McGregor highest-paid athlete ahead of Messi in Forbes list

Conor McGregor was the world’s highest-paid athlete over the last year ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, according to the annual Forbes list.

During the 12-month period ending May 1, 2021, Irish MMA fighter McGregor earned $180m (£128m), a figure which Forbes said includes $158m (£112m) from endorsements and the recent sale of the majority stake of his whiskey brand.

He made just $22m (£15m) inside the Octagon – McGregor lost his rematch against Dustin Poirier in January this year in Abu Dhabi.

It is the 32-year-old’s first time at No 1 and his second appearance in the top 10 – McGregor was named at No 4 with $99m (£70m) in 2018 after the fight against Floyd Mayweather.

McGregor recently claimed he had held talks about buying a stake in Celtic from their principal shareholder Dermot Desmond, adding that he could do “big things for a club” and also said that he likes Manchester United.

Lionel Messi reacts to Barcelona's shock Granada defeat
Image:
Lionel Messi earned £92m over the last 12 months

Barcelona and Argentina forward Messi was second on the list and set a record as the highest-earning footballer after bringing home $130m (£92m), while Portugal and Juventus forward Ronaldo earned $120m (£85m) to sit third among the top 10 highest-paid athletes.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Image:
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott earned $107.5m/£76m to make his way into the top five

NFL quarterback Dak Prescott ($107.5 m/£76m) of the Dallas Cowboys and four-times NBA champion LeBron James ($96.5 million) rounded off the top five.

LeBron James
Image:
LeBron James finished in the top five of Forbes’ list of highest paid athletes

Just outside the top five were PSG and Brazil forward Neymar at sixth ($95m/£67.5m), 20-time tennis Grand Slam champion Roger Federer at seventh ($90m/£64m), and seven-time F1 championship winner Lewis Hamilton ($82m/£58m) finished eighth in the list.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady with $76m (£54m) and Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant $75m (£53m) made up the rest of the top 10.

Image:
Lewis Hamilton earned an estimated £58m in the last 12 months

Forbes said its on-the-field earnings figures include all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned during the 12-month period while off-the-field earnings are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and licensing income.

In April, Barcelona topped the Forbes list for the 20 most valuable football clubs at £3.46bn ($4.76bn), narrowly ahead of their La Liga rivals Real Madrid’s valuation of £3.45bn ($4.75bn).

Adblock test

Real, Barca, Juve face two-year UEFA ban over ESL

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus face a two-season Champions League ban unless they withdraw from the European Super League and sign a settlement agreement with UEFA.

A disciplinary investigation has been opened by UEFA against the three clubs in connection to their involvement with the European Super League project.

The trio are the only clubs from the original 12 involved in the breakaway plans yet to formally withdraw.

The nine clubs who pulled out of the European Super League – including Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – signed the Club Commitment Declaration with UEFA on Friday.

UEFA is confident the three rebel clubs, who have won 20 European Cups between them, will be forced to sign up soon.

The prospect of disciplinary action appeared inevitable last Friday when a statement confirming the peace accord with nine of the clubs ended: “UEFA has reserved all rights to take whatever action it deems appropriate against those clubs that have so far refused to renounce the so-called ‘Super League’.

“The matter will promptly be referred to the competent UEFA disciplinary bodies.”

The breakaway league was abandoned within 72 hours of its announcement last month amid considerable fan protests, Government pressure, and player and manager rejection.

On Saturday, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus hit out at “intolerable” pressure and threats to abandon the European Super League project, and vowed to “persevere” with the idea despite its considerable rejection.

Florentino Perez
Image:
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez spearheaded the failed breakaway Super League

Their statement read: “The founding clubs have suffered, and continue to suffer, unacceptable third-party pressures, threats, and offenses to abandon the project and therefore desist from their right and duty to provide solutions to the football ecosystem via concrete proposals and constructive dialogue.

“This is intolerable under the rule of law and tribunals have already ruled in favour of the Super League proposal, ordering FIFA and UEFA to, either directly or through their affiliated bodies, refrain from taking any action which may hinder this initiative in any way while court proceedings are pending.”

