UEFA fines Man U for doping violations, Jones gets 2-game ban – Liverpool fans vote in favour of safe standing

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LAUSANNE, July 31, (Agencies): Manchester United defender Phil Jones will miss the European Super Cup clash with Real Madrid on August 8 after UEFA banned him for two matches for insulting a doping control officer following May’s Europa League final.

Jones has been banned for two European matches and fined 5,000 euros ($5,873) for “insulting and directing abusive language towards the Doping Control Officer” and a “lack of cooperation and respect towards the doping control procedure”.

His fellow United defender Daley Blind was also fined 5,000 euros for “violation and non-compliance” with an order to report to a doping control “immediately”, UEFA said in a statement.

United, who beat Ajax 2-0 in Stockholm to win the Europa League, were also fined 10,000 euros for failing to ensure their players were taken “to the doping control station straight from the pitch as soon as the match is over”.

Having won the trophy, United’s players spent some time after the match celebrating their triumph.

Both players and the club have the right to appeal

Liverpool fans have backed the idea of safe standing through rail seating in an online poll run by the club’s Spirit of Shankly supporters’ body.

Following a debate on the issue, the result of the poll on Monday revealed 88 percent of the 17,910 people who voted were in favour of the introduction of rail seating.

The system is used in Scotland at Celtic’s stadium in Glasgow where 2,900 seats can be lifted back and locked in place, allowing for fans to stand behind a railing and watch the game.

European governing body UEFA requires all-seater stadiums for teams competing in their Champions League and rail-seating allows the standing areas to be easily turned into seated areas for domestic games.

All-seater stadiums became mandatory in England’s top two divisions following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 when 96 Liverpool fans were killed in a crush at an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

Any changes to the existing legislation would require government approval as well as the backing of the football authorities.

“The vote is significant and we know people will see this as backing of rail seating,” Spirit of Shankly chair Jay McKenna said in a statement.

“However, we say to anyone who is campaigning for this to understand sensitivities and respect the views of those who disagree.

“No one wins here. This has been a mature and sensitive conversation and we have arrived at a position. Those who have been through incredible heartache and tragedy have every right to be heard and to ask important questions about safety.”

Standing on traditional terracing, without the rail-seating, is allowed in England’s third and fourth tiers and 21 clubs have such a set-up.

Some clubs in the lower leagues are looking at bringing in rail-seating to their all-seater venues under an agreement between the English Football League (EFL) and the Sports Ground Safety Authority.

League One side Shrewsbury Town became the first English side to apply for safe standing at their home ground last month.

West Bromwich Albion winger James McClean has suffered a knee injury and could be set for a spell on the sidelines ahead of the Premier League season.

McClean limped off in the 48th minute of West Brom’s 2-1 loss to third tier Bristol Rovers in a pre-season friendly at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Irishman was a last minute replacement for Matt Phillips, who was withdrawn from the starting lineup as a precaution.

“James’ (injury) is the most concerning at the moment because it is in the knee area and we’ll get that scanned to see what that tells us,” manager Tony Pulis told the club website.

West Brom also lost Chris Brunt to an injury in the same match, the midfielder substituted just before halftime with a calf issue.

West Brom, who finished 10th in the league last season, host Bournemouth in their opening game of the new campaign on Aug 12.

Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum is impressed by how quickly new signing Mohamed Salah has adapted to manager Juergen Klopp’s high energy style and believes the Egyptian winger’s raw pace will give the team an added dimension next season.

Salah was on target in Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Hertha Berlin in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, lifting Philippe Coutinho’s pinpoint lobbed pass over the keeper for his third goal since signing from Roma last month.

“He’s really flying,” Wijnaldum, who scored Liverpool’s second, told the club website.

“He has settled in really well. He’s not only a great player but also a great person, and that makes it easier for him but also for us to accept him.”

Winjaldum is relishing the prospect of Salah’s acceleration being added to an attack that already contains the pace of Senegal international Sadio Mane.

“It’s always good to play with good players,” he added. “And when they are quick … that makes it easier for us because the opponent has to be aware of two quick players and that creates space somewhere else in the team.”

Left-back Andy Robertson and striker Dominic Solanke, who was also on the scoresheet, are Liverpool’s only other additions so far, with the club reported to have abandoned their pursuit of RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita.

Their pursuit of Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk has also stalled, with Liverpool publicly ending their interest in the player after a complaint by his club.

Van Dijk has since asked to leave Southampton and as a result was made to train on his own before being left behind while the team travelled to France for a training camp.

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