Former Newcastle United chairman dies, aged 75

Former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd has died at the age of 75, his family have said in a statement.
The multi-millionaire was involved in a number of regeneration projects through his company Shepherd Offshore.

A pivotal figure in the St James’ Park club’s rise during the 1990s, he was chairman for 10 years from 1997.

Shepherd eventually sold his share of the club to Mike Ashley and recently, along with brother Bruce, was granted the freedom of the city of Newcastle.

“Freddy Shepherd, former chairman of Newcastle United and chairman of Shepherd Offshore Group and Triple S Sports & Entertainment Group, sadly passed away peacefully at his home last night,” his family said in a statement.
“At this difficult time the family have asked that their privacy be respected.”

He set up the Triple S group in 2008 but is best known for his influential role at Newcastle.

A director of the Magpies from 1992 until 2007, Shepherd served as vice-chairman to Sir John Hall as the club finished Premier League runners-up in both 1996 and 1997, playing a key role in signing Alan Shearer from Blackburn for a world-record £15million.

“So sad to hear my great friend and former NUFC chairman Freddy Shepherd has passed away. I owe him a huge debt for bringing me home,” Shearer tweeted.

Shepherd became Newcastle chairman in 1997 and oversaw several dalliances with the Champions League, while his decision to appoint Sir Bobby Robson saw United finish as high as third in 2003.

Unfortunately, Shepherd was unable to lead Newcastle to major success during an eventful decade as chairman, eventually selling his 28.01 per cent stake of the Premier League club to Ashley in June 2007.

Having relinquished his shareholding for more than £37million, he was replaced as chairman by Chris Mort the following month.

Upon leaving the club, Shepherd said: “I have had a great 15 years on the board, 10 of them as chairman and I have enjoyed every minute.
“It has been a great privilege and honour to have been chairman and I would not have missed it for the world.
“We have had some really exciting times and I like to think we have achieved a lot since 1992 when we took over the club.
“But it was the right time for me to stand down. And in any case, once the club was delisted, my position as chairman of the PLC became redundant.
“I gave it my best shot and I could not really have done any more.”

A short club statement said: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of former Newcastle United chairman, Freddy Shepherd. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

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Eight die after wall collapse in Senegal stadium chaos


African football is once again waking up to news of another stadium tragedy after eight people were confirmed dead and a further 49 injured after a wall collapsed following a fight between rival fans during the Senegalese League Cup final at the Stade Demba Diop in Dakar.

A brawl began among supporters during the match between US Ouakam and Stade de Mbour on Saturday evening, with police using tear gas to disperse the fans, according to BBC Sport.

This prompted panic and, as fans attempted to flee the stadium, a wall collapsed under the pressure, crushing supporters.

The stadium was built during the 1960s, and had raised concerns in recent years due to the antiquated nature of the structure.

As seen on footage by local broadcaster TM2, spectators were throwing stones and other projectiles, with local news agency Agence de Presse Senegalaise reporting that firemen and ambulances were called to the stadium.

The violence began after an extra-time goal by Mbour following a 1-1 draw during 90 minutes.

“All of a sudden when the wall fell,” said observer Cheikh Maba Diop, speaking to AFP as per BBC Sport. “We knew exactly that some of our own had lost their lives because the wall fell directly on to people.”

Stadium tragedies are an all too common occurrence in African football, and Saturday’s disaster is the latest in a long string of such disasters.

In 2001, 43 fans lost their lives in the Ellis Park Stadium disaster in Johannesburg during a Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, and a month later, 127 died in Accra when police fired tear gas to disperse fans during a match between rivals Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko.

22 supporters died and over 100 were injured at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in the Ivory Coast in March 2009 ahead of a World Cup qualifier, with the authorities later blaming a fan stampede, while in Lusaka, Zambia, 21 fans were killed over two incidents in 1996 and 2007.

Former FIFA Exco Chuck Blazer dies at 72

Disgraced US football official Chuck Blazer has died at the age of 72, his lawyers say.

Blazer, who was banned from all football activities for life in 2015, had been suffering from cancer.

In 2013 he pleaded guilty to bribery, money laundering and tax evasion but agreed to help investigators expose corruption in Fifa.

A larger-than-life character, he was ex-boss of Concacaf, North and Central American football’s governing body.

His information led to charges against 14 other current or former Fifa officials, and contributed to the downfall of Sepp  Blatter, the organisation’s president.

Chuck Blazer: The parrot collector turned  Fifa snitch

“We are truly saddened by the passing of our client and friend, Chuck Blazer,” his lawyers said in a statement.

“His misconduct, for which he accepted full responsibility, should not obscure Chuck’s positive impact on international soccer.”

The official served on Fifa’s executive committee from 1997-2013, during which time he pocketed millions to fund a globe-trotting VIP lifestyle.

A 2013 report by Concacaf’s integrity committee said he had received more than $20.6m (£16m) in commissions, fees and rental payments from the organisation between 1996 and 2011.

His personal excesses included two apartments in New York’s Trump Tower, one of which was exclusively for his cats.