Juventus, who are in danger of missing out on the Champions League next season, have been warned by the Italian football federation they will be expelled from Serie A unless they withdraw from the proposed breakaway league.

What punishment do the nine Super League rebels face?

In announcing their recommitment to UEFA on Friday, the nine clubs will make a combined goodwill contribution of just over £13m to benefit children’s and grassroots football across Europe. They will also have five per cent of UEFA competition revenues withheld for one season and this money will be redistributed.

They also face fines of almost £87m each if they seek to join an unauthorised competition in the future, and a fine of half that amount if they breach any other terms of the declaration. They will also rejoin the influential lobbying group the European Club Association.



Avram Glazer refuses to answer questions over Manchester United








0:46

Manchester United owner Avram Glazer refused to apologise to fans over the Super League debacle, when approached by Sky News last week

A spokesperson for Manchester United confirmed the Glazer family would personally cover their club’s share of the goodwill money requested and the withheld funds. It is expected that the amount the Glazers would be liable for is between five and 10 million euros.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “I said at the UEFA Congress two weeks ago that it takes a strong organisation to admit making a mistake especially in these days of trial by social media. These clubs have done just that.

“In accepting their commitments and willingness to repair the disruption they caused, UEFA wants to put this chapter behind it and move forward in a positive spirit. The measures announced are significant, but none of the financial penalties will be retained by UEFA. They will all be reinvested into youth and grassroots football in local communities across Europe, including the UK.

“These clubs recognised their mistakes quickly and have taken action to demonstrate their contrition and future commitment to European football. The same cannot be said for the clubs that remain involved in the so-called ‘Super League’ and UEFA will deal with those clubs subsequently.”

Adblock test

Euro round-up: Real drop points; AC Milan win at Juve

Real Madrid passed up the opportunity to take control of the La Liga title race despite Toni Kroos’ stoppage-time goal earning them a 2-2 draw with Sevilla.

Atletico Madrid’s 0-0 draw at Barcelona on Saturday meant that victory for Zinedine Zidane’s men would have drawn them level on points with Atleti and, thanks to their better head-to-head record, they would have leapfrogged their neighbours.

But Sevilla still have title hopes of their own and will be devastated to have let a lead slip so late after Ivan Rakitic’s penalty looked to have won it for the Andalusians.

Real Madrid move second, level on points with Barca but two behind Diego Simeone’s side.

It was a night of frustration for Real, who saw a Karim Benzema goal disallowed early after nodding in Alvaro Odriozola’s cross. VAR confirmed that Odriozola had strayed just offside in the build-up.

Image:
The draw leaves the La Liga title race wide open

Soon after, Fernando was able to find space in the box to knock the ball past Thibaut Courtois after Rakitic knocked down a cross and gave Sevilla their first lead of the night.

Real’s equaliser came through Marco Asensio on 67 minutes – and it came less than 60 seconds after Zidane brought him off the subs’ bench. Kroos sent the super-sub through on goal and he calmly finished beyond Yassine Bounou.

There was then huge drama as Benzema was clearly brought down by Bounou in the Sevilla box, only for VAR to pull the play back for an Eder Militao handball in Real’s penalty area prior to the breakaway.

Sevilla were correctly awarded a spot-kick and former Barcelona midfielder Rakitic made no mistake, firing the ball past Courtois.

Julen Lopetegui was quite happy for his side to waste time in the final stages and it was deep into injury-time that Kroos rescued a point.

The German fired a low shot from the edge of the box right into the bottom corner and Real almost won it in the 96th minute, only for Casemiro’s effort to bend narrowly wide of the post.

At the bottom, Eibar picked up a second successive victory to pull themselves right back into the relegation battle.

Recio’s last-gasp penalty was enough to see off Getafe, meaning they are just two points from safety after Real Valladolid lost 3-0 at Valencia.

There were six goals, three penalties and three red cards in Celta Vigo’s thrilling 4-2 victory at Europa League finalists Villarreal.

