer spending next season if they remain in the Championship as they will be close to breaching the FFP regulations. The impact of the coronavirus crisis has also affected Fulham’s finances, as it has with all clubs in the country.

Wigan Athletic’s takeover is being delayed by the club’s appeal against the 12-point deduction that relegated them to League One. Prospective buyers want to wait and see which division the club will be before completing a move. 

The difference of around £6million in television revenue is key, although some groups would prefer to take over Wigan in League One, rather than the second tier, due to lower costs.

Contributors: Marcus Townend, Kieran Gill and Matt Hughes

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