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Sports shorts: Barton, Murray, Rodgers, McIlroy…

Joey BartonJoey Barton has agreed a two-year deal to join Rangers and said it was “the right place, the right time, and the right project.

Barton, the former Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR midfielder rejected a 12-month offer to stay at Burnley after helping to guide the Turf Moor club back to the English Premier League.

He said that would have been the “easy thing to do.”

Speaking at Ibrox, he added: “What Burnley will do next year is something I have done before. The last few times I have spent battling against relegation  and the competitive animal in me wants to win trophies.”

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Andy Murray was taken to five sets before finally getting the better of 37-year-old qualifier Radek Stepanek to avoid a first-round defeat at the French Open.

The world number two was two sets to one behind when play was suspended on Monday. His Czech opponent played beyond his years to take the match to the wire before Murray finally broke his resistance to clinch a 3-6 3-6 6-0 6-3 7-5 victory.

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Brendan RodgersBrendan Rodgers made his first appearance at Celtic Park where he was greeted by 10,000 fans.

Rodgers declared it was “not a step down” to move from the English Premier League to a club like Celtic.

“This is one of the great clubs of the world. For me to come here is a huge honour,” he told a media conference, adding: “I’ve been a Celtic supporter all my life.”

The 43-year-old has signed a 12-month rolling contract and said he wants to see fans return to the stadium.

“For me the objective is pretty clear: it is to continue with the domination of Scottish football and also to make an impact on European football. He drew comparisons with teams such as Porto and Benfica who dominated their domestic leagues and “made a good fist” of competing in Europe.

The 31-strong playing squad will be trimmed, but there will be investment in youth. He said that after speaking to CEO Peter Lawwell and major shareholder Dermot Desmond it was clear they want to invest in the club.

“Sometimes people want you to go and buy a £10m player, but your first look has to be within your own youth department. There are some wonderful young players here. So you might have a £5m or £10m players within your own academy.

“My idea is to get the stands filled again. I think in the last few years the top tier of the Lisbon Lions Stand has been closed or empty.

“It’s my job to get over 60,000-odd people in here again and inspire the supporters to come back and watch a game of football that excites them, that’s about scoring goals and is about winning.”

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Louis Van GaalLouis Van Gaal could not conceal his dismay at leaving Manchester United just 48 hours after winning the FA Cup, the club’s first trophy for two years.

“I am very disappointed to be unable to complete our intended three-year plan,” said Van Gaal (left), who succeeded interim coach Ryan Giggs in 2014.

His departure paves the way for Jose Mourinho to be appointed and to resume in Manchester a rivalry with new City manager Pep Guardiola which was famously explosive in Spain when the pair managed Real Madrid and Barcelona.

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Rangers have launched legal proceedings against retailer Sports Direct, its major shareholder Mike Ashley and four of the club’s former executives.

The civil case lists Rangers’ former chief executives Charles Green and Derek Llambias, former director Imran Ahmad, and former finance director Brian Stockbridge as “defenders” alongside the sportswear chain and its billionaire boss.

Details about the latest claim are unclear but it has been lodged with the court of session in Edinburgh.

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Argentina will make an official bid later this year to stage the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

The country is a growing force in the game after reaching the World Cup semi-finals in two of the last three tournaments.

An official bid will be launched in October when organisers visit the South American country.

Japan is hosting the 2019 World Cup and four countries bidding to stage the tournament in 2023: France, Ireland, Italy and South Africa.

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Rory McIlroy says he may pull out of the Rio Olympics because of the zika outbreak. The Northern Irishman is recently engaged and says and fiancee Erica Stoll are already thinking about starting a family.

“There’s going to be a point in the next couple of years where we’re going to have to think about starting a family,” McIlroy said. “Right now I’m ready to go but I don’t want anything to affect that.”

The world number three is due to represent Ireland in the Olympics but said he has been alarmed by the mosquito-borne virus and its affect on the womb.

“As it gets closer I am relishing the thought of going down there and competing for gold,” McIlroy said. “But I have been reading a lot of reports about zika and there have been some articles coming out saying that it might be worse than they’re saying and I have to monitor that situation.”

McIlroy intends to get immunised this week, although there is no vaccine for zika.

Olympic authorities are concerned about McIlroy’s potential non-participation after the withdrawal of other big name players, including former Masters and US PGA champion Vijay Singh and Australia’s Marc Leishman.

Golf is making its first appearance since 1904 and the IOC will vote next year on whether it remains in the Olympics beyond the Toyko games 2020.

 

 



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