Sports

Apr 252016
 
Majority direction for Hillsborough jury
crush in stand
Image caption The inquests into the deaths of 96 fans have been the longest in UK legal history

Jurors have been told they can return a majority decision on whether the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed.

The jury of six women and three men have been deliberating since 6 April after hearing evidence for two years.

They must agree with a majority of seven whether supporters were unlawfully killed in 1989 as part of a 14-section questionnaire.

The jury has reached unanimous conclusions for 13 of the questions.


Image caption The match at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground was called off at 15:06 on 15 April 1989

The coroner Sir John Goldring said he would accept a majority decision at the hearing in Warrington, Cheshire.

Question six asks whether the 96 were unlawfully killed.

To answer yes to that question, jurors must be “sure” that Ch Supt David Duckenfield, who was in overall command of the police operation, was “responsible for the manslaughter by gross negligence” of those who died.

When jurors reach their decision, it is understood the court will adjourn until the following day when the conclusions will be delivered.

Ninety-six fans died as a result of a crush on the terraces occupied by Liverpool supporters attending the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.


Four steps to unlawful killing conclusion

The coroner has laid out four steps jurors must consider when answering question six. Only if they are sure of each, can they conclude the 96 were unlawfully killed. They are:

  • Firstly, that Ch Supt David Duckenfield owed a duty of care to the 96 who died
  • Secondly, that he was in breach of that duty of care
  • Thirdly, that the breach of Mr Duckenfield’s duty of care caused the deaths
  • Finally, the jury must be sure the breach which caused the deaths amounted to “gross negligence”

For the final point to be proved, the jury has to be sure the match commander’s breach in his duty of care was so bad it amounted to a criminal act or omission.

Also that a “reasonably competent and careful” match commander in his position would have foreseen a “serious and obvious risk of death” to the supporters.


Jurors have made their decision about whether fans’ behaviour added to a dangerous situation outside the stadium in Sheffield.

They have also made conclusions about whether police “errors or omissions” caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the match and the crush on the terraces.

Based on the evidence, the jury has also decided if police and ambulance service responses to the crushing “contributed to the loss of lives”.

Sir John began his summing up on 25 January and spoke to the jury for 26 days in total.

The hearings are the longest running inquests in British legal history.


Who were the 96 victims?

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Read profiles of all those who died in the disaster


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Mahrez wins PFA Player of the Year

 Posted by at 5:32 AM
Apr 252016
 
Riyad Mahrez becomes the first African player to win the PFA Player of the Year award – and the first Leicester player

Leicester City forward Riyad Mahrez has won the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award.

Mahrez has scored 17 goals and made 11 assists in 34 league games to take Leicester to the cusp of the title.

The award was voted for by the Algeria international’s fellow professionals.

Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli, 20, was named PFA Young Player of the Year, while Manchester City forward Izzy Christiansen won the Women’s Player of the Year award.

Sunderland striker Beth Mead, 20, was named Women’s Young Player of the Year.

Analysis: ‘I voted Vardy but Mahrez deserves it’

Mahrez, 25, held off competition from Tottenham forward Harry Kane, Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, West Ham United midfielder and fellow Leicester men Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante to win the award.

Mahrez was handed the prize at the Grosvenor Hotel in London on Sunday hours after scoring in his side’s 4-0 win over Swansea City as leaders Leicester moved to within five points of the title.

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Pundits pick their own PFA award shortlists

He dedicated the award to his team-mates.

“All the credit is for them, seriously,” Mahrez, who joined Leicester from French second-tier side Le Havre in January 2014, said.

“And for my manager and the staff. Without them I wouldn’t receive this award and I wouldn’t score. It’s the team spirit, and I want to dedicate it to them.

“It’s extra special because if the players vote for me it’s because they’ve seen I’ve been great this year so I’m happy.

“Without my team-mates I wouldn’t get this award.”

Young Player of the Year – Dele Alli

Dele Alli was named Football League Young Player of the Year in 2015

One year ago, Alli was getting ready to play at Rochdale for MK Dons having been loaned back to the League One club after signing for Tottenham for an initial £5m in February 2015.

This season he has scored 10 times in 32 top-flight games to help Spurs challenge Leicester for the title.

In addition, Alli has made six senior appearances for England, scoring in a 2-0 friendly win over France last November.

Alli was unable to collect the award in person as Tottenham host West Brom on Monday, but former Spurs player and manager Ossie Ardiles collected the prize on his behalf.