Rulli and Perez Martinez were both sent off for the hosts in first-half stoppage-time, before Ferreyra was given his marching orders for Vigo near the end.

AC Milan stun Juventus

Fikayo Tomori celebrates after scoring for AC Milan
Image:
Fikayo Tomori celebrates after scoring for AC Milan

AC Milan have given themselves a great chance of returning to the Champions League after thrashing Juventus 3-0 in Turin.

Brahim Diaz’s curling strike shortly before the break put AC 1-0 up before Franck Kessie passed up a glorious opportunity to double their lead when his penalty was saved by Wojciech Szczesny in the Juve goal.

But Ante Rebic and Fikayo Tomori ensured it would be a night to remember in Turin for Milan with goals late in the second half. Rebic fired in from distance with 12 minutes remaining, shortly before Chelsea loanee Tomori made it three on a memorable night for the Rossoneri

Cristiano Ronaldo trudges off at full time
Image:
Cristiano Ronaldo trudges off at full time

The result draws AC Milan level on points with Atalanta in second, two clear of Napoli in fourth and three ahead of Juve, who risk missing out on Europe’s premier competition for the first time in nine years.

Atalanta moved second with an entertaining 5-2 victory at struggling Parma, with Luis Muriel’s double the highlight for Gian Piero Gasperini’s men.

Elsewhere, Roma smashed Crotone 5-0, Cagliari and Sassuolo picked up away wins at Benevento and Genoa respectively, while Hellas Verona and Torino both scored late in a 1-1 draw.

Ligue 1: PSG frustrated by Rennes

Ander Herrera shows his anguish after missing a chance
Image:
Ander Herrera shows his anguish after missing a chance for PSG

It is advantage Lille in the Ligue 1 title race after PSG were held to a 1-1 draw by Rennes on Sunday night.

The reigning champions are now three points behind Lille with just two games of the season left, meaning four points will be enough for Christophe Galtier’s side to lift the trophy.

Both teams had chances in the first half at Rennes before Paris were awarded a highly-controversial penalty as Nayef Aguerd was adjuged to have fouled Layvin Kurzawa.

Up stepped Neymar, fresh from extending his stay in Paris until 2025, to convert from the spot deep into added-on time at the top of the first half.

But Rennes were up for the fight and a fantastic header from Serhou Guirassy levelled up proceedings with 20 minutes remaining.

PSG’s misery was compounded when Presnel Kimpembe was red carded in the 87th minute.

Third-placed Monaco sit five points off the top after Eliot Matazo’s strike helped them see off Reims 1-0, while there were also wins for Saint-Etienne, Angers, Nimes, Nice and Montpellier.

Adblock test

Real, Barca, Juve respond to UEFA ‘threats’

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have issued a joint statement vowing to “persevere in the pursuit of adequate solutions” amid the fallout from the European Super League and what they see as “threats” from UEFA.

Nine of the original 12 European Super League clubs – including the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ – declared their commitment to UEFA and its competitions at continental and domestic level on Friday.

However, the three who have not renounced the European Super League – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus – are set to face “appropriate action” under UEFA’s disciplinary action.

We are looking at the prospect of Real Madrid not playing in the Champions League next season. Juventus will not be playing in it. Barcelona will not be playing in it. Unless they can sit down and come up with a compromise with UEFA.

Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol

The trio of clubs released a coordinated statement on Saturday, denouncing the “intolerable” pressure put on them by UEFA to drop the project.

It read: “In relation to the statement released by UEFA on the 7th May in respect of the Super League and the position taken by 9 of its founding clubs, Fútbol Club Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid Club de Fútbol state the following:

“I- The founding clubs have suffered, and continue to suffer, unacceptable third-party pressures, threats, and offenses to abandon the project and therefore desist from their right and duty to provide solutions to the football ecosystem via concrete proposals and constructive dialogue.

“This is intolerable under the rule of law and Tribunals have already ruled in favour of the Super League proposal, ordering FIFA and UEFA to, either directly or through their affiliated bodies, refrain from taking any action which may hinder this initiative in any way while court proceedings are pending.

