Soccer

Sacramento Republic FC to be next MLS expansion team after long chase

sacramentorepublicfcusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Sacramento Republic FC to be next MLS expansion team after long chase

After years of trying, Sacramento officially is getting a Major League Soccer team. 

Sacramento Republic FC will be the league's 29th team, MLS commissioner Don Garber announced in a Monday morning press conference alongside California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and club investors Ron Burkle, Matt Alvarez and Kevin Nagle. Republic FC will join the league in 2022.

Monday's announcement was the culmination of a five-year effort from the city and investors to bring an MLS team to California's capital. Republic FC has played in the second-tier United Soccer League since 2014, but the club has had its eyes on MLS all along. But in 2017, MLS told Sacramento that its proposed ownership group "was not as well capitalized as the league wanted it to be," according to The Sacramento Bee. 

That changed when Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner and billionaire investor Ron Burkle purchased a controlling interest in Republic FC in January, giving Sacramento's MLS hopes a financial boost alongside business partner Matt Alvarez. In April, the MLS board of governors unanimously voted to expand the league to 30 teams, inviting Sacramento to bid. 

"Well, I'm not sure it's a relief," Garber told reporters in Sacramento on Sunday night (H/T KXTV's Lina Washington). "It's exciting. This is a city that we really think is on the rise. It's got a great vibe to it and a great energy. There's a lot of activity going on downtown. We love this idea of urban stadiums, and this is going to be one of them.

"The railyards project is something that even reverberates in our offices back in New York."

Shortly before the board of governors vote, the Sacramento City Council approved a non-binding term sheet with Republic FC, calling for the club to build a $252 million stadium on undeveloped land in the downtown railyards. The term sheet also called for the city to provide a $33 million incentive package, including $27 million to repay the club for building infrastructure around the stadium and $2.4 million in tax rebates. 

UEFA postpones Champions League, Europa League finals amid coronavirus

championsleaguefinalap.jpg
AP

UEFA postpones Champions League, Europa League finals amid coronavirus

UEFA postponed the finals of its three biggest intercontinental club competitions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the organization announced Monday.

The men's and women's Champions League final and the Europa League final, all of which were scheduled for May, have been pushed back indefinitely. The European soccer governing body said in a statement that "[no] decision has yet been made on rearranged dates."

Twelve teams -- including the Premier League's Manchester City and Chelsea -- remain in contention for the men's Champions League with half of the Round of 16 completed, while the women's Champions League has not yet kicked off its quarter-finals. The Europa League, which Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United still are competing in, completed all but one of its first-leg fixtures from the Round of 16 before UEFA postponed all of last week's matches.

UEFA also announced last week that it was postponing the men's Euro 2020 to 2021 and rescheduling the women's tournament that originally was supposed to occur that year, in large part because of the coronavirus disrupting the calendars of club competitions across the continent. The Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A have all paused their seasons in an effort to halt COVID-19's spread.

Though Liverpool have the Premier League title all but wrapped up, spots in next season's Champions League and Europa League and the relegation places still need to be determined ahead of next season. UEFA's competitions this season affect the following campaign, too, as the Europa League winner automatically qualifies for the Champions League.

Beyond where and when the remaining matches this season are played (and who they're played in front of), all of the European leagues will need to address who is playing in said matches. The Premier League alone will have 69 players out of contract on June 30, according to ESPN's Ian Darke, and numerous others are set to have loan deals end at around that time. It's not yet clear if out-of-contract players would become free agents at that time.

European soccer, much like all of the world, still is navigating the knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic. That undoubtedly will continue long after play resumes.

Premier League extends coronavirus shutdown until at least April 30

mancityap.jpg
AP

Premier League extends coronavirus shutdown until at least April 30

Soccer, like the rest of the sporting world, is on pause due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Last week, the Premier League announced it would be suspending games until April 4 due to the global pandemic. As expected, the time without the PL will last much longer as the league announced Thursday that "no professional game in England will be played prior to April 30." 

In a joint statement with FA, it was announced the rule stating the season must end by June 1 would be "extended indefinitely" for this season only. 

[RELATED: Oliver speaks for all Liverpool fans in coronavirus pause]

UEFA already has postponed EURO 2020 in order to create more room in the calendar for domestic and European club matches. 

The hope is that the PL can resume sometime after April, but much like the NBA and other sporting leagues, they just have to wait and see how the pandemic is dealt with.