BY JUSTIN FERGUSON
On the eve of one of the most important matches in club history, Bradford City co-chairman Mark Lawn told reporters that he does not expect the Bantams to compete in next year’s Europa League.
Lawn told The Sun that Bradford City would turn down the offer of playing continental competition if financial concerns were too great for the League Two outfit. The Bantams would earn a Europa League spot with a win over Swansea in Sunday’s Capital One Cup final.
“I’m not going to pay to play in Europe,” Lawn said. “When we beat Villa (in the semifinal), I was told, ‘You don’t really want to get into Europe — it costs you money in the early rounds.’ I said, ‘Well, that’ll be fun because if it costs us money, we won’t be there.’
“I won’t put us in fiscal danger to play in Europe…it’s all very well saying there are financial rewards once you get to the group stage. But we’re a fourth division club — realistically, we’re not going to get there.”
The co-chairman then dismissed the chances of his club winning tomorrow’s clash with the Swans.
“Realistically, it’s not going to be a problem because I don’t think we’re going to win against Swansea.”
If Bradford City pulls off one more upset tomorrow and later turns down the Europa League, a Premier League club may take their spot.
Here are more stories from this Soccer Saturday:
CASILLAS COULD BE BACK SOONER THAN EXPECTED
Real Madrid captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who has been out of action since January with a thumb injury, could be in line for a return to the pitch by the end of March, according to reports.
The initial diagnosis of the injury on the Spain international anticipated that Casillas could return no earlier than mid-April, but Casillas has made progress in his bid to get back between the pipes at the Santiago Bernabeu.
In his place, new signing Diego Lopez has been starting for Real Madrid, while reserve goalkeeper Antonio Adan, who has hardly played this season, is reportedly looking for a new club to play for.
BECKHAM TO MAKE PSG DEBUT ON SUNDAY
David Beckham is likely to make his Paris Saint-Germain debut on Sunday, when his club takes on arch-rivals Marseille.
Beckham, who hasn’t played a competitive since December 1 when the Los Angeles Galaxy won the MLS Cup, could face countryman Joey Barton in the match, who plays for Marseille on-loan from Queens Park Rangers.
The 37-year-old midfield icon has been recently training at France’s Clairefontaine center to return to full fitness, following his signing for the club on January 31.
MANCINI TALKS FUTURE AT MANCHESTER CITY
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says that he would leave the club if he went two or three years without winning a trophy.
In the buildup to Sunday’s match with Chelsea, Mancini told reporters that he would walk away from his lengthy contract with Manchester City if he did not help the club win titles.
“I think it is important for every club to have stability,” Mancini said. “If you change the manager every one or two years, it’s difficult. But if I didn’t win for two or three years, I would say to the club: ‘I don’t want to stay’.”
Mancini also said that he does not see himself staying at the club for a long period of time, regardless of trophies.
“I don’t think I can stay here 10 years, it’s impossible for me,” Mancini said. “But I think that in four or five years, to try to win the Premier League and Champions League, I think this is possible.”
Mancini’s comments come after increased speculation that Manchester City may let him go if the club does not win a trophy this season. The Citizens are 15 points behind Manchester United in the Premier League race but are among the final ten in the running for the FA Cup.
Liverpool does not feel that Luis Suarez will be punished by UEFA for an alleged stamping incident with Zenit defender Tomas Hubocan in Thursday’s Europa League match. (REPORT)
English FA ambassador Paul Elliott, who has been a trustee for the anti-racism “Kick It Out” campaign since 1996, has resigned from the association after reports claimed that he used a racial slur in an e-mail to a business colleague. (REPORT)
Brazilian legend Ronaldo will do the honorary kickoff in Paris Saint-Germain’s match against Marseille on Sunday, which is expected to be David Beckham’s debut. (REPORT)
AS Roma’s American owners are considering selling a minority stake in the club to Jordanian investor Sheikh Adnan, who has lived in Italy for 25 years. (REPORT)
Arjen Robben will return to Bayern Munich’s starting XI in Jupp Heynckes’ 1000th match as a manager. (REPORT)
Montpellier midfielder Younes Belhanda believes his team have “gone soft” on the competition, leading to their lower standing this season. (REPORT)
Copa Libertadores champions Corinthians have been banned from home matches in the competition for the next two months, following the death of a 14-year-old boy in the visitors section. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Thoughts on Bradford City’s possible Europa League predicament? What do you make of Mancini’s comments? Think Suarez should be punished for Thursday’s incident?
Share your comments below.