Sports Shorts

Kane, Haaland and Lukaku are on Man City’s striker shortlist

News and reactions from the world of sport, including a rugby league player’s ten-match ban for ‘testicle attack’

1

Football 

City could aim for Kane if bid fails for Haaland

Football’s transfer rumour mill has gone into overdrive after confirmation of Sergio Aguero’s departure from Manchester City this summer. With Aguero leaving this means there will be a huge gap to fill in City’s attack and a number of high-profile names are being linked with the Premier League champions-elect. 

Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland is City’s first choice to replace Aguero, The Times reports. But should City fail to land the 20-year-old Norwegian they will consider making a bid for Tottenham’s Harry Kane. 

At 27, England captain Kane is significantly older than Haaland and Spurs would demand a huge fee as he is contracted until the summer of 2024.

Another striker on City’s radar is Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku, Eurosport reports. The 27-year-old Belgian is a back-up choice for City, who could also face competition from Chelsea for the former Manchester United forward. 

2

Rugby union

Women’s Six Nations format a one-off for 2021

The changed format for the 2021 Women’s Six Nations will only be for this year, organisers have said. Delayed because of the pandemic, the women’s championship will see two pools of three teams followed by a final round of fixtures, the BBC reports.   

“This year was exceptional circumstances,” said Six Nations chief executive Ben Morel. “We are very happy to have a standalone window and that may continue in the future. But I think the DNA of the Six Nations is a round robin where each team plays against each other with a Grand Slam at the end.” 

3

American football

NFL expands regular season to 17 games

An extra round of matches will be played in the NFL’s regular season after owners voted to expand the schedule from 16 games to 17. The 2021 NFL campaign starts on 9 September and the decision to increase the number of regular season matches means the “universally hated pre-season shrinks”, says NFL.com columnist Judy Battista. 

As well as the changes to the regular season, the NFL has also committed to at least four international games per season from 2022. All 32 teams will play in at least one international game every eight years. 

4

Rugby league

Player gets ten-match ban for ‘attacking an opponent’s testicles’

Bradford Bulls player George Flanagan has been suspended for ten matches and fined £250 after being found guilty of “attacking an opponent’s testicles”. 

The incident happened in the 32nd minute of Bradford’s Challenge Cup second round tie with Featherstone Rovers on 21 March. 

Flanagan, who had pleaded not guilty to the charge, was also banned for eight matches in 2019 for a similar offence. 

5

Football 

Decision delayed for Champions League proposals

It was expected that proposals for the new Champions League format would be signed off today by European football’s governing body Uefa. However, the decision by its executive committee has now been pushed back to 19 April.  

Under the new format from 2024, the current group phase would be scrapped in favour of a ten-match first phase, the BBC reports. In its place, the number of qualifiers will be expanded from 32 to 36, with space for two “wild card” entries.

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