“Thank you Ossie, the Tottenham legend for receiving this award for me,” Alli said in a video message screened at the awards.

“Sorry I can’t be there tonight but we have a big game tomorrow.”

Teams of the Year

The Premier League Team of the Year is made up of four Leicester players, four from Tottenham and one each from Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham

Leicester and Tottenham have provided eight players between them for the Professional Footballers’ Association Premier League Team of the Year.

Mahrez is one of a quartet of players from league leaders Leicester, while Alli is one of four men from Spurs.

Ozil, a PFA Player of the Year nominee, misses out.

Players from champions Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal dominate the Women’s Super League 1 Team of the Year.

Burnley, battling for promotion to the Premier League, have four players in the Championship Team of the Year.

Goalkeeper Tom Heaton, defender Michael Keane, midfielder Joey Barton and striker Andre Gray represent the team that is currently top of the league on goal difference.

Leaders Wigan have four players in the League One Team of the Year, with Reece Wabara, Craig Morgan, Yanic Wildschut and Will Grigg included.

League Two champions Northampton have three inclusions in the division’s Team of the Year.

PFA Merit award – Ryan Giggs

Former Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs, the most decorated player in the English game, won the PFA Merit Award.

Ryan Giggs made a club record 963 appearances for United

Giggs, 42, follows in the footsteps of former United greats Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Matt Busby and Sir Bobby Charlton in picking up the prize.

Now assistant to manager Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford, Giggs made a club record 963 appearances for the Red Devils and won 13 league titles, four FA Cups and two Champions League crowns during a glittering career.

Giggs, PFA Player of the Year in 2009 and two-time Young Player of the Year in 1992 and 1993, said: “When you win each award you look down the trophy and you see the players who have won it before and you realise what a great accolade it is.

“This is the same. I’ve been here on the nights when people have won it and it’s legends of the game.

“I’m fortunate to win it and I’ll enjoy it.”

Watch highlights of the PFA awards on BBC One on Monday. The programme starts at 23:30 BST (Northern Ireland 23:45 BST and Wales 00:30 BST on 26 April).

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Apr 252016
 
Spurs pair Dele Alli (left) and Harry Kane have both been named in the PFA team of the year

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino may select the same team who thrashed Stoke 4-0 last Monday.

Midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, who is recovering from knee surgery, is the only injured player in his squad.

West Brom boss Tony Pulis bemoaned his side’s lacklustre display in losing 2-0 at Arsenal on Thursday and could recall Salomon Rondon and Jonas Olsson.

Alex Pritchard is ineligible to face his parent club even if he recovers in time from an ankle injury.

Spurs are eight points behind league leaders Leicester, who beat Swansea 4-0 on Sunday, but they can reduce the gap back to five with a win over Albion on Monday.

Pochettino’s side have lost only once in the league since January and the Argentine boss insists his side have the stamina to maintain their chase.

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Is the Premier League title race over?

“I think we are as strong as at the start of the season, we are at the same level, maybe the difference is our opponents,” said Pochettino. “The data is similar at the beginning to now because we can see the finish line.

“We haven’t arrived yet, this is important, but our motivation is good and then you can run more. It is always in our mind and we are in a very good moment. We need to fight to achieve big things like winning the title.”

Arsenal’s 0-0 draw at Sunderland on Sunday means that the battle to finish first in the Premier League is mathematically a two-horse race. West Brom boss Tony Pulis says he would be happy to see either Leicester or Tottenham win the title.

“White Hart Lane is one of my favourite grounds. It’s a fantastic stadium with a great atmosphere,” Pulis said.

“Everything to do with the club is first class. I enjoy taking teams there and we need to make sure we are up for it.

“I’ve said before that I would love to see Leicester win the league but, if not, then I’m also happy with Tottenham. It’s great for football that there will be a different team picking up the trophy this year.”

MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES

Conor McNamara: “There it goes again. Down another foxhole.

“Hunt as they might, every time Tottenham glimpse the title, it disappears in the flash of a brushy tail.

“The chase remains thrilling and Pochettino’s litter still have the scent in their nostrils. Spurs have scored more goals than Leicester and also conceded fewer. They’ve become scintillating to watch.

“Consistency brings titles. Tottenham were winless in their opening four games of the season. How they must wish they began as strongly as they are finishing.

“The stakes are huge. If Tottenham lose to West Brom, Leicester would only need two more points to guarantee the title.”

Twitter: @ConorMcNamaraIE