UEFA has reserved all rights to take whatever action it deems appropriate against those clubs that have so far refused to renounce the so-called ‘Super League’.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin

“II- The Super League project was designed jointly by its 12 founding clubs:

“a. with the aim of providing solutions to the current unsustainable situation in the football industry. The 12 founding clubs shared the same concerns -as other stakeholders in European football do-, particularly under the current socio-economic context, that structural reforms are indispensable to ensure our sport stays appealing and survives in the long-term.

“To that effect, on 18th April, they announced their willingness to create the Super League and establish a channel of communication with UEFA and FIFA, in a constructive spirit of collaboration between the parties, as it was so notified to each of them on such date;

“b. with the utmost respect for the current football structures and ecosystem. The founding clubs expressly agreed that the Super League would only take place if such a competition was recognised by UEFA and/or FIFA or if, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, it was deemed to be a competition duly compatible for all purposes with the continuity of the founding clubs in their respective domestic competitions.










0:30

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez refused to comment on the European Super League, as he visited London for Real’s semi-final second leg against Chelsea

“However, despite being aware of the above terms, UEFA and FIFA have so far refused to establish any adequate channel of communication; and

“c. to bring financial stability to the entire European football family, currently under the effects of a deep crisis that threatens the survival of many clubs.

“Testament of it, the announced commitment to establish annual solidarity payments for guaranteed annual amounts that materially multiply those distributed by UEFA, and the obligation to reinforce financial sustainability rules, through the creation of a clear, transparent and effective control system verified by experts.

“III- The 12 founding clubs also acknowledged that the Super League was a unique opportunity to offer fans around the world the best possible show and to reinforce global interest in the sport, which is not a ‘given’ and is challenged by new generational trends.

“Moreover, one of its main objectives was to promote women’s football on a global level, a tremendous, but currently underestimated, opportunity for the sector.

“IV- We are fully aware of the diversity of reactions to the Super League initiative and, consequently, of the need to reflect on the reasons for some of them. We are ready to reconsider the proposed approach, as necessary.

“However, we would be highly irresponsible if, being aware of the needs and systemic crisis in the football sector, which led us to announce the Super League, we abandoned such mission to provide effective and sustainable answers to the existential questions that threaten the football industry.

“V- We regret to see that our friends and founding partners of the Super League project have now found themselves in such inconsistent and contradictory position when signing a number of commitments to UEFA yesterday.

“However, given that the material issues that led the 12 founding clubs to announce the Super League weeks ago have not gone away, we reiterate that, to honour our history, to comply with our obligations towards our stakeholders and fans, for the good of football and for the financial sustainability of the sector, we have the duty to act in a responsible manner and persevere in the pursuit of adequate solutions, despite the unacceptable and ongoing pressures and threats received from UEFA.

“VI- Mostly, we reiterate to FIFA, UEFA and all football stakeholders, as we have done on several occasions since the announcement of the Super League, our commitment and firm will to discuss, with respect and without intolerable pressure and in accordance with the rule of law, the most appropriate solutions for the sustainability of the whole football family.”

The nine clubs who pulled out of the European Super League are back in the UEFA fold and have agreed to “take all steps within their power” to end their involvement in the breakaway league.

The Super League was announced on April 18, but within 72 hours it had fallen apart with the English clubs withdrawing after fan protests and Government pressure.

What punishment do nine Super League rebels face?



AP - Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel








1:07

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel says UEFA were right not to expel them from this season’s Champions League over their failed European Super League move

The clubs will make a combined 15m euro (just over £13m) goodwill contribution to benefit children’s and grassroots football across Europe.

They will also have five per cent of UEFA competition revenues withheld for one season. This money will be redistributed.

They face fines of 100m euros (almost £87m) each if they seek to join an unauthorised competition in the future, and a fine of half that if they breach any other terms of the declaration, UEFA said in a statement.

They will also rejoin the influential lobbying group the European Club Association.

A spokesperson for Manchester United confirmed the Glazer family would personally cover their club’s share of the goodwill money requested and the withheld funds.



Glazers (PA)








3:51

James Cooper reports the latest surrounding Joel Glazer’s open letter to the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) on Friday

It is expected that the amount the Glazers would be liable for is between five and 10 million euros.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “I said at the UEFA Congress two weeks ago that it takes a strong organisation to admit making a mistake especially in these days of trial by social media. These clubs have done just that.

“In accepting their commitments and willingness to repair the disruption they caused, UEFA wants to put this chapter behind it and move forward in a positive spirit.

“The measures announced are significant, but none of the financial penalties will be retained by UEFA. They will all be reinvested into youth and grassroots football in local communities across Europe, including the UK.

“These clubs recognised their mistakes quickly and have taken action to demonstrate their contrition and future commitment to European football. The same cannot be said for the clubs that remain involved in the so-called ‘Super League’ and UEFA will deal with those clubs subsequently.”

What about Real, Barca and Juve?



Florentino Perez








1:59

The Athletic’s Caoimhe O’Neill says football lovers should not be too concerned about Perez’s claim that plans for a Super League will be revived

On those clubs – Real, Barca and Juve – the tone was strikingly different in UEFA’s statement.

“UEFA has reserved all rights to take whatever action it deems appropriate against those clubs that have so far refused to renounce the so-called ‘Super League’,” the statement concluded.

“The matter will promptly be referred to the competent UEFA disciplinary bodies.”

Meanwhile, Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol believes the three clubs could face bans from next season’s Champions League.

“Three clubs are refusing to be reintegrated,” he said. “They are three of the biggest clubs in Europe – Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus.

“As things stand, UEFA are saying these three clubs may well be banned from European competitions.

“We are looking at the prospect of Real Madrid not playing in the Champions League next season. Juventus will not be playing in it. Barcelona will not be playing in it.

“Unless they can sit down and come up with a compromise with UEFA. But as things stand – as ridiculous as it sounds – these three clubs are refusing to give up on the Super League.

“They still think somehow they can make it happen. They are refusing to accept these terms, conditions and punishments that UEFA have given to the other clubs.”

Adblock test

Hazard apologises for laughing with Chelsea players

Eden Hazard has said sorry and insisted he did not mean to offend any Real Madrid fans after laughing and joking with members of Chelsea’s team following his side’s exit from the Champions League at the semi-final stage.

Real Madrid lost 3-1 on aggregate after Chelsea progressed to the final thanks to goals from Timo Werner and Mason Mount at Stamford Bridge which gave the Blues a 2-0 win in the semi-final second leg on Wednesday night and set up an all-English tie with Manchester City on May 29 in Istanbul.

Hazard, who scored 110 times in over 350 appearances during his time at the Blues from 2012 to 2019, was substituted just before the end of the game after failing to make an impact against his previous club.

After the final whistle, the Belgium international could be seen laughing and joking with some of his former team-mates.

The 30-year-old’s actions drew staunch criticism from Real Madrid supporters and in the Spanish media, with some fans even calling for him to be transferred.

Eden Hazard was substituted shortly before the end of the match at Stamford Bridge
Image:
Hazard was substituted shortly before the end of the match at Stamford Bridge

Amid sombre backing music, a clip of El Chiringuito TV presenter Josep Pedrerol went viral after he went on a rant about Hazard, claiming his situation at the club is “very serious” and arguing that he was making a mockery out of Real Madrid supporters.

“I am sorry. I have read lots of opinions about me today and it was not my intention to offend any Real Madrid fans,” Hazard posted on his Instagram story on Thursday.

“It has always been my dream to play for Real Madrid and I came here to win. The season is not over and together we must battle for La Liga! Hala Madrid!”

Real Madrid play Sevilla, Granada, Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal before the end of the La Liga season, with Los Blancos currently level on points with Barcelona and two points behind cross-city rivals Atletico Madrid ahead of what is set to be a close title run-in.

Adblock test